Intelligent Design

Research possibility motivated by ID

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[This just in from yet another colleague:]

Somewhere (I can’t find the reference) I read recently in something by an anti-ID, pro-stochastic-macroevolution writer a crowing remark that a spider hatched in isolation immediately starts to build a perfect web and gets it perfectly right on the first attempt.

From one point of view a spider web is a “simple geometrical/combinatorial object” [like a crystal] that wouldn’t take too many binary info-bits to specify, but I conjecture that the “instruction manual” for BUILDING a spider web probably could be shown to require more than 500 binary bits (and therefore be “physically impossible” to have arisen by any combination of natural law and chance).

Also it seems unlikely to get to a complete web-construction procedure by a sequence of lesser constructs each of which provides a differential-reproductive advantage compared to its predecessor and which can be generated by the information content of a single point-mutation.

Might this not provide a “research project” for a combination of a naturalist and a mathematically-skilled collaborator that could lead to a paper that couldn’t be denied by “peer review” to be mainstream publishable?

7 Replies to “Research possibility motivated by ID

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    Might this not provide a “research project” for a combination of a naturalist and a mathematically-skilled collaborator that could lead to a paper that couldn’t be denied by “peer review” to be mainstream publishable?

    They may not deny that it is mainsteam publishable, but that would not lead to it’s publication. Walter ReMine’s paper on Cost Theory is a case in point.

  2. 2
    great_ape says:

    “but I conjecture that the “instruction manual” for BUILDING a spider web probably could be shown to require more than 500 binary bits (and therefore be “physically impossible” to have arisen by any combination of natural law and chance).”

    Such a project’s success would be entirely predicated upon the acceptance within the scientific community of the 500 bit threshold. Aside from Dembski’s work, are there any others, particularly outside the ID community, who have provided arguments for the importance of this cut-off value?

  3. 3
    DLH says:

    Interesting proposal. Recommend summarizing it at ResearchIntelligentDesign.org

    Some leads for search of: spider isolation builds “perfect web” evolution

    6. Poverty of the stimulus
    Perhaps the most compelling behavioral evidence for innateness comes when a newborn gazelle leaps to its feet and runs at birth, or when a spider makes a perfect web on the first try with no prior opportunity to observe web-weaving by another spider. Such examples constitute evidence for performance in the absence of experience and learning.

    Jeff Elman
    Ch 7 Rethinking Inateness, p 384
    Rethinking Inateness

    Elman, J. L., Bates, E.A., Johnson, M., Karmiloff-Smith, A., Parisi, D., & Plunkett, K. (1996). Rethinking Innateness: A Connectionist Perspective on Development. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Plunkett, K., & Elman, J.L. (1996). Rethinking Innateness: A Handbook for Connectionist SImulations. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    ———-
    “[Most intersecting part of talk.] Learning from spiders. How do they build a “perfect” web that is so much bigger than they are? Spiders have very small brains, they have poor eyesight and viewpoint and can’t see what they have built. And yet they are able to do this. They solve a second order differential equation without even with knowing it. They use local knowledge to infer what the global network must be like. Perhaps based on cellular automata.”
    Self-designing networks:

  4. 4
    senojes says:

    As I pointed out in my recent, “Study Says Spider Web Developed Just Once” [http://tinyurl.com/qqosy] post, the fact that: 1) the orb web arose only *once*; and 2) an orb web spider cannot build a part web to repair its damaged web (despite it being an *enormous* advantage to be able to do so and therefore something unlikely to be lost) but must start again and build a *whole* web from scratch; is good evidence that the instinctual program which resides in orb web spiders’ tiny brains is irreducibly complex (in the sense that it is a “complex organ” which could not *plausibly* have been formed by the natural selection of “numerous, successive, slight modifications”) and arose in a single macromutation (which would be indistinguishable from a miracle-so, as a Christian, who has no metaphysical reason to deny God intervening in natural history if that is what the evidence looks like, I assume it was [http://tinyurl.com/ohhey]).

    Note also that after the single origin of the orb web, the design separated into two (which defines the genuses Deinopoidea and Araneoidea). But these are not considered to be *prior* Darwinian steps *too* the orb web design, but *after* steps *from* the single design. This is a relevant example of why Darwinist claims that the existence of a part of a claimed IC system automatically falsifies it being IC (e.g. the type III secretory system and the bacterial flagellar motor) are fallacious.

    Stephen E. Jones
    http://creationevolutiondesign.blogspot.com/

  5. 5
    j says:

    …but I conjecture that the “instruction manual” for BUILDING a spider web probably could be shown to require more than 500 binary bits (and therefore be “physically impossible” to have arisen by any combination of natural law and chance).

    For Araneus diadematus (garden spider), it’s >10,768 bits 😉 :
    1. Make a kite out off silk.
    2. Spool it out on silk thread so that it catches the air.
    3. If the kite does not land on a firm surface, then reel it back and eat it and the thread.
    4. If the kite does land on a firm surface, then stick down the end you’re holding to the ground.
    5. If the “bridge” is short, shorten it to make one edge of the web.
    6. If the bridge is long, lengthen it so that it can serve as two radial spokes; use it as support while replacing it, eating the original span while depositing the new span.
    7. Go to the center of the bridge and drop yourself as a plumb-bob to create a third spur and anchor it to the ground.
    8. Put in the rest of the radial spokes, and outer the frame. [Richard Dawkins, says “The spider often ingeniously manages to combine the two at the same time, using staggeringly cunning techniques of wielding double and even triple threads… In the original draft of this chapter I explained exactly how the cat’s-cradle wizardry is performed but it made my head spin to do so. When one of my editors complained that it made his head spin to read it, I was reluctantly persuaded to leave it out.”]
    9. Build a scaffold spiraling out from the center.
    10. Use the scaffold to support yourself while laying down the closely-spaced sticky silk threads.
    11. Go to the center and feel the tension of the spokes, and lenghten or shorten as necessary.
    Reference: Richard Dawkins, Climbing Mount Improbable, pp. 44-48.

  6. 6
    Zero says:

    Did you hear about the spider sooo big he had a world wide web?

  7. 7

    Thank you WmAD for posting this spider web research proposal from your colleague. A page for this research idea has been established at ResearchID.org. Anyone who desires, please feel free to register and develop the page. Thank you DLH for the suggestion.

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