What is the evidence for “purposeful intervention”?

FMM: Purposeful intervention is pretty much the opposite of random mutation.

FMM notes in the same comment:

 If there in nothing about an idea that distinguishes it from it’s alternative it seems to be superfluous.

So the idea is “non designed mutations” and the alternative is “purposeful intervention”.

Give that, and given FMM has not discarded the idea of purposeful intervention there must be something that distinguishes it from non designed mutations.

What is that distinguishing factor? What is the actual evidence for “purposeful intervention” regarding mutations?

And, more broadly, what is the evidence for “purposeful intervention” in any area of biology? Apart from, of course, wishful thinking.

603 thoughts on “What is the evidence for “purposeful intervention”?

  1. Corneel: I am rather surprised that Fifth and you do not immediately reject that idea.

    That is why places like this are useful.

    It’s always cool to modify our preconceived notions of what the other side thinks when the need arises.

    Corneel: aesthetic appeal (= fitness)

    So “fitness” simply equals the aesthetic desires of the designer. That seems like a funny way of putting it.

    It’s sounds almost as if you are trying to define away the designer for some reason.

    peace

  2. Corneel: Eh? A purposeful mutation resulting in a random sequence? I am losing track of this discussion, I am afraid.

    The sequence is not random it’s origin is intentional and it fits in the tune just where it was supposed to.

    Again I think your difficulty results from your efforts to define the designer out of a job.

    peace

  3. Corneel: So tell me, are all beneficial mutations purposefully designed or not?

    I would say yes because of course you know I think everything is designed.

    Putting aside my theological position I would say beneficial mutations are not “directly” designed if their origin is random or algorithmic.

    peace

  4. fifthmonarchyman: So “fitness” simply equals the aesthetic desires of the designer. That seems like a funny way of putting it.

    It’s sounds almost as if you are trying to define away the designer for some reason.

    I was referring to the darwintunes experiment of evolving musical sequences. Whatever process ended up with cows, aesthetic appeal had nothing to do with it.

  5. Corneel: I was referring to the darwintunes experiment of evolving musical sequences.

    me too.

    I was curious at your use of the term “fitness” in that context.

    It does not seem to make a lot of sense when you are describing the intentional desires of a designer.

    I think that perhaps your choice of the term fitness in either the context of cows or tunes is to some how define the designer out

    peace

  6. fifthmonarchyman: The sequence is not random it’s origin is intentional and it fits in the tune just where it was supposed to.

    fifthmonarchyman: Putting aside my theological position I would say beneficial mutations are not “directly” designed if their origin is random or algorithmic.

    The sequence is not random if its origin is intentional and a mutation is not designed if its origin is random or algorithmic.
    Got it.

    fifthmonarchyman: Again I think your difficulty results from your efforts to define the designer out of a job.

    Rather, I think my difficulty arises from you making circular arguments, but at least I got out of it that you accept that beneficial mutations can occasionaly arise unintentially.

  7. Corneel: I think my difficulty arises from you making circular arguments

    It’s not circular it’s definitional.
    I seek to define intentional as nonrandom non-algorithmic.

    I like that definition I haven’t seen a lot of argument as to why it’s inappropriate.

    I’d really be interested in hearing some if you have it

    Corneel: but at least I got out of it that you accept that beneficial mutations can occasionaly arise unintentially.

    of course we all know of happy little accidents

  8. fifth:

    I seek to define intentional as nonrandom non-algorithmic.

    I like that definition I haven’t seen a lot of argument as to why it’s inappropriate.

    As I’ve explained more than once:

    Any numeric pattern can be produced by a random source (provided that the distribution doesn’t rule it out), and any numeric pattern can be produced by an algorithm.

    You need different criteria than “nonrandom and nonalgorithmic”.

  9. fifthmonarchyman: I was curious at your use of the term “fitness” in that context.

    It does not seem to make a lot of sense when you are describing the intentional desires of a designer.

    Ah, I see. Fitness is simply defined as reproductive success. In the experiment, that is solely determined by musical appeal and therefore guided by human preferences, but of course fitness also applies to natural populations.
    So I was not trying to get rid of the “designers” in my description but the term fitness need not be restricted to instances of natural selection.

  10. Corneel: Fitness is simply defined as reproductive success.

    exactly, and reproductive success is determined by the desires of the designer. Why not just call it that?

    Corneel: So I was not trying to get rid of the “designers” in my description but the term fitness need not be restricted to instances of natural selection.

    It seems like you were.

    You equated intentional selection with unintentional selection thus defining the designer out.

    That is unless you want to say that natural selection is intentional after all

    peace

  11. by the way unintentional selection seems to be oxymoronic.

    the very idea of selection implies (i would say entails) intent

    peace

  12. fifthmonarchyman: exactly, and reproductive success is determined by the desires of the designer. Why not just call it that?

    In the darwintunes examples, I don’t mind if you do that. But the point I was trying to make is that the substrate for selection, the mutations, were not determined by those desires.

    fifthmonarchyman: You equated intentional selection with unintentional selection thus defining the designer out.

    That is unless you want to say that natural selection is intentional after all

    My opinion of you is quite high, Fifth. I trust you to be able to distinguish between intentional (artificial) and unintentional (natural) selection. The thing I needed to get clear is whether the mutations themselves were crafted or not. It is possible to construct something with resources that were not originally intended for that purpose; happy little accidents.

    fifthmonarchyman: by the way unintentional selection seems to be oxymoronic.

    the very idea of selection implies (i would say entails) intent

    If phoodoo were still around, I am sure he would have made that point for you. I agree the term selection is loaded, but again, I trust you to recognise that selection in this context does not entail intent. Hey didn’t you like Merriam-Webster?

    Definition of selection
    1 : the act or process of selecting : the state of being selected
    2 : one that is selected : choice; also : a collection of selected things
    3 : a natural or artificial process that results or tends to result in the survival and propagation of some individuals or organisms but not of others with the result that the inherited traits of the survivors are perpetuated — compare darwinism, natural selection

    We are talking about #3, see?

  13. Corneel: But the point I was trying to make is that the substrate for selection, the mutations, were not determined by those desires.

    The decision to vary the substrate was determined by those desires.

    I apologize for being nitpicky It’s just that you seem to be trying to minimize the role of the designer when he is active in every stage of the process.

    Corneel: It is possible to construct something with resources that were not originally intended for that purpose; happy little accidents.

    Ok we can agree on that point as long as you agree that it takes a Bob Ross to turn a “happy little accident” into a mountain range or tree 😉

    Corneel: We are talking about #3, see?

    I know that, but I would say that the the survival and propagation of entities is really just a function of the intentional desires of the designer both in darwintunes and life.

    any way all of this is just a rabbit trail and it’s evidence that this thread is starting to wind down.

    Before it does I’d like to know your opinion of the Turing test I suggested.

    peace

  14. fifthmonarchyman: The decision to vary the substrate was determined by those desires.

    I apologize for being nitpicky It’s just that you seem to be trying to minimize the role of the designer when he is active in every stage of the process.

    Not minimizing, but pinpointing where, exactly, we might expect the fingerprints of the designer in your scenario. Because, you see, in a house made of brick, we might be able to spot the design in the bricks, but in a house made of rocks the rocks tell us nothing and we need to take into account the whole house.

    Wow, I am becoming good at this analogy stuff

    fifthmonarchyman: Before it does I’d like to know your opinion of the Turing test I suggested.

    That would be this suggestion:

    Simply take two copies of the same software and run them on the same hardware with the same inputs and if one of the two produces a pattern that is distinguishable (ie non-random) and non-algroythimic then we can say that that system has intent. In other words it is exhibiting intelligent behavior.

    That would be an intriguing finding allright, although I am not sure what to conclude from that. Let’s take one step at a time. You need to first show us that people are more prone to attribute intent to non-algorithmic non-random sequences of numbers than to algorithmic / random sequences (or even be capable of distinguishing them).

  15. fifthmonarchyman: Cool, then I think we can say that the tendency to infer design from patterns that are non-algorithmic and non-random is not itself a pattern that is conclusively non-algorithmic and non-random

    How does that follow?

    peace

  16. fifthmonarchyman:
    by the way unintentional selection seems to be oxymoronic.

    the very idea of selection implies (i would say entails) intent

    peace

    You have never flipped a coin?
    Does a selection not occur, unconnected to any intent on your part?
    Would you rather use a different word for it?

  17. fifthmonarchyman:
    by the way unintentional selection seems to be oxymoronic.

    the very idea of selection implies (i would say entails) intent

    peace

    The biggest problem with it is that creationists keep saying that. It’s true that it’s oxymoronic, but so is “extinct life.”

    Obviously the reason we have the term “natural selection” is that it’s analogous with actual selection, or what is often called “artificial selection” (redundant, except that it helps to pinpoint that it’s selection of life). The oxymoronic nature of “natural selection” emphasizes the fact that the environment can shape organisms, much as selection by humans can.

    Glen Davidson

  18. Mung: I’ve never unintentionally flipped a coin.

    Sure you have. You have dropped coins on the floor, they end up heads or tails. That’s an unintentional flip. Same probability of outcome.

  19. newton: How does that follow?

    Because there is a plausible explanation of how it could arise via an algorithm (RM plus NS)

    peace

  20. Corneel: Not minimizing, but pinpointing where, exactly, we might expect the fingerprints of the designer in your scenario.

    We might find the fingerprints in any number of places or we might not find it at all. I hope I’ve made it clear that it’s always possible to hide your intent if you try hard enough.

    Not finding fingerprints does not mean that no one touched the murder weapon. 😉

    I’m more interested in the sorts of patterns that would tend to trip our “intention inference trigger” regardless of where we find them.

    peace

  21. Corneel: You need to first show us that people are more prone to attribute intent to non-algorithmic non-random sequences of numbers than to algorithmic / random sequences.

    OK that is fair. Do you agree that a simple graphical exercise like we looked at earlier might get us past that hurdle?

    Corneel: (or even be capable of distinguishing them).

    I think that humans ability to distinguish random sequences from those that are expected to be random but are not has been established by the paper I linked earlier. and with feedback I’m batting 1000 at distinguishing reported temperatures from those that come from a forecasting algorithm.

    What else do you need to prove that we can distinguish patterns that are different?

    peace

  22. GlenDavidson: Obviously the reason we have the term “natural selection” is that it’s analogous with actual selection

    The problem is you have failed to show that anything can be “like intentional selection” but not be in fact intentional selection.

    This is where the problem of other minds comes in. Section is what minds do.

    What you are doing is saying that the universe or the environment or whatever is doing the selection acts just like a person but is not a person.

    That is nothing but old time Solipsism.

    peace

  23. Fair Witness: Sure you have. You have dropped coins on the floor, they end up heads or tails. That’s an unintentional flip. Same probability of outcome.

    In order to be useful at all you have to decide to do something with the outcome

    heads option one tails option two

    If you don’t make that conscious choice either outcome is observationally equivalent to the other one and nothing of value happened at all.

    Without intention there are no coin flips

    peace

  24. fifthmonarchyman: The problem is you have failed to show that anything can be “like intentional selection” but not be in fact intentional selection.

    The problem is that you don’t understand what “analogy” is. Being analogous to intentional selection doesn’t mean that it’s “like intentional selection,” depending on what is meant by “like.” And clearly you’re using “like” as in quite similar, which is not what I meant by “analogous.” “Analogous” typically means “like in a one way” (sometimes a few ways), not similar altogether as you’re misrepresenting it.

    You’re always twisting words. Yes, I know that’s what fundamentalists do, but it’s a disgusting habit.

    Glen Davidson

  25. GlenDavidson: “Analogous” typically means “like in a one way” (sometimes a few ways), not similar altogether as you’re misrepresenting it.

    Ok in exactly what “other ways” is natural selection different from artificial selection?

    The only difference I’m aware of is that one is intentional and the other is supposedly not. That begs the question big time.

    peace

  26. fifthmonarchyman: I think that humans ability to distinguish random sequences from those that are expected to be random but are not has been established by the paper I linked earlier. and with feedback I’m batting 1000 at distinguishing reported temperatures from those that come from a forecasting algorithm.

    Could you demonstrate this with an example of the process?

  27. newton: Clarity may not be the enemy but it often seems like clarity is not the goal either.

    It’s always my goal.
    Sometimes it’s more difficult to achieve than others.
    If all else fails ask clarifying questions. You are good at that 😉

    peace

  28. newton: Could you demonstrate this with an example of the process?

    Have you read the paper or played the game?

    peace

  29. fifthmonarchyman: In order to be useful at all you have to decide to do something with the outcome

    Are we adding useful as another synonym for design?

    If you don’t make that conscious choice either outcome is observationally equivalent to the other one and nothing of value happened at all.
    Without intention there are no coin flips

    Now you are just being silly, observationally they are not equivalent, one is a heads the other tails. The mechanical act does not require meaning. When an animal steps on leaves which causing the rustling of leaves does it mean there is no rustling unless the animal intended something of value to occur by the noise?

    peace

  30. fifthmonarchyman: Ok in exactly what “other ways” is natural selection different from artificial selection?

    The only difference I’m aware of is that one is intentional and the other is supposedly not. That begs the question big time.

    peace

    Yes, that’s how much you know. Why don’t you learn something for once?

    It’s appalling that you make endless pronouncements about that which you know almost nothing. Have some decency if you can ever manage it.

    Glen Davidson

  31. fifthmonarchyman: It’s always my goal.
    Sometimes it’s more difficult to achieve than others.
    If all else fails ask clarifying questions. You are good at that

    peace

    Ofttimes feels like a salmon fighting against the current.

  32. newton: Are we adding useful as another synonym for design?

    no why do you ask?

    newton: Now you are just being silly, observationally they are not equivalent, one is a heads the other tails.

    I dropped a few coins on the ground yesterday as I was sweeping out my truck. How many were heads and how many were tails?

    newton: The mechanical act does not require meaning.

    It does require meaning or no one ever knew that it happened.

    newton: When an animal steps on leaves which causing the rustling of leaves does it mean there is no rustling unless the animal intended something of value to occur by the noise?

    If there was no observed difference It means that no one knows that there was rustling and therefore it effectively did not happen.

    If there is no observable change the system remains the same.

    peace

  33. newton: Ofttimes feels like a salmon fighting against the current.

    The only reason salmon fight the current is because they don’t like where the river is taking them.

    Instead of fighting all the time it might be better to relax and float downstream. That’s where we all end up eventually anyway 😉

    peace

  34. petrushka: Doesn’t the salmon win? As a species?

    not really,

    The species lasts for about a million years then it fades away and drifts downstream just like everything else.

    peace

  35. FMM,

    Simply take two copies of the same software and run them on the same hardware with the same inputs and if one of the two produces a pattern that is distinguishable (ie non-random) and non-algroythimic then we can say that that system has intent. In other words it is exhibiting intelligent behavior.

    So is it your claim that for the same inputs in the same physical configuration the brain will produce a different result each time?

    What governs decision making really then?

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