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Origin of life literature features “mystical phrases” – researcher

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The First Gene: The Birth of Programming, Messaging and Formal Control

In The First Gene, David L. Abel writes, in Chapter 4:

What Utility Does Order, Pattern or Complexity Prescribe?

Abstract: “Order,” “pattern,” “complexity,” “self-organization,” and “emergence” are all terms used extensively in life-origin literature. Sorely lacking are precise and quantitative definitions of these terms. Vivid imagination of spontaneous creativity ensues from mystical phrases like “the adjacent other” and “emergence at the edge of chaos.” More wish-fulfillment than healthy scientific skepticism prevails when we become enamored with such phrases. Nowhere in peer-reviewed literature is a plausible hypothetical mechanism provided, let alone any repeated empirical observations or prediction fulfillments, of bona fide spontaneous “natural process selforganization.”

Supposed examples show only one of two things: 1) spontaneous physicodynamic self-ordering rather than formal organization, or 2) behind-the-scenes investigator involvement in steering experimental results toward the goal of desired results. The very experiments that were supposed to prove spontaneous selforganization only provide more evidence of the need for artificial selection. Patterns are a form of order. Neither order nor combinatorial uncertainty (complexity) demonstrate an ability to compute or produce formal utility. Physical laws describe low informational physicodynamic self-ordering, not high-informational cybernetic and computational utility.

Very well stated. "Mystical" is a great description; I think I'll borrow that. It's cybernetics and programming and semiotics and information. Natural-process-this or natural-process-that will never get you anywhere close. Eric Anderson

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