Semiotic theory of ID

Upright BiPed has been proposing what he has called a “semiotic” theory of Intelligent Design, for a while, which I have found confusing, to say the least.  However, he is honing his case, and asks Nick Matzke

…these three pertinent questions regarding the existence of information within a material universe:

  1. In this material universe, is it even conceivably possible to record transferable information without utilizing an arrangement of matter in order to represent that information? (by what other means could it be done?)
  2. If 1 is true, then is it even conceivably possible to transfer that information without a second arrangement of matter (a protocol) to establish the relationship between representation and what it represents? (how could such a relationship be established in any other way?)
  3. If 1 and 2 are true, then is it even conceivably possible to functionally transfer information without the irreducibly complex system of these two arrangements of matter (representations and protocols) in operation?

… which I think clarify things a little.

I think I can answer them, but would anyone else like to have a go? (I’m out all day today).

1,027 thoughts on “Semiotic theory of ID

  1. At any rate, UB, you are now talking out of both sides of your mouth. 

    From your left vermillion borders comes the argument that because (you mistakenly claim) I have accepted an instance of “A->B. B, therefore A” in acknowledging the fire tetrahedron, you are justified in employing of an argument in that form.

    You go on to defend this invalid mode of reasoning:

    After the liberal shuffling of words to suit yourself, you state that the argument “A -> B, therefore B-> A” is fatally flawed. You make this claim without engaging any evidence whatsoever, and in fact, have repeatedly stated that no observation of evidence is even necessary.

    From the right, you deny that your argument has this form at all. 

    Which is it? 

  2. Dr.Liddle’s position seems to have evolved from accepting this argument as one for ID that she was to refute via simulation (around april 2011), to halting the simulation due to the lack of an operational definition, to finally accepting the semiotic argument regardless of any simulation, but not accepting it as an argument for ID anymore. I was just looking over some of the original posts, it’s been a wild ride going back over a year at UD:

     

    <b>30 Upright BiPed July 8, 2011 at 11:49 am</b>

    Dr Liddle,

    Allow me to be frank. The entirety of your last post was one long line of moribund cow squeeze. You have now accomplished the ideologically-necessary turn that all ID critics are forced to take when the discussion is allowed to become too honest, and too real.

    In your response above you mention: Complexity? Probability? Compressibility?

    Let me ask you a question. You mention (and I agree) that at one point in the discussion we were making progress on the issues. So, take a guess as to how many times the concepts of “complexity”, “probability”, and “compressibility” came up in that conversation?

    Exactly, none. Not even once.

    Why?

    Because the previous conversation had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with those topics. You had stated that you could demonstrate the rise of information processing by nothing more than chance and law. And I was describing the particulars of that phenomenon in order that –if– your simulation were successful, then it might be regarded as a true falsification of one of ID’s central tenets. That conversation was centered on the actual physical observations of information instantiated in matter – that of symbolic representations, the protocols necessary to decode those representations, and so on.

    But clearly that conversation came to a point that no longer suited you. After initially making some headway, you began to go off into delirium about how the chemicals involved would change states, and what not. I then reminded you that the ribosome does not change states as an observed effect of information processing. Neither does the discrete sequence. When Yockey said that there is nothing in the physico-chemical world that even looks like reactions being governed by sequences, he was correct. We were not talking about changing states, Liz, we were talking about something entirely different in nature – the processing of sequenced representations and their protocols.

    And that is precisely were the train left the track. The stipulations involved in actually showing the rise of information were just simply too much to overcome, and you reacted to it in order to defend yourself from being shown incapable of defeating the very ID tenet you sought to demonstrate. Anyone who cares to read the dialogue can easily see that. Your responses became more off base, and then simply slowed to nothing more than a drip. You even mentioned to other people that you would ‘soon’ have a response. You’ve been stalling ever since. And please save me the dung about losing track of ‘this’ and not enough time for ‘that’. I have seen you make literally dozens upon dozens of posts on this forum in the past three weeks.

    The reason you stopped the previous conversation is because you had nothing to say in front of the evidence as we find it. I even went to the trouble to post our last substantive exchange in order to get the conversation back on track. But now, unfortunately, you want to double down with topics irrelevant to the issues at hand. The grass is certainly greener over there (away from the evidence), but you discredit yourself as a price to pay. You cannot show the rise of information processing by means of chance and law, and despite your protest, you haven’t the gut to admit it. (Such an admission can not be integrated with your position, so guess what that means?)

    All your considerate politeness aside, to stand there and say you won’t hear of any charges of ‘intellectual dishonesty’ is no less expected than was the necessary change in topics of conversation.

    ———————–
    <b>Upright Biped:</b>

    Offended? Yeah, I know the feeling.

    I am more than happy to call off the dogs Dr Liddle.

    Just don’t try to abandon the previous conversation so that we can spend the next eternity arguing over Dembski and Meyers. And, do you think I care in the least that you think an material intelligence of some disembodied sort exist in the whatever whatever.

    I don’t.

    I want you to show the unguided rise of a discrete representation and the protocol to decode it within a system.

    <b>52 Upright BiPed July 8, 2011 at 6:49 pm </b>

    BIPED: ID views these symbols and their discrete protocols as formal, abstract, and with their origins associated only with the living kingdom (never with the remaining inanimate world). Their very presence reflects a break in the causal chain, where on one side is pure physicality (chance contingency + physical law) and on the other side is formalism (choice contingency + physical law). Your simulation should be an attempt to cause the rise of symbols and their discrete protocols (two of the fundamental requirements of recorded information between a
    sender and a receiver) from a source of nothing more than chance contingency and physical law.

    LIDDLE: Cool. I like that.

    BIPED: And therefore, to be an actual falsification of ID, your simulation would be required to demonstrate that indeed symbols and their discrete protocols came into physical existence by nothing more than chance and physical law.

    LIDDLE: Right.

    BIPED: The question immediately becomes “how would we know?” How is the presence of symbols and their discrete protocols observed in order to be able to demonstrate they exist? For this, I suggest we can use life itself as a model, since that is the subject on the table. We could also easily consider any number of human inventions where information (symbols and protocols) are used in an “autonomous” (non-conscious) system.

    LIDDLE: OK.

    BIPED: For instance, in a computer (where information is processed) we physically instantiate into the system the protocols that are to be used in decoding the symbols. The same can be said of any number of similar systems. Within these systems (highlighting the very nature of information) we can change the protocols and symbols and the information can (and will) continue to flow. Within the cell, the discrete protocols for decoding the symbols in DNA are physically instantiated in the tRNA and its coworkers. (This of course makes complete sense in a self-replicating system, and leads us to the observed paradox where you need to decode the information in DNA to in order to build the system capable of decoding the information in DNA).

    LIDDLE: Nicely put. And my intention is to show that it is not a paradox – that a beginning consisting of a unfeasibly improbable assemblage of molecules, brought together by no more than Chance (stochastic processes) and Necessity (physical and chemical properties)
    can bootstrap itself into a cycle of coding:building:coding:building: etc.

    BIPED: Given this is the way in which we find symbols and protocols physically instantiated in living systems (allowing for the exchange of information), it would be reasonable to expect to see these same dynamics at work in your simulation.

    LIDDLE: Yes, I agree. Cool!

    BIPED: I hope that helps you “get to the heart of what [I] think evolutionary processes can’t do”.

    LIDDLE: Yes, I think so. That is enormously helpful and just what I was looking for.

  3. I guess one person sees an argument evolving, and another sees someone chasing a moving target. Every time there seems to be an agreement on terms and meanings and Elizabeth starts to dig into the ramifications, she’s told “no, that’s not what I meant” and around we go again.

    Where we stand now, as far as I can tell, is that if semoisis involves ARBITRARY symbols, representations and protocols, then biology doesn’t qualify. Nothing in biology is arbitrary or symbolic. And if it does NOT require these things and simply refers to change of any sort, then everything is semiotic and all this discussion of representations and protocols is superfluous and irrelevant.

    And we STILL haven’t been told where ID comes into any of this. Maybe you can help things along a bit?   

  4. Lizzie:

    The problem, of course, is that if we never observe the two separately, then we don’t need to do any inferring at all.

    It’s worse than that. We have this:

    The use of representations and protocols is a necessary condition for the transfer of recorded information…

    The use of representations and protocols is a sufficient condition for the transfer of recorded information…

    The transfer of recorded information is a necessary condition for the use of representations and protocols…

    The transfer of recorded information is a sufficient condition for the use of representations and protocols.

    This is a bizarre conceptual ouroboros. Check me on this: If the use of representations and protocols provides both the necessary and sufficient conditions for the transfer of recorded information, then there can be no other causes of the transfer of recorded information. If the transfer of recorded information is both the necessary and sufficient conditions for the use of representations and protocols, there can be no other causes for for the use of representations and protocols.

    That leaves these two concepts hanging in causal space, referring solely to one another no other possible causal or conditional underpinnings. Moreover, they must always co-occur – one never appears without the other. Therefore they’re really two terms that, unbeknownst to their creator, share a single referent, and are really different manifestations of the a single, uncaused, compound phenomenon.

    It therefore can’t be an empirical claim that one causes the other or comfirms facts about the other in any meaningful sense. Its as if UB has been discussing the ways in which the morning star and evening star interact with one another, and justify empirical conclusions about one another, only to discover that both are Venus. 
     

  5. And what is even more bizarre, it’s completely irrelevant to any argument for ID.

    He could simply argue that the specific kind of information transfer observed in the cell (“the semiotic kind”) could only be designed, or could not evolve, or whatever.

    But by saying that information transfer=semiosis all he has the claim that information transfer requires a designer.

    With no evidence to support it at all.

  6. junkdnaforlife: could you please provide a link?

    I’d like to know what I said that Upright BiPed referred to as “cow squeeze”.

     

  7. Flint on June 12, 2012 at 12:43 amsaid:

    I guess one person sees an argument evolving, and another sees someone chasing a moving target. Every time there seems to be an agreement on terms and meanings and Elizabeth starts to dig into the ramifications, she’s told “no, that’s not what I meant” and around we go again.

    Exactly.  So I operationalised that proposal, and then (from my PoV), Upright moved the goalposts again.  I’d need to find the link though.  It would help if Upright and Junkdnaforlife would provide links!

    Unreferenced quotations are a pita, even with google.

  8. Junkdnaforlife,

    Since you seem to have been following the discussion for as long as many of us here and since you further seem to agree with Upright Biped’s argument, would you be willing to suggest answers to some of the open questions that Upright Biped has yet to address?

    The two that come immediately to mind are Lizzie’s “How is this an argument for ID?” and Reciprocating Bill’s “What, if anything, distinguishes ‘semiotic state’ from ‘transfer of recorded information'”.

    Naturally I wouldn’t hold Upright Biped to your answers, but it would be interesting to learn how an ID proponent interprets Upright Biped’s prose.
     

  9. Thanks!

     

    What is sort of intriguing is that UBP (without providing any links) frequently “reminds” me that my words are “on record” as though I should be worried by that.

    Interesting that I re-read those words, and find nothing to retract or be ashamed of at all.

    And yet, had I written what UBP wrote, I think I would be.

    Not that I doubt that UBP thinks that it is self-evident to the disinterested reader that I am the one dancing.  I’m just fascinated, as always, by the apparent symmetry.

  10. Those links!

    UUrrrggh…

    Must… not… repeat… AtBC… cognomen… 

  11. Although I haven’t followed the complete history with UB or WJM or Joe G, there does appear to be a common pattern with them.  They vehemently object to what they claim are unjustified or unsupported comments by the folks here; but the second that any of the folks here back up their assertions with solid evidence, UB and WJM ignore the evidence and veer off into complex pseudo-philosophical rationalizations to avoid weighing any evidence whatsoever.  Joe G just acted like a mean child.

    Part of those agonizing pseudo-philosophical constructions includes some rather nasty, condescending dismissals of pointed questions that seek clarification.

    Much of what we find over on UD seems to me to be a kvetch fest nested inside a pity party; and the ones that followed Elizabeth over here to her blog appear to want to slap her down for some obscure reason.  I don’t see anything that Elizabeth has done to deserve such rudeness.

  12. About OOL Upright says:
     

    Yes, lots of people say the same – particularly given that the material evidence is almost intractibly against a purely material origin. On the basis of “who knows” they allow themselves to ignore what is already known, and consequently they feel free to assume their conclusion about the rest.

     

    What is it that lots of people are ignoring and what is it that is already known and why does it support ID? 

    And Upright, in what way are you not assuming your own conclusion in exactly the same way that you claim others are? What’s your evidence? How come only you have access to it?

     http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/scientific-frustration/#comment-426376

  13. While we know these people can’t say what they’re thinking, they make it obvious enough. The “intractible evidence” is that life hasn’t started from scratch while we watch. What is “already known” is that goddidit. And this supports ID because it IS ID.

    Doubting any of this is the same as assuming false conclusions. Since we ALREADY HAVE the answer, looking for another implicitly assumes we don’t have the right answer, and that is an assumed conclusion.

    But don’t expect any of them to come out and SAY any of this, because that’s not part of the ID protocol, which is to imply, accuse, misrepresent, and nebulate using phrases well-understood by everyone.   

  14. Without wishing to be sycophantic, I strongly believe that they find intelligent, lucid females scary/annoying, and react very badly to them.

  15. That reaction extends to even virtual females less lucid than our gracious hostess, I assure you.

    The temptation to use your observation to draw conclusions about the lone known female ID proponent on UD is extreme, but I try to be on my best behavior here.

  16. Patrick may be alluding to the ungenerous speculations about Denyse O’Leary’s alleged transsexualism, but there is a much simpler, less fanciful conclusion to be drawn which is much more strongly supported by the evidence: If the ID-pushers of UD find “intelligent, lucid” women to be “scary/annoying”, it follows that they would react better to women who are not intelligent or not lucid — and that they should react best of all to women who are neither intelligent nor lucid.

  17. Your latter was my point, Cubist.  I thought only the disgruntled Dave Springer made the ungenerous speculation you mentioned.
     

  18. Arrington puts up a scenario over at UD that pits “atheists” against “Christians” in which testimony one would prefer if one is accused of murder.

    I am curious about how he would respond to a woman who brought up the Salem Witch Trials. How did “Christian testimony” work out in that case? It seems that it required secular authority to eventually to step in and finally end the trials.

    UD is one bizarre site. I don’t know how Elizabeth lasted as long as she did over there.

  19. As the Salem witch trials illustrate, the UD orientation isn’t bizarre at all, it is ancient and ubiquitous. SCIENCE is actually bizarre, very much a taste acquired by a peculiar and tiny minority.

  20. Yeah; perhaps that’s the point. Elizabeth was ultimately cast out; it was inevitable from the beginning.  If the scientific mind – especially a woman’s scientific mind – is considered a bizarre outlier on the spectrum of human intelligence, our understanding of evolution would suggest that such minds might well be eliminated eventually.  Then it’s back to tooth and claw and domination by alpha male priesthoods.  That’s kinda depressing; Homo scientificus becomes a dead-end branch on the tree of human evolution.

  21. I don’t think that gender had much to do with Lizzie’s bannination, as Barry banned just about everything that crawled, swam or breathed* that particular day, regardless of gender. 

    *Who either expressed opposition to or requested a rationale for the ongoing bloodbath.

  22. I agree.  I don’t think the female thing had much to do with it, and may even have had something to do with why I (and Mathgrrl) were tolerated for as long as we were.

    Or perhaps our impeccable manners 🙂

  23. It certainly is … er … “interesting” when creationists insist that their critics are not really reading their powerful arguments, and are neither willing nor able to answer them.    But then, when anyone tries to politely and cogently answer them, they get banned.

  24. This appears to be the source of much of UPB’s rhetoric.

    http://informatics.indiana.edu/rocha/pattee/pattee.html

    I can understand why he wouldn’t link to it because it anticipates and responds to every ID argument in the current repertoire. So my question to UPB is, how honest can it be to bring up the issues discussed in this paper without mentioning it.

    One of the characteristics of Darwin’s writing is that he started every discussion by making the best possible case for the opposition. That is why he is so easy to quote mine. But that’s the way to argue with honesty.

  25. I’ve always thought about it as cargo cult science, in a way. 

    Just look at how KF says the same thing over and over and over, simply ignoring counter points.

    It’s as if they believe that because in the past the underdog explanation can become the dominant explanation it can happen with ID as long as they keep believing. And repeating. 

    According to this google search KF has said “well warranted”  on at least 229 separate occasions. 

    http://tinyurl.com/d4ax2ju 

    Try “islands of functionality” also. 

    If it’s that “well warranted” KF then why are we still waiting for your paper?

    So why does Upright not bring things up he knows will undermine his argument? Well, perhaps repeating the “good” parts over and over will make the bad parts vanish. Lalalalalalalalalaalalalal
     

  26. petrushka on June 15, 2012 at 7:33 pm said: 

    This appears to be the source of much of UPB’s rhetoric.

    http://informatics.indiana.edu/rocha/pattee/pattee.html

    I can understand why he wouldn’t link to it because it anticipates and responds to every ID argument in the current repertoire. So my question to UPB is, how honest can it be to bring up the issues discussed in this paper without mentioning it.

    One of the characteristics of Darwin’s writing is that he started every discussion by making the best possible case for the opposition. That is why he is so easy to quote mine. But that’s the way to argue with honesty.

    Interesting.  I have a few problems with Pattee’s argument, but he seems to have written a few other papers which I am currently checking out.

  27. RB,

    Yes, it does. So that would be a valid use of “entailment.”

    Thank you, Bill.

    So a fair and modest recap would be that the term “entailment” was used in a valid manner, and the objection regarding its use is no longer on the table.

    I am under no illusions that you would accept a compliment from me, but the simple fact remains, if you had not been on this forum arguing for your perspective (as well as perhaps Allan and madbat) there would have been no reason for this conversation to even have taken place. So, thank you.

  28. Dr Liddle,

    So if a rock falls off a cliff, and lands on a beach, making a dent in the sand, it leaves “information” to someone coming along about that the event that caused the rock to fall. 

    We’ve been through this before. A dent in the sand is no more than a dent in the sand. Like the snowflakes collecting on your patio table, to become “information”, that “information” requires a mechanism in order to be brought into existence. And why do we not simply say that a dent in the sand contains information? Because it’s a willful conflation of two very different material events. If we say that the state of a thing “contains information” merely by its existence, then everything contains information, which does not account for the real material phenomena of those things which are actually arranged in order to contain information –  in order to evoke an effect within a system. We take the singularly unique material phenomenon of information transfer (the transfer of form about something) and force it to become ubiquitous among all matter, thereby forcing ourselves to create a new word to describe what the old term can no longer explain. It’s an anthropocentric reification of our human experience, imposed so that our cosmos is calculable to us (a uniquely human goal). To reify information to mean that all things “contain information” is to project our experience of information onto all things, as you yourself demonstrate by your examples. Where does the protocol reside for creating information in your stories of snow and sand? It is in the human observer. Through his/her sensory organs, the human observer transcribes the state of his surroundings into neurochemical patterns which represent the state of that environment. Those patterns, then, are a material thing which has a relationship to those surroundings. But the relationship it has to its resulting cognitive effect is necessarily arbitrary, (unless you believe that touching something warm sends warmth to your brain) and therefore that relationship must be established by a material protocol. It is then a wholly anthropocentric projection for the human observer to project that transactional relationship onto the interaction of carbon and hydrogen (for instance), knowing that the interaction of carbon and hydrogen does not involve the “transfer of information” in anything even approaching the same dynamic circumstance. These represent two entirely distinct (independently identifiable) material events. And of the observer who happens upon the dent in the sand and creates information from it; that observer needn’t be human. A foraging animal or insect may smell the revealed earth from the indention and create its own information. The point remains; this is a qualitatively different material event than the physical interactions of carbon and hydrogen. Certainly, it may be the case that mankind, by viewing all material interactions as the exchange of “information”, has extended his knowledge greatly (and there is nothing invalid with that reward). But it is an intra-disciplinary fallacy to project that human heuristic onto a fallen rock, particularly when one knows that the material circumstances involved are radically different.   

    When you remove this anthropocentric flaw from the observations, and recognize that these are two distinctly different material phenomena, then your objections just fall apart. They simply do not reflect the material reality of life or cosmos.

  29. Dr Liddle,

    As long as your definitions of “representation” and “protocol” cover my snow-covered table, my answers remain “no”  …  If they do not, then I would have to revise my answer.

    You mean IF you and I simply ignore the entire previous year of conversation, including the universally-applicable demonstration of the material roles that representations and protocols play in the transfer of recorded information? And further, are you expecting anyone to actually believe that I asked these questions while ignoring the entire previous year of conversation, including the universally-applicable demonstration of the material roles that representations and protocols play in the transfer of recorded information? Unless you actually believe that stupendously ludicrous assumption, then you knew the conditions reflected in questions you were answering, and you knew it when you answered them.

  30. RB

    This is a bizarre conceptual ouroboros. Check me on this: If the use of representations and protocols provides both the necessary and sufficient conditions for the transfer of recorded information, then there can be no other causes of the transfer of recorded information. If the transfer of recorded information is both the necessary and sufficient conditions for the use of representations and protocols, there can be no other causes for the use of representations and protocols.

    The ultimate source of the system is surely in question, but that is not the question being addressed in the semiotic argument. The question being addressed in the semiotic argument is the material operation of the system. The operation of the system results in the transfer of recorded information. The use of representations and protocols are the sufficient and necessary material conditions in order to achieve that result, and are the only means demonstrated to do so. Likewise, the transfer of recorded information is the sufficient and necessary phenomena to indicate the use of representation and protocols, and there are no other processes which demonstrate their use.

    This relationship can be observed in the example of the music box. The operation of the music box results in the playing of a specified song. The use of a representation (in the form of the pins on a rotating cylinder) as well as a protocol (in the form of spatially and tonally arranged tines) are the sufficient and necessary conditions to create the specified effect. However, having a coherent understanding of the operation of the music box does not indicate that there are no additional factors which played a role in its existence. With this fair and supported distinction, between the material operation of the system and the obvious existence of that system, no conceptual problem is introduced.

  31. To the gallery…

    It’s been interesting to read the comments that have come in after the objection of “entailment” was resolved.  I take it for granted that there aren’t any behavioral anthropologists among you.

    Most of the responses have contained the same refusal of observation which has been apparent throughout the thread. Then there others who have nothing of substance to say about the evidence, so they display their contempt by suggesting ID supporters have issues with strong (“lucid”) women. This was the crap Elzinga first threw on the table when he couldn’t think of anything relevant to say about the evidence. His comments are loaded on a spring. Ultimately, this is an insult to the women around ID’s male supporters; it implies a meekness and lack of intelligence on their part, as demonstrated above. What a snapshot; grown men who lost an argument, standing around insulting the women among their opponents. Truly Hilarious.

    Of course, I can only speak for myself, but I’m certainly willing to be the guinea pig to test your insults. I was raised around nothing but strong, intelligent women. My father (a working architect) was killed when I was two, so my brother and I were raised by a mother, grandmother, and two older sisters. My grandmother operated a vegetable farm of several hundred acres, by herself, as well as a small business in a nearby town. After my father’s death, my mother provided for the family by entering the business community with a small operation of three retail shops. She floated around in various business domains for a while, finally landing in Broadcast Media where she was extremely successful for decades – universally recognized as a woman knocking down walls in a man’s world. As for my sisters, one of them expressed her meekness by permanently painting “Question Authority” across the back window of her car in her twenties, and the other thumbed to Florida and took a puddle-hopper to the Caribbean where she lived for years. She now moderates a forum dedicated to political topics, where she sometimes schools the neophytes and loudmouths on the finer historical details of international affairs. These women are hardly wallflowers. As for my wife, she holds two professional licenses from our state, owns a professional agency, and is an acknowledged and sought-after commissioned artist. And when our city council holds its meetings for codes and restrictions on land development, she’s easy to pick out of the crowd because she’s the cute one in the center, the one with the gavel in her hand running the show.

    So I think these insults miss the mark when compared to reality. Basically, they reek of what they are. The issue between Elizabeth Liddle and I has nothing to do with her gender (for crying out loud). As an actively participating critic of ID, she claimed that she had never heard of an ID argument of any merit, while simultaneously committing herself to months/weeks/years of work in order to falsify one of them. It was brought to her attention that if the argument being given to her needed to be falsified, then she was in touch with an ID argument of merit. Her response can hardly be seen as an act of intellectual fairness – neither to her opponents, nor more importantly, to the material evidence. Conceding to me has no particular value, but conceding to the evidence is a disciplinary requirement of science.   

    If you think I should ignore this because Dr Liddle is a woman, then you are asking for something that the women around me would never expect. I can assure you they’d never swap fairness and honesty for having a polite conversation.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    By the way, isn’t it “er…interesting” the number of critics who followed this argument, making themselves known by their one-liners, but never getting in the ring with the evidence.

  32. Petrushka, lol 

    Firstly, I can assure you that your paper is not the source of the semiotic argument. I hadn’t read this particular paper, but Pattee has been referenced in several other papers I’ve read over the years.

    More importantly… Did you even read the paper?!?! Methinks you need to read it again, this time without the blinders.

    Try starting at the first sentence in the Abstract: “Evolution requires the genotype-phenotype distinction, a primeval epistemic cut that separates energy-degenerate, rate-independent genetic symbols from the rate-dependent dynamics of construction that they control.”

    Keep reading until you get to the point where Pattee states that the apparent isolation of symbolic control from physics is an observational necessity – but is still an illusion. I am assuming this is what you’ve bet the farm on, given that it fits your typical assertion that symbolic control is just an illusion to confound the illiterate masses. The problem here is that Pattee is hardly denying the existence of symbolic control. He’s not denying that “rate-independent genetic symbols” control “rate-dependent dynamics of construction”, or “quiescent molecular structures form the genome and the coding constraints that have been controlling protein synthesis for billions of years”, or that “novel structures have no possibility of reliable replication without a symbolic memory”, or that “an adequate description requires the two irreducibly complementary concepts of dynamical laws and non-integrable constraints that are not derivable from the laws”, or that “memory-stored controls transform symbols to physical states”, or that “the essential problem of life” is “how symbolic structures control dynamics”. In fact, he has gone out of his way throughout the paper describing the reality of those very things. When Pattee states that the apparent isolation of symbolic control from physical law is an illusion, he is stating his position that symbolic control cannot be entirely separated from physical law. He is stating that the symbol (which he does not deny) cannot be entirely “autonomous” from physical law, or to put it in the form of a question: can a symbol exist separated from matter and law? This is not an issue even raised by the semiotic argument, except to the extent that it is taken for granted that the symbol requires a material medium and is therefore subject to material law. At the very minimum, the symbol requires a relation to material law in order to have an effect. This is an obvious agreement, not a contradiction. But please note here; Pattee is talking about a distinction between symbolic control that has some relations to physical law, and symbolic control that has no relation at all to physical law.  He says in the very next sentence:  “In other words, making a clear distinction is not the same as isolation from all relations”. The “distinction” he is referring to is the distinction we make in the observation of symbols as having a referent – of the symbol being on one side of the cut and the referent being on the other. Or, as he states in his opening sentence, the distinction between rate-independent genetic symbols and their rate-dependent effects. Also note that the semiotic argument very specifically treats all symbolic matter solely by its physical existence. Not only is the semiotic argument in general harmony with Pattee’s observations, it’s virtually a manifestation of it to the extent that it is an accounting of the material objects and roles required for symbolic control.

    Now keep reading until you get to the last point of the conclusion: “if you abstract away the details of how subject and object interact, the “very peculiar range” of sizes and behaviors of the allosteric polymers that connect subject and object, the memory controlled construction of polypeptides, the folding into highly specific enzymes and other functional macromolecules, the many-to-many map of sequences to structures, the self-assembly, and the many conformation dependent controls – in other words, if you ignore the actual physics involved in these molecules that bridge the epistemic cut, then it seems unlikely that you will ever be able to distinguish living organisms by the dynamic laws of “inorganic corpuscles” or from any number of coarse-grained artificial simulations and simulacra of life. Is it not plausible that life was first distinguished from non-living matter, not by some modification of physics, some intricate nonlinear dynamics, or some universal laws of complexity, but by local and unique heteropolymer constraints that exhibit detailed behavior unlike the behavior of any other known forms of matter in the universe?”

    OMTWO should read along with you. And I urge you both to read for context.

    Cheers…

  33. in other words, if you ignore the actual physics involved in these molecules that bridge the epistemic cut, then it seems unlikely that you will ever be able to distinguish living organisms by the dynamic laws of “inorganic corpuscles” or from any number of coarse-grained artificial simulations and simulacra of life. Is it not plausible that life was first distinguished from non-living matter, not by some modification of physics, some intricate nonlinear dynamics, or some universal laws of complexity, but by local and unique heteropolymer constraints that exhibit detailed behavior unlike the behavior of any other known forms of matter in the universe?”

    I read the first part of this to mean that simulations of life are not likely to be “complete” because physics and chemistry exhibit emergence — that is, combinations of elements exhibit properties that cannot be predicted from the properties of the constituents.

    “detailed behavior unlike the behavior of any other known forms of matter.”

     
    That’s really the heart of my argument against design.  Design requires abstraction and simulation, and it does not appear that this is or ever will be possible.

    This may be the part that Elizabeth objects to. Most of us think there is some value in abstracting the principle of evolution in GAs and such. And I agree that it is necessary to demonstrate mathematically the concepts of population genetics and selection.

    My point is that such demonstrations do not have the power to simulate life.  Not because the mathematics is is wrong, but because the computational power is unavailable and will not be available until and unless we build quantum computers. Chemistry is simply faster than simulations of chemistry.
     
    This is why design of life is impossible without evolution. Evolution is simply faster than any conceivable simulation of evolution. 

    But perhaps you can elucidate your concept of design by demonstrating how a designer would know, for example, the properties of a 500 element DNA sequence without building it and testing it. What Harry Potter magic is involved in poofing  such things into existence?

    How do you get these long molecules without evolving them? Show your math. 

  34. UBP:
    While we are on the subject of reading for context, I’d appreciate your take on the context. Would you say that overall, the author is arguing for or against evolution?

    What do you make of the following?

    We know that protein sequences are functionally highly redundant and that many amino acid replacements do not significantly alter the function. We also know that many base sequence aliases can construct proteins with essentially the same shape. Also, simplified models of RNA secondary folding suggest that the search is not like looking for a specific needle in an infinite haystack, but looking for any needle in a haystack full of needles that are uniformly distributed (e.g., Schuster, 1994).  

     

  35. What horrible special pleading. But I must ask, given the above, do you believe information can exist without an observer / interpreter?

    I’d also like your opperational definition of ‘infomation’ – at est that anyone can use for demarcation.

  36. Most of the responses have contained the same refusal of observation which has been apparent throughout the thread.

    And this statement shows immediately why you’re not communicating. You are saying “all dogs bark, I hear a bark, therefore I KNOW it’s a dog!”

    And when others continually point out that many things bark besides dogs, you fall back on “dogs bark. LOOK at the observations. We observe dogs barking! How can you sit there and say dogs don’t bark? OF COURSE dogs bark. The evidence of barking dogs is incontrovertible. Doesn’t evidence MATTER to you people? What’s WRONG with you?”

    And when we repeat that many things bark besides dogs, so when you hear a bark the best you can say is that dogs are not ruled either in or out, back you come with “Everyone here simply refuses to admit that dogs bark!”

    After a while, this gets old.     

     

  37. Replying to her question would have been easier, and would have clarified your position enormously. But instead of explaining, answering, or clarifying you choose insults, hand-waving, requests that we “look over there”, and implications of dishonesty – complete with addressing Elizabeth in a way that she explicitly, repeatedly, asked you not to!

    As a suggestion, ANSWER THE DAMN QUESTION! 

  38. UB asserts: It is then a wholly anthropocentric projection for the human observer to project that transactional relationship onto the interaction of carbon and hydrogen (for instance), knowing that the interaction of carbon and hydrogen does not involve the “transfer of information” in anything even approaching the same dynamic circumstance.

    So are you claiming that the structure and properties of benzene are an anthropomorphic projection onto carbon and hydrogen? What about more complex structures?

    You claim that star formation does not involve “representations and protocols” and therefore, by your apparent definition, is not an example of semiotics. And now you seem to be suggesting that molecular structures are anthropomorphic projections onto atoms and molecules. Do these structures exist outside the human mind? Are their properties dependent on the human mind? Are their properties different for different species of animal or plant – or extraterrestrial?

    You still haven’t answered where along the chain of increasing complexity in atoms and molecules “representations and protocols” take over from physics and chemistry; and now you seem to be suggesting that we engage in anthropomorphic projections onto things like carbon and hydrogen.

    What about Keplers’ laws; are these anthropomorphic projections? What about Newton’s law of gravitation? How about general relativity? What about quantum mechanics? Are physics and chemistry anthropomorphic projections?

    Aren’t you simply projecting “representations and protocols” onto atoms and molecules like proteins. Where along the spectrum of increasing complexity in atoms and molecules does it become legitimate to project “representations and protocols” onto atoms and molecules? How do you justify this for proteins and not other molecules?

    You apparently think there is something different about proteins; yet you can’t tell us what it is. Is there some point along the spectrum of molecular complexity where “representations and protocols” replace chemistry and physics? If physics and chemistry are anthropomorphic projections, why isn’t semiotics?

    This is a simple question about a continuum of complexity; yet you can’t seem to grasp it.

    Go way back to Flint’s suggestion. Start with proteins – for which you claim “representations and protocols” apply – and start stepping down in complexity from there. Where do “representations and protocols” stop and physics and chemistry take over.

  39. UB says:OMTWO should read along with you. And I urge you both to read for context.

    What’s with the condescension?

    Have you ever heard of emergent properties? You have never acknowledged that such things are a regular feature of the universe at all levels of complexity.

    Can you explain why the compound called water has properties that are completely different from the properties of hydrogen and oxygen?

    Why do large collections of copper atoms in the form of a solid have hundreds of properties that are entirely different from and not evident in individual copper atoms?

    Do you understand how the properties of molecules and large collections of atoms and molecules depend on the temperature of the environment in which they are immersed?

  40. It’s been interesting to read the comments that have come in after the objection of “entailment” was resolved

    You have declared that the objection of entailment has been resolved, but that declaration does not resolve the objection. It’s pretty obvious that you have no logical foundation and are trying to obfuscate that fact.

  41. The problem remains the same – UBP has repeatedly and continuously refused to provide the overall outline of his argument. How is semiotics an argument for ID? The answer to this basic question doesn’t seem hidden anywhere in the haze of verbiage we get instead of a single answer to even the simplest question.

    So, once again, I think it would make most sense to us if UBP’s points were presented in a standard format: Present the abstract, which starts with the conclusion, gives an overview of the data supporting that conclusion, and a brief explanation of how it does so.

    THEN, and only then, does it make sense to start digging down into individual observations. Observations are meaningless except insofar as they support or refute some hypothesis. So they hypotheses need to be presented from the top down, something like:
    1) Since only a Designer can produce a semiotic process, if we can establish beyond doubt that there IS such a process going on, we’ve found evidence of the Designer at work.
    2) Chemistry and physics become semiotic, and not merely mechanical, at THIS level of complexity (make it clear BOTH where that level is, and WHY that’s the necessary level).
    3) Show exactly how semiosis is at work at that level, and why equally complex processes like star formation don’t count.

    So far, sifting through the haze of verbiage, all I can get is “biological processes are semiotic because I DEFINE them to be semiotic, even though this definition does considerable insult to the meaning of the term as everyone else understands it.”  

    And others have been saying “Doesn’t look semiotic according to any common understanding, but we’ll grant you your ideosyncratic definition if it will inspire you to GET TO THE POINT, namely how this relates to ID.”

    (Although Bill has been pointing out repeatedly that UPB is either affirming the consequent or engaging in circular reasoning depending on his shifting definitions of words, and this complaint has been met basically with “that’s not true because I SAY it’s not true”, over and over)

    I personally think UBP is accustomed to “amen” as a response to his sermons, rather than “this argument is incomplete, illogical and unsatisfactory”. That’s not how it’s DONE at his church.           

  42. Silly boy. “Representations and protocols” only applies to living things, and living things can be be distinguished from nonliving by the presence of representations and protocols. Now go away.

  43. Petrushka says:Silly boy. “Representations and protocols” only applies to living things, and living things can be be distinguished from nonliving by the presence of representations and protocols. Now go away.

    That appears to be about the most concise summary of UB’s “argument” we have so far.

    He certainly knows how to keep focusing attention on himself while never saying anything. Wonder where he learned that.

    Oh my; I suspect we have become enablers!

  44. I personally think UBP is accustomed to “amen” as a response to his sermons, rather than “this argument is incomplete, illogical and unsatisfactory”. That’s not how it’s DONE at his church.   

    I haven’t seen any of the regulars at the ID table using or adopting UPB’s argument. Not Dembski, nor Behe, nor Axe, nor Wells, nor any of the published regulars. The article I linked mentions the chicken and egg problem, which I think is at the core of UPB’s argument. Which came first, the code or the reader.

    If UPB would just make this explicit we could begin a discussion. If it isn’t the core of his argument, then it would be helpful to know what the core is.

    For me, the problem for ID is that evolution is both observable and amenable to experimental manipulation. Not only doe ID not have any candidates for the designer, it also lacks any credibility based on observed instances or demonstrations of concept.  There is nothing in the design pantheon equivalent to the GA. There is no demonstration that it is even possible to anticipate the utility of a coding sequence without building it and subjecting it to selection.

  45. Somebody at UD says ” If someone left a Stonehenge on Mars I’d bet they left some other traces and evidence. ” and upright responds:

     

    Traces and evidence, you mean like the functional control of protein synthesis from symbols-based memory?

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/engineer-says-the-atom-has-a-designer-trolls-disagree/#comment-426608

    Cargo cult science. Instead of Stonehenge, insert X and Upright’s response will remain the same. Why should it change? 

    And I urge you both to read for context.

    Upright Biped, who or what created the representations and protocols?
     

    And why? And when? And *how do you know*? And why is this an argument for ID? What sort of ID? Alien ID? Can’t be, can it? Must be “God” ID then? Any particular flavour of god? Where does this “symbols-based memory” come from, if you don’t know then can you rule anything out? We can rule out Aliens, right? Or ghosts? What about invisible pink unicorns? 

    And it’s funny how you never get into conversations about what your revelation means. Not very productive is it? 

    The use of representations and protocols are the sufficient and necessary material conditions in order to achieve that result, and are the only means demonstrated to do so. Likewise, the transfer of recorded information is the sufficient and necessary phenomena to indicate the use of representation and protocols, and there are no other processes which demonstrate their use.

    And therefore, what?

    Go on, it’s still your go. Do something.

    So what is it that you think you have proven with this chain of logic? 

     

    But please note here; Pattee is talking about a distinction between symbolic control that has some relations to physical law, and symbolic control that has no relation at all to physical law.

    It’s interesting how you feel you can interpret what somebody else is really saying.

    When Pattee states that the apparent isolation of symbolic control from physical law is an illusion, he is stating his position that symbolic control cannot be entirely separated from physical law. He is stating that the symbol (which he does not deny) cannot be entirely “autonomous” from physical law, or to put it in the form of a question: can a symbol exist separated from matter and law?

    Tell you what. Why don’t you simply write a paper! Publish it and then you’ll be expanding the canon of human knowledge a little. Then you won’t have to interpret somebody else’s words to make your argument. Your argument is all over the place and seems to cover many bases. So why not condense it into it’s essence and publish it? You’ve probably spent more time and words on defending it to random internet people then it would have take to write it once and get it out there in the journals. You see, unlike you I’m not making any grand claims. So it’s not me that has to “read for comprehension”. It’s you. And by all means, continue to argue on the internet. It’s great fun. Especially the condescension, it’s not a put down, just vastly amusing.

    So if traces and evidence like the functional control of protein synthesis from symbols-based memory is available, what is it evidence of? ID? Why? What sort of ID? Aliens? etc etc. 

  46. UB:

    So a fair and modest recap would be that the term “entailment” was used in a valid manner, and the objection regarding its use is no longer on the table.

    Unfortunately, all you’ve done in reserving for yourself this use of “entailment” (using the fire triangle/tetrahedron as an illustration) is express more explicitly the fact that your conclusions are assumed.

    The notion of entailment is useful in a scientific/empirical context because it permits the generation and test of theoretical claims by empirical means using the logic of modus tollens. I stated this clearly earlier in the discussion:

    Science often proceeds by invoking exactly the reasoning I describe. As I stated earlier, “wetted ground is an absolutely reliable entailment of (consequence of) rainstorms, in that wet ground always results from rainstorms. By modus tollens, if I hypothesize that it rained 15 minutes ago, I may test my hypothesis because rain 100% reliably entails wet ground. If I fail to find this entailment of rain, my hypothesis fails. If I do find wet ground my hypothesis is not disconfirmed, and indeed it is strengthened because a prediction that flowed from it has been confirmed. But it could still be wrong.”

    You will recognize this as the logic of hypothesis testing. Theoretical utterances, to be useful, must have operationalizable entailments, by means of which the theory may be tested. Those entailments must predict the outcome of observations, such that failure make the predicted observation places the theory at risk of disconfirmation (a form of entailment that is entirely absent from UB’s semiotic theory, as well as ID theory generally). You will also recognize the provisional nature of the support a scientific theory receives from observational success. It could still be wrong. It is by means of this logic of entailment that, in the real world, “judgments are made based on the evidence.”

    Although you use the word “entailment” and claim to be deriving conclusions from observations, your usage of that term does not denote a entailment in the sense that is useful in generating testable predictions. 

    Rather, you use “entailment” in the sense that, if A denotes the necessary and sufficient conditions for B, then B “entails” A. That’s a big if, however, because from B it only follows that sufficient conditions for B have obtained, not that that these sufficient conditions are also necessary (and therefore exclusive) conditions. Whether they are also necessary conditions must be established independently.

    In the instance of the fire tetrahedron it is the fact that we already know by other means that the fire tetrahedron represents sufficient and necessary conditions for combustion, justifying your B – > A inference. Therefore all you learn from B -> A regarding necessary conditions is something you already know. Not a very powerful inference.

    But you don’t have even that luxury vis your argument.

    When you say, “If a specific thing only exist under specific conditions…,” that too is a big “if,” because you haven’t established that your specific thing exists only given those specific conditions. Unlike the fire tetrahedron, you have no independent support for the thesis that yours are both sufficient and necessary conditions for the phenomenon in question – other than your mutually referenced definitions.

    But that is the claim at issue, and that claim calls for an evidentiary basis you have yet to supply. It can’t be settled by uttering definitions. It can’t be settled by pointing out that B -> A if A denotes the necessary and sufficient conditions of B, because that requires you to assume that A denotes the necessary and sufficient condition for B. Indeed, the only move you’ve made that supports your claim that your “listed entailments” are both sufficient and necessary for the transfer of recorded information/a semiotic state are your definitions of these terms as as such, relative to one another (cf, “ouroboros,” above).

    So the semiotic theory continues to hang from a logical skyhook.

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