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# Postscript to ID, QM, and Info

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One of the comments on the previous post caused me to do some further analysis, which I had said I wouldn’t post, but have reconsidered. The comment was:

This seems like an odd tact on Dennis’ part and I don’t understand the point.
If, Dennis’ position (I’m going to call it “Agnostigner” – someone who is agnostic about the Designer) is correct and the Designer is irrelevant, then what does ID bring to any table scientifically?
If the Designer is irrelevant, what does the explanation of design tell us about the world/universe? Does it impact any other scientific explanation in anyway and if so, how?

So let’s start by analyzing the “odd tact” of Dennis, which seemed odd to me as well, until I realized it was a version of the demarcation problem.

Elizabeth, your demon, where does it get the information as to how to set up the simulation to model a deterministic universe? If it's not getting it from observation of the universe don't you have a slight problem to resolve?Mung
July 25, 2011
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Elizabeth Liddle:
So what do we mean by information? Let’s define information, for present purposes as “data that results in reduction of uncertainty” (and where “data” is defined, literally, from that Latin, as “what is given”).
To be perfectly frank, it sounds like you made that up. Did you? As we've discussed before, to have a reduction in uncertainty there must be uncertainty about something. In order for there to be uncertainty about something there must be an expectation. Neither of these make sense without a mind.Mung
July 22, 2011
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Because all models are wrong, although some are less wrong than others. More importantly, all models are incomplete, but sometimes a simpler,though more incomplete model is more useful than a more complex, though more complete one. - Elizabeth Liddle
That would include a model of a deterministic universe, which would be required in order to program a computer simulation of a deterministic universe. So where does the demon get the perfect model it needs?Mung
July 22, 2011
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Elizabeth, where does your magical demon get the information it requires to program a computer simulation of a deterministic universe? That simulation most be built according to some model mapped appropriately to the deterministic system under study. There is no generic "deterministic system simulation" running around out there, even in the world of demons. So where did the information come from to program the appropriate model into the demon's computer? If the demons observes the state of the entire universe at time t1, what is there in that observation that lets the demon know that the universe under observation is deterministic? What makes a universe deterministic and where does your demon get that information? You're off in fantasy land.Mung
July 22, 2011
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Mung:
Elizabeth Liddle:
You could argue that for a deterministic universe, an external demon (“Laplace’s demon”) could look at the topography of the early universe, enter that data into a huge computer, and predict every subsequent event.
You could argue that, but why would you? Assuming the demon can observe the current state, where does the demon get the information needed to predict the future states?
In a deterministic universe he just runs the original state through a computer simulation. That's the joy of deterministic systems - if you truly know all the starting conditions, you have all you need.
The early universe therefore contains enough information for the demon to construct the entire history of the universe with complete certainty.
But that’s a non-sequitur. Doesn’t that concern you in the slightest?
It would if it was but it isn't.
And it’s horribly circular.
Nor is it circular.
You say that if the universe has all the information required for an external demon to look at it and predict from its current state all future states, an external demon could look at the current state of the universe and predict all future states.
In a deterministic universe, yes.
And then you say that because the demon can look at the current state of the universe and predict all future states, it follows that “the early universe therefore contains enough information for the demon to construct the entire history of the universe with complete certainty.”
Yes.
To take a very straightforward example that we would both, I’m sure, regard as “information” – namely this post
Given that you are speaking nonsense, why would we agree that your post contains information?
Given that assumption, we wouldn't. But it is not given. So we might.Elizabeth Liddle
July 22, 2011
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Ilion, I disagree. If you want to rule out who designed the designer by saying it's the same as asking who is the Big Banger, then that presupposes all the evidence of design points to a source outside the universe. However there is no scientific reason take such a position. It can not be ruled out that some or all of the design originated within this universe, thus the comparison is fails. Consequently the possibility of multiple designers must be clearly articulated as a fundamental tenet of Intelligent Design - otherwise the implication is that a singular designer must be responsible for all that ID detects, which simply isn't true.rhampton7
July 22, 2011
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Try feeding a document into a shredder and tell me how much information you are left with. Alternatively, ask Rob - he made the original claim.Elizabeth Liddle
July 22, 2011
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Elizabeth Liddle:
You could argue that for a deterministic universe, an external demon (“Laplace’s demon”) could look at the topography of the early universe, enter that data into a huge computer, and predict every subsequent event.
You could argue that, but why would you? Assuming the demon can observe the current state, where does the demon get the information needed to predict the future states?
The early universe therefore contains enough information for the demon to construct the entire history of the universe with complete certainty.
But that's a non-sequitur. Doesn't that concern you in the slightest? And it's horribly circular. You say that if the universe has all the information required for an external demon to look at it and predict from its current state all future states, an external demon could look at the current state of the universe and predict all future states. And then you say that because the demon can look at the current state of the universe and predict all future states, it follows that "the early universe therefore contains enough information for the demon to construct the entire history of the universe with complete certainty."
To take a very straightforward example that we would both, I’m sure, regard as “information” – namely this post
Given that you are speaking nonsense, why would we agree that your post contains information?Mung
July 22, 2011
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Heat qua work can both create and destroy information, and, in the end, will destroy any information previously created.
How can information, an immaterial thing, be destroyed by work?Mung
July 22, 2011
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UPD: yes, I'm following along. The post below is rather lengthy, but inspired by something in Rob's original article, and, I think relevant, if with a long lead, to our own discussin. Rob: In your original article you write:
A slightly more esoteric problem with the Big Bang, is that really hot explosions rarely make cool machines--like people. The laws of entropy would suggest that heat is really bad for information, and really hot stuff can't cool unless something else absorbs the entropy. Or we can say it the other way, information is the inverse of entropy, and where is the information hiding in the Big Bang?
July 22, 2011
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... except that "the Intelligent Designer" is an obsession of the anti-IDists. The IDists are about identifying the Design ... you know, in much the same way that the County Coroner doesn’t seek to identify The Murderer, but only The Murder.Ilion
July 21, 2011
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From what I understand, ID Theory does not have a means of detecting one versus multiple sources of design, nor does it offer a prediction. So wouldn't it be more honest to replace the phrase "Intelligent Designer" with the phrase "One or more Intelligent Designers"?rhampton7
July 21, 2011
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hehe. See Rob, I had a point :)Mung
July 21, 2011
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Dr Sheldon, thank you for a great post. Loved it. - - - - - - -
I’m not sure what you were going to do with your quote. The reference is to work done in the 1940?s and 1950?s on the nature of the “information” molecule in the cell. People like Gamow, Schroedinger and Polanyi argued that in order to not lose its memory, it had to be inert to changes in pressure, temperature, pH, and all things chemical. One of those things was the “chemical potential” which is another way of saying “chemical entropy”. That is, replacing nucleotide A with T or C or G, cannot result in a lower energy state, or else chemical processes would drive the DNA toward that composition. (BTW, this requirement is a lot harder to achieve than you might think.) This chemical inertness is exactly opposite to a Darwinian functional optimization process. There is nothing for Darwin to optimize on the DNA itself. So DNA is immune from natural selection–as it must be! And that is Abel’s point about the cybernetic cut.
Dr Liddle, are you following along here?Upright BiPed
July 21, 2011
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Robert Shelton,
It's not quite as simple as just a straight-forward "flat landscape" issue or a 1" is good, 2"-11" doesn't change anything, 12" is great scenario. For example, one of the things we find quite often in various populations is exaggerated selection based on normal variation. Basically, a minor change becomes advantage and is selected for, but because of the nature of the change, some of the offspring have exaggerated forms of the advantage. So long as the exaggeration is not a disadvantage, the variation in the trait stays and offspring keep popping up with more and more exaggerated features. In many cases this can be exacerbated by a change in selective pressure. A good example of this is the eruption of size some organism populations. Being even a little larger tends to provide an advantage over predation. In populations where having a little bit of size increase becomes an advantage, offspring tend to vary across a range of larger sizes. That along can account for organisms such as the hawkmoth with an elongated tongue, but there's another factor that can contribute to this as well. In a number of cases changes that convey some physical advantage - say size increase - can quickly become a mating preference trait. Once the selective pressure shifts from predator protection to sexual preference, the exaggeration of the change can occur rather rapidly. I'm not suggesting that's what happened in the case of the hawkmoth. The point is that landscapes are almost never flat; environments are always changing and organisms are always changing. Even little changes can create opportunities for new selective pressures, which then turn a relatively flat fitness landscape into a very rugged one.Doveton
July 21, 2011
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Diffusion distance goes as the square root of the number of steps. So it is always slow. By contrast, purpose is a long range interaction. It can be linear in the number of steps. It may even be super-linear if bootstrapping strategies are used.
Is this perhaps another way of conveying Dembski's concept of compressibility?Mung
July 21, 2011
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Mung, I'm not sure what you were going to do with your quote. The reference is to work done in the 1940's and 1950's on the nature of the "information" molecule in the cell. People like Gamow, Schroedinger and Polanyi argued that in order to not lose its memory, it had to be inert to changes in pressure, temperature, pH, and all things chemical. One of those things was the "chemical potential" which is another way of saying "chemical entropy". That is, replacing nucleotide A with T or C or G, cannot result in a lower energy state, or else chemical processes would drive the DNA toward that composition. (BTW, this requirement is a lot harder to achieve than you might think.) This chemical inertness is exactly opposite to a Darwinian functional optimization process. There is nothing for Darwin to optimize on the DNA itself. So DNA is immune from natural selection--as it must be! And that is Abel's point about the cybernetic cut.Robert Sheldon
July 21, 2011
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July 21, 2011
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Thanks for the response Robert! I do see a few problems with your thesis however. Here's one as an example:
Let's see how this works. Darwin says, "No, the tongue of the hawkmoth wasn't made a foot long just to get the nectar of the star orchid, rather, the hawkmoth accidently discovered that a longer tongue got more nectar, so it evolved toward longer tongues." Ignoring the special pleading for Lamarckian evolution, what Darwin is saying is that functionally useful stuff will be selected by Natural Selection. But what happens when the functionally useful stuff has an intermediate step? What if the hawkmoth could survive by appealing to human beings who bred it in captivity? How is "human appeal" a functional thing that natural selection would select for? It's completely arbitrary, and not a linear thing, like "the more red the wings, the more appeal it will have".
First off, survival itself isn't really a key component of evolution - passing on traits is. While the former can be correlated with the latter, the latter is still the focus. All sorts of organisms survive as a result of using a combination of traits in a variety of environments; the key in evolution is having traits that both allow the group in which you belong to have more offspring who, on average, out-compete other organisms for resources or at avoid predators, or at moving across environments, etc... So what about the appeal idea? From an evolutionary perspective, the question wouldn't be whether appeal lead to survival alone, but whether appeal provided an advantage in a given environment. For example, suppose some percentage of humans began setting up backyard environments to attract the moth. The the appeal trait would in fact be selected for given the newly established environments that the moth was not merely well-suited thrive in, but encouraged to thrive in. The moth populations would soar, all other environmental to trait conditions being equal, the moth "appeal" trait would be fixed. Not a problem for evolution. This also explains why DNA combinations are selected for - certain arrangements of DNA do indeed functionally excel in given environments and thus are replicated more often.Doveton
July 21, 2011
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Likewise, the DNA has to be functionally inert, or it wouldn't store information very well. Chemists knew this had to be true of any information molecule long before DNA was discovered to hold information.
Mung
July 21, 2011
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