Intelligent Design

All Claims Made as the Result of a Computer Simulation Should be Considered BS, Until Proven Otherwise

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No one should give any credence to computer simulations who is not familiar with what they are and what they can do.

In my work in aerospace R&D I was recently alerted to a severe problem in a computer simulation. The original simulation said that a mechanical part was half as strong as empirical testing said it was. I triple-checked all the material properties of the part in question, and ran two simulations based on the original model. Both simulations were clearly in error.

I then noticed something. The solid finite elements were modeled with four-node tetrahedrons, not ten-node, second-order tetras that would provide the requisite degrees of freedom to make the model work correctly.

I realize that what I have written will make eyes glaze over, but the point is:

If a single oversight such as I have discussed — in a computer simulation using the most advanced technology available, with the most experienced people in the field doing the work, and with all the material properties thoroughly known and characterized for a simple mechanical part — can result in a conclusion that cannot be trusted, how much trust can you put in claims made by those who produce computer simulations about what the earth’s climate will be like in a hundred years, or about how computer simulations verify that Darwinian mechanisms transformed a microbe into Mozart in 10^17 seconds?

My advice to all real skeptics — as opposed to Darwinists, who are pathologically immune to any skepticism concerning the creative powers of Darwinian mechanisms — is: Assume that a computer simulation is completely unreliable (and even worse, possibly modified to produce a result consistent with a conclusion that was reached in advance), until proven otherwise.

13 Replies to “All Claims Made as the Result of a Computer Simulation Should be Considered BS, Until Proven Otherwise

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Gil, you might be interested in this article that came out today:

    Researchers produce first complete computer model of an organism – July 20, 2012
    Excerpt: In a breakthrough effort for computational biology, the world’s first complete computer model of an organism has been completed, Stanford researchers reported in the journal Cell.,,,
    Most biological experiments, however, still take a reductionist approach to this vast array of data: knocking out a single gene and seeing what happens. “Many of the issues we’re interested in aren’t single-gene problems,” said Covert. “They’re the complex result of hundreds or thousands of genes interacting.”,,,
    Mycoplasma genitalium is a humble parasitic bacterium, known mainly for showing up uninvited in human urogenital and respiratory tracts. But the pathogen also has the distinction of containing the smallest genome of any free-living organism – only 525 genes, as opposed to the 4,288 of E. coli, a more traditional laboratory bacterium.,,,
    Even at this small scale, the quantity of data that the Stanford researchers incorporated into the virtual cell’s code was enormous. The final model made use of more than 1,900 experimentally determined parameters. To integrate these disparate data points into a unified machine, the researchers modeled individual biological processes as 28 separate “modules,” each governed by its own algorithm. These modules then communicated to each other after every time step, making for a unified whole that closely matched M. genitalium’s real-world behavior.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-r.....puter.html

    Reminds me of this comment from Paul Davies:

    How we could create life: The key to existence will be found not in primordial sludge, but in the nanotechnology of the living cell – Paul Davies – 2002
    Excerpt: Instead, the living cell is best thought of as a supercomputer – an information processing and replicating system of astonishing complexity. DNA is not a special life-giving molecule, but a genetic databank that transmits its information using a mathematical code. Most of the workings of the cell are best described, not in terms of material stuff – hardware – but as information, or software. Trying to make life by mixing chemicals in a test tube is like soldering switches and wires in an attempt to produce Windows 98. It won’t work because it addresses the problem at the wrong conceptual level. – Paul Davies
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/educ.....ucation.uk

    Although they are still probably a very long way from having a accurate model of the simplest organism known to man (You can obviously comment more completely on that Gil), it still is, at least, a far more fair simulation of reality than evolutionary algorithms.

    Speaking of evolutionary algorithms, I had this exchange with a neo-Darwinist yesterday on Evolutionary Algorithms:

    me

    perhaps you could actually get a ‘simple’ cell to pass the 500 bit UPB so as to actually prove the point you are claiming is already a proven fact??? Really! Do I have to program a computer to simulate gravity for you so as to prove to you that gravity actually works instead of just actually dropping a ball in front of you and showing you first hand?? Of course not! Why are you so willing to settle for anything less than an actual demonstration?? It simply is not even in the field of empirical science for you to play silly games like this!

    he replied

    You are moving the goalposts. You asked for “a demonstrated example of undirected processes generating 500 bits or above of novel functional information.” I gave you that example. Now you don’t like the fact that it is simulated. But that’s beside the point. The process by which Liz’s algorithm gets into its target space is unguided by a human. It relies on random mutations and on natural selection. It is proof of principle.

    to which I replied:

    So you don’t actually have to empirically demonstrate anything anymore in science you can just use a intelligently designed computer program to prove whatever you claim to be true is true??? Wow you have just taken science to a whole new level. OKIE DOKIE let’s see if I can catch the hang of this simulated proof via computer thing that you are trying to clue me in on. I claim that it is an undeniable fact that people can stop multiple bullets in mid-air! Here is my proof:

    Neo stops bullets (HD-720p) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guVAeFs5XwE

    Man this Darwinian stuff is a snap once you get the hang of it! 🙂

    and he replied:

    you can’t appreciate the beauty of this counter example, and that’s OK.

    to which I let it end on his vaporous dreams of scientific integrity

  2. 2
    GilDodgen says:

    BA77,

    I automatically assume BS, until proven otherwise. We see claims like this all the time, each one more absurd and ridiculous than the last, and promoted with evermore certitude about how the problem of the origin of life is about to be solved in purely materialistic terms. Computer simulations prove it!

    This keeps the public funding flowing for the rainbow chase.

  3. 3
    stjones says:

    I’ve written software of all kinds for almost 40 years, I’ve taught a range of undergraduate CS and CIS courses, and consulted in many areas including software quality assurance. No non-trivial program is bug-free; no, not one. Two things cause people to earnestly believe that their simulations are reliable – hubris and agreeable results.

  4. 4
    Maus says:

    Gil, I’m going to keep beating this drum. A qualitative theory is to a computer model what Rolling Stone articles are to formal logic. It’s all just a manner of reasoning, for some value of reasoning, but the computer model is at best a concrete and falsifiable presentation of a theory that was previously written on the back of an envelope.

    The results of a computer model are the hypotheses to use in science. They are in no manner the actual empirical observation, out there in reality, of what occurs with highly symmetric children.

  5. 5
    Neil Rickert says:

    All simulations are based on simplifying assumptions.

    The consequence of this is that one cannot take a simulation as giving truth. But a simulation can be a useful guide. The value of the guidance given needs to be subject to empirical testing

    I’d say that the view that you (Gil) expressed is a bit too negative. You would not be using simulations at all if you really believed that. However, one does need to understand the limits of simulation when using it.

    As an example, take the simulations of Darwinism. My personal reaction is to not pay them much attention. That is to say, I take them with a grain of salt. And if I (as an evolutionist) don’t find them persuasive, I keep wondering why anyone would expect a critic of evolution to be persuaded.

  6. 6
    Joe says:

    The main problem with simulations is that you cannot simulate what you do not understand. And that is where evolution comes in- no one understands it so no one can simulate it.

  7. 7
    Joe says:

    to bornagain77-

    Liz’s GA does not use natural selection and does not create CSI as she starts with the very thing that needs expalining in the first place- self-replicators. Ya see Liz has her binary sequence of coin tosses replicate with variation and that is the very thing that needs to be explained, THAT is the CSI she has smuggled in.

    Unfortunately she is too dim to grasp that even though I told her (and provided a reference). That other evos are jumping on her wagon just demonstrates their ignorance and desperation.

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    Rule for models, computer and otherwise: validate, validate, VALIDATE. Through real-world observations. Never forget, GIGO. And, where somebody is trying to sell something, whether for cash or an idea or agenda, never forget that liars and fools can figger, too. KF

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    I forget, no computer simulation is equivalent to a real world experiment or observation.

  10. 10
    Bilbo I says:

    Gil: “Assume that a computer simulation is completely unreliable (and even worse, possibly modified to produce a result consistent with a conclusion that was reached in advance), until proven otherwise.

    Like this one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnXeUIaYj3k

  11. 11
    Bilbo I says:

    Gil: “Assume that a computer simulation is completely unreliable (and even worse, possibly modified to produce a result consistent with a conclusion that was reached in advance), until proven otherwise.

    Especially when they won’t release their computer data:

    http://cryptome.org/nist070709.pdf

  12. 12
    Upright BiPed says:

    A simulation of a life process is subject to the representational vaules set within the simulation, and is either useful or not based upon those values. But the simulation of the origin of a life system must simulate the rise of representational values themselves. Pattee once stated that life is matter controlled by symbols.

    Good luck simulating the rise of a representation.

  13. 13
    GilDodgen says:

    Joe,

    The main problem with simulations is that you cannot simulate what you do not understand. And that is where evolution comes in- no one understands it so no one can simulate it.

    Amen raised to the Xth power, where X is large. Joe’s comment encapsulates the essence of my thesis, expressed with far fewer words and much more eloquently.

    I’ve always been a detail guy — whether learning, memorizing, and performing every single note in an 80-page piano score of a Rachmaninoff piano concerto, or writing complex computer programs — but immersion in detail can deceive one into not being aware of the overarching theme.

    Darwinists are hopelessly lost in the speculative details of their theory, which they must propose and defend at any cost — forget reason or evidence — because to do otherwise would be to admit that their materialistic worldview is indefensible and that design is evident.

    The reason I make my posts at UD is that I was once in the Darwinist camp. I was thoroughly indoctrinated with Darwinian argumentation from childhood, through college, and beyond.

    But then one day I was exposed to rational argumentation and evidence that convinced me that I had been deceived, and that Darwinism was never about science, but about a long-awaited creation myth for a materialistic, nihilistic religion.

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