Intelligent Design

Silver Asiatic’s Merry-Go-Round

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Over the last ten years in these pages we have seen versions of the following basic progression hundreds of times:

1.  Materialist makes false claim about ID.

2.  ID proponent explodes false claim and asks materialist to acknowledge his error.

3.  Materialist never gives an inch, bobs and weaves, and tries to change the subject.

In this post E.Seigner gives us such a pristine example that I decided to use it as a paradigmatic illustration of the progression.

At 265 E.Seigner trots out a version of the hoary old “ID proponents just think complex things must be designed” error. He writes:

The further problem is that the contrast is not solid, but it’s a point on a continuum, where the point is “a threshold of sufficient complexity”, i.e. the continuum is continuum of complexity, where one end is said to be caused by chance and mechanical necessity and the other end by “design by intelligence”.

At 274 Barry puts up two 12-line groups of text, one random, the other designed.  The random group is more complex than the designed group, and Barry asks:

If the designed group is less complex than the chance group, there must be something other than complexity that allows you to detect design. What do you think that something is?

At 278 Silver Asiatic makes a prediction:

I’m going to guess that [E.Seigner] doesn’t want to answer and therefore learn about ID, but rather play on the little amusement park ride we call the merry-go-round.

At 282 E.Seigner confirms Silver Asiatic’s prediction:

When I am not convinced by your typing some scribble first and then English I’m not being hyperskeptical but as rational as usual. How many of you here can tell from Chinese characters if they mean anything or were typed by a cat?

Notice E.Seigner’s strategy.  Dismiss the question and change the subject.

E.Seigner’s response might be funny if it were not so pathetic. It boils down to “I’m not convinced because I’m so smart. Let’s talk about something else now.”

Tactics like E.Seigner’s make me more and more convinced that ID proponents are onto something. If the materialists had logic and evidence on their side, surely they would employ those against us and launch devastating irrefutable attacks on ID. Instead, I ask them a simple little question and instead of answering it they bob and weave while bragging about how they are being “rational as usual.”

As reader’s know, I enjoy little shorthand handles for typical materialist tactics (“Berra’s Blunder,” Miller’s Mendacity,” etc.). I am trying to come up with a handle for this bobbing and weaving and avoiding simple questions tactic. Silver Asiatic has suggested “Merry-Go-Round.” Other suggestions?

UPDATE:

In all fairness to E.Seigner I should note that after I posted this post, he made the following comment at 297 of the prior post linked above.

@ Barry

I am not a materialist. See the last paragraph of #87. I came here to discuss philosophy and theology, but ID theory is annoyingly in the way.

Let us summarize, E.Seigner made a false claim about the nature of design detection. I refuted that claim and asked E.Seigner a simple follow-up question. E.Seigner evaded that question and tried to change the subject. I called him on his evasion. E.Seigner ends the discussion by pointing out an irrelevancy (“I’m not a materialist”) and continuing to evade and dodge.

UPDATE 2:

At 299 in the post linked above E.Seigner finally answers the question:

We recognize English text because we learned the language.

Of course, this is just another way of saying that we detect the design in the non-random text because it conforms to a specification, i.e., the conventions of the English language.

Note that this is exactly contrary to his first (false) assertion, which was: ID proponents say “it is complex; therefore it must be designed.” ES now admits that he recognizes design in the complex 2nd string of text not merely because it was complex, but because it conformed to a specification.

Now ES was that so hard? Welcome to the ID movement.

138 Replies to “Silver Asiatic’s Merry-Go-Round

  1. 1
    News says:

    The Narcissistic Personality Disorder defense?

    When a narcissist would otherwise have to admit a weakness, he changes the subject. The “Chinese vs. cat” example is a classic. The obvious response would be that a Chinese-literate person could be asked. But pointing that out would only mean that this rabbit hole winds into another one. Possibly, what if the text was prepared by a space alien?

    Darwin’s followers are especially accomplished at this sort of thing because their system is by nature nihilistic, and defaults at last to: Our brains have not evolved so as to understand that Darwinism is true. That is why it is so disastrous to give them any standing in the school system.

  2. 2
    william spearshake says:

    At 274 Barry puts up two 12-line groups of text, one random, the other designed. The random group is more complex than the designed group, and Barry asks:

    Just because the random set has more different characters doesn’t make it more complex. Is a field full of snow more complex than DNA? Every snow flake is different.

  3. 3
    Paul Giem says:

    Spearshake,

    This is fun! You can be provoked to say such inane things by being presented with so little stimulus.

    Complex specificity is a mainstay of intelligent design theory, as I hope you have picked up by now. Complexity is roughly covered by Shannon information. Specificity is covered by matching some kind of independently specified pattern, examples being (a) matching linguistic patterns and (b) functional patterns such as enzymes.

    Complexity can exist without specificity, as for example in random letter collections or randomly assembled strings of DNA. That is a major part of the point of talking about specified complexity. So to get back to your example, a sufficiently large snowfield is indeed more complex than DNA. And “just because”, or precisely because, the random set has more different characters does indeed make it more complex; just not more specified. This is so easy.

    It’s actually rather amusing to see you missing the point. Are you playing a clown for us?

  4. 4
    Barry Arrington says:

    WS @ 2:

    Thank you for pointing out to us in prior posts that you have a master’s degree in the sciences. I had previously written you off as an uninformed scientific dilettante. I now see you are highly-educated and credentialed in matters of science. You are welcome here. I am always glad when the best and brightest from the other side come here to debate us.

    To the issue raised in the OP, I was going to explain the stuff that Paul pointed out in 3. Thanks Paul. You saved me that trouble. In summary, “higher complexity” is defined as “increased contingency.”

    Here are the two strings of text in question.

    Group 1:
    OipaFJPSDIOVJN;XDLVMK:DOIFHw;ZD
    VZX;Vxsd;ijdgiojadoidfaf;asdfj;asdj[ije888
    Sdf;dj;Zsjvo;ai;divn;vkn;dfasdo;gfijSd;fiojsa
    dfviojasdgviojao’gijSd’gvijsdsd;ja;dfksdasd
    XKLZVsda2398R3495687OipaFJPSDIOVJN
    ;XDLVMK:DOIFHw;ZDVZX;Vxsd;ijdgiojadoi
    Sdf;dj;Zsjvo;ai;divn;vkn;dfasdo;gfijSd;fiojsadfvi
    ojasdgviojao’gijSd’gvijssdv.kasd994834234908u
    XKLZVsda2398R34956873ACKLVJD;asdkjad
    Sd;fjwepuJWEPFIhfasd;asdjf;asdfj;adfjasd;ifj
    ;asdjaiojaijeriJADOAJSD;FLVJASD;FJASDF;
    DOAD;ADFJAdkdkas;489468503-202395ui34

    Group 2:
    To be, or not to be, that is the question—
    Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
    The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
    Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
    And by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep—
    No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
    The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
    That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
    To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub,
    For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

    Your thesis is that the first string is less complex than the second string. Now is your chance to defend that thesis.

    I think your thesis is indefensible, and the truth of the matter is that as materialists so often do you just popped off and said some random thing in an effort to change the subject. Now is your chance to prove me wrong.

  5. 5
    Barry Arrington says:

    News @ 1:

    As I think about it, a more charitable interpretation of E.Seigner’s response is that he is just plain stupid and presented his Chinese cat response in all sincerity, mistakenly believing it even remotely addressed, far less responded to, the issues raised in the question. I say “more charitable” because it would be more charitable to assume he is stupid rather than dishonest or cowardly. But I’m not feeling especially charitable today. Sorry.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    BA: In fact, in flat random ASCII text, any of the 128 characters is equiprobable. In English text, that is decidedly not so, e.g. e is about 1/8 of normal modern English text . . . not sure how the ratios go for Shakespeare era English. It is a well known result of basic info theory that flat random distribution text stings will have more Shannon Info than something constrained by rules that move us away from that. In any case, it is SPECIFIC complexity, especially functionally specific complexity that is hard to account for on blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. FSCO/I leads to being in identifiable, separately — independently — describable islands of function in a large config space, and that is what makes it so hard to hit such an island by non-intelligent causes. Hitting on something that is complex but is non-functional is much, much, much more likely — all but absolutely certain; in effect empirically certain. And, the atomic and temporal resources of the solar system or observable cosmos are so small relative to the config space that no reasonable procedure can be empirically adequate that is not intelligent. That’s not hard to see or show, and the rhetorical gymnastics used by objectors to evade the point are revealing. KF

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Maybe, red herring chase?

  8. 8
    News says:

    Barry at 5. You are right, I must learn to be more charitable. It’s just that I live in an environment where this sort of thing happens all the time in life.

    In big downtown hospitals, a PA announcement will suddenly ask: Will anyone who speaks [Vietnamese] please come to the emergency room.

    Usually, someone has been brought in by the paramedics, and ID shows that what they are saying is probably in a given language. But *it doesn’t follow that what they are saying makes any sense.* (Oxygen shortages to the brain, for example, can cause people to have a sharply limited perspective on their situation.)

    So maybe the volunteer translator will listen and say “It’s Vietnamese, but he isn’t making any sense.”

    Okay, well, they just admit him and start treatment, and try to get real information about him from someone else.

    My point is that even in an emergency, it is not usually difficult to find out whether a string of text/vocals actually makes sense. If it makes sense, it is specified, in the sense of following a pattern of communication. = What I should tell these doctors and nurses about what happened to me.

    It is hard to believe anyone doesn’t know this.

  9. 9
    JDH says:

    WS @2

    Nothing is more amusingly ironic than to have someone attempt to defend their viewpoint against a charge from the other view by doing exactly what was pointed out as error. “…Every snow flake is different.” I hate to be disrespectful, because you probably thought you were really making a valid point, but my only response was LOL.

  10. 10
    StephenB says:

    Call it the “Speakshake shuffle,” or, the “Seigner shuffle,” or the “Fish(RD) Shuffle.” The person is always different, but the strategy is always the same.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    JDH (attn ES):

    The diversity of snowflakes of course reflects how large the range of possibilities — the config space — is, and how contingent the outcome is under fairly similar initial conditions.

    The complexity reflects micro-variability effectively at random, which is highly contingent. But that variability is not simultaneously functionally specific. Pointing to chance as explanation of the complexity.

    I suppose if we could control the micro-conditions of the air well enough, we could make a controllable prong-pattern similar to a Yale lock that could be used to store functional information.

    But as a Yale lock shows, complex functional specificity like that is by design, not blind chance: you need just the right key to fit and open a given lock.

    The six-fold symmetry of the flakes of course is a natural regularity tracing to the spatial molecular structure of water and implied forces, it is tied to a different aspect of the snowflake . . . hinting at the significance of needing a given aspect to show BOTH functional specificity and complexity beyond a threshold to unequivocally point to design.

    Thus, we actually see how chance, mechanical necessity and design would be distinct in effects and how a design inference would work.

    KF

  12. 12
    Mung says:

    WS:

    Just because the random set has more different characters doesn’t make it more complex.

    So?

    Is a field full of snow more complex than DNA?

    Who cares? Why do you ask?

    Every snow flake is different.

    So?

  13. 13
    jerry says:

    I am a big Garth Brooks fan and my favorite song of his is “The Dance.”

    While what the anti-ID people is nothing like the Brooks song, I like to call what they do, “The Dance.” It is always interesting to watch how they will move and squirm or hide when confronted with contrary evidence or logic. They really do have a lot of moves when they are forced to avoid a direct answer.

    So we have the “Evolutionist Dance.”

  14. 14
    Querius says:

    A cryptographer might be able to prove that the two strings presented above encode the identical information, one is human readable, the other is computable given enough time or a key.

    Ideally, an encrypted message should be as close to white noise as possible. It would then be impossible to distinguish between the two messages by inspection: one might be incredibly profound, the other simply noise.

    -Q

  15. 15
    Barry Arrington says:

    Q @ 14. What point are you trying to make?

  16. 16
    Querius says:

    Barry,

    My point is that a string cannot be evaluated for information content when you consider that it might be encrypted with a modern cryptographic algorithm. Encoding a string prioritizes computational difficulty, the dispersion of information within the string, and the homogeneity of the data to look like noise. However, the information density will be low.

    I would add that in contrast, DNA encoding prioritizes reliability, information density, and flexibility (perhaps some other qualities as well).

    One string is not necessarily like another, thus comparing them without full knowledge is not possible.

    -Q

  17. 17
    E.Seigner says:

    kairosfocus

    The diversity of snowflakes of course reflects how large the range of possibilities — the config space — is, and how contingent the outcome is under fairly similar initial conditions.

    The complexity reflects micro-variability effectively at random, which is highly contingent. But that variability is not simultaneously functionally specific. Pointing to chance as explanation of the complexity.

    (Emphasis mine.)

    What’s wrong with this reasoning? Consider:

    The diversity of cell structures of course reflects how large the range of possibilities — the config space — is, and how contingent the outcome is under fairly similar initial conditions.

    The complexity reflects micro-variability effectively at random, which is highly contingent. But that variability is not simultaneously functionally specific. Pointing to chance as explanation of the complexity.

    Or:

    The diversity of character shapes (hand-written letters more obviously, but also letters typed on paper display micro-variability so no two letters are ever the same) of course reflects how large the range of possibilities — the config space — is, and how contingent the outcome is under fairly similar initial conditions.

    The complexity reflects micro-variability effectively at random, which is highly contingent. But that variability is not simultaneously functionally specific. Pointing to chance as explanation of the complexity.

    Or:

    The diversity of sand castles of course reflects how large the range of possibilities — the config space — is, and how contingent the outcome is under fairly similar initial conditions.

    The complexity reflects micro-variability effectively at random, which is highly contingent. But that variability is not simultaneously functionally specific. Pointing to chance as explanation of the complexity.

    Now use FSCO/I to solve this. I’m sure everyone will love to see a probabilistic calculation distinguish an intelligent design from non-intelligent whatever. This is what the folks are here for, after all.

    @Barry
    It would have been better if you had quoted what StephenB picked up from me in #290 in the other thread. This reveals my true position. Less assumptions, more actual dialogue. Anyway, thanks for making me famous, even though there was no reason.

  18. 18
    Paul Giem says:

    Querius,

    With an appropriately chosen key, any string of the same length can be engineered to be equivalent to an arbitrarily chosen message. Of course this means that the key has to be chosen very carefully. One could argue then that the information resides more in the key than in the string.

    Besides that, ID is not arguing that its methods can detect all information-containing strings. There can easily, with the appropriately chosen strings, be false negatives for information/design. The argument that is made is that, once the specification and complexity pass certain limits, false positives are not a problem. So while someone could tell me that using a special cipher, Barry’s sequence A might contain information, that is not the point. The point is that sequence B definitely contains information.

  19. 19
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    Either you have a point, or you don’t. The evedence seems to point to the second case. However, maybe it’s just that that I cannot understand your point. So, I will try to make it clearer for me and other possible unintelligent persons here.

    Could you please answer in a clear way the following questions?

    Referring to the two strings in post #4:

    1) Do you deny that an empirical inference of design is absolutely reasonable for the second string and not for the first? IOWs, would you reasonably argue for a possible random origin of the second string with the same conviction with which you would argue for a possible random origin of the first string? Just to know.

    2) Do you deny that the configuration of characters in the second string can be easily linked to a specific subset of all possible strings of that link by an independent functional definition, such as:

    “All strings of 534 characters which have a correct and perfectly understandable meaning in the english language (for all those who know the english language)?”

    3) Do you deny that such functional subset is extremely small if compared to the serahc space of “all strings of 534 charachters”?

    4) Do you deny that such independent functional definition is not known for the first string, or at least that no known independent functional specification would include in an extremely small subset the first string? Or, in alternative, can you offer such an independent functional definition for the first string?

    (By independent I mean that you must not “build” the specification on that particular string after having obtained it. Of course, it’s easy to define a subset such as “all strings that start with

    “OipaFJPSDIOVJN;XDLVMK:DOIFHw;ZD
    VZX;Vxsd;ijdgiojadoidfaf;asdfj;asdj[ije888”.

    As Paul Giem has clarified in his post #18, that would only mean to transfer the random complexity of a string to its designed definition).

    5) Do you deny that the link between an independent functional definition and an extremely small subset of the search space is exactly the reason why all reasonable persons who are not out of their mind would never believe that the Shakespeare passage did not originate from a random character generator, while no one would be ready to deny that possible explanation for the first string?

    6) Can you understand that a diagnostic tool can be highly specific (no false positives) and at the same time scarcely sensitive(many false negatives)? Design detection, if applied with a very “safe” threshold for rejecting random origination, is exactly an example of such a tradeoff.

    This is the essence of design detection, IMO. This is not even ID theory for biological information. Just the very obvious foundation for design detection, which should be clear to any reasonable person.

    But again, maybe I am simply stupid and I don’t understand your point. If you have one.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    ES:

    You have failed to reckon with the issue I raised above, complexity + functional specificity tied to a given aspect, instead substituting a strawman caricature of the design inference process and resulting explanatory filter.

    Complexity by itself is generally explicable on chance.

    Toss a string of 500 H/T coins and the resulting 72 or so letter ASCII character string is complex. With all but certainty it will not spell out text in English that is contextually responsive (or evasive).

    If you come across such a string of coins with the code equivalent to the first 72 or so characters of this post, then with moral certainty, it was designed.

    This has to do with the search-space, search resource, target zone needle in haystack search challenge already highlighted to you but which you refuse to acknowledge as existing.

    Based on this from the Feser thread, it seems you are now in the unenviable position of clinging to absurdities to deny the patent but unwelcome:

    Feser thread, 314:

    E Seigner: There’s no inherent design of English in written text, but a social convention called English.

    SB: You don’t think that authors design their paragraphs?

    Reductio ad absurdum.

    Game over.

    KF

    PS: That insistent refusal to acknowledge the joint scpecificity-complexity criterion as was put on the table in the 1970’s by Orgel and Wicken, is a characteristic sign of the rebuttal tactics pushed by known agenda-driven critic sources.

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    ES: I think you would be well advised to read the OP here, the root of current discussions of FSCO/I at UD and in the penumbra of objector sites. Take particular note of the diagrams and citations from Orgel and Wicken. KF

  22. 22
    E.Seigner says:

    gpuccio

    1) Do you deny that an empirical inference of design is absolutely reasonable for the second string and not for the first? IOWs, would you reasonably argue for a possible random origin of the second string with the same conviction with which you would argue for a possible random origin of the first string? Just to know.

    Do you deny that both strings were published here by the same person and the apparent intelligence of one string compared to the other tells nothing about how they got here? Do you deny that the strings in question exclusively consist of characters that are used for human communication, which itself presupposes social conventions, such as language skills, and technology, such as computers, electricity, etc. so to speak of random origin here is very far out regardless of the content of the string of characters?

    The string of characters by itself tells nothing. The context tells everything.

    kairosfocus

    You have failed to reckon with the issue I raised above, complexity + functional specificity tied to a given aspect, instead substituting a strawman caricature of the design inference process and resulting explanatory filter.

    Instead of complaining that I failed, please demonstrate precisely how I failed. And this based on the very same example, no switching. It’s your example, so deal with it. Show how your “complexity + functional specificity tied to a given aspect” leads to one conclusion with snowflakes as you explained, but the same reasoning necessarily yields a different conlusion with sand castles. At what point does it take a different turn? Everybody will surely be thrilled to see FSCO/I in action.

    kairosfocus

    ES: I think you would be well advised to read the OP here, the root of current discussions of FSCO/I at UD and in the penumbra of objector sites. Take particular note of the diagrams and citations from Orgel and Wicken.

    Take particular note of the fact that I have already pointed out the same post to you ages ago.

    Orgel and Wicken seem to have initiated the unfortunate ambiguous use of “specificity” as if it meant something. For example: “Organization, then, is functional complexity and carries information. It is non-random by design or by selection, rather than by the a priori necessity of crystallographic ‘order.’” Is he saying that crystals are not really ordered and their structure is not really organized? Yes, he is. But crystals are ordered, so… I think the guy doesn’t mean bad. He just likes to talk too much without thinking. There’s no conceptual clarity in what he’s saying.

  23. 23
    franklin says:

    gpuccio

    Do you deny that an empirical inference of design is absolutely reasonable for the second string and not for the first? IOWs, would you reasonably argue for a possible random origin of the second string with the same conviction with which you would argue for a possible random origin of the first string? Just to know.

    it appears that the answers to your two questions would be: yes and yes!

    see Jeffery Shallit’s analysis of the tow strings here:

    http://recursed.blogspot.de/20.....nding.html

  24. 24
    Barry Arrington says:

    KF; gpuccio, Paul, etc., thank you for your efforts, but one cannot argue that 1+1=2. Or as KF often puts it I + I = II. Your interlocutor either accepts the proposition as self-evidently true or for whatever reason denies the obvious.

    Have you ever seen a petulant child cross his arms, get red in the face and stamp his feet? E.Seigner is acting like the petulant child in this thread, denying the self-evident. It is enough that you have demonstrated his petulance. Any reasonable reader will understand by now that he is immune to reason and logic. I suggest that we leave it at that.

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    BA: Yup. Sadly. KF

    PS: It is rich that ES is now trying to take on Orgel and Wicken, and is adverting to . . . a post I made here at UD back in June in order, specifically to introduce the infographic on FSCO/I that has been ducked, dodge, side-stepped and diverted from ever since by objectors. Oh, well, that is an implication that it is on-target.

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    Franklin (attn J Shallit),

    Pardon, but I have watched sufficiently to confidently state that at no point has BA claimed that the string that is random reflects a flat random uniform distribution across possible states, so right out the gate there is a stumbling.

    I would beg to suggest that for instance, Zener noise is random, but it is not flat-distribution, equiprobable random; to get that from it, we may feed such noise into a Johnson counter or the like to seed it and drive a sufficiently near flat random result that we see such used in flat-random number generators.

    The sample used by BA is sufficiently chance-based to be a clearly distinct case by contrast to the FSCO/I evident from a citation from Shakespeare.

    I suggest per fair comment that we have here a strawman being set up and knocked over, complete with ad hominems and namecalling. Probably secure in the knowledge that many will go no further to check out the facts.

    Sad, but typical.

    KF

  27. 27
    gpuccio says:

    E.Seigner:

    Context? OK, let’s say that I inform you in advance that one string was generated by a random character generator, and the other has been written by a person. You have the full context now. What would you say?

  28. 28
    gpuccio says:

    franklin:

    That answer does not take into account the meaning of the string. The second string has a definite meaning, the first has not. It does not matter if it is completely random (generated by a random generator), or is it was typed by chance, so that it has some regularities due to the way it was “randomly” typed. Different random systems can have different properties.

    The point is: the second string has meaning because it is the intelligent and purposeful output of a conscious agent.

    The first string has no obvious meaning, and no reasonable person would infer that it was designed.

  29. 29
    franklin says:

    gpuccio

    The second string has a definite meaning, the first has not.

    It only has meaning because you, I, and others understand the English language. If another language, or code, were used you would have no idea of the meaning,if any, of the string. If design detection is dependent upon knowing the ‘meaning’ of some string, artifact, or molecule then the methhodology is useless for detecting design in unknown.

    Where has Shallit erred in his analysis?

  30. 30
    gpuccio says:

    franklin:

    “It only has meaning because you, I, and others understand the English language.”

    That’s exactly the point. It has meaning, we can describe and recognize that meaning, and that meaning defines an extremely small subset in the search space. So, what we observe could not reasonably originate randomly, and we infer design.

    That’s the essence of design detection: recognizing the output of a conscious intelligent agent, because the result we observe has the functional specification and cannot arise randomly, because the probability is really too small.

    So, we safely infer design for the second string, and we are right: it is a true positive.

    You say:

    “If another language, or code, were used you would have no idea of the meaning,if any, of the string.!”

    It’s very simple. The first string originated in some way. Let’s consider two possibilities:

    a) It originated randomly, or anyway not by a process of intentional design: no intelligent agent intended that string for a specific meaning it has in some specific code. It is not important whether it originated from a random computer generator, or if Barry just typed it by chance. Even if the two things could be distinguished in some cases, what is important here is; the string was not designed for a specific meaning.

    If that is the case, we simply don’t infer design fro the first string: it is a true negative.

    b) The first string is a string with a definite meaning in martian language, but unfortunately we don’t know martian language, and we don’t realize that it has a meaning. So, we don’t infer design for it. It is a false negative.

    In any case, we have no false positives.

    Now, please read again post #18 by Paul Giem:

    “Besides that, ID is not arguing that its methods can detect all information-containing strings. There can easily, with the appropriately chosen strings, be false negatives for information/design. The argument that is made is that, once the specification and complexity pass certain limits, false positives are not a problem. So while someone could tell me that using a special cipher, Barry’s sequence A might contain information, that is not the point. The point is that sequence B definitely contains information.”

    And now read again my post #19:

    “6) Can you understand that a diagnostic tool can be highly specific (no false positives) and at the same time scarcely sensitive(many false negatives)? Design detection, if applied with a very “safe” threshold for rejecting random origination, is exactly an example of such a tradeoff.”

    IOWs, design detection, correctlu applied, is a procedure with no false positives and many false negatives, with extremely high specificity and low sensitivity.

    Can you understand those simple concepts?

  31. 31
    gpuccio says:

    kairosfocus:

    As usual, you are perfectly right. People seem not to understand the meaning of a random system. A lot of people who should know better make the gross confusion that “random” means an uniform probability distribution.

    Especially if the confusion is in favor of their “argument”. 🙂

    As you say: Sad, but typical.

  32. 32
    franklin says:

    gpuccio

    Can you understand those simple concepts?

    sure I understand the situation. ID is unable to detect design unless the meaning is fully understood. As you describe in your #6 ID has no metric to rise above the ‘noise’ of any data set as evidenced by missing the non-random designed nature of string #1. ID would also fail to detect design in string 2 if it were encoded or translated into martian since it is only the recognition of the english words that enabled you to detect ‘design’. Hardly a rigorous metric for investigative use.

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    Franklin, FSCO/I is very fit for purpose, never mind the attempts to deflect and dismiss. It is not a universal decoding algorithm, but then no such exists, so that demand implied by the talking points just made is already selectively hyperskeptical. It is meant to do just this, identify cases where on empirically reliable sign, we may infer design as causal factor where we have not directly seen the causal process. The text examples, after all the belabouring and mistaking randomness for flat distributions are done, still are quite clear to anyone from 8 years old on up. because of functional specificity and complexity, string 2 is patently designed, and because of lack of same, we may safely default to 1 being a chance string. Of course, had FSCO/I not been a highly reliable indicator of design where it is present, objectors would be triumphantly and rightly saying it is useless. It isn’t useless, so objectors now wish to demand that it does something it was not meant to, and wish to belabour it for failing to solve an extremely hard and probably insoluble problem: a universal decoder algorithm. Sadly revealing: conclusion in hand at outset, find a rhetorical talking point to make it seem plausible. KF

  34. 34
    gpuccio says:

    franklin:

    well, it seems that you cannot understand those simple concepts.

    ID is unable to detect design unless the function is recognizable and the complexity linked to the function is not measured. That is certainly true. And so?

    In language, we deal with meaning (descriptive information). In proteins, machines, software, we deal with function (prescriptive information). Both can be rigorously defined, and the complexity linked to the implementation of the meaning or the function can be measured. Not in all cases, but in many cases.

    ID is perfectly apt to positively identify design in the cases in which design detection is possible. It has no high sensitivity, but it has perfect specificity. That’s its purpose.

    You cannot understand those simple concepts, but those simple concepts remain true just the same.

  35. 35
    E.Seigner says:

    gpuccio

    Context? OK, let’s say that I inform you in advance that one string was generated by a random character generator, and the other has been written by a person. You have the full context now. What would you say?

    Let me get this straight. You know that one string was generated by a random character generator and the other was written by a person. Then you tell all this to another observer and ask him to “detect intelligence” in the strings.

    I say: Amazing how ID theory works. Absolutely stunning.

  36. 36
    gpuccio says:

    E.Seigner:

    Maybe you don’t understand.

    I know that one string was generated by a random character generator and the other was written by a person. I give you the two strings, give you the context, but obviously I don’t tell you which is which.

    The answer is: can you detect the designed one?

    I can. Provided that the string is long enough and has recognizable and good meaning. For example, I would have no doubt that the second string is designed, even if I did not know that it is Shakespeare’s.

    There is more, you just give me the Shakespeare string, or any equivalent designed string with good meaning in English and enough length, and mic it with 1000 strings of the same length generated by a random character generator. I will easily pick up the designed one.

    How is that? Certainly I must be an extraordinary magician, to accomplish such amazing things! The merit cannot obviously be of the “stunning ID theory”, after all. The merit is certainly of my paranormal abilities.

    Please, go on. I am still waiting that you make a point that is a point.

  37. 37
    Querius says:

    Paul,

    One could argue then that the information resides more in the key than in the string.

    Yes, and the mind thaht created the pseudo-random string is even more complex.

    I don’t have an axe to grind or a position to promote, however, I’m not very comfortable with what I perceive to be the study of information. My ignorance in the subject mught be the primary culprit, but a broad(er) definition of information seems to be “hinged” in too many places. For example, information

    – Is highly context sensitive
    – Is almost always an abstraction
    – Cannot be judged on quantity–if fact less might be more
    – Might include tremendous amounts of research to produce one little piece of it
    – might result in a product that’s far simpler an easier to use than a more complex one

    Two strings might appear to contain an equivalent amount of information, but might not in reality.

    I believe that most useful information in a design is recognizable by its absence, but remains otherwise intangible and unmeasurable.

    Just some thoughts.

    -Q

  38. 38
    E.Seigner says:

    Querius

    I don’t have an axe to grind or a position to promote, however, I’m not very comfortable with what I perceive to be the study of information. My ignorance in the subject mught be the primary culprit, but a broad(er) definition of information seems to be “hinged” in too many places.

    The fact is that the term “information” has a technical meaning in information theory. It means bits of data without any interpretation of meaning. It’s a purely quantitative approach where meaning is not considered at all.

    Meaning is central to the common-sense understanding of the word “information”, so it’s easy to misunderstand the technical term of information theory. One place where ID theory goes wrong is to associate the term “information” with meaning as in everyday usage, while otherwise claiming to be in line with the information theory. Information theory has no way to consider meaning. Shallit’s critique is adequate. He took the two strings as purely quantitative and literally computed the difference, because this is what information theory does and this is how it works. Quantitative differences between the strings were minimal.

    If we assume any meaning to the strings, we are outside information theory and left to the devices of philology which has no mathematical tools to distinguish the strings. The best tools available there are linguistics and art critique, and gibberish might qualify as some wonderful postmodern art, so there too the difference between the strings could be minimal depending on who you ask. If it’s to do with meaning, then it’s open to interpretation and this is a can of worms where information theory refuses to go.

  39. 39
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    It’s very strange what you say in your post #38. Do you really know anything of ID theory?

    The core of ID theory is the concept of complex specified information, that is the quantity of information (in bits) linked to the specification. For example, is the specification is a meaning or a function, we measure the quantity of information necessary to implement that meaning and function.

    This is not information theory. This is ID theory. Meaning and function are part of it. The specification is the key concept in ID theory.

    So, if you and Shallit do not understand the basics of ID theory, why do you criticize it?

    If you have problems about mathematical tools, please read my OP about functional specification, here:

    Functional information defined

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....n-defined/

  40. 40
    Andre says:

    E.Seigner….

    Before you carry on blabbering what you think our position is go here!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLAGfZ6bCfc

  41. 41
    E.Seigner says:

    @gpuccio

    Here it is in detail how ID theory goes wrong:

    I define a function for an object as follows:

    a) If a conscious observer connects some observed object to some possible desired result which can be obtained using the object in a context, then we say that the conscious observer conceives of a function for that object.

    b) If an object can objectively be used by a conscious observer to obtain some specific desired result in a certain context, according to the conceived function, then we say that the object has objective functionality, referred to the specific conceived function.

    … a function is a conception of a conscious being, it does not exist in the material world outside of us, but it does exist in our subjective experience. Objective functionalities, instead, are properties of material objects.

    In (a) you have function as a subjective conception. In (b) you suddenly call the exact same thing objective, even though it’s the same thing conceived by the observer. The only difference is that he is now trying out experimentally if his conception works.

    Sorry, but both are subjective, projected by the observer. Your so-called objective functionality is the theoretical conception experimentally applied, which does not make it an empirically objective property of the material objects, but only scientifically tested as they call it. It remains subjective because you are tampering with the material, instead of letting it reveal its own functionality, but of course what the material reveals on its own is open to interpretation (such as: should we only look outside or also measure inside, i.e. tamper with it? at what point should the observation begin and when end to count as complete and exhaustive? when observed, is the environment still natural to the material? etc.), and this is precisely why no functionality, not even “objective functionality” is objective.

    In science, properties of the material just are, without purpose, because everybody knows purpose is subjective. Functionality comes in when you get engineerial, and then it’s more up to the “objective functionality” of the engineer than of the material.

    By the way, in your text, since the observer gets experimental, he’s not really observer. You should fix that.

  42. 42
    kairosfocus says:

    ES: When one puts together a complex composite such as a program or an electronic amplifier ckt or a watch or an auto engine or many other things, function is not projected to it by an observer. I wuk, or i nuh wuk, mon. Was that a bad starter motor, a run down battery, out of gas, dirty injector points and more. Was that a bug in syntax or in semantics. Was that a BJT miswired and fried, did you put in the wrong size load resistor so it sits in saturation when it was meant to be in the middle of the load line, dis you put in an electrolytic cap the wrong way around, etc. Is this a heart attack triggered by a blood clot etc. Function is not a matter of imagination but observation. And you full well know that or should. KF

  43. 43
    Barry Arrington says:

    E.Seigner @ 41. Sadly, your post demonstrates that gpuccio is right. You have really no idea what ID theory is.

  44. 44
    Joe says:

    Earth to E. Seigner- functionality, ie a function, is an OBSERVATION. We observe something performing some function and we investigate to try to figure out how it came to be the way it is.

    Within living organisms we observe functioning systems and subsystems.

    As for “information”, well with respect to biology ID uses the same definition that Crick provided decades ago. And we say it can be measured the same way Shannon said, decades ago.

  45. 45
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    1) First of all, thank you for the attention.

    2) “ID theory goes wrong” only for the prejudices of your personal philosophy. I respect your philosophy, but I certainly don’t agree with it.

    3) Objective reality (what really exists) certainly includes both subjective and objective events. Subjective experiences simply happen, therefore they exist. They are part of the objective reality. Your discourse is so repleted of false assumption about reality and about science that it is really difficult even to understand what you mean.

    4) Science is much more about “theoretical conception experimentally applied” than about “objective properties of the material objects”. Indeed, science is about much more than material objects. The concept itself of a material object is indeed a “”theoretical conception experimentally applied”. Your “arguments” about science are senseless.

    5) ” It remains subjective because you are tampering with the material, instead of letting it reveal its own functionality” is one of the most silly statements I have ever heard. Try to discuss that with quantum physicists.

    6) In my text, the observer observes the properties of an object, and conceives a possible use of that object. IOWs, he introduces purpose in a representation of reality. That happens before any experiment. It happens in consciousness. Experiment can confirm what consciousness has represented.

    7) However subjective a function may be, it can be objectively defines as a measurable result. So, if I define an enzymatic function as the ability to get a reaction in a certain context with at least some efficiency, I have defined a result that can be objectively measured. It’s not simply a question of “experimenting”: either a molecule can get that result in a definite context, or it cannot. That is an objective measure.

    8) In the same way, I can objectively measure the information needed to get the result, especially in the case of a protein sequence, where certain sequences give the result and others don’t. All those things are objective and scientific, except for your biased imagination.

  46. 46
    E.Seigner says:

    @KF #42

    To an observer it looks like cars take people to work and shopping. But most of the time cars stand in garage motionless, and sometimes they fail to start. If the observer is truly impartial, then it’s not up to him to say that the failure to start or mere standing is any less of the car’s function than the ability of being driven. The car’s function is what the car does and when the car fails to start then that’s what it does and this is its function.

    Of course this sounds silly, but it’s true. This is exactly the point where John Searle plays gotcha with modern biology. For example the heart does systole and diastole. There’s also an actual moment of rest between those two actions. How is an impartial observer to say what is the real function of the heart? And who is to tell to the impartial observer when the observation is complete so as to determine the true function?

    This is the point that Searle raises in The Construction of Social Reality. He is able to raise this point because this is where physicalist biology really stands. Physicalist biology really stands here because everybody knows that function is subjective. Function is just another word for purpose and purpose is subjective, projected, imposed, etc.

  47. 47
    Joe says:

    E Seigner:

    To an observer it looks like cars take people to work and shopping.

    To a knowledgeable observer cars would be a form of transportation.

    But most of the time cars stand in garage motionless, and sometimes they fail to start.

    If the observer is in some big city then there is a high probability there will cars on the street acting as transportation. The observer doesn’t need to observe every car at every instance.

    The car’s function is what the car does and when the car fails to start then that’s what it does and this is its function.

    Cars, whether they start or not, require an explanation. And that is if they are being used for transportation, housing, or storage

  48. 48
    Barry Arrington says:

    E.Seigner @ 46. It is clear to me now. You have drunk deeply from the post-modernist/constructivist Koolaid. Kairosfocus and gpuccio be advised — attempting to reason with such as E.Seigner is pointless.

  49. 49
    E.Seigner says:

    @Joe #44

    As for “information”, well with respect to biology ID uses the same definition that Crick provided decades ago. And we say it can be measured the same way Shannon said, decades ago.

    I would happily believe you, but Barry already put up a next post where it’s clearly evident that his examples are not in the realm of standard information theory, because he didn’t mean “random” in the technical sense, his criteria include “specification” which is unknown in information theory, etc.

  50. 50
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    Your post #46 very clearly shows your error.

    You ask:

    ” How is an impartial observer to say what is the real function of the heart?”

    But you seem not to understand that function is not in an object. Objects are used to implement a function, They do not have a function of themselves.

    If you had read my OP about functional specification, you would have seen that I make that distinction very clearly.

    Function is a form of purpose, and purpose is only a conscious experience. “Objects” have no purposes, and therefore can have no function.

    But an object can be used to implement a function. And the whole point of ID is that some objects must be in very specific configurations to be used for the implementation of some specific functions. Therefore, those functions are complex and the objects used to implement them must be specifically complex.

    It’s so simple, indeed. A child would understand it. How is it that you cannot?

    The right question is not “what is the objective function of the heart”? The right question is: “How complex must an organ be to implement the functions guaranteed by the heart”?

    Is it clear?

  51. 51
    gpuccio says:

    Barry:

    I take the advice. I will go on as far as I think is worthwhile, and no more.

  52. 52
    Joe says:

    E. Seigner- “random” has several meanings and Barry’s use is spot on. Also Barry’s example has absolutely no bearing on what I said. And “information theory” as proposed by Shannon has a very narrow scope.

    So the bottom line is I don’t care if you believe me or not. It is obvious that you have your mind made up and won’t budge until Antarctica melts.

  53. 53
    Joe says:

    E Seigner:

    But you seem not to understand that function is not in an object.

    He didn’t say that it was. Obviously you have some agenda of obfuscation.

    Function is a form of purpose,

    It can be but it doesn’t have to be

    The problem is your narrow-minded PoV, ES

  54. 54
    E.Seigner says:

    @Barry #48

    No, it’s not clear to you at all. You already were wrong about me being a materialist, and this is quite a serious thing to be wrong about.

    Joe

    To a knowledgeable observer cars would be a form of transportation.

    So now it requires a “knowledgeable observer” instead of impartial. Just when I thought it’s bad enough, it gets even worse…

    Joe

    Cars, whether they start or not, require an explanation. And that is if they are being used for transportation, housing, or storage

    Things require an explanation, yes, if the observer holds to the principle of sufficient reason. This is up to the observer, not up to the things. I happen to hold to this principle, but not everybody does, and not everybody does the same way.

  55. 55
    E.Seigner says:

    gpuccio

    But you seem not to understand that function is not in an object. Objects are used to implement a function, They do not have a function of themselves.

    But you seem not to understand that not so long ago you directed me to a blog post written by yourself where you did your best to make a case for something called “objective functionality” which was supposed to be a property of the material objects. So much for consistency.

  56. 56
    Joe says:

    E Seigner:

    So now it requires a “knowledgeable observer” instead of impartial.

    Knowledgeable observer means one that can put the observations together to gain/ create knowledge. That takes knowledge. We wouldn’t want a complete drooling imbecile to be our observer- and yes it helps to be impartial.

    Things require an explanation, yes, if the observer holds to the principle of sufficient reason. This is up to the observer, not up to the things.

    And IDists are observing things and trying to explain them. This is A) because no one else has done so and B) because it matters

  57. 57
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    For your convenience, I paste here form my OP:

    That said, I will try to begin introducing two slightly different, but connected, concepts:

    a) A function (for an object)

    b) A functionality (in a material object)

    I define a function for an object as follows:

    a) If a conscious observer connects some observed object to some possible desired result which can be obtained using the object in a context, then we say that the conscious observer conceives of a function for that object.

    b) If an object can objectively be used by a conscious observer to obtain some specific desired result in a certain context, according to the conceived function, then we say that the object has objective functionality, referred to the specific conceived function.

    The purpose of this distinction should be clear, but I will state it explicitly just the same: a function is a conception of a conscious being, it does not exist in the material world outside of us, but it does exist in our subjective experience. Objective functionalities, instead, are properties of material objects. But we need a conscious observer to connect an objective functionality to a consciously defined function.

    As everybody can see, I make a clear distinction between the function, which is not in the object, and the objective functionality, which is a property of the object. IOWs, an object must be configured in some way to be used for a function.

    Can you read?

    Now, if you just tried to answer my arguments, instead of evading them?

  58. 58
    E.Seigner says:

    @gpuccio

    As everybody can see, I quoted the same bit from you in #41 and I replied to it too. I can state my reply more concisely so you don’t miss it: Your distinction is imaginary, untenable, false, indefensible. For longer argumentation why this is so, see #41.

  59. 59
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    As everybody can see, this is your argument:

    “In (a) you have function as a subjective conception. In (b) you suddenly call the exact same thing objective, even though it’s the same thing conceived by the observer. The only difference is that he is now trying out experimentally if his conception works.”

    What an argument!
    What a pity that in b, as everybody can see, I am calling a completely different thing with a completely different name.

    What a pity that in b) I am speaking of how an object, with objective properties, can or cannot be used to implement the subjective conception, and not of “how the conception works”.

    Ah, but I forgot. My “distinction is imaginary, untenable, false, indefensible”. And you have clearly shown why in your post.

    OK, Barry was right. It is not worthwhile. Good luck.

  60. 60
    Mung says:

    Where has Shallit erred in his analysis?

    When he opened his mouth. Right before he put his foot in it.

  61. 61
    Querius says:

    E.Seigner @ 38,

    From what little I know about information theory, I think you’re right in describing it as having a very narrow definition. It’s more mathematics than reality, and that’s where my objections went awry.

    Conversely, I don’t think this narrow definition of information maps very well into functional Design, and I suspect that conflating information and design is problematic.

    As a thought experiment, let’s reduce an incredibly complex design to a single integer (as is done with IQ, for example), 42. A design of 38 or 45 might be significantly suboptimal, but the *information* conveyed is equivalent.

    As we observe the astonishing complexity of living things, what we might actually be more amazed at the design. Information might be only the heat of friction of design and might not be that reliable, except when the designer is the same.

    Just some thoughts.

    -Q

  62. 62
    Mung says:

    E.Seigner:

    The fact is that the term “information” has a technical meaning in information theory.

    That doesn’t somehow magically remove it from being information in the general sense.

    E.Seigner:

    It means bits of data without any interpretation of meaning.

    That is simply incorrect. The term “information” in information theory does not mean “bits of data without any interpretation of meaning.” Do you have a source for that definition?

    E.Seigner:

    It’s a purely quantitative approach where meaning is not considered at all.

    What good is a meaningless quantity? Why do we bother generating quantitative approaches if they are not meaningful?

  63. 63
    Mung says:

    Q,

    There’s nothing all that mysterious or even anything all that technical about information even in information theory.

    I have two boxes (box A and box B) and inside one box is a coin while the other box is empty, where it is equally likely that the coin is in either box.

    How many questions must you ask to determine which box contains the coin?

  64. 64
    Mung says:

    E.Seigner,

    Since you’re here for the philosophy, how conversant are you in the Philosophy of Information?

  65. 65
    Querius says:

    Mung,

    One of my favorite quotes goes like this:

    Deficiencies in engineering (or design) manifest themselves as information.

    One could make the argument then that a great design exhibits less information than a mediocre design. The information has been preprocessed by an intelligent agent.

    Have you ever heard this old saying?

    Data is not information; information is not knowledge; knowledge is not wisdom.

    -Q

  66. 66
    Mung says:

    Over in another thread E.Seigner wrote:

    @Mung

    Your point sounds reasonable if Shannon information indeed implies real information. But in computing the same thing is called data. No meaning.

    For context you can visit what ES was responding to here.

    It is my position that Shannon’s measure of information produces real information about something. If this is true, then Shannon information is not “meaningless information” nor does it provide any logical path to the conclusion that there is or can be such a thing as “meaningless information.”

    As such it should not be confused with mere data. Nor should it be conflated with “meaningless.”

    I disagree with the characterization that Shannon information is “just data.”

    Shannon information is calculated. Mathematically. But it cannot be calculated on just any data (unless perhaps someone makes some assumptions about the data).

    I also object to the characterization that data is meaningless, though this is a step in the right direction. It at least makes the distinction between data and information. So one might be able to assert that there is “meaningless data” without being required to assert that there is “meaningless information.”

    The phrase “meaningless information” isn’t even coherent. I’ve never even come across anyone who was willing to argue otherwise.

  67. 67
    Mung says:

    Q,

    I don’t recall coming across it before, but that is a wonderful saying!

    Care to offer thoughts about why information is not knowledge?

  68. 68
    Mung says:

    Q, Is that St. T.A.?

  69. 69
    Dionisio says:

    #48 Barry Arrington

    I envy Kairosfocus and gpuccio for their tremendous patience, which they have demonstrated while arguing with stubborn interlocutors here in this site. I have tried to imitate them to no avail.
    Now I’m glad you alerted them to what was going on. Their explanations are very welcome by many, but their time shouldn’t be wasted on senseless arguments with people who have selective hearing.

  70. 70
    Querius says:

    Mung,

    According to BrainyQuote, the actual quote is

    Data is not information, information is not knowledge, knowledge is not understanding, understanding is not wisdom.
    – Clifford Stoll

    I would say that each element in the above progression puts the previous together in a meaningful way! If this is true, then putting information together in a meaningful way provides understanding . . . the key word is meaningful.

    Quite honestly, I think E.Seigner and you might come to agreement that the narrow, technical definition of information is only a small mathematical subset of the common information that we all experience.

    The phrase “meaningless information” isn’t even coherent.

    Yes, I agree.

    – Information without meaning is still information.
    – Information with correct meaning is undertsanding.
    – Information with incorrect meaning is propaganda.

    -Q

  71. 71
    gpuccio says:

    Mung and Querius:

    E. Seigner is obviously wrong about information theory. Shannon’s theory is about the transmission of meaningful information, even if it tells nothing about the nature of that meaning.

    Shannon’s theory deals with the signal to noise ratio in information transmission, and the uncertainty linked to the signal communication.

    Therefore, E. Seigner is wrong when he says:

    “The fact is that the term “information” has a technical meaning in information theory. It means bits of data without any interpretation of meaning. It’s a purely quantitative approach where meaning is not considered at all.”

    In Shannon’s theory, the signal is a signal, and the noise is noise. The signal is assumed to have a specific meaning (it is what we want to communicate), although the theory does not deal with the nature of that meaning, and has no interest in defining it.

    ID theory, on the contrary, deals directly with the definition of meaning and function, and uses concepts derived from Shannon’s theory, in a different context, to measure the bits of information linked to the implementation of function.

    For an elegant way to do that, one can read the famous Durston paper about functional information in protein families.

    The simple truth is, E. Seigner does not know what he is talking about.

  72. 72
    gpuccio says:

    Dionisio:

    “Selective hearing”? I would say that they have no hearing at all. They are just interested in their talking! 🙂

  73. 73
    kairosfocus says:

    ES:

    It may be entertaining to play semantics games with terms like function, but that simply reveals that your problem is not with science, it is with common sense reality tracing to some of the sillier bits of post-modernist radical subjectivism and deconstructionism.

    Perhaps, it has not dawned on you that survival of the fittest or hill-climbing algorithms or natural selection the like pivot on the objectivity of function. Have you gone to Panda’s Thumb, TSZ, ATBC or the like Darwinist agitator sites to challenge the core concepts of evolution based on differential reproductive success pivoting on functional differences of life-forms? I safely bet not, you are reserving such talking-points for those you object to, regardless of inconsistencies or outright incoherence.

    [Ill-]Logic with a swivel.

    Patently, revealingly, sadly, you have indulged in incoherent selective hyperskepticism.

    And if you genuinely imagine that a stalled car with a dead engine, or a leaky roof, or a crashed computer, or a PA system that distorts sounds horribly are functionally distinct as a mere matter of subjective opinion, your problem is a breach of common sense.

    Do you — or a significant other — have a mechanic? Are you a shade-tree mechanic? Do you have even one tool for maintenance? Do you recognise the difference between sugar, salt and arsenic in your cup of coffee? Between an effective prescription correctly filled and faithfully carried out when you get sick and a breakdown of that process? Etc?

    I put it to you that you cannot and do not live consistent with your Lit class seminar-room talking points.

    And, your evasive resort to clinging to such absurdities to obfuscate the issue of functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information, speaks loudest volumes for the astute onlooker.

    Own-goal, E-S.

    The bottom-line of the behaviour of several objectors over the past few days, speaks inadvertent volumes on the real balance on the merits of the core design theory contention that there are such things as reliable empirical markers — such as Wickensian FSCO/I — that are strong signs of design as key causal process.

    But, many are so wedded to the totalising metanarrative of a priori Lewontinian evolutionary materialism that they refuse to heed the 2350 year old warning posed by Plato on where cynical radical relativism, amorality opening the dorr to might makes right nihilism and ruthless factions points to for a civilisation. Refusing to learn the hard-bought, paid for in blood lessons of history, they threaten to mislead our civilisation into yet another predictably futile and bloody march of folly. As the ghosts of 100 million victims of such demonically wicked deceptions over the past century warn us.

    The folly on the march in our day is so arrogantly stubborn that it refuses to learn living memory history or the history passed on first hand to our grand parents.

    Here is Sophia (personification of Wisdom), in the voice of Solomon echoing hard-bought, civil war triggered lessons in Israel c 1,000 BC:

    Prov 1:20 Wisdom [Gk, Sophia] cries aloud in the street,
    in the markets she raises her voice;
    21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
    at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
    22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
    How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
    and fools hate knowledge?
    23 If you turn at my reproof,[a]
    behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
    I will make my words known to you.
    24 Because I have called and you refused to listen,
    have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
    25 because you have ignored all my counsel
    and would have none of my reproof,
    26 I also will laugh at your calamity;
    I will mock when terror strikes you,
    27 when terror strikes you like a storm
    and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
    when distress and anguish come upon you.
    28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
    they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
    29 Because they hated knowledge
    and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
    30 would have none of my counsel
    and despised all my reproof,
    31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
    and have their fill of their own devices.
    32 For the simple are killed by their turning away,
    and the complacency of fools destroys them
    ;
    33 but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
    and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

    A grim warning, bought at the price of a spoiled, wayward son who fomented disaffection and led rebellion triggering civil war and needless death and destruction, ending in his own death and that of many others.

    Behind the Proverbs lies the anguished wailing of a father who had to fight a war with his son and in the end cried out, Oh Absalom, my son . . .

    History sorts out the follies of literary excesses, if we fail to heed wisdom in good time.

    Often, at the expense of a painful, bloody trail of woe and wailing that leads many mothers and fathers, widows and orphans to wail the loss of good men lost to fight in the face of rampant folly.

    But then, tragic history is written into my name, as George William Gordon’s farewell to his wife written moments before his unjust execution on sentence of a kangaroo court-martial, was carried out:

    My beloved Wife, General Nelson has just been kind enough to inform me that the court-martial on Saturday last has ordered me to be hung, and that the sentence is to be executed in an hour hence; so that I shall be gone from this world of sin and sorrow.

    I regret that my worldly affairs are so deranged; but now it cannot be helped. I do not deserve this sentence, for I never advised or took part in any insurrection. All I ever did was to recommend the people who complained to seek redress in a legitimate way; and if in this I erred, or have been misrepresented, I do not think I deserve the extreme sentence. It is, however, the will of my Heavenly Father that I should thus suffer in obeying his command to relieve the poor and needy, and to protect, as far as I was able, the oppressed. And glory be to his name; and I thank him that I suffer in such a cause. Glory be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and I can say it is a great honour thus to suffer; for the servant cannot be greater than his Lord. I can now say with Paul, the aged, “The hour of my departure is at hand, and I am ready to be offered up. I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith, and henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge shall give me.” Say to all friends, an affectionate farewell; and that they must not grieve for me, for I die innocently. Assure Mr. Airy and all others of the truth of this. Comfort your heart. I certainly little expected this. You must do the best you can, and the Lord will help you; and do not be ashamed of the death your poor husband will have suffered. The judges seemed against me, and from the rigid manner of the court I could not get in all the explanation I intended . . .

    Deconstruct that, clever mocking scorners of the literary seminar room.

    Deconstruct it in the presence of a weeping wife and mother and children mourning the shocking loss of a father and hero to ruthless show-trial injustice ending in judicial murder.

    Murder that echoes the fate of one found innocent but sent to Golgotha because of ruthless folly-tricks in Jerusalem c. 30 AD.

    (How ever so many fail to see the deep lesson about folly-tricks in the heart of the Gospel, escapes me. New Atheists and fellow travellers, when you indict the Christian Faith as the fountain-head of imagined injustice, remember the One who hung between thieves on a patently unjust sentence, having been bought at the price of a slave through a betrayer blinded by greed and folly. If you do not hear a cry for just government and common decency at the heart of the Gospel you would despise, you are not worth the name, literary scholar or educated person.)

    And in so doing, learn a terrible, grim lesson of where your clever word games predictably end up in the hands of the ruthless.

    For, much more than science is at stake in all of this.

    GEM of TKI

  74. 74
    E.Seigner says:

    Mung

    The phrase “meaningless information” isn’t even coherent. I’ve never even come across anyone who was willing to argue otherwise.

    Of course “meaningless information” is an incoherent phrase. However, this doesn’t change the way it’s treated in information theory. I have a problem also with the phrase “information technology”. It’s obviously not about information, but about data. It should be “data theory”, “data technology” or maybe “cybertechnology” to get rid of the incoherence. They are putting the wrong label on what it’s about.

    Anyway, note that similarly I think that “design detection” and “intelligence detection” are incoherent phrases. Intelligence is immaterial and you can’t detect the immaterial. There is no detection going on in the relevant sense. In “design detection”, if “design” means “pattern” (which it does according to common vocabulary definition), then any visual illusion should alert you to the fact how astonishingly subjective “detection of patterns” is.

    Of course “design” in ID theory has its own idiosyncratic meaning at odds with common sense, just like “information” in information theory. Misnomers like this don’t help understanding and knowledge further. Quite the opposite.

    kairosfocus

    Patently, revealingly, sadly, you have indulged in incoherent selective hyperskepticism.

    And if you genuinely imagine that a stalled car with a dead engine, or a leaky roof, or a crashed computer, or a PA system that distorts sounds horribly are functionally distinct as a mere matter of subjective opinion, your problem is a breach of common sense.

    Had you genuinely paid any attention to my point (instead of listening to Barry’s false assumptions about it), you would have understood that my point was to criticize the defective interpretative framework of materialist biology. There are frameworks where function can be understood, but materialist biology is not one of those. If you think I agree with Darwinism or such, then evidently anything I say is not reaching you. Be happy in your own little world where comprehension of your interlocutor is unnecessary.

  75. 75
    Querius says:

    gpuccio asserts,

    In Shannon’s theory, the signal is a signal, and the noise is noise. The signal is assumed to have a specific meaning (it is what we want to communicate), although the theory does not deal with the nature of that meaning, and has no interest in defining it.

    It occurs to me that without the meaning, this then sounds more like data rather than information. If I understand the basics, then what we’re looking at mathematically is discovering the faintest pattern in a lot of noise.

    -Q

  76. 76
    Upright BiPed says:

    ES,

    Meaning cannot be measured, but it can be demonstrated. We’ve handed out Nobel Prizes in biology for such demonstrations. Meaning has unique physical conditions that are necessarily coextensive with its appearance, and these are found nowhere else in the physical world. Similarly, when those physical conditions demonstrate the additional property of dimensionality, we associate those with such descriptors as “intelligence” and “design” because volitional agency is their only identifiable source in the cosmos.

  77. 77
    gpuccio says:

    Querius:

    Data are a form of meaning.

    The point is, Shannon’s theory clearly distinguishes between a meaningful set of bits (the signal) and non meaningful bits (the noise), and deals with the problem of how to correctly communicate the signal.

    Therefore, it is not true that in Shannon’s theory all bits are the same, and that everything is information, or any other senseless generalization.

    It is true that Shannon’s theory does not deal with what makes a signal a signal. That is not its purpose. It is a communication theory, not an information theory.

    ID is definitely interested in what makes a signal a signal. Because ID deals with design detection, and therefore with conscious agents.

    Signals are signals only to conscious agents, exactly like function is function only to conscious agents. Science is a conscious construction. There is no science in objects.

    The simple truth is that we can define any function we like, and objectively verify if an object, with its objective configuration, can be used to implement the function or not. That should be obvious to any reasonable child.

    The central idea in ID is that we can define functions which require extremely complex configurations in the object to be implemented. So, if we find objects which bear exactly that complex configuration, we can infer design. Those complex, specific configuration linked to a definable function cannot arise in a random system, because they are simply too unlikely: the partition of the search space generated by the function is simply too asymmetric.

    Design by a conscious intelligent purposeful agent is the only natural process which can originate that kind of objects.

    It’s just as simple.

  78. 78
    E.Seigner says:

    Upright BiPed

    Meaning cannot be measured, but it can be demonstrated. We’ve handed out Nobel Prizes in biology for such demonstrations.

    You mean DNA research? DNA is called code, not meaning.

    Upright BiPed

    Meaning has unique physical conditions that are necessarily coextensive with its appearance, and these are found nowhere else in the physical world.

    Meaning has contextual preconditions that have a non-physical dimension. To recognize a meaning, one must be equipped with complete grammar – alphabet, vocabulary, syntax, and semantics, and the grammar must be applicable to the supposed message. The grammar is necessary for meaning, but it’s not physical.

    DNA does not require meaning. Insofar as DNA is meant to preserve data when conveyed from point A to point B, from parents to offspring, it’s called code. To attribute meaning to it is another layer of interpretation.

  79. 79
    E.Seigner says:

    gpuccio

    Data are a form of meaning.

    Under what kind of theory? None that I know of.

  80. 80
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    Now you know. Let’s say it’s my theory. I am not interested in hiding behind theories of others. I just say what I think.

    Data are data only if a conscious agent recognizes them as information about something. Otherwise, they are simply facts. In that sense, everything that exists would be data.

    However, in case you wonder if other people share my point of view, here is a simple definition from Wikipedia:

    “Data (/?de?t?/ day-t?, /?dæt?/ da-t?, or /?d??t?/ dah-t?)[1] is a set of values of qualitative or quantitative variables; restated, pieces of data are individual pieces of information. Data in computing (or data processing) is represented in a structure that is often tabular (represented by rows and columns), a tree (a set of nodes with parent-children relationship), or a graph (a set of connected nodes). Data is typically the result of measurements and can be visualized using graphs or images.

    Data as an abstract concept can be viewed as the lowest level of abstraction, from which information and then knowledge are derived.”

  81. 81
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    Our understanding of DNA as a code is a meaning.

    Science is about meaning.

    And so on.

    Any map of reality, of whatever kind, is based on meaning, and happens only in consciousness.

  82. 82
    E.Seigner says:

    gpuccio

    Let’s say it’s my theory. I am not interested in hiding behind theories of others. I just say what I think.

    Data are data only if a conscious agent recognizes them as information about something. Otherwise, they are simply facts. In that sense, everything that exists would be data.

    So you hate facts and you prefer data. Interesting theory.

    I agree with the Wikipedia definition that data is typically results of measurements. And results of measurements are by themselves meaningless. It takes context or formal organization to derive any meaning from them. This is expressed in the sentence: “Data as an abstract concept can be viewed as the lowest level of abstraction, from which information and then knowledge are derived.” So data, information, and knowledge are distinct concepts.

    gpuccio

    Our understanding of DNA as a code is a meaning.

    Can be interpreted this way, yes, but it’s the meaning we attribute to it.

    gpuccio

    Science is about meaning.

    Science is about organizing and interpreting data.

  83. 83
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    Is that just a joke?

    I call facts facts and data data, That is not a theory. It’s just a good use of language.

    A measurement is definitely a meaning. Wikipedia again:

    “Measurement (from Old French, mesurement) is the assignment of numbers to objects or events.[1] It is a cornerstone of most natural sciences, technology, economics, and quantitative research in other social sciences.

    Any measurement of an object can be judged by the following meta-measurement criteria values: level of measurement (which includes magnitude), dimensions (units), and uncertainty. They enable comparisons to be done between different measurements and reduce confusion. Even in cases of clear qualitative similarity or difference, increased precision through quantitative measurement is often preferred in order to aid in replication. For example, different colours may be operationalized based either on wavelengths of light or (qualitative) terms such as “green” and “blue” which are often interpreted differently by different people. The science of measurement is called metrology.”

    A measurement is the meaningful result of a procedure. It uses such refined concepts as “number”, “dimension”, and so on.

    You quote, yourself:

    ““Data as an abstract concept can be viewed as the lowest level of abstraction, from which information and then knowledge are derived.” So data, information, and knowledge are distinct concepts.”

    So, they are different levels of abstraction. Different levels of meaning. Data represent values for variables. There is a lot of meaning in that.

    Even if meaning can come at different levels, it is meaning just the same.

    There is no code is no one understands it as a code. A code is a mapping, and that is a refined human concept.

    You may think that DNA acting as it does is simply a fact. In that case, you will not see any code in that. Most people see the DNA code as a code, that is a mapping of information from one state to another.

    The problem of how that mapping originated is all another story, it refers to the problem of design inference for complex functional configurations. But, independently from the problem of its origin, when we see DNA as code, as a mapping, we are recognizing in it a meaning. A functional meaning. Exactly as we do when we see an enzyme as a biological machine which accelerates reactions.

    Now, in your very imaginary world, all those things can be meaningless. Your choice. In science, and especially in biological science, we see meanings and functions everywhere. Look at Uniprot, for example, at the voice “function” for individual proteins.

    You say:

    “Science is about organizing and interpreting data.”

    Science is about many things, but its main purpose is to understand. “Interpreting” data simply means understanding what they mean.

    Science is about observing facts, and inferring general laws and models from them. Laws and models are meanings, they are subjective creations with objective (shareable) value. Science organizes facts into data, tries to explain data through theories, tests theories through data and facts. It is a very abstracted, meaningful activity of consciousness, which uses facts as raw material and mental experiences as structuring tools.

    IOWs. science is about meaning.

  84. 84
    Upright BiPed says:

    ES,

    DNA is called code, not meaning.

    Meaning is the symbolic value, or significance, of a thing. A code is a system of rules to convey information through symbolic representation. Representations are things, which convey symbolic value (meaning) within a system.

    Meaning has contextual preconditions that have a non-physical dimension.

    Yes, but the conveyance of meaning requires physical conditions that are coherently understood and materially identifiable within a system.

    To recognize a meaning, one must be equipped with complete grammar – alphabet, vocabulary, syntax, and semantics…

    Correct (without the unnecessary anthropocentric flair). To translate the symbolic value of a representation into a physical effect requires systematic rules that are not derivable from the material that makes up the system.

    DNA does not require meaning.

    DNA (like any other instance of information) conveys meaning through a system of representations and protocols.

    – – A representation is an arrangement of matter that can evoke a functional effect within a system, where the arrangement of the medium and the effect it evokes are physicochemically arbitrary.

    – – A protocol is an arrangement of matter that establishes the otherwise nonexistent relationship between the arrangement of a representation and its post translation effect.

    In DNA, the representation is the dimensional arrangement of nucleic acids within a codon, and the protocol is the protein aaRS.

    The aaRS establishes the symbolic value (meaning) of the codon in spatial and temporal isolation (prior to the tRNA even entering the ribosome) thereby preserving the physical discontinuity between the arrangement of the medium and its post-translation effect. The preservation of the discontinuity is a physical necessity because (as you seem to already understand) the symbolic value of a representation is not derivable from the physical properties of the medium. It is only derivable from the context of a system. The discontinuity allows the arrangement of the representation to specify the effect.

    To attribute meaning to it is another layer of interpretation.

    Humans do not interpret the meaning of DNA, the translation apparatus within the cell does. To insist that meaning is a phenomenon isolated to human beings is an anthropocentric fallacy that denies observable physical reality. Semiosis exists through the living kingdom.

    The one form of semiosis that seems to be limited to higher intelligence (human capacity) is the storage of information by the use of iterative dimensional representations. There are two distinct categories of semiotic systems. One category uses physical representations that are reducible to their material make-up (such as a pheromone for instance); the other uses physical representations that have a dimensional orientation and are not reducible to their material make-up.

    The dimensional orientation of such representations are entirely independent of the thermodynamic properties of the medium, thereby enabling the representations to be transferable between mediums, which facilitates efficient long-term memory. Such systems can also encode virtually any amount of information of any type – subject only to the existence of protocols to actualize them. However, dimensional semiosis also places significant additional demands on the organization of the system. Such systems not only require the same transfer protocols as any other semiotic system, but they also require an entirely independent set of systematic protocols to establish the dimensional operation of the system itself. These additional protocols include such things as where to start reading along a sequence of representations; in what direction are the representations to be read, how many objects constitute a complete representation, and when to stop reading in order to produce a functional effect.

    Dimensional semiosis is only found in recorded language, mathematics, and in the genetic code – which, in part, represents the observable evidence of design that you imply doesn’t exist.

  85. 85
    E.Seigner says:

    gpuccio

    You quote, yourself:

    ““Data as an abstract concept can be viewed as the lowest level of abstraction, from which information and then knowledge are derived.” So data, information, and knowledge are distinct concepts.”

    So, they are different levels of abstraction. Different levels of meaning. Data represent values for variables. There is a lot of meaning in that.

    What is the meaning of this?: 13 14 10 9

    How about now?: 13°C, 14°C, 10°C, 9°C

    The first row is the results of measurements. The second includes measurement units so you can begin to make sense what it is. And when I say for context that these are the temperatures here for the last four days, then the sequence finally has some actual meaning too. The first row, even though it’s data that represents values for variables, has hardly any meaning to it. It could be anything.

    Upright BiPed

    ES:DNA is called code, not meaning.

    Meaning is the symbolic value, or significance, of a thing. A code is a system of rules to convey information through symbolic representation. Representations are things, which convey symbolic value (meaning) within a system.

    Right, except that it’s arguable if DNA conveys representations (representations of what? of data, I suppose) or the actual data.

    Upright BiPed

    Humans do not interpret the meaning of DNA, the translation apparatus within the cell does. To insist that meaning is a phenomenon isolated to human beings is an anthropocentric fallacy that denies observable physical reality. Semiosis exists through the living kingdom.

    It’s equally an anthropocentric fallacy to insist that the translation apparatus within the cell really translates something rather than operates inertly. If it’s not conscious, then to call it “translation apparatus” is an anthropocentric analogy that we humans apply to it. If it is conscious and the translation apparatus is really translating like humans, with corrections and all, then the charge of the anthropocentric fallacy is false.

    Either way I don’t see how “meaning” can apply in this context, when the purpose of the whole system is to convey without losses. There may be encoding and unencoding going on, but it’s not the same thing as interpretation of meaning. It’s mere packaging of data.

  86. 86
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    “13 14 10 9” is simply a series of numbers, not of measurements. It has a definite meaning, as a series of numbers, a collection of items in the abstract set of natural numbers. Again from Wikipedia:

    “A number is a mathematical object used to count, label, and measure. In mathematics, the definition of number has been extended over the years to include such numbers as 0, negative numbers, rational numbers, irrational numbers, real numbers, and complex numbers.”

    So, that series has a definite meaning, but it is not an empirical meaning, because we are dealing with abstract mathematical objects, and not with measurements.

    “13°C, 14°C, 10°C, 9°C”, instead, is a collection of temperature measurements, with the number and the measurement unit. Even if we don’t know what they refer to, we have a lot of meaningful information just the same about 4 empirical measurements of a definite dimension (temperature). So, while in the first case there was only mathematical meaning, here we have empirical meaning too.

    By the way, a number is not a measurement. A measurement is made of a number + the measurement unit.

    When you say, for context, that these are the temperatures here for the last four days, we have further meaning added.

    There is meaning at all levels. In your attempt to make philosophy, you only make bad science.

  87. 87
    Joe says:

    E Seigner:

    It’s equally an anthropocentric fallacy to insist that the translation apparatus within the cell really translates something rather than operates inertly.

    Talk about the inability to face reality- translation within the cell is real and only a complete fool on an agenda would say otherwise.

  88. 88
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    DNA stores information about the AA sequence of a protein (in protein coding genes). That information is stored by a symbolic code (the genetic code) which is a mapping of a nucleotide sequence into an AA sequence. The conversion between the two sets of information happens through a very complex and sophisticated machine, which includes mRNA, tRNAs, 20 aminoacyl tRNA synthetases, the ribosome, and so on.

    All of that has sense only because a definite symbolic code is instantiated, independently, in the various parts of the machine.

    This is a very meaningful material configuration, IMO. And it can implement a very sophisticated function: the synthesis of specific functional proteins and the transmission of the information about their sequence.

  89. 89
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    The translation apparatus within the cell really translates something in the same sense as a computer program like Excel really can male computations. If you prefer to say that both operate inertly, I can agree in the sense that neither is conscious (is that what you mean by “inert”?). But both perform logical and symbolic operations which require extreme complexity of structure.

    How is that possible? It’s easy. Both are designed to do that.

  90. 90
    Axel says:

    With Denyse’s suggestion that ES might be suffering from narcissistic-personality disorder, and what looks in the context to be the slightly mollifying blandishment by Barry, quoted at the end of this post, poor old ES has sure taken a caning in this thread.

    However, mercifully ES sees it as a bargain for the celebrity. Didn’t I tell you how coveted an entree to this board was for materialists. But still and all…

    ‘As I think about it, a more charitable interpretation of E.Seigner’s response is that he is just plain stupid and presented his Chinese cat response in all sincerity, mistakenly believing it even remotely addressed, far less responded to, the issues raised in the question. I say “more charitable” because it would be more charitable to assume he is stupid rather than dishonest or cowardly. But I’m not feeling especially charitable today. Sorry.’

    R D Fish! Stand and be recognised!

  91. 91
    E.Seigner says:

    gpuccio

    By the way, a number is not a measurement. A measurement is made of a number + the measurement unit.

    But when I know what I’m measuring, I can scribble down just the numbers one after the other. It’s the context that does the interpretation of the data. I know the context, so I don’t need to put it down for myself. You don’t know the context, so of course you would require more context laid out for you on the same paper, but this is only your problem, not mine.

    gpuccio

    There is meaning at all levels. In your attempt to make philosophy, you only make bad science.

    If there’s meaning at all levels, then a mere sequence of numbers should be good enough and your failure to interpret the sequence adequately should not be bad science on my part, but simply a failure at interpretation on your part.

    The fact that more is required than a mere sequence of numbers to properly convey what the numbers are about serves precisely to illustrate my point that you were wrong when you said “Data represent values for variables. There is a lot of meaning in that.” When there’s obviously not enough meaning in unorganized data without context, then it’s not appropriate to say that there is a lot of meaning in it.

    gpuccio

    The translation apparatus within the cell really translates something in the same sense as a computer program like Excel really can male computations. If you prefer to say that both operate inertly, I can agree in the sense that neither is conscious (is that what you mean by “inert”?). But both perform logical and symbolic operations which require extreme complexity of structure.

    Either way it was wrong of you to charge me of the anthropocentric fallacy when you yourself insist on viewing cell operations through anthropocentric prism. A cell is not a human being and to call its operations “translation” is only an analogous approximation. All I’m saying that other approximations may be discovered and modelled, and they may be found more apt. This is a far cry from saying that translation only applies to human activity.

  92. 92
    Dionisio says:

    #72 gpuccio

    Agree. 🙂

  93. 93
    Upright BiPed says:

    ES,

    UB: To insist that meaning is a phenomenon isolated to human beings is an anthropocentric fallacy that denies observable physical reality. Semiosis exists through the living kingdom.

    ES: It’s equally an anthropocentric fallacy to insist that the translation apparatus within the cell really translates something rather than operates inertly.

    in-ert adj. ; chemistry ; not able to affect other chemicals when in contact with them : not chemically reactive

    Nope. DNA does not act “inertly”. You are confusing yourself. The dimensional orientation of a particular codon, which makes it individually recognizable within its system, is inert with regard to thermodynamic law (it exists independent of the minimum total potential energy state of DNA) but it most definitely base-pairs with its complimentary mRNA. It is specifically its physical properties coming into contact with mRNA that determine its complimentary pair.

    If it’s not conscious, then to call it “translation apparatus” is an anthropocentric analogy that we humans apply to it.

    You are not accounting for the physics of the system. It is a translation apparatus because the functional output product is not derivable from the arrangement of the input medium, while the physicochemical discontinuity between them is preserved.

    If it is conscious and the translation apparatus is really translating like humans, with corrections and all, then the charge of the anthropocentric fallacy is false.

    So, just to be clear; if it’s doing exactly what humans do, then it’s not a human-centric fallacy.

    Okay. Got it.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    It’s a fallacy because the physical conditions required for the translation of a human-born representation are precisely the same as that for an ant-born representation. And because neither is the product of inexorable law, they are both subject to error, noise, and change.

  94. 94
    E.Seigner says:

    Upright BiPed

    in-ert adj. ; chemistry ; not able to affect other chemicals when in contact with them : not chemically reactive

    Nope. DNA does not act “inertly”. You are confusing yourself.

    You are confused about in what sense I used the word. It happened to be in the primary sense, i.e. without inherent power of action and motion. Automatic would have been a better choice though.

    Upright BiPed

    ES: If it is conscious and the translation apparatus is really translating like humans, with corrections and all, then the charge of the anthropocentric fallacy is false.

    So, just to be clear; if it’s doing exactly what humans do, then it’s not a human-centric fallacy.

    Okay. Got it.

    When the description is fully applicable, then where’s the fallacy? The issue is that it’s not fully applicable, and this is precisely what I pointed out. If you got this, then you got it.

  95. 95
    Upright BiPed says:

    ES,

    A cell is not a human being and to call its operations “translation” is only an analogous approximation.

    It would be an “analogous approximation” if the two examples didn’t share the only physical conditions by which the process can occur – but they do.

  96. 96
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    If you give me numbers, you give me numbers. If you give me measurements, you give me measurements. If you don’t know the difference, just admit it. I have no problems at all, I just interpret the data you give me as you give me.

    If you give me the number:

    3.14159265359

    would you say that it has no meaning?

    If you give me the numbers:

    1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144

    would you say that they have no meanings?

    Would you say that the number 3 has no meaning? You know, many people in human history has thought that numbers have great meanings. Numbers are mathematical objects. They are made by our mind. Obviously, numbers in themselves are not measurements, and have no empirical meaning. As you seem to forget, sometimes.

    You say:

    “If there’s meaning at all levels, then a mere sequence of numbers should be good enough and your failure to interpret the sequence adequately should not be bad science on my part, but simply a failure at interpretation on your part.”

    Who says that my interpretation is flawed? You gave me a series of numbers, and I interpreted it for what it is: a series of mathematical objects. Meaning, correct meaning. If your purpose is to give me temperatures, please give me temperatures. If your purpose is to give me the temperatures of the last 4 days, please specify what the measurements refer to.

    In any case, there is a meaning: the meaning conveyed by the data. My interpretation is correct. If your communication is flawed, that is your problem, not mine.

    You say:

    “The fact that more is required than a mere sequence of numbers to properly convey what the numbers are about serves precisely to illustrate my point that you were wrong”

    But that is not a fact at all. Your point is simply wrong. A sequence of numbers is a sequence of numbers. It is not about anything, unless you communicate in the data what it is about. And yet, it has meaning as a sequence of numbers. Obviously. it has not meaning as a sequence of temperatures, unless you correctly communicate temperatures. If in your secret mind you meant to communicate temperatures, but simply communicated numbers, that’s your problem, not mine.

    Your attempt at seeing absolutes in objects are really pitiful.

    You say:

    “When there’s obviously not enough meaning in unorganized data without context, then it’s not appropriate to say that there is a lot of meaning in it.”

    There is the meaning that the data convey. Not more, not less.

    You say:

    “Either way it was wrong of you to charge me of the anthropocentric fallacy when you yourself insist on viewing cell operations through anthropocentric prism.”

    I charged you of the anthropometric fallacy? Maybe it’s my old age, but I cannot remember doing that.

    I see cell operations through the prism of functionality, which is not necessarily human. Conscious, certainly.

    You say:

    “A cell is not a human being and to call its operations “translation” is only an analogous approximation.”

    Well, Google translator is not a human being, so maybe calling it a translator is an analogous approximation. It depends: do you restrict the concept of translation to human translators, or can you accept that algorithms can translate? Luckily, cellular translations are probably better than Google’s!

    You say:

    “All I’m saying that other approximations may be discovered and modelled, and they may be found more apt.”

    Well, I am interested in those other approximations. I love approximations, Please, notify me when they are discovered.

    “This is a far cry from saying that translation only applies to human activity.”

    I never said that. I believed you had said that, but maybe I am wrong. I must confess that I have difficulties in following your positions.

    For me, translation is a complex symbolic procedure which is observed only in conscious beings or in designed machines. That’s all.

  97. 97
    Upright BiPed says:

    ES,

    …without inherent power of action and motion.

    It is not inert in that sense. It is only inert in the sense I presented it.

    UB: Humans do not interpret the meaning of DNA, the translation apparatus within the cell does. To insist that meaning is a phenomenon isolated to human beings is an anthropocentric fallacy that denies observable physical reality. Semiosis exists through the living kingdom.

    ES: If it is conscious and the translation apparatus is really translating like humans, with corrections and all, then the charge of the anthropocentric fallacy is false.

    UB: So, just to be clear; if it’s doing exactly what humans do, then it’s not a human-centric fallacy.

    ES:…where’s the fallacy?

    It’s a fallacy because the physical conditions required for the translation of a human-born representation are precisely the same as that for an ant-born representation. And because neither is the product of inexorable law, they are both subject to error, noise, and change.

  98. 98
    E.Seigner says:

    gpuccio

    If you give me numbers, you give me numbers. If you give me measurements, you give me measurements. If you don’t know the difference, just admit it.

    But it’s a misconception that I give you something. I don’t give you anything. You simply see a sequence that I have put down and you’re entirely on your own to interpret it. It’s the same scenario with which newcomers are greeted here: “You see a watch on the beach. Acknowledge that it’s caused by intelligent design!” I’m simply following the routine.

  99. 99
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    It’s really difficult to communicate with you…

    “But it’s a misconception that I give you something. I don’t give you anything. You simply see a sequence that I have put down and you’re entirely on your own to interpret it. It’s the same scenario with which newcomers are greeted here: “You see a watch on the beach. Acknowledge that it’s caused by intelligent design!” I’m simply following the routine.”

    But that is exactly what I meant. If I find numbers in your posts, I find numbers. If I find measurements, I find measurements. Are you happier if I say:

    “If I find numbers in your posts, I find numbers.”

    Instead of:

    “If you give me numbers, you give me numbers.”?

    Or do you want to leave those numbers for me on the beach?

  100. 100
    E.Seigner says:

    gpuccio

    But that is exactly what I meant. If I find numbers in your posts, I find numbers. If I find measurements, I find measurements.

    And I hope you see how context does the work of interpretation. When I scribble the numbers down, for me they have a different meaning because I have a different context in my mind. Same numbers for both of us, but a different meaning. Meaning is not just in the numbers, but crucially in the context where the reader places them.

  101. 101
    Querius says:

    All,

    I’m finding this a fascinating discussion about challenging subject!

    Because I’m admittedly not very familiar with “information” theory, but have some experience in tangential subjects, I’d like to tread lightly so I can explore and learn.

    However, the scope of the discussion seems to have expanded into a more philosophical realm. My personal intent is to maintain gentle response and generous interpretations to everyone contributing. I don’t see any reason to be adament.

    In dealing with people like Acartia_bogart, who was competitive, combative, disruptive, vituperative, and not interested in learning, I think it’s appropriate to deal with them in a different manner. I’m sure not everyone agrees.

    I do see the opportunity in this discussion for comparing perspectives, difficulties, and insights. So I’m going to try an experiment.

    -Q

  102. 102
    Querius says:

    Here are some stupid questions.

    Is 3 data or noise? What makes it that?

    Can 3 be information? How does that happen?

    Does 3 require vocabulary, syntax, and semantics to exist?

    Can the concept of three-ness exist without 3? Vice versa?

    Can 3 be communicated? What prevents 3 from being communicated? What does 3 look like when encrypted? Why would anyone want to communicate 3?

    Maybe I’ll figure out some less stupid questions later. 😉

    -Q

  103. 103
    Mung says:

    lol Q.

    Three is a number, but it’s not the loneliest number. One is the loneliest number.

    When you ask if 3 is data or noise do you mean to ask if 3 is signal or noise, for I do not see any reason data cannot be both data and noise.

    Yes 3 can can be information. It can happen when it becomes about something.

    Have you ever considered how often “three-ness” appears in the natural world?

  104. 104
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    As I have said many times, meaning is neither in the numbers nor in the context, but only in the consciousness of a cognizer. However, both numbers and context can generate meaning in a consciousness.

    There is a definite relationship between the subjective experiences of meaning, and the objective contributions of objects and context to those experiences.

    For example, if I find, on the beach, a sequence of stone groups corresponding to the first 1000 decimal figures of pi (it’s a long beach!), I can find in that configuration of stones the meaning of representing pi, the circumference to diameter ratio, which is certainly a very mental and subjective concept. The stones certainly have no awareness of pi.

    But, if the same stones were arranged in any random configuration, I would never think that they represent pi.

    So, my subjective meaning is strongly conditioned by the objective configuration of the stones.

    Moreover, if the stones really correspond to pi, then I would strongly suspect that someone who knows what pi is has put them that way.

    So, if I find, on the beach, a sheet of paper with a perfect english sonnet on it, I will infer that someone wrote it, and that it is not a random configuration of molecules.

    All you evading discussions, in which you avoid addressing my points and make irrelevant and wrong comments on marginal points, cannot change the simple truth: complex functional configurations of matter always originate from conscious intelligent agents.

    I am still waiting that you leave for me, on a beach, a collection of 1001 strings, about 600 characters long. You should simply hide one english sonnet (of your favourite poet) among 1000 strings generated by a random character generator. I bet that I will immediately recognize the designed sonnet.

    If you have time, computers and printers, you can try again with 1 + 10^6, or even many more, randomly generated strings. I will always win.

    Then, come and repeat again that design detection is a wrong theory.

    Ah, and I am always waiting for those “other approximations” that you promised! 🙂

  105. 105
    gpuccio says:

    Querius:

    I suppose you mean the character 3, as can be found on a sheet of paper on a beach, or directly traced in the sand. I will assume that.

    If I see a sheet of paper with what appears to be the character 3, I can think that it is the symbol for the concept of the natural number three. That is a meaning. So, the character 3 that I found on the beach is for me a meaningful object, because it points to a meaningful concept, a very abstract concept, a particular natural number. Even more, the symbol for that concept.

    Is it data? It could be, because it represents a count of potential objects (not a measurement). However, as E. Seigner certainly would object, without further information about what has been counted, the empirical meaning of that particular character cannot be imagined.

    If on the paper I find “3 cigarettes”, then the empirical meaning of the string as data increases. I still don’t know which cigarettes have been counted, where and when, but at least I know that the 3 refers to the count of cigarettes.

    Anyway, both the isolated 3 and the string “3 cigarettes” are potentially information, because I can see in them a meaning.

    The problem is: are they designed information? Are they functional?

    Obviously, we cannot say. In the case of the isolated 3, the complexity is really low. That form could be there by chance. I am not sure that someone traced it to mean the symbol of the number 3. For the string “3 cigarettes” I would entertain few doubts, but consistently with a rigorous approach to design detection, I would still consider the functional complexity too low. The string on the paper could still be the random output of a computer program, and not an intentional message. OK, it’s not very likely, but…

    So, as you can see, one thing is to see a meaning or a function in an object, and another thing is to infer design for it. We must always remember that only a very high complexity linked to the function or meaning we observe justifies a design detection independent of context.

    So, I would not infer design for the sequence 3.14, but I would definitely infer it for the sequence:

    3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899

    Information, in a very strict sense, means a signal exchanged purposefully between conscious agents. In that sense, 3 can certainly be information. If I ask you how many cars do you own, and you answer “3”, you are certainly giving me useful and meaningful information. E. Seigner would certainly object that the context here is important, and he would be right. But the fact remains that if you tell me “4”, while the correct answer is “3”, the information will not be useful to me. So, the number itself is important too.

    Is an isolated “3” information? It could be. If it was really written by someone on the beach, I can wonder who wrote it and why, and possibly inquire about that. If the “3” was written by the tide, then my design hypothesis is wrong. Again, only the functional complexity of what we observe can guarantee a safe design inference. If I find a whole english sonnet traced in the sand, I will never consider, not even for a moment, that it was generated by the tide.

    “Does 3 require vocabulary, syntax, and semantics to exist?” Well, the symbol “3”, if it is really written by a conscious agent to mean the natural number 3, requires many things to exist: the concept of natural numbers, which, as you probably know, is not the simplest human concept in the world, a specific alphabet which connect the character 3 to that concept, and so on. Not necessarily a whole vocabulary, or syntax, or larger semantics.

    The concept of the natural number 3 is abstract. It does not require a specific character symbol to exist.

    “Can 3 be communicated?” Obviously yes, in many ways.

    “What prevents 3 from being communicated?” Any serious difficulty in communication, like discussing with E. Seigner. 🙂

    “What does 3 look like when encrypted?” Anything. It depends on the encryption we use. The concept of the natural number 3, however, remains the same.

    “Why would anyone want to communicate 3?” Maybe to make a bet at the roulette.

    Waiting for your further questions! This is fun. 🙂

  106. 106
    E.Seigner says:

    gpuccio

    As I have said many times, meaning is neither in the numbers nor in the context, but only in the consciousness of a cognizer. However, both numbers and context can generate meaning in a consciousness.

    There is a definite relationship between the subjective experiences of meaning, and the objective contributions of objects and context to those experiences.

    Then I actually agree with your theory 🙂

    gpuccio

    For example, if I find, on the beach, a sequence of stone groups corresponding to the first 1000 decimal figures of pi (it’s a long beach!), I can find in that configuration of stones the meaning of representing pi, the circumference to diameter ratio, which is certainly a very mental and subjective concept. The stones certainly have no awareness of pi.

    But, if the same stones were arranged in any random configuration, I would never think that they represent pi.

    This of course requires one to be mathematically astute, knowledgeable of pi, and to be relentlessly looking for pi’s pattern even when walking on the beach.

    gpuccio

    All you evading discussions, in which you avoid addressing my points and make irrelevant and wrong comments on marginal points, cannot change the simple truth: complex functional configurations of matter always originate from conscious intelligent agents.

    Here is not pi, but phi and Fibonacci series in action in nature. Feel free to call it a work of conscious intelligent agent. Someone else however may call this a deterministic pattern, something present in nature because this necessarily yields the best results in terms of “survival of the fittest” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOIP_Z_-0Hs

    gpuccio

    Ah, and I am always waiting for those “other approximations” that you promised! 🙂

    If you see intelligent agency in something as simple as pi (isn’t pi in every circle and sphere? apples are spherical, many natural shapes are approximations or transformations of spheres…), then I can safely conclude that you are prone to overinterpret many analogies.

  107. 107
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    You seem more resonable, but you make many errors just the same. Let’s see.

    You say:

    “Here is not pi, but phi and Fibonacci series in action in nature. Feel free to call it a work of conscious intelligent agent. Someone else however may call this a deterministic pattern, something present in nature because this necessarily yields the best results in terms of “survival of the fittest””

    And:

    “If you see intelligent agency in something as simple as pi (isn’t pi in every circle and sphere? apples are spherical, many natural shapes are approximations or transformations of spheres…), then I can safely conclude that you are prone to overinterpret many analogies.”

    But:

    a) Maybe pi is implicit in any sphere, but finding a written sequence of its decimal digits is all another matter. I would not infer design for a sphere. I would infer design for a sequence of numbers, written on a beach, which corresponds to the digits of pi. While a deterministic cause can be easily invoked for a sphere, the same is not true of the symbolic representation of the computed value of pi. I think that you may appreciate the difference, if you are in one of your reasonable moments.

    2) We can discuss if “survival of the fittest” can explain the sequence of aminoacids in ATP synthase. Are you ready to make an argument for that? Good luck.

    3) If you understood ID theory, you would know that functional complexity excludes the random origin of the sequence, but algorithmic explanations are excluded by other kinds of considerations. The kind of information that we find in language (descriptive information) or in complex machines and software and proteins (prescriptive information) is not algorithmically computable by non design systems. It originates only from conscious cognition.

    However, feel free to remain in your mythical world and be happy of your own arguments. Again, good luck.

  108. 108
    E.Seigner says:

    gpuccio

    a) Maybe pi is implicit in any sphere, but finding a written sequence of its decimal digits is all another matter.

    How is it a different matter? When pi is in any sphere, then how is it not *written* in the sphere, while it is, according to you, *written* in the stones on the beach?

    gpuccio

    While a deterministic cause can be easily invoked for a sphere, the same is not true of the symbolic representation of the computed value of pi. I think that you may appreciate the difference, if you are in one of your reasonable moments.

    We are talking about “detecting” the same number in both cases, are we not? So where’s the difference?

    gpuccio

    2) We can discuss if “survival of the fittest” can explain the sequence of aminoacids in ATP synthase. Are you ready to make an argument for that? Good luck.

    So you refuse to engage the argument implicit in the video but prefer your own pet examples? Good luck indeed.

    gpuccio

    3) If you understood ID theory, you would know that functional complexity excludes the random origin of the sequence, but algorithmic explanations are excluded by other kinds of considerations. The kind of information that we find in language (descriptive information) or in complex machines and software and proteins (prescriptive information) is not algorithmically computable by non design systems. It originates only from conscious cognition.

    This is most difficult paragraph to unencode. How does functional complexity exclude the random origin of the sequence? Are you talking about the stones on the beach? What is functionally complex about stones on the beach lying around in a random sequence (which is what pi is – a never-repeating sequence)? What is this talk about language, complex machines, software and proteins not algorithmically computable by non design systems? Why exactly language, complex machines, software and proteins and why should they be algorithmically computed? Why, for what purpose, would “non design systems” have to algorithmically compute those things? Why would “non design systems” algorithmically compute anything? In fact, what are “non design systems”? How do “non design systems” algorithmically compute things and how do you draw conclusions from the results?

    In short, I don’t see how any of your points counts as a mistake of mine. I speak English, not ID-ese, and I will be waiting for the time when you have one of your reasonable moments again.

  109. 109
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    It seems that you cannot appreciate the difference, not even in your most “reasonable” moments.

    You say:

    “How is it a different matter? When pi is in any sphere, then how is it not *written* in the sphere, while it is, according to you, *written* in the stones on the beach?”

    So, let’s say that Newton’s gravitation law is written in the apple. No merit to the poor scientist!

    Are you really saying that a speher and the derivation of a transcendent number, expressed in decimal form, from its geometric properties, are the same thing? Are you really so dense? I hope you are simply provoking, for lack of any credible arguments.

    You say:

    “We are talking about “detecting” the same number in both cases, are we not? So where’s the difference?”

    What number? A sphere is an object (or at least, we can observe many quasi spherical objects which have a perfectly simple explanation). Pi is a number generated by human thought. It is like saying that a spheric object and the equation which describes its geometric properties are the same thing. Well, I am afraid that this is exactly what you are saying. You are really beyond hope!

    “So you refuse to engage the argument implicit in the video but prefer your own pet examples? Good luck indeed”

    I would be happy to engage arguments provided by you, if you were able to provide them. I usually don’t look at videos only because someone who is not able to provide his arguments links them.

    “This is most difficult paragraph to unencode. How does functional complexity exclude the random origin of the sequence? Are you talking about the stones on the beach? What is functionally complex about stones on the beach lying around in a random sequence (which is what pi is – a never-repeating sequence)? What is this talk about language, complex machines, software and proteins not algorithmically computable by non design systems? Why exactly language, complex machines, software and proteins and why should they be algorithmically computed? Why, for what purpose, would “non design systems” have to algorithmically compute those things? Why would “non design systems” algorithmically compute anything? In fact, what are “non design systems”? How do “non design systems” algorithmically compute things and how do you draw conclusions from the results?”

    It is simple. If you don’t know ID theory, and understand nothing of it (which is exactly what you are declaring here), then why do you come here to criticize it? I will never understand human nature.

  110. 110
    gpuccio says:

    To all:

    We have learned much in this thread. For example, we have learned that pi is a random sequence, and that a random sequence is a sequence which never repeats itself. That data have no meaning, and that when someone writes numbers in a post, he is not giving those numbers, but probably leaving them on a beach.

    I hope everyone is as fascinated as I am by this scenario.

  111. 111
    E.Seigner says:

    gpuccio

    A sphere is an object (or at least, we can observe many quasi spherical objects which have a perfectly simple explanation). Pi is a number generated by human thought. It is like saying that a spheric object and the equation which describes its geometric properties are the same thing. Well, I am afraid that this is exactly what you are saying. You are really beyond hope!

    Didn’t you just say a little while ago something about “a sequence of stone groups corresponding to the first 1000 decimal figures of pi”? Now, I don’t know how you visualize that, but if the stones lie there like they normally would on the sand, somewhat grouped, then the groups would be essentially random, because pi is non-repeating, and it takes quite a stretch to attribute the notion of “equation” to those stone groups. What is the simple explanation for pi in spheres and why is pi in stone groups non-simple (functionally complex?) or inexplicable?

    You say pi is a number generated by human thought. Does this mean it cannot be found in nature, say by observing spherical objects? Pi is a mathematical constant that can be found both here and out there. The same applies to spheres themselves. Aren’t spheres generated by human thought? Yes, they are. Does this mean there are no spherical objects in nature? All mathematical objects are transcendent, both in the human mind and in the outside world.

    gpuccio

    I would be happy to engage arguments provided by you, if you were able to provide them. I usually don’t look at videos only because someone who is not able to provide his arguments links them.

    Had you watched it, you’d see plants behave as if they knew what Fibonacci series are. Isn’t this as astonishing as when you find stone groups laid out as if the stones knew pi? So, seriously, what is it that distinguishes natural from so-called designed?

    gpuccio

    It is simple. If you don’t know ID theory, and understand nothing of it (which is exactly what you are declaring here), then why do you come here to criticize it? I will never understand human nature.

    You had your opportunity to explain it to me, in English. You still have the opportunity. And no, I didn’t come here to criticize ID theory. It criticizes itself by its general unworkability and distortion of common sense. Also the short temper of ID adherents here isn’t helping its cause at all. I came here to discuss theology, which is luckily another constant topic here.

  112. 112
    Querius says:

    103
    Mung @ 103 responded

    lol Q.

    Yeah, I know. But you gotta start somewhere,

    Three is a number, but it’s not the loneliest number. One is the loneliest number.

    Is this a philosopical or cultural interpretation? Or parhaps it’s a mathematical statement that 3 has been counted, not measured.

    When you ask if 3 is data or noise do you mean to ask if 3 is signal or noise, for I do not see any reason data cannot be both data and noise.

    You’re right, I should have said signal. I agree that 3 can be either a signal or noise. What distinguishes between 3 as a signal and 3 as noise? Would it be intent (as in will)?

    Yes 3 can can be information. It can happen when it becomes about something.

    So this would require additional information either in the signal or already known to the recipient.

    Have you ever considered how often “three-ness” appears in the natural world?

    The numbers that I immediately think in nature are 1, 2, 5, and 6. The threes you’re thinking of probably came from botany, right?

    The concept for threeness came before 3 or language (I’m thinking of crow behavior, for example). Also, I seem to remember that people can be trained to recognize multiplicities as in looking at collections of 12 and 13, and immediately identifying them as such.

    -Q

  113. 113
    Querius says:

    gpuccio @ 105 responded,

    I suppose you mean the character 3, as can be found on a sheet of paper on a beach, or directly traced in the sand. I will assume that.

    Yes. Or communicated in a signal.

    If I see a sheet of paper with what appears to be the character 3, I can think that it is the symbol for the concept of the natural number three. That is a meaning. So, the character 3 that I found on the beach is for me a meaningful object, because it points to a meaningful concept, a very abstract concept, a particular natural number. Even more, the symbol for that concept.

    Yes, those are some concepts. You can also interpret a 3 as a ratio, a rounded off measurement, triplets, and so on.

    Is it data? It could be, because it represents a count of potential objects (not a measurement).

    Yes, unless it’s rounded off. Most measurements that are not rounded off are irrational numbers.

    However, as E. Seigner certainly would object, without further information about what has been counted, the empirical meaning of that particular character cannot be imagined.If on the paper I find “3 cigarettes”, then the empirical meaning of the string as data increases. I still don’t know which cigarettes have been counted, where and when, but at least I know that the 3 refers to the count of cigarettes.

    There seems to be a continuum of specificity here: which brand, whether they’ve been smoked, whether they’re being used for currency, etc. It seems like it’s not clear whether the important information is that they are three, or that they are cigarettes. Maybe they represent a total length.

    Anyway, both the isolated 3 and the string “3 cigarettes” are potentially information, because I can see in them a meaning. The problem is: are they designed information? Are they functional?

    You walk into your office. There on your desk are thee cigarettes, parallel and perfectly spaced. What could it mean? Maybe you’re trying to quit smoking and someone wishes you harm . . .

    Obviously, we cannot say. In the case of the isolated 3, the complexity is really low. That form could be there by chance. I am not sure that someone traced it to mean the symbol of the number 3. For the string “3 cigarettes” I would entertain few doubts, but consistently with a rigorous approach to design detection, I would still consider the functional complexity too low. The string on the paper could still be the random output of a computer program, and not an intentional message. OK, it’s not very likely, but…

    To me this represents the difference between data and information.

    So, as you can see, one thing is to see a meaning or a function in an object, and another thing is to infer design for it. We must always remember that only a very high complexity linked to the function or meaning we observe justifies a design detection independent of context.

    This is sometimes very challenging when dealing with potential human artifacts.

    So, I would not infer design for the sequence 3.14, but I would definitely infer it for the sequence:

    3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899

    I assume you mean that the value you provided is highly specified, which it is. Have you ever wondered why Pi is an an irrational number, the same as a measured value? It doesn’t have to be. In curved space, it could be exactly 3.0000000.

    Information, in a very strict sense, means a signal exchanged purposefully between conscious agents. In that sense, 3 can certainly be information. If I ask you how many cars do you own, and you answer “3?, you are certainly giving me useful and meaningful information. E. Seigner would certainly object that the context here is important, and he would be right. But the fact remains that if you tell me “4?, while the correct answer is “3?, the information will not be useful to me. So, the number itself is important too.

    Yes, good points. And what about utility? How can you infer information from a design?

    Is an isolated “3? information? It could be. If it was really written by someone on the beach, I can wonder who wrote it and why, and possibly inquire about that. If the “3? was written by the tide, then my design hypothesis is wrong. Again, only the functional complexity of what we observe can guarantee a safe design inference. If I find a whole english sonnet traced in the sand, I will never consider, not even for a moment, that it was generated by the tide.

    So complexity might infer design, but simplicity doesn’t exclude it.

    “Does 3 require vocabulary, syntax, and semantics to exist?” Well, the symbol “3?, if it is really written by a conscious agent to mean the natural number 3, requires many things to exist: the concept of natural numbers, which, as you probably know, is not the simplest human concept in the world, a specific alphabet which connect the character 3 to that concept, and so on. Not necessarily a whole vocabulary, or syntax, or larger semantics.

    The concept of the natural number 3 is abstract. It does not require a specific character symbol to exist.

    The concept precludes the symbol. Reminds us of “In the beginning was the Word (logos).”

    “Can 3 be communicated?” Obviously yes, in many ways.

    “What prevents 3 from being communicated?” Any serious difficulty in communication, like discussing with E. Seigner. 🙂

    Heh. Being masked by other signals, which we call noise. At a higher level, it could include problems with context, definition, assumed background information, ideological contamination, and so on.

    “What does 3 look like when encrypted?” Anything. It depends on the encryption we use. The concept of the natural number 3, however, remains the same.

    Isn’t one goal of cryptography to make data appear as noise?

    “Why would anyone want to communicate 3?” Maybe to make a bet at the roulette.

    How about intention or motive? You also need a mismatch of information between the sender and the recipient.

    Waiting for your further questions! This is fun. 🙂

    Yes. Ok, here’s a couple:

    Why is there such a disparity between the numbers of chromosomes in various organisms? It would seem that those organisms with the highest number retain more information. Is there any pattern?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....some_count

    Why does the Y chromosome contain so much less information than that in the X chromosome?

    What effect does this have?

    -Q

  114. 114
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    I am rather baffled by your non understanding of basic mathematical principles.

    I have tried to make you understand that indirectly, but I see that I have to say it explicitly: pi is not a random number. It is the result of a computation, it has nothing of random. It is the strict result of law. The simple fact that it does not repeat itself does not make it random, because that’s not what random means.

    Wikipedia again:

    “Randomness means lack of pattern or predictability in events.[1] Randomness suggests a non-order or non-coherence in a sequence of symbols or steps, such that there is no intelligible pattern or combination.

    Applied usage in science, mathematics and statistics recognizes a lack of predictability when referring to randomness, but admits regularities in the occurrences of events whose outcomes are not certain. For example, when throwing two dice and counting the total, we can say that a sum of 7 will randomly occur twice as often as 4. This view, where randomness simply refers to situations where the certainty of the outcome is at issue, applies to concepts of chance, probability, and information entropy. In these situations, randomness implies a measure of uncertainty, and notions of haphazardness are irrelevant.”

    You see, there is nothing unpredictable in the digits of pi. They can be computed exactly.

    Wikipedia again:

    “The number ? is a mathematical constant, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, approximately equal to 3.14159. It has been represented by the Greek letter “?” since the mid-18th century though it is also sometimes spelled out as “pi” (/pa?/).

    Being an irrational number, ? cannot be expressed exactly as a common fraction, although fractions such as 22/7 and other rational numbers are commonly used to approximate ?. Consequently its decimal representation never ends and never settles into a permanent repeating pattern. The digits appear to be randomly distributed although, to date, no proof of this has been discovered. Also, ? is a transcendental number – a number that is not the root of any non-zero polynomial having rational coefficients. This transcendence of ? implies that it is impossible to solve the ancient challenge of squaring the circle with a compass and straight-edge.”

    (emphasis mine)

    Now, this is your error. The fact that the digits of pi “appear” to be randomly distributed (you cannot anticipate what they are, unless you compute pi by the correct mathematical method) in no way means that pi is a random number. Pi is a constant, there is nothing random in it. If you choose the digits of a number by some random system, like the throwing of a ten faced die, then what you obtain is a random number. If you compute pi, you obtain pi. All the times. There is nothing random in that.

    You say:

    “You say pi is a number generated by human thought. Does this mean it cannot be found in nature, say by observing spherical objects? Pi is a mathematical constant that can be found both here and out there.”

    No. You are wrong. You find spherical objects in nature, not the number pi. The number pi is a constant computed by humans. And its symbolic form as a series of decimal digits does not exist in nature, unless it is compute and written by humans. Is it so difficult to understand that? Must I repeat this simple concept endlessly?

    “The same applies to spheres themselves. Aren’t spheres generated by human thought? Yes, they are. Does this mean there are no spherical objects in nature? All mathematical objects are transcendent, both in the human mind and in the outside world.”

    This is correct. Indeed, the mathematical concept of the sphere is a human concept, what we see in nature are objects whose form can be well approximated by that mathematical concept. That’s one more reason why you will never find, in nature, a written symbolic equation describing a sphere in numerical terms, unless it has been written by humans.

    So, to sum up:

    You see spherical objects in nature.

    You can’t find a written mathematical symbolic description of abstract mathematical concepts in nature, unless written by humans (or maybe other mathematically intelligent beings).

    You say:

    “Had you watched it, you’d see plants behave as if they knew what Fibonacci series are. Isn’t this as astonishing as when you find stone groups laid out as if the stones knew pi? So, seriously, what is it that distinguishes natural from so-called designed?”

    Again, plant are structured, in part, according to the Fibonacci series. But you don’t find the written numbers of the Fibonacci series in nature.

    My stone groups would be a series of individual groups, in a definite linear order, each of them corresponding to the correct decimal digit of pi. You will never find that in nature, not even with simpler digital arrangements. For example, you will never find nucleotide sequences in DNA which, if read by some arbitrary code (a two nucleotides redundant code would be enough to read DNA as a series of decimal values) correspoinds top the, say, first 1000 digits of pi. The probability is 1:10^1000!

    By the way, it is not different from the probability of finding a long functional protein with about 780 conserved aminoacids, which is more or less what we observe in the alpha and beta subunits of ATP synthase.

    However, as you ask again, later I will try to give brief answers to the questions about ID that you made in your post. I just supposed that you knew, at least in general, what ID is about.

    I was wrong.

    You say:

    “Also the short temper of ID adherents here isn’t helping its cause at all”

    I don’t know if I manifested “short temper” with you. Maybe. If that is the case, I apologize. But, if you have read some discussions that I have had with others, you will see that I am usually very respectful of my interlocutors, as far as the discussion remains reasonable, and however their points differ from mine.

    I must admit that with you it’s a little difficult, but we can try! 🙂

  115. 115
    gpuccio says:

    Querius:

    Later… 🙂

  116. 116
    E.Seigner says:

    gpuccio

    I have tried to make you understand that indirectly, but I see that I have to say it explicitly: pi is not a random number. It is the result of a computation, it has nothing of random. It is the strict result of law.

    Right, better be direct. So, directly, you see groups of stones laid out like pi (whichever you way you visualize this, we still don’t know because you are not being direct) and you determine it’s the strict result of law, not random. Similarly, you observe spheres and deduce pi in them as a the strict result of law. Directly now, what’s the difference?

    gpuccio

    You are wrong. You find spherical objects in nature, not the number pi. The number pi is a constant computed by humans.

    So it’s not out there in spheres ready to be computed?

    gpuccio

    And its symbolic form as a series of decimal digits does not exist in nature, unless it is compute and written by humans. Is it so difficult to understand that? Must I repeat this simple concept endlessly?

    Its form as decimal digits does not exist in nature, so how do you find it in groups of stones? How do you take it that the groups of stones represent decimal digits? You earlier also said something about “the sequence of aminoacids in ATP synthase” which should be self-evidently designed. Why? How? Do they spell out pi or what?

    gpuccio

    Again, plant are structured, in part, according to the Fibonacci series. But you don’t find the written numbers of the Fibonacci series in nature.

    I don’t know how you determine designedness from groups of stones, but in the video plants pretty obviously spell out Fibonacci series. You can directly count it (the next video shows how it’s actually a reliable measure throughout the plant world even with slight glitches), so how is that not the same?

    gpuccio

    However, as you ask again, later I will try to give brief answers to the questions about ID that you made in your post. I just supposed that you knew, at least in general, what ID is about.

    Actually I have been around enough time to have some general clue. I don’t need to be tutored in the basics. It’s just that every ID theorist here seems to have their own idiosyncratic framework completely at odds with the next theorist. Fascinating and amusing.

  117. 117
    kairosfocus says:

    GP:

    The decimal (or binary) digits of pi show a random statistics because there is no correlation between the function that yields pi and the set-up of decimal numbers. So, where it is not recognised, digits of pi can be used for random number tables. But the danger is that if someone spots your arithmetic algorithm, s/he can then crack the code. The only truly safe code is a strictly enforced one time message pad.

    BTW, a similar trick was taught to me by my dad from his days as a statistician.

    The phone co assigns lines and codes in a very organised way. Surnames and given names are similarly non-random.

    But generally there is no correlation between loop codes and names as listed — save in cases where socio-cultural oddities apply — and so the numbers can be used for a poor man’s random number table.

    Tossed dice are similar, exploiting small irregularities and disturbances to feed into a sensitively dependent and divergent system.

    But the overall point is clear: chance processes are non-foresighted and unpredictable, beyond perhaps a distribution, which needs not be flat random as we have noted in reply to Mr Shallit.

    Of course quantum processes seem to be fully random, not just exploiting clashing uncorrelated causal chains.

    Such processes,manifest a situation where similar initial conditions yield high contingency outcomes, often describable on a distribution.

    KF

    PS: Your interlocutor needs to appreciate that diverse perspectives can be generally coherent and that many views are mutually dual. That is, what is formulated in different ways often reflects a deeper coherence and one form can be transformed into the other. Where also, it should be clear that we are not simply singing off the same hymn sheet, i.e. the evidence shows lack of a controlling indoctrination.

  118. 118
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: In speaking of random digits of pi, I of course am taking the apparent lack of pattern and resemblance to proper random number tables as good enough for government work.

  119. 119
    gpuccio says:

    E. Seigner:

    Instead of answering your last post, I will try to explain to you what ID theory is, answering, one step at a time, the many questions you made in your post #108. In English.

    You must be kind, and confirm step by step if you agree or not, and possibly why you disagree. In English.

    And I will use my “idiosyncratic framework”. It is not at odds with the framework of many here, but it is mine. You are discussing with me, bear with that.

    If we can go on, many of your questions will be answered, and you will understand why many of your statements about ID are completely wrong.

    If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But I will try just the same.

    So, let’s start.

    Your first question is:

    How does functional complexity exclude the random origin of the sequence?

    Again, I invite you to refer to my explicit definition of functional complexity here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....n-defined/

    and in particular the definitions from a) to e). I will use from now on the specific subset of functional complexity which I call dFSCI.

    I paste here, for your convenience, the final definitions:

    g) Functionally Specified Complex Information is therefore a binary property defined for a function in a system by a threshold. A function, in a specific system, can be “complex” (having FSI above the threshold). In that case, we say that the function implicates FSCI in that system, and if an object observed in that system implements that function we say that the object exhibits FSCI.

    h) Finally, if the function for which we use our objects is linked to a digital sequence which can be read in the object, we simply speak of digital FSCI: dFSCI.

    Now, my point in defining dFSCI is to use it as a tool for design detection.

    Why is it a tool? Because all the examples of dFSCI that we can observe in the universe are designed by humans, if we leave aside, as undetermined, biological objects.

    IOWs, the property of dFSCI allows us to picks up only designed object. It is found only in them.

    Why? Because the high complexity in functional bits (minimal bits necessary to implement the function) generates a binary partition in the search space where the ratio target space/search space is so small that the probability of finding, by a random search or walk, a functional state is simply irrelevant empirically.

    At the same time, no algorithm must be known in the system that can generate that particular sequence by necessity.

    When both these conditions are satisfied, we can safely infer design for the object, with 100% specificity and low sensitivity.

    Now, this is really very brief, but it’s just to start. You will have a lot of objections, so I wait for them, to see what you understand and what you don’t understand. And if it is possible to go on.

    Let me know.

  120. 120
    gpuccio says:

    KF:

    Thank you for the very good comments. 🙂

  121. 121
    gpuccio says:

    Querius:

    You say:

    “Yes, those are some concepts. You can also interpret a 3 as a ratio, a rounded off measurement, triplets, and so on.”

    The point is, if I see only the symbol for the number 3, that’s what I observe.There is nothing suggesting that it is a ratio, or a measurement (there is no measurement unit), or any other more specific thing.

    So, I stick to what I observe. The symbol for a natural number. Why should I imagine possibilities for which I have no empirical support? I am not a neo darwinist, after all. 🙂

    “Yes, unless it’s rounded off. Most measurements that are not rounded off are irrational numbers.”

    Again, I just comment on what I observe. The number 3.

    “There seems to be a continuum of specificity here: which brand, whether they’ve been smoked, whether they’re being used for currency, etc. It seems like it’s not clear whether the important information is that they are three, or that they are cigarettes. Maybe they represent a total length.”

    There is a continuum of how much meaning can be communicated by different signals. But it’s meaning just the same.

    If I read a book and say that it’s not good enough for my tastes, I am not saying that is has absolutely no value: it’s not good enough for my tastes.

    If I receive a signal, and I say that there is not enough meaning in it for my purposes, I am not saying that there is no meaning at all.

    More later.

  122. 122
    gpuccio says:

    Querius:

    You walk into your office. There on your desk are thee cigarettes, parallel and perfectly spaced. What could it mean? Maybe you’re trying to quit smoking and someone wishes you harm . . .

    Maybe. But i have never been smoking, to say the truth!
    Seriously, any configuration of matter can be the object of an inquiry about its origin. I see three spaced cigarettes, I can well wonder: how did they get into that position? Or, simply, how did they get there? In most cases, deign detection has nothing to do with the answer. In others, it does.
    In general, design detection independent from the context is possible only for complex specified configurations.

    To me this represents the difference between data and information.

    Information is a word that I never use isolated. It means too many different things to too many different people.

    For my concept of functional information, and especially dFSCI, I have given very precise definitions, so I refer to them.

    I am not specially interested in defining data, but if I tried, I would probably say that:

    a) Facts are events that we observe

    b) Data are facts to which we give some specific meaning by some mental organization

    In any case, it is difficult to strictly separate those categories, because any cognition happens in our consciousness, and out consciousness always attributes some meaning and feeling to any experience.

    The whole point in the concept of dFSCI is that we must be able to observe and assess it in the object, through objective procedures. Subjective experiences can and must be included in our map of reality, but to do that we must treat them as objectively as possible.

    That’s why I recognize that we, as subjective observers, can define any function we want for any object, and many different functions for the same object. But the key word here is define. Our intuition of a function is certainly subjective, but it’s only when we give an objective procedure to recognize and assess it, that we can objectively measure the information complexity needed to implement it.

    I assume you mean that the value you provided is highly specified, which it is. Have you ever wondered why Pi is an an irrational number, the same as a measured value? It doesn’t have to be. In curved space, it could be exactly 3.0000000.

    The point is not only that it is specified, but that it is complex.

    Both:

    3.14

    and

    3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899

    are exactly specified.

    The first as:

    “The first 3 decimal digits of pi”

    The second as:

    “The first 81 decimal digits of pi”

    The specification is complete in both cases, and the target space is the same: only one sequence of the appropriate length satisfies the specification.

    But in the first case the search space is 10^3, so the probability of finding 3.14 (I am ignoring the decimal separator) is of 1:10^3. The functional complexity linked to that specification is therefore about 10 bits. Not good to infer design, in any system.

    In the second case, the search space is 10^81, so the probability of finding the correct sequence is of 1:10^81, which gives a functional complexity of 269 bits. More than enough to infer design in most realistic systems.

    Just as an example, if we want to be beyond Dembski’s UPB of 500 bits, we should ask for the first 150 digits of pi. That is enough to infer design in the whole universe.

    So, as you see, the specification remains the same, the complexity increases with the number of digits.

    I would like to say that, as pi is computable, in reality we should consider also the Kolmogorov complexity, IOWs, the probability of getting an object which can compute pi. In that case, higher complexities of the observed string could be compressed to the complexity of the computing system. Which is probably well beyond the examples I have made.

    Finally, it is of no relevance that pi in a curved space could be 3. Our specifications obviously refer to pi in our space.

    Yes, good points. And what about utility? How can you infer information from a design?

    In functional specification, the utility is already included in the specifying definition. That’s why it is called “prescriptive information”. For meaning (descriptive information) the utility of the conveyed meaning can be very different, but is not part of the design inference. We only measure the number of bits implied in the transmission of the correct message, not the relevance of the message for the person who receives it.

    So complexity might infer design, but simplicity doesn’t exclude it.

    Absolutely! Specified complexity allows us to infer design. Many designed things do not have specified complexity, so design cannot be inferred for them in a context independent way. Of course, we could infer design for other reasons (separate information about the context), but not because of the properties of the object itself. That’s why the design inference is a procedure with very high specificity and low sensitivity.

    Heh. Being masked by other signals, which we call noise. At a higher level, it could include problems with context, definition, assumed background information, ideological contamination, and so on.

    In functional specification, all that is easily overcome. You define the function and how to assess it. Then you assess it in your object, or in any other object. Either it is there, or it isn’t.

    In functional specification, the implementation of the function (according to objective measurement criteria) is the equivalent of the conveyance of meaning in descriptive information.

    Isn’t one goal of cryptography to make data appear as noise?

    While they remain data if you know how to decrypt them. So, they are still data, even in the encrypted form. Like a passage in chinese remains meaningful, even if I don’t know chinese.

    How about intention or motive? You also need a mismatch of information between the sender and the recipient.

    Design implies motive. The output of form in design is always purposeful. The role of the recipient is less defined: I can communicate something even if I don’t know who will receive it, or even if anyone will receive it.

    More later.

  123. 123
    gpuccio says:

    Querius:

    Why is there such a disparity between the numbers of chromosomes in various organisms? It would seem that those organisms with the highest number retain more information. Is there any pattern?

    As far as I know, nobody knows.

    We have:

    a) The C enigma, about the quantity of DNA:

    “The C-value enigma or C-value paradox is the complex puzzle surrounding the extensive variation in nuclear genome size among eukaryotic species. At the center of the C-value enigma is the observation that genome size does not correlate with organismal complexity; for example, some single-celled protists have genomes much larger than that of humans.” (Wikipedia)

    b) The G-value paradox, about the number of genes (usually it does not vary much in different eukaryotes)

    c) The problem of the number of chromosomes. I suppose that can be partially related to the C-value, but I have not data about that.

    Why does the Y chromosome contain so much less information than that in the X chromosome?

    Well, I am not an expert about the different theories about the Y chromosome. In humans, one X chromosome is inactivated in females. So, in a sense, each cell, both in females and males, has only one active X chromosome. The mall Y chromosome in males contains a small number of extra genes, especially the SRY gene, which induces male sexual development.

    The general idea is that th Y chromosome is derived, like the X, from an autosome, but has lost most of its genes. I have no idea how credible that is.

  124. 124
    Axel says:

    I’ve just re-read the thread header, and noticed how comical ES’ evasions are; the more so for having been so sedulously, almost pedantically predicted…!

  125. 125
    Axel says:

    I once knew a chap called Alan, who, in the course of his delivery round, used to deliver some stuff or other to an insane asylum (not sure what they are called these days.)

    One day, as he was leaving, he turned round a corner and got the shock of his life, because lined up on one side of the passage-way, bawling out his name very enthusiastically was quite a large group of the residents. Of course, he didn’t know what to make of it, and I expect, stepped a little more lively towards the exit. (Actually, it was something like the kind of group stunt we used to dream up at my school).

    Anyway, it just struck me that the Silver Fox’s piece-meal, slow-motion demolition of poor old ES’ shenanigans, was rather like Alan’s experience in reverse: A serious student of human behaviour, watching and puzzling over a merry-go-round, seemingly for adults.

    Also, a bit like in the zany, sixties TV comedy show, Laugh-in, the German soldier looking through binoculars, and muttering, ‘Ver-r-r-ry inte-rr-r-restingggg. But stoopid!

    I wonder if Hollywood will ever forgive the Germans. Or our UK leaders – for just being rotters! We’ve long been cast as the villains now, and not just our toffs.

  126. 126
    Eric Anderson says:

    Wow, I haven’t been able to read through all the comments, but just reading the OP, the first thing that jumped to my mind is that ES is simply misunderstanding how the design inference works. Complexity is not sufficient to infer design. Barry alludes to this, but I want to make it explicit. There is not just a continuum of complexity, at one end of which we infer design.

    So the question, ES, is do you acknowledge that your statement about how design is inferred is incorrect? No problem; we’re all learning here; just admit it and we’ll shake hands and move on.

    —-

    This is also extremely telling:

    I came here to discuss philosophy and theology, but ID theory is annoyingly in the way.

    Meaning that ID theory is not philosophy and theology. Quite true. Nothing wrong with discussing philosophy and theology, but if that is your primary interest, then a fact-based, observationally-grounded, scientific inquiry like intelligent design may seem like a distraction.

  127. 127
    Barry Arrington says:

    Eric, I explained the point you raise in 126 in detail in the prior post. ES has yet to move off his assertions.

  128. 128
    E.Seigner says:

    Eric Anderson

    So the question, ES, is do you acknowledge that your statement about how design is inferred is incorrect? No problem; we’re all learning here; just admit it and we’ll shake hands and move on.

    To give you more context, the other thread was about Aquinas’ metaphysics, which I consider a serious and important topic, and that’s what I really wanted to talk about. Discussion about ID was marginal and to me it still is, even though it had been going on to some extent already in prior threads where I had participated, so I already knew enough about ID theory to have a stance on it.

    In the linked thread there had been discussion about many aspects of ID theory, such as complexity, specificity, irreducibility, chance, necessity (deterministic causes), FSCO/I, etc. so I was familiar with everything really. There were those who kept bugging me on ID, so I asked them to clarify how they frame the big picture of ID theory (I am interested in big pictures), but instead of explaining it this way, I was eventually forced to formalize my own conception of it and present it. When Barry chimed in, he picked up this formalization as if my complete view of ID in nutshell and, disregarding prior context, framed it here for ridicule as if this was all I had to say on ID theory.

    But for example in #261, a few posts before Barry quotes me, I had written another overview about the entire framework of possible causes, structures, inferences to them, and the role of worldviews in all this. The problem with this comment is that it’s not as neatly quotable as my later comment, even though it gives a truer picture of what had already been discussed. This other post also makes it evident how reluctant I was to be off topic. I think that if we are to discuss ID, it should be the job of ID proponents to make the case for that it’s worth discussing past the main topic.

    Anyway, of course I have come to know ID theory better in the process. At the same time, I have also come to know better the attitude of ID proponents. Good to know. Cheers!

  129. 129
    Querius says:

    gpuccio,

    Thanks for your replies and your patience—I pretty much agree with what you wrote. The study of data tends to draw us into the context and interpretation of that data.

    Here are a couple of thoughts followed by some more questions:

    Thought 1
    Data + logos (as in concept) = information (or meaning, if you prefer)
    Information/meaning + logos = knowledge
    Knowledge + logos = understanding
    Understanding + logos or experience = Wisdom

    This roughly parallels Bloom’s taxonomy in levels of learning:
    Knowledge (facts) > Comprehension > Application > Analysis > Synthesis > Evaluation

    Thought 2
    The difference between rational numbers (especially whole numbers) and irrational numbers in experiental science is profound: Pi is irrational, the square in inverse square is exactly 2. Measured data (versus counted or ratios) are virtually always irrational. That’s why Pi bothers me, and perhaps why irrational numbers for the hypotenuse of some triangles disturbed the Pythagoreans.

    Stray Thought 2a
    Roll a marble in a large, shallow conical plate and you will get an elliptical path similar to that of an orbit in a gravitational energy well. However, in real life, that “plate” would not be conical and the orbit would not be completely elliptical. The inverse square produces a gravitational energy well that’s steeper next to the orbited body. This results in the procession of orbits as we observe in nature.

    Additional Stupid Questions

    In considering data from the perspective of information theory,

    1. What’s the difference between 3 and 3333333… and 123123123…

    2. what’s the difference between the following data?

    303333333 and 333333333

    and

    303333333
    330333333
    333033333
    333303333
    333330333

    3. Consider a string of numbers, data representing the elevation in meters above sea level as we travel around the equator, meter by meter. The information is cyclical (repeated trips), doesn’t seem random (lots of ocean), but is it designed?

    That’s all for now. 🙂

    -Q

  130. 130
    Querius says:

    E.Seigner @ 128,

    Many people have different conceptions about ID. Here’s mine.

    ID is a pragmatic paradigm that presupposes that the structures, cycles, and data within organisms are the result of intentional design by an entity who is deliberately left unnamed.

    It’s pragmatic because it’s consistently produced better scientific results than the paradigm of presupposing everthing is random junk (for example “junk” DNA), and if proven otherwise, it’s the result of happy random accidents.

    That’s it.

    We can speculate on the designer, but that’s not the focus of ID. In fact, if the Judeo-Christian God really, truly is the designer, then I’d say, that he wouldn’t want to be discovered through science. Otherwise, he would have left messages in our DNA: “Made by YHWH” or “Here are the ten commandments: . . .” or “Made by the Angel Michael, 96% A– . . .”

    But that would be coersion, wouldn’t it?

    -Q

  131. 131
    Axel says:

    ‘Meaning that ID theory is not philosophy and theology. Quite true. Nothing wrong with discussing philosophy and theology, but if that is your primary interest, then a fact-based, observationally-grounded, scientific inquiry like intelligent design may seem like a distraction.’

    Did you have to be quite so precise in spelling it out, Eric!

  132. 132
    Axel says:

    Sorry, ES. There was no call to be snidey. I hadn’t read your most recent posts.

  133. 133
    Upright BiPed says:

    Checking back in…

    I want to publicly retract my comments about ESeigner. I had called him/her a coward because I had repeatedly tried to engage him/her on relevant details regarding his/her comments, but he/she ignored every opportunity – only to keep making the same false and misinformed comments.

    The simple fact is that he/she eventually engaged me, at least to some extent. So I retract and apologize for my comments, and hope that his/her engagement here (with me and others) hopes him/her to better understand ID. We shall see…

  134. 134
    Eric Anderson says:

    ES @128:

    Thank you for your clarification. I will try to take time to look at your other statements you referenced and if your comment quoted in the OP above is indeed out of context then I apologize for having focused on it to the exclusion of your more complete views.

    To the point in question, I presume you do agree that ID does not argue that an observation of complexity in and of itself permits an inference to design?

  135. 135
    Mung says:

    I suppose by now E.Seigner has figured out that commenting on ID will get you a lot of attention, wanted or unwanted.

    Perhaps not so much if you stick with theology and/or philosophy.

  136. 136
    gpuccio says:

    Querius:

    I perfectly agree with thought 1. I am not sure I fully understand thought 2, but it’s OK for me. As far as I understand, irrational numbers are the subset of real numbers that cannot be expressed as a ratio of integers. The concept of real numbers is very important in mathematics and physics, and therefore irrational numbers are an important of our scientific understanding of reality.

    Pi is more than an irrational number: it is a transcendental number: a number which is not a root of a non-zero polynomial equation with rational coefficients.

    Let’s go to the questions:

    1) “What’s the difference between 3 and 3333333… and 123123123…”

    They are different symbols for different numbers (different mathematical objects).

    2) ” what’s the difference between the following data?

    303333333 and 333333333

    and

    303333333
    330333333
    333033333
    333303333
    333330333″

    They are different symbols for different numbers (different mathematical objects).

    3) “Consider a string of numbers, data representing the elevation in meters above sea level as we travel around the equator, meter by meter. The information is cyclical (repeated trips), doesn’t seem random (lots of ocean), but is it designed?”

    This is more interesting. I would say that it depends. That problem always arises with data which are measurements of something.

    The string itself is complex, and specified as the measurement of a definite objective reality.

    You should say more about the object where the string can be read, and the system and time span where it is suppose to have originated. The question we try to address, in design detection, is “Can this object arise randomly or by law in this system in this time?”

    If the data are written in symbolic form, and cannot be explained by any direct necessity system, I would say that a design inference is OK, provided that the complexity is enough (in this case, I think it is). Therefore, let’s say that a sheet of paper with numbers corresponding to what you say is found: I would definitely infer design.

    With data, we must be careful because natural systems can sometimes “measure” analogically other events and record them. That’s how we get a lot of information about geological events by studying earth strata, for example. But we don’t think that the information in earth strata is designed, because there is a simple necessity explanation for the correspondence of patterns in those strata with events in time which have generated them. IOW, the pattern is complex, it conveys specific information, but it is explained by known necessity laws operation in the system and in the time span.

    For data, that is an aspect that we have to consider. For symbolic digital data, the problem is usually easily overcome. As I have tried to explain to ES, one thing is to observe spherical objects, another thing is to find a sheet of paper (or any other physical object) with the digits of pi written in some way. The symbolic digital nature of the representation here excludes that it is the result of a natural law.

    It is even easier with language, software and functional machines, including biological ones, like proteins. In all these cases, the link between the form of the objects we observe and the specification (be it meaning or function) is so complex itself that any generation by spontaneous (non designed) algorithmic necessity laws is impossible.

    I hope that’s clear. This is a very important and subtle point, often equivocated by our interlocutors.

  137. 137
    E.Seigner says:

    Thanks, Upright BiPed @133

    @Eric Anderson

    No problem. I have been commenting on posts about Aquinas and Feser here for a month, pure theology, totally boring, so don’t waste your time on it. It would be neat if comments were easily searchable here per nick, but that would make this a forum, not a blog.

    To the point in question, I presume you do agree that ID does not argue that an observation of complexity in and of itself permits an inference to design?

    Indeed. Something called specificity is also needed. In my comment #261 in the other thread I was arguing about/against that concept too.

    Mung

    I suppose by now E.Seigner has figured out that commenting on ID will get you a lot of attention, wanted or unwanted.

    Perhaps not so much if you stick with theology and/or philosophy.

    I guess now that Feser and Torley stopped talking to each other, theological topics dry up. Hopefully someone will still make a post about Aquinas or early Church Fathers or such.

  138. 138
    Querius says:

    gpuccio@136,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to my questions. So a pattern in data is not data? 🙂

    -Q

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