51 Replies to “Mark Perakh again and again

  1. 1
    DaveScot says:

    http://scholar.google.com/scho.....n&lr=

    It appears that Perakh has published nothing in his area of expertise (physics and materials science). A rather dismal record for a professor emeritus of physics.

    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi.....;RS=perakh

    He is one of five named inventors on a single patent granted in 1980. Woo-woo!

    Mark appears to be your usual outspoken Darwinist – a nobody that’s done nothing notable in his field of expertise vainly trying to make a mark outside their field of expertise. Fits right in with poseurs Wesley Elsberry, Ed Darrel, Nick Matzke, Ed Brayton, Eugenie Scott, et al.

    But hey, he got a special doctoral degree in the Soviet Union that’s greater than any doctoral degree you can get in the United States. With Russian physics PhD’s like Mark it’s no wonder the Soviet Union lost the cold war.

  2. 2
    DaveScot says:

    Correction:

    http://scholar.google.com/scho.....+perakh%22

    Mark did publish a few things back in the 1970’s in his area of expertise. My initial search missed it. His useful output in material science came to a screeching halt 30 years ago with one lone exception in 1985. Mark’s doctoral degree dates back to 1949 and his only significant outburst of useful work was in the 1970’s. It appears he was out to lunch the rest of his life and now in his dotage he’s diddling with NeoDarwinism. Maybe he’s operating under the theory “if at first you don’t succeed, try try again”.

  3. 3
    dave says:

    I must correct you, Dave. It seems that if you filter out all of Perakh’s anti-ID articles, a Google Scholar search DOES turn up a small but signifigant body of work in his true area of specialization.

    http://tinyurl.com/7uyln

  4. 4
    blockheadster says:

    You guys are not correct. Google scholar isn’t the authority.

    He has 21 articles in Web of Science, from 1975 to 1988.

    Also, can someone explain to me how the search for a small target in large probability space is not the same problem as, say, flipping a coin a billion times, and then determining a strategy to determine the exact sequence of coin flips ?

    Thanks.

  5. 5
    Huperborea says:

    Mark Perakh: still hubristic and still spreading t

    Mark Perakh, the “Boris Yeltsin of Higher Education,” posted this diatribe to Panda’s Thumb…

  6. 6
    Ben Z says:

    Is he supposed to gain the moral upper hand with that last paragraph about scientific papers and langauges? Has he ever seen any of Richard Dawkin’s replies to David Berlinski? Anyone find it ironic that he won’t address Dembski’s mathematical arguments because he declares they have nothing to do with evolution offhand, and then says Dembski was something akin to immoral for ignoring some of his opponents’ critiques?

  7. 7
    jzs says:

    I wonder if Perakh would debate with Dembski regarding the math and only the math? That would be *most* interesting to see.

  8. 8
    Giff says:

    Hey – this is a bit off topic, but I had a question for someone familiar with Dr. Dembski’s work on a deeper level than myself. A criticism I’ve heard is that he works from a specific instance and bases his probabilities on that, rather than all workable instances. For instance, it is very unlikely that a random 18-character string will come up with “to be or not to be” – but it is far less unlikely that a random 18-character string will come up with some intelligable english phrase. The universal probability bound for SCI seems based on the former rather than the latter. Can someone point me to where Dr. Dembski deals with this objection?

  9. 9
    scordova says:

    Giff,

    His definition of CSI accounts for multiple strings in that a specification can have multiple target strings. His book No Free Lunch describes it.

    I’ve gone through sample calculations to illustrate how to count the number of bits and improbability in an multi-target specification. And that will also show one describes the situation where there is more than one acceptable string:

    http://www.arn.org/cgi-bin/ubb.....ml?#000141

    Blockhedser,

    The requirement that CSI is specified by non-postdictive specifications prevents the problem you are concerned about, but that is better addressed by reading Bill’s books rather than trying to learn through exchanges in a blog. The details are too involved to answer in the short space we have ehre.

    Salvador Cordova

  10. 10
    blockheadster says:

    Perhaps not the place for this discussion, but regarding those calculations for T1 and T2 on that web page:

    You say:

    “T2 occupies 4 of the 256 possibilities in Omega Space”

    I don’t understand. For each T1 string, there are 256 possibilities, yes. But for T2, there are 2^32 possibilities. T2 doesn’t represent 4/256, unless I’m misunderstanding something. Maybe I don’t understand this Omega function.

  11. 11
    Giff says:

    It’s a set, not a solid number. 😉

  12. 12
    blockheadster says:

    Does the order of the 8 bit subsets in T2 matter ? Can there be repeats of an 8 bit string within T2 ?

    Can a set of T2 be like this:

    {
    0000,0000,0000,0000
    }

  13. 13
    DaveScot says:

    Giff

    What you describe is a problem in probabilistic resources and it’s a valid criticism but the criticism is an argument from ignorance right from the word go.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but you’re basically saying that if the probalistic target is protein with sequence XYZZX how do we know that (for example) proteins XYZZXX, XXYZZX, and etcetera ad infinitum might not fulfill the specification (function) for that particular protein. In the archery scenario this would be equivalent to the archer having many (perhaps a nearly infinite) number of targets his arrow can hit.

    It’s a valid criticism and it’s an area where more research is required. The criticism is an argument from ignorance as it posits that an unknown number might be significant i.e. that a significant number of other protein sequences could work as well or well enough. The research that is required is pretty much the holy grail of biochemistry – being able to predict how any arbitrary amino acid sequence will fold. Once we can do that we should be able to, in principle, bound the number of alternative protein shapes that would work as well or well enough as any given protein.

    However, due to the nature of arguments from ignorance that criticism can never go completely away because one can always make the claim that not every other possible protein shape has been tested for efficacy. But at some point we have to accept limitations on knowledge and reject arguments from ignorance lest all progress stalls. Is that point now on this argument? Not in my mind. I at least want to see the protein folding problem solved so we can model with a computer the properties of arbitrary amino acid sequences and get a good idea of how many other targets would get the job done. Once that number is known (instead of guessed at out of ignorance) the it can be cranked into the design detection formulae and see what the result is.

    What I want to make clear is that the criticism in no way falsifies design detection in protein based structures. What it does is it points out an area where the data that design detection relies on for reliable output needs to be more robust. No algorithm can produce reliable output data without reliable input data.

    Fortunately for all of the quest to solve the protein folding problem isn’t driven by design detection’s need for better data nor evolution’s need for better data. Its solution will foster a great leap forward for medicine and genetic engineering and that’s why I called it the holy grail of biochemistry.

  14. 14
    scordova says:

    The order does not matter, and neither can there be repeats.

    I’m afraid Mark Perakh showed a rather distorted understanding of specifications (conceptual information). He may be a physicist, but it does not exempt him from making a basic mistake in understanding ID literature.

    Perakh, Shallit, and Elsberry might do well to revise their understanding of CSI, as it is grossly distorted. Until they can even show they can represent the rudimentary basics of CSI accurately, they’re not in a position to critique the larger issues in Dembski’s latest papers.

    They do not have to agree CSI exists, but they should be able to accurately represent what the claims IDists are before trying to refute them. As it stands they’re only tearing down straw man definitison of CSI, not the definitions which IDists have given.

    Again, I emphasize, Perhakh was the only one among the three that gave Bill the courtesy of using Dembski’s wording for Dembski’s key concepts, namely CSI. That would seem to be a self-evident approach if one wishes to critique Dembski’s work, but Shallit and Elsberry could not even bring themselves to quote a few sentences from Dembski’s book that are crucial in the definition of CSI. Now why is that?

    To Perakh’s credit, he at least quoted Dembski’s definition of CSI verbatim, however Perakh inaccurately represented a crucial component of CSI, namely, conceptual information.

    Perakh said, “Therefore, insofar as we deal with text, the term conceptual information seems to coincide with the meaning of that text.”

    Perakh has it wrong, I’m afraid. Conceptual information may or may not have meaning, and meaning is not what qualifies a specification as having conceptual information.

    For examples, look at strings in in sets T1 and T2 in my ARN thread. Does one have to infer MEANING to be able to classify those strings as conceptual information? Absolutely not. This point seems to have been missed by Perakh.

    Anyone with a background in comiler theory and language processors understand that grammatically correct constructs can be recognized independent of meaning. In computer languages we have what are known as lexical analyzers and parsers which deal with syntax not semantics. They are able to recognize conceptual constructs devoid of meaning. This is standard operating practice in computer science in the construction of the front end of computer language processors. Basic stuff…

    Conceptual information deals with syntax. Dembski is following, in that regard, what are common place understandings in computer and information sciences regarding pattern matching. I’m afraid, Dr. Perakh’s physics are irrelevant to the discussion of formal language theory, and his error in describing Dembski’s work suggest a degree of unfamiliarity with ideas that are common place in computer science and information theory.

    Regarding Dembski’s latest papers, they may dispute certain assumptions being offered, but they have yet to say whether the mathematical derivations offered by Bill are logically correct deductions from the starting assumptions.

    You can see, Perakh’s thread has just has become another thread of vitriol and derision, with the happy exception of Elsberry’s participation, little technical substance is being offered.

    Though I do disagree with Elsberry and Perakh, I do credit them with not descending to the low level derogatory meaness exemplified by the other participants at Pandas Thumb. I applaud their good faith attempts at civil discussion.

    Perakh has shown that he is bright and capable, and I have commended his work where I feel appropriate. But regarding his understanding and ability to represent Dembski’s work accurately, his ideas need some revision.

    Salvador Cordova

  15. 15
    scordova says:

    (I mis-spelled in my previous post the word “comiler”, it should be “compiler”.)

    A good APPROXIMATE example of a system that can recognize conceptual information without reference to meaing is Microsoft Word’s ability to detect spelling and grammar errors as you type whatever meaninguful or meaningless sentences you wish. Human language is not a formal language, so the Microsoft Word example is only approximate.

    A better example would be computer language processors, which in contrast, are more EXACT in their “front ends” which check spelling and syntax. These “front ends” serve as examples of systems capable of detecting conceptual information without reference to meaing. Front ends of computer language processors are excellent examples of systems being able to detect conceptual information (language constructs) in physical information (electronic bit stream of characters).

    The coincidence of the conceptual and physical information, is evidence the physical bit stream of characters in a computer program evidences CSI.

    Salvador Cordova

  16. 16
    blockheadster says:

    Davescot,

    I think the issue of a target is outside the domain of biochemistry. From a biochemists perspective, there is a specified function, say, metabolizing lactose. Then, from a biochemist ID perspective, one can say “what is the probability that a protein would form that metabolizes lactose ?” But there are two problems with that.

    First, natural selection does not act to evolve a targeted function that is pre-specified. Natural selection didn’t act to “metabolize lactose.”

    Secondly, even if this were true, the evolution of an enzyme that metabolizes lactose, from the perspective of probability, is not a search starting from an arbitrary location within probability space. One would have to consider the evolution of b-galactosidase considering that the machinery that produces lactose, galactose, glucose etc. are already available and may provide an important starting points.

    Finally, the argument that Giff makes seems reasonable. While we don’t know, for example, if YZZ or ZZY or, for that matter, DKNY, can perform the same function or not, knowledge of whether this is the case is essential for calculating the probabilities that a certain function would evolve (ignoring the above arguments). You are right, this doesn’t falsify ID, but the burden is on ID to come up with reasonable numbers. These calculations are essential and all the probabilities must be conditioned on them. Until then, the probability statements don’t have any weight. You could try a Bayesian approach – that way you could include a prior distribution for the likelihoods. Then, the argument will just boil down to an argument about the prior.

  17. 17
    scordova says:

    The words “function” and “metabolize” are specifications. They are gleaned from our everyday ideas of “function”. Function is a generalized blueprint.

    There is a coincidence between our concept of function (conceptual information) and the physical evidence of function (physical information). We are able to use human defined ideas and concepts and project them quite naturally onto biotic reality. Is this a fluke of post-diction or is this evidence of design?

    Though I believe protein function is evidence for design, within biotic reality, a more clear cut case for design is the existence of computers, language processors, digital signal processors, operating systems, decoders, encoders, compilers, memory storage systems, digital error correction, feed-back control architectures, etc. in biology. One is hard pressed to say this is a post-dictive projection as Michael Shermer might argue, as the complexity is just too high….

    If it is not post diction, is it darwinian mechanisms and chemical evolution. No. Thus, design is a reasonable possibility. It is not “agrument from ignoarance” it is “proof by contradiction”. We have contradicted the adequacy of Darwinian mechanism as a causal explanation. Does that automatically mean design? Maybe, but the bottom line is Darwinian mechanisms, in and of themselves, are shown insufficient.

  18. 18
    scordova says:

    I should note, Jason Rosenhouse thinks your calculations are impeccable.

    “As an exercise in formal mathematics the paper seems unobjectionable. I have never questioned Dembski’s ability to manipulate symbols in accordance with the rules of algebra and calculus.”

    http://evolutionblog.blogspot......erakh.html

    Jason does point out the unaswered question, “I do not know if Mark has bothered to slog through Dembski’s paper”.

    Indeed, Mark could comment on whether he understands the math, and whether Bill’s calculations are unobjectionable.

  19. 19
    DaveScot says:

    Salvador

    I’m afraid you lost me re; syntax and semantics. I understand quite well the concepts in computer languages but I don’t see the connection to amino acid sequences in proteins. What do you propose are the syntax rules that proteins follow? The syntax of computer languages are specified in exacting detail but I don’t know of any syntax rules that have been discovered in regard to protein construction. I’m not saying protein syntax doesn’t exist I’m saying nobody has a clue what it might be or if it does even exist.

    blockheadster

    If I understand you correctly you’re saying it’s up to IDists to characterize the potential number of protein sequences that can do the same job as a given sequence and that until then we should assume that it could be a large number and thus make the odds of accidental occurence of useful proteins reasonable.

    By the same logic then it’s up to Darwinists to solve the DNA/protein chicken/egg paradox and until that time we should assume that it can’t be done by chance and that design is true until proven false.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, in other words. There are “gaps” in ID theory that IMO hinge around the bounding of probablistic resources just as there are gaps in standard evolutionary theory. Putting design in the gaps is not satisfactory. Neither is putting chance in the gaps satisfactory. One should acknowledge that chance and/or design are potential gap fillers and hope further discovery will cast more light on the situation. IMO being able to predict how an arbitrary amino acid chain will fold and function is a requisite to further understanding the probabilities that chance must overcome.

    On the other bit about specification – I think it’s irrelevant whether specification happens by problems finding solutions or solutions finding problems. In either case functionality is found and employed. In either case it can be by design or accident. Design detection seeks to quantify the probabilities whether it be the probability of a solution finding a problem or a problem finding a solution is not really salient.

  20. 20
    blockheadster says:

    DaveScot,

    Whoa ! I don’t think those ideas follow one another at all ! The ID argument fundamentally relies (as far as I can tell) on showing that there is almost zero probability that what we see in the world arrived by chance alone. To do so, the probabilities have to be calculated correctly.

    However, we have tons of examples of how natural selection and evolution have occurred in the world. It is perfectly logical to assume that those processes, over billions of years, have produced what we see.

    Let us suppose there are two parameters: Natural Selection and Intelligent Design. There is tons of evidence for natural selection, so we can confidently add it to our model. To add another parameter to the equation, the burden is on the new parameter.

    It’s like doing a likelihood ratio test. You add another parameter if the fit is significantly better. ID hasn’t proven itself significantly better than just the evolution parameter alone, which we know is an essential parameter. So why add it ?

    So, I think the burden is on you.

  21. 21
    DaveScot says:

    “However, we have tons of examples of how natural selection and evolution have occurred in the world.”

    Agreed. I’ve little if any doubt in descent with modification from a universal common ancestor. The question is whether RM+NS is the primary mechanism. There is no empirical evidence that it is. It’s an extrapolation of empirical observation. The undeniable truth of the matter is that no one has observed RM+NS creating a novel cell type, tissue type, organ, or body plan. It has been observed creating only trivial change. That these trivial changes can add up to remarkably complex new structures is pure unadulterated speculation propped up by a big fat argument from ignorance “if not RM+NS then what else could be responsible”. Intelligent design could be responsible. We know that intelligent designers exist in nature and we know these designers can cause directed genetic changes to living organisms. We know these designers exist because we are the known case of designers. Thus the possibility of design is proven. The question is no longer “is intelligent design possible?” because we now know that it is. The question today is “when did intelligent design first appear in nature”.

  22. 22
    blockheadster says:

    “The undeniable truth of the matter is that no one has observed RM+NS creating a novel cell type, tissue type, organ, or body plan.”

    Directly observed in the microscope or in front of our very own eyes ? True. But no one has observed ID creating a novel cell type, tissue type, organ or body plan either ! So on that point, we are even steven.

    But, we do have tons of evidence for RM + NS in nature that has been directly observed (which you appear to agree with), and none directly supporting this ID source that supposedly would have created the first cell, so it is not at all “unadulterated speculation” that over billions of years, these processes can produce what we see – even us designers. The great breakthough of Newton was to suggest that the force of gravity, that we directly observe on the earth, when extended over long distances, can explain the motion of the planets. I see no explicit evidence that says a similar extension of the force of RM + NS, extended over billions of years, cannot produce the diversity that we see. It may be hard for the human mind to conceptualize this, but the human experience is limited to a life span of about 70 years.

    So, the burden is on you to at least show the action of the same Designer (the one that created the first cell) in nature NOW, because that action of RM + NS in nature has already been explicitly demonstrated.

    You are right that there are designers in nature (us), but the evidence that designers exist is not evidence for the UberDesigner that you claim created the first cell. You need to show explicit evidence for THAT designer in nature NOW.

  23. 23
    scordova says:

    Out of courtesy to Jason Rosenhouse, I should point out he offered an objection to my quotation of him yesterday. For the sake of completeness here are his current days comments:
    http://evolutionblog.blogspot......oting.html

    and (to repeat) his comments on
    http://evolutionblog.blogspot......erakh.html

    So in fairness to Dr. Rosenhouse, he thinks “Dembski fails completely”, but Dembski’e math is correct.

    However, I consider his view that Bill’s math is unobjectionable to be noteworthy considering that he has said some rather unflattering things about Bill in the past, and even with respect to that paper.

    That’s why his considering Bill’s formal math exercise as unobjectionable to carry more weight. Now, in fairness to Dr. Rosenhouse, he feels Bill’s work is out of touch with reality. He is free to say that, and of course I would disagree. But to have someone of Rosenhouse’s caliber to say Dembski’s math is unobjectionable, carries a lot of weight with me.

    Rosenhouse is not a biologist, but a brilliant professor of math (oh, don’t let Jason’s modesty fool you, I recognize a brilliant mind when I encounter it). So what little morsels of good things he has to say about us carry a lot of weight.

    I do know he thinks us IDists are on the shady side. But if he thinks we’re reasonably intelligent (as Jerry Coyne does), well hey, that’s a step in the right direction.

    I’d like to commend Jason for at least reading Dembski’s math. If he finds any problems in the derivations and provides corrections, I’ll recommend Jason’s name be added to the acknowledgment section.

    Salvador

  24. 24
    scordova says:

    I need to clarify something, when I said, “Conceptual information deals with syntax”, if the conceptual information is syntactical, then it deals with syntax, but it is not required.

    Dembski writes, page 147, “To define CSI requires only the mereological and statistical aspects of information. No syntax and no theory of meaning [semantics] is required.”

    I’ve used sytactical examples of conceptual information, they serve as “suffient, but not necessary” examples of conceptual information. However since the powerful examples of design in biology are of a syntactic nature, I thought I woudl mention them.

    Dembski writes, “Counterintuitive as it may seem, semantics, far from helping to detect design, can actually hinder its detection….Semantic information and complex specified information are distinct categories of information.”

    In my view, oddly enough, syntax (grammar) is a sufficient condition to establish a specification, but not a necessary one. I hope that clarifies my position on the matter. Of course, I defer to Bill if he feels my characterization is in-accurate.

    Salvador

  25. 25
    DaveScot says:

    The man doth protest too much, methinks. 😉

    http://www.pandasthumb.org/arc.....could.html

    Among the vast number of things Mark is mistaken about is evidently the definition of “libel”. He carefully doesn’t mention my name in connection with accusations of libel. I therefore conclude he’s not *completely* stupid…

  26. 26
    DaveScot says:

    Blockheadster

    The action of designers in nature has been explicitely demonstrated in recent history just as RM+NS has been explicitely demonstrated in recent history.

    We’re “even stevens” there too I’m afraid. All this “even stevens” stuff suggests that chance and design both deserve mention as possible explanations for the origin and evolution of life.

    The problem for the chance worshippers is that it’s probably not possible to prove that complex sub-cellular machinery came about by chance while it probably is possible to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that some of these complex sub-cellular structures are a product of design.

    How would design be proven beyond any reasonable doubt you might ask. It can be done by sufficiently rigorous bounding of probabilistic resources then applying already well developed statistical mathematics (which not coincidently this blog’s owner has a PhD in) to determine the probability of chance being responsible. At some point the odds against chance become so overwhelming that any objective person will admit the game is rigged.

    Here’s an analogy in objectivity. If a person wins a lottery against one-in-one million odds no one has good cause to believe the lottery was not fair. If his wife wins the next lottery, his son the lottery after that, and his brother the lottery after that, an objective person will conclude the game was rigged.

    As far as can be determined at this point in time, life won a lot of lotteries to get where it is today. One can make a good argument that we have yet to bound the variables well enough to nail down the odds against these events happening by chance. I am willing to concede that is true. However, we are constantly accumulating more and more knowledge that allows us to better bound the variables in question. It’s only a matter of time before we have bounded them sufficiently to make most objective people without a personal ideological agenda to defend admit that we know enough to reliably calculate the odds.

    What’s scaring the living bejesus out of chance worshippers is that science, whether it intends to or not, is accumulating the knowledge that IDists need to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. Every day the case for design gets stronger by newly acquired empirical data while every day the case for chance gets weaker. As we reverse engineer the machinery of life we’re finding more and more complexity than we’d imagined previously. As the complexity grows the ability of chance to explain it shrinks. This is why Paley’s watchmaker argument is seeing a growing resurgence in support 200 years after its formulation. The argument is essentially the same one Paley made – the type and amount of empirical data in support of it is what has changed.

  27. 27
    blockheadster says:

    DaveScot,

    1) “The action of designers in nature has been explicitely demonstrated in recent history just as RM+NS has been explicitely demonstrated in recent history”

    Designers, yes (us). Not the designer that you are talking about – the one that created the first cell (please see my earlier point). That’s the one that matters here.

    2) “How would design be proven beyond any reasonable doubt you might ask. It can be done by sufficiently rigorous bounding of probabilistic resources…”

    Assuming this is true, when making these calculations please include: epistasis, recombination, gene conversion, the effect of small and large population size, migration and everything else that we know about biology. It’s going to be tough. I don’t think you are close.

    3) “If a person wins a lottery against one-in-one million odds no one has good cause to believe the lottery was not fair. If his wife wins the next lottery, his son the lottery after that, and his brother the lottery after that, an objective person will conclude the game was rigged.”

    This is a false analogy. You need to condition on the fact that we are talking about humans playing the game here and humans cheat. And the probability of a human cheating is something that can be known.

    We aren’t calculating:

    P(rigged|crazy occurence)

    We are calculating:

    P(rigged|crazy occurence involving humans AND humans cheat)

    and P(a given human is a cheater) can probably be estimated.

    All this design stuff being relevant to things like archeology is also dependent on the fact that we know A PRIORI that humans exist as designers. We don’t know if your UberDesigner exists.

    4) “As far as can be determined at this point in time, life won a lot of lotteries to get where it is today.”

    I don’t know if that is true. I also don’t know how many times “the lottery was played”. I’ll probably win Bingo at least 1000 times after playing it 1 billion times.

    5) “It’s only a matter of time before we have bounded them sufficiently”

    Please see my response to 2).

    6) “What’s scaring the living bejesus out of chance worshippers is that science…”

    Actually, what scares me most is that science education and math education is so poor these days and that the new ID movement is going to inject a virulent strain of relativism into the same classes.

  28. 28
    DaveScot says:

    Blockheadster

    Designers are a proven quantity in nature. The only question is how many and when.

    If you can’t concede that obvious point I have no desire for any further conversation with you.

  29. 29
    blockheadster says:

    DaveScot,

    I totally agree that designers are a proven quantity ! You and I are ! Spiders that weave webs are ! Beavers that build dams !

    But ID doesn’t concern THOSE designers. You are specifically talking about a designer that made the first cell, right ? Where is the evidence for THAT designer in the world we live in today ?

    Explicit evidence for RM + NS has been shown in our life times. I don’t see the evidence for the specific designer that you are concerned with.

    If that doesn’t answer your point, oh well.

    Take care.

  30. 30
    jasonng says:

    “Explicit evidence for RM + NS has been shown in our life times.”

    I don’t think that’s the point being disputed here. But with the evidence we have today, claiming that random mutation and natural selection can explain the origin of biological complexity is a baseless extrapolation of the observed abilities of material mechanisms.

    Look at it this way: one day while wandering through the desert you come across a huge pyramid that no one has seen before. Now from past experience you’ve seen that humans have built similar pyramids. You’ve also seen rock formations created by nature that look like that. However you enter inside and you see walls lined with paintings, storerooms full of priceless jewelry, and a coffin in the middle with an inscription in a dead language. The question here is whether this pyramid was designed, and the answer is obviously yes, since any reasonable person would not conclude that somehow all this was created by natural forces alone. This is why ID is needed to explain biological complexity; you wouldn’t say that design is an “unnecessary parameter” when explaining the origins of that pyramid, would you?

  31. 31
    blockheadster says:

    But RM + NS (and drift) is the only evolutionary force that we have evidence for right now ! And we have tons of it.

    ” The question here is whether this pyramid was designed, and the answer is obviously yes…”

    Yes, of course. Designed by humans that we know exist and we know design things. That analogy is flawed. One infers that the pyramid was designed BASED on past experience with humans. Design by humans is a parameter we have evidence for to explain the observation

    We have no evidence for an UberDesigner having made cells or organs or having ANY role in the evolutionary process.

    “claiming that random mutation and natural selection can explain the origin of biological complexity is a baseless extrapolation”

    What ? RM and NS is all that we have explicit evidence for. So how can that be baseless ?

    I think people here are conflating the fact that design exists in the world with evidence for a designer that produced the first cell. The only design we have evidence for, as far as I know, is design by animals such as humans. But no one would argue that humans created the first cell. Where is the evidence for the Designer that you are specifically talking about – evidence that is manifest in the world we live in ?

  32. 32
    scordova says:

    Perakh has posted his Skeptic article:

    http://members.cox.net/perakm/Dream_Dem.htm

    Perahk claims:

    “Dembski’s definition of information is
    I(E) = -log2 p(E)”

    He says he got it from page 127 of Dembski’s book. Well, what does it say on page 127 of Dembski’s book?

    “the amount of information in an arbitrary event E as I(E) = -log2p(E)”

    Ahhhhh, but there is a subtle sleight of hand here by Mark Perakh. Dembski does not define Information as I(E) but as the AMOUNT of information.

    For example, there is a difference between the information in file and the amount of information in the file, usually specified in bytes (8 bit = byte). For example, a text file contains information of 80,000 bits. The AMOUNT of information in the file is not the same as the information in the file. This should be plainly obvious.

    Yet Perakh tries to imply that Dembski is confusing the AMOUNT of information with information itself. That is not true as can be seen by Dembski’s own words.

    Perakh has thus inaccurate represented Dembski, and set up a strawman argument. Now, let’s see how many critics out there are going to call Perakh on his inaccurate representation???

    Salvador
    PS
    I seem to recall a well known ID critic criticizing me about a certain supposed misrepresentation by Peter Ward. I’ll cut critics some slack if they say, “Well Perakh is entitled to his interpretations of Dembski’s work, though I might not go that far.” I would hope they would afford me the same benefit of the doubt.

  33. 33
    jasonng says:

    “But RM + NS (and drift) is the only evolutionary force that we have evidence for right now ! And we have tons of it.”

    Tell that to the design theorists out there, maybe they’ll be out of a job when they find out what you do that the rest of us don’t.

    “Yes, of course. Designed by humans that we know exist and we know design things. That analogy is flawed. One infers that the pyramid was designed BASED on past experience with humans. Design by humans is a parameter we have evidence for to explain the observation

    We have no evidence for an UberDesigner having made cells or organs or having ANY role in the evolutionary process.”

    Obviously no analogy can be a perfect comparison, but my point is past experience has indicated that although RM+NS is an evolutionary force, it is incapable of producing specified complexity, as design theorists have repeatedly demonstrated and which I’m sure you’ll find out once you start reading books on ID. With the analogy, we know that intelligences (such as human intelligence) do in fact produce specified complexity. Thus we can infer that design by an intelligence is a more logical solution than a natural mechanism that cannot see into the future and only selects for present need.

    “What? RM and NS is all that we have explicit evidence for. So how can that be baseless?”

    What do I mean? Fruit flies go in as fruit flies and come out as fruit flies is what I mean. The planet’s environment has been undergoing major changes in the past century, major changes that should logically result in massive speciation that… hasn’t occured, mysteriously.

    “I think people here are conflating the fact that design exists in the world with evidence for a designer that produced the first cell. The only design we have evidence for, as far as I know, is design by animals such as humans. But no one would argue that humans created the first cell. Where is the evidence for the Designer that you are specifically talking about – evidence that is manifest in the world we live in?”

    In the world we have two main types of forces that are responsible for creating things, nature and intelligence. Darwinists had well over a century to prove that natural mechanisms alone can account for every living organism in existance, and they’re not even close despite their claims. I highly doubt that Darwin ever thought people would still be debating the validity of his theory in 2005. The ONLY force we know of in the universe capable of producing specified complexity is of course, intelligence. It is far more reasonable to infer that a designer is responsible for biological complexity rather than invoking RM+NS even when there is no evidence that such a process can produce biological complexity.

  34. 34
    DaveScot says:

    jasonng

    Frustratingly obvious, isn’t it? We’re trying to use logic to argue with ideologues. That’s the only thing that makes sense. Some of them seem able enough to apply logic to their own case but when you use the same logic for you own case they reject it. They want to have their cake and eat it too.

  35. 35
    scordova says:

    I took Perakh to task on a couple points. Here is an example:

    http://www.pandasthumb.org/arc.....tml#c43883

  36. 36
    jasonng says:

    “They want to have their cake and eat it too.”

    Yeah that’s how I would describe it too. Unfortunately many people are even worse; they’re totally ignorant of the issue yet they’re so stubborn that no amount of evidence would convince them otherwise. I guess it’s sort of like putting on sunglasses in a dark room when people know little and they shut off anyone trying to convince them that their assumptions are wrong.

  37. 37
    Alan Fox says:

    I myself would very much like to see a lengthy reply to Dr. Perakh’s arguments from Dr. Dembski. He may very well find Dr. Perakh’s arguments of little concern, but as for the attention that this issue is getting here among Dr. Dembski’s fiercest opponents, I think a lengthy reply would be in order.

    T.Russ

    A recent comment from the Panda’s Thumb threadhttp://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/08/what_else_could.html

  38. 38
    blockheadster says:

    DaveScot and jasonng.

    Well, at least the one thing we have in common is that the two of you and I both feel like we are banging our head against a wall ; ) !

    But you guys are ok. However,

    “We’re trying to use logic to argue with ideologues.”

    You guys haven’t used any logic at all. It is a false argument to assume that ID was involved in something just on the fact that life seems complicated. But just because you can’t imagine the diversity of life without invoking design is not evidence for design.

    OK, let me try this.

    Will you grant me this ?

    For parameter to be relevant to a model, we must first know that it exists.
    Then, given that it exists, we must show with evidence that it provides an explanation for what is observed.

    1) RM + NS (and drift) do exist. That has been demonstrated.
    2) Many phenomena can be explicitly explained by RM + NS (and drift).

    Now, to ID.

    1) There is no explicit data that the designer (the one that you are concerned with here) exists. (And please don’t tell me that, well, designers exist, such as humans. That is irrelevant to the existence of the designer you are concerned with).

    2) Given the first point hasn’t been demonstrated, it can not be demonstrated to be a relevant parameter.

    You guys are jumping to 2, saying that all these observations can be accounted for by ID, without even showing that this designer exists in the first place.

    Finally, you often state that Dembski’s work can be used to prove that the probabilities are so low, that things must be designed. But can you explain to me the relevance of the “searching large spaces” paper in determining these probabilities ? In that paper, probabilities are calculated on the assumption that there is a “target.” But evolution doesn’t work that way at all.

  39. 39
    DaveScot says:

    blockheadster

    I aced formal logic in college with no effort while most of the muttonheads in the class failed. Every class I attended that required logical thinking was the same story. I went on to make a fortune and retire at the tender age of 43 employing my logical capabilities in computer hardware and software design. For you to claim I, a master logician of proven talent, have used no logic simply serves to expose you as an illogical ideologue. Good-bye. I will only suffer so much stupidity and you’ve crossed over the line.

  40. 40
    blockheadster says:

    DaveScot,

    There you go again ! Totally illogical ! Your past performance in formal logic has no bearing on your use of logic in the argument at hand. I am sure you remember that the appeal to authority is a fallacy.

    Anyway, to be honest, if there is something to ID, it would be really neat, and as I said elsewhere, it would be groundbreaking. I just think you guys are no where near where you need to be. I didn’t intend to be hostile and as I said before, you guys are ok in my book. At least you are curious. You guys should actually try reading some good evolutionary biology – I think you would find it really interesting ! Here is one of my favorites:
    http://tinyurl.com/cvwcj

    In the mean time, I will read No Free Lunch.

    Peace out.

    The guy whose stupidity you suffer.

  41. 41
    scordova says:

    blockheadster,

    I’m delighted to hear you will read No Free Lunch. I would caution that you not interpret it using the mis-interpretations offered by Perakh, Elsberry, and Shallit. They have not represented Dembski’s work accurately. Look at how mangled Perakh’s representation of channel entropy was. Totally decoupled from what Bill actually said in his book. Same for the definition of information.

    If you wish to understand ID literature, read what IDists have had to say, as they will more likely represent their own theories accurately. That’s not the same as saying you’ll agree with us, but people need to actually understand what we’re saying before they make decisions about the plausibility of our claims.

    Unfortunately, misrepresentations of our work abound. I recommend going to the source ID materials to learn about ID rather than using the misrepresented descriptions and fabricated definitions that are improperly attributed to our claims. In the end, you may or may not agree with our conclusions, but you will at least know what we actually said, versus what is given to you second hand.

    Salvador Cordova

  42. 42
    jasonng says:

    I’m not interested in a back and forth exchange that’ll end up going nowhere, but I’ll respond briefly to some points you made.

    “You guys haven’t used any logic at all. It is a false argument to assume that ID was involved in something just on the fact that life seems complicated. But just because you can’t imagine the diversity of life without invoking design is not evidence for design.”

    This is how Darwinists (like you) define ID. ID theorists actually propose that there can be (and is) positive evidence in favour of design, not just negative evidence against naturalism. This makes design a better explanation; just because you can imagine natural mechanisms creating life doesn’t mean it happened.

    “For parameter to be relevant to a model, we must first know that it exists.
    Then, given that it exists, we must show with evidence that it provides an explanation for what is observed.”

    We all know RM+NS exists, as for the second point it hasn’t even come close. I ask again, when’s the massive speciation due to climate change supposed to happen? How many new species have been created in the past century?

    “1) There is no explicit data that the designer (the one that you are concerned with here) exists. (And please don’t tell me that, well, designers exist, such as humans. That is irrelevant to the existence of the designer you are concerned with).”

    That is entirely relevant because human intelligence is the ONLY thing we know of that is capable of generating specified complexity. Random mutation, genetic drift, etc. have no outlook on the future and cannot plan for it. Every step in the supposed “step by step” evolution of the bacterial flagellum therefore has to provide some sort of advantage for natural selection to select it. As we know, this is not the case.

    “In that paper, probabilities are calculated on the assumption that there is a “target.” But evolution doesn’t work that way at all.”

    Exactly why it is so improbably that RM+NS could have created the bacterial flagellum.

  43. 43
    DaveScot says:

    blockheadster

    Buy a clue! Here’s a good place to start…

    http://tinyurl.com/7fvot

  44. 44
    blockheadster says:

    “I’m not interested in a back and forth exchange that’ll end up going nowhere, but I’ll respond briefly to some points you made.”

    Neither am I, but I keep responding like an addict.

    “This is how Darwinists (like you) define ID. ID theorists actually propose that there can be (and is) positive evidence in favour of design, not just negative evidence against naturalism.”

    I think part of the problem here has been our (my ?) confounding ID research with evidence for ID.

    Regarding ID research I think developing methods to identify design is interesting. Certainly, if I found stonehenge on mars, I would be inclinced to say: designed. Why ?

    However, from what I understand, the explanatory filter, since one concludes design after rejecting chance, is spinning negative evidence (for chance) into positive evidence for design. The rejection of chance should not automatically lead to the acceptance of design. I know of no scientific method that works that way, whereby evidence against one idea is made equivalent to positive evidence for another idea. For that to be true, we must assume that 1) we can eliminate all other explanations and chance and ID are mutually exclusive.

    Still, it’s an interesting question about when it is reasonable to infer design.

    Now, aside from this quibble about design inference, there is the question about whether we can infer design based on the data we see on earth.

    Assuming the explanatory filter is a ok (ignoring the above), you must calculate the probability of the observation given chance. To do so, you must consider:
    epistasis, mutation, small population size, large population size, migration and everything we know about biology. Have you done that ? Until then, I don’t even see how you can use the explanatory filter to get to design, even by your methods.

    “I ask again, when’s the massive speciation due to climate change supposed to happen? How many new species have been created in the past century?”

    Where in evolutionary theory does it say that there must be massive speciation due to climate change ? There has been documentation of extinction. I don’t know what you are talking about here.

    Regarding the number of new species in the past century, how the heck do I know ? We don’t even know how many species there are ! And there is tons of debate about what a species is. According to what species concept here ?

    Anyway, please explain to me how it has been calculated that the bacterial flagellum can be ruled out to have evolved, including those considerations (epistasis, drift etc.) that I mentioned earlier.

  45. 45
    DaveScot says:

    Darwinist to IDist: The flagellum evolved by chance! I challenge you to prove it wasn’t.

    IDist to Darwinist: The flagellum was designed! I challenge you to prove it wasn’t.

    What’s wrong with that picture?

  46. 46
    blockheadster says:

    Darwinist to IDist: We know that mutation, selection and drift is a powerful evolutionary force. It seems, therefore, to be a reasonable explanation for how the flagellum evolved.

    IDist to Darwinist: The flagellum was designed ! I challenge you to prove it wasn’t.

    DaveScot, I’ll concede (hesitantly) that I can “prove” that the flagellum evolved as well as you can “prove” it was designed.

    But I can prove that antibiotic resistance evolved. Can you prove it was designed ?

  47. 47
    jasonng says:

    “Regarding ID research I think developing methods to identify design is interesting. Certainly, if I found stonehenge on mars, I would be inclinced to say: designed. Why ?”

    I would say it’s designed because it displays specified complexity, it is both a complex object and also conveys some sort of specificity (versus a pile of rocks which is only complex). There’s no problem with debating whether certain methods of design detection actually work when applied to biology, however many Darwinists have ruled out the possibility of design detection even being theoretically possible.

    “However, from what I understand, the explanatory filter, since one concludes design after rejecting chance, is spinning negative evidence (for chance) into positive evidence for design. The rejection of chance should not automatically lead to the acceptance of design. I know of no scientific method that works that way, whereby evidence against one idea is made equivalent to positive evidence for another idea. For that to be true, we must assume that 1) we can eliminate all other explanations and chance and ID are mutually exclusive.”

    The explanatory filter includes chance, necessity (law) and both. In the universe we know of only three things that can create, chance, laws and of course intelligence. This covers everything we have in our knowledge of the universe; sure, there could be a fourth force out there that we haven’t found, but that’s just like the idea of invisible lizards, not impossible but without scientific basis or practicality.

    “Assuming the explanatory filter is a ok (ignoring the above), you must calculate the probability of the observation given chance. To do so, you must consider:
    epistasis, mutation, small population size, large population size, migration and everything we know about biology. Have you done that ? Until then, I don’t even see how you can use the explanatory filter to get to design, even by your methods.”

    When it comes to chance alone I think the “universal probability bound” covers virtually all probable scenarios. The most probable source of “undesigned design” would be chance acting with necessity, although as we’ve seen natural selection and random mutation have yet to demonstrate the massive capabilities proposed by Darwin. You say that you have to rule out all possible natural mechanisms before arriving at design, of course everyone knows that’s impossible. Design theorists propose that biologists should look at what better explains biological complexity, naturalism or design.

    “Where in evolutionary theory does it say that there must be massive speciation due to climate change ? There has been documentation of extinction. I don’t know what you are talking about here.”

    Extinction but no speciation is what we’ve seen in the past century. No one says there must be massive speciation, but I thought this was what evolutionary theory is based on, am I wrong? Didn’t Darwin say that a significant change in an environment would result in evolution?

    “Regarding the number of new species in the past century, how the heck do I know ? We don’t even know how many species there are ! And there is tons of debate about what a species is. According to what species concept here ?”

    I’m not asking for a specific number, I’m just asking if there’s been observed speciation. It’s interesting that biology textbooks don’t give a single example of observed speciation…

    “Anyway, please explain to me how it has been calculated that the bacterial flagellum can be ruled out to have evolved, including those considerations (epistasis, drift etc.) that I mentioned earlier.”

    The bacterial flagellum’s irreducible complexity defies Darwin’s concept of step by step, successive modifications. No Darwinist has any idea how it evolved, but they assume it must have despite evidence to the contrary. We cannot be 100% sure of design obviously, but design is a much better explanation than a bunch of wishful speculations. The case for design will only get stronger if in the future we are able to assign actual probabilities to this. Remember, just because you can imagine the flagellum evolving step by step or assembling itself naturally doesn’t mean it happened that way.

  48. 48
    DaveScot says:

    blockheadster

    I can prove that antibiotic resistant bacteria are still bacteria.

  49. 49
    blockheadster says:

    Test. Am I being censored ?

  50. 50
    scordova says:

    Dave and anyone else sincerely interested, I’m posting a further detailed discussion over these issues at ARN.

    http://www.arn.org/ubb/ultimat.....01542.html

    I don’t want to clog up Bill’s weblog with the exchanges. I think anyone with an open mind and some science background would appreciate a more detailed discussion. It will be evident that Mark Perakh failed on many key points technically.

  51. 51
    sartre says:

    Dave, nobody cares if you “mastered logic.” Block was correct. That statement has no bearing on your arguments NOW. I received A’s in both of my logic classes. You self-parading yourself is disgusting and shows that, if you need to conduct such behavior, your comments are without substance. You act like a child by how you speak of yourself and nobody cares. The point is is that your logic about how science works and how ID any relevance shows how well you are able to APPLY logic in THESE arguments are severely lacking.

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