# 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 Replies to “What is the evidence for “purposeful intervention”?”

1. keiths
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says:

fifth:

And it’s possible to infallibly determine that no algorithm will produce all of a particular sequence

check it out

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_that_%CF%80_is_irrational

Damn, fifth. That’s a proof that π is irrational, not a proof that an algorithm cannot produce its digits.

You seriously can’t tell the difference?

2. keiths
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says:

petrushka,

For the record, it seems that a rather simple algorithm can produce pi to any arbitrary precision. And as far as we know, pi contains every possible finite string.

So without some breakthrough is number theory, we can conclude that an algorithm can produce any pattern.

It hasn’t been proven that pi contains every possible finite sequence, but the following sequence does, and it can easily be produced by an algorithm:

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 3 0 4 … 0 9 1 0 1 1 1 2…9 8 9 9 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2…

3. Corneel
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says:

fifthmonarchyman: No, one pattern would be considered more likely to be intentional because we don’t need a particular theological position to make that determination.

Perhaps you should make more clear when you reason from within or from outside of your theological position. Switching back and forth is very confusing.
Reasoning strictly from your theological position no pattern is more likely to be intentional than any other because all patterns are intentional, is the point I was trying to make. That is correct, right?

fifthmonarchyman: My claim is that people are hardwired to infer intent to sequences that they deem to be non-algorithmic.

In a sense when you make a design inference you are placing a bet that no algorithm will be found that can produce the pattern.

I am sorry, but that is nonsense, Fifth. Look here is a sequence that I made:

3,4,5,6,7,8,9

Guess what? Except for the first number, I used an algorithm to produce it. Still this sequence will be chosen to be the one “most likely to be designed” when people have to choose between this one and a random sequence (e.g. 3,1,4,9,4,1,7) in your test. I note that Keiths spotted that one as well.

4. newton
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says:

fifthmonarchyman: My claim is that people are hardwired to infer intent to sequences that they deem to be non-algorithmic.

Does design require intent?

5. GlenDavidson
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says:

I don’t even know what a pattern necessarily has to do with design, let alone the meaningless “non-algorithmic” criterion.

What about a bow? Or a wheel? A cave painting? I realize any of these could have a pattern, but there’s nothing that means that there must be one.

It’s just that old ID tactic of trying to claim that something about life means that it must be designed, since they can’t find anything about life that actually implies design. Also, they wish to ignore the aspects that are contrary to design.

Patterns that aren’t designed are rife throughout the world, none of which is truly algorithmic (although they could have been, had they actually been designed), and of course evolution readily causes patterns in life. Design is often characterized by a lack of deliberate patterns, but with a rational fit to a purpose. Patterns are compatible with design, sometimes useful to it, and that’s about it.

Glen Davidson

6. colewd
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says:

Therefore the only question when it comes to a design inference is can we imagine an algorithm that would produce the particular pattern we see in DNA.

Good question. I don’t think we understand DNA well enough to produce algorithms that can create genes. Maybe Flint can offer an opinion.

7. colewd
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says:

I think this is an important insight. In order to infer design you must first be able to represent what you see symbolically. I don’t think a nonhuman animal could do it because I think it’s wrapped up in symbolic thought that appears to be uniquely human.

Again, I think the strongest inference for design is when you can link code to an object or function. Behe’s bacterial flagellum is able to link DNA to the “outboard motor” of a bacteria.

Archaeopteryx-lithographica-Berlin-specimen-Archaeopteryx-Wikipedia-1.pdf

8. colewd
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says:

What do you mean by “bird like wing bone structure”? Archaeopteryx has no fused bones. It has a standard maniraptoran forelimb morphology, not similar at all to a modern bird, or no more similar than any closely related dinosaur’s.

What source, precisely, did you look up?&lt

.

The images I looked at were from Wikipedias page of Archaeopteryx.

9. fifthmonarchyman
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says:

Corneel: Reasoning strictly from your theological position no pattern is more likely to be intentional than any other because all patterns are intentional, is the point I was trying to make. That is correct, right?

yes and no.

Think of it this way. Which act of mother was more likely to be an expression of love toward you.

1) Her denying her own needs to give her child a gift he desired
2) Her firm rebuke when he misbehaved

In one sense number one is more likely because even a misbehaving child should be able to see that sacrificial giving is a sign of love.

In another sense both acts are equally likely to be expressions of her love.

Now imagine you wanted to demonstrate to the misbehaving child that his mother loved him which act would you point to?

peace

10. fifthmonarchyman
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says:

Corneel: Still this sequence will be chosen to be the one “most likely to be designed” when people have to choose between this one and a random sequence (e.g. 3,1,4,9,4,1,7) in your test.

That is why I specify both non-random and non-algorithmic.

In order for me to infer intent the sequence needs to have both characteristics.

suppose you were Jenny and you observed the following three sequences

3,4,5,6,7,8,9
3,1,4,9,4,1,7
8,6,7,5,3,0,9

Which one would you deem to most likely to the result of intent?

peace

11. fifthmonarchyman
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says:

colewd: Good question. I don’t think we understand DNA well enough to produce algorithms that can create genes.

I don’t think we could ever produce algorithms that could create a genome that is indistinguishable from what we see in nature.

peace

12. fifthmonarchyman
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says:

Corneel: I note that Keiths spotted that one as well.

If Keiths would just devote a little to time understanding his newly adopted belief system I would be happy to interact with him directly.

I’m beginning to doubt that he was posting in good faith when he claimed to be a follower of Rumracket.

peace

13. fifthmonarchyman
Ignored
says:

newton: Does design require intent?

I think so.

peace

14. fifthmonarchyman
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says:

colewd: Again, I think the strongest inference for design is when you can link code to an object or function.

Perhaps, I would say that the linkage of code to object is just another pattern that may or may not be the result of an algorithm.

If you could somehow demonstrate that such a linkage is beyond the capabilities of algorithms even in principle I think you might have something

peace

15. fifthmonarchyman
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says:

GlenDavidson: What about a bow? Or a wheel? A cave painting? I realize any of these could have a pattern, but there’s nothing that means that there must be one.

What??? Please name a designed object that does not have any pattern whatsoever.

GlenDavidson: Patterns that aren’t designed are rife throughout the world, none of which is truly algorithmic

I think you are begging the question here. How do you know they are not designed?

peace

16. fifthmonarchyman
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says:

GlenDavidson: Design is often characterized by a lack of deliberate patterns, but with a rational fit to a purpose.

I’ve certainly never heard that characterization. It would seem to be oxymoronic

Aren’t “rational” and intentional semanticly related and isn’t a “fit to a purpose” a pattern in itself?

peace

17. keiths
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says:

fifth,

If Keiths would just devote a little to time understanding his newly adopted belief system I would be happy to interact with him directly.

You’re afraid, fifth. It’s obvious. There’s no need to make excuses.

Readers know why you’re hiding behind your ignore button.

18. colewd
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says:

Perhaps, I would say that the linkage of code to object is just another pattern that may or may not be the result of an algorithm.

Examples of this are
An automated manufacturing line
An object made by 3D printing
A functional protein complex made by a living organism

Can any of these be the result of an algorithm? The code itself is only significant in that it can perform the specified output. An algorithm would have to be able to model the output, model the translation mechanism and then generate the code.

An algorithm is a set of steps to perform a function. A computer can perform the steps but the function has to be intelligently defined to start the process.

So this algorithm requires the pre existence of information which is the required output of the function. My tentative conclusion that an algorithm alone could not do this without intelligent intervention. This is where artificial intelligence comes in. Maybe Neil can weigh in on this.

19. John Harshman
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says:

colewd:
John Harshman,
The images I looked at were from Wikipedias page of Archaeopteryx.

What, specifically, did you learn from those images? I doubt you can even name or distinguish the bones involved or have any idea how to compare them to the bones of other taxa.

But if there’s an image on the page that you should pay attention to, try the one captioned “Comparison of the forelimb of Archaeopteryx (right) with that of Deinonychus (left)”, which shows you the close point by point resemblance of the two. The first, of course, flew, while the second did not.

20. fifthmonarchyman
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says:

colewd: Can any of these be the result of an algorithm?

I would say they all are the result of algorithms and for that reason I would not infer direct design for the objects in and of themselves.

The intention in these cases happens upstream of the algorithm and plays a part either in choosing/creating the algorithm or choosing the inputs. Once those things are determined the object in question is produced and no further intention is necessary.

I think that is a selling point for my idea. It helps you to zero in on the point where the design occurs.

peace

21. colewd
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says:

Once those things are determined the object in question is produced and no further intention is necessary.

Until the next object needs to be produced if it is different then the first as in the case of 3 D printing. In the case of manufacturing it will run until a new product needs to be manufactured. In the case of a protein complex it will not require intervention as the information is part of the same genome.

22. colewd
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says:

I looked at the comparative drawing. They seem almost identical except for size. When I compare the drawing with the specimen picture of Archaeopteryx the number of joints appears different.

23. dazz
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says:

I looked at the comparative drawing.They seem almost identical except for size.When I compare the drawing with the specimen picture of Archaeopteryx the number of joints appears different.

And if you look closer you’ll see the “Jeebus Inside” Logo. You might need to squint a little bit

24. John Harshman
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says:

colewd:
John Harshman,
I looked at the comparative drawing.They seem almost identical except for size.When I compare the drawing with the specimen picture of Archaeopteryx the number of joints appears different.

Perhaps you aren’t very good at analyzing specimens. It isn’t clear what you mean by “number of joints”, but they are in fact identical. Your powers of resistance to reality are amazing. No straw, no matter how flimsy, escapes your clutch.

25. fifthmonarchyman
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says:

colewd: Until the next object needs to be produced

Right the design is in the process as a whole and not the individual object. In the examples you gave at least.

peace

26. colewd
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says:

Perhaps you aren’t very good at analyzing specimens. It isn’t clear what you mean by “number of joints”, but they are in fact identical. Your powers of resistance to reality are amazing. No straw, no matter how flimsy, escapes your clutch.

A joint is where two separate bones come together. The arm structures appear to be different beyond where the hands are connected.

It isn’t clear what you mean by “number of joints”, but they are in fact identical.

Have you looked at the two fossils and compared vs the drawings? Identical is a dramatic statement and way beyond a sensible comparison of these two fossils.

27. colewd
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says:

Right the design is in the process as a whole and not the individual object. In the examples you gave at least.

There is some design beyond the process. Choosing the specs for the next object to be printed is part of the design.

Choosing which product to be produced is part of the design.

28. John Harshman
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says:

colewd: A joint is where two separate bones come together. The arm structures appear to be different beyond where the hands are connected.

They are in fact identical to the situation in almost all vertebrates: a radius and an ulna, connecting to a humerus, connecting to a pectoral girdle. I have no idea what “appears” to you, but you are just wrong.

Have you looked at the two fossils and compared vs the drawings? Identical is a dramatic statement and way beyond a sensible comparison of these two fossils.

You are so far outside your area of competence (granting for the moment that there is one) that it’s embarrassing to even respond to you.

29. Adapa
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says:

colewd
Have you looked at the two fossils and compared vs the drawings?Identical is a dramatic statement and way beyond a sensible comparison of these two fossils.

Oooh! Look at the Creationist dishonesty!

John says the number of joints are identical, which they are.

Honest Billy twists that into the entire wrist/hand in both drawings are identical, then argues against his dishonest strawman.

Never fear, any lie told for Jesus is a good lie. 🙂

30. colewd
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says:

You are so far outside your area of competence (granting for the moment that there is one) that it’s embarrassing to even respond to you.

I agree I am outside my area of competence.

These animals have a 80x difference in weight. It appears that Archaeopteryx is around 30 million years older. It also appears that Archaeopteryx may not be a direct ancestor of modern birds.

What species do you think is the closest ancestor to modern birds?

31. John Harshman
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says:

Adapa: Honest Billy twists that into the entire wrist/hand in both drawings are identical, then argues against his dishonest strawman.

No, he didn’t twist that. The entire wrist/hand in both drawings is identical except for minor differences in relative dimensions. He just refuses to believe that the drawings are correct, for unspecified reasons and in unspecified ways.

32. John Harshman
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says:

I agree I am outside my area of competence.

Do you agree that this is a major understatement?

These animals have a 80x difference in weight.It appears that Archaeopteryx is around 30 million years older.It also appears that Archaeopteryx may not be a direct ancestor of modern birds.

Was there a point in there somewhere?

What species do you think is the closest ancestor to modern birds?

That is not a meaningful question. It’s almost certain, giving the fragmentary nature of the fossil record, that we have not found the closest ancestor, and if we had found it there would be no way to tell. This is not a subject you know anything about or are apparently capable of understanding.

The closest known relative to modern birds that isn’t itself within the group of modern birds may be a fossil called Ichthyornis, but I doubt it’s ancestral to anything. There are a few candidates for closer relatives, but they’re not all that complete.

33. Neil Rickert
Ignored
says:

Moved a post to guano.

34. colewd
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says:

Do you agree that this is a major understatement?

I agree that the difference between me and you discussing the fossil record is like someone who is on their 10th round of golf and a PGA tour golfer.

Was there a point in there somewhere?

I am asking if there are issues comparing fossils for ancestral relationships with these differences in size and age.

That is not a meaningful question. It’s almost certain, giving the fragmentary nature of the fossil record, that we have not found the closest ancestor, and if we had found it there would be no way to tell. This is not a subject you know anything about or are apparently capable of understanding.

Yet this is very important to your claim of intermediates showing small changes.

The closest known relative to modern birds that isn’t itself within the group of modern birds may be a fossil called Ichthyornis, but I doubt it’s ancestral to anything. There are a few candidates for closer relatives, but they’re not all that complete

Thanks, I will look this up.

35. newton
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says:

fifthmonarchyman: I think so.

peace

Is Delicate Arch designed per your method?

36. John Harshman
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says:

colewd: I am asking if there are issues comparing fossils for ancestral relationships with these differences in size and age.

No, there are not.

Yet this is very important to your claim of intermediates showing small changes.

No, it isn’t. But I grow weary of explaining.

37. Adapa
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says:

For those who haven’t dedicated their lives to Lying For Jesus over evidence for evolution, here is a recent (2015) phylogenetic tree published in Nature of all known avian clades going back 70 MY, before the last mass extinction event.

A comprehensive phylogeny of birds (Aves) using targeted next-generation DNA sequencing

Abstract: Although reconstruction of the phylogeny of living birds has progressed tremendously in the last decade, the evolutionary history of Neoaves—a clade that encompasses nearly all living bird species—remains the greatest unresolved challenge in dinosaur systematics. Here we investigate avian phylogeny with an unprecedented scale of data: >390,000 bases of genomic sequence data from each of 198 species of living birds, representing all major avian lineages, and two crocodilian outgroups. Sequence data were collected using anchored hybrid enrichment, yielding 259 nuclear loci with an average length of 1,523 bases for a total data set of over 7.8 × 10e7 bases. Bayesian and maximum likelihood analyses yielded highly supported and nearly identical phylogenetic trees for all major avian lineages. Five major clades form successive sister groups to the rest of Neoaves: (1) a clade including nightjars, other caprimulgiforms, swifts, and hummingbirds; (2) a clade uniting cuckoos, bustards, and turacos with pigeons, mesites, and sandgrouse; (3) cranes and their relatives; (4) a comprehensive waterbird clade, including all diving, wading, and shorebirds; and (5) a comprehensive landbird clade with the enigmatic hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) as the sister group to the rest. Neither of the two main, recently proposed Neoavian clades—Columbea and Passerea1—were supported as monophyletic. The results of our divergence time analyses are congruent with the palaeontological record, supporting a major radiation of crown birds in the wake of the Cretaceous–Palaeogene (K–Pg) mass extinction.

38. John Harshman
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says:

Adapa: For those who haven’t dedicated their lives to Lying For Jesus over evidence for evolution, here is a recent (2015) phylogenetic tree published in Nature of all known avian clades going back 70 MY, before the last mass extinction event.

Well, no, not quite. It covers only living taxa, and not all of them. Also, It’s probably wrong in some of its nodes.

39. Adapa
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says:

John Harshman: Well, no, not quite.

What avian clades from the last 70 MY did it omit?

Also, It’s probably wrong in some of its nodes.

Which nodes did it get wrong? What percentage of nodes did it get wrong?

40. Corneel
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says:

fifthmonarchyman: Corneel: Still this sequence will be chosen to be the one “most likely to be designed” when people have to choose between this one and a random sequence (e.g. 3,1,4,9,4,1,7) in your test.

That is why I specify both non-random and non-algorithmic.

In order for me to infer intent the sequence needs to have both characteristics.

Why? The sequence I gave you was designed, so the inference would be correct.

Of course, I recognize that it is indistinguishable from the same sequence produced by an algorithm, but that is exactly the point I am trying to get across. You should not rig your test because of that.

fifthmonarchyman: suppose you were Jenny and you observed the following three sequences

3,4,5,6,7,8,9
3,1,4,9,4,1,7
8,6,7,5,3,0,9

Which one would you deem to most likely to the result of intent?

Who is Jenny? I think I am missing some English idiom here, sorry 🙂

Sorry Fifth, but personally I would choose #1.The numbers in the one you added seem to be generally descending, so on that basis it would be my second choice. These choices are all based on the presence of regularities. This is why you need to add non-intentional regular (algorithmic) sequences, otherwise this will be confounding your test.

41. keiths
Ignored
says:

Corneel:

Who is Jenny? I think I am missing some English idiom here, sorry 🙂

It was a hit song 35 years ago in the US:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/867-5309/Jenny

fifth:

That is why I specify both non-random and non-algorithmic.

In order for me to infer intent the sequence needs to have both characteristics.

Every sequence can be produced by an algorithm, and every sequence can be produced by a randomized source. By your silly criteria, you can never infer intent.

42. Corneel
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says:

keiths: It was a hit song 35 years ago in the US:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/867-5309/Jenny

867-5309/Jenny

Ah, that solves the puzzle. And the number is designed to match a 4-chord Rock song.

eight-six-seven-five-three-oh-ni-hi-i-ine

Thanks, keiths

43. fifthmonarchyman
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says:

newton: Is Delicate Arch designed per your method?

Nope I can think of lots of ways that it could be produced algorithmicly.

In my younger days I’ve even produced surprisingly similar structures with a bucket of water and a sandbox.

peace

44. fifthmonarchyman
Ignored
says:

colewd: There is some design beyond the process. Choosing the specs for the next object to be printed is part of the design.

Choosing which product to be produced is part of the design.

Previously I’ve lumped all this sort of stuff into “what happens upstream of the algorithm. It just seems to be a helpful categorization.

Peace

45. fifthmonarchyman
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says:

Corneel: Sorry Fifth, but personally I would choose #1.

That is because you are not Jenny.

On the other hand if you came across your phone number (or birth date) in a test of this sort I would expect you to at least tentatively conclude that the sequence might have been placed there on purpose.

That has been my experience at least.

Corneel: eight-six-seven-five-three-oh-ni-hi-i-ine

The 80’s, the last great decade of Rock and Roll music 😉

Notice also how a little context turns a seemingly random number into one that is highly meaningful (and non-algorithmic) .

peace

46. fifthmonarchyman
Ignored
says:

Corneel: Why? The sequence I gave you was designed, so the inference would be correct.

Of course, I recognize that it is indistinguishable from the same sequence produced by an algorithm, but that is exactly the point I am trying to get across.

There will always be false negatives and you can always hide your intent if you try hard enough.

The design inference is not intended to be a universal secret code breaker

peace

47. Corneel
Ignored
says:

fifthmonarchyman: The 80’s, the last great decade of Rock and Roll music 😉

Haha, I am afraid that didn’t chart here in Europe. Anyway, I am mainly listening to acid at the moment, so you could better have inserted some “303”s in there. 🙂

fifthmonarchyman: Notice also how a little context turns a seemingly random number into one that is highly meaningful (and non-algorithmic) .

Sure, but wasn’t the test suppose to demonstrate that people could infer intent from the sequence itself, rather than by association to personally meaningful sequences? Unless you expect to feel a great sense of deja-vu when confronted with the DNA sequence of a novel mutation, of course.

48. Corneel
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says:

fifthmonarchyman: The design inference is not intended to be a universal secret code breaker

That won’t be necessary; we can work some statistics here. But it should be able to outperform blind guesses.

49. newton
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says:

fifthmonarchyman: There will always be false negatives and you can always hide your intent if you try hard enough.

How about false positives?

50. John Harshman
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says:

Adapa: What avian clades from the last 70 MY did it omit?

All the extinct ones, certainly. And lots of extant families and genera. “Clade” covers a whole lot of ground. The actual point about 70 million years was that they found the root of Neornithes to be of that age.

Which nodes did it get wrong? What percentage of nodes did it get wrong?

Offhand, I don’t have a percentage. For a discussion, try this.

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