Intelligent Design

Did You Know You Can Use Shannon Information to Determine Randomness versus Design?

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I’m not going to write too much. Just read this article and thump your head. If this isn’t an all-out admission of the validity of Dembski’s approach, then what is? I wonder if the Royal Society knew these authors were creationists? The article itself is open. Here it is.

BTW, the authors determine the Pictet symbols to be a language. As to the title of this thread, I consider languages to be designed. If you have a differing opinion, I would love to hear what it is!

41 Replies to “Did You Know You Can Use Shannon Information to Determine Randomness versus Design?

  1. 1
    DLH says:

    Werner Gitt discusses the use and limitations of Shannon information in his book:
    In the Beginning was Information

    See Section
    4.1 The Lowest Level of Information: Statistics p 54
    4.2 The Second Level of Information: Syntax p 57

    Appendix
    A1.2 Mathematical Description of Statistical Information, p 178
    A1.3 Evaluation of Communications Systems, p 193
    A1.4 Statistical Analysis of Language p 196
    A1.5 Statistical Synthesis of Language p 201

    The Pictish analysis appears to address Gitt’s first and second levels out of five levels of information, Statistics & Syntax.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    I really enjoyed Dr. Gitt’s lecture on information. You may view the lecture here:

    In The Beginning Was Information – Werner Gitt – video
    http://video.google.com/videop.....6003871702

  3. 3
    PaV says:

    I don’t think that what these authors are writing about is anything new; in fact, they’re simply using methods that Shannon himself developed. The importance, however, seems to me to be that this is in a “peer-reviewed” journal, and that as scientists the authors are distinguishing between random images and images that have an underlying linguistic structure. This seems to me to be what ID argues. Thusly, if what these authors have done is acceptable science, then, so too, is the ID project.

    Have the authors “proved” that these symbols are a language? No. Can ID “prove” that there is an Intelligent Agent responsible for life? No. But, in both cases, this is the best working hypothesis–or, in the language that Stephen Meyers uses, these hypotheses have the most “explanatory power”.

  4. 4
    Mach Six says:

    These authors are distinguishing between one kind of human activity (creating pictures) from another (representing a language through pictures).

    Whichever proves to be the case, the human agents behind the artifacts are already well known.

    Further, any of these pictures, even were they found not to represent language use, would be more than serviceable as hypothetical grist for the “Stonehenge on Mars” mill. In that context you’d be insisting “agency” and hence “design,” not “randomness.”

    Given that, I don’t see the analogy to “design detection” at all – unless you want to maintain that all “detection” is analogous to design detection.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    I just loaded this video. It is a snippet from a Andy McIntosh video:

    What is Information?
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4734127

    In it Prof. McIntosh stresses the transcendent quality of information.

    notes:

    Though there are many definitions for information, as to how different hierarchal patterns of information are encoded on to a material basis, many people fail to realize that information is in fact a “real” tangible entity which is now “scientifically” shown to be its own unique entity completely transcendent of matter and energy by quantum teleportation and entanglement experiments. This is now shown to be especially true now that the infamous “hidden variable” argument has been overturned. Moreover purely material processes, especially those observed in Darwinian processes have never been observed generating many forms of information that are commonly, and exclusively, seen coming from a “mind”,, such information as mathematical logic, music, or encoded information of any sort such as the coded information we see in the DNA code.
    Basically quantum mechanics has shown that transcendent information exercises dominion of matter-energy at the most basic foundational level of reality, which is almost exactly the same type of fundamental dominion and control of matter-energy we observe in the information coded into DNA coding and computer coding, whereas material processes have never shown the ability to generate any “control” information whatsoever.

    “information is physical”
    Rolf Landauer

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf
    Can We Falsify Any Of The Following Null Hypothesis (For Information Generation)
    1) Mathematical Logic
    2) Algorithmic Optimization
    3) Cybernetic Programming
    4) Computational Halting
    5) Integrated Circuits
    6) Organization (e.g. homeostatic optimization far from equilibrium)
    7) Material Symbol Systems (e.g. genetics)
    8) Any Goal Oriented bona fide system
    9) Language
    10) Formal function of any kind
    11) Utilitarian work
    http://mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/ag

    Here is a very good peer reviewed paper by Dr. McIntosh:
    Information and entropy – top-down or bottom-up development in living systems? A.C. McINTOSH
    Excerpt: It is proposed in conclusion that it is the non-material information (transcendent to the matter and energy) that is actually itself constraining the local thermodynamics to be in ordered disequilibrium and with specified raised free energy levels necessary for the molecular and cellular machinery to operate.
    http://journals.witpress.com/p.....038;jID=19

    Information – What it is really? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WytNkw1xOIc

    off topic music:

    You Are The Music In Me
    http://www.tangle.com/view_vid.....97a29718d8

    Sarah McLachlan-Ordinary Miracle
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Urv7tyeJ7qE

  6. 6
    camanintx says:

    If this isn’t an all-out admission of the validity of Dembski’s approach, then what is?

    I thought Dembski’s approach was to distinguish between design and physical mechanisms, not randomness.

  7. 7
    PaV says:

    Mach Six:

    Given that, I don’t see the analogy to “design detection” at all – unless you want to maintain that all “detection” is analogous to design detection.

    camanintx:

    I thought Dembski’s approach was to distinguish between design and physical mechanisms, not randomness.

    The answers to both of these quibbles is this:
    Dembski uses a measure of information to distinguish designed patterns from randomly generated bit strings, as in, a string of what appears to be nothing more than random 1s and 0s is really the first 20 (or whatever it was) prime numbers written in ascii.

    BTW, Mach Six, if you don’t “see” the analogy, is it possible that this is because you have your eyes closed? We do need to consider such possibilities.

    Mach Six:

    Whichever proves to be the case, the human agents behind the artifacts are already well known.

    This is a tired, old “Get Out of Jail” card that Darwinists use all the time. Tell me, when Craig Venter “designed” a new form of bacteria—it’s been all over the news lately—he was a human agent purposely designing DNA. He was writing using DNA code. And, unless you look at purposely put in markers, you can’t tell the difference between ‘natural’ bacteria and Venter’s design. So, please, let’s stop the nonsense about, “We know what humans do, but we don’t know what a Designer can do.” At a certain level, it’s all the same. Design is desing. Language is language. Again, just open your eyes. You’ll only be scared for a moment, I promise.

  8. 8
    PaulT says:

    Hi PaV – there is a critique of this post here.

  9. 9
    PaV says:

    PaulT:

    Here’s my response:

    Random is random. If you read the paper–I’ve only glanced at it, but enough to see what they’re doing–you’ll see that they are using a technique that differentiates between random succession from ordered succession. Again, random is random.

    And, again, the tiring, nauseating bromides about “we know what humans can do”, blah, blah, blah. Intellectual honesty will take you where you need to go. But, of course if you don’t want to go there, then subterfuge will have to do. When I was growing up it was called “sticking your head in the sand like an ostrich.”

  10. 10
    mullerpr says:

    This was my response:

    Your argument is completely irrelevant to the objective of the researchers. They specifically stated that they had absolutely no idea what the intent of those patterns were. This is because of scientists that are reasonably neutral to their hypothesis… very scientific.

    “Knowing” human agency as a presupposition of this study is not a prerequisite in any logical sense. And epistemic support for this presupposition requires design detection in the first place.

    They used pattern analysis to conclude it best fit the known pattern of language as it is usually created in the minds that can be identified (modern humans).

    Scientific method always work from the known towards the unknown. You sound like a bigoted fool insisting that this approach should be restricted when we look at genetic code. You are also accusing the scientists doing this study that they were not neutral towards their hypothesis.

  11. 11
    mullerpr says:

    I know this is an overstatement:
    “They specifically stated that they had absolutely no idea what the intent of those patterns were.”

    But it highlight what is expected of them.

  12. 12
    vjtorley says:

    PaV:

    This is a fascinating article, although I have to say that like you, I’ve only glanced at it.

    I just had a really crazy idea: what if someone were to take the sequence of DNA letters along one human chromosome, encode them as hieroglyphs (A = #, C = +, G = $ and T = &) and send it off to a lab for linguistic analysis, as a sample of “unknown text”? What would they make of it, I wonder?

    To make it a bit less suspicious (not many societies have four-letter alphabets), you could take the sequence of (20 or so) amino acids that each triplet codes for, instead, and use a hieroglyph for each acid. I’d be very interested to see what the linguists would conclude, but I’d be quite sure of one thing: even if they knew nothing about biochemistry, they’d realize it meant something.

  13. 13
    Mach Six says:

    PaV:

    Dembski uses a measure of information to distinguish designed patterns from randomly generated bit strings, as in, a string of what appears to be nothing more than random 1s and 0s is really the first 20 (or whatever it was) prime numbers written in ascii.

    The paper clearly states the disanalogy:

    The problem that the Pictish symbols pose can be broken into a couple of questions. (i) Are they random in nature (admittedly unlikely since they appear to have been carved for a purpose)? (ii) If it is unlikely that they are random, then what type of communication do they convey: (a) semasiography, where information is communicated without reference to verbal language forms (such as heraldic characters that have no lexigraphic value in themselves but identify a person, position and place) or (b) lexigraphic scripts, where the characters embody the form of verbal language (e.g. logograms representing words and syllables (non-phonetically), syllabograms representing syllables (phonetically), alphabetic signs representing letters (parts of syllables) and code characters (e.g. Morse code) representing parts of letters? (pages 2 – 3)

    Random data sets are just one class of many against which the picts are contrasted. The hypothesis that the picts are arrayed randomly is never considered. This is due to prior knowledge that the picts are human artifacts, and our familiarity with the actions of typical human agents.

    The intent of their analysis is to discern one form of meaningful, communicative human activity from several others.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    I reloaded the Andy McIntosh video with improved quality:

    Information? What Is It Really? Professor Andy McIntosh
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4739025

    description from video:

    Here is the entire video by Professor McIntosh:

    Design, Information and The Word of God
    http://edinburghcreationgroup.org/digwog.xml

    Though there are many definitions for information, as to how different hierarchal patterns of information are encoded on to a material basis,,,

    see here for a list:
    In the Beginning was Information – Werner Gitt
    http://www.sedin.org/propeng/informat.htm

    ,,, many people fail to realize that information is in fact a “real” tangible entity which is now “scientifically” shown to be its own unique physical entity which is completely transcendent of matter and energy by quantum teleportation and entanglement experiments. This is shown to be especially true now that the infamous “hidden variable” argument has been overturned by Alain Aspect. Moreover purely material processes, including those observed in Darwinian processes have never been observed generating many forms of information that are commonly, and exclusively, seen coming from a “mind”,, such forms of information as mathematical logic, music, or encoded information of any sort such as the coded information we see in the DNA code.

    The DNA Code – Solid Scientific Proof Of Intelligent Design – Perry Marshall
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4060532

    Basically quantum mechanics has shown us that transcendent information exercises dominion, and control, of matter-energy at the most basic foundational level of reality, which is of the same type of fundamental dominion, and control, of matter-energy we observe in the types of information we see encoded into DNA coding and computer coding, whereas material processes have never shown the ability to generate any of this encoded “control” information whatsoever. In fact material processes consistently degrade the information found encoded in life:

    Random Mutations Destroy Information – Perry Marshall – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/....._marshall/

    All Well Studied Mutations Reduce Genetic Information – Dr. Georgia Purdom – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/.....ia_purdom/

    Mutation Studies, Videos, And Quotes
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc.....ZnM5M21mZg

    “information is physical”
    Rolf Landauer

    “Information is Information, neither matter nor energy. No materialism that fails to take account of this can survive the present day.” – Norbert Weiner

    John 1:1-3
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf

    Can We Falsify Any Of The Following Null Hypothesis (For Information Generation)
    1) Mathematical Logic
    2) Algorithmic Optimization
    3) Cybernetic Programming
    4) Computational Halting
    5) Integrated Circuits
    6) Organization (e.g. homeostatic optimization far from equilibrium)
    7) Material Symbol Systems (e.g. genetics)
    8) Any Goal Oriented bona fide system
    9) Language
    10) Formal function of any kind
    11) Utilitarian work
    http://mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/ag

    Here is a very good peer reviewed paper by Dr. McIntosh:
    Information and entropy – top-down or bottom-up development in living systems? A.C. McINTOSH
    Excerpt: It is proposed in conclusion that it is the non-material information (transcendent to the matter and energy) that is actually itself constraining the local thermodynamics to be in ordered disequilibrium and with specified raised free energy levels necessary for the molecular and cellular machinery to operate.
    http://journals.witpress.com/p.....038;jID=19

    Information – What it is really? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WytNkw1xOIc

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    I reloaded the Andy McIntosh video with improved quality:

    Information? What Is It Really? Professor Andy McIntosh
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4739025

    description from video:

    Here is the entire video by Professor McIntosh:

    Design, Information and The Word of God
    http://edinburghcreationgroup.org/digwog.xml

    Though there are many definitions for information, as to how different hierarchal patterns of information are encoded on to a material basis,,,

    see here for a list:
    In the Beginning was Information – Werner Gitt
    http://www.sedin.org/propeng/informat.htm

    ,,, many people fail to realize that information is in fact a “real” tangible entity which is now “scientifically” shown to be its own unique physical entity which is completely transcendent of matter and energy by quantum teleportation and entanglement experiments. This is shown to be especially true now that the infamous “hidden variable” argument has been overturned by Alain Aspect. Moreover purely material processes, including those observed in Darwinian processes have never been observed generating many forms of information that are commonly, and exclusively, seen coming from a “mind”,, such forms of information as mathematical logic, music, or encoded information of any sort such as the coded information we see in the DNA code.

    The DNA Code – Solid Scientific Proof Of Intelligent Design – Perry Marshall
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4060532

    Basically quantum mechanics has shown us that transcendent information exercises dominion, and control, of matter-energy at the most basic foundational level of reality, which is of the same type of fundamental dominion, and control, of matter-energy we observe in the types of information we see encoded into DNA coding and computer coding, whereas material processes have never shown the ability to generate any of this encoded “control” information whatsoever. In fact material processes consistently degrade the information found encoded in life:

    Random Mutations Destroy Information – Perry Marshall – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/….._marshall/

    “information is physical”
    Rolf Landauer

    “Information is Information, neither matter nor energy. No materialism that fails to take account of this can survive the present day.” – Norbert Weiner

    John 1:1-3
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf

    Can We Falsify Any Of The Following Null Hypothesis (For Information Generation)
    1) Mathematical Logic
    2) Algorithmic Optimization
    3) Cybernetic Programming
    4) Computational Halting
    5) Integrated Circuits
    6) Organization (e.g. homeostatic optimization far from equilibrium)
    7) Material Symbol Systems (e.g. genetics)
    8) Any Goal Oriented bona fide system
    9) Language
    10) Formal function of any kind
    11) Utilitarian work
    http://mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/ag

    Here is a very good peer reviewed paper by Dr. McIntosh:
    Information and entropy – top-down or bottom-up development in living systems? A.C. McINTOSH
    Excerpt: It is proposed in conclusion that it is the non-material information (transcendent to the matter and energy) that is actually itself constraining the local thermodynamics to be in ordered disequilibrium and with specified raised free energy levels necessary for the molecular and cellular machinery to operate.

  16. 16
    mullerpr says:

    Mach Six:

    This is due to prior knowledge that the picts are human artifacts, and our familiarity with the actions of typical human agents.

    Neither you nor the researchers are warranted to make a claim on prior knowledge without design detection, because it will require the same level certainty from design detection to warrant a belief that it actually is a human artifact or if it is actually a written language.

    It is about comparing patterns with known patterns that help you conclude that it was caused by mind. Some patterns need statistical analysis to expose the relationship.

    What you need to ask is if it is necessary to presuppose human agency to come to the conclusion the way they did. There is nothing in the scientific method that requires prior knowledge of the agency that caused a specific state of affairs. In fact such a method would stop investigation in its tracks

    Every evaluation of any artifact has to start with evaluating if a pattern is random or complex specified information. The human brain does that by default and it is based on universal principles of logic.

  17. 17
    Gaz says:

    mullerpr (15),

    “Every evaluation of any artifact has to start with evaluating if a pattern is random or complex specified information. The human brain does that by default and it is based on universal principles of logic.”

    No – it’s primarily based on past experience of similar examples.E.g. drawings of deer from other cultures.

  18. 18
    PaV says:

    Mach Six:

    Random data sets are just one class of many against which the picts are contrasted. The hypothesis that the picts are arrayed randomly is never considered. This is due to prior knowledge that the picts are human artifacts, and our familiarity with the actions of typical human agents.

    I disagree with this statement of yours in two ways.

    First, when the authors state that the symbols are not random (they say “unlikely”) because of their purposiveness, I believe the best interpretation of that would be that they are saying these symbols were laid down for a reason, so there’s some purpose involved, and now we want to check if there is a syntax involved, or, in the language I used, linguistic structure.

    Second, if you look at those symbols, they look like some of the patterns (admittedly on a larger scale) that have been alleged to have been placed on earth by aliens. So, there’s no reason to suppose that it was humans who put those symbols there: it could have been aliens. And the authors analysis wouldn’t have differed in the slightest.

    But all of this gets down to minutae. The larger, important point, is that using information metrics, design (linguistic structure) has been inferred, and, as far as the Royal Society is concerned, this is genuine science. The even larger point of all of this is: if scientists want to make inferences about uncontroversial objects, this isn’t a problem and represents real science; but if someone wants to undermine Darwinism, it’s the end of the world and is a complete reach beyond what science and human reason is capable of.

  19. 19
    PaV says:

    vj torley [12]:

    I like your idea. You should pursue it.

    There’s an earlier link to Gitt’s lecture on information, and there he used a program to translate a German sentence into heiroglyphics. Both translations would be interesting items to submit for analysis.

  20. 20
    camanintx says:

    PaV, #7

    The answers to both of these quibbles is this:
    Dembski uses a measure of information to distinguish designed patterns from randomly generated bit strings, as in, a string of what appears to be nothing more than random 1s and 0s is really the first 20 (or whatever it was) prime numbers written in ascii.

    Where do you get the idea that physical mechanisms produce random patterns?

  21. 21
    tgpeeler says:

    camanintx “Where do you get the idea that physical mechanisms produce random patterns?”

    Oh I dunno. Cloud formations, maybe? Just a thought.

  22. 22
    tgpeeler says:

    ba77 @ 14
    “information is in fact a “real” tangible entity which is now “scientifically” shown to be its own unique physical entity which is completely transcendent of matter and energy by quantum teleportation and entanglement experiments.”

    First of all, I certainly agree that information is real and that it is transcendent of matter and energy, although it is encoded in matter and energy. That said, to also say that it is a “physical entity” seems to be contradictory. But maybe I’m missing something. Thanks.

  23. 23
    Phaedros says:

    Perhaps this will those who want to pointlessly quibble about words when the intended meaning is obvious.

    Dictionary.com–

    random-
    1. proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern: the random selection of numbers.

  24. 24
    camanintx says:

    tgpeeler @ 21

    Oh I dunno. Cloud formations, maybe? Just a thought.

    While cloud formations are certainly complex and irregular, they are also completely constrained by atmospheric conditions making them anything but random.

  25. 25
    mullerpr says:

    Gas, @17

    “Every evaluation of any artifact has to start with evaluating if a pattern is random or complex specified information. The human brain does that by default and it is based on universal principles of logic.”

    No – it’s primarily based on past experience of similar examples.E.g. drawings of deer from other cultures.

    Gaz, I think you misunderstand. I am talking about EVERY EVALUATION humans make of things we see. For that we use methods of comparison and experience as you mentioned, as well as complex methods presented by Information Theory. The outcome of such an evaluation is to define a pattern, then we use which ever method is most effective and useful to determine to what extent it is complex specified information or not.

    This process is design detection. The researchers used it even to define if the pictures were not just random accidents of nature after which they proceeded to determine if it was a language or not.

  26. 26
    mullerpr says:

    camanintx,

    While cloud formations are certainly complex and irregular, they are also completely constrained by atmospheric conditions making them anything but random.

    If clouds are not random patterns then nothing, not even “games of chance”, is based on random processes. You need to rethink your definition of random.

  27. 27
    bornagain77 says:

    tgpeeler, I mean physical, in the fullest sense of the word, since that is exactly what Rolf Landauer was trying to get across to people when he stated

    “Information is physical”

    i.e. Landauer was adamant that we were dealing with a tangible presence in computers, with information, that was every “bit” as real and physical (pun intended) as was matter of energy are to be considered real and physical.

  28. 28
    Upright BiPed says:

    camanintx,

    While cloud formations are certainly complex and irregular, they are also completely constrained by atmospheric conditions making them anything but random.

    A random roll of fair dice is also constrained by physical forces. One has nothing to do with the other.

    Under your definition, a random event could only happen if it broke natural law – if it became unconstrained by physical forces.

    I would say your desire to argue against ID at all costs has become rather tattered around the edges.

  29. 29
    camanintx says:

    mullerpr @ 26

    If clouds are not random patterns then nothing, not even “games of chance”, is based on random processes. You need to rethink your definition of random.

    “Games of chance” are random only in that one event contains no information about any other event. Even if I flip a coin a million times, the odds of the next flip being heads or tails is still 50/50.
    Clouds, on the other hand, are part of a system we call weather. While I may not be able to predict the exact shape a cloud will take, it’s appearance does tell me something about the conditions around it that may lead to other clouds. Like I said, complex and irregular, but not random.

  30. 30
    tgpeeler says:

    camanintx @ 24

    “While cloud formations are certainly complex and irregular, they are also completely constrained by atmospheric conditions making them anything but random.”

    You are kidding, right? Your logical calculus gets from “atmospheric conditions,” determined solely by physical laws, to “anything but random”?? I am stupefied at two things. First that you would say something so ridiculous and second that I am even bothering to respond. Which I won’t, again. Have a nice day.

  31. 31
    tgpeeler says:

    ba77

    re physical… can we take this offline? I still have a question. Thanks.

  32. 32
    camanintx says:

    tgpeeler @ 30

    You are kidding, right? Your logical calculus gets from “atmospheric conditions,” determined solely by physical laws, to “anything but random”??

    I don’t see what you find so difficult about this. Clouds will form any time the air cools to the point where water molecules “clump together” faster than they are torn apart by their thermal energy. There is nothing “random” about this process.

  33. 33
    mullerpr says:

    camanintx,

    Since you still don’t bother to revise your insight into the term random, I will also leave this part of the conversation.

    Maybe a last hint… Random has something to do with “a phenomenon not influenced by a deliberate act”.

  34. 34
    mullerpr says:

    On the “information is physical thing”.

    I suspect that information can only be instantiated in physical form using code systems. The same information can be instantiated in various mediums using various types of code systems.

  35. 35
    PaV says:

    camanintx:

    Snowflakes are the product of random forces.

    This is obvious.

    I get the impression that you simply want to quibble over semantics—which, over almost forty years of personal observation, has been the chief tactic used by the liberal mind when they find their argument rebutted.

    I’ll just take your quibbling as a sign that you have no real refutation of my thesis; viz., that this article simply confirms that the use of information metrics is a valid scientific method of distinguishing between randomness and design.

  36. 36
    camanintx says:

    PaV @ 35

    Snowflakes are the product of random forces.

    This is obvious.

    While the initial conditions leading to the formation of a snowflake may be considered random, the process by which it forms is not. Just because we cannot predict when and where a snowflake may form does not call into question any of the laws of thermodynamics, does it?

    Likewise, while evolution may start with random mutations, the process of natural selection is definitely not random.

    So I’ll ask again, how does this relate to the validity of Dembski’s approach?

  37. 37
    Mach Six says:

    PaV:

    First, when the authors state that the symbols are not random (they say “unlikely”) because of their purposiveness, I believe the best interpretation of that would be that they are saying these symbols were laid down for a reason, so there’s some purpose involved, and now we want to check if there is a syntax involved, or, in the language I used, linguistic structure.

    That’s exactly right. “These symbols were laid down for a reason” applies whether or not the picts were intended as pictorial only, or as a pictorial representation of language. Neither activity is “random,” although they may exhibit regularities that may enable us to classify a given instance as one sort of activity or the other.

    Second, if you look at those symbols, they look like some of the patterns (admittedly on a larger scale) that have been alleged to have been placed on earth by aliens. So, there’s no reason to suppose that it was humans who put those symbols there: it could have been aliens.

    There are good, quite ordinary reasons to suppose that human beings put those symbols there, namely that we already know who they were: “[an] Iron Age society that existed in Scotland from ca AD 300–843 when the Dalriadic Scot, Kenneth, son of Alpin, took the Pictish Kingship.”

    The larger, important point, is that using information metrics, design (linguistic structure) has been inferred, and, as far as the Royal Society is concerned, this is genuine science.

    The larger issue is that regularities characteristic of language have been found within/among pictures plainly understood to be of human origin. The regularities sought weren’t derived from abstract principles of “design” (e.g. “CSI”). They were sifted from more complete instances of similar human activities, namely the use of written language in several contexts (a variety of king lists, genealogical records, heraldry, prose, poetry, etc.).

    We all agree that the characterization of human artifacts, even ancient human artifacts, can be a science.

  38. 38
    Joseph says:

    Likewise, while evolution may start with random mutations, the process of natural selection is definitely not random.

    Natural selection is a result and whatever survives, survives.

  39. 39
    PaV says:

    camanintx:

    While the initial conditions leading to the formation of a snowflake may be considered random, the process by which it forms is not.

    When you roll dice, the mechanism/process is generally the same, but the outcome—if there’s no cheating—is random.

    March Six:

    There was purpose in “each” symbol; but was there purpose in the assebled symbols? Or were they just random collections?

    Using Shannon information metrics, one can decide scientifically.

    There is a DNA code wherein triplets code for amino acids. Is DNA just a “randomly” assembled combination/collection of these “triplets”? Or is there purpose in the collection? Proteins tell us there is purpose. And the Specified Complexity of proteins (normal sized) exceeds the Upper Probability Bound. This is science, really.

    And, to answer the last part of your post, what are the SETI technicians awaiting? Human signals? They fully expect to decipher “alien” signals, don’t they?

    These kinds of objections are all just silliness in the end. As I say, the liberal mind, when confounded, must digress and obfuscate. Believe me, there’s no virtue in any of that.

  40. 40
    camanintx says:

    Pav @ 39

    When you roll dice, the mechanism/process is generally the same, but the outcome—if there’s no cheating—is random.

    No, while the dice’s initial conditions like height, speed and orientation may be random, the process of rolling them is completly controlled by the laws of physics.

  41. 41
    aqeels says:

    camanintx – “No, while the dice’s initial conditions like height, speed and orientation may be random, the process of rolling them is completly controlled by the laws of physics.”

    You are right but you are being deliberately obtuse. I am sure everyone knows that a dice rolling is following classical Newtonian motion. However that is not the point. The motion is not contrived to be specific, following an external plan that is based on information.

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