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. Upright BiPed on May 14, 2012 at 4:09 pmsaid:

    Dr Liddle,

    Nobody is claiming that A implies B means that B does not imply A, merely that A implies B does not mean B implies A.”

    I am not sure where you’ve been, but Bill’s entire counter-argument is that “B does not imply A”. He began his counter-argument with this observation:

    “Murder victims invariably entail a dead person who does not walk, talk, respirate, or exhibit a heartbeat. In every instance of a murder the world over, throughout all history, these entailments have invariably obtained. Therefore every time we encounter a dead person, who does not walk, talk, respirate, or exhibit a heartbeat, we can conclude the person has been murdered.”

    And after several rounds of discussion, his counter-argument has come to this:

    BIPED : (talking about Bill’s objection) “Then he suggests that the physical entailments of recorded information cannot confirm the existence of a semiotic state. This is the crux of his objection.”

    BILL: Correct.

    And none of that is at odds with what I said, which is that if we know that A implies B, and we observe B, we cannot confirm A.  We cannot refute A either, of course, but the relevant point is that we cannot confirm A.

    Of course if you define “A state” to mean “anything with property B” then you are, a priori, saying that not only does A imply B but B also implies A.

    In which case, obviously, observing B implies A! 

     

    We are merely saying that pointing out that A implies B does not alone allow us to conclude that B implies A.

    What allows us to conclude that B implies A is material evidence. As crazy as it sounds, that is how all empirical disputes are resolved. But this has not been Bill’s gameplan. Bill’s entire goal is to build a box around the semiotic argument so that he does not have to argue over the validity of the material evidence. On one side of the box is a “fatal logical flaw” created just by making the claim (after all, ‘wet ground can’t confirm that it rained’ and ‘not all males are bachelors’). And on the other side of the box is the bald assertion that I am assuming my conclusions. His first objection would result in a situation where claims cannot even be made, and his second objection is wholly unsustainable based upon the content of the argument. 

    It seems to me that you have completely misunderstood what Bill, and everyone else, has been saying.

    Clearly, if it is the case that the only possible cause of wet ground is rain, and if the only possible result of rain is wet ground, then wet ground is evidence for rain, and rain is evidence for wet ground.

    And so, if you define a “semiotic state” as being the state in which A and B are present, then if you observe A and B, then yes, you have evidence of a “semiotic state”. 

    But we have all been willing to grant this.  What we want to know is what you can conclude from defining “semiotic state” in such a way that it embraces both genetic translation and linguistic communication. 

    If we agree to define “a cat” as “a mammal that purrs”, then any mammal that purrs will, by definition, be called, by us, “a cat”.

    You are doing the same thing Bill has been doing, using a loaded analogy to sell a point which does not reflect the actual argument. If you want to argue that the definition of semiosis used in the argument is false, then do it straight up without the false analogies. Otherwise, acknowledge it is correct.

    Well, a number of us consider your use of the word “semiosis” to be a highly loaded analogy!  But leaving that aside, I’m not the slightest bit bothered by your definition of “semiotic state” as long as it does not lead to the fallacious argument-by-analogy that because linguistic “semiotic states” exist between intelligent agents, somehow the genetic transcription process must have something to do with intelligence.

    If that’s not the argument you are making, fine.  If it is, then there’s a problem.

    We are prepared, for the purpose of this discussion, to call such a process “semiotic” (because the tRNA molecules “translate” a “code” into a “meaning”, rather as in language).

    Who is this “we” Dr Liddle? Bill entire argument is that the process cannot be termed “semiotic”. He has been joined in that by every defender on your side of the argument. But does this “we” include you Dr Liddle? Are these not your words: “I do dispute that there is anything “semiotic” about the genetic code.” Elizabeth Liddle 4/18/2012.

    Well, perhaps I should not have used such an inclusive pronoun. My own view is that the word “semiotic” is wildly inappropriate to describe the genetic code.  However, for the purposes of this discussion, I am personally happy to accept your definition of “semiotic state”, as long as you don’t then extrapolate from properties of human symbol usage to biochemical processes.

    The only reason you are “prepared” to call the process “semiotic” is because you have no logical or evidentiary means to deny it – just like the entire remainder of the argument. In fact, within the course of our conversations, you have step-by-step conceded virtually every point made in the argument. Yet, you still don’t exhibit the intellectual integrity to concede that the argument has merit, nor can you sustain a viable argument that it doesn’t.

    Blimey

    Upright BiPed, the only reason I am “prepared” to call the process “semiotic” is because you have defined “semiotic” in such a way that it includes such a process

    You seem utterly confused about the difference between definitions and evidence.  We’ve had this problem right from the beginning of this conversation, when I tried to pin you down to a workable operational definition of information.   Yes, we can define “semiotic” so that the word includes the processes by which an mRNA molecule is part of a chain of catalytic processes, the endstate of which is a protein that it is completely specified by the specific sequence of that mRNA molecule.

    And not one person here denies the evidence that this cascade of processes, termed “translation”, takes place in a cell, nor that the sequence of mRNA bases determines the final protein.

    The only thing any of us disagree with you about is that that process must be Intelligently Designed.

    And you have provided no argument that I am aware of that it must be.

    Can you drop the other shoe?

    If I do, it will most certainly land on your head. Your defense of your position has been a total failure. Your apparent belief that you’ve had such a obvious success with it, is intractably incoherent to the facts.

    And to repeat, my “position” is simply that your argument for Intelligent Design is, at best, circular, and amounts to:

    • What exists between mRNA and a protein is a semiotic state, by my definition.
    • Some semiotic states are between intelligent agents.
    • Therefore the genetic code is intelligently designed.

    Which fallacious in exactly the way we have all been pointing out, NOT because we deny that the evidence implies that a semiotic state, by your definition, exists between mRNA and the protein it codes for, but because the only intelligent design argument that you seem to be building on that definition is circular.

     

    However, it is possible that this is not your argument.  If this is the case, please can you tell us what it is?

  2. Upright BiPed on May 14, 2012 at 4:42 pmsaid:

    I would like to also note that after tens of thousands of words and more than a dozen back-and-forth exchanges with a dozen or so objectors, the material evidence underlying the semiotic argument remains unchanged, and unrefuted.

    I agree that the argument remains unrefuted.  That is because it has not been made.

    ETA: to clarify – if the argument is as I just presented it, then it has been refuted. I am not aware of any other argument you have advanced.

    All you seem to have done is defined “semiotic state” in such a way that it includes translation [ETA: i.e. the genetic translation process]. Which whoever coined the term “translation” presumably already thought of.

  3. Yeah, if we say semiotic implies intelligence, and then we redefine semiotic as including gravitational attraction, we have “intelligent falling”. Piece of cake.

    I haven’t found a reason to change my suspicion that for Upright BiPed, his assumptions are taken so completely for granted that he regards them as manifest evidence. 

  4. I’ve been watching this for quite a few months, going back to UD. I haven’t seen anything to refute my opinion that UPB is simply assuming his conclusion.

    He abstracts the chemistry, “reducing” it to information processing, declares that information processing is something only done by intelligent agents, and declaring that the chemistry is therefore designed.

    As I have said elsewhere, it’s equivocation with lipstick.

  5. Dr Liddle,

    It appears that your last two posts are a haphazard attempt to reinstate your anthropocentric fallacies from before, with your imputing of “intelligence”, “human linguistics”, “human agency” etc., into the argument where they do not exist (and never have existed). All of these objections have already been dealt with on numerous occasions in numerous ways. So forgive me for having to repeat myself. Please pay attention:

    The semiotic argument argues that the transfer of any recorded information (form about something) has material consequences. To transfer form about something requires a material capacity to do so. Observation demonstrates that the capacity to transfer form about something through a material medium is facilitated by the transfer of a representation of that form instantiated in an arrangement of matter. This is complimented by a mechanism allowing a particular material representation to produce a particular effect within a system. The introduction of a representation into a physical system necessitates the physical establishment of arbitrary relationships between objects within that system. Representations are arbitrary to the form they represent because the medium they are transferred by is not the form they represent to the system. Observation also demonstrates that the arbitrary relationship (between the representation and its effect) is established by a second arrangement of matter within the system. This second arrangement of matter (referred to as a protocol in the argument) provides a mechanism by which the material (but arbitrary) representation can induce an effect based upon its material arrangement.

    A physical dynamic therefore exist between these material objects as a result of the arbitrary representation. That observed dynamic is that neither the representation nor the protocol ever becomes the effect, while together they determine what the effect will be. This dynamic is the necessary result of having a material effect determined by an arbitrary element within the system; it allows the establishment of an arbitrary relationship within a system otherwise operating by purely material forces. The material effect is induced by the representation while maintaining its arbitrary nature.

    Finally, there is a fourth observation (beyond that of representations, protocols, and their dynamic relationships) which is provided as a means to confirm the transfer of recorded information. That fourth element is the unambiguous observation of a functional effect being produced. Without that effect, we could not know with any confidence that any particular arrangement of matter was a representation of anything; we could not know that any particular arrangement of matter established an arbitrary relationship between two separate things. Only by the observation of a functional effect can the relationships of these other objects become discernible.

    Demonstrating a system that satisfies these material consequences confirms the transfer of recorded information and demonstrates a semiotic state, given that it is representations are protocols which are being demonstrated by their material existence. The conclusion of the semiotic argument in regards to genetic information is that protein synthesis demonstrates these exact material consequences and is therefore semiotic, requiring a mechanism capable of creating a semiotic state.

    As opposed to attacking the validity of the material observations, your claim is that this is circular reasoning. Please take the argument given above and demonstrate the circular reasoning involved in reaching the conclusion of the argument. Please do not impute subjects into the argument that are not a part of the material observations. Please do not imply that I have manufactured the definitions contained in the argument unless you can demonstrate that I have done so. Please do not argue in the abstract, given that the actual observations are provided. If you feel that additional information is required in order for you to demonstrate the circular reasoning you’ve claimed, then ask for it.

  6. Upright BiPed,

    As mentioned many times by Mike Elzinga, your semiotic argument fails because it does not take into account physics.

    No “code” has to obey “physics/chemistry” but biology does.

    If you take two bar magnets, throw them into a paper bag and shake, you will never end up with two like poles contacting each other.

    If chemistry was overruled by “semiotic code”, any chemical combination would be as likely as any other.

    There is no level of indirection at work in a cell.

     

  7. Toronto, as is typical of you, your argument is absolutely incoherent to the observations. All physical things must follow physical laws. Codes are physical things, they follow physical laws. Nowhere in the argument do I suggest otherwise. 

    Perhaps you should try understanding the argument you wish to refute. 

  8. Upright BiPed, rather than attempting to analyse my motives, I’d be grateful if you would actually address my posts. Or at least read them.

    You say:

    As opposed to attacking the validity of the material observations, your claim is that this is circular reasoning. Please take the argument given above and demonstrate the circular reasoning involved in reaching the conclusion of the argument.

    There is no circular reasoning in any argument you have made here, because you have made no argument.  All you have done is describe what is going on during the genetic translation process in linguistic terms. 

    At no stage have you attempted to argue that because the genetic translation process has these “semiotic” properties, they must have been intelligently designed.  You seem to think that this is self-evident.  It isn’t.  You need to make the case.  Most of us I think (I certainly) assumed that your case was: linguistic semiotic systems involve intelligent agents, so genetic ones must too, which would be fallacious, for reasons we gave.  But perhaps we have misunderstood you.  Perhaps this is not your argument.

    So I asked what it was.  You have provided nothing apart from yet another definition of “semiotic state” and a rationale for calling the genetic translation process “semiotic”.  Fine.  I will call it “semiotic” too, for exactly the reasons you give.

    But what has this got to do with an argument for intelligent design?

    Please do not impute subjects into the argument that are not a part of the material observations.

    I don’t know what this means.

    Please do not imply that I have manufactured the definitions contained in the argument unless you can demonstrate that I have done so.

    I don’t care whether you have manufactured them or transcribed them from some divine dictionary, the point is that a definition is not an argument. Your “semiotic argument” is supposed to be an argument for ID.  All I have seen is an argument that the translation process can be reasonably described as “semiotic”.  Fine.  I buy that.  Now, where is the argument for ID?

    Please do not argue in the abstract, given that the actual observations are provided. If you feel that additional information is required in order for you to demonstrate the circular reasoning you’ve claimed, then ask for it.

    What I need, Upright BiPed, is your argument.  I have told you I am perfectly happy to stipulate that by the definition of “semiotic” you have provided, the mRNA translation process is “semiotic”.  What I want to is how that makes your case for Intelligent Design.

     

     

  9. Upright BiPed on May 14, 2012 at 8:45 pmsaid:

    Toronto, as is typical of you, your argument is incoherent to the observations. All physical things must follow physical laws. Codes are physical things, they follow physical laws. Nowhere in the argument do I suggest otherwise. 

    Perhaps you should try understanding the argument you wish to refute. 

    If we are not understanding your argument, consider that you may need to make it more clearly.  I am not seeing an argument for Intelligent Design here, and the one that some of us have inferred appears to be one that you do not claim to be making.

    So please lay out what it is.

  10. Upright BiPed, everyone here has made an attempt to understand your argument. By astounding coincidence, everyone here has come to the same understanding. You have formulated your definitions in such a way as to assume your conclusions.

    Yes, chemistry follows laws, implicit in the periodic table. They are not following abstract codes, or encoded representations. They are following the rules of chemistry. There ARE NO CODES HERE. There is only chemistry, and the physical rules chemistry follows.

    If you wish to PROJECT some sort of intelligence into the rules of chemistry, note that chemistry follows these rules, and “deduce” intelligence (which you inserted by your own definition), you are going to get called on it. This is dishonest. Everyone sees it. You have assumed your conclusion.

    I think everyone is getting tired of telling you this, and you simply wrapping yourself up in verbose denial and repeating the error ad nauseum. You would probably be best advised to return to blathering at those who assume the same conclusions you do. That way, you’ll know you’re right.     

  11. Upright BiPed,

    UBP: “All physical things must follow physical laws. Codes are physical things, they follow physical laws.”

    No, “codes” are not things.

    Codes “represent” things, which is why we say information is “encoded”.

    I can send you the sound “ahhh” in an MP3 file or send you “a” with the same result.

    They both have to be “decoded” before use.

    Do you agree that a “code” for X is not the same as X?

    UPB: “Perhaps you should try understanding the argument you wish to refute. “

    Perhaps you should understand the difference between a “symbolic” code and the physical “thing” it represents.

     

     

     

  12. Dr Liddle,

    There is no circular reasoning in any argument you have made here, because you have made no argument.

    Odd isn’t it? You specifically claimed my argument was circular. Then when I asked you to substantiate your claim with details, suddenly there is no circularity because there is no argument.

    I gave you the etymology of the word “information” which I am working from. By your own estimation, I provided you with a very “defensible” definition of recorded information by defining its material existence. I then gave you the material description of a representation, and of a protocol. I provided the observations of these objects in terms of their material roles within the process of transferring recorded information. I provided a set of entirely coherent observations of these objects (without the slightest bit of ambiguity) from humans, animals, insects, and information-processing machinery. I even spoke to the logical necessity of these objects in the recording and transfer of information. I then provided the same observations of these objects at work during the process of genetic information transfer. Finally, I provided the widely-accepted definition of semiosis, which is a process involving the use of representations and protocols. I then offered the conclusion being made from these observations, and in order to avoid any misunderstanding, I presented those conclusions by specifically announcing that ‘these are the conclusions’ of the semiotic argument. I made the specific claim that protein synthesis is observationally semiotic given that it demonstrates the use of representations and protocols, as does all other forms of recorded information transfer. And as such, I also claimed that it would require a mechanism capable of creating a semiotic state.  

    And to this, all you can do now is say that no argument has been made.

    I am reminded of the very first time I became truly aware of the pejorative academic term “handwaiving” and the intellectual vacuity conveyed by its use. There could be no situation where that term is more appropriate than in your final response.

  13. You haven’t made an argument that this could not evolve. That’s the argument we are waiting for.

    What does all this have to do with ID?

  14. Toronto, all codes must be instantiated in a physical object in order for the code to exist. That physical object must follow physical law. This point has been explained to you before.

  15. Upright BiPed,

    Upright BiPed: “I made the specific claim that protein synthesis is observationally semiotic given that it demonstrates the use of representations and protocols, as does all other forms of recorded information transfer.”

    You have failed in your claim because you don’t understand the difference between a “code” and the “thing” that it represents.

     

  16. Upright BiPed,

    Upright BiPed: “Toronto, all codes must be instantiated in a physical object in order for the code to exist.”

    But what we are talking about are not “codes” for “things”, they are instead, the “things” themselves”.

    This point has been explained to you before.

     

  17. Upright BiPed,

    Odd isn’t it? You specifically claimed my argument was circular. Then when I asked you to substantiate your claim with details, suddenly there is no circularity because there is no argument.

    Dr. Liddle made her meaning quite clear in the very same comment to which you are replying:

    Most of us I think (I certainly) assumed that your case was: linguistic semiotic systems involve intelligent agents, so genetic ones must too, which would be fallacious, for reasons we gave. But perhaps we have misunderstood you. Perhaps this is not your argument. So I asked what it was. You have provided nothing apart from yet another definition of “semiotic state” and a rationale for calling the genetic translation process “semiotic”. Fine. I will call it “semiotic” too, for exactly the reasons you give. But what has this got to do with an argument for intelligent design?

    Like several other participants here, I have been following your “Semiotic Argument” for some time, frankly without ever seeing your point. Rather than playing rhetorical games, why don’t you simply reply to this question. If the fallacious argument everyone has assumed you are making is not your actual argument, what does anything you’ve written on this topic have to do with intelligent design?

  18. Upright BiPed,

    Upright BiPed: “That physical object must follow physical law.”

    Physical objects don’t actually “follow” laws as the analogy suggests.

    We come up with the “laws” of physics to describe the interaction of physical objects and sometimes we get it wrong.

    Before Einstein, light was said to travel in a straight line, but Einstein thought differently and he was right.

    So we changed the “law”.

    Light no longer “had” to travel in a straight line.

     

     

     

  19. Patrick you should keep an eye on reading comprehension. Dr Liddle stated that my argument was circular. I asked her for the details of that cicularity. She then responded that nothing was circular because there is no argument. So in the space of one post an argument existed, then didn’t exist. It was circular, then that circularity vanished. I understand your wish to come to her defense, but nothing in the quote you posted from her provides any details of the circularity she claimed existed in the argument – a claim she made immediately prior to me asking her for those details. 

  20. Upright BiPed on May 14, 2012 at 9:35 pm said: Edit

    Dr Liddle,

    There is no circular reasoning in any argument you have made here, because you have made no argument.

    Odd isn’t it? You specifically claimed my argument was circular. Then when I asked you to substantiate your claim with details, suddenly there is no circularity because there is no argument.

    Upright BiPed, I would much rather be addressed as Lizzie and treated with respect, than addressed as “Dr Liddle” and treated like a dishonest child.  No, it is not very “odd”.  I have, like others, apparently been under the illusion that your argument about what constituted a “semiotic state” was your semiotic argument for ID, and assumed that the point of your argument was that as “semiotic states” between language users involve intelligent agents, somehow this implied that “semiotic states” within cells must involve intelligent agents as well.  That’s why I tried to get you to say who the communicating agents were supposed to be in the cell.  Because if that had been your argument (as I thought it was) it would have been fallacious, for reasons we have given. 

    However, you have now made it clear that this is NOT your argument.  But in that case, I, like others, are at loss as to what your semiotic argument actually is (other than the circular argument that if we define “semiotic state” in such a way that it includes the biochemistry of a cell, then there is no surprise if we find that the biochemistry of a cell is semiotic) for ID.

    That’s why I asked you to “drop the other shoe”.

     

    I gave you the etymology of the word “information” which I am working from. By your own estimation, I provided you with a very “defensible” definition of recorded information by defining its material existence. I then gave you the material description of a representation, and of a protocol. I provided the observations of these objects in terms of their material roles within the process of transferring recorded information. I provided a set of entirely coherent observations of these objects (without the slightest bit of ambiguity) from humans, animals, insects, and information-processing machinery. I even spoke to the logical necessity of these objects in the recording and transfer of information. I then provided the same observations of these objects at work during the process of genetic information transfer. Finally, I provided the widely-accepted definition of semiosis, which is a process involving the use of representations and protocols. I then offered the conclusion being made from these observations, and in order to avoid any misunderstanding, I presented those conclusions by specifically announcing that ‘these are the conclusions’ of the semiotic argument. I made the specific claim that protein synthesis is observationally semiotic given that it demonstrates the use of representations and protocols, as does all other forms of recorded information transfer. And as such, I also claimed that it would require a mechanism capable of creating a semiotic state.  

     

    And to this, all you can do now is say that no argument has been made.

    No.  I have explicitly said that I am willing, for the sake of this discussion, to stipulate all that.  What I want to know is why this is an argument for ID. You have not given one.  All you have argued the case for is applying the word “semiotic” to the process of genetic transcription.

     

    I am reminded of the very first time I became truly aware of the pejorative academic term “handwaiving” and the intellectual vacuity conveyed by its use. There could be no situation where that term is more appropriate than in your final response.

    I think you mean “handwaving” 😉  However I profoundly disagree.  My request to you is absolutely on point and I have (yet again!) agreed to accept your terminology.  I am simply asking you to state why this makes any kind of case for ID.

    I refuse to waive this request 😉

  21. Again, I note…no one has attacked the material observations made within the argument.

  22. Upright BiPed,

     

    As amusing, productive, and not at all a waste of time as it would be to discuss the evidence for each other’s reading comprehension and to deconstruct Dr. Liddle’s most recent comment in excruciating detail, I’m going to suggest we skip that and focus on the actual issue she raised:

    If the fallacious argument everyone has assumed you are making is not your actual argument, what does anything you’ve written on this topic have to do with intelligent design?

  23. Upright BiPed on May 14, 2012 at 10:07 pm said:

    Patrick you should keep an eye on reading comprehension. Dr Liddle stated that my argument was circular. I asked her for the details of that cicularity. She then responded that nothing was circular because there is no argument. So in the space of one post an argument existed, then didn’t exist. It was circular, then that circularity vanished. I understand your wish to come to her defense, but nothing in the quote you posted from her provides any details of the circularity she claimed existed in the argument – a claim she made immediately prior to me asking her for those details.

    Upright BiPed, the reading comprehension problem appears to me to be on your side.

    Let me make my meaning still clearer: 

    1. The argument I thought you were making would have been circular.
    2. However, it appears that you are not making the argument I thought you were making, and what I thought was “circular” turns out merely to be a definitional preamble. 
    3. So now I am asking for your actual argument: why does the fact that the process of translation can be defined as “semiotic” imply an Intelligent Designer?

     

  24. Upright BiPed on May 14, 2012 at 10:14 pm said:

    Again, I note…no one has attacked the material observations made within the argument.

    No indeed we have not. All we are now waiting for is your actual semiotic argument for Intelligent Design.

  25. I think I answered that earlier. If we define gravitational attraction as semiotic, and say that semiosis involves intelligence, we come up with “intelligent falling.” UB seems to be saying that chemical reactions are semiotic, and therefore imply intelligence according to the same reasoning.

  26. Toronto on May 14, 2012 at 9:56 pmsaid:Edit

    Upright BiPed,

    Upright BiPed: “That physical object must follow physical law.”

    Physical objects don’t actually “follow” laws as the analogy suggests.

    We come up with the “laws” of physics to describe the interaction of physical objects and sometimes we get it wrong.

    Before Einstein, light was said to travel in a straight line, but Einstein thought differently and he was right.

    So we changed the “law”.

    Light no longer “had” to travel in a straight line.

    Yeah, Upright BiPed.  Don’t be misled by the word “law”.  A scientific law isn’t prescriptive like a human law, it is solely descriptive.  And sometimes only descriptive within certain ranges, or under certain conditions.  And sometimes only stochastically.

  27. I’ll ask Dr. Liddle a question to clarify things in my own mind. IF BiPed asserts that all semiotic processes imply intelligence, would he have made an argument as presented:
    1) Chemistry is semiotic
    2) Semiosis requires intelligent guidance
    3) therefore, chemistry is intelligently guided.  

  28. UBP says: “I made the specific claim that protein synthesis is observationally semiotic given that it demonstrates the use of representations and protocols, as does all other forms of recorded information transfer. And as such, I also claimed that it would require a mechanism capable of creating a semiotic state. ”

    What “representations and protocols” do atoms follow when they condense into stars?  What “representations and protocols” do stars follow in building up heavier elements from hydrogen and helium?  What “representations and protocols” do stars follow when they the go supernova and throw those new elements out onto space and generate additional heavier elements in the shock waves of the explosion?  What “representations and protocols” do these elements follow when they condense into second and third generation stars and are built up into even heavier elements?

     

    What “representations and protocols” do atoms follow when they combine into compounds?  What “representations and protocols” do atoms and molecules follow when condensing into solids and liquids?

     

    What “representations and protocols” do atoms and molecules follow then condensing into even more complex molecules?

     

    Where along the chain of complexity that we see in matter in the universe does the notion of “representations and protocols” start replace the laws of physics and chemistry?  Why do “representations and protocols” have to replace the laws of physics and chemistry?

     

    How do “representations and protocols” push atoms and molecules around?

     

    Are you suggesting that “representations and protocols” somehow “make use of” the laws of physics and chemistry?  How do they do that?  What physical mechanism(s) is(are) involved when “representations and protocols” push atoms and molecules around or “make use of” the laws of physics and chemistry?

     

    Aren’t you simply trying to replace “intelligence” and “information” with “representations and protocols?”  How does “information” push atoms and molecules around?

     

    What does semiotics have to do with any of this?

  29. Flint on May 14, 2012 at 10:24 pmsaid:Edit

    I’ll ask Dr. Liddle a question to clarify things in my own mind. IF BiPed asserts that all semiotic processes imply intelligence, would he have made an argument as presented:
    1) Chemistry is semiotic
    2) Semiosis requires intelligent guidance
    3) therefore, chemistry is intelligently guided.  

     

    Well as I understand it, the argument starts something like:

    1) The genetic transcription process can be described as semiotic for these reasons (entailments, protocols, transfer of information etc)

    2) ?

    3) ?

    I am happy to accept 1.  But if two and three are:

    2) Semiosis requires intelligent guidance

    3) therefore, the genetic transcription process is intelligently guided.  

    Then I would say that argument makes the fallacy of the excluded middle (All cats are mammals; this animal is a mammal; this animal is a cat), which is what we were all saying.  But Upright BiPed says that is not his argument.  He seems to think that his entire argument is the contents of 1).

    But if so, as an argument, it is circular (except in the trivial sense of being an argument that the two systems, language and genetic transcription, have something in common, which I think we all accept, and which Upright BiPed calls “semiosis”).  As a definitional preamble, it’s fair enough, but in that case, I want to hear the actual argument.

     

  30. Dr Liddle,

    No, it is not very “odd”.

    It’s not odd that you would repeat for the umpteen-millionth time that my argument is circular, only to claim there is no circularity and no argument the very moment I ask you to back up your claim? BS.

    I have, like others, apparently been under the illusion that your argument about what constituted a “semiotic state” was your semiotic argument for ID, and assumed that the point of your argument was that as “semiotic states” between language users involve intelligent agents, somehow this implied that “semiotic states” within cells must involve intelligent agents as well. 

    I have never (even once) deviated from the conclusion of the semiotic argument – that is that a semiotic state exists in protein synthesis, and would require a mechanism capable of creating a semiotic state. These are the conclusions which can be rationally drawn from the evidence at hand, i.e. they are appropriate to the evidence, and do not go beyond it. I have repeated them many, many, many times. Additionally, given my specific rebuttal to your “anthropocentric malaise” of several months ago, I find it virtually impossible that you could have understood the argument otherwise. Even in the original argument given to Dr Moran, I clearly stated:

    “Demonstrating a system that satisfies the entailments (physical consequences) of recorded information, also confirms the existence of a semiotic state. It does so observationally. Yet, the descriptions of these entailments make no reference to a mind. Certainly a living being with a mind can be tied to the observations of information transfer, but so can other living things and non-living machinery. It must be acknowledged; human beings did not invent iterative representational systems, or recorded information. We came along later and discovered they already existed”.

    Consequently, when you claim that you’ve thought all along the argument was about human communication and intelligent agents, then I simply do not believe you. And if I am mistaken about that, then perhaps you might look back across the entire history of our conversation and recognize the sheer lack of any indication from me that I conveyed what you heard. I have been saying nothing of the sort, so you can assume the full responsibility of your position. I have done everything I could to divert you from the priori assumptions you’ve fallen into, just as you have resisted those efforts at every turn.

    I, like others, are at loss as to what your semiotic argument actually is (other than the circular argument that if we define “semiotic state” in such a way that it includes the biochemistry of a cell, then there is no surprise if we find that the biochemistry of a cell is semiotic) for ID.

    Surprise surprise! Circularity returns yet again! Amazing!

    You may make this claim of circularity when you demonstrate that the definition of semiosis is one I manufactured in order to fit the material observations. If not, then argument and definition are not circular, they’re simply accurate.

    What I want to know is why this is an argument for ID.

    We have already had this conversation as well. What I see here is a person who has struggled mightily to defend her position against a valid attack on material grounds, yet hasn’t demonstrated the integrity to acknowledge the argument being presented. (That’s all on you, by the way). And now you want nothing more than for me to get off the discussion of material evidence, and move into new territory without any acknowledgement of where we’ve been. I have no obligation to do so, and no intention of it. You may want to try and spin my unwillingness into a reason to quit. Certainly, no one could blame you.

    Alternatively, you can address the semiotic argument as it was actually presented, and either challenge those material observations or acknowledge the validity of the claim that protein synthesis is observable semiotic.

  31. Mike,

    UBP says: “I made the specific claim that protein synthesis is observationally semiotic given that it demonstrates the use of representations and protocols, as does all other forms of recorded information transfer. And as such, I also claimed that it would require a mechanism capable of creating a semiotic state.

    What “representations and protocols” do atoms follow when they condense into stars? 

    Who the hell thinks that atoms follow representations and protocols as they condense into stars? Moreover, why should I engage someone who obviously doesn’t understand the content of the argument, or whose only hope is to misrepresent it?

  32. Upright BiPed,

    Upright BiPed: “Demonstrating a system that satisfies the entailments (physical consequences) of recorded information, also confirms the existence of a semiotic state. It does so observationally. Yet, the descriptions of these entailments make no reference to a mind.”

    But you need an “intelligence” that knows what to “do” with the “code”.

    If you “don’t” need a “mind” or any other “intelligence”, then the only thing at work is physics/chemistry and your semiotic theory is not supported.


  33. Upright BiPed,

    How is it possible that you missed this point?

    UPB: “Who the hell thinks that atoms follow representations and protocols as they condense into stars?”

    Mike’s point was, that just as “atoms” don’t need a protocol to condense into stars, neither do cells in biology require representations and protocols for their chemical activity.

    UPB: “Moreover, why should I engage someone who obviously doesn’t understand the content of the argument, or whose only hope is to misrepresent it?”

    You claim we don’t get your point, but you don’t seem to be able to connect two dots when they’re handed to you.

    Jumping to an unwarranted conclusion doesn’t help your cause or credibility.

    Read with respect and respond with less snark please.

     

     

     

     

  34. UB:

    Bill’s entire counter-argument is based upon the idea that something else could be causing the material entailments observed in the process of ‘transferring form though the use of an arrangement of matter.’ ….Bill suggests that this ‘something else’ could be non-semiotic and thereby cause the argument to be false. 

    No, my argument is that, owing to a fatal logical error, nothing in your semiotic argument excludes that possibility. As it is the purpose of your semiotic theory of ID to assert the impossibility of a non-semiotic origin for the process in question (the transcription of DNA ), this flaw results in the complete collapse of your argument.

    Nothing about the natural origins of the phenomena in question otherwise flows form “logical necessity.” In fact, I have stated the opposite from the beginning: “Of course, that is simply to state a starting assumption, not anything conclusory. It then becomes an empirical question, not one that can be decided in an armchair shuffling dictionary definitions. The science inheres in the work that follows: articulating how such complex biological systems arose by means of evolutionary processes. No trivial task.”

    UB: 

    Does the institution of science actually live by tenets of Bill objection?

    Yes, 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.”

    Simply repeating Bill’s disanalogy does not improve upon it. “A implies B does not mean B implies A” is a disanalogy for several reasons, but one of them is because it’s missing the logical possibility that B might imply A.

    Of course B might entail A for other reasons. But what does not obtain is “A entails B, therefore B entails A. And that is the logical form of your argument to date. Due to this error, your argument fails to accomplish what you so fervently wish it to accomplish.

    What allows us to conclude that B implies A is material evidence.

    Specifically, evidence that B exclusively entails A. But that is entirely what is at issue in this debate, and you’ve adduced no evidence whatsoever in support of the notion that B exclusively entails A – with the exception of the instances in which you state this by definition. Specifically, you’ve adduced no evidence whatsoever that the systems in question cannot have evolved by non-semiotic means through non-semiotic processes.

    Rather, you’ve assumed this conclusion throughout.

  35. You obviously didn’t get past the first sentence in my line of questions.

    The claim that I quoted from you apparently had no meaning either?

  36. I have never (even once) deviated from the conclusion of the semiotic argument – that is that a semiotic state exists in protein synthesis, and would require a mechanism capable of creating a semiotic state. These are the conclusions which can be rationally drawn from the evidence at hand, i.e. they are appropriate to the evidence, and do not go beyond it. I have repeated them many, many, many times.

    OK, let’s take it from here. As you define a semiotic state, it applies to protein synthesis. OK, people here are willing to allow your definition, and agree that a semiotic state exists in protein synthesis. So far so good.

    Next, you say this requires a mechanism capable of creating a semiotic state. No problem. The number of such mechanisms may well be very large, and include processes wildly different from one another.

    As a general principle, the wider your definition of a semiotic process, the more VERY different processes that this encompasses, the less your definition says about any particular process.

    So far, your definition applies broadly to ANY processes capable of producing proteins. So far, these are not “conclusions”, these are the definition of what you mean by semiotic – synthesized proteins and ANY AND ALL processes that might accomplish this.

    OK so far. Now, so what?

  37. I remember this argument’s origins at UD, and as I follow it, in the same sense that the specific binary sequence (100) shares no physical or chemical relationship with the number 4, the 4-ary dna base sequence (UGG) shares no physical or chemical relationship with Tryptophan. The relationship between the specific set of yes
    and no questions (100) and the number 4, and the specific set of dna bases (UGG) and the amino acid Tryptophan, is arbitrary. The relationships have been established by some separate protocol. Whereas the transfer of the sequence is simply the result of physics and chemistry,  the relationship between the sequence and the number or the amino acid is not necessarily bound by physics and chemistry, but rather some separate protocol.

    In this event, UB has been flanked by Alan and Bill. Alan’s simple precursor would refute the argument, as UB has already stated. If a plausible mapping as Alan suggests existed from some simple precurser to the genetic code, then Bill’s argument would simply follow from there. However, I’m not aware any plausible scenarios that currently exists.
     

  38. junkdnaforlife

    The relationship between the specific set of yes
    and no questions (100) and the number 4, and the specific set of dna bases (UGG) and the amino acid Tryptophan, is arbitrary.

    The relationship of UGG to Tryptophan is not arbitrary.  Arbitrary would mean that any codon could, at the whim of the designer, be used to produce any amino acid. We know that is not the case.

  39. Reciprocating Bill,

    No, my argument is that, owing to a fatal logical error, nothing in your semiotic argument excludes that possibility. As it is the purpose of your semiotic theory of ID to assert the impossibility of a non-semiotic origin for the process in question (the transcription of DNA ), this flaw results in the complete collapse of your argument.

    Nothing about the natural origins of the phenomena in question otherwise flows form “logical necessity.” In fact, I have stated the opposite from the beginning: “Of course, that is simply to state a starting assumption, not anything conclusory. It then becomes an empirical question, not one that can be decided in an armchair shuffling dictionary definitions. The science inheres in the work that follows: articulating how such complex biological systems arose by means of evolutionary processes. No trivial task.”

    I love the drama Bill. Unfortunately these two paragraphs are in a bit of a contradiction to one another. The first basically states that just making the claim causes a logical fallacy. The cause of the phenomenon in question could be this or that, and just by claiming its “this” causes all hell to break loose because it could be “that” instead. Is your judgment of logical turpitude on my part as silly as it sounds? Yes, entirely. It could only make sense if I said “it’s this” and walked away. But I didn’t, I made the case instead, just as it’s done in any other claim of any kind. On the other hand, your second paragraph claims that it’s the evidence itself which must mediate my claim. Great. Glad you could join me.

    Representations and protocols have material consequences which manifest themselves in a system. Representations induce effects within that system and protocols determine what those effects will be. A representation is an arrangement of matter which is physically arbitrary to the effect it induces in the system. It is not merely the physical presence of the representation that induces the effect; it is the arrangement itself, which a quality not inherent in its material make-up. A protocol is an arrangement of matter which physically establishes the otherwise arbitrary relationship which exists between the representation and the effect it induces. In order to facilitate in the arbitrary nature of the representation, the protocol must establish this relationship in material isolation from the effect.

    That describes a fairly unique material state, one that is not entirely lost on the intellectual world. Its uniqueness is widely understood, even as it exists in genetic information. Yockey tells us that that there is no other reaction in the physicochemical world “even remotely” like it; others have said much the same. Polanyi refers to it as a boundary condition, not reducible to its physical make-up. Yet, we find this incredibly unique material state occurring in every single instance of recorded information transfer ever known, but absolutely nowhere else. So an entirely exceptional material state in known only to manifest itself in an entirely singular phenomenon, the transfer of recorded information. And when we find it also appearing in the transfer of recorded genetic information, you want to suggest that it’s a fatal logical fallacy to think they share anything in common, beyond that unique material state of course. Or, do you want to suggest this is merely the assumption of a conclusion?

    I’m prepared to defend my claim in either case. The claim is that protein synthesis is observably semiotic and requires a mechanism capable of creating a semiotic state.

  40. “A representation is an arrangement of matter which is physically arbitrary to the effect it induces in the system.”

    Wait a minute. Nothing about chemical reactions is physically arbitrary.

    As far as I can decode your post, you seem to be saying that the molecules which are involved in these reactions somehow get translated into arbitrary symbols unrelated to the reactions themselves, and then somehow these arbitrary symbols are re-translated into something physically meaningful. And this happens according to some protocol somehow embedded in the way the molecules are shaped. Is that correct?

    I find the interpretation of a chemical reaction as involving protocols for encoding and decoding otherwise arbitrary symbols to be, uh, creative. But still, all you’ve produced is a highly imaginative description of a chemical process.

    I doubt anyone would disagree that chemical reactions happen, or that in biology those reactions are highly complex. I think many would doubt that they involve arbitrary symbols, and I still haven’t figured out who is the sender and who is the receiver of this symbolic information.

    But even if ALL of that is granted, so what? Where does the intelligent design come in? I’m left speculating that you believe that there is some threshhold of chemical complexity, beyond which you just can’t swallow the idea that billions of years of trial and error feedback processes could produce such a thing. 

    After all, to the best of my knowledge the physical translation process is well understood. You haven’t described any chemistry that’s different or unknown. And those who know these processes perhaps far better than you do, don’t see any intelligent design. Even if they are generous enough to grant that agreed-on processes are “semiotic”, so what? 

    Describing gravity in page after page of complex Einsteinian equations in order to creation the impression of a “semiotic process”, still means that the apple falls from the tree the same as ever. Emphasizing the complexity doesn’t change the nature of an unintelligent process.

    Maybe you could work backwards. Start with the intelligence. What does it do? How can you tell? Could biochemistry happen without it? Why not?     

  41. I’m prepared to defend my claim in either case. The claim is that protein synthesis is observably semiotic and requires a mechanism capable of creating a semiotic state.

    Yet you vehemently objected to nucleosynthesis in stars and supernovae as being examples of “representations and protocols.” What about the formations of compounds and complex macromolecules?

    Just where along the chain of complexity in matter interactions do you claim “representations and protocols” take over from the laws of chemistry and physics? Why in proteins and not in, say, urea or amino acids; or something even simpler like water molecules?

    Do you believe that molecules can have properties that their constituent atoms don’t have individually? If not, why? If so, why can’t more complex systems, responding to the same physical laws, have complex emergent behaviors that are not found in the constituents making up the system? Why deny what is actually observed in the universe?

    Why do you require “representations and protocols” instead of accepting the laws of chemistry and physics; which were derived from taking matter apart? Can you show us any laws of physics and chemistry that forbid the emergence of complex behaviors in complex systems of molecules, given the right environment?

    And you still haven’t answered the question of how “representations and protocols” push atoms and molecules around. How are “representations and protocols” any different from “information” pushing atoms and molecules around? How does “information” push atoms and molecules around? What is the mechanism?

    I have to agree with Flint; you seem to want to replace all of chemistry and physics with some imaginative “theory” that implies “only intelligence can do this.” But you can’t seem to articulate why.

    Just giving your “theory” some fancy name doesn’t solve the problem either; it only makes your effort seem like a naive and pretentious attempt to replace well-understood phenomena with something woo-woo. Why do that before you learn the physics and chemistry?

  42. Upright BiPed on May 14, 2012 at 11:40 pm said:

    You may want to try and spin my unwillingness into a reason to quit.

    I would not dream of it.  I’m going to be frank, here, Upright BiPed.  I find your posts to me extremely offensive.  You repeatedly suggest that I am trying to “quit” (when not suggesting that I set this blog up specifically to continue our conversation); you repeatedly suggest that I am evading your arguments, when I have specifically invited you here to continue them; you accused me of unstickying your thread because I thought you were “unreliably” present, when, conversely, I had stickied it precisely in consideration to your intermittent availability, and only unstickied it when I thought of a better way of keeping it visible for your, and others’ convenience.  I have pointed these things out, and have received no acknowledgement, let alone apology, from you. I have asked you to respond to the content of my posts, rather than attack my motives; I have even asked you not to refer, with faux civility, to me as “Dr Liddle”.  You ignore these requests.

    I am getting rather cross.

    Not so cross, however, that I have any intention of “quitting” a discussion I have made enormous efforts to sustain, despite the fact that you seem unable, or unwilling, to actually read my posts.

    harrumph.

    To content, briefly:

    I made the specific claim that protein synthesis is observationally semiotic given that it demonstrates the use of representations and protocols, as does all other forms of recorded information transfer.

    Yes, and, given your definition of “semiotic”, I agree that protein synthesis is “semiotic” according to your definition.

    And as such, I also claimed that it would require a mechanism capable of creating a semiotic state.  

    Indeed, there must have been a mechanism that resulted in the process that we know as “protein synthesis”, and which you classify as involving what you call a “semiotic state”.

    Can you tell me, as I have asked now several times, why this is, as you claim, an argument for Intelligent Design?

    As opposed to evolutionary processes?

     


  43. UB:

    The first [paragraph] basically states that just making the claim causes a logical fallacy.

    Yes. Your claim that “the entailments confirm semiosis” commits a logical error that is fatal to your argument.

  44. junkdnaforlife:

    If a plausible mapping as Alan suggests existed from some simple precurser to the genetic code, then Bill’s argument would simply follow from there.

    As Keiths pointed out above, UB’s claim that “the listed entailments confirm semiosis” remains fallacious regardless of the state of the evidence. Sayeth Keiths:

    “Apparently you are unaware that a logically invalid argument remains invalid regardless of the evidence. Here is an example:

    1. All floogs are sporgaceous.
    
2. Gorpins are sporgaceous. 

    3. Therefore, gorpins are floogs.

    That argument is logically invalid.  Its conclusion is unwarranted, and no amount of ‘material evidence’ regarding floogs, gorpins and sporgaceousness can change that.  Note that this does not mean that the conclusion is false: gorpins may in fact be floogs.  It’s just that we cannot conclude that gorpins are floogs based on this argument.  It’s logically invalid.”

    UB’s claim that “the listed entailments confirm semiosis” commits the same error.

  45. JunkDNAforlife,

    In this event, UB has been flanked by Alan and Bill. Alan’s simple precursor would refute the argument, as UB has already stated. If a plausible mapping as Alan suggests existed from some simple precurser to the genetic code, then Bill’s argument would simply follow from there. However, I’m not aware any plausible scenarios that currently exists.

    I’ll have to work on my communication skills, then! I did try to sketch a scenario that is entirely plausible.

    We simply need to generate a system of ‘translational’ mapping from one in which no translation occurs. That system only has to be reproductively competent. The obvious candidate for that is RNA. In an RNA world (even one in which peptides play a part), RNA has a dual role: as hereditary information, and as generator of phenotype, by direct catalysis (which does not preclude recruitment of metal ions or even amino acid cofactors). We have a complex system now – three-and-a-half billion years later – in which protein is intimately involved in its own generation – not least by implementing the codon-amino acid relationship in aaRS.

    But for all the elaborateness of protein catalysis, there are only about half-a-dozen basic chemical reactions involved. Most of the huge variety of modern enzymes reflects substrate specificity and control, not enormous variety of basic catalysis mechanism. We know that RNA can catalyse peptide bond formation – virtually every peptide bond in every cell on earth has been made that way, and that has likely been the case for 3+ billion years. That reaction is part of a more general class of condensation reactions that, with the reverse, hydrolysis, which RNA can also achieve, allows extensive opportunities for biosynthesis, rearrangement and catabolism.

    RNA life may have been a poor affair – chained amino acids offer much better catalysis – but it only had to compete with other RNA life. While I cannot offer a definitive role for non-catalytic peptides in RNA Life, we do have plenty of examples of modern non-catalytic peptides to lend plausibility to the idea that catalysts were not the primary product of early ribosomes. Once protein catalysis had evolved, competitive and predatory extinction of RNA-only life would leave us with no examples of the precursor, and a ‘locked-room’ mystery. No-one, as they decide that, Holmes-like, they have eliminated the ‘impossible’, notices the simple trap-door! And they refuse to believe that this provides a plausible answer unless they witness the entire history re-enacted.

    The RNA hypothesis answers the challenge: a mechanism by which the current state (call it ‘semiotic’ if you like) can have arisen ‘naturally’ from a non-semiotic one: one in which genotype and phenotype were tightly coupled.

  46. About six months ago, back on UD, I asked if this argument was about the origin of life. I received no response, and in the entire length of this thread, we have no response as to whether the argument is that this system could not have evolved.

    As others have pointed out, UPB may believe that the level of complexity is so great that it is obviously unevolvable. 

    But that question is the whole subject of OOL, and is being addressed experimentally. 

    I see the name Yockey invoked. I do know that Yockey went on record as saying we would never know the exact and full history of the origin of life. He did not say this because he argued it was a miracle. He said it because he thought there were so many possible pathways that we would never find the true historical path.  It would be a bit like reconstructing the history of a jigsaw puzzle from the completed solution.

  47. Elizabeth

    I’d very much like to see Upright BiPed address this post.

    We all would.

  48. Upright Biped

    I’m prepared to defend my claim in either case. The claim is that protein synthesis is observably semiotic and requires a mechanism capable of creating a semiotic state.

    Then please do so.  You’ve been making the same unsupported assertion since day 1.

    Please show where protein synthesis involves any level of abstract symbology that is required for a process to be semiotic.

  49. Wait a minute. Nothing about chemical reactions is physically arbitrary.

    Using my jigsaw puzzle analogy, UPB seems to be arguing that you have a puzzle in which all the pieces have the same shape, but we find the puzzle assembled to form a picture.

     If the pieces had unique shapes, we could imagine a non-intelligent sorting process that could end up with the puzzle “correctly” assembled. But since our hypothetical puzzle is physically arbitrary, the emergence of a picture is “miraculous.”

    I think UPB is arguing from the general statement that DNA and RNA can exist with any arbitrary sequence, and that no particular sequence is favored by energy states. I’m trying to understand his case, and perhaps he will correct me if I have this wrong.

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