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Irreducible Complexity: the primordial condition of biology

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In 1996, Lehigh University professor of biochemistry, Michael Behe, published his first book Darwin’s Black Box, which famously advanced the concept of irreducible complexity (IC) to prominent status in the conversation of design in biology. In his book, Professor Behe described irreducible complexity as: A single system which is composed of several interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.

In illustrating his point, Behe used the idea of a simple mousetrap — with its base and spring and holding bar — as an example of an IC system, where the removal of any of these parts would render the mousetrap incapable of its intended purpose of trapping a mouse. Further, he provided examples of biological IC systems; each one dependent on several distinct parts in order to accomplish its task. Behe’s point in all this was that ALL the parts of the mouse trap are simultaneously necessary in order for a mousetrap to trap mice. And in a biological sense, if critical functions require several parts, then those functions would not occur until the various parts became available.  Read More

 

306 Replies to “Irreducible Complexity: the primordial condition of biology

  1. 1
    nightlight says:

    It’s a potentially a nice site, except for the genius web designer who came up with a brilliant idea to splash a big ugly black rectangle “Go to top” right in the middle of the main text column. Did s/he ever hear of Home key on the keyboard which does that just fine without blotting the text. I can’t comment much on the articles there since I couldn’t watch that page for more than 30 seconds.

  2. 2
    Mapou says:

    Great article and great website. I love the name “Complexity Cafe” and the art. The “go to top” button is slightly annoying but that can be fixed.

    Here’s something I wrote in the Lee Spetner’s thread regarding the design of the human eye. I think it’s relevant here because the irreducible complexity of the eye is especially striking. Minor corrections added.

    A close look at the retina reveals something that no stochastic BS can explain. The photoreceptors in the retina are grouped in a center-surround or radial design. Pairs of receptors in a group are then wired with retinal ganglion cells in such a way as to detect the movement of light in a very specific direction across the detector formation. The timing of the firing of the cells is extremely precise. The signals created by the retina are then encoded (using rank-order encoding) and sent via the optic nerve to the visual cortex for decoding and processing. Cortical timing mechanisms decode about 1 million signals from the optic nerve into over 200 million new signals representing different events of different primary colors and amplitudes.

    But this is not all. Amazingly, the design of the retina is such that one cannot see anything unless the eye is moving. We lose our ability to see if our eyes are immobilized with muscle paralyzing drugs. This is the reason that there is special circuit in the cerebellum that continually moves the eyes in tiny jerky motions called microsaccades. This happens even when we fixate our eyes on a dot. We would not be able to see without the saccades.

    The point is that one cannot design a retina without also designing the decoding/processing visual cortex and the cerebellar saccadic eye system. This is another example of Behe’s irreducible complexity.

    My advice to all is simple. All Darwinists are either stupid or lying through their teeth. Don’t believe anything that comes out of their mouths. Don’t let the jackasses do your thinking for you. Do your own thinking.

    PS. The semiotic theme is unmistakable.

  3. 3

    The ‘Go to Top’ thing is a mystery to me. I do not see it on any of three computers using four different browsers – or my phone.

    I’ll research it.

  4. 4

    Found it, and turned it off.

    (…and thanks Mapou)

  5. 5

    I noticed that Dr Liddle had spent some time on UD recently, perhaps she’ll stop by and argue that there is nothing semiotic in the cell.

  6. 6
    J-Mac says:

    There must be an error on the Comlexity Cafe website as to when M. Behe published his first book.

    I always thought it was 1997 but it can’t be 1985. M. Denton must’ve published his book closer to this date that inspired Behe to do research and write the book later on… much later… I think…

  7. 7

    J-Mac, you are entirely correct. It was 1996. (I had Theory in Crisis in my head when I typed that). Thanks for pointing it out.

  8. 8
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    I noticed that Dr Liddle had spent some time on UD recently, perhaps she’ll stop by and argue that there is nothing semiotic in the cell.

    I stopped by, and was unsurprised to find that you write a great deal about semiosis and irreducible complexity – aspects of biology that I for one have never had any trouble accepting.

    You do mention what it is you are arguing against – namely “materialism” – but you never say anything about what you think “materialism” entails.

    Now, what your evidence really argues against is “evolutionary theory” and theories of “abiogenesis” rather than materialism. That is what you should be arguing against. But instead you claim to be taking on materialism – although you never actually do so.

    If you actually wanted to argue against materialism, the first step would be to describe just what you mean. Do you really mean “materialism”, or do you mean “physicalism”? If the former, physicists haven’t believed in materialism for 100 years – why beat a dead horse? If the latter, where is your evidence that physicalism is false?

    None of the evidence that you go to such lengths to document is inconsistent with physicalism, so please don’t start going off about how there is no possible chemical or physical explanation for the origin of semiosis in the cell. Of course there isn’t. What that tells us is that chemistry and physics can’t account for these biological systems, not that physicalism is false. If you’d like to get a sense of what physicalism is all about and what you might need to do to argue against it, you can start here:
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....#UndPhyInt

    (I’m not particularly interested, though – as I am not a physicalist).

    Worse yet is that you (as always) forget to explain what it is you might be arguing for. I understand that the word “design” that you refer to here and there is your little head-nod to what you might believe to be the answer to these questions of origins, but you (as always) neglect to mention what you might mean by that ambiguous little word, or provide some sort of description of it so we might actually go about deciding if it was responsible for biological systems.

    You’ve wasted a tremendous amount of effort pointing out what many people already knew – that we do not understand the way biological systems came to exist. You’ve failed to even begin to say how that somehow refutes physicalism, or what it is you think might be a scientifically testable explanation for what we observe in cells.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    Fish:

    If the former, physicists haven’t believed in materialism for 100 years – why beat a dead horse? If the latter, where is your evidence that physicalism is false?

    “Dead horse” Fish says as he posts the “scientists have not believed in materialism for 100 years even though millions of them use the word on a daily basis” meme for the 100th time.

    Give it a rest Fish.

  10. 10
    joehalfgallon says:

    Welcome back Barry. You were missed.

  11. 11

    RD,

    It’s always an interesting spectacle to watch you sprint – your mad dash – towards what is unknown. But this time we get to watch you primp in front of the mirror as well. It’s quite a display.

    You are here to push the laughable front that “I knew it all along”, and you are here to do so with as much disdain as you can muster. The more disdain, the more distraction from the truth of the matter.

    Unfortunately for you, I know you are being willfully dishonest, and I’ve come to expect nothing more from you.

    (NOTE: the bolding is all yours in the original)

    UB produced an example of a music box which he says has physical discontinuities. I responded with an example of the water-drops, and asked if that system also had physical discontinuities.

    Your response and UB’s response: RUN AND HIDE.

    I explained that the “representation” that UB says is in his system is not inherent in the system, but only is a concept that human beings use to understand the system. The system proceeds in a way that is reducible without remainder to physical cause and the effects are determined by the antecedent causes.

    Your response and UB’s response: RUN AND HIDE!

    Try being straight up for a change RD. Give your ego a rest already.

  12. 12
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    You are here to push the laughable front that “I knew it all along”, and you are here to do so with as much disdain as you can muster. The more disdain, the more distraction from the truth of the matter.

    Unfortunately for you, I know you are being willfully dishonest, and I’ve come to expect nothing more from you.

    First, you suggest I’ve changed my mind about something, but fail to mention what it is.

    Second, you suggest I’m attempting to distract somebody from the “truth of the matter”, but you fail to say what my distraction is, nor what the truth of the matter is.

    Third, you accuse me of being willfully dishonest, but fail to say what you think I’ve lied about.

    Finally, you present quotes from some discussion we’ve had in the past, but you fail to say what you think the relevance is to what I’ve said here.

    WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?????

    Can’t you simply debate my points, instead of tossing out these insane, cryptic evasions?

    This is what I’ve said here:

    1) Your evidence undermines evolutionary theory and abiogenetic theories, yet you pretend to have undermined a metaphysical position called “materialism” instead.

    2) You have failed to even say what you mean by “materialism”, which you would realize is ambiguous if you had a passing familiarity with philosophy, and as I’ve tried to explain to you many times.

    3) You pretend that by undermining evolutionary and abiogenetic theories, you somehow support an alternative explanation, which you refer to as “design”. Yet you refuse to say how a single word can constitute a scientific explanation for all of these phenomena, and refuse to even discuss what you might actually mean by that term.

    Come on, UB. You love to play scientist, obviously – why not actually talk science for a change? Here’s how we do it: We ask each other questions, provide each other answers and clarifications, make specific claims about observable phenomena, and provide empirical justifications for our claims. It’s really fun once you get the hang of it.

    Or, if that’s just too hard for you, continue with your oblique insults, your refusal to answer straighforward questions and requests for clarifications, and your misplaced arrogance. That way you’ll never actually have to face that fact that all of your work is nothing but meaningless crackpottery.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  13. 13
    RDFish says:

    Hi Barry,
    You don’t understand the discussion.
    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  14. 14

    (NOTE: the bolding is all yours in the original)

    UB produced an example of a music box which he says has physical discontinuities. I responded with an example of the water-drops, and asked if that system also had physical discontinuities.

    Your response and UB’s response: RUN AND HIDE.

    I explained that the “representation” that UB says is in his system is not inherent in the system, but only is a concept that human beings use to understand the system. The system proceeds in a way that is reducible without remainder to physical cause and the effects are determined by the antecedent causes.

    Your response and UB’s response: RUN AND HIDE!

    …and now you think you can insult me into giving you cover? You must not be paying close attention.

    If you want to talk RD, why don’t you tell me how you can specify middle C from the pins on a brass cylinder in a music box. Tell me how the operation of a music box is “reducible without remainder to physical cause”. Let’s see how long it takes you to assume your conclusion, or obfuscate the simple fact that you’ve been wrong all along.

  15. 15
    Robert Byers says:

    Behe rightly is famous and makes the great point of IC. Its still the point of complexity is impossible to create itself as the bible, and the watch in the forest, and the airplane out of the junk yard concepts all said.
    now ID thinkers bring a scientific investigation to the same point and will prevail because its the truth.

  16. 16
    Barry Arrington says:

    RDFish,

    Is that all you’ve got? A second grade level “neener neener neener”? Sad.

  17. 17
    Barry Arrington says:

    RDFish,

    You don’t understand the discussion.

    Wow RDFish. It must have been really embarrassing for you when you got schooled by someone who doesn’t even understand the discussion.

    Here.

  18. 18
    RDFish says:

    Hi UB,

    If you want to talk RD…

    Yes of course I want to discuss this, which is the purpose for my post. But you refuse, just as you always refuse. You refuse to engage a single thing I say. You refuse to answer a single question, or provide a single clarification.

    I’ve asked this:

    1) What do you mean by “materialism”?
    2) How does anything you’ve argued regarding irreducible complexity or semiotics in biology undermine materialism (or physicalism, if that is what you mean)?
    3) What exactly does it mean to explain something by reference to “design”?
    4) Why do you think that undermining evolutionary or abiogenetic theories somehow provides support for “design”?

    You failed to answer. You’ve failed to respond to any point, any question, any request for clarification. The reason: You are afraid to engage my questions. It really is cowardice, nothing else.

    Since I am not a coward, I shall do my best to answer your question, as weird as they are:

    If you want to talk RD, why don’t you tell me how you can specify middle C from the pins on a brass cylinder in a music box.

    I really don’t understand what it means to “specify middle C”. If the pin hits a reed that vibrates with the appropriate frequency, then I suppose you’d say the pin “specifies” middle C. Can you explain better what you mean here?

    Tell me how the operation of a music box is “reducible without remainder to physical cause”.

    I suppose it’s not possible to disprove that some immaterial agency – a tiny angel or elf or spirit or something – sneaks into music boxes and somehow affects their operation. I just think we can fully explain how music boxes operate without invoking anything but the classical physical causes. Why would you think anything else is involved?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  19. 19
    RDFish says:

    Hi Barry,

    When you decide to respond to a single argument I make, we can have a discussion. But it’s just not worth it while you’re pulling your usual schoolyard bully act. Read what I’ve written here and respond if you can.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

    (p.s. The thought of you “schooling” me is hysterical. It’s like a duck trying to kill the hunter :-))

  20. 20

    1) What do you mean by “materialism”?
    2) How does anything you’ve argued regarding irreducible complexity or semiotics in biology undermine materialism (or physicalism, if that is what you mean)?
    3) What exactly does it mean to explain something by reference to “design”?
    4) Why do you think that undermining evolutionary or abiogenetic theories somehow provides support for “design”?

    You want to talk about these other things because you can’t back up the things you say, and I’m calling you on it. Tell me how the operation of a music box is “reducible without remainder to physical cause”. And stop feigning ignorance. I’ve already made my case. You can find the bibliography here, and navigate from there.

    You failed to answer. You’ve failed to respond to any point, any question, any request for clarification. The reason: You are afraid to engage my questions. It really is cowardice, nothing else.

    By all means, let me get you a potty pad.

    Now answer the question: Tell me how the operation of a music box is “reducible without remainder to physical cause”.

  21. 21
    RDFish says:

    Hi UB,

    You want to talk about these other things because you can’t back up the things you say, and I’m calling you on it.

    Over and over I ask you to simply engage a discussion, and you refuse. Not once have you ever responded to a single point, not a single question. You’re a joke. You won’t address my points because you realize you can’t, and you are horrified to think that all your silly, pretend-science is meaningless.

    On the other hand, I always engage what you write, because I know that full disclosure and discussion is on my side – because I’m right.

    So yes, once again, you refuse to answer:

    1) What do you mean by “materialism”?
    2) How does anything you’ve argued regarding irreducible complexity or semiotics in biology undermine materialism (or physicalism, if that is what you mean)?
    3) What exactly does it mean to explain something by reference to “design”?
    4) Why do you think that undermining evolutionary or abiogenetic theories somehow provides support for “design”?

    And yes, once again, I engage your bizarre questions as best I can:

    Tell me how the operation of a music box is “reducible without remainder to physical cause”.

    I suppose it’s not possible to disprove that some immaterial agency – a tiny angel or elf or spirit or something – sneaks into music boxes and somehow affects their operation. I just think we can fully explain how music boxes operate without invoking anything but the classical physical causes. Why would you think anything else is involved?

    And stop feigning ignorance.

    Uh, no – that would be you, not me. And you’re not feigning, I’m afraid.

    I’ve already made my case.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHahahahahaha! So hilarious! You refuse to respond to a single question, a single argument, and then…. you say you’ve made your case!

    You can find the bibliography here, and navigate from there.

    You have no arguments, no response… so you post a list of books! Does that, in your bizarre mind, somehow constitute a response to what I’m asking here? Stop, really, you’re too much.

    Now answer the question: Tell me how the operation of a music box is “reducible without remainder to physical cause”.

    All you do is repeat the question, even though I have answered it – twice now. Here is my answer, for the third time:

    I suppose it’s not possible to disprove that some immaterial agency – a tiny angel or elf or spirit or something – sneaks into music boxes and somehow affects their operation. I just think we can fully explain how music boxes operate without invoking anything but the classical physical causes. Why would you think anything else is involved?

    What else would you like to know? Do you have some reason to think something immaterial is involved in the operation of a music box or not?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

    (p.s. So sad that the best you can do here is to make jokes about “potty pads”. Really? How old are you, UB?)

  22. 22

    You’ve gone off the rails again RD. You argued things that you can’t back up. You were called out on it, and you failed.

    You said in bold letters: “The system proceeds in a way that is reducible without remainder to physical cause”, You said it with all the petty attitude that is common to your posts, but the problem is you can’t explain yourself, and pretending that you need some answer from me before you can make your case is simply incoherent. I’m not biting.

    The rest is hot air. All your snide little comments can’t hide the fact that you are both spectacularly wrong and totally incompetent on the details.

  23. 23
    gpuccio says:

    UB (and RDFish):

    UB: very good article. Great balance and objectivity of thought. My compliments!

    I am not a great fun of discussing with RDFish (it has been really tiring to do that in the past, and scarcely constructive). However, as he asks (to you) precise questions, and I love precise questions, I will try to answer (for me, obviously). Let’s see if some good discussion can ensue).

    So, RDFish, here are my personal answers:

    1) What do you mean by “materialism”?

    I can agree with you that, as matter has not been the only component of physical theories for a long time, the term “materialism” is not the most accurate. You suggest physicalism: maybe it is a little better, but still I would have difficulties in saying waht “Physical” means, vs non physical.

    My best suggestion would be “reductionist naturalism”, defined as follows:

    “The assumption that everything that exists (nature?) can be explained in terms of the laws of physics (or of science) as we understand them at present. Obviously, any reductionist will admit that there are new details to be discovered, but the point is that the reductionist is convinced that the essential framework of reality has been already understood by science as it is today. Typical attitude of reductionists is to deny that consciousness (something that science cannot yet explain in any way) is a fundamental part of reality, without which many parts of reality (for example, complex functional information, semiosis and irreducible complexity) cannot be explained.

    2) How does anything you’ve argued regarding irreducible complexity or semiotics in biology undermine materialism (or physicalism, if that is what you mean)?

    See point one. Complex functional information, semiosis and irreducible complexity are 3 aspects of reality which are explained by design, and only by design. Any map of reality which does not consider consciousness and design as fundamental components cannot explain them.

    3) What exactly does it mean to explain something by reference to “design”?

    Very easy. As I have said many times, design is a purposeful process where some specific form is implemented into a material object starting from a conscious representation in a conscious agent. IOWs, in design the form exists before in the consciousness of the designer, and is then outputted to the material object.

    Design is always, empirically, the origin of complex functional information, of semiosis, and of irreducible complexity.

    4) Why do you think that undermining evolutionary or abiogenetic theories somehow provides support for “design”?

    Because neo darwinian evolution and abiogenetic theories are the only “semi serious” attempt at explaining complex functional information, semiosis and irreducible complexity, as observed in biological objects, without introducing design as part of the process. They fail, but they are still the only scientific attempt.

    As I always say: there are only two games in town to explain those aspects of biological objects: neo darwinism (including more or less related OOL theories) and design. When neo darwinist theories fail (and they do!), design remains the only credible scientific explanation.

    OK, that’s it.

  24. 24

    Thanks GP.

    RD’s questions are a sideshow. What I think about the concept of materialism, or the concept of design, or the concept of tennis shoes has nothing whatsoever to do with RD backing up the claims he’s made.

    He doesn’t back his claims because he can’t.

  25. 25
    gpuccio says:

    UB:

    If I had to suggest one example of irreducible complexity in biology, I would definitely mention cell differentiation in metazoa.

    Indeed, although we still do not understand it, and we lack a lot of fundamental parts of the process, we already know that it is a global process involving at least:

    a) The genome: genes, promoters, enhancers, and many other parts

    b) The genome methylation

    c) The histone modifications, configuring the histone code with all its complexities

    d) The transcription factor system

    e) The 3d structure and nuclear localization of chromatin

    f) The chromatin remodeling system

    g) Post transcriptional modifications, like alternative splicing

    e) Post translational modifications

    f) The whole complex system of transcriptional regulation mediated by non coding RNAs of all types: miRNAs. lincRNAs, and so on.

    and:

    g) Whatever we still don’t understand (and believe me, it’s a lot, and probably more than we can imagine).

    All these parts are complex, and they interact in an extremely complex way to determine a multiplicity of different differentiation programs, in a context that is partly deterministic and partly stochastic, but always strictly regulated.

    Of course, there are redundancies (indeed, redundancy is one of the complex aspects of the system), and some parts in some contexts can be “lost”, and the system still work. But, even with those exceptions, the system as a whole is an example of wonderful irreducible complexity.

  26. 26
    Virgil Cain says:

    RDFish:

    You do mention what it is you are arguing against – namely “materialism” – but you never say anything about what you think “materialism” entails.

    Learn how to use the internet and look it up for yourself.

    Now, what your evidence really argues against is “evolutionary theory” and theories of “abiogenesis” rather than materialism.

    Both of those are aspects of materialism. BTW there isn’t any “evolutionary theory”.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  27. 27
    Virgil Cain says:

    1) What do you mean by “materialism”?

    The standard and accepted definitions will do.

    2) How does anything you’ve argued regarding irreducible complexity or semiotics in biology undermine materialism (or physicalism, if that is what you mean)?

    Materialism doesn’t have a testable mechanism capable of producing IC.

    3) What exactly does it mean to explain something by reference to “design”?

    The same thing it means for archaeologists, forensic science and SETI. Namely that some intentional agency was required to produce what we are investigating.

    4) Why do you think that undermining evolutionary or abiogenetic theories somehow provides support for “design”?

    Science 101- science mandates that all design inferences first eliminate necessity and chance explanations. And when you divide the categories into design or not then eliminating the “not” side adds credence to the “design” side. Again, science 101

    I just think we can fully explain how music boxes operate without invoking anything but the classical physical causes.

    Except there aren’t any known classical physical causes that produce thoughts, ie immaterial information.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  28. 28
    EugeneS says:

    UB,

    A very good OP! Yes, I agree, they must apologize to Dr Behe. They must have the guts to acknowledge he was right. Will they?

    I laughed at Ken Miller’s ‘counter-argument’ of using the mousetrap as a catapult when I learned about it. There must be an intelligence to decide to switch the function anyway. As GP puts in in another thread, intelligence may be ‘frozen’, but it is intelligence all the same, not an accident.

    They are constantly trying to safeguard themselves by saying ‘we don’t yet know’. You are quite right.

  29. 29
    Zachriel says:

    gpuccio: My best suggestion would be “reductionist naturalism”, defined as follows: “The assumption that everything that exists (nature?) can be explained in terms of the laws of physics (or of science) as we understand them at present.”

    Of course, not all naturalists are reductionist, or even think that humans know much about the natural world.

    gpuccio: Design is always, empirically, the origin of complex functional information, of semiosis, and of irreducible complexity.

    You define design as the result of conscious planning. Then you claim that only design can empirically account for complex functional information. This presupposes that consciousness doesn’t have a material basis, and that you are correct concerning your empirical claim.

  30. 30
    EugeneS says:

    RDFish,

    Living organisms can be described as decision making systems. Decision making is one of the properties of life which set it apart from non-life. From experience, decision making systems themselves can only plausibly be a (not necessarily immediate) result of conscious decision making.

    Naturalism is inadequate in explaining the origin of decision making systems because it employs only non-telic causation that could not care less about pragmatic utility of decisions. And yet, living systems are undeniably telic.

    Naturalism is a bankrupt.

  31. 31
    Mapou says:

    Darwinists like RDFish, the polite but devious and deceiving kind that wastes your time with a mountain of crap, are the worst kind of Darwinist trolls. RDFish is lucky that this site is not mine. I would have banned his arse ages ago. I have no patience for Darwinist trolls.

    Just one man’s opinion. 😀

  32. 32
    EugeneS says:

    Zachriel,

    There is no circularity here. You can measure complexity and make a probabilistic inference to design if the measured amount of functional complexity in a given configuration is beyond a practical plausibility threshold.

  33. 33
    Mung says:

    Excellent article!

    And thanks having that link to David Abel’s newest book. I was not aware of it.

    Primordial Prescription: The Most Plaguing Problem of Life Origin Science

  34. 34
    Mung says:

    In the context of the current debate, the whole materialism/physicalism thing is a red herring.

    People continue to deny the cell is a semiotic system and they continue to deny that anything actually is IC and they do so for obvious reasons.

    Heck, I can’t even get ID critics to agree that the genetic code is a code.

  35. 35
    Mung says:

    Barry Arrington:

    Is that all you’ve got? A second grade level “neener neener neener”? Sad.

    Come on Barry. RDFish deserves more credit than you’re giving him.

    He also has a third grade level response.

  36. 36
    Zachriel says:

    EugeneS: There is no circularity here. You can measure complexity and make a probabilistic inference to design if the measured amount of functional complexity in a given configuration is beyond a practical plausibility threshold.

    Didn’t say it was circular. The claim that something requires consciousness doesn’t mean it isn’t consistent with physicalism, as physicalism implies that consciousness supervenes on the physical. As for the empirical aspects of life, the claim that it requires consciousness is contradicted by the evidence.

    Mung: People continue to deny the cell is a semiotic system and they continue to deny that anything actually is IC and they do so for obvious reasons.

    RDFish @8: I stopped by, and was unsurprised to find that you write a great deal about semiosis and irreducible complexity – aspects of biology that I for one have never had any trouble accepting.


    ETA: assuming a cladistic definition of fish.

  37. 37
    Mung says:

    Zachriel, go look up “red herring.” And please stop trolling.

  38. 38
    Zachriel says:

    Mung: go look up “red herring.”

    red herring: something, especially a clue, that is or is intended to be misleading or distracting.

    Nope, it wasn’t a red herring, but a counterexample to a vague claim about what “people” say.


    ETA: Fish are paraphyletic, if that is your objection.

  39. 39
    Mung says:

    RDFish makes me laugh.

    First he complains about the use of the term materialist/materialism, as if he doesn’t know what it means.

    But when he needs to, he knows what it means:

    I suppose it’s not possible to disprove that some immaterial agency – a tiny angel or elf or spirit or something – sneaks into music boxes and somehow affects their operation. I just think we can fully explain how music boxes operate without invoking anything but the classical physical causes.

    He also writes:

    Do you really mean “materialism”, or do you mean “physicalism”? If the former, physicists haven’t believed in materialism for 100 years – why beat a dead horse?

    So physicists believe in elfs and angels and fairies and such, and accept them as acceptable material causes?

  40. 40
    EugeneS says:

    Zachriel,

    “As for the empirical aspects of life, the claim that it requires consciousness is contradicted by the evidence.”

    Evidence exists to support the ID claim, namely that statistically significant levels of functional complexity invariably trace back to intelligent agency. On the other hand, no evidence exists to support the contrary claim, i.e. that non-telic causality accounts for statistically significant levels of functional complexity.

  41. 41
    Andre says:

    I look at it like this inanimate matter only encodes. Animated matter encodes and decodes…..

  42. 42
    Mung says:

    Zachriel, Go look up non sequitur. And please stop trolling.

  43. 43
    Zachriel says:

    EugeneS: On the other hand, no evidence exists to support the contrary claim, i.e. that non-telic causality accounts for statistically significant levels of functional complexity.

    The vast majority of scientists working the field disagree, and we’d be happy to discuss the subject. However, it’s a bit far from the matter, which is that pointing to consciousness doesn’t refute physicalism, which asserts that consciousness supervenes on the physical. It’s a consistent position, even if you happen to reject it.

  44. 44
    Mung says:

    RDFish:

    I really don’t understand what it means to “specify middle C”.

    I bet RDFish doesn’t understand what it means for a sequence of amino acids to specify a protein either.

    Or for a sequence of nucleic acids to specify a sequence of amino acids.

    Fortunately for science, the people involved in working out the genetic code had no such issues.

    And if you own a piano, you don’t pay the piano tuner to not know how to specify middle C.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Can_Tune_a_Piano,_but_You_Can't_Tuna_Fish

  45. 45
    gpuccio says:

    Zachriel:

    Of course, not all naturalists are reductionist, or even think that humans know much about the natural world.

    If you are speaking of yourself, I have always thought that you are in some way a “reasonable” naturalist. That’s why I like you. 🙂

    You define design as the result of conscious planning.

    Yes.

    Then you claim that only design can empirically account for complex functional information.

    Yes.

    This presupposes that consciousness doesn’t have a material basis,

    No. It only presupposes that consciousness is perceived in ourselves directly as a subjective experience, or inferred in others on the basis of our subjective experience and of obvious analogies between us and others. It presupposes that there is no known explanation of subjective consciousness in terms of objective entities (the hard problem according to Chalmers). It presupposes that, given this context, consciousness must be treated as an empirical reality for what it is as we perceive it (a subjective experience with its phenomena and rules), instead of assuming what cannot be assumed.

    and that you are correct concerning your empirical claim.

    I am correct about my empirical claim. Have you counter-examples?

    I am saying nothing about the “basis” of consciousness, either material or else. I am just saying that consciousness is different, and it must be treated for what it is: a different empirical reality, a different fact.

  46. 46
    Zachriel says:

    gpuccio: I have always thought that you are in some way a “reasonable” naturalist.

    We’re not a naturalist. Our position is that there is no way to effectively argue the point. Both monist and dualist philosophies can be self-consistent. Our objection, then, is when someone claims they have “proved” one or the other. (These discussions were rather interesting a couple or three millennia ago, but they haven’t progressed much since then.)

    gpuccio: It presupposes that, given this context, consciousness must be treated as an empirical reality for what it is as we perceive it (a subjective experience with its phenomena and rules), instead of assuming what cannot be assumed.

    We know perception is subject to error, so you can’t simply assume that your experience of consciousness is without the possibility of error or omission.

    That doesn’t mean we can’t discuss consciousness, in particular, someone holding a view of the future in mind, then taking actions to bring that future about, a.k.a. planning or design.

    gpuccio: I am just saying that consciousness is different, and it must be treated for what it is: a different empirical reality, a different fact.

    Okay. Few would argue we can’t treat consciousness as something subject to investigation or analysis either through science or introspection.

    That returns us to the typical discussion as to whether non-conscious processes can result in complex functional information. The philosophy is just a sideshow.

  47. 47
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright Biped,

    You refuse to respond to a single point I’ve made.
    You refuse to provide a single clarification of what you’ve claimed.
    You are afraid to debate, afraid to answer my questions, afraid that all of the effort you have spent on your pretend science is nothing but crackpottery. But it is, UB – it’s all just crackpottery.

    Instead you want to change the subject… to music boxes! And not only that, but you are apparently of the opinion that music boxes somehow require immaterial spirits in order to play! (Hint: They don’t. You just wind up the crank, and there they go, and you need nothing more than plain ol’ classical physics to explain how they work)! What a nutjob!

    Now, watch as one of your cohorts, Gpuccio, actually does try to engage the topic. He’s wrong, of course, but at least he’s not a coward!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  48. 48
    RDFish says:

    Hi Gpuccio,

    Thanks for addressing the topic here – something that UB has never done, and will never do! Read and learn, UB – this is what it means to engage in a discussion.

    I can agree with you that, as matter has not been the only component of physical theories for a long time, the term “materialism” is not the most accurate. You suggest physicalism: maybe it is a little better, but still I would have difficulties in saying what “Physical” means, vs non physical.

    See, we have made progress already. You and agree that this “materialism” that UB insists he is overturning (and Barry stupidly believes is still an active philosophical program) is poorly defined and anachronistic. Excellent!

    My best suggestion would be “reductionist naturalism”, defined as follows:

    “The assumption that everything that exists (nature?) can be explained in terms of the laws of physics (or of science) as we understand them at present.

    Very well. Thank you for a clear definition – something UB is never willing to provide. In that case, we all (you, me, and UB anyway) agree that reductionist naturalism, as you define it here, is incapable of explaining how biological systems came to exist, and also that reductionist naturalism is incapable of explaining how human beings learn, solve problems, and design complex machinery. Very good indeed!

    Complex functional information, semiosis and irreducible complexity are 3 aspects of reality which are explained by design, and only by design.

    Well, we obviously disagree here…

    As I have said many times, design is a purposeful process where some specific form is implemented into a material object starting from a conscious representation in a conscious agent.

    1) Despite the fact that scientists do not understand the connection between conscious awareness and mental abilities such as perception, planning, learning, and problem solving, and despite the fact that all of these mental abilities are at least sometimes accomplished without accompanying conscious awareness, you simply declare that it is consciousness that enables these abilities in human beings. These are nothing but your own assumptions and personal beliefs, not facts that can be empirically demonstrated, and are certainly unsupported by experimental results in cognitive psychology, neurobiology, and other relevant disciplines. You are certainly entitled to your own opinions, but you are wrong to present these as justified knowledge.

    2) When you insist that design requires conscious awareness, you contradict William Dembski, who explicitly states that it is not empirically warranted to claim that the cause of biological complexity was conscious at all. The fact that Dembski (the creator of this blog and one of the few academics who has developed this so-called “ID Theory”) doesn’t agree with you ought to give you pause.

    3) All of our experience-based knowledge confirms that consciousness requires particular neurological function. This is NOT to say that brain function is sufficient for consciousness, or somehow explains consciousness (it doesn’t). However, it is the case that in all of our experienced-based knowledge brain function is necessary for conscious awareness. Since brains are the most complex, functional objects known, it becomes problematic to hypothesize that complex functional systems must have originally been produced by something conscious. This is one (of several) reasons that Dembski says ID does NOT claim that the cause of biological complexity was conscious.

    IOWs, in design the form exists before in the consciousness of the designer, and is then outputted to the material object.

    Another reason that Dembski denies your claim that the design of living things entails consciousness is because of this: If design requires that conscious representations temporally precede implementation, then something that exists outside of time and space (viz. a classical conception of God) could not be said to design anything. This is also part of the reason the Ed Feser, a well-known Christian philosopher, believes that ID is wrongheaded.

    As I always say: there are only two games in town to explain those aspects of biological objects: neo darwinism (including more or less related OOL theories) and design. When neo darwinist theories fail (and they do!), design remains the only credible scientific explanation.

    This is a terribly naive false dichotomy. If there are no explanations that can be empirically tested, then we simply have no empirically justified answer! We do not accept a poorly articulated and untestable answer simply because we can’t come up with another!

    Anyway, Gpuccio, I really do appreciate that you attempted to respond to my arguments. As you can see, you are wrong about all of them, but you did engage in good faith, and that is a rarity around here! Thank you!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  49. 49
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright Biped,
    Well, now you have it. That is what it looks like for somebody (gpuccio) to have the integrity to say what they believe and enter into a debate. You, in contrast, are too fearful to even try. Read my post above and perhaps you might begin to dimly comprehend why your ramblings are just so much crackpottery. Good luck!
    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  50. 50
    Zachriel says:

    RDFish: In that case, we all (you, me, and UB anyway) agree that reductionist naturalism, as you define it here, is incapable of explaining how biological systems came to exist …

    Just to be clear, are you referring to the origin of life, or its myriad forms?

  51. 51
    RDFish says:

    Hi Zachriel,
    I mean both. I do not believe that it has been satisfactorily demonstrated that known evolutionary mechanisms can produce the systems we observe in biology. I base this on insights from AI, where we see that learning algorithms based on biological evolution are limited in ways that suggest that our understanding of evolution is fundamentally incomplete.
    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  52. 52
    Zachriel says:

    RDFish: I mean both.

    This seems like a case of the relativity of wrong. We often hear it said that the Solar System formed from the gravitational collapse of a molecular cloud, but it turns out that gravity alone is not sufficient to explain the form of the Solar System. Nonetheless, pointing to gravity is a reasonable first-order explanation, even if it is “fundamentally incomplete”.

  53. 53
    Mung says:

    Zachriel:

    We know perception is subject to error…

    No, you don’t.

    Do Perceptions Happen in Your Brain?

  54. 54
    RDFish says:

    Hi Zachriel,

    So refreshing! I’ve been posting on ID/Evo boards on and off for more than a decade, and this is the first time someone challenged my skepticism about evolutionary theory!

    This seems like a case of the relativity of wrong. We often hear it said that the Solar System formed from the gravitational collapse of a molecular cloud, but it turns out that gravity alone is not sufficient to explain the form of the Solar System. Nonetheless, pointing to gravity is a reasonable first-order explanation, even if it is “fundamentally incomplete”.

    I disagree: I think it would be like saying that Newtonian mechanics explained the precession of the perihelion of Mercury – which it doesn’t at all, because it is fundamentally incomplete.

    I think that without some other sort of constraints on variation that we don’t understand, no combination of selection, drift, transfer, or anything else anyone has thought of could find the sorts of intricate functional configurations we see biological systems in anywhere near the number of trials available on this planet over just billions of years. Not by a many-orders longshot. I could be wrong about this of course, but it’s certainly not something that should be accepted on the basis of current evidence. Computer simulations should be able to provide evidence that mechanisms of complexity comparable to biological organisms could evolve with the time and populations available; they do not.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  55. 55
    Virgil Cain says:

    That returns us to the typical discussion as to whether non-conscious processes can result in complex functional information.

    And that returns us to the glaring problem of how to objectively test such a claim.

    Just to be clear, are you referring to the origin of life, or its myriad forms?

    Both as neither has any evidentiary support.

  56. 56
    Mung says:

    RDFish: You refuse to respond to a single point I’ve made.

    Good for him. Get back to us when you know how to specify middle C. Then perhaps there will be something worth discussing.

    I bet you don’t know how to specify a song either. Heck, I bet music boxes are impossible!

    Silly Upright BiPed.

    See ya!

  57. 57
    Mung says:

    RDFish:

    I base this on insights from AI, where we see that learning algorithms based on biological evolution are limited in ways that suggest that our understanding of evolution is fundamentally incomplete.

    You sound like Upright BiPed. Are you his sock puppet?

  58. 58
    Virgil Cain says:

    RDFish seems to think that science requires absolute proof. And that just because ID is out in front of our current understanding, ie that we don’t have any idea how consciousness arises, invalidates it as a science. Really.

    IOW just because ID is bold enough to state that consciousness is not reducible to and does not emerge from physicochemical processes, RDFish declares ID is not science. Really.

    The mere fact that if it is shown that consciousness can indeed arise via physicochemical processes falsifies ID, is lost on RDFish.

    The mere fact that ID doesn’t say anything about the designer is also lost on RDFish. The fact that science says that without directly observing the designer or without having the designer tell us what transpired, the only way to say anything, scientifically, about the designer is by studying the design(s) and all relevant evidence. And that means we have already used our knowledge of cause and effect relationships to infer what we are investigating was intelligently designed. Meaning the who, how, why and when all come AFTER and only via rigorous investigation.

    RDFish is also upset that science is a step-by-step process involving proximate, rather than ultimate, causes. RDFish thinks that is somehow a strike against ID.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  59. 59
    Mung says:

    RDFish:

    And not only that, but you are apparently of the opinion that music boxes somehow require immaterial spirits in order to play! (Hint: They don’t. You just wind up the crank, and there they go, and you need nothing more than plain ol’ classical physics to explain how they work)!

    Oh look. All of a sudden RDFish knows what materialism is.

  60. 60
    Mung says:

    RDFish can only play a music box. Beyond that he’s tone deaf. Doesn’t know what it means to specify something. Can’t change his tune to save his life.

    No wonder Upright BiPed treats him with respect.

    I have a music box that plays four different melodies. It can do this because the different songs are specified.

    Oh No! Specification! Run for the hills!

  61. 61
    Mapou says:

    Mung @53,

    Both you and Michael Egnor are wrong about memory and the brain. This stuff by Egnor is total nonsense:

    The materialist explanation for perception — the explanation extant in most journals and textbooks of neuroscience — is self-refuting gibberish. So where does perception occur, if not in your brain?

    The answer is simple. Perception is a wholly material thing — it does have location. When you perceive a pinprick on your finger, your perception of the pinprick occurs on your finger where it is pricked. This understanding has remarkable, but undeniable, consequences. When you perceive music from your radio, your perception of the music occurs at your radio. When you perceive a tree in your yard, your perception of the tree occurs at the tree. When you perceive the moon, your perception of the moon occurs at the moon. Perceptions occur at the object perceived, regardless of distance, regardless of location. It seems bizarre, but it is logically sound and, when you think it out a bit, it is plainly true.

    I am not a materialist by any meaning of the word but you guys are giving non-materialists a bad name with this nonsense. This is total crap, sorry.

  62. 62

    You refuse to respond to a single point I’ve made.

    This is, of course, a calculated deception, made obvious by the posts on this thread. I am responding to your words RD. I am responding directly to the words you typed into the combox on this site. Here they are again:

    (NOTE: the bolding is all yours in the original)

    UB produced an example of a music box which he says has physical discontinuities. I responded with an example of the water-drops, and asked if that system also had physical discontinuities.

    Your response and UB’s response: RUN AND HIDE.

    I explained that the “representation” that UB says is in his system is not inherent in the system, but only is a concept that human beings use to understand the system. The system proceeds in a way that is reducible without remainder to physical cause and the effects are determined by the antecedent causes

    Your response and UB’s response: RUN AND HIDE!

    This is your position on semiosis. You believe there is no discontinuity in a semiotic system, and you believe that the operation of a semiotic system is ”reducible without remainder to physical cause and the effect”. You made these comments directly to me on these pages. You purposely bolded the text in order to demonstrate your emphatic belief in your counter-argument. I am responding by asking you to back up your words. You have thus far refused to do so.

    You refuse to provide a single clarification of what you’ve claimed.

    This is another calculated deception. You posted on this thread the ridiculous notion that you’ve never had any problem with semiosis in the cell. You specifically posted it on an article written by someone who has been beating the semiosis drum for quite some time. A comment search of your name on UD returns almost 200 pages of comments by and to you. You have argued against semiosis at every turn. And you’ve been an unnecessary ass about it. But now you want to ignore the positions you’ve taken and the words you’ve used, and you want to launch off into a new diatribe in their place. Your silly claim — that I’m just flat refusing to follow along — can be seen for what it really is.

    I have published my argument regarding semiosis on the website Biosemiosis.org. On that website I have presented a coherent model of a semiotic system. Feel free to cut and paste anything I’ve claimed in regard to that model, and I will be happy to respond to it. Doing so will give you a chance to demonstrate the claims you’ve argued for, and will give me a chance to defend my model. What more could you ask for?

    I look forward to it.

  63. 63
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    This is, of course, a calculated deception…

    Sad, so sad. Not even your cohorts here are so deluded and deranged. I just gave you a perfect example of how people who disagree can meaningfully discuss something – gpuccio addressed my points directly, and gave me the opportunity to explain why he was wrong. You however, do nothing of the sort – you refuse to engage the discussion at all.

    AGAIN: Gpuccio tried to save the day by answering the questions you couldn’t.

    This is your position…You believe…

    One reason that you are unable to discuss things with anyone else is that rather than asking them what they think, you tell them what they think! That is why you are incapable of understanding why your views are incoherent – because you refuse to actually try and comprehend other people’s ideas.

    So, rather than address my arguments, you pretend we are arguing about something else. You have no response to the issues I’ve raised regarding materialism, the false dichotomy of ID vs. Darwinism, and the lack of meaning for the term “design”. Gpuccio had no trouble understanding my criticisms, and did his best to respond. You, as always, put your fingers in your ears and yelled.

    I have explained over and over to you, and to everyone else here, that I have no trouble with anyone in ID identifying any property of biological systems – including irreducible complexity, CSI, FSCI, DFSCI, semiosis, or anything else you’d like to describe – and claiming that no known evolutionary process could possibly account for it.

    Read that again, and again, and again, and again until you understand what I’m saying. I have been saying the same thing for a very, very, very long time.

    You keep screaming the same thing over and over, but I have never disagreed with any of it (whether fully or arguendo)!

    You have argued against semiosis at every turn.

    I have never argued against semiosis per se of course! I have argued against your hopelessly naive understanding of intentionality, your failure to articulate the various concepts you toss out regarding “discontinuities”, and so on. You are the one who led us down this irrelevant path to the problem of intentionality (with which you are apparently unacquainted) – I have never been interested in discussing philosophical conundrums like that with you of course.

    So, as always I agree completely to accept any way you’d like to characterize properties of biological systems that cannot arise by means of any known physical process. I’ve never been interested in challenging the notion of CSI, or IC, even though there are plenty of problems with the formulation of those concepts. Likewise I have no interest in critiquing whatever your ideas are regarding semiosis – even though I have in the past pointed out that your articulation of your ideas reveal your philosophical unsophistication. The reason is because I already agree – as I always have – that no known physical process can account for what we observe in biology!

    AGAIN: What I have argued against you from the very beginning has nothing to do with any of your obsession with semiotics, IC, CSI, or anything like that. What I have argued against you from the very beginning has always been the same – the very same thing I argue against every ID opponent: That the concept of “design” is either too vague to serve as a scientific explanation, or if made specific, lacks empirical warrant and runs counter to our experience and observations.

    I’m going to let you off the hook here, UB. Obviously if you had any answers at all to my criticisms of ID, and the irrelevance of all your writing about semiosis and so on, then you would have at least alluded to them already. The fact that you steadfastly refuse to comment on my arguments, which (as everyone here knows) are exactly those that I have been making consistently for many years, reveals not only that you have no answers, but you actually realize that you have no answers.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  64. 64
    RDFish says:

    ALL:
    Gpuccio addressed my arguments @23, and I responded to him @48. I’d be very interested if anyone else would like to engage the points I’ve made in response to gpuccio.

  65. 65

    Translation:

    I didn’t type those words. Those are not my words. I didn’t bold them either. And that’s exactly why you don’t understand how wrong you are. And I admit that the word “intentionality” doesn’t even appear on your site, but you got that thing all wrong. And those other words too. SO AGAIN! for like the fifth hundredth time already, I have NO PROBLEM with whatever. I also have no desire to argue your actual argument, but I’m gonna cut you some slack anyway, and just mosey on outta here.

    Nice talking to you Skippy

  66. 66
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    Ok then – I shall just call your bluff.

    I will debate whatever you’d like to say about semiotics, explain and argue and defend anything I’ve ever said about music boxes or anything else. At the same time, you will debate the points I’ve raised here – the ones gpuccio responded to.

    How about it? (Prediction: You’re still too scared!)

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  67. 67

    You think that recasting irrelevant arguments in the form of a dare is going to motivate me to talk about them, just so I can wait and see if you can actually reduce the operation of a semiotic system to physicality?

    It’s a misjudgment on your part. I already know the answer.

    Also, I’ve never been afraid of you RD, That’s your internal narrative.

    – – – – – – – – – – – –

    (#62 whenver you’re ready)

  68. 68
    gpuccio says:

    RDFish:

    My answers to your points (those on which we disagree, obviously):

    You say:

    Despite the fact that scientists do not understand the connection between conscious awareness and mental abilities such as perception, planning, learning, and problem solving, and despite the fact that all of these mental abilities are at least sometimes accomplished without accompanying conscious awareness, you simply declare that it is consciousness that enables these abilities in human beings.

    This would be an argument against my quoted definition:

    As I have said many times, design is a purposeful process where some specific form is implemented into a material object starting from a conscious representation in a conscious agent.

    I can’t see your logic. You asked for a definition of design, and I gave mine. It is rather clear.

    For example, a painter draws a sketch of a landscape. He can confirm that the sequence is as such: first, he envisions the picture in his consciousness, then he implements it on paper.

    That is design, according to my definition. Anything that does not work that way is not design, according to my definition.

    What’s you problem?

    “Despite the fact that scientists do not understand the connection between conscious awareness and mental abilities such as perception, planning, learning, and problem solving,”

    And so? Where do I need a connection, other than what I have included in my definition? Remember:

    a) The designer must first have some conscious representation of what he is going to design

    b) The form implemented into the material object must more or less correspond to that consciously represented form.

    I need no other kind of “connection” to stick to my definition and apply it.

    You say:

    “and despite the fact that all of these mental abilities are at least sometimes accomplished without accompanying conscious awareness, ”

    The “mental abilities” you listed are:

    perception
    planning
    learning
    problem solving

    I have already debated with Mapou ans Zachriel that for many of them (such as planning, learning, problem solving) there are definitions of the words, currently used in AI theory, which are appropriate for algorithmic non conscious systems, but mean different things form the meaning of the sames words when applied to cosncious experiences (which is the original meaning).

    I still have difficulties in understanding how “perception” can be applied to a non conscious system, but certainly you can redefine that word too, if you like. There is no limit to redefining words so that they mean something different.

    However, as already said, all that has nothing to do with my definition. My definition is simple, clear, empirical, requires no assumptions at all, and requires consciousness.

    You also say:

    When you insist that design requires conscious awareness, you contradict William Dembski, who explicitly states that it is not empirically warranted to claim that the cause of biological complexity was conscious at all. The fact that Dembski (the creator of this blog and one of the few academics who has developed this so-called “ID Theory”) doesn’t agree with you ought to give you pause.

    Well, maybe I contradict Dembski. And so?

    OK, I pause for a moment. One, two three. OK, I still probably contradict Dembski. And so?

    You also say:

    All of our experience-based knowledge confirms that consciousness requires particular neurological function. This is NOT to say that brain function is sufficient for consciousness, or somehow explains consciousness (it doesn’t). However, it is the case that in all of our experienced-based knowledge brain function is necessary for conscious awareness. Since brains are the most complex, functional objects known, it becomes problematic to hypothesize that complex functional systems must have originally been produced by something conscious. This is one (of several) reasons that Dembski says ID does NOT claim that the cause of biological complexity was conscious.

    Let’s see…

    “All of our experience-based knowledge confirms that consciousness requires particular neurological function.”

    Yes, but with some exceptions, like for example NDEs and mystical experiences.

    “This is NOT to say that brain function is sufficient for consciousness, or somehow explains consciousness (it doesn’t).”

    I agree. I would also add that id does not imply that that brain function is necessary for consciousness to exists. That is a big question to which many have tried to give an answer, and I don’t think that you have the authority to suggest a definitive answer.

    So, let’s say that I am among the many who do not believe that our data suggest that consciousness can only exist in connection to a physical brain.

    “However, it is the case that in all of our experienced-based knowledge brain function is necessary for conscious awareness.”

    Most. Not all.

    “Since brains are the most complex, functional objects known, it becomes problematic to hypothesize that complex functional systems must have originally been produced by something conscious.”

    I agree that, excluding the aliens hypothesis, it is problematic to suggest that complex functional systems must have originally been produced by something with a physical brain. I have never suggested that.

    “This is one (of several) reasons that Dembski says ID does NOT claim that the cause of biological complexity was conscious.”

    That is probably Dembski’s problem, but certainly not mine.

    You also say:

    Another reason that Dembski denies your claim that the design of living things entails consciousness is because of this: If design requires that conscious representations temporally precede implementation, then something that exists outside of time and space (viz. a classical conception of God) could not be said to design anything. This is also part of the reason the Ed Feser, a well-known Christian philosopher, believes that ID is wrongheaded.

    I don’t follow your logic. Do you know that conscious representations happen “outside of time and space”? I have no such knowledge. I only know that they happen in consciousness, and that they seem to have some in them equivalent of space and time as we infer them in the outer world. And what has God to do with the present discussion?

    Even if that’s Dembski’s and Feser’s problem, it is certainly not mine. Do you need me to pause again?

    You also say:

    This is a terribly naive false dichotomy. If there are no explanations that can be empirically tested, then we simply have no empirically justified answer! We do not accept a poorly articulated and untestable answer simply because we can’t come up with another!

    Wrong. It is not a dichotomy, least of all a naive and false one. I have simply said:

    ” there are only two games in town to explain those aspects of biological objects: neo darwinism (including more or less related OOL theories) and design. When neo darwinist theories fail (and they do!), design remains the only credible scientific explanation.”

    And it is simply true.

    I have never said that no other game can be brought to the town. You are welcome to suggest yours.

    And you are free to think that neither of the two games is credible. Your opinion.

    It’s probably your problem, but it is certainly not mine.

  69. 69
    Virgil Cain says:

    RDFish is just another clueless troll.

    When you insist that design requires conscious awareness, you contradict William Dembski, who explicitly states that it is not empirically warranted to claim that the cause of biological complexity was conscious at all.

    Reference please.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  70. 70
    Zachriel says:

    Mung: No, you don’t. Do Perceptions Happen in Your Brain?

    That rather silly essay doesn’t address the question of the reliability of perception.

    RDFish: I’ve been posting on ID/Evo boards on and off for more than a decade, and this is the first time someone challenged my skepticism about evolutionary theory!

    Your phrasing, which we had noticed you using before, could be read to apply only to abiogenesis.

    RDFish: I think it would be like saying that Newtonian mechanics explained the precession of the perihelion of Mercury – which it doesn’t at all, because it is fundamentally incomplete.

    No. It would be more like saying Newtonian mechanics explains the movements of the planets, which it largely does even in the case of Mercury (and is almost correct even as to its precession!).

    But this isn’t quite the right analogy, and the one provided previously is more apt to a historical progression. It would be more like saying gravity explains the origin of the Solar System. If you run gravity simulations, you will find that gravity alone does not explain the structure of the Solar System. The explanation is incomplete; however, it is still a valid first-order explanation that explains a lot. Sure, you could say the explanation is “fundamentally” incomplete, but it is more right than wrong, just like the Earth is a sphere is more right than saying the Earth is flat.

    RDFish: Computer simulations should be able to provide evidence that mechanisms of complexity comparable to biological organisms could evolve with the time and populations available; they do not.

    Computers do not have the combinatorial resources to do more than provide a highly simplified model.

    Upright BiPed: ”reducible without remainder to physical cause and the effect”.

    What’s the “remainder” concerning the operation of a music box?

    RDFish: Despite the fact that scientists do not understand the connection between conscious awareness and mental abilities such as perception, planning, learning, and problem solving

    gpuccio: And so? Where do I need a connection, other than what I have included in my definition? Remember: a) The designer must first have some conscious representation of what he is going to design b) The form implemented into the material object must more or less correspond to that consciously represented form.

    That seems clear enough. A muse may provide the insight, but the design only occurs when it becomes 1) available to the conscious mind 2) is then instantiated in physical form.

    And so? That just means that evolution doesn’t “design” (per definition) even though it is posited to result in complex functional structures.

  71. 71
    Mung says:

    RDFishNonsense:

    Not even your cohorts here are so deluded and deranged.

    I am!

  72. 72
    Mung says:

    Zachriel: Computers do not have the combinatorial resources to do more than provide a highly simplified model.

    Must be by their own choice though, right?

  73. 73
    Mung says:

    In honor of RDFish:

    Music Box Dancer

  74. 74
    gpuccio says:

    Zachriel:

    That seems clear enough. A muse may provide the insight, but the design only occurs when it becomes 1) available to the conscious mind 2) is then instantiated in physical form.

    And so? That just means that evolution doesn’t “design” (per definition) even though it is posited to result in complex functional structures.

    I am happy that you find my definition clear. I was only offering that definition to RDFish, who had asked for some definition of design.

    I suppose that by “evolution” you mean unguided evolution or neo-darwinisn evolution. It is clear that it does not design anything (per definition).

    Designed evolution would be “evolution” just the same, but obviously all another thing.

  75. 75
    Zachriel says:

    gpuccio: I suppose that by “evolution” you mean unguided evolution or neo-darwinisn evolution.

    Modern evolutionary theory, which posits a variety of mechanisms.

    gpuccio: Designed evolution would be “evolution” just the same, but obviously all another thing.

    Sure. It would still entail conscious choices with a view to the future. Traditional artificial selection would not be design, then, as it only concerns generational change without regard to the long-term consequences of those choices.

  76. 76
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    You think that recasting irrelevant arguments in the form of a dare is going to motivate me to talk about them, just so I can wait and see if you can actually reduce the operation of a semiotic system to physicality?

    Well, nobody can say I didn’t try. You are so afraid of debating these points that you refuse, even if I agree to debate anything you’d like.

    Still, I hold up my part of the bargain, since I for one have nothing to fear.

    Now, at least part of your comical confusion about semiotic systems and physical cause is this: You keep saying that semiotic systems (your example was a music box) cannot be reduced to physical cause, and you want me to defend my stance to the contrary. The confusion is that you keep asking me about the operation of the music box – not the origin of the music box. The operation of the music box is quite obviously physical, UB!!! I tried to make this clear over and over by suggesting there is no need for an immaterial spirit to inhabit the music box, plucking the reeds or turning the brass drum! The spring tension, the drum rotation, the pegs, the reeds, the vibration… all of these things are perfectly explicable and completely understandable in terms of physical mechanism, without remainder – no need to invoke anything non-physical as we watch the mechanism operate.

    Instead of asking about the operation of the music box, of course, you should have asked about the origin of the music box. How did those pegs get mapped to those notes? The answer to that is not known to be within physicalism (as gpuccio defines it – reductionist naturalism). But that isn’t what you asked.

    Your last excuse is gone, UB – I’ve responded to your confusion about the music box. But of course we all know that no matter what, you will refuse to respond to my questions. All of your silly pretend-science is for naught, sadly, because the conclusions you allude to are meaningless.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  77. 77
    RDFish says:

    Hi gpuccio,

    I can’t see your logic. You asked for a definition of design, and I gave mine. It is rather clear.

    Your definition was perfectly clear, and I thank you for that. My reponse was to say that while your definition identifies consciousness as the key aspect of design, the scientific study of cognitive psychology does not support your view, and also that others (like Dembski) disagree that consciousness is implied, and also that consciousness is associated with brain function which makes ID’s explanation circular (it always requires CSI to produce CSI).

    Well, maybe I contradict Dembski. And so?

    OK, no problem. Everybody is entitled to their own theories – enjoy! I’ll continue to debate “ID Theory” as it is presented in published materials, rather than by anonymous internet debaters like us 🙂

    Yes, but with some exceptions, like for example NDEs and mystical experiences.

    It always comes back to parapsychology, sure. ID rests on the truth of parapsychological claims, which is fine, except that disclaimer needs to be made a bit more obvious 🙂

    I don’t follow your logic. Do you know that conscious representations happen “outside of time and space”? I have no such knowledge.

    You misunderstand the point here, which is about God. Feser and Dembski believe that the Intelligent Designer of life is God, conceived as transcending spacetime. But that sort of being could not be said to have conscious intent that is temporally prior to physical implementation of design.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  78. 78
    RDFish says:

    Hi Zachriel,

    It would be more like saying Newtonian mechanics explains the movements of the planets, which it largely does even in the case of Mercury (and is almost correct even as to its precession!).

    Rather than argue about astronomical analogies, let me be more clear: There is no evidence that random mutation and natural selection has the ability to produce any of the complex mechanisms we observe in biology. It is not a valid first-order approximation.

    Genetic algorithms cannot be shown to generate similar designs. You suggest that they could, if they had combinatorial resources on the scale of biological evolution on Earth. But that is the very question of course! I think that this is not the case (which is why research on learning algorithms continues), and you think that it is the case. Until there is a formal analysis that estimates the combinatorial resources that were available and why we think those would be sufficient, the claim that RM&NS is largely responsible for biological complexity is an unsupported hypothesis. If you know of such an analysis please cite it – I would read it with great interest.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  79. 79
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    I’ll continue to debate “ID Theory” as it is presented in published materials, rather than by anonymous internet debaters like us

    It is clear that all you do is misrepresent what is presented in published materials.

    (it always requires CSI to produce CSI).

    That is what all observations and experiences demonstrate. We don’t understand your issue with that. Please explain.

    You misunderstand the point here, which is about God. Feser and Dembski believe that the Intelligent Designer of life is God, conceived as transcending spacetime. But that sort of being could not be said to have conscious intent that is temporally prior to physical implementation of design.

    You are missing the argument and evidence to support your claim.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  80. 80
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    Well, nobody can say I didn’t try.

    I know the feeling. Trying to get through to you is a wasted effort.

    Still, I hold up my part of the bargain, since I for one have nothing to fear.

    You have nothing to fear because you have nothing to lose. You can just fling your diatribe and trope because there aren’t any repercussions.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  81. 81

    RD, when you attacked the concept of a discontinuity in the operation of the music box, it wasn’t its origin that was in question. (I think we all know where music boxes come from).

    There is always a physicochemical discontinuity between a representation and its effect in a semiotic system. The discontinuity is what defines the system, and enables it to produce the types and range of effects that it is able to produce. For instance, “play middle-C now” is not an effect that can be derived from brass, yet a brass object very easily evokes it into being within a physically-determined system. This should have been obvious to you, but even if it wasn’t, you could have read the material and brought yourself into a state of being informed. It’s much more genuine than screaming “crackpottery!” into the combox. The issue is about contingent organization. And since semiotic systems are organized around a necessary discontinuity, their operation cannot be reduced to physicality. This little tidbit of information is more than a half century old now.

  82. 82
    Virgil Cain says:

    There is a discontinuity between what we say and what RDFish processes. 😉

  83. 83

    at least part of your comical confusion about semiotic systems

    Now you want to re-position yourself as a titan on semiotic concepts? Okay, well I’m no expert, but let’s give you a try:

    1) Why does a semiotic system require a discontinuity in its operation? What is lost otherwise?

    2) What effect does spatial-orientation have on the information-bearing capacity of a representation?

    3) What special constraints are required of a semiotic system in order to enable open-ended memory?

    4) What are the four instances of physicochemical arbitrariness that are required for you to read and understand this text?

  84. 84
    gpuccio says:

    RDFish:

    Thank you for your comments. Just a couple of notes:

    I like “anonymous internet debaters like us”. 🙂

    I can’t see why you label NDEs and mystical experiences as “parapsychology”.

    NDEs are a well established range of phenomena, scientifically studied. They have nothing to do with parapsychology.

    Mystical experiences are a constant part of human experience and of human cultures throughout history. Bertrand Russel, just as an example, discusses them very seriously and with some respect in his book “Religion and Science”. I don’t think that labeling them as “parapsychology” is appropriate.

    Not that I have anything against parapsychology: but I believe that the term applies to other kinds of things.

  85. 85
    gpuccio says:

    Zachriel:

    Artificial selection is design if it starts from a conscious representation of what is to be obtained, and the selection procedures are then juts a way of implementing the result.

    Both consciously guided variation and conscious purposeful artificial selection are forms of design.

  86. 86
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    RD, when you attacked the concept of a discontinuity in the operation of the music box, it wasn’t its origin that was in question. (I think we all know where music boxes come from).

    I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here, but apparently you mean something much more harebrained than I expected. You actually think that given the existence of the physical mechanism of a music box, you believe that some mysterious immaterial something (force? being?) is required in order for the music to play? It’s hard to imagine this is what you think, but it really does appear so from what you’ve said.

    Where, pray tell, does this immaterial cause come into play when the music box operates? The spring unwinds according to principles understood by metallurgists. The drum rotates, caused solely by the spring tension. The pins strike the reeds in a purely mechanical fashion, and the reeds vibrate, sending of transverse compression waves in the air… voila, we hear “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or some such. Where exactly does this discontinuity occur which requires an immaterial effect, given the existence of the physical mechanism of the music box?.

    For instance, “play middle-C now” is not an effect that can be derived from brass…

    Right. We cannot trace the mapping of the pin position to the particular note “middle-C” according to any known principle of physical causation; that mapping is the result of a human being’s decision (which may or may not transcend physical cause – we don’t know).

    …yet a brass object very easily evokes it into being within a physically-determined system.

    YES, exactly – once the music box exists, the note is “very easily evoked” as you say, all within a system that is physically caused without remainder!

    This should have been obvious to you,…

    This should be obvious to everyone! There is nothing mysterious about the operation of music box – nothing immaterial need be posited in order to account for music being played by this purely physical device.

    The issue is about contingent organization.

    And now you appear to be reversing your position, again describing the contingency of this mapping between particular pins and particular musical notes. But this has to do with the ORIGIN of the music box, not its OPERATION! Why don’t you understand this?

    And since semiotic systems are organized around a necessary discontinuity, their operation cannot be reduced to physicality.

    AGAIN: Their OPERATION is clearly and purely physical; their origin – their design – may not be (depending on what you believe about the mind/body problem).

    Perhaps you are making the point related to the postmodernist idea of discontinuity, which deals with the context for knowledge? Or you’re talking about how we perceive the 261.6Hz vibrational frequency as “middle C”, or the cultural context for communicating this to each other? Whatever you’re talking about, you have failed to articulate it, and it appears as though you think some mysterious immaterial effects are happening inside music boxes where there really are none.

    Now, as you can see, I am genuinely trying to understand what you might possibly be trying to say regarding some non-physical aspect involved in the operation of machines like music boxes. I’m attempting to see exactly where – if anywhere! – we disagree by asking for clarifications and being as clear as I can myself.

    Why won’t you genuinely attempt to understand the points I’ve made? It certainly appears that you are afraid to, because you fear that your project will be undermined by these issues. Your fear is well-founded, of course, but you should engage the debate anyway.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  87. 87
    RDFish says:

    Hi gpuccio,

    I can’t see why you label NDEs and mystical experiences as “parapsychology”.

    NDEs are a well established range of phenomena, scientifically studied. They have nothing to do with parapsychology.

    NDEs per se say nothing at all about the nature of consciousness, nor the relations between minds and brains, nor anything else of relevance here. The claim that NDEs actually do demonstrate minds operating without brain function, or that people who experience them actually have their consciousness leave their bodies, seeing and hearing things without using their eyes and ears, and so on- these are parapsychological claims that have never (to date) been scientifically validated.

    Mystical experiences are a constant part of human experience and of human cultures throughout history. Bertrand Russel, just as an example, discusses them very seriously and with some respect in his book “Religion and Science”. I don’t think that labeling them as “parapsychology” is appropriate.

    I’m interested in parapsychology and do not consider it to be pseudo-scientific (if pursued in a scientific way of course). I would love to see documented examples of people retrieving information from channels outside of the normal senses – out-of-body experiences, remote viewing, ESP, precognition, and so on. I follow the research and hope people keep investigating. So far, there is no scientifically compelling evidence that any of it is real.

    You’re free to believe that our conscious selves can exist independently of our bodies, although I think that belief flies in the face of a great deal of knowledge we have about minds and bodies. What I object to is the claim that such beliefs are scientifically justified, and can serve as the foundation for a scientific theory of origins.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  88. 88

    You actually think that given the existence of the physical mechanism of a music box, you believe that some mysterious immaterial something (force? being?) is required in order for the music to play?

    I realize you are doing this for effect, driven by a need to be derogatory as possible, but if you knew how stupid this question makes you look, you’d stop asking it.

  89. 89
    Zachriel says:

    RDFish: Rather than argue about astronomical analogies, let me be more clear: There is no evidence that random mutation and natural selection has the ability to produce any of the complex mechanisms we observe in biology. It is not a valid first-order approximation.

    There’s a lot more to the history of life than just “random mutation”, e.g. the endosymbiosis of mitochondria with proto-eukarota.

    RDFish: Genetic algorithms cannot be shown to generate similar designs. You suggest that they could …

    Actually, you were the one who pointed to genetic algorithms as evidence against biological evolution. Computers don’t have near the computational resources. Biological sequences interact with the environment in a complex, non-trivial fashion. Computers can barely fold proteins, much less simulate 10^32 cells each with 10^6 proteins over 10^17 seconds.

    What we can show with genetic algorithms is abstract how genomes incorporate information about the environment, that is, adaptation. What we can’t do is create a comprehensive simulation of biological evolution.

    Like all scientific theories, we discover what we can, even if the rest is left shrouded mystery. What we do know is that life has diversified from common ancestors, largely in a stepwise fashion. We can also show some selectable transitions that have led to complex structures, e.g. exaptation of mammalian ossicles. And we can use these generalizations to make predictions, so with the mammalian middle ear, observations of embryonic development predicted both fossil and molecular evidence. The strength of these predictions implies that our knowledge is better than the null, that is, the Earth’s not flat.

    gpuccio: Artificial selection is design if it starts from a conscious representation of what is to be obtained, and the selection procedures are then juts a way of implementing the result.

    Traditional artificial selection did not envision modern sweet corn or chihuahuas. Until modern times, people selected for preferred traits on a generation-by-generation basis with no *consciousness* of the substantial changes that would occur over thousands of years. Hence, it is not design by your own definition.

  90. 90
    EugeneS says:

    RDFish,

    Speaking about music… Consider two different vinyl records. Both evoke the same type of physical effects in the same way. But one is, say, a record of the 2nd piano concerto by Shostakovich, the other – of the 4th symphony by Prokofiev. When they are played, two different sequences of musical notes are conveyed through the air to your ear in the form of similar sound waves.

    The physics is the same. However, the musical ideas behind them and, consequently, musical codes representing them are different.

    BTW, do you know about the DSCH motif? It is the musical signature of Dmitri Shostakovich. Isn’t it code?

    If everything without remainder reduced to physicalistic causation, they would not be different. Since they are not the same, there is no law-like necessity for them to be the same. Physical necessity gives rise only to redundancy and monotony, which leaves no place for creativity.

  91. 91
    Mung says:

    I hereby claim the rights to the terms “spamiotic system” and “spasmiotic system.”

  92. 92
  93. 93
    RDFish says:

    Upright Biped,
    A normal person would have responded to my post with an explanation of what they thought. You merely dodged, for the 1000th time. You are not a normal person. We’re done, you lose.
    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  94. 94
    RDFish says:

    Hi Zachriel,

    There’s a lot more to the history of life than just “random mutation”, e.g. the endosymbiosis of mitochondria with proto-eukarota.

    Yes of course, which is precisely why I have said to you:
    RDF: I do not believe that it has been satisfactorily demonstrated that known evolutionary mechanisms can produce the systems we observe in biology.
    and
    RDF: “no combination of selection, drift, transfer, or anything else anyone has thought of could find the sorts of intricate functional configurations we see biological systems

    Actually, you were the one who pointed to genetic algorithms as evidence against biological evolution. Computers don’t have near the computational resources.

    Please read again what I said to you:
    RDF: “… in anywhere near the number of trials available on this planet over just billions of years
    and
    Computer simulations should be able to provide evidence that mechanisms of complexity comparable to biological organisms could evolve with the time and populations available; they do not.

    Again, what I’m saying is that we ought to be able to provide an analysis of what GAs could come up with on the scale of terrestrial evolution – not that we can simulate it now. Without that analysis, we’re just saying “Gee, that’s a lot of trials, I’ll bet that GAs could come up with all sorts of complicated machinery!” without actually knowing that it’s true. There are limits to the effectiveness of GAs that I believe apply to biological evolution too, even given the vast laboratory of the entire Earth/biosphere. An experiment that ran on a giant cluster for some months should be able to generate virtual mechanisms reminiscent of, in terms of interactive complexity, what we find in organisms.

    Biological sequences interact with the environment in a complex, non-trivial fashion. Computers can barely fold proteins, much less simulate 10^32 cells each with 10^6 proteins over 10^17 seconds. What we can show with genetic algorithms is abstract how genomes incorporate information about the environment, that is, adaptation. What we can’t do is create a comprehensive simulation of biological evolution.

    You seem to be saying that someday we might learn something new about how cellular biochemistry constrains and affects genetic evolution in ways that are abstracted away in GAs. I fully agree. But that’s quite different from saying we have any idea what those effects are currently. In other words, if biological evolution is, as you imply, significantly enabled by complex, non-trivial interactions with the intracellular (or external!) environment that we do not currently understand, then we simply do not understand biological evolution!

    Although ID critics use this term in inappropriate contexts and I hate it when they do that, I’m afraid you are being guilty of it right now: promissory materialism (or, as gpuccio helpfully relabelled it: promissory reductive naturalism).

    Like all scientific theories, we discover what we can, even if the rest is left shrouded mystery.

    Yes, this part is correct.

    What we do know is that life has diversified from common ancestors, largely in a stepwise fashion.

    Also agreed.

    We can also show some selectable transitions that have led to complex structures, e.g. exaptation of mammalian ossicles. And we can use these generalizations to make predictions, so with the mammalian middle ear, observations of embryonic development predicted both fossil and molecular evidence. The strength of these predictions implies that our knowledge is better than the null, that is, the Earth’s not flat.

    I’m not doubting descent with modification, exaptation of structures, or any other well-established aspect of evolutionary biology. I’m doubting the claim that any combination of known evolutionary mechanisms could result in the existence the sorts of complex form and function we observe in biology in the time and populations available. The claim is possibly true, but not at all clearly true, and shouldn’t be accepted without evidence that it is true.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  95. 95
    RDFish says:

    Hi EugeneS,

    When they are played, two different sequences of musical notes are conveyed through the air to your ear in the form of similar sound waves.

    The sound waves are different, which is why we hear different notes.

    The physics is the same.

    The underlying physics is the same, but the physical system is different. The grooves on the records are different; one records the sounds from one piece, and the other records the sounds from the other piece.

    However, the musical ideas behind them and, consequently, musical codes representing them are different.

    Not the musical codes, but the grooves in the record. They correspond to the sounds in the musical pieces.

    If everything without remainder reduced to physicalistic causation, they would not be different.

    Well, yes they are different, because the grooves on the record are different. If the grooves on the records were the same, then the music would be the same. Nothing but physical causation is involved.

    Since they are not the same, there is no law-like necessity for them to be the same. Physical necessity gives rise only to redundancy and monotony, which leaves no place for creativity.

    You may be right, but you may be wrong, and there is no way to determine the answer presently. This is a very ancient philosophical question, called the mind/body problem.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  96. 96
    EugeneS says:

    No. Of course the grooves are different. But why? Thats the whole point. Because we want them to be different and because nature makes several states corresponding to different grooves available to us. If everything was determined by nature, it would not be the case. We deliberatly choose between the states of the same medium to encode two different tunes by creating the respectively different grooves to exert the respectively different sequences of sounds.

    Id is all about using different states of the medium to extract utility. Nature is inert to utility. It can only make available multiple states. But it is intelligence that charges some states with specific information cargo.

  97. 97
    RDFish says:

    Hi EugeneS,

    No. Of course the grooves are different. But why? Thats the whole point.

    The grooves are different because the musicians played different music when it was being recorded. Why did the musicians play different music? Well, we could keep going back here, but I’m not sure what you’re looking for.

    Because we want them to be different and because nature makes several states corresponding to different grooves available to us.

    I don’t know what you mean about nature making several states available. There are a virtually infinite number of different recordings that can be made on a single vinyl disc using regular record-making technology.

    If everything was determined by nature, it would not be the case.

    I think you’re just declaring your belief in libertarianism here, right? If so, just say so – no need for the stuff about music, right? Yeah, I think that’s what you mean. Anyway, just like the mind/body problem, nobody knows if libertarianism is true or not, even though people have been arguing about it for millenia.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  98. 98
    Mung says:

    RDFish:

    A normal person would have responded to my post with an explanation of what they thought.

    Upright BiPed did respond and tell you what he thought. But you’re right about one thing, a normal person would have begun ignoring you a long time ago.

  99. 99
    Mung says:

    So going back through Upright BiPed’s article, looking for appeals to immaterial causes, I was able to find none.

    Here’s what we did find:

    This arrangement is used to specify the thing being represented within the system, but no material object (regardless of its arrangement) inherently specifies or represents any other material object, so a second arrangement of matter is required to establish what is being specified by the representation. This is a fundamental organizational requirement involving two critical objects, and is required to accomplish what the system can do. It is this architecture that allows nucleic representations to specify amino acid effects in a deterministic material system.

    That’s it. No appeals to immaterial causes in sight

    So much for the straw-man claims of Mr. RDFish.

    So, it is an empirically-substantiated observation that genetic translation is semiotic, and as a matter of organizational necessity, semiosis is an irreducibly complex process.

    Mr. Fish lays an egg.

  100. 100
    gpuccio says:

    Zachriel:

    “Until modern times, people selected for preferred traits on a generation-by-generation basis”

    Then that is design of preferred traits on a generation-by-generation basis.

    It is perfectly possible that acts of design with the purpose of obtaining some result may contribute to different results, in the long run. The unexpected results are not designed, according to my definition, but the desired results are designed.

    It is also possible that acts of design do not obtain the expected results. Design is not always successful in implementing the desired form. It can be unsuccessful, or only partially successful. If I try to draw something, you can be sure that the result will be scarcely recognizable, because I am very bad at it.

    With respect to the design inference, that is not a problem. We infer design from complex functional information, and only successful design can implement complex functional information. Of course, the implementation of the function could not be “optimal” (a concept which has always been very clear in ID theory). What is needed is simply that the function, as observed and defined, require complex enough information to be implemented.

  101. 101

    A normal person would have responded to my post with an explanation of what they thought.

    I’ve already provided a website with a model of translation, (a short read). You can either argue against that model, or you can’t. If you can’t — which was obvious — it doesn’t then become my obligation to fill the void with irrelevant chit chat while you launch insults. You have a fairly ugly reaction when people don’t provide you grist for the mill, but I have no reason to participate in your defense.

  102. 102
    Mapou says:

    gpuccio:

    I still have difficulties in understanding how “perception” can be applied to a non conscious system, but certainly you can redefine that word too, if you like. There is no limit to redefining words so that they mean something different.

    There is conscious perception and there is unconscious perception. Most of the movements that you make to maintain posture are done automatically by the cerebellum and are completely unconscious. The cerebellum needs to unconsciously perceive the environment through the normal sensory channels.

    Unconscious perception is all that intelligence needs. It simply means that sensory signals are used by the cortex to form internal representations of external objects. These representations can be used for prediction and behavior. It is purely mechanical. Consciousness is only needed when a free will choice is required. Intelligence does not need consciousness. This is the reason that highly intelligent machines are just around the corner. Robots on your doorsteps.

  103. 103
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    Your point vis-a-vis semiotics is to show that biological systems are irreducibly complex. I have already told you that I have always said that biological systems are IC. Why would I want to argue against that?

    You refuse to discuss my claims here, which are that your work is irrelevant and meaningless, due to your failure to do two things in the context of ID: (1) Explain what “design” means, and (2) Provide empirical evidence of it.

    GPuccio tried to do this, but ended up citing parapsychology and his own intuitions about consciousness and intelligence. He thus revealed that ID (including whatever your arguments are) depends on assumptions that cannot be empirically substantiated.

    You, however, won’t even try. You lose by default.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  104. 104

    You refuse to discuss my claims here, which are that your work is irrelevant and meaningless

    You routinely seek to increase your importance with these types of statements. Perhaps fewer attempts would be more indicative of reality, and a higher success ratio would likely make you a less unattractive figure. You could begin by limiting your claims to relevant issues.

    due to your failure to do two things in the context of ID: (1) Explain what “design” means

    This is a prime example of being irrelevant. It is also worth noting that you’ve cast the meaning of this word as a central figure in your objection (making it fifty percent of your counter argument).

    I have not used design as a metric for anything. My website is called Biosemiosis.org, and its goal is to demonstrate what semiosis is, how it works, and how it is recognized inside the cell. As a part of that effort, I have used the word intelligence in relation to a specific type of semiotic system, and have provided an operational definition of the term based on one of its empirical correlates (the use of recorded language and mathematics).

    (2) Provide empirical evidence of it.

    Dimensional semiotic memory. (i.e the use of representations that have a spatial orientation, are independent of the minimum total potential energy principle, and require a secondary set of constraints in order to function)

    I also caution people to learn what the evidence is, and maintain a discipline as to what can and cannot be said from that evidence.

  105. 105
    gpuccio says:

    Mapou:

    I have no difficulties in admitting unconscious algorithms in the brain. I would not call those things you describe “perceptions”, because nobody perceives anything. Physical representations of objects would be more appropriate. However, words are not a problem, provided that we clarify how we use them.

    Where we definitely don’t agree is about intelligence. You say:

    “Consciousness is only needed when a free will choice is required. Intelligence does not need consciousness.”

    I definitely disagree. A “free will choice”, in my view, is necessary both for cognition and outer action. Our conscious reactions to what we consciously represent have cognitive value, and determine our cognitive processes.

    As I have said many times, that explains why conscious agents can generate tons of new original dFSCI, while algorithmic machines, however complex, cannot.

    I hope that, on that point, we can agree to disagree.

  106. 106
    gpuccio says:

    RDFish:

    Up to now, you had been honest enough in your discussion with me on this thread. But now you are being completely unfair.

    You say to UB:

    You refuse to discuss my claims here, which are that your work is irrelevant and meaningless, due to your failure to do two things in the context of ID: (1) Explain what “design” means, and (2) Provide empirical evidence of it.

    GPuccio tried to do this, but ended up citing parapsychology and his own intuitions about consciousness and intelligence. He thus revealed that ID (including whatever your arguments are) depends on assumptions that cannot be empirically substantiated.

    Well, that is not true. I gave my definition of design, and you admitted that it was clear. In no way the definition relied on parapsychology or my intuitions. Those aspects were part of a different discussion, and in no way were necessary for the definition.

    Your only objection to my definition was that Dembski thinks differently, and that I am only an “anonymous internet debater”, probably not worth of your interest, and that you prefer to “debate “ID Theory” as it is presented in published materials”. IOWs, my definition is clear, but you prefer to criticize Dembski’s (for not being clear, I suppose).

    Your choice. However, you cannot deny that that has nothing to do with parapsychology or personal intuitions. My definition is clear, objective and perfectly shareable.

  107. 107
    EugeneS says:

    RDFish,

    You are not seeing the wood for the trees.

    All I am saying is, we can voluntarily assign to two distinct indifferent equilibrium states two different utility values and choose between them based on it. That’s it. That is the essence of decision making.

    Intelligence can do it, nature can’t simply because to it, the two equilibrium states are indeed indifferent and it cannot differentiate. It is only intelligent agents who can. Nature cannot choose between states that are indistinguishable to it.

    The fork on the road does not equate the choice to follow down one route and not the other. It is the map vs. territory type of distinction.

    The same physical forces act on an electric switch in either ON or OFF position. It is intelligence and only intelligence that can differentiate between the two positions. How? Again, based on utility. The ON position corresponds to light coming from the bulb, OFF – otherwise. Nature does not care whether electric current flows or not through the wire. All it can do is make sure it can flow.

    Decision making utilizes physicality but cannot be reduced to it simply because it is based on non-physical utility.

    You must be kidding me. You do AI yourself. Is that really that hard to grasp? 🙂

  108. 108
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    You refuse to discuss my claims here, which are that your work is irrelevant and meaningless, due to your failure to do two things in the context of ID: (1) Explain what “design” means, and (2) Provide empirical evidence of it.

    That has already been done. Your willful ignorance is neither an argument nor a refutation.

  109. 109
    Zachriel says:

    gpuccio: Then that is design of preferred traits on a generation-by-generation basis.

    There was no conscious expectation of transforming a species, nor was any knowledge of how genes and proteins work required.

    gpuccio: We infer design from complex functional information, and only successful design can implement complex functional information.

    Selection for immediate function can result in novel functional information within the organism, while complexity can be built over time.

    For instance, if we take random peptides and select for a specified function (e.g. ATP binding), we can find and then optimize that function. We don’t have to know what the molecule looks like, or how it works. We don’t even have to know the structure of ATP. The process can be mechanical, or can even be a part of everyday biology. But it turns out that the peptide forms a complex, highly-specified three-dimensional structure which was never in the conscious mind.

  110. 110
    gpuccio says:

    Zachriel:

    It is still design. The designer consciously represents the property he wants to implement (ATP binding). Then, as he does not know the exact molecular form which will implement the property, he uses indirect implementation. To do that, he consciously represents strategies to reach the property, like generating a random library of peptides, selecting molecules which already have some weak binding to ATP, then mutating and selecting them in rounds, and so on.

    It’s design all the way. The designer conceives purposes, and outputs strategies which he has consciously devised. Of course, the strategies can use, and do use in this case, random variation as a tool. There is nothing strange in that. Artists do the same, many times.

    The point is: design starts from conscious representations, and outputs to material objects specific forms from those representations. In the case of ATP binding, the designer does not design the molecule directly: he designs the strategy to obtain it.

    Please, note how the first and most important moment in design is the initial desire, the representation of a purposeful result. IOWs, the designer starts with a specification.

  111. 111
    Virgil Cain says:

    There was no conscious expectation of transforming a species, nor was any knowledge of how genes and proteins work required.

    There was conscious intervention and that is all that is required.

    Selection for immediate function can result in novel functional information within the organism, while complexity can be built over time.

    Selection implies intelligence whereas mere elimination does not. Natural selection is mere elimination and mere elimination is not a creative process.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  112. 112
    Zachriel says:

    RDFish: Computer simulations should be able to provide evidence that mechanisms of complexity comparable to biological organisms could evolve with the time and populations available; they do not.

    While computer simulations can give us some general knowledge of evolutionary processes, they certainly can’t provide a direct simulation of evolutionary biology.

    For instance, a particular sequences codes for a protein. A change occurs which causes a change in the shape of the protein. However, a computer can’t predict what that change will be, and can barely fold simple proteins, much less simulate all the interactions involved in a typical cell.

    RDFish: Again, what I’m saying is that we ought to be able to provide an analysis of what GAs could come up with on the scale of terrestrial evolution – not that we can simulate it now.

    The gap is far too large. The best genetic algorithms can do is allow us to test for broad generalities concerning evolutionary processes in the abstract, and sometimes solves specific and limited problems.

    RDFish: Without that analysis, we’re just saying “Gee, that’s a lot of trials, I’ll bet that GAs could come up with all sorts of complicated machinery!” without actually knowing that it’s true.

    Sounds like you have a hammer. The primary evidence for evolution is not found in genetic algorithms.

    RDFish: An experiment that ran on a giant cluster for some months should be able to generate virtual mechanisms reminiscent of, in terms of interactive complexity, what we find in organisms.

    You are making the claim that the limitations of current day artificial genetic algorithms apply to biological evolution. To make a mathematical argument, which is what you are essentially doing, you would have to make the claim much more specific and testable. It isn’t sufficient to just say, well, my genetic algorithm doesn’t do what I think it should do.

    RDFish: In other words, if biological evolution is, as you imply, significantly enabled by complex, non-trivial interactions with the intracellular (or external!) environment that we do not currently understand, then we simply do not understand biological evolution!

    Just because we don’t know everything doesn’t mean we don’t know anything. Darwin had no idea about molecular genetics, but still proposed a testable theory of evolution. Many of Darwin’s proposals still form the basis for modern evolutionary biology.

    For instance, we don’t have to know how a bacterium resists antibiotics to know that the function is heritable and selectable.

    Zachriel: What we do know is that life has diversified from common ancestors, largely in a stepwise fashion.

    RDFish: Also agreed.

    So we do know at least something about evolution! So we’re back to the relativity of wrong. Life didn’t just pop into existence in seven days, but diversified from common ancestors, largely in a stepwise fashion.

    There are many things unknown about evolutionary history. There are undoubtedly mechanisms of which evolutionary biologists are only dimly aware. The origin of the metazoan toolbox is certainly something that has been of great scientific interest. Uncovering life’s history is certainly going to involve surprises. That’s the nature of historical research. Nonetheless, the current theory is strongly explanatory and predictive. Returning to your original statement:

    RDFish: we all (you, me, and UB anyway) agree that reductionist naturalism, as you define it here, is incapable of explaining how biological systems came to exist

    If you want to say there are mysteries to be uncovered, well, sure. But your claim was much stronger, that the known laws of physics (“reductionist naturalism”) are incapable of explaining how biological systems came to exist. We do have explanations, that, while incomplete, are strongly supported. There is no indication that some new law of physics is required.

  113. 113
    Zachriel says:

    gpuccio: The designer consciously represents the property he wants to implement (ATP binding).

    Enzymatic binding occurs naturally, and selection for binding can and does occur in nature.

    gpuccio: The point is: design starts from conscious representations, and outputs to material objects specific forms from those representations.

    There is no conscious representation of form, even with artificial selection. The selection is only for function. It’s an amazing facet of selection, whether natural or artificial, that such a simple process can result in a highly specified, complex structure.

  114. 114
    Mung says:

    I also caution people to learn what the evidence is, and maintain a discipline as to what can and cannot be said from that evidence.

    I cannot adequately express my deep displeasure at failing to find a THEREFORE GOD at the end of your article. Perhaps that’s what has RDFish in such a frenzy.

    Fish Frenzy

  115. 115
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    You routinely seek to increase your importance with these types of statements. Perhaps fewer attempts would be more indicative of reality, and a higher success ratio would likely make you a less unattractive figure. You could begin by limiting your claims to relevant issues.

    It is riotously funny when I’m chastised for brash and uncivil behavior on this blog! The irony meter is pegged at maximum here.

    RDF: (1) Explain what “design” means
    UB:This is a prime example of being irrelevant.

    You truly are a laugh a minute. This is from your own link in the OP:

    This is particularly true of those who are preconditioned to deny any observation of design in biology, as well as those who have no curiosity about the evidence of design already presented.

    Irrelevant? You are so funny.

    It is also worth noting that you’ve cast the meaning of this word as a central figure in your objection (making it fifty percent of your counter argument).

    Another howler. I asked you two questions… I have many, many more arguments than that of course.

    As a part of that effort, I have used the word intelligence in relation to a specific type of semiotic system, and have provided an operational definition of the term based on one of its empirical correlates (the use of recorded language and mathematics).

    OK, good! This is a real step forward. You are claiming that the cause of living things had mental abilities including (1) the use of a language (a general purpose language like human languages? or just a formal special-purpose code like DNA?) and (2) mathematics (do you mean the ability to solve novel, arbitrary problems, like a human? or what?).

    Dimensional semiotic memory. (i.e the use of representations that have a spatial orientation, are independent of the minimum total potential energy principle, and require a secondary set of constraints in order to function)

    You are describing what you find in the cell, and then attempting to generalize to what sort of mental abilities would be required to produce those things. That’s good! And I won’t argue with inferring that whatever caused living cells to exist could be said to have “semiotic memory”. (Even evolutionary processes have memory and learning mechanisms)

    I’m going to be away for a day. Now that you have actually attempted to respond with relevant points to my questions, I think we actually might be able to make progress here. Think about the precise claims you are making regarding the abilities of the cause of living things, and then we can argue about which of those claims are supported by the evidence.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  116. 116
    RDFish says:

    Hi gpuccio,

    I gave my definition of design, and you admitted that it was clear.

    That’s correct.

    In no way the definition relied on parapsychology or my intuitions.

    Yes, that’s right also. It was not the definition that relied on those things, it was the evidence that human intelligence (and the cause of living systems) actually accord with your definition.

    Your only objection to my definition…

    I have no objection at all to your definition. I think, in fact, that it is the best definition of “intelligence” or “design” for the context of ID. Consciousness is really what people are talking about here, whether or not they admit it. You admit it – bravo!

    So the definition, I think, is just right. I’m just pointing out that there is no good reason to believe that the cause of life was conscious, and some reason to believe it wasn’t.

    …Dembski thinks differently, and that I am only an “anonymous internet debater”, probably not worth of your interest,

    Now it is you who is being unfair, of course. First, I never said that you weren’t worth my interest – I included myself as an “anonymous internet debater” too of course! I simply said that everyone has their own opinions, and I’m interested in debating the ID Theory that is being published and marketed to the public.

    IOWs, my definition is clear, but you prefer to criticize Dembski’s (for not being clear, I suppose).

    Nonsense. Again, your definition is perfect. Dembski does not think there is evidence to support the claim that the Designer was conscious, and you do.

    Your choice. However, you cannot deny that that has nothing to do with parapsychology or personal intuitions. My definition is clear, objective and perfectly shareable.

    Your evidence for consciousness as something causal that can exist independently of a complex brain and body is based on your intuitions and on parapsychology (like veridical out of body experiences in NDEs, for example).

    (I’ll be away for a day)

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  117. 117
    RDFish says:

    Hi Zachriel,

    Your response deserves some time which I won’t have until tomorrow evening. I’m enjoying our discussion – again, nobody here has (unsurprisingly) even challenged my skepticism of evolutionary theory, and I want you to do your best to change my mind!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  118. 118
    Virgil Cain says:

    Life didn’t just pop into existence in seven days, but diversified from common ancestors, largely in a stepwise fashion.

    Baraminology says that today’s life diversified from common ancestors, largely in a stepwise fashion.

    Nonetheless, the current theory is strongly explanatory and predictive.

    There isn’t any current theory. And natural selection. drift and neutral evolution don’t have any explanatory nor predictive powers.

    . But your claim was much stronger, that the known laws of physics (“reductionist naturalism”) are incapable of explaining how biological systems came to exist.

    I second that claim.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  119. 119
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish!

    I’m just pointing out that there is no good reason to believe that the cause of life was conscious, and some reason to believe it wasn’t.

    Codes require planning. Planning requires consciousness. The whole setup of biology plus the systems required to sustain it require planning.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  120. 120
    Virgil Cain says:

    There is no conscious representation of form, even with artificial selection. The selection is only for function.

    And when form and function are one in the same, as is the case with many dog breeds for example, what then?

  121. 121
    Zachriel says:

    RDFish: I want you to do your best to change my mind!

    This is the Internet! You’re not allowed to change your mind!

  122. 122
    Mapou says:

    Fish:

    I’m just pointing out that there is no good reason to believe that the cause of life was conscious, and some reason to believe it wasn’t.

    That’s a laugh. There is a rock solid reason to believe that life required consciousness. It is very simple:

    The combinatorial explosion kills every stochastic search mechanism dead before it’s even born.

    Having said that, let me add some controversy. There is no doubt in my mind that life came first and intelligence, second. I am not speaking of life on earth here but the first life and first intelligence in the universe. Yes, even God (the ancient of time) has a beginning. One does not become ancient unless one used to be young.

    All that is required for life to emerge are enough non-stochastic search mechanisms. Things like beauty are non-physical or abstract concepts, which therefore reside in the spiritual realm. One can imagine a bunch of creative spiritual mechanisms in search of beauty. Eventually, very interesting things would emerge from this kind of non-stochastic search, including life and intelligence. God essentially “self-booted”, to borrow a term from computer science.

  123. 123
    gpuccio says:

    Zachriel:

    Enzymatic binding occurs naturally, and selection for binding can and does occur in nature.

    You are changing the discussion, as you often do.

    I was simply commenting about this statement of yours:

    “For instance, if we take random peptides and select for a specified function (e.g. ATP binding), we can find and then optimize that function. We don’t have to know what the molecule looks like, or how it works. We don’t even have to know the structure of ATP. The process can be mechanical, or can even be a part of everyday biology. But it turns out that the peptide forms a complex, highly-specified three-dimensional structure which was never in the conscious mind.”

    and I was showing that it refers to a design process.

    Then you say:

    There is no conscious representation of form, even with artificial selection. The selection is only for function.

    Function is form. The designer represents in his consciousness some object that can be used to do some specific thing. That is form.

    Sometimes the designer already knows the form to be implemented into the object. Other times he can only represent the final function, and the process/strategy which can find the information to implement it effectively. That is form, too. The process of design always starts with conscious formal representations.

    You say:

    It’s an amazing facet of selection, whether natural or artificial, that such a simple process can result in a highly specified, complex structure.

    It’s a not too amazing facet of artificial selection that such process, being under all respects a design process, can result in a highly specified, complex structure (dFSCI).

    It’s a not too amazing facet of natural selection that such a simple process, being not a design process, cannot result in a highly specified, complex structure (dFSCI).

  124. 124
    gpuccio says:

    RDFish:

    Thank you for saying things correctly, now. I appreciate it.

    Be sure, I have no objections to being labeled (with yourself) an “anonymous internet debater”: I appreciate that and am proud of that. My comment: “probably not worth of your interest”, was ironic, and referred to the way you used that statement essentially to “evade” the discussion.

    I appreciate when you discuss frankly, a little bit less when you play tricks. IMO, your post #103 was such a trick, and I naturally reacted to it.

    Indeed, when you say:

    “GPuccio tried to do this, but ended up citing parapsychology and his own intuitions about consciousness and intelligence. He thus revealed that ID (including whatever your arguments are) depends on assumptions that cannot be empirically substantiated.”

    (emphasis mine)

    you are clearly suggesting that I tried to give the definition, but I did not succeed and I ended up with those strange arguments to support my failed definition.

    That is not true, as you well know, and I am happy that you admitted it in your post #116. That is sincerely appreciated.

  125. 125
    EugeneS says:

    I agree with GP. Using heuristics is a way of design. At least it is the case with human design (design with incomplete knowledge).

    Evolutionism tremendously fails to account for telic processes by means of combinations of non-telic factors. It makes no difference whether the acquisition of function is sudden or gradual.

    Natural phenomena (natural selection included) cannot account for genuine functional organisation and symbolic control (as opposed to mere sorting).

  126. 126
    gpuccio says:

    EugeneS:

    It seems that we do agree! 🙂

  127. 127
    gpuccio says:

    To all:

    I was going to make some comments about NS and AS, but then I thought it was worthwhile to expand the discussion a little, and so I have prepared an instant post and have just published it. Here it is:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....selection/

    Everyone is welcome to the discussion.

  128. 128
    Zachriel says:

    gpuccio: You are changing the discussion, as you often do.

    It’s the same discussion. Artificial or natural selection for function can result in the same complex functional structures that were never held in any conscious mind.

    gpuccio: I was showing that it refers to a design process.

    Not, per your definition, if the structure was never held in a conscious mind.

    gpuccio: Function is form.

    The form we’re referring to is the highly specific three-dimensional structure.

  129. 129
    Virgil Cain says:

    Artificial or natural selection for function can result in the same complex functional structures that were never held in any conscious mind.

    There isn’t any evidence that natural selection can result in any complex functional structure.

  130. 130
    Mung says:

    Anyone else here who isn’t a cowardly troll want to take a shot at what it means to specify middle c?

  131. 131
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish- could you please explain the following:

    (Even evolutionary processes have memory and learning mechanisms)

    The debate includes whether or not evolutionary processes occur by design or if they are just happenstance occurrences, ie genetic accidents, errors and mistakes. What evolutionary processes are you talking about that have memory and learning mechanisms? Please be specific.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  132. 132
    Virgil Cain says:

    Anyone else here who isn’t a cowardly troll want to take a shot at what it means to specify middle c?

    It means you are taking piano lessons and the teacher is quizzing you. 😎

  133. 133
    RDFish says:

    Hi Zachriel,

    This is the Internet! You’re not allowed to change your mind!

    Hahahahahahahaha!

    Just for the record, I do truly love when I find that my beliefs about these sorts of things are well challenged or even shown to be wrong. It’s exciting, and it lets me know my mind isn’t completely hobbled by confirmation biases. When I learned some evolutionary theory as an undergraduate I was entralled, but after decades of research into AI and especially machine learning, I came to doubt that the primary Darwinian mechanism could find so many structures that are analogous to near-global optima – it seems Darwinian evolution should settle on forms much less intricately adapted.

    While computer simulations can give us some general knowledge of evolutionary processes, they certainly can’t provide a direct simulation of evolutionary biology.

    Simulations are never direct. They are always abstractions that elide some portion of reality. The point is to model the essentials of the process – the aspects that are sufficient to produce the phenomena under study. Given the limits of GAs, it would seem Darwinian evolution is not sufficient. You’re arguing that other things besides RM&NS must be included in the simulation in order to see the assembly of complex biological machinery – and I agree with you. Where we disagree is that I believe this means the following statement is true: Currently, evolutionary theory cannot account for the complex form and function found in biology.

    For instance, a particular sequences codes for a protein. A change occurs which causes a change in the shape of the protein. However, a computer can’t predict what that change will be, and can barely fold simple proteins, much less simulate all the interactions involved in a typical cell.

    You point out below that “Darwin had no idea about molecular genetics, but still proposed a testable theory of evolution.” So, your claim really is that just Darwin’s bare random variation + natural selection should be testable, without involving biochemistry. The tests you are referring to are predictions that would be true if some sort of descent with modification was true. They are not, however, tests of the truth of this statement: “Darwinian evolution largely accounts for the complex form and function we see in biology”.

    You are making the claim that the limitations of current day artificial genetic algorithms apply to biological evolution.

    Actually my claim is that since it is plausible that they do, it behooves us to show that these limits do not apply in biological evolution.

    To make a mathematical argument, which is what you are essentially doing, you would have to make the claim much more specific and testable. It isn’t sufficient to just say, well, my genetic algorithm doesn’t do what I think it should do.

    First, again, the burden is on evolutionary theory to show it is up to the task, especially because of the limits we observe in GAs. Second, I was obviously not myself making a mathematical argument; I was advocating for an attempt at a formal analysis to demonstrate that RV+NS can find intricate solutions. I think such an analysis would be very difficult and take a long time, but I think without it, nobody should have much confidence that RV+NS can begin to do anything of the sort.

    Returning to your original statement:
    RDFish: we all (you, me, and UB anyway) agree that reductionist naturalism, as you define it here, is incapable of explaining how biological systems came to exist
    Zachriel: If you want to say there are mysteries to be uncovered, well, sure. But your claim was much stronger, that the known laws of physics (“reductionist naturalism”) are incapable of explaining how biological systems came to exist. We do have explanations, that, while incomplete, are strongly supported. There is no indication that some new law of physics is required.

    You’re right here. That belief of mine has no empirical support; it is merely my own intuition. What I should have said is ” we all (you, me, and UB anyway) agree that reductionist naturalism, as you define it here, is currently incapable of explaining how biological systems came to exist”

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  134. 134

    ???

    Has RDF abandoned the attack?

  135. 135
    Zachriel says:

    RDFish: I came to doubt that the primary Darwinian mechanism could find so many structures that are analogous to near-global optima – it seems Darwinian evolution should settle on forms much less intricately adapted.

    Large, disparate populations, along with recombination, tend to avoid local peaks in evolutionary algorithms.

    RDFish: Simulations are never direct. They are always abstractions that elide some portion of reality.

    That’s right. So you have to be careful when generalizing. Genetic algorithms are currently highly abstracted. They model evolutionary processes as a mathematical concept, but not biological evolution.

    For instance, in biological evolution, a sequence is converted into a physical form that may be capable of folding into a complex three-dimensional shape. This structure then interacts in non-trivial ways with the environment. And that’s just a single protein!

    RDFish: Given the limits of GAs, it would seem Darwinian evolution is not sufficient.

    What limits are those?

    RDFish: So, your claim really is that just Darwin’s bare random variation + natural selection should be testable, without involving biochemistry.

    It is testable. It doesn’t explain everything, of course. No theory does.

    RDFish: Actually my claim is that since it is plausible that they do, it behooves us to show that these limits do not apply in biological evolution.

    The limitations we pointed out were computational differences, so that question has already been answered.

    RDFish: I was advocating for an attempt at a formal analysis to demonstrate that RV+NS can find intricate solutions.

    There are a variety evolutionary algorithms that produce intricate solutions.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolved_antenna

    RDFish: I think such an analysis would be very difficult and take a long time, but I think without it, nobody should have much confidence that RV+NS can begin to do anything of the sort.

    There is substantial evidence for evolutionary adaptation independent of computer modeling. Evolution needs to be consistent with what is discovered through computer modeling, but we don’t simply discard all the evidence we do have because of limitations in our computer models. However, it could represent a falsification, but that would require a much more precise formulation.

    RDFish: That belief of mine has no empirical support; it is merely my own intuition.

    Intuition can guide research, but doesn’t substitute for evidence.

    Consider a now standard experiment. Take a number of random amino acid sequences. Subject them to rounds of mutagenation and selection for a specified function. The result is a highly-specified, complex, irreducible structure. This can’t be modeled well by computer, but clearly represents the evolution of an intricate structure.

    This alone refutes your position about the capabilities of evolution to produce such intricate structures. If your evolutionary algorithm can’t do this, then it is obvious the fault is with your evolutionary algorithm.

  136. 136
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel is a person who uses many words to say absolutely nothing.

  137. 137
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    I’m not attacking anybody, I’m attempting (as always) to engage you in a discussion of what it is you think you have shown. You have apparently realized, at long last, that it is not your argument about semiotics or irreducible complexity in biology that I have ever disagreed with, but rather what you think the import of those things are and what conclusions can be drawn from them. You have made some progress along these lines by claiming that whatever might be the cause of living systems would necessarily need “dimensional semiotic memory”. As far as I can tell, what that means is “able to produce semiotic systems such as we see in cellular protein synthesis”. Is that it? Is that what you conclude? Anything else?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  138. 138
    RDFish says:

    Hi Zachriel,

    The well-known antenna optimization reminds me of the toy problems we used to tout in the ’80s as evidence that rule-based “expert systems” were poised to capture human expertise and replace doctors, lawyers, engineers, and so on. Needless to say, we were a bit overly optimistic. Today a GA designed a new way to bend a wire; tomorrow it will design the spaceship!

    We’re not arguing about “evolutionary adaptation”, but rather about the highly intricate, multi-component mechanisms we observe in organisms. Of course large populations and crossovers can help a bit with local optima, but saying these things will “tend to avoid” them is wishful thinking – there is just so much that can be assembled that way, which is why GAs come up with optimizations and not novel mechanisms. The important point, though, is not to argue about this in the abstract, because there is no way to demonstrate (yet) whether or not the combinatorial resources were sufficient or not. Only empirical demonstrations in combination with formal analysis will settle the matter, and nobody should claim the problem is largely solved yet – any more than AI folks should declare that the matter of artificial general intelligence has been largely solved, and we just need some bigger computers and tweaked algorithms.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  139. 139
    mike1962 says:

    Virgil Cain: Zachriel is a person who uses many words to say absolutely nothing.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcclnbZs4LM

  140. 140

    RD, If you have read my site, then please tell me what words or concepts you do not understand. If on the other hand, you do understand the words and concepts, then you have the material you need to make your case.

  141. 141
    mike1962 says:

    RDFish: We’re not arguing about “evolutionary adaptation”, but rather about the highly intricate, multi-component mechanisms we observe in organisms.

    Indeed. Can algorithms be constructed that provide proof of concept of interrelated, parallel, multi-path, blind, incremental development of n-order functional complexity? For example, the physical properties of a bird wing, with all of its specialization evolution in parallel with the neurological hardware (neurons and supporting structures in the right places) and software (algorithms for flight and muscular control implemented by particular neurological connections.)

    We may not be able to program simulations that yield precisely this construction, but if we were able to devise algorithms with no foresight that generate this level of interrelated functional complexity by incremental steps, it would go far to proving the concept. So far nothing close to this been simulated. There are more mysteries than there are answers at this point. Promissory notes and imagination are not evidence.

  142. 142
    Mapou says:

    Fish:

    Hi Zachriel,

    The well-known antenna optimization reminds me of the toy problems we used to tout in the ’80s as evidence that rule-based “expert systems” were poised to capture human expertise and replace doctors, lawyers, engineers, and so on. Needless to say, we were a bit overly optimistic. Today a GA designed a new way to bend a wire; tomorrow it will design the spaceship!

    We’re not arguing about “evolutionary adaptation”, but rather about the highly intricate, multi-component mechanisms we observe in organisms. Of course large populations and crossovers can help a bit with local optima, but saying these things will “tend to avoid” them is wishful thinking – there is just so much that can be assembled that way, which is why GAs come up with optimizations and not novel mechanisms. The important point, though, is not to argue about this in the abstract, because there is no way to demonstrate (yet) whether or not the combinatorial resources were sufficient or not. Only empirical demonstrations in combination with formal analysis will settle the matter, and nobody should claim the problem is largely solved yet – any more than AI folks should declare that the matter of artificial general intelligence has been largely solved, and we just need some bigger computers and tweaked algorithms.

    Wow. RDFish is moving dangerously close to accepting the designer hypothesis (i.e., life requires consciousness) but he’s speaking to Zachriel, a sociopathic jackass and a troll.

    The truth is that RM+NS, the Darwinist search mechanism, is purely stochastic and as such, suffers from the same fatal disease that kills all stochastic search mechanisms: the combinatorial explosion kills them dead before they are born.

    Using random search to accomplish anything more than just simple toy applications is a fool’s errand, a moron’s gamble. Darwinists are SOOOO stupid, it hurts when I think about it.

  143. 143
    Mung says:

    Mapou: it hurts when I think about it.

    Then for goodness’ sake man, stop thinking about it!

  144. 144
    Mapou says:

    Mung,

    Thanks for the advice but I can’t. The stupidity is in my face every time I come here. It’s everywhere I go.

    Next advice.

  145. 145
    Mung says:

    I’m beginning to think those hermits were on to something.

  146. 146
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    You said the conclusion of your work was that whatever might have been the cause of protein synthesis must have had “dimensional semiotic memory”. I asked if you could make any other conclusions, but (as usual) you failed to respond. Unless you’d like to add something else, then I think we’re done here.

    You’ve gone to a great deal of trouble and your result has nothing to do claims about any sort of general intelligence at all, but rather is limited to saying this bit about “dimensional semiotic memory”. It’s simply dishonest to use general words like “design” and “intelligence” in your claims when you’re talking about something very different from what those words typically connote.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  147. 147
    RDFish says:

    Hi Mapou,

    Wow. RDFish is moving dangerously close to accepting the designer hypothesis (i.e., life requires consciousness)

    HUH? Why in the world would you say that – I haven’t moved one iota in that direction, of course, because there isn’t a shred of evidence for it. I deny that evolutionary theory accounts for biological complexity, but that doesn’t lend any credence whatsoever to the notion that some conscious being thought up designs for all us creatures and built us somehow!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  148. 148

    You said the conclusion of your work was that whatever might have been the cause of protein synthesis must have had “dimensional semiotic memory”.

    This peculiar phrasing is not something I’ve used anywhere on my site.

    I’ve said that the organization of the heterogeneous living cell requires a system of dimensional semiotic memory in order to enable the informational capacity to record itself into memory and make that memory efficiently transferable between mediums.

    I asked if you could make any other conclusions, but (as usual) you failed to respond. Unless you’d like to add something else, then I think we’re done here.

    The methodology behind using an operational definition is to purposely limit criteria to measurable indicia. The validity of the process relies on adhering to that methodology. It is designed to obtain valid results, not answer questions without measurable data. However, if “we’re done here” because your questions don’t adhere to that methodology, then I can accept that.

    It’s simply dishonest to use general words like “design” and “intelligence” in your claims when you’re talking about something very different from what those words typically connote.

    This is a very watered-down objection compared to the grand claims of comical misunderstanding and crackpottery that you made upthread. In any case, if this is the extent of the damage before you leave, then I can live with that. Frankly, I don’t believe anyone would agree with you that the capacity to record language and mathematics is “very different” than most “general” notions of intelligence. I think the opposite is true, so perhaps even your parting shot manages to fall short.

  149. 149
    Mapou says:

    Fish:

    Hi Mapou,

    Wow. RDFish is moving dangerously close to accepting the designer hypothesis (i.e., life requires consciousness)

    HUH? Why in the world would you say that – I haven’t moved one iota in that direction, of course, because there isn’t a shred of evidence for it. I deny that evolutionary theory accounts for biological complexity, but that doesn’t lend any credence whatsoever to the notion that some conscious being thought up designs for all us creatures and built us somehow!

    Of course it does. I gave you the reason but you decided to ignore it. Go ahead and be ignorant and stupid and see if I care.

  150. 150
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    RDF:It’s simply dishonest to use general words like “design” and “intelligence” in your claims when you’re talking about something very different from what those words typically connote.
    UB: This is a very watered-down objection compared to the grand claims of comical misunderstanding and crackpottery that you made upthread. In any case, if this is the extent of the damage before you leave, then I can live with that.

    No, you’re still a complete crackpot who comically misunderstood my argument – and you continue to fail to understand it. Your work is entirely worthless – all you’ve done is to describe protein synthesis in terms of semiotics. What is the point? Semiotics does not encompass intentionality. It says nothing whatsoever about what gives rise to signs.

    Frankly, I don’t believe anyone would agree with you that the capacity to record language and mathematics is “very different” than most “general” notions of intelligence.

    This is ridiculous. Cells don’t use a general purpose language; it’s a formal, special-purpose code. You can’t express arbitrary or abstract ideas with it. Nor do you have a shred of evidence that whatever caused cellular codes to exist had mathematical abilities like a person (could solve arbitrary, novel problems).

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  151. 151

    No, you’re still a complete crackpot who comically misunderstood my argument

    RD, there are flakes of dust on my floor that are cognizant enough to understand your argument. Your whole strategy is to perpetually attach as many ambiguous and non-measurable terms as possible to the conception of intelligence – intentionality, purpose, the ability to solve problems, to do math, to “predict a lunar eclipse”. Good grief, you once wrote a critique of ID where you asked the question if the designing intelligence of life was capable of explaining itself in grammatical language. By answering this question, you reasoned, ID proponents could start making meaningful statements about ID. You are about as big a loon as can be found in the design debate, and you’ve been doing this whole bag of yours for, as you say, years on end.

    The thing I like most about this comment of yours “No, you’re still a crackpot…” is the forced context in which you said it. You tacitly acknowledge that you had to back off your failing counter-argument, but it really don’t matter ‘cause I’m still just a crackpot.

    The bottom line is that you never properly analyzed translation, and had no idea what the issues were.

    cheers…

  152. 152
    Zachriel says:

    RDFish: We’re not arguing about “evolutionary adaptation”, but rather about the highly intricate, multi-component mechanisms we observe in organisms… The important point, though, is not to argue about this in the abstract, because there is no way to demonstrate (yet) whether or not the combinatorial resources were sufficient or not.

    That is incorrect. We know the combinatorial resources are insufficient.

    Consider again the example of protein evolution above. After several rounds of evolution, the final protein is well-specified, meaning changing any of the eighty or so amino acids usually degrades or disables the protein. Perhaps you don’t consider eighty amino acids working in concert to be “highly intricate”, but it doesn’t matter.

    You can’t simulate even this simple and demonstrable example of evolution with a computer algorithm. That shows that computer algorithms are not up to the task, so expecting otherwise leads to a faulty perspective.

    RDFish: Only empirical demonstrations in combination with formal analysis will settle the matter, and nobody should claim the problem is largely solved

    You have your scientific method backwards.

    There is a huge amount of evidence supporting evolutionary theory. Pointing to the inadequacy of computer modeling does not constitute a valid refutation as we know computer modeling is limited by combinatorial resources to toy models and relatively simple cases. Within those limitations, though, we have sufficient evidence of “intricacy” to provide some support for the efficacy of evolutionary processes. We certainly don’t have evidence sufficient for falsification.

    Just for fun, here’s a neat evolutionary algorithm.
    http://www.ventrella.com/darwin/darwin.html

  153. 153
    Zachriel says:

    RDFish: We’re not arguing about “evolutionary adaptation”, but rather about the highly intricate, multi-component mechanisms we observe in organisms…

    Oddly enough, “irreducible complexity” was first proposed based on evolutionary principles by Hermann Muller in 1918, long before the discovery of the molecular basis for genetics. The basic principle is that gradual adaptation leads to intricate, multi-component mechanisms.

    Muller, Genetics: A Periodical Record of Investigations Bearing on Heredity and Variation, Princeton University Press 1918: thus a complicated machine was gradually built up whose effective working was dependent upon the interlocking action of very numerous different elementary parts or factors, and many of the characters and factors which, when new, were originally merely an asset finally became necessary because other necessary characters and factors had subsequently become changed so as to be dependent on the former. It must result, in consequence, that a dropping out of, or even a slight change in any one of these parts is very likely to disturb fatally the whole machinery; for this reason we should expect very many, if not most, mutations to result in lethal factors

    In other words, it doesn’t require any additional mechanism beyond incremental optimization for function. Start with a function A. Add a helper B (which may just be a duplicate of A). Optimize AB so that A becomes modified to depend on B. Repeat the process so that we have a cascade of interlocking parts.

  154. 154
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    RD, there are flakes of dust on my floor that are cognizant enough to understand your argument. Your whole strategy is to perpetually attach as many ambiguous and non-measurable terms as possible to the conception of intelligence – intentionality, purpose, the ability to solve problems, to do math, to “predict a lunar eclipse”.

    And you have, by this very statement, shown that you still and yet fail to understand my point.

    First, get your facts straight: I would never include “intentionality” or “purpose” as candidates for empirically testable characteristics of so-called “intelligent agency” – because they cannot be tested for. (You completely misunderstand the point about intentionality of course – don’t even try).

    Now, let’s look at the other terms – the ones I actually have proposed to you.

    If anyone would like crystal-clear evidence that you are as confused as person could be, here it is: Those terms are precisely the opposite of what you say. Rather than being ambiguous and non-measurable, those things are in fact concrete and measureable! That is the whole point!

    We know what it means – and can test the ability – to solve novel problems (IQ tests), to do math (math tests), to use general-purpose language, to predict eclipses, and so on. To say something is “intelligent” without saying it is something already familiar to us (a human being, or even “life as we know it”) is, in contrast, saying nothing at all. It is you who hide behind ambiguous and empirically undefined terms, and run for cover when I point out that to make scientific claims, you must actually describe your claims in empirically accessible terms.

    The thing I like most about this comment of yours “No, you’re still a crackpot…” is the forced context in which you said it. You tacitly acknowledge that you had to back off your failing counter-argument, but it really don’t matter ‘cause I’m still just a crackpot.

    I have never backed off a single argument against you, quite obviously! Your fear and frustration is getting the better of you, and you are now hallucinating.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  155. 155
    Mung says:

    RDFish:

    No, you’re still a complete crackpot who comically misunderstood my argument – and you continue to fail to understand it.

    Actually he ignored it as being irrelevant to the OP, and rightly so, imo.

    RDFish:

    Your work is entirely worthless – all you’ve done is to describe protein synthesis in terms of semiotics.

    This is false.

    Perhaps when you’ve learned how to specify middle C things will begin to make sense to you. Work on it.

  156. 156
    Mung says:

    Zachriel: You have your scientific method backwards.

    LoL. Good one Zachriel. That one’s a keeper.

  157. 157

    RD today:
    First, get your facts straight: I would never include “intentionality” or “purpose” as candidates for empirically testable characteristics of so-called “intelligent agency”.

    [Oh of course not RD, you’d just throw them up as meaningless rhetoric].

    RD earlier today:
    Your work is entirely worthless – all you’ve done is to describe protein synthesis in terms of semiotics. What is the point? Semiotics does not encompass intentionality.

    Apparently the empirically testable characteristics of semiosis is insufficient in identifying intelligent action because it “does not encompass intentionality”. Cue the splitting of hairs.

    If anyone would like crystal-clear evidence that you are as confused as person could be, here it is: Those terms are precisely the opposite of what you say. Rather than being ambiguous and non-measurable, those things are in fact concrete and measureable! That is the whole point!

    When you figure out how to test the “lunar eclipse predicting” ability of the designing intelligence of life 3.5 billion years ago — let us know. Until then, we all have to live in the real world.

    It is you who hide behind ambiguous and empirically undefined terms, and run for cover when I point out that to make scientific claims, you must actually describe your claims in empirically accessible terms.

    Biosemiosis.org

    It is no secret why you haven’t attacked any of the actual observations made on the site.

  158. 158

    Mung,

    Actually he ignored it as being irrelevant to the OP, and rightly so, imo.

    Correct. I ignored RD’s determination to add irrelevant concepts to my argument.

    We can physically detect an entirely unambiguous correlate of intelligent action in the organization of genetic translation. Oh, but wait. Before we can acknowledge this empirical fact, we must have an essay from the designing intelligence where it explains itself, and does some math, and predicts an eclipse, and programs a DVR. What a ridiculous standard of evidence.

    If RD has intellectual interests outside of the ID project – that’s great – but those interest do not impact the ID project, and he cannot hold it hostage to his outdated objections.

  159. 159
    Zachriel says:

    Mung: Good one Zachriel. That one’s a keeper.

    Perhaps. It depends on whether we are reading RDFish’s argument correctly. It reads like this:

    Z: Lots of evidence for evolution of intricacy.
    R: Evolutionary algorithms aren’t able to evolve intricacy. Until it is shown that evolutionary algorithms are able to evolve some unstated level of intricacy, then there is “no evidence” that known evolutionary mechanisms have the ability to produce any of the complex mechanisms we observe in biology.

    RDFish has a hammer. It’s a very nice hammer, and he knows how to use it. Now he just needs a nail.

    Evidence supporting evolution of intricacy exists, and to refute that evidence will require significant positive support. Evolutionary algorithms can evolve some levels of intricacy, but are very limited in their computational resources when compared to biology. Examples from protein evolution, and Muller’s statement above should be sufficient to show how the process should generally work, and there is evidence of intricate, multi-step processes that evolved in this fashion.

  160. 160
    mike1962 says:

    Zächrielein: Evidence supporting evolution of intricacy exists, and to refute that evidence will require significant positive support.

    What is the greatest level of intricacy in biological systems that current evolutionary theory can account for?

    What testable and falsifiable predictions does current evolutionary theory make with respect to undiscovered intricacy in biological systems?

  161. 161
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: What is the greatest level of intricacy in biological systems that current evolutionary theory can account for?

    The origin of life is not explainable with evolutionary theory.

    mike1962: What testable and falsifiable predictions does current evolutionary theory make with respect to undiscovered intricacy in biological systems?

    While evolutionary theory sheds light on the origin of life, it doesn’t have direct entailments. We know that life began when the Earth was young, billions of years ago. There is evidence that life has a common ancestry. One hypothesis is that life and evolution began as a molecular replicator in a simple lipid membrane, but this is uncertain.

  162. 162
    Mung says:

    All that strutting and preening and crowing. What species is it?

  163. 163
    mike1962 says:

    Zächrielein: The origin of life is not explainable with evolutionary theory.

    Do you claim that evolutionary theory explains everything the followed?

    By “explain” what precisely do you mean?

    What biological features have verified gap-free evolutionary accounts?

    What biological features have verified gap-free evolutionary accounts that were predicted by evolutionary theory?

    What biological features do not have verified gap-free evolutionary accounts?

  164. 164
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: Do you claim that evolutionary theory explains everything the followed?

    Not every detail, of course. Keep in mind that evolutionary biology includes historical events. We have a good idea of the history of the Roman Empire, but there are undoubtedly many details which are less well-known, or not known at all.

    mike1962: By “explain” what precisely do you mean?

    An explanation is a reason provided for something. A scientific explanation should be consistent with observations, and be able to make predictions of new observations.

    mike1962: What biological features have verified gap-free evolutionary accounts?

    There’s always gaps. That’s the nature of the scientific endeavor. It turns out we can reach reasonable, albeit tentative, findings about the universe even if most of it remains shrouded in mystery. This is accomplished with hypothetico-deduction.

  165. 165
    mike1962 says:

    Zächrielein,

    How is functional complexity measured and quantified by evolutionary biologists?

    Using techniques and methods described by evolutionary theory, that allegedly explain, or account for, biologically complexity, what level of functional complexity has been produced by evolutionary biologists?

  166. 166
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: How is functional complexity measured and quantified by evolutionary biologists?

    The term is usually used qualitatively. There is no unambiguous measure of complexity, or even function. When a quantitative measure is required, then a definition suitable to the study is provided.

    mike1962: Using techniques and methods described by evolutionary theory, that allegedly explain, or account for, biologically complexity, what level of functional complexity has been produced by evolutionary biologists?

    Evolutionary biologists study biology. They generally don’t produce it.

  167. 167
    mike1962 says:

    Zächrielein: Evolutionary biologists study biology. They generally don’t produce it.

    My apologies. What I intended is: Using techniques and methods described by evolutionary theory, that allegedly explain, or account for, biologically complexity, what level of functional complexity of any sort, biological or otherwise, has been produced by evolutionary biologists?

  168. 168
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    RD today: First, get your facts straight: I would never include “intentionality” or “purpose” as candidates for empirically testable characteristics of so-called “intelligent agency”.

    [Oh of course not RD, you’d just throw them up as meaningless rhetoric].

    Uh, what? I’ve told you (1) “purpose” was not something we can investigate scientifically, and (2) “intentionality” is never something I would suggest as an empirically accessible attribute. How does one observe it?

    RD earlier today:Your work is entirely worthless – all you’ve done is to describe protein synthesis in terms of semiotics. What is the point? Semiotics does not encompass intentionality.

    Apparently the empirically testable characteristics of semiotics is insufficient in identifying intelligent action because it “does not encompass intentionality”. Cue the splitting of hairs.

    Splitting of hairs??? I’m saying that semiotics simply has nothing to say about the causes of signs! That means it doesn’t matter if you cast protein synthesis in terms of semiotics – it still has nothing to do with the cause of those mechanisms.

    RDF: If anyone would like crystal-clear evidence that you are as confused as person could be, here it is: Those terms are precisely the opposite of what you say. Rather than being ambiguous and non-measurable, those things are in fact concrete and measureable! That is the whole point!
    UB: When you figure out how to test the “lunar eclipse predicting” ability of the designing intelligence of life 3.5 billion years ago — let us know. Until then, we all have to live in the real world.

    Unbelievably, you make my point once again! In the real world, we cannot test the mental abilities of the cause of living things!!! You have no basis, then, for imagining that this cause is conscious, or can do anything at all that human beings can do except for producing systems such as we see in biology.

    It is no secret why you haven’t attacked any of the actual observations made on the site.

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahaha. CORRECT! I’ve told you over and over again why I haven’t!!! None of it matters one iota to “Intelligent Design Theory”! It is all utterly irrelevant! Semiotics says nothing about the “intelligence” (whatever you might mean by that) of the origin of signs, period.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  169. 169
    RDFish says:

    Hi Zachriel,
    Sorry but in the long thread I’ve lost the first reference to the “protein evolution” example you mention in @152. Could you post that again please?
    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy
    (p.s. You refer to yourself in first person plural @46. Is “Zachriel” akin to Nicolas Bourbaki?)

  170. 170

    RD,

    You can’t refute the observations; the indication of an intelligence is affirmed by the methodology.

    In your famous last words, you’re down to insisting there’s no reason to believe that the indicated intelligence could do anything more than produce the kinds of systems found in biology.

    Ouch.

  171. 171
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: Using techniques and methods described by evolutionary theory, that allegedly explain, or account for, biologically complexity, what level of functional complexity of any sort, biological or otherwise, has been produced by evolutionary biologists?

    The same answer. Evolutionary biologists study biological evolution but generally don’t produce organisms, analogous to how astronomers study stars but generally don’t produce stars. While evolutionary biologists might directly experiment with some aspects of evolution, just like astronomers might directly experiment with some aspect of the physics of stars, most of evolution and stars can only be studied indirectly.

    RDFish: I’ve lost the first reference to the “protein evolution”

    Directed evolution of proteins is now commonplace, but a seminal experiment is Keefe & Szostak, Functional proteins from a random-sequence library, Nature 2001. Selection is for function.

    Another is Hayashi et al., Can an Arbitrary Sequence Evolve Towards Acquiring a Biological Function?, Journal of Molecular Evolution 2003. Selection is for reproductive potential.


    OFF-TOPIC

    RDFish: Is “Zachriel” akin to Nicolas Bourbaki?

    It’s already on the list, suggested by olegt.

    A number of theories have been proposed concerning our use of nosism. If Zachriel were legion,

    ultimate expression of internet group think
    group of poseurs
    hive
    commune of pedants
    committee
    weird cult
    collective pseudonym like Bourbaki
    five guys
    collective
    tri-unity
    e pluribus unum
    imaginary playmates
    being of more than one mind
    royalty, pluralis majestatis
    the Z-team, a team of Zachriels
    schizophrenic
    cojoined twins
    because it annoys you
    editorial, pluralis modestiae
    someone with a tapeworm
    best friend is a pooka
    dissociative identity disorder
    a bizzare pseudo-world affectation
    gaggle of grad students
    Jovian clique
    nervous tick
    possessed by demons
    a group of concerned citizens
    Got a mouse in your pocket?
    fellow at a Darwin institute
    gang of Z
    elaborate avatar created by a theist to explore the worldview of materialism
    possessed by a demon with many heads
    a bot that some programmers designed for random argument
    5-member purple-horned leprechaun gang that escaped from the cosmic zoo

  172. 172
    mike1962 says:

    Zächrielein: Evolutionary biologists study biological evolution but generally don’t produce organisms, analogous to how astronomers study stars but generally don’t produce stars. While evolutionary biologists might directly experiment with some aspects of evolution, just like astronomers might directly experiment with some aspect of the physics of stars, most of evolution and stars can only be studied indirectly.

    I’m not limiting the scope to biological complexity, hence the “otherwise.” That can include computer simulations. Astrophysics use computer simulations in their research in order to test their models. To what degree have evolutionary biologists done this?

    There is no unambiguous measure of complexity, or even function.

    Then how do you know that evolutionary theory can account for the complexity we find in biological objects?

    When a quantitative measure is required, then a definition suitable to the study is provided.

    What is an example with regards to the most complex instance of known biological complexity?

  173. 173
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: That can include computer simulations.

    Computer simulations are very limited in their capabilities, and are only capable of simulating abstractions of the evolutionary process, not biological evolution. For instance, protein folding is still a very hard problem for computers, and that’s just to test a single sequence, not a population of evolving sequences.

    However, evolutionary search can be shown capable of exploring complex landscapes, such as the traveling salesman problem, or to discover novel solutions to practical problems, such as antenna design.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolved_antenna

    Just for fun, try out Darwin’s Pond. It has fourteen parameters that interact in a complex fashion.
    http://www.ventrella.com/darwin/darwin.html

  174. 174
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: Then how do you know that evolutionary theory can account for the complexity we find in biological objects?

    We point out that complexity doesn’t have a single unambiguous measure, then you ask a question without saying what you mean by complexity.

    mike1962: What is an example with regards to the most complex instance of known biological complexity?

    In ecology, we might measure complexity by the number and degree of interaction between species in an ecosystem. In genomics, we might define complexity as the amount of information about the environment stored in a genome. Because natural selection increases this information, it increases complexity by the definition.

  175. 175
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    However, evolutionary search…

    “evolutionary search” is an oxymoron unless you are talking about intelligent design evolution.

    Because natural selection increases this information,…

    Evidence please. Your bald assertions do not count as evidence.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  176. 176
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    Semiotics says nothing about the “intelligence” (whatever you might mean by that) of the origin of signs, period.

    Intelligent Design is about the DESIGN not the intelligence. Semiotic systems can only arise via planning and intentional agency intervention. So semiotics says that an intelligence was required for its existence. It is as uniform an experience as that of gravity.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  177. 177
    mike1962 says:

    Zächrielein: Because natural selection increases this information, it increases complexity by the definition.

    How is this information quantified and measured?

    To what degree is natural selection known to increase this information?

  178. 178
    Zachriel says:

    mike1962: How is this information quantified and measured?

    In digital organisms, we can directly measure their informational entropy.

    mike1962: To what degree is natural selection known to increase this information?

    Because selection reduces entropy.

  179. 179
    Virgil Cain says:

    Because selection reduces entropy.

    Or because Tuesday is the square root of blue. 🙄

  180. 180
    mike1962 says:

    mike1962: To what degree is natural selection known to increase this information?

    Zächrielein: Because selection reduces entropy.

    Sorry, that answer makes no sense to me. Did you misread?

    In digital organisms, we can directly measure their informational entropy.

    Please elaborate.

  181. 181
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    You can’t refute the observations;

    No need to, as I’ve been explaining to you since the beginning.

    the indication of an intelligence is affirmed by the methodology.

    Nonsense. You have no idea what produced these mechanisms, and calling it “intelligent” tells you precisely nothing. Absolutely nothing – not one single thing – follows from assigning that label to the cause of living things. It’s a completely vacuous statement.

    In your famous last words, you’re down to insisting there’s no reason to believe that the indicated intelligence could do anything more than produce the kinds of systems found in biology.

    Hahahahahahahaha – those were my first words, of course, and I’m still saying it, because you haven’t even made an effort to address it. All your work says nothing about whatever caused the existence of living things.

    Ouch indeed!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  182. 182
    EugeneS says:

    Zachriel,

    mike1962: To what degree is natural selection known to increase this information?

    Zachriel: Because selection reduces entropy.

    Wrong. If you reduce entropy, you will reduce the amount of information you get with every realization of the random variable.

    The max amount of Shannon information corresponds to max uncertainty (max entropy). This corresponds to equal probabilities p = 1/N of N outcomes.

    In the case of a fair coin (one random variable, two possible values {0,1} with equal probabilities of 1/2 each), it is 1 bit exactly: H = – sum_i {p_i * log p_i} = – 1/2 * log(1/2) – 1/2 * log(1/2)= 1.

    However, if your coin is “perfectly unfair”, with each outcome you will get 0 bits of information because in no outcome will you get anything else but the head (supposing the tail greatly outweighs the head), or the tail (otherwise).

    This is why I think that selection reduces information.

  183. 183
    EugeneS says:

    RDFish,

    “All your work says nothing about whatever caused the existence of living things.”

    In all honesty, that is not the case. We infer that intelligence was required for the origin of life. The merit of the biosemiosis argument is that it by far is the most powerful. However, there are also information, probabilistic, chemical arguments, all pointing to intelligence at the onset of terrestrial life. What kind of intelligence it was it is hard to say just yet. The only thing is that it must have been hugely superior to human.

  184. 184
    Virgil Cain says:

    RDFish:

    You have no idea what produced these mechanisms, and calling it “intelligent” tells you precisely nothing.

    Nonsense. For one it tells us there was/ is a purpose, ie a plan. A plan that most likely includes us. It also tells us that there is more to living organisms than physics and chemistry.

    Those two alone would be ground-breaking and paradigm changing for science.

    RDFish has absolutely no scientific sense at all.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  185. 185

    the indication of an intelligence is affirmed by the methodology.

    Nonsense.

    Straight up denial of measurable evidence. So much for empiricism.

  186. 186
    RDFish says:

    Hi EugeneS,

    In all honesty, that is not the case. We infer that intelligence was required for the origin of life.

    What do you mean by “intelligence” here?

    What kind of intelligence it was it is hard to say just yet. The only thing is that it must have been hugely superior to human.

    Are you saying that the cause of life had mental characteristics and abilities that are like those of humans, except that they are superior? For example, are you saying the cause of life is conscious, can learn new skills, solve novel problems, and could take an IQ test and score very highly on it? What is your evidence that this is the case? How can you test that claim?

    Human brains are by far the most complicated organ in the human body, and they enable us to learn, reason, and design things. Do you think the cause of living things had a brain, or something like a brain, that enabled it to design life? If not, how could it design things when humans need a working brain in order to design things? Wouldn’t that mean that it would be something very different from human intelligence, which relies on brain function?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  187. 187
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    Same questions for you as EugeneS:

    Are you saying that the cause of life had mental characteristics and abilities that are like those of humans, except that they are superior? For example, are you saying the cause of life is conscious, can learn new skills, solve novel problems, and could take an IQ test and score very highly on it? What is your evidence that this is the case? How can you support that claim?

    You have no answers to these questions, which is why all your work has nothing to do with intelligence or a theory of what caused living things.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  188. 188
    Zachriel says:

    EugeneS: If you reduce entropy, you will reduce the amount of information you get with every realization of the random variable.

    We’re talking about the incorporation of information about the environment into the genome. If there is no incorporation, then entropy is maximum. When incorporated, entropy is reduced accordingly.

    EugeneS: This is why I think that selection reduces information.

    Selection reduces variation in a population, not in individuals.

  189. 189
    EugeneS says:

    RDFish,

    It is very simple. In fact, it is so simple that a high school student is able to understand the idea. I doubt very much that people like you have genuine difficulties in understanding it. You simply choose not to accept it whatever we say to you. I can’t help it. Nobody except you can.

    There it goes for the umpteenth time.

    Scientific evidence (notably biosemiosis, statistics, physics, information theory) suggests that the cause of terrestrial life must have been intelligence i.e. it suggests that law-like necessity and/or chance are not enough to produce the semiotic core of life. It must therefore have arisen by design.

    Intelligence is quite simply the ability to plan ahead, foresee the results and control the flow of the process of using means to achieve a set goal: in this case, a metabolizing and self-replicating semiotic state heterogeneous whole.

    Of the three types of causation, namely

    (i) law-like necessity,
    (ii) chance, and
    (iii) decision/choice from among physically indistinguishable alternatives (equilibrium states),

    it is only the latter that has the potentiality of producing decision making systems, of which biological systems are a subset. Neither (i) nor (ii) nor any combination thereof are practically capable of producing a metabolizing self-replicating semiotic state heterogeneous whole very far from equilibrium, a whole that has the capacity of computing its own state and make survival decisions.

    Decisions and the other two causation types in principle are not mutually exclusive. There can be decisions that harness/utilize chance and the laws of nature to extract non-physical (formal) utility such as control and state maintenance.

    I consider all other questions like IQ etc. purposeful distractions to obscure the glaring unwillingness to accept design, which is the only remaining option, after law-like necessity and chance have been ruled out as a plausible cause of life.

  190. 190
    EugeneS says:

    Zachriel,

    “We are talking about…”

    Please educate yourself. Read here.

  191. 191
    Zachriel says:

    EugeneS: Please educate yourself. Read here.

    See Adami et al., Evolution of biological complexity, PNAS 2000.

  192. 192

    Same questions for you as EugeneS

    Yes RD, we all understand the drill. You keep asking questions and injecting topics that are entirely irrelevant to the observations and methodology used in this argument. In complete defiance of this fact, you keep asking these same irrelevant questions for the obvious reason that you can’t refute the observations or the methodology on the table. If I choose to play along with your defense, you will be just as incapable of refuting the irrelevance of your questions (to this argument) as you have been in refuting the argument itself. About this, you have left no doubt. And if I am unwilling to play along, then you’ll accuse me of simply not answering your questions – allowing yourself an intellectual escape that includes no less that the abject denial of empirical evidence. In other words, you end up at the same place regardless of the science. This is pure ideology, RD. And there is no appeal to fact or reason that can stop you from it.

  193. 193
    EugeneS says:

    Zachriel,

    You don’t have to post any citations. They are no good until you understand the basics 😉

    A OR NOT(A)

    What a good theory!

  194. 194
    Zachriel says:

    EugeneS: You don’t have to post any citations. They are no good until you understand the basics

    There are a variety of measures of complexity. Adami et al. provide one such measure based on Shannon entropy.

  195. 195
    RDFish says:

    Hi EugeneS,

    Scientific evidence (notably biosemiosis, statistics, physics, information theory) suggests that the cause of terrestrial life must have been intelligence

    What do you mean by “intelligence” here?

    i.e. it suggests that law-like necessity and/or chance are not enough to produce the semiotic core of life. It must therefore have arisen by design.

    You are implying that “intelligence” is something that transcends chance and necessity. This is tantamount to metaphysical libertarianism, which is not a scientifically supportable belief.

    Intelligence is quite simply the ability to plan ahead, foresee the results and control the flow of the process of using means to achieve a set goal:

    Now you are adding various characteristics that are necessary for something to be called “intelligent”.

    When you say that intelligence requires the ability to foresee results, that seems to imply that intelligence requires consciousness. Is that what you are saying?

    If so, what evidence do you have that intelligence requires consciousness? Cognitive scientists note that many of our mental abilities proceed without conscious awareness, and there is no theory or understanding of how consciousness is related to mental abilities such as planning, scheduling, and so on.

    And if not (if you aren’t saying consciousness is required), then what does it mean to “foresee” something without conscious awareness?

    Of the three types of causation, namely

    (i) law-like necessity,
    (ii) chance, and
    (iii) decision/choice from among physically indistinguishable alternatives (equilibrium states),

    it is only the latter that has the potentiality of producing decision making systems, of which biological systems are a subset.

    So you folks read this stuff in ID books and just believe it, repeating it as though it is some sort of scientific set of facts? Bad brainwashing: This has nothing to do with science – it is metaphysics.

    You are ASSUMING, with no scientific warrant at all, that mental abilities somehow transcend physical cause. Now, this may be true, but it may also be false, and nobody in the world can think of any sort of experiment that will tell us the answer. If there was such an experiment, this ancient debate would have been settled long ago.

    AGAIN: What you are calling intelligence, or decision-making, may itself be due to nothing but physical mechanisms processing information in your brain. These physical mechanisms may be nothing more than the physics we understand today, or it may require physics that we do not (yet) understand. Or, it may exist independently of all physical cause and somehow interact with it, as dualists (like you) believe. But all this is nothing but metaphysics, not science.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  196. 196
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    Yes RD, we all understand the drill.

    I can’t tell if you understand or not. In any case, you are unable to answer these questions.

    You keep saying that you want me to “refute your observations”, and I keep telling you that I have never questioned your observations, and my comments have nothing to do with your observations.

    You keep saying that my questions are irrelevant, but they are absolutely fundamental to the point you are pretending to make. Without saying what “intelligent agency” or “design” actually means, you have concluded nothing at all.

    You keep saying that your “methodology” somehow answers this question, but that’s ridiculous. You make up some particular operational definition for “intelligence” that matches what we observe in biology, and then you pretend that this definition actually indicates the sorts of general mental abilities that we humans have. Not only do you not make the case for this, or address the obvious problems with such a conclusion, but you don’t even recognize the need to do so!

    An IQ test is representative of general human mental abilities (even though even those test are controversial in many ways), including learning abilities, short- and long-term memory, common sense knowledge, generation and comprehension of general-purpose languages, solving novel problems (that is, problems the subject has not seen before) in mathematics and logic, and so on. Irreducibly complex mechanism in cells do not suggest that all of these abilities were somehow involved in their coming into existence. Perhaps none of these abilities were involved.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  197. 197
    mike1962 says:

    RDFish: Now, this may be true, but it may also be false, and nobody in the world can think of any sort of experiment that will tell us the answer.

    If we get the point were we can detect the reduction of the super-positions of billions of quantum brains states, say, among sub-neural particles, where an expectation of random reduction states per our current understanding of quantum events, is in fact falsified due to an unexpected correlation of said particles, that is, when otherwise completely stochastic events are forced into a inexplicable correlation, that would be suggestive of something “other”, or at very least “primary”, would it not?

  198. 198
    RDFish says:

    Hi mike1962,

    If we get the point were we can detect the reduction of the super-positions of billions of quantum brains states, say, among sub-neural particles, where an expectation of random reduction states per our current understanding of quantum events, is in fact falsified due to an unexpected correlation of said particles, that is, when otherwise completely stochastic events are forced into a inexplicable correlation, that would be suggestive of something “other”, or at very least “primary”, would it not?

    You bet! That would be really cool – especially if said correlations were associated with conscious thoughts.

    (I should have said nobody can think of an experiment we can currently perform…)

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  199. 199
    mike1962 says:

    RDFish: That would be really cool – especially if said correlations were associated with conscious thoughts.

    Heh, yeah, I failed to mention that, but you figgered it out. 😀

  200. 200

    I can’t tell if you understand or not.

    It’s a matter of situational awareness, RD. You’ve been given an operational definition that’s based on the unique physical conditions of a semiotic system that uses spatially-oriented representations and a reading frame code. You’re not particularly competent on the subject matter, and your counter-arguments are irrelevant to the observations and methodology in the argument. Instead of using your obvious intelligence to pursue observation, you’re using it to negotiate your way through it. And now you’re in the position of having to ignore specific empirical evidence.

  201. 201
    EugeneS says:

    RDFish,

    I was clear on my operational definition of intelligence. This should be enough for this discussion. I am not discussing anything to do with consciousness.

    If you do not agree with the objectivity of choice as causality (and with its independence from law-like necessity and chance), direct your arguments to Aristotle. Choice is beyond the potentiality of nature but can effectively use it. What is the problem with that?

    Nature does not choose because it does not care. It can only make available indifferent equilibrium states. Choosing from among them e.g. based on formal considerations is an exclusive prerogative of intelligence. Intelligence can choose in order to extract non-physical formal utility, e.g. a halting series of instructions to produce a specific recommendation in the context of decision making.

    Nature does not care if anything works (= produces utility) as a complex whole. Intelligence can use nature in order to organize and control physical entities via physical means. Intelligence can use physicality but is irreducible to it.

    What is the problem with this approach? Is that really hard to grasp? Why are you asking questions irrelevant to this discussion?

    “You are ASSUMING, with no scientific warrant at all, that mental abilities somehow transcend physical cause. ”

    Nothing of the sort. Why do you keep bringing in mentality here? Do you know what control is? Why do you keep asking about transcendence? What relevance does it have to the discussion?

    “What you are calling intelligence, or decision-making, may itself be due to nothing but physical mechanisms processing information in your brain.”

    Maybe, maybe not. Where are your appeals to being scientific now? Soap films solving problems… Is this what you call scientific warrant?

  202. 202
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    You are ASSUMING, with no scientific warrant at all, that mental abilities somehow transcend physical cause.

    Science makes assumptions like that all of the time. The scientific warrant is as simple as the fact that there isn’t any evidence to support the claim that mental abilities can emerge from physical cause.

    It’s as if RDFish is proud to be scientifically illiterate.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  203. 203
    Virgil Cain says:

    RDFish:

    AGAIN: What you are calling intelligence, or decision-making, may itself be due to nothing but physical mechanisms processing information in your brain.

    AGAIN: If anyone can ever demonstrate such a thing then ID would be in deep trouble. And it is very telling that RDFish cannot grasp that simple fact.

    RDFish doesn’t understand that it is metaphysics to say the mind can arise via physicochemical processes.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  204. 204
    EugeneS says:

    VC,

    “RDFish doesn’t understand that it is metaphysics to say the mind can arise via physicochemical processes.”

    Absolutely! Whatever one’s claim on these subjects, it is bound to be metaphysical.

  205. 205
    Mung says:

    It’s rather big of Mr. Fish to finally admit that Upright BiPed was right all along. That took some Fish guts.

  206. 206
    Mung says:

    Fishing Questions:

    Are you saying that the cause of life had mental characteristics and abilities that are like those of humans, except that they are superior?

    No one knows what life is.

    For example, are you saying the cause of life is conscious, can learn new skills, solve novel problems, and could take an IQ test and score very highly on it?

    No one knows what life is.

    What is your evidence that this is the case? How can you support that claim?

    No one needs to provide evidence for claims not in evidence.

  207. 207
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    You’ve been given an operational definition that’s based on the unique physical conditions of semiosis using spatially-oriented representations and a reading frame code.

    Uh, yes, I just said that: “You make up some particular operational definition for “intelligence” that matches what we observe in biology”.

    If you don’t read what I write, we aren’t going to get anywhere.

    your counter-arguments are irrelevant to the observations and methodology in the argument.

    I have explained this many times now: My comments have nothing to do with your observations and methodology. I have not, and never have, challenged any sort of argument regarding establishing irreducible complexity, complex specified information, or any other features that people feel demonstrates that evolutionary processes cannot account for them – including “spatially-oriented representations and a reading frame code”. I have explained this over and over and over and over again, yet you for some bizarre reason you never listen, never understand.

    Instead of using your obvious intelligence to pursue observation, you’re using it to negotiate your way through it. And now you’re in the position of having to ignore specific empirical evidence.

    I have accepted all of the empirical evidence from the start, and have never argued against it. I have made perfectly clear from the very beginning of this thread, and endless times before, that I never argue for evolutionary (or any other) explanations for these intricate mechanisms (and yes, codes) we find in biology. They cry out for an explanation, and I do not believe (Zachriel’s able defense notwithstanding) that evolutionary processes can account for them.

    So for once, can you please just drop your obsession with the matters we are, and have always been, in agreement (at least arguendo) on, and just for once at least acknowledge the part we disagree on, so at least we can argue about it?

    In case you actually still don’t know what it is I disagree about, I just said it for the 100000th time in my last post to you:

    An IQ test is representative of general human mental abilities (even though even those test are controversial in many ways), including learning abilities, short- and long-term memory, common sense knowledge, generation and comprehension of general-purpose languages, solving novel problems (that is, problems the subject has not seen before) in mathematics and logic, and so on. Irreducibly complex mechanism in cells do not suggest that all of these abilities were somehow involved in their coming into existence. Perhaps none of these abilities were involved.

    Can’t you understand this? Your operational definition of intelligence does NOTHING AT ALL to approach the problem! You have no reason to conclude any particular mental abilities that are required to produce spatially-oriented representations and a reading frame code!

    If you did have such a reason, you could actually say “I have shown that the cause of such representations and codes requires a source that has learning abilities, common sense reasoning, general language abilities, the ability to solve novel problems in math and logic” and so on. But you can’t say anything of the sort, because you have no justification for making any such claims.

    Yet you pretend that it is the case that you have justified such conclusions, by using these ambiguous and leading terms like “intelligence” and “design”. When people hear these words, they imagine human-like intelligence – a conscious mind that has learning abilities, common sense reasoning, natural language use, and so on.

    Please, UB – honestly, I’m asking you. You can of course disagree with my position here, but just stop pretending that my position has anything to do with anything you’ve written about semiotics, instead of the implicit conclusions that you draw. For the 1000000th time, I have agreed arguendo with everything you have said about semiotics from the start. Just respond that you actually do understand this point that I have labored to make clear to you so many times over, and, if you can, explain why you think my point is not valid.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  208. 208

    We’ve already had this conversation.

    When we search for an unknown intelligence among the stars, we do so by looking for a specific parameter – a carrier wave that’s only a few Hz wide. There is no variable in this process for an accounting of consciousness. There is no adjustment for mental abilities or an IQ score. The test is not altered by the expectations of the researcher. These things literally do not impact the way in which the presence of the intelligence is identified, and they are therefore irrelevant to it. If the reception of a narrow-band signal is validated, the results of the test will be accepted (as is) across the whole of science. However, you’ve created an escape hatch in your rhetoric against ID, saying that you would object if someone proposed that the source of the intelligence is somehow different than “life as we know it”. Your escape hatch is also irrelevant to the test, but you are welcome to it. In the end, your argument boils down to personal incredulity, not a failure of either the evidence or the methodology. You’ll need to ignore those.

    Please, UB – honestly, I’m asking you.

    No one made you get on this thread, lie about your recorded history on the subject, and go on the attack. Your entire involvement here was fairly unnecessary.

    cheers

  209. 209
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    We’ve already had this conversation.

    Yes, but you seem to have forgotten why your argument here fails.

    You cannot counter my argument regarding your failure to provide evidence of any particular mental ability that must be responsible for mechanisms of protein synthesis. Instead, you rely exclusively on an analogy to SETI – a project that seeks extra-terrestrial civilizations of life as we know it.

    I have explained to you that the context of SETI – their assumption that they are looking for something we are familiar with as a civilization of life forms – underlies their inferences regarding what might be responsible for narrow-band transmissions. I have explained to you that without those assumptions, they would not be justified in making any inferences regarding what characteristics may be true of the source of those signals.

    All you have in response is to ignore what SETI researchers say about what they looking for, and pretend that ID is still analogous. Moreover, you don’t seem to realize that SETI explicitly says that they are looking for signals that do not occur in nature. Well, guess what? Protein synthesis exists in nature. SETI is not analogous, period.

    So, what is your justification for all these inferences about the cause of living things? How can you justify your inference to consciousness, general linguistic abilities, novel problem solving abilities, and all of the other abilities associated with the concept of “intelligence”?

    Answer: You can’t.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  210. 210

    SETI – a project that seeks extra-terrestrial civilizations of life as we know it.

    I told you in my previous post why your arguments are irrelevant to the actual process of detecting intelligence. One really might think you’d take the clue, but “life as we know it” is the most important thing to you — so you didn’t. Now you get to tell me how they detect “life as we know it” from a narrow-band radio wave. If your argument is coherent, then the radio wave must present some identifiable characteristic that establishes the variable “life as we know it”, and has the capacity to overturn any other positive result. If your argument is incoherent, then you will not be able to identify this characteristic.

  211. 211
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    Now you get to tell me how they detect “life as we know it” from a narrow-band radio wave.

    Sure! We are a civilization of “life as we know it”. We build narrow-band radio wave transmitters to be distinguishable from natural radio sources, and if we lived on some other planet, we would do the same thing there. So, we look for civilizations of beings like us that live on other planets by looking for narrow-band radio waves. Get it?

    If your argument is coherent, then the radio wave must present some identifiable characteristic that establishes the variable “life as we know it”,

    Just as I explained above. We figure that there are others like us out there in the universe someplace. The characteristic is that we use those sorts of signals.

    Oh, and you dodged the point about SETI seeking signals not found in nature, while your signals are found in nature.

    Oh, and you really dodged this:

    So, what is your justification for all these inferences about the cause of living things? How can you justify your inference to consciousness, general linguistic abilities, novel problem solving abilities, and all of the other abilities associated with the concept of “intelligence”?

    Stop dodging.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  212. 212
    CJYman says:

    RDFish, how are you not seeing the inconsistency in your application of logic?

    We are a civilization of “Intelligence”. We build semiotic systems to be distinguishable from “natural chemical reactions,” and if we lived on some other planet and/or at some other time, we would do the same thing there. So, we look for “intelligence” with at least some characteristics like us that lived before us by looking for semiotic systems that would predate us. Get it?

    How is intelligence defined? How is life defined?

    Hopefully, I’ll have time to rejoin and add a few more $.02 (adjusted for inflation, of course).

  213. 213
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    Moreover, you don’t seem to realize that SETI explicitly says that they are looking for signals that do not occur in nature.

    That has got to be the stupidest thing you have said in an ocean of stupid things you have said. SETI is looking at nature to find signals that don’t occur in nature? Really?

    SETI is looking at nature to find signals that nature, operating freely, cannot produce. They are looking for ARTIFICIAL signals that do occur in nature. Our artificial signals occur in nature, RDFish.

    You must be one of the dimmest people ever. Nice job destroying what little credibility you had.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  214. 214
    Virgil Cain says:

    Barry Arrington- You won’t believe the gift RDFish has given us:

    Moreover, you don’t seem to realize that SETI explicitly says that they are looking for signals that do not occur in nature.

    I wonder where SETI is looking for those signals that do not occur in nature….

    BWAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  215. 215
    CJYman says:

    Virgil @213 … you beat me to the punch. RDFish can’t be serious?!?!?!?!?

  216. 216
    Virgil Cain says:

    CJYman- I would like to know what type of antenna is required to capture signals that do not occur in nature?

    (I can’t stop laughing)

  217. 217
    Zachriel says:

    Upright BiPed: If the reception of a narrow-band signal is validated, the results of the test will be accepted (as is) across the whole of science.

    The test is based on “what would highly evolved organisms ‘living at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball’ do?”

    If a narrow-band emission is detected, that would just be the start of the inquiry. Any claim of intelligence associated with the signal would be met with intense scrutiny.

  218. 218
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    If a narrow-band emission is detected, that would just be the start of the inquiry.

    No, the start of the inquiry was “is anyone else out there and how can we find out?” and then doing it. Once a signal is found then the inquiry into the origin of that signal begins.

    Any claim of intelligence associated with the signal would be met with intense scrutiny.

    All science should be met with intense scrutiny. Science without intense scrutiny is dogma.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  219. 219

    UB: Now you get to tell me how they detect “life as we know it” from a narrow-band radio wave. If your argument is coherent, then the radio wave must present some identifiable characteristic that establishes the variable “life as we know it”, and has the capacity to overturn any other positive result.

    RD: …we look for civilizations of beings like us that live on other planets by looking for narrow-band radio waves. Get it?

    You failed to identify any characteristic of a narrow-band radio signal that establishes “life as we know it” from the alternative “life as we didn’t know it”. The signal itself only establishes the existence of a transmitter. As I have pointed out to you, either these additional elements are an actual part of the process, or they are tacked-on assumptions that have no bearing in generating the result.

    Oh, and you dodged the point about SETI seeking signals not found in nature, while your signals are found in nature.

    You’ve adopted a standard that invalidates SETI on the very day of it success. Good job.

    How can you justify your inference to consciousness

    My site models a semiotic system, and describes how such systems can be identified. Consciousness is not part of either the model or the process of identification.

  220. 220
    Mung says:

    This is hilarious.

    ETA: start here

  221. 221
    Mung says:

    I really liked the claim that designed radios are specifically designed to not use natural radio waves.

    The implications for the RDFish position boggle the mind.

  222. 222
    Mung says:

    Proteins are found “in nature” but narrow band radio signals are not. whee! Proteins must be designed.

  223. 223
    RDFish says:

    Hi CJYMan,

    RDFish, how are you not seeing the inconsistency in your application of logic?

    Because I only see what is there, of course 🙂

    We are a civilization of “Intelligence”…

    That is making the error of reification. “Intelligence” is not a thing – it is a property of living things. We are not “intelligence” – we are human beings, with many characteristics, including mobility, resourcefulness, agility, thermoregulation, digestion of food, intelligence, and so on.

    Regarding looking for signals not found in nature, SETI looks for narrow-band transmissions because there are no other known sources of such signals in nature (that is, that are not produced by human beings). I have no idea why you would find that funny, but glad you get a kick out of it!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  224. 224
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    You failed to identify any characteristic of a narrow-band radio signal that establishes “life as we know it” from the alternative “life as we didn’t know it”.

    That’s not what you asked. And I know of no such characteristic; SETI makes assumptions about what it is looking for based on “life as we know it” (it’s all through their literature) because, well, that is what we know about! That is why they hire astrobiologists, and not science-fiction writers.

    RDF: Oh, and you dodged the point about SETI seeking signals not found in nature, while your signals are found in nature.
    UB: You’ve adopted a standard that invalidates SETI on the very day of it success. Good job.

    You are not even trying. SETI looks for signals that are not produced, to our knowledge, by anything in nature (by “nature” I mean “not by human action”). ID looks for signals that are produced naturally – in biology. This doesn’t invalidate SETI’s approach, but it does mean that SETI is not analogous to ID.

    RDF: How can you justify your inference to consciousness…
    UB: My site models a semiotic system, and describes how such systems can be identified. Consciousness is not part of either the model or the process of identification.

    VERY GOOD START, but you dodged the rest of the question. Here is the question I asked:

    How can you justify your inference to consciousness, general linguistic abilities, novel problem solving abilities, and all of the other abilities associated with the concept of “intelligence”?

    Just answer the full question like you answered the part about consciousness, and we’ll be done!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  225. 225

    I know of no such characteristic; SETI makes assumptions

    Yes. They do not test for “life as we know it”. That is an assumption MADE AFTER the detection of intelligence. The assumption is not a part of that process, rightly so, and does not alter the result.

    Your counter-arguments just crashed. No one expects you to acknowldge this fact. Particularly not me.

  226. 226
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    They do not test for “life as we know it”. That is an assumption MADE AFTER the detection of intelligence.

    Um, I hate to break it to you, but SETI has never detected such a signal! And yes, they make all of these assumptions about “life as we know” in order to direct their search and estimate the odds that other life forms have evolved on other planets. Just read their literature, and you’ll see.

    Now, you are still dodging the rest of the argument here: You’ve just conceded that you have no scientific justification for inferring that conscious thought was involved in the producing the protein synthesis mechanisms in the living cells, even though you use words that most people interpret to imply conscious thought (“intelligence” and “design”). So you’ve already conceded a big part of my argument; we just have a little ways to go.

    Just admit that not only have you no justification to infer conscious thought as the source of living things, but you likewise have no justification to infer the other attributes normally associated with human intelligence, such as the ability to learn new skills, solve novel problems in math and logic, read and write in a natural (general-purpose) language, and so on.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  227. 227
    Zachriel says:

    Upright BiPed: They do not test for “life as we know it”.

    Actually, that’s exactly what they do. Humans use narrow-band emissions for communications, so they suppose that other organisms evolving on watery planets around other stars would do likewise.

  228. 228
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    Regarding looking for signals not found in nature, SETI looks for narrow-band transmissions because there are no other known sources of such signals in nature

    Semiotic systems are also such an example. It is amazing that you cannot see the link.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  229. 229
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    Just admit that not only have you no justification to infer conscious thought as the source of living things,

    That would be a lie. It is clear that planning went into this universe and living organisms and planning only comes from conscious thought.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  230. 230
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Humans use narrow-band emissions for communications, so they suppose that other organisms evolving on watery planets around other stars would do likewise.

    The more important aspect is that nature does not and cannot produce narrow-band emissions. If she could then we wouldn’t be able to use them to detect ET.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  231. 231
    EugeneS says:

    RDF,

    “But proteins do exist in nature.”

    Your logic is flawed. Narrow band signals also exist in nature and we know that intelligent beings can produce them and, what’s more, evidence suggests it’s highly likely that only intelligent beings can.

    However, proteins have not been shown to arise naturalistically. Not yet, at least.

    Why are you assuming things about IQ and other characteristics that cannot be assumed given the evidence? The answer is, you want to safeguard yourself from intellectual defeat.

    Is that fair?

  232. 232
    RDFish says:

    Hi EugeneS,

    Narrow band signals also exist in nature

    Well no, as far as we know they don’t, which is why SETI looks for them. (I’m using the common definition of “nature”, which is “not artificial; not caused by human action”).

    However, proteins have not been shown to arise naturalistically. Not yet, at least.

    Proteins exist in living cells, which are not the result of human action – i.e. they are natural.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  233. 233
    CJYman says:

    RDFish,

    Your distinction between that which exists in nature and that which does not exist in nature is still laughable. However I’ll agree with you, for the purposes of classification, that everything made by humans is artificial. Everything else is natural.

    Now, moving back to your charge of ‘reification,’ I understand how it could appear as if I’m arguing for intelligence as a concrete thing. But I assure you that is in no way my intent. I have, for as long as I remember … and you and I have danced around this issue before … always treated ‘intelligence’ as a specific ability. With that understanding in place, it appears that your belief is that we can never, under any circumstance, argue for the existence or capacity of an ability no matter how well defined. As such, SETI has never been a search for ‘life as we know it’ with the capacity for at least a certain level of ‘intelligence.’ Is that your position?

  234. 234
    RDFish says:

    Hi CJYMan,

    Your distinction between that which exists in nature and that which does not exist in nature is still laughable.

    How so? I’m using a dictionary definition for “natural” – what other definition would you like to use?

    However I’ll agree with you, for the purposes of classification, that everything made by humans is artificial. Everything else is natural.

    Then we’re back to the definition I was using, which is just fine.

    I have, for as long as I remember … and you and I have danced around this issue before … always treated ‘intelligence’ as a specific ability.

    Psychologists, cognitive scientists, and AI researchers treat “intelligence” as some collection of specific abilities, usually including things like memory, learning, novel problem solving, use of natural language, and so on. What underlies these different abilities in humans is for the most part unknown (although neuroscience does understand some of the basic mechanisms).

    With that understanding in place, it appears that your belief is that we can never, under any circumstance, argue for the existence or capacity of an ability no matter how well defined.

    Sorry, what? We test for these abilities in human beings, for example. There are many different characteristics of these testable abilities, but once you pick one, you can obviously test for them.

    You cannot, however, give an IQ test in the context of ID theory. People (like UB) believe that we can assume that anything that gives rise to complex machinery – like we see in biological cells – must have these other attributes as well. This assumption may have validity if and only if other assumptions are made along with it, in particular that we are talking about “life as we know it”.

    As such, SETI has never been a search for ‘life as we know it’ with the capacity for at least a certain level of ‘intelligence.’ Is that your position?

    My position is that whatever caused life to exist was obviously nothing like “life as we know it”, so we have absolutely nothing whatsoever upon which to base assumptions regarding general human-like mental abilities.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  235. 235

    UB: They do not test for “life as we know it”.

    Zach: Actually, that’s exactly what they do.

    What is it with you two? Have a little discipline.

    I’ve spent a good number of years inside buildings with large scale broadcast equipment. There are large rooms with racks and racks of equipment. Among those are signal analyzers and frequency counters that will give you the exact characteristics of the signal being processed. I can assure you that none of them has a “life as we know it” button, or dial, or light. Is it just beyond you to separate the thinking/assumptions/preferences/goals of the researcher from the actual test that he/she is able to physically conduct?

  236. 236
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    I’ve spent a good number of years inside buildings with large scale broadcast equipment. There are large rooms with racks and racks of equipment. Among those are signal analyzers and frequency counters that will give you the exact characteristics of the signal being processed. I can assure you that none of them has a “life as we know it” button, or dial, or light.

    Ah, this goes some distance in explaining why your background has not prepared you for these discussions. Scientists and philosophers understand these things.

    Here is your confusion: You are thinking that SETI believes something inherent in the signal indicates “life as we know it”. What we’re trying to say is different: SETI researchers assume that they are looking for “life as we know it” – that is how they describe what they are looking for. They may say “technologically advanced civilizations” or “intelligent life forms” or other terms, but their literature – including their research in astrobiology – makes clear that they are looking for living organisms that need liquid water, a temperate environment, have had sufficient time to evolve large “encephalization quotients” (basically what they call brain size), and so on.

    With these assumptions in hand, they go looking for some sign of these civilizations of living things. They reason that since we use narrow-band signals to communicate, so might other civilizations of living things. That is why they look for narrow-band signals, and why they would think that detecting them would be evidence of civilizations of intelligent life forms.

    OK, now that we’re done talking about SETI and extra-terrestrial life forms, can we get back to the question you answered part of, but are afraid to answer the rest of? Here, repeated for your convenience:

    You’ve just conceded that you have no scientific justification for inferring that conscious thought was involved in the producing the protein synthesis mechanisms in living cells, even though you use words that most people interpret to imply conscious thought (“intelligence” and “design”). So you’ve already conceded a big part of my argument; we just have a little ways to go.

    Just admit that not only have you no justification to infer conscious thought as the source of living things, but you likewise have no justification to infer the other attributes normally associated with human intelligence, such as the ability to learn new skills, solve novel problems in math and logic, read and write in a natural (general-purpose) language, and so on.

    Remember, no dodging! 🙂

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  237. 237
    Zachriel says:

    Upright BiPed: I can assure you that none of them has a “life as we know it” button, or dial, or light.

    SETI makes it clear that they are extrapolating from what we know of humans; evolved organisms “living at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball” that use artificial narrow-band emissions as a form of communications. Hence, SETI is looking for narrow-band radio waves emitted from other star systems, particularly star systems of types F5 through K5, which are thought to be stable enough for long enough periods of time for life to evolve into complex forms. Now that the technology is available, they are particularly interested in planets that may have liquid water.

    Interesting tidbit: “Life as we know it” shows up on SETI’s website 185 times.
    https://www.google.com/search?&q=%22life+as+we+know+it%22+site%3Aseti.org

  238. 238
    EugeneS says:

    RDFish,

    No. You can’t get away with it like that. Whatever definition you use, you should be consistent. That is why I said your logic was flawed. If one doesn’t see that their logic is flawed, it is an error. If one deliberately uses flawed logic, it is intellectual dishonesty.

    Narrow band signals do exist in nature. Evidence suggests they exist only by design.

    By the same reasoning, symbolic constraints also exist in nature; to the best of our current knowledge, only in living systems, on multiple levels of their organization, and in complex human-designed systems. All symbolic constraints whose origin we know exist by design. Therefore we have reason to believe that the first living systems must have been designed.

    The validity of this inference is, of course, based on empirical evidence. As soon as it is empirically demonstrated that living systems can arise naturalistically, i.e. exclusively due to the laws of nature and chance (peculiar initial conditions) without intelligent guidance of some form, e.g. without recourse to control of the chemical synthesis of life, this inference is no longer valid.

  239. 239
    RDFish says:

    Hi EugeneS,

    Whatever definition you use, you should be consistent. That is why I said your logic was flawed. If you don’t see that your logic is flawed, it is an error. If you deliberately use flawed logic, it is intellectual dishonesty.

    I told you which definition I was using – a dictionary definition of the word “natural” which means “not artificial; not involving human action”.

    There is no inconsistency, nor flaw in my logic, nor dishonesty of any kind. You are apparently confused about something.

    Narrow band signals do exist in nature.

    Not that we know of, no. The only narrow band signals SETI is aware of are those produced by human beings, which are – by definition – artificial rather than natural.

    Evidence suggests they exist only by design.

    After all of this, you don’t realize that the meaning of this word “design” is what is at issue here? Does “design” entail conscious thought? General problem solving abilities? Use of general-purpose language?

    I’m very clear about the definitions I’m using – you need to be as well, or else we’ll just spin our wheels here.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  240. 240
    Mung says:

    CJYmon: However I’ll agree with you, for the purposes of classification, that everything made by humans is artificial. Everything else is natural.

    Life is artifact-making. Proteins are artifacts. There is nothing “natural” about proteins. Sorry Mr. Fishy.

  241. 241

    You’re going to need some more insults RD. You’ve been forced to admit that the assumptions of the researcher are irrelevant to the physical process of detecting intelligence. Yet you maintain it is the sheer act of making the assumptions that gives the project “meaning”. This is, of course, spectacularly incoherent, and wouldn’t get past either the scientist or philosopher you think you are. And certainly in my 30+ years of doing research, your level of incoherence would have sent you packing every time. In any case, it’s a desperate business being forced into taking the such stupid positions, and then have to pretend that you’re on top of your game, as if everyone is asleep. The grand equivocation you’re trying to cook up has gone kaput long ago. At this point, you are all in, and all you have left is your dissociative pathology and a surprising willingness to ignore empirical evidence. Lay on it thick, Skippy. Let us see if we can get you into full meltdown once again.

  242. 242
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    Proteins exist in living cells, which are not the result of human action – i.e. they are natural.

    Question-begging. There isn’t any evidence that nature produced life let alone the proteins tat life requires and uses.

    cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  243. 243
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    You’re going to need some more insults RD.

    No, I’m pretty happy with the ones I have, thanks.

    You’ve been forced to admit that the assumptions of the researcher are irrelevant to the physical process of detecting intelligence.

    No, I haven’t been forced to admit anything, sorry. I simply explained to you why SETI researchers pick narrow-band transmissions – because they are looking for “life as we know it”, and we know from our own experience that “life as we know it” transmits narrow-beam signals.

    Yet you maintain it is the sheer act of making the assumptions that gives the project “meaning”.

    Their thinking is pretty easy to understand, really, and based on assumptions, yes: Since life evolved here on Earth, and because there are so many other planets in the universe, there are probably plenty of other planets where life could have evolved. This is an assumption. And, since our civilizations have invented technology, other civilizations probably would have invented technology too, given enough time – another assumption. So, they look for signs of these other civilizations by looking for the sort of technology we use – narrow-band EM signals.

    Seriously, has nobody ever explained this to you?

    This is, of course, spectacularly incoherent, and wouldn’t get past either the scientist or philosopher you think you are.

    Huh? It makes perfect sense to me, and to everyone else I’ve ever talked to about this. And you can read all about it on the SETI website! Really – that’s exactly what the SETI folks think. It’s all about astrobiology, life as we know it, and extra-terrestrial life forms.

    And certainly in my 30+ years of doing research, your level of incoherence would have sent you packing every time.

    I hope you didn’t spend all that time on this stuff about semiotics!

    I guess you’re just going to keep dodging and dodging here. You know you’ve lost, UB. Here it is again:

    You’ve just conceded that you have no scientific justification for inferring that conscious thought was involved in the producing the protein synthesis mechanisms in living cells, even though you use words that most people interpret to imply conscious thought (“intelligence” and “design”). So you’ve already conceded a big part of my argument; we just have a little ways to go.

    Just admit that not only have you no justification to infer conscious thought as the source of living things, but you likewise have no justification to infer the other attributes normally associated with human intelligence, such as the ability to learn new skills, solve novel problems in math and logic, read and write in a natural (general-purpose) language, and so on.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  244. 244
    Virgil Cain says:

    Shut up RDFish- SETI picked narrow-band transmissions because they are ARTIFICIAL, meaning nature cannot produce them.

    You have just conceded that you are a willfully ignorant troll with zero credibility. But we know tat you don’t care.

    Cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  245. 245
    CJYman says:

    RDFish:

    All you have in response is to ignore what SETI researchers say about what they looking for, and pretend that ID is still analogous.

    Question for you … So, according to SETI researchers, SETI has never been a search for ‘life as we know it’ with the capacity for at least a certain level of ‘intelligence?’

    If SETI is indeed looking for a certain level of intelligence … similar to the expressions of ‘intelligence as we know it,’ then that is exactly where the intersection lies between SETI and the ID argument from biosemiosis. It matters not where in space or time the signal begins, the signal points at the very least to some aspects of ‘intelligence as we know it.’

    RDFish:

    So, what is your justification for all these inferences about the cause of living things? How can you justify your inference to consciousness, general linguistic abilities, novel problem solving abilities, and all of the other abilities associated with the concept of “intelligence”?

    Serious?!?!? The answer: Humans use these abilities associated with the concept of intelligence to produce semiotic systems (automated systems) and semiotic patterns (books). I don’t really see why you had to ask that question in the first place. What was the point anyway? BTW, there is a difference between consciousness and intelligence, but I think that UprightBiped has already pointed that out. Consciousness is not an ‘ability’ pointing to any sort of intelligence.

    RDFish:

    Oh, and you dodged the point about SETI seeking signals not found in nature, while your signals are found in nature.

    That arbitrary classification is a distinction without significance. It has absolutely no application to the thread that actually is common between SETI and the ID argument from biosemiosis. I might be mistaken, but didn’t UprightBiped already go over all this with you?

    Having already explained myself on the ‘reification’ issue, I repeat the key point as a restatement of RDFish’s defense of SETI methodology.

    We are a civilization of “Intelligence” – having the capacity for intelligent behavior. We build semiotic systems to be distinguishable from “natural chemical reactions,” and if we lived on some other planet and/or at some other time, we would do the same thing there. So, we look for “intelligence” with at least some characteristics like us that lived before us by looking for semiotic systems that would predate us. Get it?

  246. 246
    RDFish says:

    Hi CJYMan,

    Question for you … So, according to SETI researchers, SETI has never been a search for ‘life as we know it’ with the capacity for at least a certain level of ‘intelligence?’

    Yes, that is what SETI searches for – life as we know it, with intelligence as we know it.

    If SETI is indeed looking for a certain level of intelligence … similar to the expressions of ‘intelligence as we know it,’ then that is exactly where the intersection lies between SETI and the ID argument from biosemiosis.

    I don’t understand what you mean. SETI posits living organisms like us as the cause of a signal (if they ever get one); ID says absolutely nothing about what it is proposing as the cause of cellular machinery.

    It matters not where in space or time the signal begins, the signal points at the very least to some aspects of ‘intelligence as we know it.’

    That would be the conjecture, yes, because “life as we know it” has “intelligence as we know it”. Obviously that conjecture doesn’t hold for something we know nothing about.

    Serious?!?!? The answer: Humans use these abilities associated with the concept of intelligence to produce semiotic systems (automated systems) and semiotic patterns (books).

    Serious?!?!?!? Just because humans are conscious, linguistic, etc. and they produce semiotic systems doesn’t mean that something else that makes similar systems that is very different from a human being is going to share those same attributes!

    Humans use conscious thoughts (and knowledge of electrical engineering) to produce high-voltage electric arcs. Thunderclouds, however, produce high-voltage electric arcs without conscious thought or EE knowledge. Humans play chess by consciously thinking about moves; computers play chess (better than any human) without any conscious thought. Humans use conscious thought to solve search and tree optimization problems. Slime mold solves the same problems without any conscious thought. And so on, and so on.

    It’s just a simple logical fallacy, really:

    Premise 1) X PRODUCES Y
    Premise 2) X HAS ATTRIBUTES A,B,C
    Premise 3) Z PRODUCES Y
    Conclusion) THEREFORE Z HAS ATTRIBUTES A,B,C (WRONG)

    I don’t really see why you had to ask that question in the first place. What was the point anyway?

    What question?

    BTW, there is a difference between consciousness and intelligence, but I think that UprightBiped has already pointed that out.

    Hahahaha – yes, I know. I am pointing out here that people generally associate consciousness with intelligence, so when ID claims to have supported the notion that something “intelligent” was responsible for cellular machinery, people believe that means some conscious, rational being (these are actually the words Stephen Meyer uses!) is implied. But as Dembski, Barry A, and now UB have all finally admitted, there is no reason at all to assume that the cause of cellular machinery was capable of conscious thought. This is one of my basic objections to ID.

    Consciousness is not an ‘ability’ pointing to any sort of intelligence.

    Yes, very good, you are quite right. There is nothing in our understanding of human mentality that says consciousness is required for any particular mental ability. Nor can we say that any particular mental ability must co-occur with other mental abilities; they just happen to in human beings. That is why when ID proposes something that produces semiotic systems, but that something is likely very different from a human being, we have no justification for assuming it has the same array of mental abilities as humans do. In fact, we can’t legitimately conclude that it would have any particular attribute or trait – except the bare ability to produce what we observe of course.

    That arbitrary classification is a distinction without significance. It has absolutely no application to the thread that actually is common between SETI and the ID argument from biosemiosis. I might be mistaken, but didn’t UprightBiped already go over all this with you?

    UB bases his argument on an analogy with SETI. I’ve shown that his analogy with SETI fails for two reasons.

    First, SETI assumes that the sender of the signal is “life as we know it”, which is the basis for hypothesizing the sender may be similar in various ways to us (including having complex bodies with “high encephalization quotients”, which is how SETI says “big brains”). Second, SETI looks for signals that are not known to be caused by anything except living things like us. But the signal found in cells was obviously not produced by anything living like us.

    UB has too much invested in his paper on semiotics (30 years of research?) to allow himself to understand this, but the truth is the existence of irreducible complexity in biology is old news, and simply tells us nothing about what produced biological systems. All it does is tells us what did not produce biological systems.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  247. 247
    EugeneS says:

    RDF,

    Well, I already stated what I meant by intelligence. I mean the ability to plan and use means to achieve it. Intelligence is the only option available for describing the origin of telic systems such as complex human-made systems and living organisms. I deliberately avoid discussing consciousness issues because they are a different kettle of fish. I do not think they are relevant to the question of classification.

    The question is, why do you insist that apart from classifying something as a design we absolutely need to know the IQ level of the designer?

    Certain things just do not happen naturalistically. With the OOL, even finding the ‘magical’ initial conditions will not solve the problem because control, which is a telic thing, is absolutely key to it.

    As I said, control and symbolic constraints are reliable markers of intelligence at work given the evidence in exactly the same manner as narrow band signals are. As to what other characteristics this intelligence happens to have, this is irrelevant to classification. I can see no justification for raising issues about IQ.

  248. 248
    Zachriel says:

    Upright BiPed: Yet you maintain it is the sheer act of making the assumptions that gives the project “meaning”.

    It’s called hypothetico-deduction. With SETI, the hypothesis is encapsulated in the Drake Equation.
    http://www.seti.org/drakeequation

    evidence, something {observation} which shows that something else {hypothesis} is true {supported}.

  249. 249
    Virgil Cain says:

    With SETI, the hypothesis is encapsulated in the Drake Equation.

    The Drake equation has been superseded, twice.

  250. 250
    Virgil Cain says:

    Thankfully neither RDFish nor Zachriel has any input that scientists listen too. Thankfully neither RDFish nor Zachriel are scientists who actually investigate phenomena.

    Cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  251. 251
    Mung says:

    RDFish: First, SETI assumes that the sender of the signal is “life as we know it”

    Like bacteria. Intelligent radio-bacteria.

  252. 252
    Mung says:

    RDFish: …the existence of irreducible complexity in biology is old news, and simply tells us nothing about what produced biological systems. All it does is tells us what did not produce biological systems.

    How does it tell us what did not produce biological systems?

  253. 253

    No, I haven’t been forced to admit anything, sorry. I simply explained to you why SETI researchers pick narrow-band transmissions – because they are looking for “life as we know it”, and we know from our own experience that “life as we know it” transmits narrow-beam signals.

    Again, it’s not physically possible to search for “life as we know it” from a trillion miles away. You either understand the research implications, or you don’t. As far as characterizing SETI as a search for “life as we know it”, the researchers could say anything or nothing at all and it would change absolutely nothing in the process of detecting the intelligence. This is why I keep saying that your clamoring about consciousness has no bearing on the actual research – it’s because it has no bearing on the actual research.

    Even so, you claim that a SETI researcher, by merely stating upfront that he’s looking for “life as we know it”, gives “meaning” to the research. Your position is a logical deformity, where the value of the research is increased by making a statement which is totally irrelevant to the process. It’s lunacy.

    Their thinking is pretty easy to understand, really, and based on assumptions, yes: Since life evolved here on Earth, and because there are so many other planets…

    And yet still, these things have no impact whatsoever on the process of detecting intelligence. Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, at no time in the process of detecting a narrow-band signal is there anything altered, adjusted, changed, or modified to account for the laundry list of things you’ve argued for. The signal either fits the criteria or it doesn’t. Period.

    You’ve just conceded that you have no scientific justification for inferring that conscious thought was involved in the producing the protein synthesis mechanisms

    I’ve conceded nothing of the sort; instead, I’ve told you repeatedly that neither of these ideas (the testing of an unknown intelligence in the cosmos or at the origin of life) has any method to test for “consciousness”, or “intentionality” or “IQ” or the ability to “predict a lunar eclipse”. Instead, both use an operational definition based on a measurable artifact of intelligence, (this is what is analogous between them). In the first instance, the measurable artifact is a narrow band radio signal. In the second instance, the measurable artifact is a semiotic organization using a finite set of spatially-oriented representations. Both of these definitions are clearly defined and entirely detectable, making both of them valid for their purpose.

    But instead of discussing the merits of the evidence (which you won’t touch with a ten foot pole) you want to argue that SETI may make reasonable assumptions about additional attributes of an unknown intelligence (if they should ever receive a signal), while ID proponents may not make any reasonable assumptions in association with intelligence. You‘ve convinced yourself that you have justification for this hypocrisy, and you’ve shared it with us.

    So let’s take a look at what you’ve said. The following passage is a perfect snapshot of your justification. It’s only two sentences long. Here’s the first sentence:

    RD: I have explained to you that the context of SETI – their assumption that they are looking for something we are familiar with as a civilization of life forms – underlies their inferences regarding what might be responsible for narrow-band transmissions.

    This first sentence tells us that SETI researchers will assume (by “life as we know it”) that a conscious entity is responsible for the existence of a narrow band radio signal (should one ever be received). Of course, they wouldn’t have actually *tested* for consciousness, and so by your standards, they wouldn’t actually have any “scientific justification” for it — but regardless, you see it as a reasonable assumption given that an intelligence has indeed been detected.

    But then there is your second sentence:

    RD: I have explained to you that without those assumptions, they would not be justified in making any inferences regarding what characteristics may be true of the source of those signals.

    So, you say — without making the assumption that the source of the signal was conscious, they would not be justified in inferring that the source of the signal was conscious. This appears to be another RDFish logical dumpster fire. Perhaps it’s akin to your other claim that rivers choose their paths to the ocean — it needn’t make sense.

    So to me you say:

    #226: … you have no scientific justification for inferring that conscious thought was involved in the producing the protein synthesis mechanisms.

    #236 … you have no scientific justification for inferring that conscious thought was involved in the producing the protein synthesis mechanisms in living cells.

    #243 … you have no scientific justification for inferring that conscious thought was involved in the producing the protein synthesis mechanisms

    And following your underlying theme, the reason that I have no “scientific justification” for inferring any reasonable attributes of the intelligence is because I did not assume them upfront. Perhaps the only thing that can enhance the deformity in this reasoning is to simply remember it doesn’t matter whether I assume them or not — they are completely irrelevant to the methodology of the test.

    That’s some powerful thinking there RD. The bottom line is that it is ad hoc, incoherent, and remains irrelevant. Perhaps the only real explanation for this morass is your deep need to avoid talking about the observable facts of semiosis in the cell.

  254. 254

    UB bases his argument on an analogy with SETI.

    Nonsense. The observations of semiosis in the cell existed long before any discussion of SETI. The thing that is analogous between them is that they use the same methodology. End.

    I’ve shown that his analogy with SETI fails for two reasons.

    First, SETI assumes that the sender of the signal is “life as we know it”, which is the basis for hypothesizing the sender may be similar in various ways to us

    SETI reasonably assumes that the source of the intelligence is a conscious entity. But their assumption does not alter the methodology of detecting a narrow band signal. It is therefore irrelevant to the detection of the intelligence.

    [It is still worth noting your adoration: SETI hypothesizes that the sender is like us, because they assume it upfront]

    Second, SETI looks for signals that are not known to be caused by anything except living things like us. But the signal found in cells was obviously not produced by anything living like us.

    This line of reasoning would invalidate SETI on the day they receive their first signal. In a desperate attempt to avoid the facts of semiosis, you‘ve now tied the ontological reality of a thing to the time in which humans discovered it. Again, you jam the researcher right into the middle of the research.

    For instance, if we were now living in a pre-DNA era, the unique facts of semiosis could serve as an inference to any other systems we discovered to be like it. We could say, “anything like this system requires the capacity of a human-like intelligence in order to come into being” and by your standard we would be completely valid in doing so.

    But once we discovered DNA (and we discovered that it operates exactly like what was previously known to require a human-like intelligence) you are suggesting that we can no longer use semiosis as an inference to intelligence because we now have an example of the system that could not have possibly come from a human.

    And on the day that SETI receives their first signal, they will have an example of a narrow band radio wave that could not possibly have come from a human. To be consistent with the looniness of your standard, we would have to invalidate it as an inference to intelligence.

    Of course, this is just one of many aspects of this inane idea. For instance, when you complain that ID searches for signals that are “produced in nature“, you are simply assuming the very thing that is to be determined. And what is it that we have to turn to in order to gain a perspective on the answer? Yes, it would be the simple fact that the only other examples of these unique systems are produced by intelligence. There are no other counter-examples.

    So the problems with your position just go on and on. Entire swathes of science and reason would fall to the wayside, just so that you could avoid the empirical details of semiosis in the cell.

  255. 255

    VC at 250

    I have had a chance to talk with a modest number of working researchers and others over the course of the past 5 years. One thing that stood out to me immediately was that none of them threw up the types of silly things found in threads like this. None of them played definiton derby, or similar games.

    I think it was simply beneath them to suggest the kinds of things that are routinely demanded by the critics of ID found here.

  256. 256

    Mung at 252,

    RDFish: …the existence of irreducible complexity in biology is old news, and simply tells us nothing about what produced biological systems. All it does is tells us what did not produce biological systems.

    How does it tell us what did not produce biological systems?

    Good Question.

  257. 257
    Mung says:

    Upright BiPed:

    For instance, if we were now living in a pre-DNA era…

    But once we discovered DNA…

    Spot on. The absurd position of Mr. Fishy is exposed.

  258. 258
    EugeneS says:

    RDF,

    “All it does is tells us what did not produce biological systems.”

    Oh, yes, your PC has printed a letter “A” on a piece of paper. Of course, human intelligence did not have anything to do with it…

  259. 259
    Zachriel says:

    Upright BiPed: the researchers could say anything or nothing at all and it would change absolutely nothing in the process of detecting the intelligence.

    Of course it would. Everything SETI does is based on human knowledge of how intelligent life arose on Earth.

    Upright BiPed: And yet still, these things have no impact whatsoever on the process of detecting intelligence.

    Why, then, is SETI so interested in detecting narrow-band emissions from watery worlds circling nuclear fireballs? Why not point their telescopes into the void?

    Upright BiPed: We could say, “anything like *this system* requires the capacity of a human-like intelligence in order to come into being” and by your standard we would be completely valid in doing so.

    You are confusing a hypothesis, that a narrow-band emission is a signature of a technological civilization, with a conclusion. Detecting a narrow-band emission is just the first step in making any determination.

    Similarly, someone might have hypothesized that a semiotic system was a signature of an intelligent agent, but detecting a semiotic system is just the first step in making any determination. For instance, with regards to biosemiosis, the lack of an independent message tends to undermine the conclusion.

    Upright BiPed: And on the day that SETI receives their first signal, they will have an example of a narrow band radio wave that could not possibly have come from a human. To be consistent with the looniness of your standard, we would have to invalidate it as an inference to intelligence.

    The reach-the-conclusion-wipe-your-hands-and-go-home method of scientific investigation.

    No, to be consistent, you would then subject the narrow-band emissions to scrutiny. The lack of an independent message would tend to undermine the conclusion. Perhaps it’s a signal beacon with no message, but more information would be sought.

  260. 260
    Mung says:

    Zachriel: Why not point their telescopes into the void?

    Because they are not interested in studying your brain.

  261. 261
    Virgil Cain says:

    Brain? What brain? It’s the “void”, meaning devoid of a brain

  262. 262
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Everything SETI does is based on human knowledge of how intelligent life arose on Earth.

    That is incorrect. It is based on how intelligent life acts on Earth. No one knows how intelligent life arose.

    Why, then, is SETI so interested in detecting narrow-band emissions from watery worlds circling nuclear fireballs?

    They aim towards the host stars. And thanks to the pro-ID “The Privileged Planet” they know exactly what to look and aim for.

    For instance, with regards to biosemiosis, the lack of an independent message tends to undermine the conclusion.

    That is your opinion but no one needs to heed it. It doesn’t mean anything. But I am sure saying it makes you feel special.

    Cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  263. 263
    es58 says:

    RDF: proteins exist in living cells, which are not the result of human action – i.e. they are natural.

    Your statement that uses the word human seems imprecise. Certainly if SETI finds what they’re looking for, they’re not expecting that it was produced by “humans”. Rather, it was produced by some entity that share certain common features with humans. (what feature might that be?)

    If this is correct, we could modify your statement to read:

    proteins exist in living cells, which are not the result of the action of entities that share certain common features with humans (whatever those features might be – I might suggest intelligence is one of them) – i.e. they are natural.

    If someone does genetic engineering on a genome, and produces a new, desirable effect, which modifies a resulting protein, would that not be artificial?
    If so, on what basis can you confidently make such a statement that proteins are not the result of “entity” action, since we see that certainly can be.

  264. 264
    Zachriel says:

    es58: Certainly if SETI finds what they’re looking for, they’re not expecting that it was produced by “humans”. Rather, it was produced by some entity that share certain common features with humans. (what feature might that be?)

    Evolved, technological organisms “living at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball.”

  265. 265
    CJYman says:

    Hello Zachriel,

    Is it possible to be technological, yet unintelligent, according to the common dictionary definition of ‘intelligence?’

  266. 266
    Virgil Cain says:

    The earth isn’t a deep gravity well…

  267. 267

    UB: the researchers could say anything or nothing at all and it would change absolutely nothing in the process of detecting the intelligence.

    Zach: Of course it would. Everything SETI does is based on human knowledge of how intelligent life arose on Earth.

    Zach, we use a frequency counter to determine if a signal is of the narrow-band variety or not. The output of that frequency analyzer does not change depending on what we assume is sending the signal. The bandwidth of the signal is the determining factor in SETI’s operational definition of intelligence, not whether we think the sender is a blue-eye blonde or a worm. Certainly, we may someday be fascinated to find out that in some deep corner of the universe intelligent worms build radio transmitters, but that has nothing to do with establishing the presence of an intelligence. And where we choose to point the dish is not even the question.

    The same thing occurs in the detection of intelligence at the origin of life. The criteria is the observation of a dimensional semiotic system, using spatially-oriented representations, requiring the additional constraints of a reading frame code to enable system. These criterion have been unambiguously observed during protein synthesis. Therefore, a universal correlate of intelligence has been established in the organization of the living cell.

  268. 268
    Zachriel says:

    CJYman: Is it possible to be technological, yet unintelligent, according to the common dictionary definition of ‘intelligence?’

    intelligent: having or showing the ability to learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations

    technology: the use of science in industry, engineering, etc., to invent useful things or to solve problems

    Probably not. However, intelligence doesn’t necessarily imply consciousness.

    Upright BiPed: we use a frequency counter to determine if a signal is of the narrow-band variety or not. The output of that frequency analyzer does not change depending on what we assume is sending the signal.

    By definition, evidence has to be about something. Scientific evidence is an empirical observation that supports or contradicts a hypothesis. In this case, the hypothesis is based on the knowledge that life arises on watery worlds, then eventually evolves technological organisms that use narrow-band emissions for communications.

    Upright BiPed: The bandwidth of the signal is the determining factor in SETI’s operational definition of intelligence, not whether we think the sender is a blue-eye blonde or a worm.

    It depends on the hypothesis that technological beings evolved “at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball.” Otherwise, why look at stars? Why look for watery worlds? Why look at radio emissions?

    Nor does detection of a narrow-band emission necessarily ‘prove’ the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligence. Any such emission will, if discovered, be subjected to exceptional scrutiny, and additional evidence will be required to support the hypothesis, perhaps some message independent of the medium.

  269. 269
    Virgil Cain says:

    However, intelligence doesn’t necessarily imply consciousness.

    That depends on what anal-retentive definitions you are using and which you omit.

    It depends on the hypothesis that technological beings evolved “at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball.”

    That isn’t an argument.

    Nor does detection of a narrow-band emission necessarily ‘prove’ the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligence.

    It does, scientifically, and for the reasons provided by SETI.

    Any such emission will, if discovered, be subjected to exceptional scrutiny, and additional evidence will be required to support the hypothesis, perhaps some message independent of the medium.

    As if we could tell. Anyway SETI has said what they are looking for and why. Zachriel’s attempt at obfuscation is just a sign of his desperation.

    Cheers,
    Virgil Cain

  270. 270

    UB: we use a frequency counter to determine if a signal is of the narrow-band variety or not. The output of that frequency analyzer does not change depending on what we assume is sending the signal.

    Zach: By definition, evidence has to be about something…

    Geez, the desire to obfuscate this simple point is a little weird.

    Zach, two scientists are monitoring the board on the day that a potential signal is received. The first scientist believes that anything that sends a narrow-band signal will meet the expectations that you describe. The other scientist, perhaps having been around a while and seen many things, doesn’t think that the sender need be anything like what is expected.

    The first scientist leans over and reads the frequency display on the spectrum analyzer and it reads that the signal is x Hz wide. What does the display read when the other scientist looks at it?

  271. 271
    Mung says:

    If we discover a planet containing self-replicating radio transmitters it would only prove that radio transmitters are perfectly natural.

  272. 272
    Zachriel says:

    Upright BiPed: The first scientist leans over and reads the frequency display on the spectrum analyzer and it reads that the signal is X Hz wide. What does the display read when the other scientist looks at it?

    The second scientist probably wouldn’t bother. But if she did, she reads the same result, but draws no conclusion. That’s the difference between data and evidence.

    Now, try to answer the question. The hypothesis is that technological beings evolved “at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball.” Otherwise, why look at stars? Why look for watery worlds? Why look at radio emissions?

  273. 273
    Virgil Cain says:

    The hypothesis is that technological beings evolved “at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball.”

    But the earth isn’t a deep gravity well and it has technological beings on its surface. Your hypothesis is crap, as usual.

  274. 274

    UB: The first scientist leans over and reads the frequency display on the spectrum analyzer and it reads that the signal is x Hz wide. What does the display read when the other scientist looks at it?

    Zach: The second scientist probably wouldn’t bother.

    Okay. So SETI sets up a search methodology, but those monitoring the search results won’t “bother” to see if they find a signal that meets their criteria.

    Got it. Thanks. Perhaps that’s why they haven’t found anything.

  275. 275
    Zachriel says:

    Upright BiPed: So SETI sets up a search methodology, but those monitoring the search results won’t “bother” to see if they find a signal that meets their criteria.

    SETI set up a search methodology to *test* their hypothesis, as encapsulated in the Drake Equation.
    http://www.seti.org/drakeequation

    “What, did you think they were swimming completely naked?”

    By the way, you seem to keep missing the question. The hypothesis is that technological beings evolved “at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball.” Otherwise, why look at stars? Why look for watery worlds? Why look at radio emissions?

  276. 276

    And so…the second scientist “wouldn’t bother” to read the frequency display becuase … their methodology is to test their hypothesis.

    Okay.

  277. 277
    Zachriel says:

    Upright BiPed: And so…the second scientist “wouldn’t bother” to read the frequency display becuase

    Why look at stars? Why look for watery worlds? Why look at radio emissions?

  278. 278

    Zach, you’ve been doing routine obfuscation work for your ideology for years. It would be difficult to imagine that you don’t find it intellectual satisfying. You and I both know, when it comes to searching the stars at this juncture in our existence, WHERE we look for intelligent life does not alter HOW we look for intelligent life.

    This conversation is about HOW we determine if intelligence life exists billions of miles away from earth. We do it by looking for narrow-band radio signals. The bandwidth of any signal we recieve is the same regardless of what we might imagine is sending the signal, or what our hypothesis might be. One might think this would be obvious.

    I simply could not do what you do every day of the week. “The second scientist wouldn’t bother”. That’s just not something I want to do, and I could not hide it from myself what I was doing. It’s remarkable that you do it so well.

  279. 279
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    Again, it’s not physically possible to search for “life as we know it” from a trillion miles away.

    And yet that is exactly what SETI folks say they’re doing.

    As far as characterizing SETI as a search for “life as we know it”, the researchers could say anything or nothing at all and it would change absolutely nothing in the process of detecting the intelligence.

    Of course it would change everything. They look for planets with temperatures like Earth, that have water like Earth has, and for planets old enough to allow for the evolution of complex organisms like those on Earth, so they have big enough brains to think like we do. They look for narrow-band signals because that is what we Earthlings use. They talk about all of this, explicitly. Why? Why hire astrobiologists if biology has nothing to do with the research? Why look for signs of technology like we use if they are not looking for life forms like us?

    I’ve explained all this over and over again, but you are too invested to hear it.

    Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, at no time in the process of detecting a narrow-band signal is there anything altered, adjusted, changed, or modified to account for the laundry list of things you’ve argued for. The signal either fits the criteria or it doesn’t. Period.

    The point you miss is that the reason SETI thinks these signals would come from intelligent (and perhaps even conscious) entities is because they are looking for life forms like us. Once they have assumed that civilizations of human-like organizations may use human-like technology to communicate from Earth-like planets, then of course the actual mechanics of scanning for the narrow-band signals from these human-like technologies does not need to involve any assumptions about liquid water, or temperate planets, or stars, or anything else.

    RDF: You’ve just conceded that you have no scientific justification for inferring that conscious thought was involved in the producing the protein synthesis mechanisms
    UB: I’ve conceded nothing of the sort;

    It appeared that you did. Why didn’t you answer the question then? Either you believe that you have provided some sort of scientific case for the conscious awareness of the cause of living things, or you haven’t. Which is it?

    (BTW, Dembski would answer no, ID cannot validly infer conscious thought associated with the cause of living things. And Barry A just explicitly agreed. So at least you wouldn’t be alone as an ID proponent who admits ID can’t support an inference to a conscious mind).

    But instead of discussing the merits of the evidence (which you won’t touch with a ten foot pole)

    WHAT? Please name one piece of evidence I have ignored that has anything to do with inferring the mental attributes of the source of protein synthesis machinery.

    RD: I have explained to you that the context of SETI – their assumption that they are looking for something we are familiar with as a civilization of life forms – underlies their inferences regarding what might be responsible for narrow-band transmissions.

    UB: This first sentence tells us that SETI researchers will assume (by “life as we know it”) that a conscious entity is responsible for the existence of a narrow band radio signal (should one ever be received).

    No, it tells you that SETI researchers look for those particular things because they have made a set of assumptions based on our knowledge of life on Earth.

    Of course, they wouldn’t have actually *tested* for consciousness, and so by your standards, they wouldn’t actually have any “scientific justification” for it — but regardless, you see it as a reasonable assumption given that an intelligence has indeed been detected.

    If they do receive such a signal, a scientific investigation will ensue of course. The reasoning that may lead SETI to conclude that consciousness was involved will be based on evidence that the senders are similar to human beings, because human beings (and other complex animals) are the only conscious entities we know of.

    RD: I have explained to you that without those assumptions, they would not be justified in making any inferences regarding what characteristics may be true of the source of those signals.
    SB: So, you say — without making the assumption that the source of the signal was conscious, they would not be justified in inferring that the source of the signal was conscious.

    NO!!!!!! You misunderstand once again. Here is what I am saying: Without making the assumption that the source of the signal was similar to human beings, they would not be justified in inferring that the source of the signal was conscious..

    Do you see now? And yes, if you think it would take more evidence than merely some narrow-band signal for scientists (in or out of the SETI program) to conclude some conscious aliens are responsible, you are of course quite correct.

    This appears to be another RDFish logical dumpster fire.

    If you mean I’ve built one to burn your trashy argument, yes, I suppose, metaphorically speaking. 🙂

    Perhaps it’s akin to your other claim that rivers choose their paths to the ocean — it needn’t make sense.

    Great! When I’m done ripping apart your fallacious semiotics arguments we can debate free will!

    So to me you say:
    #226: … you have no scientific justification for inferring that conscious thought was involved in the producing the protein synthesis mechanisms.
    #236 … you have no scientific justification for inferring that conscious thought was involved in the producing the protein synthesis mechanisms in living cells.
    #243 … you have no scientific justification for inferring that conscious thought was involved in the producing the protein synthesis mechanisms

    Yes I’d say I made that rather clear. If you’d been listening I could have saved a lot of typing.

    And following your underlying theme, the reason that I have no “scientific justification” for inferring any reasonable attributes of the intelligence is because I did not assume them upfront.

    NO. It is because you haven’t said what you talking about. SETI assumes something that is like a human will have mental abilities like a human. So it looks for signals like humans make, and if it finds them, maybe they’ll think a human-like mind was responsible.

    You just aren’t getting it. Here, try this:

    RDFish talks to SETI:
    SETI: We’re looking for intelligence.
    RDF: Huh? What do you mean, intelligence?
    SETI: Ah, we have written many papers about that – just read our site. We make a ton of assumptions regarding astrobiology, encephalization quotients, evolution, and other things, and are explicitly looking for civilizations of beings that are similar to us in many ways. One of the ways we assume they are similar to us is that they will build technology similar to that which we build (that assumption underlies our choice of our operational definition – the evidence that we are actually looking for). If we find evidence of such beings, we may (or may not) feel justified in saying that since they are similar to humans in other ways, they may also be similar in that they experience conscious awareness.
    RDF: OK! Good thinking. Hope you find some ETs!

    RDFish talks to UB:
    UB: I’ve shown that intelligence was responsible for protein synthesis mechanisms
    RDF: Huh? What do you mean, intelligence?
    UB: You are ridiculous. How dare you ask such a supid question!
    RDF: No, seriously – you haven’t actually said what you’re talking about.
    UB: I’m talking about semiotics! About codes and thermodynamics and spatial representations and all of these science-y sounding things!
    RDF: None of that has anything to do with what produced those things.
    UB: It was, you know… intelligence! Consciousness and whatever. I have an operational definition!
    RDF: SETI’s operational definition derives from their assumptions about what they are looking for. What about yours?
    UB: I make no assumptions about what I’m looking for. I’m not actually looking for anything. I just look at the semiotic nature of cells and conclude no natural process could produce it. Then I simply declare, with no justification whatsoever, that the cause of this was something with a human-like mind – conscious awareness, general linguistic abilities, learning and novel problem-solving abilities, whatever. Then I go back and call the semiotic characteristics that are in the cells an “operational definition of intelligence”… but still I refuse to say what other attributes of “intelligence” are involved. Except consciousness… it’s gotta be conscious, right?

    🙂

    Perhaps the only thing that can enhance the deformity in this reasoning is to simply remember it doesn’t matter whether I assume them or not — they are completely irrelevant to the methodology of the test.

    For the 100000th time, the methodology of the test is not the issue. The issue is what assumptions underly the test, and what the conclusion of the test would be based on.

    Perhaps the only real explanation for this morass is your deep need to avoid talking about the observable facts of semiosis in the cell.

    As I’ve told you 1000000 times, none of that has ever mattered, because we agreed on IC in the cell before the debate even began.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  280. 280

    UB: it’s not physically possible to search for “life as we know it” from a trillion miles away.

    RD: And yet that is exactly what SETI folks say they’re doing.

    No they don’t, by their own words.

    Get this through your head:


    You are a biological organism.
    You do not emit narrow-band radio waves.
    SETI searches for narrow band radio waves.

    See the problem?

    We identify narrow band radio waves with a spectrum analyzer.
    Spectrum analyzers do not detect consciousness, or IQ, or fashion sense.
    Either the signal is of the narrow band variety, or it is not.

    Still with me?

    SETI can detect a measurable artifact of intelligence without the laundry list of attributes you insist on.
    ID can detect a measurable artifact of intelligence without the laundry list of attributes you insist on.
    Your argument against ID in regard to that laundry list is dead dead dead.

  281. 281
    Barry Arrington says:

    RDFish:

    [Barry] admits ID can’t support an inference to a conscious mind.

    Of course I never said this or admitted anything of the sort. RDFish, the quickest way to be shown the exit from this blog is to tell lies about me. Stop it. Last warning.

    Now, I did say that if Thomas Nagel’s “natural teleology” is found, it would not be necessary for that causal force to be conscious. In fact, that is Nagel’s entire project; after the obvious failure of modern evolutionary theory to account for the observations of complex specified information — which RDFish admits — Nagel is pushing his fellow atheist monists to admit their past failures and start looking for answers that account for the obvious teleology in nature. And Dembski says in Being and Consciousness, that Nagel might be on to something, and his position is not far from the ID position in the sense of agnosticism about the nature of the designer.

    So, in sum, ID does not require a conscious designer, but it certainly does not exclude one. ID’s requirements for a designer are very minimal: the ability to arrange matter for a purpose.

    “Purpose” is, of course, the key word. It means the designer must be able to act in the present for a remote end or goal, something that is beyond the capacity of chance and known mechanical law.

    Nagel believes his “natural teleological force” meets the bill. And if such a force exists he would be right and he and ID would be confirmed and “blind watchmaker” evolutionary theory would be refuted. And the “designer” would not be conscious. That is all Dembski and I have “admitted.”

  282. 282

    Nor does detection of a narrow-band emission necessarily ‘prove’ the existence of extra-terrestrial intelligence. Any such emission will, if discovered, be subjected to exceptional scrutiny, and additional evidence will be required to support the hypothesis, perhaps some message independent of the medium.

    I understand that in the context of this particular conversation you’d like to promote the idea that if SETI receives an unambiguous narrow-band carrier wave from some distant galaxy, their response will be to contain themselves as modest men, reservedly pondering what the signal might mean – but that’s a fairy tale. They will, as they have clearly indicated in their literature, first verify that the signal is indeed of extraterrestrial origin (not mistakenly an earthly transmission) and then they will announce the discovery “as quickly and as widely as possible”. Tax dollars will flow, socio-political lines will be drawn, and every astrobiologist on the surface of the planet will have a microphone stuck in their face to get some B-roll of them saying “We are not alone!”. They will all say it, and they will say much much more.

    But since you brought it up … I wrote specifically about this issue on Biosemiosis.org:

    AUTHENTICITY

    The methodology used to detect an act of unknown intelligence in the cosmos is used to detect an act of unknown intelligence at the origin of life. In both of these cases the issue of authenticity (i.e. the reliability of the result) will come into play – and as it turns out, there is a meaningful correlation between the two cases.

    If it came to pass that a narrow-band radio signal was received from across the vastness of space, the SETI institute would (enthusiastically) conclude that it had confirmed the presence of an unknown intelligence. If such a signal was received, there would be two things that could be objectively detected. First, there is the narrow-band “carrier” wave, and then there is the actual message encoded within that carrier wave. While it is possible that a strong carrier wave could be detected from deep space, the actual message (information) encoded within that signal would likely be either degraded or lost entirely over such an immense distance. SETI scientists understand this issue and have specifically set up their research to detect the narrow-band carrier wave because narrow-band waves are only known to be produced by artificial means. There is simply no rational conceptualization whereby inanimate forces come together to create narrow-band radio waves. They are, in fact, a distinct and reliable artifact of design.

    Even so, there would likely be skeptics who would question the conclusions of the SETI scientists, given the simple fact that there is no way to actually test whether or not some unknown combination of natural forces could have created the narrow-band signal (if one was received). But those dissenting voices would surely have to concede our universal experience – narrow-band radio signals simply do not occur in nature without intelligence. In the end, there would be little empirical basis to support their objection.

    However, there is one result that SETI scientists could produce that would immediately end all objections. This would be the case if SETI not only received a narrow-band carrier signal, but was also able to retrieve and translate the encoded message within that signal. In order to accomplish this, the researchers would have to isolate the representations within the signal medium and they would have to decipher the protocols that translate those representations into meaning. SETI researchers have already anticipated this exact opportunity; suggesting that even if the message was not decipherable, they would analyze it by other methodologies, perhaps (for instance) to determine how much information the message contained.

    As a matter of brute fact, it would be the discovery of this semiotic content within the signal that would immediately end all questions as to its intelligent origin. Its authenticity would become unquestionable based squarely upon the presence of that semiotic content. It simply cannot go unnoticed that the very observation that would make the SETI results unquestionable is the very observation already made within the genome of every living thing on earth. And just as it is in the case of narrow-band radio signals, there is simply no rational conceptualization whereby inanimate forces come together to create a system of spatially-oriented representations, as well as the rules to translate those representations into meaningful effects. Such things are, in fact, a distinct and reliable artifact of design.

  283. 283
    RDFish says:

    Hi Upright BiPed,

    You are a biological organism.
    You do not emit narrow-band radio waves.
    SETI searches for narrow band radio waves.
    See the problem?

    Yes, the problem is that you don’t actually think very clearly.

    SETI doesn’t think biological organisms emit radio waves; they think that they work together, using their big brains and the tools they develop, and the build technology, and that this technology is what emits these waves. That is why they look for those radio waves in order to find life out there in the universe.

    1) If narrow-band radio waves are a good indicator of conscious, human-like intelligence,…

    Most people don’t think that just the radio waves are that at all. It would depend on other things, like the source of the transmission (e.g. was it from a planet with liquid water?), did it have other characteristics of human-like technology (e.g. was there modulation of the signal?) and so on.

    We identify narrow band radio waves with a spectrum analyzer.
    Spectrum analyzers do not detect consciousness, or IQ, or fashion sense.
    Either the signal is of the a narrow band variety, or it is not.

    Stop with this already! Of course the detection of radio waves has nothing to do with anything except detecting radio waves!

    SETI can detect a measurable artifact of intelligence without the laundry list of attributes you insist on.

    The “laundry list” is what most people associate with the word “intelligence”. If you aren’t talking about this laundry list, then you aren’t talking about “intelligence” the way most people use the term. If you’d like to provide a technical definition instead, then do so. Otherwise, unless you can actually provide some sort of rationale for inferring those laundry list items, stop pretending that you have made an inference to “intelligence”.

    Here, perhaps this may help:
    If we observed some humanoid alien (like in SciFi movies) who was able to produce something with high levels or IC or CSI of some sort, we would certainly infer that this creature has a brain somewhat similar to ours, had conscious mental experiences like ours, and shared the rest of our mental abilities more or less.

    If we observed some extra-terrestrial entity that was really different from us (like in more imaginative SciFi movies – maybe it’s made out of light or it’s a super-colony of space insects or…), we might have some doubts about what we shared. It probably wouldn’t have a brain like ours… Would it have consciousness like we have? A language with recursive grammar like ours? Ability to learn new skills? We’d have to interact with the non-humanoid alien in order to ascertain these things, and it wouldn’t be easy.

    Now, what about something even more alien to us – perhaps an impersonal telic process that produced CSI but had nothing else in common with us (no sort of brain or sense organs, no sort of body at all, not even existing within spacetime, outside of our imagination). What reason could we give to say this, uh, whatever had conscious experiences like we do? Had linguistic skills like we do? That would be very hard to determine, and would depend on how we could interact with this thing.

    In the context of ID, there is no way to ascertain what particular items from the “laundry list” that describes intelligence may have been involved.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  284. 284
    Barry Arrington says:

    RDFish

    Stop with this already! Of course the detection of radio waves has nothing to do with anything except detecting radio waves!

    RDFish has reached a new level of idiocy. What compels him to make such blatantly indefensible statements? It is a mystery.

    I suppose RDFish imagines the sales pitch to Paul Allen for $13 million to continue SETI went something like this:

    SETI Team: And we point our instruments at the sky, Mr. Allen, hoping to detect a certain kind of radio wave.

    Paul Allen: And if you detect that kind of radio wave, what then?

    SETI Team: Nothing of course, the detection of radio waves has nothing to do with anything except detecting radio waves Mr. Allen. Do try to keep up.

    Paul Allen: Sign me up.

  285. 285

    Stop with this already! Of course the detection of [narrow-band] radio waves has nothing to do with anything except detecting radio waves! intelligence!

    Fixed that for you.

  286. 286
    RDFish says:

    Hi Barry Arrington,

    RDF: [Barry] admits ID can’t support an inference to a conscious mind.
    BA: Of course I never said this or admitted anything of the sort. RDFish, the quickest way to be shown the exit from this blog is to tell lies about me. Stop it. Last warning.

    Here is what you said:

    Is the teleology explained by a conscious, rational being? I believe it is, but that belief is a metaphysical belief. ID does not require it.

    I would say a reasonable interpretation of what you said would be just exactly what I said – that in your opinion, ID can’t support an inference to a conscious mind. And you accuse me of lying about what you’ve said? Wow.

    So, in sum, ID does not require a conscious designer, but it certainly does not exclude one.

    And now you’ve said it again. Either ID can provide an empirical case that shows the cause of living things had conscious awareness or it can’t. You say that ID does not require that this cause be conscious, and Dembski has said the same thing.

    If ID could present scientific evidence that the cause of life was conscious, then it would be part of the theory, but it isn’t, because it can’t.

    “Purpose” is, of course, the key word. It means the designer must be able to act in the present for a remote end or goal, something that is beyond the capacity of chance and known mechanical law.

    I’m still having trouble understanding why you think we can empirically establish “purpose” without actually knowing how something came to exist. The irrigation system in a corn field is clearly for the purpose of watering the crops so they will grow. But while the raincloud above irrigates the corn too, it’s not clear that is its purpose, right?

    Now, you may just revert the conversation to CSI rather than “purpose” (perhaps you think the irrigation system has CSI but the raincloud doesn’t), but then we’re just talking about CSI rather than purpose, so why bring up “purpose” in the first place?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  287. 287
    RDFish says:

    Hi Barry Arrington,

    RDFish has reached a new level of idiocy. What compels him to make such blatantly indefensible statements? It is a mystery.

    I’m not an idiot, and you know that full well. When you think I’ve said something only an idiot would say, you would do well to think a bit before you jump to the unreasonable conclusion that I am stupid. You are not stupid either. The reason is virtually always miscommunication, not idiocy.

    What you miss about SETI is the reason SETI folks look for radio waves. They didn’t pick it at random, or because they are full of CSI, or that they are irreducibly complex. They picked those waves because human beings would send them out into space, and they’re looking for things like human beings (life as we know it). If SETI wasn’t looking for extra-terrestrial life forms, why would they look for these radio signals coming from other Earth-planets?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  288. 288
    Barry Arrington says:

    Barry: So, in sum, ID does not require a conscious designer, but it certainly does not exclude one.

    RDFish: Either ID can provide an empirical case that shows the cause of living things had conscious awareness or it can’t.

    Fish, you seem to have an impoverished understanding of what it means to provide rational empirical support for a proposition. I will try to help you.

    1. The semiotic code in DNA is best explained by the act of an intelligent agent, because for all such codes where the provenance of the code has actually been observed, invariably and without exception the code was caused by an intelligent agent, namely a human being. As a corollary to this proposition, we see no law/chance cause currently in operation that has the capacity to cause a semiotic code. Therefore, we make an abductive inference. The best explanation for the cause of the semiotic code is “act of intelligent agent.”

    2. Was the intelligent agent who created the semiotic code conscious? It is not necessary to answer this question to make the inference made in paragraph 1. Intelligence in this case is not defined as “conscious.” It is defined as “the capacity to arrange matter for a purpose.” In our experience, however, conscious agents like human beings produce semiotic codes routinely, and humans’ consciousness is obviously connected to their ability to create semiotic codes. Therefore, one could infer that the agent who created the biological semiotic code is also conscious, and such an inference would be supported by the empirical evidence.

    3. The abductive inferences in both 1 and 2 are supported by the empirical evidence. The abductive inference in 1 is fundamental to the ID project. The abductive inference in 2 is not.

  289. 289
    Barry Arrington says:

    RDFish @ 287.

    Yes, I know you are not an idiot, just deeply misguided. And I know you did not mean what you said strictly literally. I have no idea what you actually meant, but certainly it is not what you actually said.

    I was just having a little fun at your expense. And it can be an object lesson. It is no fun when someone refuses to read you charitably, as you always do when you jump on your “no one has believed in materialism in 100 years” hobby horse.

  290. 290
    Mung says:

    Zachriel:

    The second scientist probably wouldn’t bother. But if she did, she reads the same result, but draws no conclusion.

    LMAO.

    God I hope all this fancy equipment hasn’t cost the taxpayer anything.

    Take people who work with radioactive materials and have detection systems. Alarm board lights up. The second scientist to see the alarm thinks nothing of it. Wouldn’t want to arrive at any unwarranted conclusions!

    Muwahahahah. OMG.

    Thanks Zachriel. Good one!

    Seriously Upright BiPed, you are wasting your time. Zachriel is the Tar Baby of UD.

  291. 291
    Daniel King says:

    LMAO.

    God I hope all this fancy equipment hasn’t cost the taxpayer anything.

    Take people who work with radioactive materials and have detection systems. Alarm board lights up. The second scientist to see the alarm thinks nothing of it. Wouldn’t want to arrive at any unwarranted conclusions!

    Muwahahahah. OMG.

    Thanks Zachriel. Good one!

    Seriously Upright BiPed, you are wasting your time. Zachriel is the Tar Baby of UD.

    Mung laughed his ass off. Presumably a one-time event, given human anatomy.

    Why, is anybody’s guess. Incoherent rants (“Muwahahahah. OMG”) seem to be routine here.

  292. 292
    Mung says:

    Daniel King,

    If you need someone to spell it out for you, rest easy, you’re not what SETI is looking for.

  293. 293
    Zachriel says:

    Upright BiPed: you’ve been doing routine obfuscation work for your ideology for years.

    Says Upright BiPed, who has refused to answer a simple question four times previous.

    Upright BiPed: This conversation is about HOW we determine if intelligence life exists billions of miles away from earth.

    You seem to think SETI has not proposed a hypothesis, when they have explicitly done so. The hypothesis is that technological entities evolve on watery worlds revolving around a nuclear fireball. Furthermore, you confuse data with evidence.

    So try to answer that question. Why look at other star systems? Why look for watery worlds?

    Upright BiPed: You are a biological organism.
    You do not emit narrow-band radio waves.
    SETI searches for narrow band radio waves.

    Humans make radio waves like termites make termite mounds. Human manipulate what they find in the environment to produce radio waves like termites manipulate what they find in the environment to make termite mounds. Notably, termites produce termite mounds unconsciously, each individual termite following a simple set of rules.

    Upright BiPed: We identify narrow band radio waves with a spectrum analyzer.
    Spectrum analyzers do not detect consciousness, or IQ, or fashion sense.
    Either the signal is of the a narrow band variety, or it is not.

    If you are just collecting narrowband radio signals, then there are plenty on the AM dial. Why look at other star systems? Why look for watery worlds?

    Upright BiPed: Tax dollars will flow, socio-political lines will be drawn, and every astrobiologist on the surface of the planet will have a microphone stuck in their face to get some B-roll of them saying “We are not alone!”.

    Sure. Just like when Jocelyn Bell discovered Little Green Men.

    Any discovery of an extraterrestrial narrow-band emission will be met with scrutiny, but it will certainly be of great interest. Of course, if you found the Book of Genesis encoded in a natural genome, or in an extraterrestrial transmission, that would also be of great interest.

  294. 294
    Mung says:

    TarBaby: You seem to think SETI has not proposed a hypothesis, when they have explicitly done so.

    That’s not very scientific of them.

  295. 295
    George Edwards says:

    You do realize that one of the more common definitions of Tarbaby is a racial slur? Slightly less offensive than th n word. You people must be proud of yourselves.

  296. 296
    CJYman says:

    Hello again RDFish,

    RDFish:

    Yes, that is what SETI searches for – life as we know it, with intelligence as we know it.

    CJYman:

    If SETI is indeed looking for a certain level of intelligence … similar to the expressions of ‘intelligence as we know it,’ then that is exactly where the intersection lies between SETI and the ID argument from biosemiosis.

    RDFish:

    I don’t understand what you mean. SETI posits living organisms like us as the cause of a signal (if they ever get one);

    That ‘like us’ part is really the key. It must be ‘intelligent like us.’ There is probably a good chance that it is indeed like us in many extra ways as you have already explained, however, a living thing could have everyone one of our attributes and still not produce the narrow band signal if it were not ‘intelligent like us.’

    Do you now see what I mean. ‘Intelligence’ like us is THE key requirement and that is where the similarity between SETI and ID lies, regardless any differences.

    RDfish:

    ID says absolutely nothing about what it is proposing as the cause of cellular machinery.

    … except for something with intelligence like us. That is all the evidence permits at the moment. With SETI, the evidence may permit us to go a little further if the signal does indeed originate from a watery planet circling a star, etc. That is the difference. With ID, the signal destination is all we have at the moment, yet with SETI we could potentially also have the signal origin. The problem is that you seem to be implying that the presence of a difference between SETI and ID is proof of no similarity. If that is not what you are saying, then I really don’t understand your point.

    CJYman:

    It matters not where in space or time the signal begins, the signal points at the very least to some aspects of ‘intelligence as we know it.’

    RDFish:

    That would be the conjecture, yes, because “life as we know it” has “intelligence as we know it”. Obviously that conjecture doesn’t hold for something we know nothing about.

    You are being arbitrary and inconsistent, or at least vague. At which human-like attributes does ‘something we know nothing about’ begin and end. If the signal is a chemical signal which requires at least human-like intelligence then we know something about its designer. If the signal is a narrow band radio wave originating from a watery planet orbiting a star, we may know something more about its designer.

    Where is your non-arbitrary starting point at which we may begin to infer attributes of the designer of a narrow band signal or a semiotic signal? What is your criteria for that non-arbitrary starting point?

    CJYman:

    Serious?!?!? The answer: Humans use these abilities associated with the concept of intelligence to produce semiotic systems (automated systems) and semiotic patterns (books).

    RDFish:

    Serious?!?!?!? Just because humans are conscious, linguistic, etc. and they produce semiotic systems doesn’t mean that something else that makes similar systems that is very different from a human being is going to share those same attributes!

    … except for the minimum of ‘intelligence like us’ … you know, planning for future goals … that is required to design semiotic systems.

    I could just as easily tell you that just because humans with a sufficient level of intelligence design narrow band transmitters doesn’t mean that the designers of THE signal from outer space share every single attribute with us. We both already know that. That goes without saying.

    RDFish:

    Humans use conscious thoughts (and knowledge of electrical engineering) to produce high-voltage electric arcs. Thunderclouds, however, produce high-voltage electric arcs without conscious thought or EE knowledge. Humans play chess by consciously thinking about moves; computers play chess (better than any human) without any conscious thought. Humans use conscious thought to solve search and tree optimization problems. Slime mold solves the same problems without any conscious thought. And so on, and so on.

    Again, with the talk about consiousness. I think we have all made it very clear that intelligence and consciousness are quite different and one does not necessarily imply the other. You are preaching to the choir.

    RDFish:

    It’s just a simple logical fallacy, really:

    Premise 1) X PRODUCES Y
    Premise 2) X HAS ATTRIBUTES A,B,C
    Premise 3) Z PRODUCES Y
    Conclusion) THEREFORE Z HAS ATTRIBUTES A,B,C (WRONG)

    You mean like:
    1) Humans build things that produce narrow band radio waves
    2) Humans are living forms that eat, sleep, poop, — basically ‘life as we know it’
    3) Something in space produces THE signal
    4) THerefore, that thing in space eats, sleeps, poops, etc. — is basially life as we know it

    In case you haven’t figured it out, that was sarcasm. Again, no one on your side or my side of the debate is arguing for every attribute that humans possess as being a part of either the source of the narrow band signal or the semiotic signal. We are both only arguing for the ‘arguably required’ attributes, intelligence being the same arguably required attribute necessary for the existence of both the narrow band signal as well as semiotic systems.

    CJYman:

    I don’t really see why you had to ask that question in the first place. What was the point anyway?

    RDFish:

    What question?

    CJYman:

    The question directly before my question.

    BTW, there is a difference between consciousness and intelligence, but I think that UprightBiped has already pointed that out.

    RDFish:

    That is why when ID proposes something that produces semiotic systems, but that something is likely very different from a human being, we have no justification for assuming it has the same array of mental abilities as humans do.

    Incorrect. As far as we can tell, it must have the mental ability known as ‘intelligence.’

    What we can’t say for sure is exactly what structure of hardware, wetware, or information processing it utilizes to produce that ability until further evidence arises.

    CJYman:

    That arbitrary classification is a distinction without significance. It has absolutely no application to the thread that actually is common between SETI and the ID argument from biosemiosis. I might be mistaken, but didn’t UprightBiped already go over all this with you?

    RDFish:

    UB bases his argument on an analogy with SETI. I’ve shown that his analogy with SETI fails for two reasons.

    First, SETI assumes that the sender of the signal is “life as we know it”, which is the basis for hypothesizing the sender may be similar in various ways to us (including having complex bodies with “high encephalization quotients”, which is how SETI says “big brains”).

    Second, SETI looks for signals that are not known to be caused by anything except living things like us. But the signal found in cells was obviously not produced by anything living like us.

    You are still relying heavily on a distinction without significance. I’ve already explained how any difference between SETI and ID in reference to number of attributes that can be inferred does not negate the similarity to which Upright Biped has drawn attention. Actually, that should have been blatantly obvious from the beginning; requiring no explanation.

  297. 297
    Virgil Cain says:

    Just like when Jocelyn Bell discovered Little Green Men.

    It wasn’t a narrow-band transmission. Go figure…

  298. 298
    Zachriel says:

    CJYman: You mean like:
    1) Humans build things that produce narrow band radio waves
    2) Humans are living forms that eat, sleep, poop, — basically ‘life as we know it’
    3) Something in space produces THE signal
    4) THerefore, that thing in space eats, sleeps, poops, etc. — is basially life as we know it

    General Pope: My military headquarters are in the saddle.
    General Lee, on hearing this: If so his headquarters are where his hindquarters ought to be.

    You have your inference backwards.

    Life appears to have arisen spontaneously on the primordial Earth, and humans evolved from that primitive beginning. Theories of abiogenesis imply that water, carbon and other second generation elements, as well as long stretches of time, are a minimum requirement for the evolution of technological organisms (meaning those capable of radio communications). Theories of star and planet formation imply that Earth-like planets are probably not unique. The recent discovery of exoplanets confirm and extend this general hypothesis (Bruno 1584). Hence, humans may not be the only technological organisms in the galaxy. This is encapsulated in the Drake Equation.
    http://www.seti.org/drakeequation

    To possibly detect other such organisms, pointing radio telescopes at next generation star systems, especially those that have suns stable enough to allow for long periods of evolution, especially those that have planets in the habitable zone, might result in detection of radio communications, or at least carrier signals, from those other, technological organisms.

  299. 299
    CJYman says:

    Hi Zachriel,

    What do you mean ‘my inference.’ Would it hurt you terribly to respond to my quote in context? It was a sarcastic response to RDFish and I explained this quite clearly. So, you really should take up your problem with RDFish.

    Oh, and for the purposes of this discussion, I see nothing in your response with which I disagree.

  300. 300
    Zachriel says:

    CJYman: What do you mean ‘my inference.’ Would it hurt you terribly to respond to my quote in context? It was a sarcastic response to RDFish and I explained this quite clearly.

    Yes, we read the sarcasm.

    The point you appeared to be making was that we extrapolate from the data-point of a narrow-band emission to a human-like organism. This is backwards with regards to SETI. Rather, we extrapolate from human-like organisms that emit radio emissions to the possibility of other human-like organisms that emit radio emissions. That’s why we look at long-living, next generation stars, especially those likely to harbor planets in the habitable zone.

  301. 301
    Zachriel says:

    With regards to the former direction of inference, we tune an AM dial and listen to a love song on country radio. Aha! Mating ritual of humans. We tune the dial to FM and listen to NPR. Aha! Status display among Homo sapiens. We tune to Comedy Central. Aha! Some sort of ape laughing at someone slipping on a banana peel. We tune to a nebula. Aha! A periodic pulse, might be Little Green Men. Oops. No, just emissions from a neutron star. We tune to deep space. Hmm. Nothing but static. — Back to the love song.

    With regards to the latter direction of inference, based on our hypothesis, we point our radio telescopes to long-living, next generation stars, likely to harbor planets in the habitable zone, and listen. We continue to extend and refine our search based on our increasing knowledge of how planets form, how life begins, how life evolves, how technological organisms might communicate.

  302. 302
    CJYman says:

    The point was exactly as I stated:

    Again, no one on your side or my side of the debate is arguing for every attribute that humans possess as being a part of either the source of the narrow band signal or the semiotic signal. We are both only arguing for the ‘arguably required’ attributes, intelligence being the same arguably required attribute necessary for the existence of both the narrow band signal as well as semiotic systems.

    The ‘direction of extrapolation’ is irrelevant to this point.

  303. 303
    Zachriel says:

    CJYman: We are both only arguing for the ‘arguably required’ attributes, intelligence being the same arguably required attribute necessary for the existence of both the narrow band signal as well as semiotic systems.

    The SETI hypothesis is based on the evolution of technological organisms on suitable planets. That’s why SETI looks at stars, especially long-living, next generation stars likely to harbor planets in the habitable zone.

    Yes, the order of inference is important in the scientific method @301.

  304. 304
    CJYman says:

    Zachriel, again for purposes of this discussion, I don’t really see anything with which to disagree. How does anything you’ve stated respond to my comment @296?

    And, I didn’t say that order of inference is unimportant, scientifically. All I was saying is that your comment has nothing to do with my point.

    In reference to the point I made, is intelligence an arguably required attribute for the design of a narrow band signal? Are all human attributes arguably required for the design of a narrow band signal? You can carry on with actually responding to my comment @296 if you wish.

  305. 305
    Zachriel says:

    CJYman: In reference to the point I made, is intelligence an arguably required attribute for the design of a narrow band signal?

    The only known source of narrow-band emissions are humans and their artifacts, and humans are generally considered intelligent (having the ability to learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations).

    CJYman: Are all human attributes arguably required for the design of a narrow band signal?

    According to what we know of how technological intelligence occurs, then technological intelligence entails life at some point in its history.

  306. 306
    mike1962 says:

    The RDFish vs Zächrielein exchange seems to have fizzled out prematurely. That’s a shame. I was enjoying that while it lasted.

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