Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Why we have a News desk

Share
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Flipboard
Print
Email
Bio_Symposium_033.jpg
credit Laszlo Bencze

Bornagain77 kindly writes, in response to: November 2014: Events that made a difference to ID,

Thanks for all your hard work. You probably don’t know it as much as you should because of all the insults from Darwinists, but you are very much appreciated!

Actually, I find Darwin’s followers, and naturalists generally, amusing—and normally judge them by whether they could possibly contribute to our site numbers in some legitimate way.

(True, some people might visit our site only to read The Best of Joe Troll and Joe Moron. But we think Joe + Joe’s fans would be happier at another site… and we would not want serious commenters of any sort to be discouraged by those guys’ slow-class antics. So I am happy with serious commenters whatever their orientation—but am a mod and can borf the Joes.)

I started writing news for Uncommon Descent a while back because it seemed that no one was telling the ID community’s story from the perspective of the ID community as such.

Having been a newsie all my life, I saw that as a significant gap.

Various publications, friendly or hostile, were fronting news about us. But there was no generic news stream for us. So I started one.

As always, some like it, some hate it, and most either read it or not. Anyway, if you heard news of interest here first, that’s my job.

See also: Who just wouldn’t be accepted in the ID community?

Follow UD News at Twitter!

Comments
When you have been on Robert Jastrow's mountain top, in the company of theologians and churchmen - not to speak of the vast body of mankind for centuries, the nature of your news concerning the intelligent design of the natural world (not to speak of the theists' supernatural one)is hardly likely to be POSITIVE in a NEWSY sense, for the very reason that we've been here for a very long time. Indeed, the metaphysical/physical vindication of Intelligent Design to which you advert is, in truth, 'gilding the lily'. Moreover it is what it is, and what it is, is conclusive to people with a sincere open mind, and thus fodder for limited explanatory development. It is surely a stroke of good fortune, in the circumstances, that y'all provide a positive, if Sisyphean, cornucopia of 'Tries hard. Could do better' palette of scientism. Much of life is unspectacular, isn't it, at least to our jaded, personal palettes.Axel
August 11, 2015
August
08
Aug
11
11
2015
01:12 PM
1
01
12
PM
PST
Eugene, Thank you very much for your kind words. I know I've been a bit of a broken record on this issue. Perhaps working towards an clear understanding of the system in public was not the best choice, but then again, what better way than to throw it out there. The fact remains, there are huge (massive) holes in the general understanding of information by a great number of people who come here to argue over it. There is also a great unwillingness to accept universal observations that are a) a huge impediment to materialism, and b) cannot be ignored when presented as a coherent system. These observations have been around for decades on end, but rarely assembled. In any case, I'm very grateful to know that others have picked up what I've been saying. When my website goes live I hope that many more will join them. Again, thank you.Upright BiPed
February 6, 2015
February
02
Feb
6
06
2015
06:54 PM
6
06
54
PM
PST
EugeneS That's excellent - thanks. Logic, intention and idea are necessarily immaterial and can't emerge from physicality alone - as you stated. The physical processes would not have or be able to create the protocols to interpret outputs.Silver Asiatic
January 27, 2015
January
01
Jan
27
27
2015
07:56 AM
7
07
56
AM
PST
Silver Asiatic, Re: 105, True. First comes logic, intention, idea followed by its embodiment, realization, installation, implementation. Not the other way round. Our interlocutors seem to believe that the reverse process, a sort of crystallization of meaning is possible merely out of physicality alone, some kind of magical 'edge of chaos'. It is an entirely philosophical assumption. Of course, they are free to believe whatever they choose. But it has to be exposed that this philosophy has zero empirical support.EugeneS
January 27, 2015
January
01
Jan
27
27
2015
07:48 AM
7
07
48
AM
PST
I think that the ‘truth table’ is provided by the interpretation protocol. Its implementation does not matter but it has to exist. Once the protocol is there, it unambiguously determines how to interpret the meaning of messages coming in. Unless, of course, I am missing something. Please elaborate if you find that I am.
I just think philosophically, a truth table has to exist before a truth table interpretation protocol can be created. There has to be some reason to distinguish truth from falsehood. There can even be reasons to intend a falsehood and interpret the intention. Is the truth table itself correct (true) or false? That's established by a different process - it can't be linked physically to an interpretive mechanism.Silver Asiatic
January 27, 2015
January
01
Jan
27
27
2015
07:17 AM
7
07
17
AM
PST
Silver Asiatic, Thanks for your input. I am not entirely getting what you said in your last couple of sentences though. I think that the 'truth table' is provided by the interpretation protocol. Its implementation does not matter but it has to exist. Once the protocol is there, it unambiguously determines how to interpret the meaning of messages coming in. Unless, of course, I am missing something. Please elaborate if you find that I am.EugeneS
January 27, 2015
January
01
Jan
27
27
2015
06:31 AM
6
06
31
AM
PST
Eugene 101 I agree. UB has done a great job. I'll offer this in addition though - I think we need to keep improving the descriptive language used to explain the concept. Discontinuity is a good word, but maybe there is something better. As you said:
This is what David Abel means when he says that physicality is inert to function, meaning, pragmatic gain, utility, etc.
The concept is there but the terminology might not be quite right.
The laws of nature serve as a prerequisite, they only allow for it without imposing any physico-chemical determinism on the the system’s behaviour.
It's important for discussions on the human mind and behavior also. When deciding something is true or false or some mixture of the two, that can't be determined or linked into the sender and receptor.Silver Asiatic
January 27, 2015
January
01
Jan
27
27
2015
06:02 AM
6
06
02
AM
PST
That the problem of imparting meaning is separate from the physical/chemical underpinnings of information systems (and hence cannot be derived from them) is perhaps most clearly seen by considering a possibly countless multiplicity of ways a single message can be conveyed: with Braille code, Morse code, pen and paper, oral transmission, gesticulation, hieroglyphs, the dancing men code from Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle etc. The same meaning is conveyed irrespective of the many ways to physically transmit it. It simply means that there is something to a message that does not depend on the physicality of the medium alone. The 'how' of the information system is totally decoupled from the 'what' of it. In other words, the problem of the installation/physical realization of the logical relationship between the symbol/sign, on the one hand, and its referent/the denoted, on the other, is irreducible to a description of how a particular physical transmission channel operates. Logic, non-physical formalism come first; concrete aspects of their physical implementation come second. Not the other way round. A new meaning can only be detected by an intelligent enough system capable of deriving it from data. Data becomes data only when there is a processor for it.EugeneS
January 27, 2015
January
01
Jan
27
27
2015
03:56 AM
3
03
56
AM
PST
UB, I have always enjoyed reading your comments. They are among the best and most insightful ones on this blog. Looking back, for me they were pivotal in getting my head around the central problem of all information processing systems, i.e. the problem of a representation and the denoted. The physical discontinuity and arbitrariness are the whole point. Without this discontinuity no information interchange is even possible. This is what David Abel means when he says that physicality is inert to function, meaning, pragmatic gain, utility, etc. No law of nature exists to cause with necessity any information interchange to happen because if it did there would be no freedom to assign meaning to various concrete configurations of matter. The laws of nature serve as a prerequisite, they only allow for it without imposing any physico-chemical determinism on the the system's behaviour. I would only add an important specific case of semiotic state systems. In any system able to control its state there arises the same problem of sign and protocol to interpret it. This is simply because to control its state the system needs memory to record representations of former states for later retrieval in order to generate control responses.EugeneS
January 27, 2015
January
01
Jan
27
27
2015
02:50 AM
2
02
50
AM
PST
LOL. So, that's what happened to my keyboaQuerius
January 7, 2015
January
01
Jan
7
07
2015
06:37 PM
6
06
37
PM
PST
We merely pointed out that in the case of a ribozyme, there is no “discontinuity between the representation and its effect”.
Well that's the assertion, isn't it?. You sure aren't fleshing it out because you've run out of letters on your keyboard.Upright BiPed
January 7, 2015
January
01
Jan
7
07
2015
06:27 PM
6
06
27
PM
PST
Upright Biped: Pointing to the fact that they both exists does nothing to make your case We merely pointed out that in the case of a ribozyme, there is no "discontinuity between the representation and its effect".Zachriel
January 7, 2015
January
01
Jan
7
07
2015
06:06 AM
6
06
06
AM
PST
what do you mean by physicochemically arbitrary?
?! Don't sweat it. cheers...Upright BiPed
January 7, 2015
January
01
Jan
7
07
2015
03:40 AM
3
03
40
AM
PST
Zach, I returned late to see what you came up with, but as expected, you came up with nothing. Pointing me to a wiki page on a ribozyme? Wha? The dynamic properties of an informational medium have nothing whatsoever to do with the non-dynamic properties of a representation. Write that down. Electricity can be sent down a wire to power a light bulb, or it can be sent down a wire to carry a message to a receiver. The function of the latter does not stem from the capacity of the former. Pointing to the fact that they both exists does nothing to make your case; it only demonstrates your willingness to assume your conclusion.Upright BiPed
January 6, 2015
January
01
Jan
6
06
2015
10:31 PM
10
10
31
PM
PST
Upright BiPed: Tell us how it works. Perhaps we don't understand your question. Ribozyme: The 1982 discovery of ribozymes demonstrated that RNA can be both genetic material (like DNA) and a biological catalyst (like protein enzymes) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RibozymeZachriel
January 6, 2015
January
01
Jan
6
06
2015
04:20 PM
4
04
20
PM
PST
Ah, not only then did you assume your conclusion, but you don't seem to actually understand the the topic. Try describing the function of your system, Zach. Tell us how it works. Then describe how you don't assume the validity of your counter. I'll return when I get home to see.what you've done.Upright BiPed
January 6, 2015
January
01
Jan
6
06
2015
04:12 PM
4
04
12
PM
PST
Upright BiPed: I told you how the system must function. You provided the example of an amino acid. As ribozymes can act as both enzyme and genetic memory, it means there is not a discontinuity between representation and its effect.Zachriel
January 6, 2015
January
01
Jan
6
06
2015
04:00 PM
4
04
00
PM
PST
Zach, I told you how the system must function. In return, you assumed your conclusion.Upright BiPed
January 6, 2015
January
01
Jan
6
06
2015
03:57 PM
3
03
57
PM
PST
Upright BiPed: And any system that produces these effects will have a natural discontinuity between the representation and its effect – it’s a physical necessity. With a ribozyme, the representation and the effect are one-and-the-same.Zachriel
January 6, 2015
January
01
Jan
6
06
2015
03:54 PM
3
03
54
PM
PST
Aurelio Smith, You’re an intelligent person; there is no need to make this complicated. It’s basically on the same level as that which you’ve already described as “self-evident” and as “a truism”. It simply needs a little light shined on it. Let’s take your example of a photon hitting a detector, where this event tells an observer something about the characteristics of the cosmos. Think about how this would occur. Perhaps you envision an observer staring at a console monitor hooked up to photon detector. When the photon hits the detector, the detector registers the strike and the observer then sees it displayed as a particular representation on the LED monitor. This results in the cognitive effect “A photon just hit my detector” and the observer then goes on to make claims about the cosmos based on what has been observed. Now imagine taking out a piece of paper and writing at the bottom of the page exactly what the effect of this event is. So you write down: Effect: the cognition “A photon just hit my detector”. Now imagine writing at the top of the page exactly what happened to cause the observer to have this effect. You write down: Representation: an arrangement in the output of an LED monitor. Now… this should be rather easy. Remember what my claim is: if a photon hitting a detector is going translate information about the cosmos, then it will be physicochemically arbitrary to that effect. So my question to you is, can you connect the top of the page with the bottom of the page using physical law alone. In other words, can you take the physical properties of the arrangement of light coming from an LED monitor and (using physical law) derive from it the effect “A photon of light just hit my detector”? Of course you can’t. The reason is obvious, just as I stated it earlier. The effect of translated information is not established by the arrangement of the representation; it’s established by an arrangement within that which receives the representation and translates it into an effect. Just recently I was having a pleasant conversation with Noam Chomsky about a very similar subject. We were talking about the processes of learning and language, and I was trying to convey this perspective:
I imagined a scenario where I, as an English-speaking adult, had no connection whatsoever with the simple word “apple” or the fruit that is its referent. In that scenario, a day would come when a person would have me hold an apple in my hands, hear the crack of an apple as I bite into it, taste an apple, and read to me the recipe for an apple pie. At the end of that day I would not physically be the same as the day before. In my brain and sensory cortex there would be new neural patterns that reflect my experience of the concept “apple”. Those neural arrangements would then serve as a physical protocol that would help constrain and interpret my future response to the sensory input of “apple”. These neural arrangements would also be subject to new experience as well. This is to say; the next time I see and recognize the word “apple”, the specialized organization of my optical system would mechanically transcribe that image into a representation (an arrangement of neural medium) traveling to my visual cortex and brain, where it will be translated by the arrangement of those neural protocols that reflect my experience. The product of that translation will be a physical-cognitive effect which cannot be derived from the material properties of the neural arrangement traveling through my optical nerve – even in principle.
All instances of translated information have this same architecture, regardless of the specific system in question. One arrangement of matter serves as a representation, and another serves as a protocol to translate that representation into a functional effect. One adds form, then other adds specification. The same thing happens when the cell translates the information contained in DNA. The physical effect of having a particular amino acid presented for binding at a particular point in time is not something that is derivable from the arrangement of bases in a codon. Instead, it is established in temporal and spatial isolation by the arrangement of the aaRS. The organization of the system thereby establishes the genetic code, while simultaneously preserving the discontinuity required for the system to function. Why must the discontinuity be preserved between the arrangement of a representation and its post-translation effect? It is because inexorable law would otherwise limit the system to only those effects that can actually be derived from the material properties of the medium, thus making informational constraint impossible to obtain. You can’t derive the cognitive effect “a photon” from changes in the arrangement of light on a LED display. You can’t derive a song from the pins on a music box cylinder. You can’t derive “attack the intruder” from the surface properties of a pheromone compound. And you can derive an amino acid from the arrangement of three nucleic acids. None of these things is derivable from mere matter, they each require a very specific organization in order to come into physical being. And any system that produces these effects will have a natural discontinuity between the representation and its effect - it's a physical necessity. All of these (and all other instances of translated information) requires a specific system of two arrangements of matter: one to input form into the system, and the other to establish what the effect of that input will be. And in all of the cases, the discontinuity between the arrangement of the informational medium and its post-translation effect must be preserved by the organization of the system – or the system simply cannot function. Does that help clarify the issue?Upright BiPed
January 6, 2015
January
01
Jan
6
06
2015
03:46 PM
3
03
46
PM
PST
AS, not me. Orgel:
. . . In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures that are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity . . . . [HT, Mung, fr. p. 190 & 196:] These vague idea can be made more precise by introducing the idea of information. Roughly speaking, the information content of a structure is the minimum number of instructions needed to specify the structure. [--> this is of course equivalent to the string of yes/no questions required to specify the relevant "wiring diagram" for the set of functional states, T, in the much larger space of possible clumped or scattered configurations, W, as Dembski would go on to define in NFL in 2002, also cf here, here and here (with here on self-moved agents as designing causes).] One can see intuitively that many instructions are needed to specify a complex structure. [--> so if the q's to be answered are Y/N, the chain length is an information measure that indicates complexity in bits . . . ] On the other hand a simple repeating structure can be specified in rather few instructions. [--> do once and repeat over and over in a loop . . . ] Complex but random structures, by definition, need hardly be specified at all . . . . Paley was right to emphasize the need for special explanations of the existence of objects with high information content, for they cannot be formed in nonevolutionary, inorganic processes. [The Origins of Life (John Wiley, 1973), p. 189, p. 190, p. 196. Of course, that immediately highlights OOL, where the required self-replicating entity is part of what has to be explained (cf. Paley here), a notorious conundrum for advocates of evolutionary materialism; one, that has led to mutual ruin documented by Shapiro and Orgel between metabolism first and genes first schools of thought, cf here. Behe would go on to point out that irreducibly complex structures are not credibly formed by incremental evolutionary processes and Menuge et al would bring up serious issues for the suggested exaptation alternative, cf. his challenges C1 - 5. Finally, Dembski highlights that CSI comes in deeply isolated islands T in much larger configuration spaces W, for biological systems functional islands. That puts up serious questions for origin of dozens of body plans reasonably requiring some 10 - 100+ mn bases of fresh genetic information to account for cell types, tissues, organs and multiple coherently integrated systems.]
. . . and Wicken:
‘Organized’ systems are to be carefully distinguished from ‘ordered’ systems. Neither kind of system is ‘random,’ but whereas ordered systems are generated according to simple algorithms [[i.e. “simple” force laws acting on objects starting from arbitrary and common- place initial conditions] and therefore lack complexity, organized systems must be assembled element by element according to an [[originally . . . ] external ‘wiring diagram’ with a high information content . . . 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.’ [[“The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 77 (April 1979): p. 353, of pp. 349-65. (Emphases and notes added. Nb: “originally” is added to highlight that for self-replicating systems, the blue print can be built-in.)]
Some pretty serious stuff. KFkairosfocus
January 6, 2015
January
01
Jan
6
06
2015
11:34 AM
11
11
34
AM
PST
Dionisio, could you email me through using the contact in the page linked through my handle? Let's talk some serious things. KFkairosfocus
January 6, 2015
January
01
Jan
6
06
2015
11:27 AM
11
11
27
AM
PST
#83 Axel
‘Skilful’ molecules? Whoda thunk their animist faith would extend to molecules?
Yes, that's quite intriguing. :)Dionisio
January 6, 2015
January
01
Jan
6
06
2015
09:58 AM
9
09
58
AM
PST
Cool, indeed, Dionisio. No end to the tricks RM and Co can get up to. Isn't Darwin, Daddy Cool? Of course, I will try and bend God's ear on your behalf, as well - and many blessings to you, old chap. Re your #81to KF : 'Skilful' molecules? Whoda thunk their animist faith would extend to molecules?Axel
January 6, 2015
January
01
Jan
6
06
2015
08:06 AM
8
08
06
AM
PST
#79 kairosfocus [#81 addendum] Interestingly, there were other software products used by design engineers at the time my project leader came up with a revolutionary approach that eventually displaced the established products aside and took over a substantial part of that niche market. NS survival of the fittest? :) The clever ideas of an engineer materialized in a software product that became the tool of many design engineers. The programming resources required for that project were wisely allocated and managed in order to achieve the goal that was in the main engineer's mind long before the resulting programs were developed. Ideas preceded the materialization of the desired final product. The programmers, no matter how skillful they were, could not have done it without the guidance of the main engineer's ideas, that were properly translated to the programmers in the form of tech specs, so that programmers could translate them to the computers in the form of programming languages (eg. C++/C# XAML .NET, etc.). Perhaps given enough time, a bunch of dedicated skillful programmers could have come up by themselves with a few interconnected cool apps, but not with the solid product that made engineering design much easier and productive. No way, José. :) Now, let's apply those same concepts to what we see in biological systems today. Are they the result of a 'long and winding road' with gazillion unguided interactions of 'skillful' molecules that have many 'cool' properties, obviously required for the 'final' products? Really? My former boss would have said: nice try, but no, thanks... go back to your cubicle and think that again. :)Dionisio
January 6, 2015
January
01
Jan
6
06
2015
07:06 AM
7
07
06
AM
PST
#79 kairosfocus Also the knowledge and expertise of software developers is distinct from how they get involved in a software development project for engineering design. Without the guiding mind of the project leader, in consultation with other specialists and potential customers, the best computer scientists of the world would not have been able to produce the successful software my former employer sold to engineering institutions. The final product 'somehow'* existed in the mind of that brilliant engineer, who was the director of my department, long before my fellow programmers and I started to understand the tech specs required to write the software correctly, so it could produce the expected results. (*) 'somehow' is a term relatively often encountered in current biology literature describing how complex biological mechanisms operate and how they could have appeared. :)Dionisio
January 6, 2015
January
01
Jan
6
06
2015
06:03 AM
6
06
03
AM
PST
AS, the physics of the photon and its detector is distinct from how such becomes a part of an info-comms system. Take a fibre optic network as a "simple" case, with laser diode emitters and photodiode detectors, to see the point at first level. UB is right, as was Leibniz in Monadology, on how we need to look beyond gears grinding against gears. In short, we must ponder the functionally specific complex organisation on which function emerges from highly specific interaction across a network of components and how they are coupled together and associated information, FSCO/I for short, which of course is exactly what you will predictably [--> have already begun to] resist. KFkairosfocus
January 6, 2015
January
01
Jan
6
06
2015
05:22 AM
5
05
22
AM
PST
#74 Axle
sometimes, as I’m sure you know, we read what we expect to read,...
yes, I see what you mean... isn't that one of the many cool features of the brain that -as we are told- just gradually appeared as the result of the powerful magic formula RM+NS+T? :) Yes, I will remember you in my prayers. Please, remember me in yours too. We all are in need of the divine grace being over us constantly, and the spirit of truth, dwelling within us, making us humble and guiding us in the right direction at every step. Many blessings to you in the days to come. Rev. 22:21Dionisio
January 6, 2015
January
01
Jan
6
06
2015
05:10 AM
5
05
10
AM
PST
#71 kairosfocus
[UB]...to translate any form of recorded information into a physical effect requires two arrangements of matter; one to evoke an effect within a system and another to establish what the effect will be
[KF]That is, communication systems of any consequence exhibit FSCO/I and point strongly to intentionality, and purposive, intelligently directed configuration, aka contrivance aka design. But of course if one is committed to a worldview that refuses to acknowledge design as a serious possibility for the origin of life forms that use information storage, codes and NC machines to assemble the workhorse protein molecules — predictably — the point will be “missed.”
Agree. Thank you. Indeed, we are seeing systems that appear to be preset to complex configurations that can produce -out of myriad of seemingly stochastic events- an amazing show of elaborate cellular and molecularly orchestrated choreographies (a.k.a. signaling pathways, regulatory networks, etc.), which can provoke the computer scientists, electrical engineers (specially the experts in control systems), mathematicians, physicists, everyone to look at all that in awe and drool incessantly. :) However, as you have indicated, some interlocutors may not be able to see it that way, and others may not want to see it that way. The latter are in much worse condition. We may want to pray for them all. Perhaps some of them will eventually get the sight to think outside the box and recognize the overwhelming evidences that point toward the unending revelation of the ultimate reality. We might not witness that hallelujah transformation, but it would be wonderful indeed. I know very well at least one person who undeservedly, through divine grace, went from complete spiritual blindness to seeing reality in true colors. That person just wrote this comment. :) It could have been extremely much worse, but it could not have been any better than that. Praise Adonai!Dionisio
January 6, 2015
January
01
Jan
6
06
2015
04:41 AM
4
04
41
AM
PST
Dionisio, sometimes, as I'm sure you know, we read what we expect to read, so I didn't notice the misspelling! Yes, I know your words to 'matey' were sincere. More power to your elbow/heart, heart's elbow... and so on! Would you kindly mention me in your prayers, when you remember? I'm sure you've got plenty on your plate already, prayerwise.Axel
January 6, 2015
January
01
Jan
6
06
2015
04:27 AM
4
04
27
AM
PST
1 2 3 4

Leave a Reply