Intelligent Design

Wow! Just Wow!

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This has never happened to me until today.  I made a prediction about Darwinist debating tactics and the prediction was fulfilled in the very post in which I made it!!! 

In this post I describe the common Darwinist “literature bluff” tactic: 

Note carefully the common Darwinist tactic here:

Literature bluff: There are thousands of books and articles demonstrating Darwinist proposition X.

Calling the bluff: OK, show me exactly where in just one of those books or articles this proposition is established.

Inevitable Darwinist response: [crickets]

Then in the comments section Alan Fox posts this link “beneficial mutations drosophila” in comment 8, and in comment 9 he says:  “One or two article in there must be worth a glance, or am I bluffing?! 

This is the classic literature bluff.  Alan is saying, essentially, “Hey look.  I googled “beneficial mutations drosophila” and got 349,000 hits!  QED, the literature proves that scientists have induced beneficial mutations in drosophila, and that in turn proves beyond doubt the Darwinist position on macroevolution.”   

Astounding.  So let’s see how this unfolds [I feel like Flounder in Animal House:  “Oh boy, this is GREAT!”]

Step 1:  Alan makes his literature bluff as described above.

Step 2:  Sterusjon calls Alans bluff when he writes: 

BEGIN STERUSJON QUOTE: 

Just for kicks, I followed your link in post #8. I found 349,000 Google hits. All well and good. I found numerous hits that were irrelevant to the issue. I found that many of the top links lead to the same paper. On that account the 349,000 number is quite deceptive. In addition that often listed paper defined its “beneficial” mutation as a change that allowed subsequent generations to survive in an artificial environment of >4% NaCl in their food supply that their distant ancestors could not. Oh, the wonders of micro-evolution to bring about macro-differences is thus demonstrated.

I wonder if the salt tolerance would persist if the flies where returned to “normal” feeding conditions? Just as Scambray noted about other “beneficial” mutations.

But more than that, I found these two links:

http://news.sciencemag.org/sci…..23-05.html where I found:

The researchers turned to the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to test this hypothesis. By crafting synthetic chromosomes, they created flies that reproduce asexually. They then established 17 populations of these asexual flies, all with white eyes. For comparison, they also set up 17 populations of white-eyed sexual flies. The team then let the insects breed for 10 generations. They added red-eyed flies and artificially favored the red-eyed gene by adding more red-eyed flies each generation. Thus the red-eyed gene mimicked a beneficial mutation. (Emphasis added by me)

“[A]rtificially…mimicked a beneficial mutation” What’s this. No real beneficial mutations?

And http://harunyahya.com/en/Evrim…..Drosophila where this was to be found:

All evolutionist efforts to establish beneficial mutations have ended in failure. In order to reverse this pattern, evolutionists have for decades been carrying out experiments on fruit flies, which reproduce very quickly and which can easily be subjected to mutations. Scientists have encouraged these insects to undergo all kinds of mutations, a great many times. However, not one single useful mutation has ever been observed.

The evolutionist geneticist Gordon R. Taylor describes these evolutionists’ pointless persistence:

It is a striking, but not much mentioned fact that, though geneticists have been breeding fruit flies for sixty years or more in labs all round the world—flies which produce a new generation every eleven days—they have never yet seen the emergence of a new species or even a new enzyme.

Another researcher, Michael Pitman, expresses the failure of the experiments on fruit flies:

. . . geneticists have subjected generations of fruit flies to extreme conditions of heat, cold, light, dark, and treatment by chemicals and radiation. All sorts of mutations, practically all trivial or positively deleterious, have been produced. Man-made evolution? Not really: Few of the geneticists’ monsters could have survived outside the bottles they were bred in. In practice mutants die, are sterile, or tend to revert to the wild type.

In short, like all other living things, fruit flies possess specially created genetic information. The slightest alteration in that information only leads to harm.

(Citation links removed)

If appears that more of the “evidence” is contrary to your position.

Are you bluffing? Yes! If you know where the evidence is buried in your 349,000 hits, please point to it with specificity. My perusal indicates it is not so easy to find. I’m calling your bluff.

Stephen 

END STERUSJON QUOTE: 

Now, let me make another prediction.  The third step that I described [i.e., “crickets”] will now follow.  Don’t get me wrong.  Alan and others will likely post comments at a frenetic pace in response to Stephen’s work.  What you will not see is any comment that actually demonstrates that the drosophila mutation experiments establish Darwinist claims beyond dispute as the Darwinists so often claim.

Classic.

352 Replies to “Wow! Just Wow!

  1. 1
    Joe says:

    1- Beneficial is relative- it can involve a loss of function or a loss of specificity

    2- Just because mutations occur does NOT mean they are all genetic accidents/ errors/ mistakes, as evolutionism requires.

  2. 2
    sterusjon says:

    Joe,

    I often wonder how many “beneficial” mutations are actually restorations to a previously existing, better, state. I have little doubt that, on rare occasions, an error can be accidentlly corrected before the system degredation goes so far as to be irreversible. Especially, where the system is still under some selection pressure.

    In a couple of Alan’s proported “proof texts” regarding “benefical” mutations I noted an implicit assumption that the “beneficial” trait/mutation was also a novel trait/mutation.

    Stephen

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    sterusjon:

    I have little doubt that, on rare occasions, an error can be accidentally corrected before the system degradation goes so far as to be irreversible.

    I just read this:

    “Well, back to fruit flies. Because fruit flies reproduce many generations in a very short time, scientists picked them for the experiment hoping to compress thousands of years of `evolution’ into a few years of lab work.

    “After 80 years and millions of generations of fruit flies subjected to X rays and chemicals which cause mutations, all they have been able to produce are more of the same: fruit flies.

    “And—more importantly—they have all been no better or stronger, and many have been weaker. All the changes eventually reached limits that, when approached, the strains of the fruit flies grew progressively weaker and died.

    “And when the mutated strains were allowed to breed for several generations, they gradually changed back to the original form.

    “One experiment produced fruit flies without eyes. Yet, after a few life cycles, flies with eyes began to appear. Some kind of genetic repair mechanism took over and blocked any possibility of evolution.
    http://www.pathlights.com/ce_e.....0mut10.htm

  4. 4
    Jammer says:

    I’m still unsure of whether Alan Fox is an actual Darwinist, or an anti-Darwinist sarcastically mocking the typical Darwinist. Perhaps it’s time for Fox’s Law?

  5. 5
    sterusjon says:

    Jammer,

    I know what you mean. I have often thought, “Alan, are you serious?” Either way, he appears to be scoring points for our side. Yeah! Alan!

    Stephen

  6. 6
    Alan Fox says:

    I’m still unsure of whether Alan Fox is an actual Darwinist, or an anti-Darwinist sarcastically mocking the typical Darwinist. Perhaps it’s time for Fox’s Law?

    Jammer, I’m a layman with a very-out-of-date background in biochemistry. I was laid up for a few months when the Dover events occurred and prior to that I had not heard of “Intelligent Design”. I had the time to follow events quite closely for a while and now it’s difficult to break the habit.

    What you should realise is that I am curious to establish if anyone can honestly lay out a positive theory of “Intelligent Design” but the daily fodder is almost invariably something about the inadequacies of Darwinism. I am no expert and feel under no obligation to convince anyone about the facts and theories of evolution. There are many more qualified and certainly more motivated than me. However, misconceptions, not to say misrepresentations, crop up here so often it’s hard for me not to bite sometimes.

    I’d still be interested to hear of alternative explanations to the observed diversity of life on Earth.

  7. 7
    sterusjon says:

    BA,

    My musing was about “accidentally” corrected errors. Thus offering the evolutionist a crumb before snatching it away with the SLOT. I am also aware of the “purposeful” correction of system errors via seperate repair systems. How unDarwinian is that?!

    Stephen

  8. 8
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    I’d still be interested to hear of alternative explanations to the observed diversity of life on Earth.

    Alternative to what? Do you really think that saying the diversity of life is due accumulations of genetic accidents is a viable scenario?

    That flies in the face of all observations, experiences and experiments.

    The positive theory of Intelligent Design is the same as for archaeology, forensic science and SETI- that is when agencies act they tend to leave traces of their actions behind. Traces that we can then detect and study.

    As for the inadequecies of darwinism, again that has been explained to you ad nauseum.

    This is why no one takes you seriously, Alan. You talk about evolution yet cannot reference the theory. You talk about ID not having any evidence without a clue as to what evidence is.

    And to top it off you “learned” about ID from press clippings and propaganda posts about a trial in which the defendents themselves were ignorant of the concept.

    Pathetic

  9. 9
    Alan Fox says:

    Anyone able to distil out an alternative theory from Joe’s post above?

  10. 10
    Mung says:

    Perhaps it’s time for Fox’s Law?

    I was thinking more along the lines of Fox’s Book of Non-Starters.

  11. 11
    lifepsy says:

    Another fruit fly experiment where researchers could not get a beneficial allele to spread throughout the population.

    Genome-wide analysis of a long-term evolution experiment with Drosophila Burke et al. 2010

    Signatures of selection are qualitatively different than what has been observed in asexual species; in our sexual populations, adaptation is not associated with ‘classic’ sweeps whereby newly arising, unconditionally advantageous mutations become fixed… We conclude that, at least for life history characters such as development time, unconditionally advantageous alleles rarely arise, are associated with small net fitness gains or cannot fix because selection coefficients change over time.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....09352.html

    This appears to be part of the reason evolutionists are completely reliant on bacteria for any examples of fixation.

  12. 12
    Alan Fox says:

    Sterusjohn

    Either way, he appears to be scoring points for our side. Yeah! Alan!

    Happy to oblige.

    Though do you really think a few comments on an obscure (yet the only active, as far as I am aware) pro-ID blog site has much impact in the real world and especially the field of science and technology?

    Scientific endeavour continues, unaware of the great controversy raging here. It’s not just me not taking ID seriously.

  13. 13
    Mung says:

    Alan the Troll. He never listens, never learns, just repeats himself ad nauseum.

    Why earlier this very day kf was kind enough to set out the positive case for design for him. Again. Maybe Alan missed it.

    And one has to wonder how many times Alan’s been told that ID is not a replacement theory for the theory of common descent. Is it any wonder then why no one here ever explains the “ID alternative” to him?

  14. 14
    Alan Fox says:

    Why earlier this very day kf was kind enough to set out the positive case for design for him. Again. Maybe Alan missed it.

    I don’t generally read G’s posts but I am willing to have a look. Link to it.

    And one has to wonder how many times Alan’s been told that ID is not a replacement theory for the theory of common descent. Is it any wonder then why no one here ever explains the “ID alternative” to him?

    So ID claims to explain what, that evolution is almost true but needs the odd bit of design? Does it get any more explanatory than that?

  15. 15
    PaV says:

    I posted about this very topic some time back. Here’s the thread: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ra-fisher/

    It deals with a 1963 paper describing experiments conducted on Drosophila. Net result: nothing.

    Here’s the link to a digitalized copy of the ’63 article.

    This is the last sentence of the paper:

    Newly induced mutations do not appear to provide an important source of genetic diversity whereby fitness can be improved in experimental populations where natural selection is operating.

    Here’s the rest of the SUMMARY:

    “Two experimental populations of the sepia-spineless-rough stock of Drosophila melanogaster each received 65,000r of X rays over a period of two and half years. Two control populations were handled in an identical manner but received NO RADIATION. (emp. mine) All four populations were discarded one year after the cessation of irradiation of the experimentals. The method of handling permitted weekly measurement of population size of all populations, affording a measure of fitness of the populations.

    As expected, the size of the experimental populations declines under radiation. Population size is recoverd rapidly when radiation is suspended. Although one of the experimental populations maintained an elevated fitness level at several times for a number of generations, these effects WERE REVERSED and at the end of the experiment, controls and experimentals DID NOT DIFFER FROM ONE ANOTHER. Following the cessation of the irradiation, the genetic loads of the irradiated populations were found to be elevated reltive to the controls. These increased loads, however, disappeared within a year.”

    Darwinism should have folded up its tent and gone into hiding back then.

  16. 16
    Axel says:

    You seem to be labouring under an almighty misapprehension.

    However highly you rate your own appraisal of ID, or of I should imagine of just about anything else, as a self-confessed ignorant layman, your appraisal is not, in fact, universally perceived as having even marginally expert value, nor your reasoning of a perceptibly adult quality; nor, indeed, are your putative rebuttals of the informed and reasoned statements of empirical facts set out for you by imo overly patient experts, matters that would weigh heavily on their minds.

    You showed something of the amplitude of your ignorance and folly by rubbishing this blog as one that would barely be known at all in the scientific community – when in fact, the boot is on the other foot.

    The atheist blogs could all have be written by Dawkins’ teenage groupies, from what I gather on here. And pardon me, if I repose more trust in the wisdom, intelligence and scholarship of the likes of kairosfocus, Cornelius Hunter, Barry Arrington, Timaeus, bornagain77 and the esteemed Mung, than the false Coynes and discordant Carrols of the Dark Side. Renegade Catholic jackeens, I’ve nae doot.

  17. 17
    Axel says:

    Also, the honesty of our luminaries.

    I’ve wondered for ages why atheists find so little of interest in their own blogs that, like you, they spend most of their time on blogs on ID or the Christianity they fear it could lead to; not to speak of broken careers.

    How does a lecturer tell a class of undergraduates, ‘Hey we got it all wrong about Evolution. It was never really based on empirical research, which, in fact, consistently disproved it. Sorry about that.’

  18. 18
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    So ID claims to explain what, that evolution is almost true but needs the odd bit of design?

    ID claims to explain what the blind watchmaker cannot- mainly living organisms, all of their systems, subsystems, and semiotic relationships.

    Intelligent Design Evolution, when finished, will include, ie posit, that organisms were designed to evolve and evolved by design, ala Dr Spetner’s “non-random evolutionary hypothesis” and the mechanism of “built-in responses to environmental cues”.

    Darwin posited natural selection as a designer mimic, and it hasn’t panned out. Yet people still cling to it.

    IDE will posit genetic programming controlling the genetic changes, by design. Living organisms are really run by information- Information Technology-type of information.

    But right now Intelligent Design is just interested in detecting and then studying design in nature so that we may properly understand what we are observing.

    And as for “distiling a theory”, strange that we are still waiting for you to link to the alleged theory of evolution.

  19. 19

    Alan Fox @14:

    So ID claims to explain what, that evolution is almost true but needs the odd bit of design?

    I wouldn’t say evolution is “almost true” across the board. Rather, that there are some aspects of evolution that are true.

    ID folks acknowledge the fact (which should be patently obvious to anyone who thinks about it for a while) that there are things caused by law-like processes, by chance, and by design. We regularly see all three processes at work in the world. There is nothing odd about it at all.

    The committed materialist, however, denies the existence of design as a causal explanation. That is indeed pretty odd.

    Well, let me rephrase that. They acknowledge the existence of design, as does everybody, but in the same breath claim (due to an a priori philosophical commitment and not on the basis of any hard evidence) that design must not be considered as a possible explanation when we are talking of things biological.

    So, yes, ID proponents are perfectly happy to accept traditional evolutionary explanations when there is decent evidence for them (finch beaks, etc.). We are more interested in accepting the facts and following the evidence where it leads, than committing beforehand to some philosophical position that limits possible explanations before we even get started. ID proponents are perfectly happy if a fair amount of biology is reducible to chance and necessity. But we argue that some aspects — indeed the key aspects — are indicative of design. Yes, ID can accept legitimate documented examples of blind undirected evolution.

    Materialistic evolution, in contrast, is a take-no-prisoners, admit-no-exceptions kind of theory. It cannot admit to even a single instance of design or it crumbles. Which is pretty sad, because everyone knows that some things exist by design in the real world — it is a real cause.

    The bottom line is that design proponents have a broader toolkit, a broader paradigm, from which to work.

  20. 20
    Genomicus says:

    Alan Fox:

    What you should realise is that I am curious to establish if anyone can honestly lay out a positive theory of “Intelligent Design” but the daily fodder is almost invariably something about the inadequacies of Darwinism.

    Here: http://www.evcforum.net/dm.php.....38;t=16487

    In that brief essay, I provide a cursory overview of an ID hypothesis of the design of molecular machines.

    Mike Gene has also written quite a bit on the ID hypothesis of front-loading, a positive ID hypothesis.

    Yes, the “daily fodder” often does consist of attacking Darwinian evolution. But there are some independent ID thinkers out there who are far more interested in developing ID into a rigorous hypothesis than in critiquing Darwinian evolution.

  21. 21
    Mapou says:

    Eric Anderson @19,

    I like your thinking.

  22. 22

    Alan Fox:

    Genomicus has provided a good response in #20.

    It is also worth keeping in mind that a legitimate — indeed important — part of drawing conclusions in the historical sciences involves analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of competing hypotheses.

    Darwin, Dawkins and other prominent evolutionists have regularly argued against design as part of their effort to support a naturalistic evolutionary scenario. I personally find their arguments to be incredibly lacking, but I do recognize that as a general principle the exercise of comparing and analyzing competing hypotheses is a legitimate exercise.

    Finally, it is perfectly legitimate to critique a theory on its own merits. And if a theory is lacking, then any rational critique of that theory is helpful in its own right.

    So the above points may explain part of the reason for the regular challenges to purely materialistic origins hypotheses.

    All that said, I think you make a fair point that we could probably all do a better job of spending our time articulating the value of our own positions (like Genomicus has done) instead of just beating up on the other guy’s position, even if feels rather satisfying to beat up on a weak theory. Some of the most prominent ID proponents have done a good job of laying out — in an objective, rational and professional way — the reasons for their positions (Meyer and Behe, in particular, in their recent books).

  23. 23
    Mung says:

    Alan Fox:

    I don’t generally read G’s posts but I am willing to have a look. Link to it.

    No.

    kf is one of the most prolific at laying out the positive argument for ID that you claim is missing. It’s no wonder then that you don’t generally read his posts.

  24. 24
    Alan Fox says:

    mung:

    kf is one of the most prolific…

    Well, that’s one way of putting it. I would have thought it would be a golden opportunity for you to point out this slam-dunk of an ID theory.

  25. 25
    Alan Fox says:

    Axel:

    However highly you rate your own appraisal of ID, or of I should imagine of just about anything else, as a self-confessed ignorant layman, your appraisal is not, in fact, universally perceived as having even marginally expert value, nor your reasoning of a perceptibly adult quality; nor, indeed, are your putative rebuttals of the informed and reasoned statements of empirical facts set out for you by imo overly patient experts, matters that would weigh heavily on their minds.

    Simpler would have been “no-one cares what you think”.

    Look; ID proponents can carry on muttering amongst themselves on ring-fenced blogs until the cows come home. It must become a little wearying after a while and where is it getting ID theory? Certainly not noticed! Alternatively, someone can venture out into the wider world and try and present a coherent theory of ID. It might be tough, it will depend on the possibility of ID being a valid concept (which is far from obvious), otherwise, carry on as you are.

    I repose more trust in the wisdom, intelligence and scholarship of the likes of kairosfocus, Cornelius Hunter, Barry Arrington, Timaeus, bornagain77 and the esteemed Mung,

    Laymen all!

    than the false Coynes and discordant Carrols of the Dark Side. Renegade Catholic jackeens, I’ve nae doot.

    I think Jerry Coyne is Jewish actually!

  26. 26
    Alan Fox says:

    @ genomicus

    Interesting you should mention Mike Gene. On another (now defunct) blog, Telic Thoughts, I was referred to Mike’s self-published tome “The Design Matrix” as containing evidence for “Intelligent Design”. Rashly, I bought it and was disappointed to find no such evidence merely chapter on chapter of bad analogies, faces on Mars and the like. I did post a review at Amazon if you’re interested. I encountered Mike posting at BioLogos later, where he said the evidence would all be in the follow-up volume. So far, it hasn’t appeared. Anyway, Mike told me he was expelled from UD, not sure why, maybe for being too mainstream.

    The other exponent of “front-loading”, (in this case a development of Goldschmidt’s hopeful monster theory) was the late John Davison. Another evolutionary critic whose face didn’t quite fit here. The trouble with both Mike and John’s ideas is that they fail to explain half of what evolutionary theory encompasses at its core. That is niche adaptation. Evolution explains why a particular organism fits its particular niche. Front loading leaves this to “the designer”.

  27. 27
    Alan Fox says:

    The committed materialist, however, denies the existence of design as a causal explanation.

    Unless you clarify what you mean by “design” in the context of the observed pattern of diversity of extant and extinct life, then you should not be surprised when you are asked what you mean. What do you mean by “design” in this context?

  28. 28
    William J Murray says:

    Alan Fox:

    Is a crop circle an example of intelligent design, or an analogy?

  29. 29

    Alan Fox @27:

    Unless you clarify what you mean by “design” in the context of the observed pattern of diversity of extant and extinct life, then you should not be surprised when you are asked what you mean. What do you mean by “design” in this context?

    I don’t play semantic games. When I talk about “design” I mean design in the very straightforward, everyday, common, ordinary usage of the word. Let’s grab just a couple of quick dictionary definitions:

    – to prepare the preliminary sketch or plans for an object;
    – to plan and fashion artistically of skilfully;
    – to form or conceive in the mind; contrive; plan;
    – to plan and fashion the form and structure of an object, work of art, etc.

    There is no need for us to count angels dancing on the head of a pin here. This is pretty straightforward.

  30. 30

    WJM @28:

    I clicked on your link and when I saw the first one that came up I said out loud:

    “Oh, that one is beautiful!”

  31. 31
    Alan Fox says:

    Eric

    you said:

    …denies the existence of design as a causal explanation.

    That’s clearly using “design” as a noun. Yet your definitions are all for the verb. Now I am quite familiar with the idea of people designing things and then making them. The noun “design” might refer to the plan for a house or the result. But we are talking people here. Surely you are not suggesting “design” in the context of ID theory is brought about by people, are you? Then what is the thing that is producing “design” in living organisms? And have you any suggestion as to what an act of “design” would involve? A discontinuity?

  32. 32
    Alan Fox says:

    Is a crop circle an example of intelligent design, or an analogy?

    Human design without a doubt! Intelligent? Debatable!

  33. 33
    William J Murray says:

    I guess Alan is no longer even pretending to be serious.

  34. 34
    Alan Fox says:

    William, do you think something other than people make crop circles?

  35. 35
    Mung says:

    Alan Fox:

    William, do you think something other than people make crop circles?

    Random mutations and natural selection make crop circles.

    Why on earth would you think they were designed? That’s just silly.

  36. 36
    Alan Fox says:

    I am sure people make crop circles. What do you think, William?

  37. 37
    Mung says:

    Alan Fox:
    I am sure people make crop circles.

    No doubt you have observed them in the process.

  38. 38
    Alan Fox says:

    A few perpetrators have been caught in the act. A couple of early craftsmen demonstrated their methods on TV.

    link to youtube video

  39. 39

    Alan Fox @31:

    That’s clearly using “design” as a noun. Yet your definitions are all for the verb.

    Seriously? You do know that nouns and verbs are semantically related, I hope. I just took several of the first few entries in the first dictionary I looked at to make the point that there is no special, cryptic meaning involved — just plain ol’ English. I could of course turn the verbs into their applicable nouns, but I’ll leave that challenging intellectual undertaking to you. Or you could crack open a dictionary . . .

    But we are talking people here. Surely you are not suggesting “design” in the context of ID theory is brought about by people, are you? Then what is the thing that is producing “design” in living organisms?

    Not modern or future man, obviously, as I don’t buy into the circular time travel approach. 🙂

    If you’re trying to identify the designer I have some bad news for you. ID does not identify the designer. Indeed, it is not possible from ID to identify the designer, although we can learn something about a designer’s capabilities and perhaps even purposes from the artifacts left by the designer.

  40. 40
    Alan Fox says:

    ID does not identify the designer. Indeed, it is not possible from ID to identify the designer, although we can learn something about a designer’s capabilities and perhaps even purposes from the artifacts left by the designer.

    How speculative are you being here? These artefacts would be what?

  41. 41
    William J Murray says:

    I am sure people make crop circles. What do you think, William?

    That wasn’t the question I asked, Alan. Are you incapable of answering a simple question?

    Are crop circles an example of ID, or an analogy?

  42. 42
    William J Murray says:

    I’ll make it even simpler, Alan. Are crop circles an example of ID? Yes or no.

  43. 43
    Mung says:

    Alan Fox:

    A few perpetrators have been caught in the act.

    So? You don’t have directly observational evidence from your own experience and for all you know the perpetrators “caught in the act” were merely imitators rather than originators.

    But why the need to “catch” anyone “in the act”? It’s like you knew the circles were designed, even though you didn’t know by whom or how it was done.

    A couple of early craftsmen demonstrated their methods on TV.

    So? Perhaps they were merely imitators rather than originators. I’m sure you can see scientists modifying DNA on TV too. Does that mean DNA was designed?

  44. 44
    Alan Fox says:

    I’ll make my answer as simple as I can. I have no idea what you mean by “intelligent design”. Crop circles are conceived and executed by people. Doug Bower and Dave Chorley were very clever in their execution but I think they were a bit daft to prance about in cornfields at night.

  45. 45
    William J Murray says:

    I’ll make my answer as simple as I can. I have no idea what you mean by “intelligent design”.

    Intelligent design means designed by an intelligent agent. Are crop circles examples of ID?

  46. 46
    Alan Fox says:

    What’s your point, mung? Do you think crop circles were executed by “an agency”? What have people flattening corn in admittedly impressive patterns got to do with a theory that replaces/adds to* evolution?

    *pick your own flavour of ID.

  47. 47
    Alan Fox says:

    Intelligent design means designed by an intelligent agent. Are crop circles examples of ID?

    Crop circles could be said to be examples of intelligent design if you allow that intelligent designers are invariably people and all takes place in the real world without violations of the “laws” of physics. If you say that intelligent designers also in some mysterious way tinker with the space time continuum, then no.

  48. 48
    Box says:

    Alan Fox: Crop circles could be said to be examples of intelligent design if (..)

    Mr. Fox, how do you infer that crop circles are designed?

  49. 49
    Optimus says:

    This seems relevant to a discussion of design inferences. I think the most interesting part is when the writer says that in principle there should be a way to distinguish between a natural event and the remnants of alien activity…

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/.....r-detritus

  50. 50
    Mung says:

    Alan, my point is too simple for you to grasp.

    What was it about crop circles that made people wonder if they weren’t human generated?

    Crop circles could be said to be examples of intelligent design if you allow that intelligent designers are invariably people and all takes place in the real world without violations of the “laws” of physics.

    In other words, if we’re willing to make some unscientific assumptions, we can believe anything.

    If you say that intelligent designers also in some mysterious way tinker with the space time continuum, then no.

    Not sure what that even means, really. I think you’re just babbling.

    So if humans or some advanced intelligent species creates an object or objects with sufficient mass to affect the curvature of space, that could not possibly be intelligently designed?

  51. 51
    Optimus says:

    The article I previously linked to underscores the frustration that ID proponents experience when speaking to diehard materialists. Some at least seem willing to countenance the possibility of intelligent agency in situations where it might be just barely apparent (e.g. debris patterns). Then these same folks turn around and reject a priori the design inference in cases where the appearance of design is positively overwhelming .

  52. 52
    Timaeus says:

    Alan Fox:

    Axel: I repose more trust in the wisdom, intelligence and scholarship of the likes of kairosfocus, Cornelius Hunter, Barry Arrington, Timaeus, bornagain77 and the esteemed Mung,

    Alan Fox: Laymen all!

    Alan, are you saying that you yourself are more than a “layman” when it comes to evolutionary biology? If so, please state your qualifications: degrees earned, scientific research experience in evolutionary biology or related fields, publications in biology journals, etc.

  53. 53
    Timaeus says:

    Alan Fox:

    Fact check:

    “On another (now defunct) blog, Telic Thoughts,”

    Please go to:

    http://telicthoughts.com/

  54. 54
    Mung says:

    By “defunkt” Alan means “I haven’t trolled there recently.”

    Or he could mean that clicking on links at that site end in 404 errors 😉

    Is it just me, or are comments disabled?

  55. 55
    William J Murray says:

    Crop circles could be said to be examples of intelligent design if you allow that intelligent designers are invariably people…..

    1. If intelligent aliens create a crop circle, is the crop circle an example of intelligent design?

    2. Do you consider aliens (the extra-terrestrial kind) “people”?

    …and all takes place in the real world without violations of the “laws” of physics. If you say that intelligent designers also in some mysterious way tinker with the space time continuum, then no.”

    So you’re saying that if intelligent designers violate the laws of physics and tinker with the space time continuum to create a crop circle, it’s not intelligent design? Why not?

    Can you tell me what difference it makes if humans, aliens, or mysterious, natural-law defying agencies create a crop circle? In any case, isn’t the crop circle still the result of intelligent design?

  56. 56
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    Interesting you should mention Mike Gene. On another (now defunct) blog, Telic Thoughts, I was referred to Mike’s self-published tome “The Design Matrix” as containing evidence for “Intelligent Design”. Rashly, I bought it and was disappointed to find no such evidence merely chapter on chapter of bad analogies, faces on Mars and the like.

    Alan, it is clear that you don’t know what evidence is. You sure as heck cannot post any positive evidence for unguided evolution actually producing something.

    Also it is obvious that you do not understand extrapolation.

    Cause and effect relationships- if it takes an agency to produce something and humans could not have done it, then it must have been some other agency. Nature doesn’t automatically get the power to do something just because we don’t know who the designer was.

  57. 57
    Box says:

    Alan Fox (46): Crop circles could be said to be examples of intelligent design … if you allow that intelligent designers are invariably people and all takes place in the real world without violations of the “laws” of physics.

    Why this scientistic framework, mr. Fox?

    John Searle : “materialism is the religion of our time,” “like more traditional religions, it is accepted without question and provides the framework within which other questions can be posed, addressed, and answered,” “materialists are convinced, with a quasi-religious faith, that their view must be right” (Mind: A Brief Introduction, p. 48)

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    AF:

    I find two astonishing claims from you this morning.

    First, “laymen all.” That amounts to two things, first an ad hominem as the pivotal issue is always the evidence ont eh merits, not who happens to say it. In addition this is a no true scotsman mental expulsion from the class of the accepted voices, as several of the named hold graduate qualifications in relevant fields and are speaking on a basis of the knowledge so acquired.

    But, the issue is not to stand on credentials but to address matters on the merits. Where in recent days you have unfortunately given every indication of unwillingness to do such.

    Indeed, this boils down to, I am unwilling to entertain serious arguments from those whose outcome positions are different from mine.

    The second is a similar case of question-begging.

    I am sure it has been brought to your attention repeatedly — probably dismissed or ignored — that being human is neither necessary to nor sufficient for design. Beavers (as a capital example) are effective albeit limited designers and show intelligence — perhaps tracing to somewhere else, but that is besides the fact that their behaviour is intelligent and appropriately responsive to stream situations. Similar, for say computer engineering, being human is hardly a sufficient factor: one needs knowledge and skills plus a fairly extensive infrastructure.

    All of this is distractive from something that is in the end both simple and inductively well-warranted.

    We readily see that certain things give off signs that per reliable inductions, point credibly to design.

    Crop circles drew themselves to our attention precisely because they reflect that pattern of specific, functional complexity. On good reasons, we infer to design, though we do not as yet have a good general explanation on who are responsible.

    (My suspicion of course is hoaxers. But that does not detract form the pivotal point, that identification of design as process is distinct from identification of specific designers as culprits.)

    KF

  59. 59
    Joe says:

    Eric:

    …denies the existence of design as a causal explanation.

    Alan Fox:

    That’s clearly using “design” as a noun.

    LoL! No Alan, that is clearly using “design” as a VERB, ie to do something, duh.

  60. 60
    Alan Fox says:

    Alan, are you saying that you yourself are more than a “layman” when it comes to evolutionary biology? If so, please state your qualifications: degrees earned, scientific research experience in evolutionary biology or related fields, publications in biology journals, etc.

    I keep saying that I am, apart from biochemistry at undergrad level, a layman. As is everyone else commenting here WRT science.

  61. 61
    Alan Fox says:

    Maybe moribund rather than defunct.

    Nelson Alonzo (guts) is the current admin. Here is the final comment in an interesting exchange between him and a fellow contributor!

  62. 62
    Alan Fox says:

    No Alan, that is clearly using “design” as a VERB, ie to do something, duh.

    See, Timaeus, with commenters of the intellectual capacity of Joe Gallien, I hardly think UD warrants the attention of serious scientists.

  63. 63
    Joe says:

    Moribund- that is a good word for TSZ and all evoTARD forums.

  64. 64
    Joe says:


    No Alan, that is clearly using “design” as a VERB, ie to do something, duh.

    Alan Fox:

    See, Timaeus, with commenters of the intellectual capacity of Joe Gallien, I hardly think UD warrants the attention of serious scientists.

    Well it is obvious that my intellectual capacity is far greater tahn yours, Alan. You don’t even know how to tell a noun from a verb.

    And “serious scientists”, who are they and what do they have that supports their position’s claims?

  65. 65
    Alan Fox says:

    KF

    (My suspicion of course is hoaxers. But that does not detract form the pivotal point, that identification of design as process is distinct from identification of specific designers as culprits.)

    Well, I think that is exactly the point. Why on Earth do we need to consider the imaginary possibility of space aliens when we have a perfectly rational explanation for bent corn?

  66. 66
    Joe says:

    A verb indicates action. And a causal explanation is one that explains the action.

    IOW Fox is a dolt, and apparently very proud of it.

  67. 67
    Alan Fox says:

    Well it is obvious that my intellectual capacity is far greater tahn yours, Alan. You don’t even know how to tell a noun from a verb.

    Perhaps you can find me a neat exposition of ID theory.

  68. 68
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    Why on Earth do we need to consider the imaginary possibility of space aliens when we have a perfectly rational explanation for bent corn?

    Because crop circles existed before the hoaxers were born and others have precluded human intervention.

  69. 69
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    Perhaps you can find me a neat exposition of ID theory.

    We are still waiting for YOU to find us a neat exposition of the alleged theory of evolution. Until you do that you shouldn’t even be here as you have absolutely nothing to say and it shows.

  70. 70
    William J Murray says:

    Well, I think that is exactly the point. Why on Earth do we need to consider the imaginary possibility of space aliens when we have a perfectly rational explanation for bent corn?

    That’s the problem, Alan. What you believe to be “exactly the point” is not the point at all in ID theory.

    You are either willfully or subconsciously immune to the point. I suspect it is willfully, since you refuse to answer simple, direct questions about the subject, but instead answer only straw man questions as if they were the question asked.

    The point is that it doesn’t matter who or what made the crop circles; it doesn’t matter why; it doesn’t matter how. They are examples of a phenomena best explained by ID. When you talk about whether or not humans did something, or whether or not any physical laws were broken, it is entirely irrelevant to the detection of design.

    The problem is, this has been pointed out to you on many occasions here, but you act as if “who or what created the design” is an integral part of ID theory.

    So here’s a question for you:

    If you came upon the crop circle I linked to in #28, and it was the first crop circle ever seen, would you infer that it was a naturally-occurring phenomena, or that it was intelligently designed?

    I predict that you will not answer this question directly.

  71. 71
    Gregory says:

    “you act as if ‘who or what created the design’ is an integral part of ID theory.”

    The ‘theory’ known as ‘Intelligent Design’ is next to worthless if it leaves out the who, when, where, how and why questions. Next to worthless!

    Who but a few contemporary cave-dwellers actually dares to call that ‘science’?!

    Please don’t try to claim ID theory is important if it is simply quasi-science. Pat on the head, go back to your evangelical apologetics, o.k.?

  72. 72
    bornagain77 says:

    Now Now Gregory, don’t make me count to,,,

    THE Parent Rap! – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_NspDWssIY

  73. 73
    Joe says:

    Gregory:

    The ‘theory’ known as ‘Intelligent Design’ is next to worthless if it leaves out the who, when, where, how and why questions. Next to worthless!

    Well that is just your opinion, Gregory. However anyone who has ever conducted an actual investigation knows that it changes the investigation once design is determined- for example it forces us to ask those questions.

    Ya see Gregory, you don’t ask those questions until you have detected design and the only possible way of answering those questions- in the absence of direct observation or designer input- is by studying the design and all relevant evidence.

    So the bottom line is Gregory is worthless wrt science and investigative work. But then again, we knew that already.

  74. 74
    Genomicus says:

    Alan Fox:

    Interesting you should mention Mike Gene. On another (now defunct) blog, Telic Thoughts, I was referred to Mike’s self-published tome “The Design Matrix” as containing evidence for “Intelligent Design”. Rashly, I bought it and was disappointed to find no such evidence merely chapter on chapter of bad analogies, faces on Mars and the like. I did post a review at Amazon if you’re interested.

    You just changed the subject. Earlier, you had stated that:

    What you should realise is that I am curious to establish if anyone can honestly lay out a positive theory of “Intelligent Design” but the daily fodder is almost invariably something about the inadequacies of Darwinism.

    The front-loading view is a positive ID hypothesis. This is the point. However, I disagree with you of course when you say that there is no evidence for front-loading.The central prediction of front-loaded evolution – that the LUCA would have unnecessary but functional genes – is being confirmed more and more.

    See here for an elaboration and web discussion of this prediction:
    http://www.evcforum.net/dm.php.....5&p=1

    The other exponent of “front-loading”, (in this case a development of Goldschmidt’s hopeful monster theory) was the late John Davison. Another evolutionary critic whose face didn’t quite fit here. The trouble with both Mike and John’s ideas is that they fail to explain half of what evolutionary theory encompasses at its core. That is niche adaptation. Evolution explains why a particular organism fits its particular niche. Front loading leaves this to “the designer”.

    The front-loading hypothesis explains why we see both evidence of common descent and clues of teleology. Its “goal” isn’t to explain simple niche adaptation by a population. The front-loading hypothesis is a hypothesis about biological history; so, too, is the theory of universal common ancestry.

  75. 75
    Upright BiPed says:

    Fox: “Perhaps you can find me a neat exposition of ID theory”

    Alan, you are playing an ancient game. You first make the claim that there is no evidence for something, yet when it’s provided to you, you simply ignore it in a whirlwind of contempt. Your defense strategy shares three intersting characteristics; it’s amazingly old, amazingly effective, and amazingly obvious to anyone.

    How intellectually satisfying is it for you to be forced to avoid material evidence the way you do? Doesn’t it get old after a while? Isn’t having to compose every comment as a means to insulate yourself from physical evidence just a wee bit draining for a person who sees themselves as a product of scientific and rational enlightenment?

    Tell me Alan, do you think it’s possible to transfer recorded information into a concrete physical effect without using an arrangment of matter or energy as a medium. If so, what physical necessities do you think must logically follow from that reality?

    Think it out.

  76. 76
    jerry says:

    For those who want to see how history repeats itself, there was once was a very nice gentleman named Jack Krebs who posted on this site frequently. (since I have not been around much, has he posted recently?) Jack Krebs was I believe a hard core theistic evolutionist who was involved in the writing of the Kansas science standards and had an educational background in evolutionary science. (others might know more on this)

    Jack was a master of avoiding any information on why evolution was true and would use the “literature bluff” frequently. Here is a link to a sarcastic remark about Jack and this phenomenon.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-295095

    What made me remember this was in a previous link back then, Jack had used the evolutionary information about Drosophilia as proof of the truth of evolution, not realizing he was using micro evolutionary evidence that ID does not dispute.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-185271

    and my response a few comments later

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-185286

    And then there is objection of just who is the designer, how and when it was done. Such an objection actually reveals how shallow the opposition to ID actually is. If someone had a substantive objection we would see science, not rhetoric A sarcastic reply to this nonsense several years ago was

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-305339

  77. 77
    Alan Fox says:

    A verb indicates action. And a causal explanation is one that explains the action.

    IOW Fox is a dolt, and apparently very proud of it.

    I might get back to your idiosyncratic idea of grammar and parts of speech. Just for now, think about the sentence “Joe arranged his building blocks into a simple design”. Then compare it to “That’s a lovely pattern you’ve made with your building blocks, Joe! did you design it yourself?”. Can you spot the nouns and verbs?

  78. 78
    Alan Fox says:

    William asks:

    If you came upon the crop circle I linked to in #28, and it was the first crop circle ever seen, would you infer that it was a naturally-occurring phenomena, or that it was intelligently designed?

    I would absolutely think it was a natural phenomenon. I would suspect it was intelligently designed.

  79. 79
    Alan Fox says:

    Upright Biped asks:

    Tell me Alan, do you think it’s possible to transfer recorded information into a concrete physical effect without using an arrangment (sic) of matter or energy as a medium.

    No.

    If so, what physical necessities do you think must logically follow from that reality?

    You tell me.

  80. 80
    Alan Fox says:

    Genomicus

    The front-loading view is a positive ID hypothesis. This is the point. However, I disagree with you of course when you say that there is no evidence for front-loading.The central prediction of front-loaded evolution – that the LUCA would have unnecessary but functional genes – is being confirmed more and more.

    I don’t disagree that “front loading” could be considered a positive hypothesis. My point is that it hasn’t the explanatory power that RM & NS has in explaining the lock-step of organism to niche. How does the pre-loaded information get into the genome and what is the mechanism for triggering it into action? This lock-step of organism and niche happens as a consequence of RM & NS.

  81. 81
    Alan Fox says:

    For those who want to see how history repeats itself, there was once was a very nice gentleman named Jack Krebs who posted on this site frequently.

    Things have calmed down a lot since the heady days of Dover. You’re right in confirming him as one of the more polite and patient ID sceptics. I think he just gave up on UD as the return on commenting thoughtfully and honestly here diminishes as time passes. I don’t recall him being “expelled”. I’m sorry you only get the B-team these days. Guess ID proponents need to raise their game.

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: One comes across an artistic pattern of circles and related shapes, reflecting composition and the trend is to try to infer to natural necessity and/or chance. And, indeed, I recall at the time that this was first made a media subject, there were people trying to say that. I thought such was rubbish then, and do the same now. The difference is I am not now simply making an aesthetic judgement, but one on the tested and measurable phenomenon of functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information. (In short, we have had significant progress since the turn of the 1980’s.) But, thirty years later, the implication of accepting that an inductively tested and reliable sign of artifice, contrivance and design, is so threatening that at any price the door must be barred to it; including the price of refusing to attend to the power of induction to provide warrant and reliable knowledge. Sad, really. Sadly revealing of what we are up against in our civilisation, and what is liable to happen to science, rationality and more at the hands of untrammelled ideological materialists and their fellow travellers, never mind the proud boasting of devotees of scientism that science is the only begetter of truth and knowledge. KF

  83. 83
    William J Murray says:

    I would absolutely think it was a natural phenomenon.I would suspect it was intelligently designed.

    (1) Why are these not contradictory statements?

    (2) Why would you suspect that it was intelligently designed?

  84. 84
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: As for JK, with all respect to his relative lack of abusive on-web behaviour as has been all too common among objectors to design in recent years, in the exchanges at the time it became quite clear that he was involved in the ideological rigging of curricula in Kansas, and was an enabler of an ugly threat by NSTA and NAS to hold hostage students in Kansas for the thought crime of teaching them the traditional school level understanding of what science is about. KF

  85. 85
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: let me clip point 12 in the discussion of the NSTA/NAS threatening letter:

    12 –> Moreover, all of this was in a situation where a public relations person for an oppositional “grassroots” group, Kansas Citizens For Science [KCFS] in 2005, outlined the following public relations strategy on a KCFS online forum. That forum was moderated by a NCSE member- cum- KCFS leader- cum- state education administrator and Statistics teacher who sat on the experts committee consulted by the Board in 2004 – 5. In October 2004 this committee evidently suppressed the input of the minority. It is that suppressive action that evidently provoked the whistleblowing minority report that is a highly relevant context for the “breakers of rules” accusation in the just below:

    My strategy at this point is the same as it was in 1999: notify the national and local media about what’s going on and portray them [–> proponents of more traditional understanding of science and the r=ole of science education] in the harshest light possible, as political opportunists, evangelical activists, ignoramuses, breakers of rules, unprincipled bullies, etc. There may no way to head off another science standards debacle, but we can sure make them look like asses as they do what they do. Our target is the moderates who are not that well educated about the issues, most of whom probably are theistic evolutionists. There is no way to convert the creationists. The solution is really political. [Emphases added. Note the significance of “[o]ur”; this is not just a personal observation, but a longstanding strategy of an ideological movement in dealing with its perceived opponents and the general public, presented by one of those responsible for its public relations, and who worked closely with its leadership.]

    In short, in our post-/ultra- modern time — one in which a certain politician, trying to justify himself in the public mind, notoriously said “It depends on what the definition of ‘is,’ is . . .” — the apparently simple question of what science is, is quite prone to ideological manipulation in service to radical evolutionary materialistic agendas.

    That PR strategy should sound all too familiar.

    KF

  86. 86
    Alan Fox says:

    (1) Why are these not contradictory statements?

    What a strange question! Phenomena are real or imaginary. Crop circles are real phenomena. There is no doubt in my mind they exist and are the result of real processes. The doubt is to how real a phenomenon intelligence is and whether it can be reliably measured. So, for example, there is no doubt that people can and do make crop circles. The question remains as to how intelligent these people might be.

    BTW I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that rare meteorological events, whirlwinds striking a field of corn at the right moment might produce a simple round depression but recorded observation would clinch that speculation.

  87. 87
    Alan Fox says:

    Just to add

    A working or operational definition of “intelligence” might be useful. So often here failures in communication quickly follow failure to define terms.

    Or shall we work with Joe’s rules of grammar? 🙂

  88. 88
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    I might get back to your idiosyncratic idea of grammar and parts of speech. Just for now, think about the sentence “Joe arranged his building blocks into a simple design”. Then compare it to “That’s a lovely pattern you’ve made with your building blocks, Joe! did you design it yourself?”. Can you spot the nouns and verbs?

    LoL! Alan, yes the word “design” can be a noun. I never said otherwise. However the word “design” can also be a verb, as in “Joe built his house’s addition by design, as opposed to willy-nilly.” Or “Joe assembled the furniture by design, ie via the plan and procedure provided by the manufacturer.”

    So my original point stands. What was your point, Alan?

    Eric’s use of the word “design” was as a verb.

    My point is that it hasn’t the explanatory power that RM & NS has in explaining the lock-step of organism to niche.

    Unfortunately RM & NS doesn’t have any evidentiary support. IOW it has all the explanatory power as a ten year old who is missing his homework assignment.

  89. 89
  90. 90
    Alan Fox says:

    Eric’s use of the word “design” was as a verb.

    Oh really?

    Eric?

    Anyone?

  91. 91
    Joe says:

    Alan, As Dembski wrote many years ago- and I have pointed out to you on numerous occasions- the word “intelligent” is used to differentiate between “apparent” design on one side and “optimal” design on the other. It means an agency was involved- something besides mother nature. Or as Del Ratszch said “nature, operating freely”.

    Strange that 8 years into this and you don’t even know the basics. Again, just another reason no one takes you seriously.

    See Intelligent Design is not Optimal Design, by William A. Dembski, again, for the forst time. 😉

  92. 92
  93. 93
    Joe says:

    Earth to Alan-

    What Eric said:
    …denies the existence of design as a causal explanation.

    CAUSAL, Alan- ie ACTION. The thing designed- the NOUN- is NOT the cause of itself- it is NOT a causal explanation. It is the effect being explained.

    You have no shame and you should be very ashamed.

  94. 94
    Joe says:

    Alan,

    How do either of your links support blind watchmaker, ie unguided, evolution? Please be specific.

  95. 95
    Alan Fox says:

    Joe

    Decide if you want to discuss grammar, philosophy, logic or science. I’ll go with the flow.

  96. 96
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    Or shall we work with Joe’s rules of grammar?

    Not my rules, Alan. The entire world- well all but you and maybe other evos- uses that rule-> action = verb. And causal/ cause would be an action. Causal agency would be the noun

  97. 97
    Upright BiPed says:

    Alan,

    Tell me Alan, do you think it’s possible to transfer recorded information into a concrete physical effect without using an arrangement of matter or energy as a medium.

    No.

    So if this is the case, as you seem to agree, then this would necessarily tie the concrete effects of information to the arrangements of the various mediums used to transfer it, correct? For instance, when we see a mound of ants attack an invader in unison, the coordination of that attack would be tied to the physical arrangement of the pheromone used to signal and coordinate the response of the ants, right?

  98. 98
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    Decide if you want to discuss grammar, philosophy, logic or science. I’ll go with the flow.

    LoL! I have been pointing out that you don’t know Jack about any of those topics. IOW you don’t have anything to discuss. All you have is to disrupt and distract.

    How about that flow, Alan?

  99. 99
    Alan Fox says:

    Any UD grammarians ready to support Joe?

  100. 100
    Alan Fox says:

    For instance, when we see a mound of ants attack an invader in unison, the coordination of that attack would be tied to the physical arrangement of the pheromone used to signal and coordinate the response of the ants, right?

    Eusociality in hymenopterans is fascinating. How is the innate behaviour of individuals heritable? A conundrum! Actually, I’m not mocking. It is a real challenge for science. I am not sure E. O. Wilson has it all right but you can’t knock his dedication. Sorry, digressing. Sure, it’s undeniable that pheromones are hugely important in ant society.

  101. 101
    William J Murray says:

    What a strange question! Phenomena are real or imaginary.

    Alan – this is what is meant by “straw man”. Nowhere in your original statement, or in my question, were the terms “real” and “imaginary” utilized.

    The question remains as to how intelligent these people might be.

    “How intelligent these people are” is an entirely irrelevant question. ID is not about the IQ of those that produce artifacts. A child can produce a recognizable artifact of design.

    BTW I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that rare meteorological events, whirlwinds striking a field of corn at the right moment might produce a simple round depression but recorded observation would clinch that speculation.

    Note how you have completely avoided the question through a series of diversions.

    Your original statement was:

    I would absolutely think it was a natural phenomenon.I would suspect it was intelligently designed.

    Please note – there is no use of the term “real” in contrast to “imaginary”. The question is in terms of “natural” in contrast to “designed”. Both natural and designed phenomena are real. We are talking about a real phenomena – crop circles. We accept that if the crop circle is produced by nature, or the product of intelligent design, it is a real phenomena and not imaginary.

    So when you say:

    I would absolutely think it was a natural phenomenon.

    … this isn’t a statement about whether or not the phenomena is “real”; because we are talking about real phenomena in the first place. That is a given. This can only refer to the contrast between “natural” and “ID”.

    So when you say:

    I would suspect it was intelligently designed.

    … the apparent contradiction is that if you “absolutely” would consider the real phenomena of the crop circle (pictured in the link) “natural”, why on earth would you “suspect” that it is intelligently designed?

    Then, when called on this contradiction, why would you switch to terms unemployed in both your statement and in my question (real vs imaginary)?

    It’s hard to imagine anyone so dense that they don’t understand the difference between “designed” and “natural”, and how they are absolutely not synonymous with “imaginary” and “real”. I don’t think you’re dense, which is why I think you’re orchestrating these textual snipe hunts on purpose. I’d be interested in understanding your motives for doing this.

    However, if you insist that your activity here is in earnest, my questions remain unanswered:

    (1) Why are these not contradictory statements?

    (2) Why would you suspect that it was intelligently designed?

  102. 102
    Upright BiPed says:

    Alan, I agree with you that pheromones are “hugely important in ant society”. But just so that I may understand your answer to the question, here is it again:

    “this would necessarily tie the concrete effects of information to the arrangements of the various mediums used to transfer it, correct?”

    Do you agree with this?

  103. 103
    Joe says:

    Merriam-Webster says:

    design:

    1de·sign
    verb \di-?z?n\

    Definition of DESIGN

    transitive verb

    1: to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan : devise, contrive

    2 a: to conceive and plan out in the mind

    b: to have as a purpose : intend

    c: to devise for a specific function or end [a book designed primarily as a college textbook]

    3 archaic: to indicate with a distinctive mark, sign, or name

    4 a: to make a drawing, pattern, or sketch of

    b: to draw the plans for [design a building]

    intransitive verb

    1: to conceive or execute a plan

    2: to draw, lay out, or prepare a design

    With that in mind:

    the difference between nouns and verbs

    So let’s start by learning what their basic definitions are. A noun is a part of speech which refers to a person, place or thing ‘“ but it can also refer to an object, state, action or concept. A verb, on the other hand, is a part of speech which indicates action. It can either be used as a supporting verb or a linking verb.

  104. 104
    Alan Fox says:

    It’s hard to imagine anyone so dense that they don’t understand the difference between “designed” and “natural”, and how they are absolutely not synonymous with “imaginary” and “real”. I don’t think you’re dense, which is why I think you’re orchestrating these textual snipe hunts on purpose. I’d be interested in understanding your motives for doing this.

    Well, thanks for the compliment, William. I am quite happy to expand on my thoughts if you are interested. One thing you can try and accept, please yourself but try it, is imagine I am merely saying what I think without any agenda. I might be wrong or just plain unintelligible but it is the real me! Motive for posting here? Not sure really. Keeps the wits sharp? Masochism? Maybe subconsciously searching for answers? Perhaps I enjoy being the current pet sceptic? Maybe a little bit of all those.

    Seriously, I still can’t grasp that concept that just because we don’t like a real explanation, we can console ourselves with a more comforting imaginary explanation. But that’s human nature I guess.

  105. 105
    Alan Fox says:

    …this would necessarily tie the concrete effects of information to the arrangements of the various mediums used to transfer it, correct?

    Does it help if I say I think this universe is grounded in reality? Or more briefly, yes.

  106. 106
    Joe says:

    …denies the existence of design as a causal explanation.

    …denies the existence of Stonehenge as a causal explanation (for Stonehenge).

    …denies the existence of planned construction as a causal explanation (for Stonehenge).

  107. 107
    Alan Fox says:

    Oh archeology!

    OK Joe, expand! Be careful with those verbs and nouns though. They can be dangerous in the wrong hands! 🙂

  108. 108
    Joe says:

    Can Stonehenge, a noun, be the cause of Stonehenge, a noun, Alan?

  109. 109
    Alan Fox says:

    OK I didn’t roll on the floor but I am LOL

  110. 110
    Joe says:

    Only agency, DOING SOMETHING (for example to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan : devise, contrive) , can cause Stonehenge to come into being.

  111. 111
    Joe says:

    Therefor, a causal explanation would be referring to “design” the verb, not the “design”, the noun.

  112. 112
    Alan Fox says:

    Short grammatical question for Joe. Look at the following phrases:

    An intelligent design.

    To design intelligently.

    Find the verb.

    🙂

  113. 113
    Joe says:

    Alan, Complete SENTENCES require nouns and verbs, Alan.

    However the verb would be “design” in “To design intelligently”

  114. 114
    Joe says:

    “To achieve an intelligent design (noun), one must design intelligently (verb).”

  115. 115
    Joe says:

    “To achieve an intelligent design (noun/ thing), one must design intelligently (verb/ cause).”

  116. 116
    Upright BiPed says:

    Alan,

    “this would necessarily tie the concrete effects of information to the arrangements of the various mediums used to transfer it, correct?”

    Yes

    So now we have it that individual arrangements of matter or energy are a physical necessity in order to transfer recorded information and create concrete physical effects. And we also have it that the concrete physical effects are tied to the arrangement of the medium.

    So I would assume you also recognize (using our ant mound as an example) that the concrete effects created cannot be derived from the medium itself. In other words, when an ant should attack (or stop attacking, or gather food, or follow closely, or return to the mound, or any other pheromone-induced action) is not derived from the chemical bonds of the pheromone itself. The establishment of each specific effect is context specific – meaning that it is only derived from the individual pheromones operating within a system that has the capacity to recognize them and produce those concrete effects, correct?

  117. 117
  118. 118
    Upright BiPed says:

    Alan,

    The establishment of each specific effect is context specific – meaning that it is only derived from the individual pheromones operating within a system that has the capacity to recognize them and produce those concrete effects, correct?

    No

    Let me be sure I am following you.

    You stated in your previous comment that “the universe is grounded in reality”. I agree. So if there is such a real thing as the speed a cheetah must run in order to catch the gazelle he’s tracking, or the direction that a bat must fly in order to intercept a locust in the dark, or a moment in time when an ant should attack in order to protect its queen and colony, then there must be a way of bringing those things about in the real world. Do you agree?

    That way is the transfer of form by means of a physical medium acting within a system with the capacity to bring those effects into reality. Are you saying that these realities do not require the systems that bring them about? Are you saying that the point in time that an ant should attack can be derived from the chemical composition of a pheromone? What exactly are you saying “no” to?

  119. 119
    sterusjon says:

    In the OP of this thread, Barry noted that I called Alan’s bluff. Subsequently, Allen doubled down on his bluff in a post that simply linked to a URL and that, so it seemed to me, contained an implicit “Look here, if you don’t think I know what I’m talking about.” The link actually landed on the abstract for a paper, which purported to link rapid increases in viability with new beneficial mutations. When I tried to move on from the URL to the paper itself, I found that it would have required a payment greater than my fixed income can justify. I expressed skepticism that Alan had paid the price of admission himself and asked him if he had indeed confirmed that the paper made his point. Since then, the chirping of crickets has been deafening.

    Thanks to BA, oh great and wonderful searcher of links, I have found and read and analyzed Alan’s great example in the peer-reviewed literature at no finacial cost. I have, however, invested some time.

    The title of the paper is “Rapid increase in viability due to new beneficial mutations in Drosophila melanogaster.”

    I found the researcher’s design of experiment and methods to be interesting. It was somewhat nostalgic for me in that I was reminded of my younger days working with the 20 or so mutations in ranch mink that affect their coat color. I have no quibble with how the researchers proceeded. Their use of the behavior of previously researched mutations in fruit flies is ingenious.

    A quick, I hope, summary of what they did is in order. From the vast research that has been done on this species of fruit flies it is know certain mutations express themselves in readily detectable physical traits with quite well-known behavior within the fruit fly’s genome. Through carefully controlled breeding of 18 wild individuals and three laboratory strains of fruit flies the researchers were able to produce 21 strains in which two of the chromosomes were homozygous. Just as a note, the homozygous nature of the chromosomes means that recessive genes are fully expressed because both chromosomes in the pair are essentially identical. Full expression of recessive genes is sometimes lethal and often times, deleterious. The researchers took advantage of this fact as it reduces the number of viable offspring in the succeeding generation. Based on the initial viability of the wild types they selected five out of the 18 to include, along with the three laboratory strains, in the study. They ran their experiments for each of the lines through three different population sizes. Over a course of 26 generations, beginning with generation six, they tested every fourth generation for viability of the homozygous strains by matings with a control laboratory strain. This produced, in the end, two types of offspring. One type was heterozygous and the other homozygous in the two targeted chromosomes. Viability was measured based on the ratio of homozygous to heterozygous offspring. In addition the chosen strains were mated heterozygously for 26 generations with the control strain and tested for viability after the last generation.

    I do have one little quibble with the researcher’s reporting. They selected five of the 18 wild type lines for further work based on “viabilities ranging from low to high.” Although I concur with them in their choice to proceed in this way, I would have liked for the initial viabilities of all the wild type lines to have been reported. I would like to know how the viabilities were distributed- evenly vs. clustered. It will become clear why, later.

    What is it that researchers observed? In general, the viability of the tested homozygous lines increased with succeeding generations. In general, in the larger population sizes the viability increased more rapidly and to a somewhat larger extent than in the smaller populations. Within the heterozygously mated versions of each of the lines, viability in the 26th generation was significantly diminished in five lines and moderately increased in three lines.

    Firstly, I would like to take note of what the researchers themselves have to say about the relevance of their work to the evolution question. What little they had to say is contained in the following quotes. “The results from this and other studies (Dobzhansky and Sassky 1947; Shaw et al. 2002;Joseph and Hall 2004) showing that new beneficial mutations can quickly increase viability and may therefore play an important role in the evolution also have implications for conservation.” And “Additional studies … would help in the debate over the extent to which evolution is driven by selection of new beneficial mutations or preexisting genetic variation, or both.”

    What did the paper show with respect to “new beneficial mutations”? First the idea of “new” must be defined. If by “new” you were to understand “never before existing”, you would be mistaken. What it means here is that the “new” mutation arose between generation 0 and generation 26 of a line that did not initially have it in generation 0. In fact, the experiment requires that the beneficial mutation exists in the control strain. To present it in simple terms, the viability is tested by producing aA females and aA males from the aa strain, which are then mated to produce aa, aA(recognizable because of the identifying marker genes on A) and AA(lethal because of the doubled identifying marker genes A) offspring. The viability of the aa line is judged with respect to aA by counting the aa and aA offspring. (Viability is there fore a relative determination, not absolute.) If the A chromosome did not have a beneficial mutation in the corresponding locus of a, aA would not have any more viability than the aa. However, it was invariably true in the viability testing that aa was less viable that the aA offspring. Also, to what extent did the beneficial mutations that arose in the tested homozygous lines already exist in the wild populations? Thirteen wild lines were abandoned. Was it because they were already nearly as viable as the heterozygous test form and therefore had little room for improvement? Without the report of the data, as already noted, I can only speculate. I am not insinuating that the researchers were in any way deceptive. I understand that they needed to limit there work and that they properly used a range of initial viabilities. I just would have preferred they include one more table.

    Another aspect that I note from the data tables and graphs of the paper is the rate of appearance of “new beneficial mutations” appears higher in earlier generations and lower in the later generations. This is the basis for the researchers conclusion that the viability increased rapidly due to mutations. It appears to me that the viability tends to level off well below 100%. (Again, that is relative.) This is a conclusion drawn, by me, from an “inspection” of the tables and graphs. Not from any statistical analysis on my part. A longer run that 26 generation may have been helpful in confirming this cursory conclusion. If valid, it seems that ability for “new beneficial mutations” to improve the viability indefinitely is limited and certainly not supported by this research.

    There is one more point that can be gleaned from the reported data. While the homozygous (artificial) breeding restricted the development of additional deleterious mutations, the heterozygous (natural) matings of those same lines seems to have allowed further degradation of the genome since “new” deleterious mutations are most often recessive and have little selective pressure on then to eliminate them in a heterozygous situation. Hence the trend for decreased viability in the heterozygous lines.

    The research makes no attempt to identify the exact nature or the ultimate cause of the “beneficial mutations.” How many of the mutations are “new” is an open question. Where the “new” mutations solely accidental? Are any of them the result of innate repair mechanisms? The research does not show that the “beneficial mutations” can accumulate without limit.

    Although the research is worthwhile in helping us to understand the genomics issues in small populations and may be applicable in conservation efforts, especially in regard to nearly extinct species, it simply does not have much bearing on the questions of how evolution might accumulate “new”, as in “never-before”, mutations to generate all of life as we see it in the world around us.

    One final note: Much of the breeding work done in this research reminded me of the process of hybridizing of crops. Something that plant breeders have done for a while now. Encouraging, sometimes “new”, desirable, often dominant traits and suppressing undesirable traits, usually recessive by heterosis. An intelligence driven enterprise.

    Stephen

    chirp chrip chirp

  120. 120
    Timaeus says:

    Jerry:

    If memory serves correctly, Krebs was banned in 2008 along with Ted Davis and myself, by former moderator Dave Scot, several months before Barry Arrington took over the site (Scot himself departed shortly after Barry’s inaugural announcement). We were all banned after a long (but very polite) discussion about theistic evolution which for some reason irked Dave Scot. I and Ted Davis were later reinstated. I don’t know if Krebs ever tried to get reinstated. I don’t think that Barry would have any objection to his return. But I don’t set the rules or make the decisions around here.

  121. 121
    sterusjon says:

    Alan,

    After posting # 119, I went back to get caught up on the flow of the thread. In among all the diversionary discussion of English parts of speech I found links in posts #89 and #92. I followed each of them to abstracts of papers that are not readily accessable to me. Exactly, or even approximately, how much time did you spend assessing these two papers? Rather than expecting us to find/purchase all these wonderous proofs, why don’t you summarize what you read for us and explain exactly why/how these paper manifestly demonstrate that evolution, as in by chance/law-only nothing-to-everything, is the unequivocal conclusion to drawn from them. I suspect that you will be unable to show that the afore evolution is in view.

    What say you? Or is it just more bluff?

    Stephen

  122. 122
    Timaeus says:

    Alan Fox:

    Thanks for clarifying in 60. I wouldn’t be so sure that no one else here has any science background. Under any given column, there might be a temporary absence of such people, but if you take the UD site as a whole, there are many commenters with degrees in a variety of sciences, especially computer science, which is of course relevant to information theory and ID. I think that gpuccio, StephenB, scordova, johnnyb, and many others fall under this category, and certainly Gil Dodgen, who, I believe, holds a number of patents. Jon Garvey has both science and medical degrees, as well as theological training. Among the occasional columnists, of course, we have Sewell the computer science professor, and Nelson who has both biology and philosophy of biology credentials, and Dembski who has two Ph.D.s, one in math and one in philosophy/probability theory, as well as, I believe, an undergrad psychology degree. Dave Scot, I believe, used to build mainframe computers for a living, and he said that he read every single article in Scientific American — whether on atmospheric science or genetics or cosmology or paleontology — every month. There has always been general science literacy around here, even if there aren’t many Ph.D.s in biology. (Though lately Ann Gauger has interacted here, and in the past Caroline Crocker has done a column or two.)

    Sure, there are a few people posting here now and then who know very little about science, but that’s true on any site where evolution and creation and ID are discussed. The subjects are of broad general interest and attract a wide spectrum of people.

    On BioLogos you are more likely to find people with degrees in the life sciences posting there, but that is because of BioLogos’s unofficial but natural connection with the ASA, which is a group of Protestant evangelical scientists where TE flourishes as the plurality position. But I would say the computer science/engineering presence is stronger here than on BioLogos.

    (Certainly our computer infrastructure is better than that of BioLogos — the users there are always complaining about the error-prone interface, whereas UD’s system works quite well. But I suppose there is a sort of justice in the fact that a pro-ID site would get “information theory” right and that a pro-Darwinian site wouldn’t understand how to handle “information.”)

    Actually, I would be interested in hearing from various people who post here what their scientific (and other) training is. I suspect there are quite a few Bachelor’s degrees and a few grad degrees in both natural and applied sciences, and diplomas from technical schools, that people have but are not boasting about. I also suspect that many people have a couple of years of undergraduate science under their belts, even if they never did a degree program.

  123. 123
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    I have a B.A. in biology from a pretty good liberal-arts college.

  124. 124
    Timaeus says:

    KN:

    Don’t you also have at least one graduate degree in philosophy?

    You should get together with IDer Paul Nelson. He has an undergrad degree loaded with biology and philosophy courses, and a Ph.D. in the philosophy of science (I think his dissertation was on philosophy of biology) from Chicago. You two could have great conversations!

  125. 125
    PeterJ says:

    UB #118

    “Are you saying that these realities do not require the systems that bring them about? Are you saying that the point in time that an ant should attack can be derived from the chemical composition of a pheromone? What exactly are you saying “no” to?”

    I dfoubt very much if you will get an answer to that question, well at least a sensible one, because it is plain to see that alan is playing everyone here on here. He is simply having a laugh, I’m fairly conviced of that now.

    And Gregory? In the 5 years I have been following this site, almost on a daily basis, I have never encountered such much rubbish come from one source. His arguments have plumetted to the absulute depths.

    You really only have to have a quick look through his blog, and see how few people have engaged with him there, to know how compelling his arguements are.

    I really admire you all for your patience regarding these two people. But in regards to AF I honestly do believe he is stringing you along.

    I mean how else can you hold that position for so long?

  126. 126
    kairosfocus says:

    Timaeus:

    FWIW, my u/grad background is Math-Physics, Applied Physics Electronics, and related (triple major). Grad is more electronics and related, also there is grad education in management with a focus on strategic change, multiplied by experience working with sustainability. (This last being relevant to assessing the cultural war strategy aspects of what is going on.) The cluster, electronics, controls, communication, computers {especially architecture: the assembly language view of the system]and information is very familiar to me, for obvious reasons. I also have less formal interests in related phil and theol issues.

    History has been a lifelong passion, and that mixes the above together, and bleeds over into matters of cultural and linked geostrategic trends and agendas. (We face a global multipolar battle for the future, and our civilisation is mortally wounded, I am literally praying for cultural miracles, as the business as usual expected trends and likely outcomes of what I am seeing are horrific.)

    To my mind the pivotal issue in origins of the world of life, is the origin of a metabolic automaton, with integrated von Neumann-like self replication, and its extension to multicellular architectures. (Hence the now approaching six month old challenge.)

    For this, functionally specific, complex information and associated information, is a pivotal concept.

    One that is sufficiently quantifiable to be used in models and analyses, etc. But then, to a significant extent, all of this is irrelevant: the real issue is the merits of the case, not the credentials of those making it, where wisdom is justified by her children.

    (The Person who most famously cited that little proverb, of course, was a Carpenter by trade, who definitely did not hold the approved certificates from the relevant schools of his day. Didn’t prevent him from being the pivot of our civilisation’s history. Similar, Socrates did not exactly hold any fancy “letter of commendation” credentials other than IIRC the famous declaration of the oracle. Just, to put the matter of credential and rank pulling games into perspective. I insist: no authority or presenter is better than his or her facts, assumptions and reasoning (including rational insight and intuition).)

    KF

    PS: GP is a physician (and I daresay, a good one of some evident distinction), and SB is a specialist in Communications with strong background in Phil as well. Both are Catholics, SB in particular having a focus on the cultural trends and their interaction with his Faith; this being relevant to the side debates on Thomism etc. PaV has more than adequate background to speak to the topics he addresses here at UD.

  127. 127
    Alan Fox says:

    Timaeus,

    Let’s not move the goal posts. Other than qualified working biologists, all are laymen, including Tour, and apparently everyone posting here. I suspect KN would not object to being so described.

  128. 128
    William J Murray says:

    PeterJ @125:

    Comments posted by those like Alan Fox and Gregory are useful not in that their erroneous views and flawed arguments can be corrected, but rather to expose their “arguments” for what they are – straw man, misdirection, misconception, personal attack, dismissive condescension, red herring, etc.

    Whether they are sincere or not, their posts can still serve a purpose useful to ID towards the benefit of less biased readers and towards the refinement of the ID perspective.

    When you get asked the same questions over and over, one has the opportunity to develop really good and cogent answer – such as those found in this site’s FAQ.

  129. 129
    William J Murray says:

    You can pretty much tell if a person is serious or not if they refuse to avail themselves of a free and handy FAQ on the very matter they are attempting to discuss, even after being directed to it repeatedly to clear up their misconceptions.

  130. 130
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    Other than qualified working biologists, all are laymen, including Tour, and apparently everyone posting here.

    When it comes to macroevolution, there aren’t any qualified biologists- working or not.

  131. 131
    kairosfocus says:

    AF:

    127: Let’s not move the goal posts. Other than qualified working biologists, all are laymen, including Tour, and apparently everyone posting here. I suspect KN would not object to being so described.

    With all due respect, this is now a case of trying to dismiss an issue that obviously — from previous evasive tactics — you cannot address on merits of fact and logic, by attacking the man.

    It also pivots on a strawman tactic misrepresentation, as the relevant field of research and the set of those who contribute and comment at UD, specifically includes people with highly relevant qualiications and experience in biologically relevant fields. As Timaeus highlighted, names like Gauger, Crocker, Axe, Behe and more are indeed relevant on the biological side. But more importantly, much of the pivotal matter is also about functionally specific complex organisation and information, often including codes and algorithms. A much wider range of people have highly relevant qualifications, and have the background to understand what biologists who study macroevo, or chemists etc looking at OOL are doing.

    All of this you know, or should know after 8 years of following the design theory issue. That you now choose to raise such a strawman tactic objection, now leads me to note on a pattern of strawman caricatures, refusal to engage what is in front of you on merits, on whatever excuse, and patterns of rhetoric that are very familiar from my experience with the Marxists from days past.

    I must immediately observe that, given the well known cultural conflict, if evidence were there that was as decisive as is too often projected, it would be all over the Internet, laid out in lavish details with adequate warrant on sound inductive principles presented to all for us all to see. The challenge that is now approaching six months is itself an indicator that he evidence that would warrant the case in absence of a priori Lewontinian materialism and/or methodological naturalism, is simply not there.

    In further reply, I point out that if you want to play at expertise rhetorical games, the source of functional, complex, digital information and related functional organisation is not something that biologists normally have specific technical training in as a part of their discipline. Those trained in computer science, electronics, communication, etc are much more likely to have relevant knowledge on that subject.

    And it is indeed that knowledge base that makes so many of us look askance at the ideas of complex integrated communication systems, digital codes, algorithms, and automata arising from non-intelligent sources by non-design mechanisms.

    But that is not decisive, what is, is that we can understand and identify what we are dealing with, we can sufficiently reduce it per metrics, and we can identify the consistent observed pattern of cause, backed up by appropriate needle in haystack analysis of the configuration spaces implied by digital code or by node and arcs wiring diagrams. Namely, design.

    And, it is to be noted, that the first people to raise the issues of the source of FSCO/I seen as a distinguishing characteristic of the living cell, were folks like Wicken and Orgel, in the 1970’s. Documented fact.

    If you seriously wish to address the matter on merits, what is needed is to start with reasonable pre-biotic environments, and account for the origin of living cells, in light of the physics and chemistry at work. Prof Tour’s expertise is directly and highly relevant to this. Though, as a matter of fact, anyone who has had some exposure to statistical thermodynamics, and/or to relevant information studies, will be able to follow the issue.

    Having started with the prebiotic type situation, show empirically and analytically credible pathways to origin of living cells. (The difficulties of doing so are eloquently testified to by how vigorously OOL is excluded by advocates of the Darwinist tree of life, of which OOL would be the root.)

    Then, to get to novel life forms with complex body plans, similarly requires some serious increments in information and organisation. That such can be acquired on an incrementalist, blind watchmaker basis, needs to be empirically demonstrated.

    That has not been done, instead we typically have an a priori methodological naturalism that seems to demand that body plan level macro evo by means similar to Darwin’s and others of like ilk, MUST have happened.

    In such circumstances, where also, there is significant overlap of relevant expertise from several fields, there must be a willingness to address matters on the merits, in light of empirical observation.

    I only need remind you and others of your ilk, that the abundantly and easily observed source of FSCO/I is design.

    The challenge still stands, coming on 6 months.

    KF

  132. 132
    jerry says:

    Timaeus,

    Your memory is correct

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-297812

    My post above was that Jack Krebs did exactly the same thing that Alan Fox has done but over 4 years ago. Jack also used research on Drosophilia to validate macro evolution and his defense of Darwinian evolution. When after constant prodding (probably being asked over a hundred times to back up his beliefs) he produced a study on Hawaiian fruit flies. He was then told the research on fruit flies had nothing to do with macro evolution and the ID/Darwinist dispute and that when he had been pushed to provide part of the overwhelming evidence, he essentially produced nothing. My point was that it happened before in exactly the same way.

    Maybe someone should seek out Jack and see if he wants to post again. He took a lot of abuse here and remained very civil as you say I believe in a post before the one I linked to. Jack, however, never supported his beliefs with anything other than a literature bluff and an appeal to authority. So in that way, nothing has changed. Other anti ID people do the same but most rely more on the “ad hominem” than the literature bluff or appeal to authority. Another tactic is diversion to an irrelevant topic such as religion or the motives of the ID supporting people. Or as Gregory has done above, to ask for the details of the designer.

    It is interesting how it plays out the same way time and time again. That is the most important empirical finding here as well as on other debate forums. In the last few years I have spent my time elsewhere and the same phenomenon happens in other areas in just the same way. There is a certain mentality behind various positions that says never give an inch no matter what. It is true here of the anti ID people and is true in political blogs or religious blogs as well. Somebody should do some a dissertation on this aspect of human nature.

    Thesis, when someone’s position is not based on fact but on emotion, they will be less willing to accept anything of fact from those who hold opposing positions.

  133. 133
    Timaeus says:

    Alan Fox (127):

    Laymen in what? In evolutionary biology? Meaning what? That they don’t have a Ph.D. *in evolutionary biology*? That they don’t actively publish or present conference papers *in evolutionary biology*?

    If those are the criteria, then the following people, many of whom are extremely prominent in the debate — including philosophers, physicists, astronomers, cell biologists (by which I mean those who don’t work in evolutionary biology specifically), geneticists (ditto), computer programmers — are laymen: Francis Collins, Ken Miller, Eugenie Scott, Darrel Falk, Dennis Venema, Jeffrey Shallit, Jason Rosenhouse, “Lizzie” Liddle, Kathryn Applegate, Randy Isaac, Loren Haarsma, Deb Haarsma (head of BioLogos!), George Murphy, John Polkinghorne, Karl Giberson, P. Z. Myers, Petrushka, mathgrrl, Seversky, aiguy, Michael Ruse, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Sean Carroll (the physicist), George Coyne (former Vatican astronomer), Denis Alexander, Conor Cunningham, Chris Mooney, etc. Yet all or most of these people deem themselves competent to comment — often quite aggressively — on matters of evolutionary biology, and many of them have legions of fans who regard them as champions against the creationist and ID hordes. I believe that you would respectfully nod to many of these “laymen.”

    So let’s be frank about this: the popular and internet and school-politics debate over evolution, ID, etc. is being conducted largely by people who are not formally trained in evolutionary biology and who have never (in most cases, certainly not in past 10-14 years in any of the cases) contributed anything to evolutionary biology as a scientific field. If you are going to take a swipe at the people here on those grounds, make sure you apply your remarks to all the others I mentioned.

    I make no claim to being an evolutionary biologist myself. But one thing I do know is that there are competent, well-trained, non-religious evolutionary biologists who think that the neo-Darwinian mechanism is useless, or at least only a small causal factor, in evolutionary change. And it’s interesting that the critique of these non-religious biologists matches that of ID. That is, while they don’t themselves support ID, they think that neo-Darwinism is flawed for the same reasons that ID people think it is flawed.

    And where do you hear anything — other than slander or polemics — about the newer, non-Darwinian approaches to evolution? Not on BioLogos. Not on Panda’s Thumb. Not on Talk Origins. Not on Pharyngula. Not on The Skeptical Zone. Not on the sites of Coyne, Shallit, etc. Only places such as UD, Discovery, Telic Thoughts, etc. Places sympathetic with ID. That ought to tell you something about the dogmatic commitments of most of the people in the popular debate, and how free ID people are from slavish adherence to those dogmatic commitments.

  134. 134
    Barry Arrington says:

    WJM: “Whether they are sincere or not, their posts can still serve a purpose useful to ID towards the benefit of less biased readers and towards the refinement of the ID perspective.”

    Agreed. That is why I told AF he is precious to us. I really meant it.

  135. 135
    Upright BiPed says:

    Alan allowed himself to be drawn into a one-step-at-a-time exposition of evidence he had previously managed to dismissed out of hand. So, he jumped ship.

    I think the silence after #117 demonstrates #75 rather nicely.

  136. 136
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Timaeus, yes, I have a Ph.D. in philosophy from a decent (though not world-class) research university.

  137. 137
    Box says:

    In order to get a better picture of what Alan Fox is dealing with:

    “In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper–namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers.
    It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”

    (”The Last Word” by Thomas Nagel, Oxford University Press: 1997)

  138. 138
    Alan Fox says:

    Alan allowed himself to be drawn into a one-step-at-a-time exposition of evidence he had previously managed to dismissed out of hand. So, he jumped ship.

    I think the silence after #117 demonstrates #75 rather nicely.

    So we have time limits fro responding now, do we?

  139. 139
    Alan Fox says:

    Laymen in what? In evolutionary biology? Meaning what? That they don’t have a Ph.D. *in evolutionary biology*? That they don’t actively publish or present conference papers *in evolutionary biology*?

    I mean a qualified working professional commenting in his own field is not a layman. Anyone else is. Is that difficult to grasp? Sheesh!

  140. 140
    Alan Fox says:

    For example Barry is not a layman WRT to debt collecting.

  141. 141
    Timaeus says:

    Alan Fox wrote:

    “I mean a qualified working professional commenting in his own field is not a layman. Anyone else is. Is that difficult to grasp? Sheesh!”

    C’mon, Alan, you are avoiding the issue, and you know it. The fact is that a number of anti-ID bloggers that you admire immensely are “laymen” by your definition, and many of leading Ph.D.s who attack ID are laymen when it comes to evolutionary theory. I gave you a list to make that clear. You have refused to react to the list.

    The point is that many of those who claim to represent “good science” and to show that ID is “bad science” are not in fact qualified in the particular science — evolutionary theory — that they are writing about. They are laymen.

    And many of those who *are* qualified in evolutionary biology, and who write against Darwinism based on their qualifications — e.g., Shapiro, Newman, Margulis, Sternberg — are sneered at by many of your “laymen” — but you side eagerly with your laymen rather than the professionals they are criticizing. You don’t really give a hoot who knows more about the subject. You simply take the side you like, and overlook the difference between laymen and professionals when it suits you, and bring up the difference — as you did above — when it suits you. Your rank bias is visible for all here to see.

  142. 142
    jerry says:

    Timaeus,

    You should add Nick Matzke to your list. I know he is in the process of getting a Ph.D in the area but that did not stop him from commenting before that time or others using him as a reference. Also what about those who have had a couple courses in evolutionary biology at a major institution. Berkeley lets anyone view their lectures on introductory evolution and genetics and it is possible to watch the course given by different professors. Are those who watched then not capable of commenting on the topic after taking the course? Other universities also publish their evolutionary biology courses on ITunes.

    How about Allen MacNeill who has a couple published audio courses on the topic for the general public. Should those who have taken the courses or listened to him, not be able to then comment on the topic. There are several courses on the Teaching Company that cover evolution, are those who view the courses to remain silent and not be able to comment.

    Should anti ID critics remain silent since they are not evolutionary biologists? That would go over well. The absurdity of the anti ID rationales are self evidently bogus. All it would take for the anti ID people to prevail in an argument is a set of coherent facts supporting their position.

  143. 143
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    I mean a qualified working professional commenting in his own field is not a layman.

    How are you defining “qualified”? Who is qualified to speak about macroevolution and what are their qualiications?

  144. 144
    Upright BiPed says:

    So we have time limits fro responding now, do we?

    Need more time? No problem.

    Let me know when you can answer: What you meant when you said “No”.

  145. 145
    Mung says:

    Any UD grammarians ready to support Joe?

    Un Dead Grammarians?

  146. 146
    kairosfocus says:

    In addition to much of the above, the issues at stake exist at the intersection of several fields. It is highly unusual for people to have more than one or two PhD’s. That means the subject is particularly inappropriate for pulling monopoly tactic games. A better approach is to recognise inter-disciplinary roles, and focus von merits, not thinly disguised ad hominems. KF

  147. 147
    Alan Fox says:

    The establishment of each specific effect is context specific – meaning that it is only derived from the individual pheromones operating within a system that has the capacity to recognize them and produce those concrete effects, correct?

    No with regard to pheromones and how they might have evolved into a complex communication system in hymenoptera.

  148. 148
    Joe says:

    IOW Alan Fox has no idea but he just knows that he disagrees with UB.

  149. 149
    Upright BiPed says:

    Alan,

    No with regard to pheromones and how they might have evolved into a complex communication system in hymenoptera.

    Quite obviously, your answer deflects away from the topic, given that my question had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with how pheromones may have evolved. I was discussing with you the physical necessities related to transferring recorded information (form) into concrete physical effects. I was specifically using a semiochemical system to illustrate the fact that the physical effects produced by information are not an inherent property of the medium, but are established only within the systems the mediums operate within. This means that the system is a physical necessity in establishing the relationship between the signal and its effect, and more directly, without the action of some specific object within that system, the relationship between the chemical signal and its effect would not be established. In other words, the alarm pheromone of an ant will not evoke an alarm response in a bee, boll weevil, or cat. So the question remains, is the relationship between the arrangement of a medium and its effect within a system, context specific (requiring the system to establish the relationship) or not?

  150. 150
    Alan Fox says:

    Upright Biped

    Quite obviously, your answer deflects away from the topic, given that my question had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with how pheromones may have evolved.

    You introduced the topic of ant pheromones. I’m sure it was inadvertent, but you hit on an interesting and developing field. On looking quickly at the literature, I was surprised to note what an active area of research this is. I am not surprised you want to drop this topic. The evolution of eusociality in hymenoptera is inextricably linked to the evolution of pheromone signalling. Apparently over 20 different exocrine glands are known in ants. Rather than information transfer, pheromones act analogously to drugs – dose your ant subject with alarm pheromone and that ant will shift to “alarmed” mode. Anyway, that these signalling systems show a range of complexity which correlates with the level of sociality strongly suggests an evolutionary element.

    I was discussing with you the physical necessities related to transferring recorded information (form) into concrete physical effects.

    Ah! The old semiotic argument!

    I was specifically using a semiochemical system to illustrate the fact that the physical effects produced by information are not an inherent property of the medium, but are established only within the systems the mediums operate within. This means that the system is a physical necessity in establishing the relationship between the signal and its effect, and more directly, without the action of some specific object within that system, the relationship between the chemical signal and its effect would not be established.

    That’s far from clear but if you are suggesting pheromone signalling could not evolve, then obviously I don’t agree with you.

    In other words, the alarm pheromone of an ant will not evoke an alarm response in a bee, boll weevil, or cat. So the question remains, is the relationship between the arrangement of a medium and its effect within a system, context specific (requiring the system to establish the relationship) or not?

    Interestingly there is quite a bit of homology in hymenoptera pheromones confirming the evolutionary origins in such chemical signalling systems. Regarding specificity, I suggest that the relationship between signal chemical and receptor would be under selective pressure and highly specific systems could evolve from precursors with less specific relationships between receptors and sets of chemicals that bind to them.

  151. 151
    Alan Fox says:

    Timaeus:

    C’mon, Alan, you are avoiding the issue, and you know it. The fact is that a number of anti-ID bloggers that you admire immensely are “laymen” by your definition, and many of leading Ph.D.s who attack ID are laymen when it comes to evolutionary theory.

    I may be a little careless and rushed in my language but I am having trouble forgiving this continuing attempt to confuse two separate issues.

    1. I defined what I mean by a layman. That is someone who is not a qualified working professional in a particular field. It is not pejorative to refer to someone as a layman. They either fit the description or they don’t.

    2. I have no problem with anyone commenting on whatever subject they wish as the spirit moves them. However, I think it is wise to defer to acknowledged experts in a particular field rather than claiming to know better.

    I repeat my remark that, as far as I can see, all the people commenting here recently (apart from Nick Matske) are laymen WRT to biology. Pleas note my definition of layman at 1.

  152. 152
    Alan Fox says:

    Jerry

    Should anti ID critics remain silent since they are not evolutionary biologists?

    Where were you able to infer that from anything written here? Removing the double-negative, ID proponents are not likely to end up as evolutionary biologists anyway, so that would be a bit restrictive.

  153. 153
    sterusjon says:

    Alan,

    If evolution is true…

    The evolution of eusociality in hymenoptera is inextricably linked to the evolution of pheromone signalling. Apparently over 20 different exocrine glands are known in ants. Rather than information transfer, pheromones act analogously to drugs – dose your ant subject with alarm pheromone and that ant will shift to “alarmed” mode. Anyway, that these signalling systems show a range of complexity which correlates with the level of sociality strongly suggests an evolutionary element.

    ….if evolution is true.

    Oh, and someone once warned me about analogies.

    Stephen

  154. 154
    Mung says:

    I have a B.O. in biology.

  155. 155
    Mung says:

    Alan Fox:

    Other than qualified working biologists, all are laymen, including Tour, and apparently everyone posting here.

    So?

    Thank God one can study biology without learning anything about the nature of life and the environment in which life finds itself.

    Just because it’s called biology doesn’t mean it’s the end all and be all of life. And I’ll bet you were the same one poo-pooing biosemiotics.

  156. 156
    Upright BiPed says:

    Alan, what in the world makes you think I want to drop the topic of pheromones? It can’t be from anything I said, given that I purposely introduced the topic as an illustration, and have no reason whatsoever to drop it.

    And what is your deal with evolution? I am not talking about evolution, Alan.

    I have said nothing about evolution. I am not disagreeing with the concept of evolution. I have not challenged evolution in these observations. How many different expressions must someone use in order to get it through your head that observing the physical necessities of the system is not a commitment about evolution in one way or another? Regardless of the history of the system, it still must operate in the real world in order to accomplish its real world tasks, and the observations being made here are about its operation in accomplishing those tasks. Comprende?

    There is an old SNL comedy skit about the stereotypical football player where the TV interviewer asks a series of questions about the player’s family life and his off-the-field interests, only to have each and every question quickly answered with an animalistic grunt, an empty gaze, and the single word “Football!!”. Obviously, I think you are quite capable of rising above such nonsense. Are you, or are you not, capable of recognizing the distinction here? If you are, then can you address the actual question this time?

    But before I ask the question, I’d like to take just one more cautionary moment in an attempt to not be forced to relive this moment yet again. So please take this following sentence to heart: this is not about evolution Alan, it’s about the physical necessities involved in producing real physical effects from the transfer of form via a material medium. Your answer needn’t be a defense of evolution, because evolution is not the topic.

    Now, I have several slides of the chemical structures of different pheromones I wish I could post them in my comment in order to help you focus on the issues. Given that I cannot do that, I will have to ask you to visualize it for yourself. Here is the issue yet again. We agree that in order to produce concrete physical effects from the transfer of form requires an arrangement of matter/energy to serve as a medium within a system capable of producing those effects. The question is this: is the relationship between the medium and the resulting effect an inherent property of the medium (imagine here a schematic of a pheromone molecule) or is that relationship established by the operation of the system? In other words, can you derive the coordinated social response “attack the invader” from the chemical bonds of the pheromone, or does one need the action of the system in order to establish that correspondence?

    This is not a difficult question. Can you answer it this time?

  157. 157
    Mung says:

    You have to forgive Alan, he got a whiff of something and his brain shut off.

    Wikipedia:

    Pheromones are used from basic unicellular prokaryotes to complex multicellular eukaryotes.

    Used to what end? Oh my. That sounds so wrong.

    Pheromones are chemicals capable of acting outside the body of the secreting individual to impact the behavior of the receiving individual.

    You mean they have a purpose? Say it ain’t so.

    How do chemicals “act” I wonder? Are they actors?

  158. 158
    Timaeus says:

    Alan:

    I have no problem with your definition of “layman.”

    What I was objecting to was that your usage of the term, *in the particular context that started this discussion*, seemed to be a device to dismiss the opinions of certain people. And my only point was that if you use that tactic, the ID side can do it to some of the people on *your* side, too. If we are agreed on that, then there is no need to discuss this further.

    As for your view that “it is wiser to defer to acknowledged experts” — well, what do you do when the acknowledged experts disagree? Go with the majority? That’s not a safe rule.

    In the case of evolutionary mechanisms, the majority of current biologists still think that neo-Darwinian mechanisms are the major cause of evolution (though they sprinkle in a few ancillary causes, generally). But a minority think that neo-Darwinian explanation is either rubbish, or at best accounts for only a small part of evolutionary change. But that minority is growing. If you go by present-day hand-count, neo-Darwinism still wins. If you are a betting man, though, you’d probably say that neo-Darwinism is on its way out, and that a *future* hand-count of experts (and not far in the future, maybe 10 years) will give a different result.

    But in any case, going by hand-count is in my view the resort of the craven and the gutless. You should either say you don’t have enough knowledge in the field to make a judgment, and opt out of all debate (that is creditable modesty, which would eliminate 90% of the trash written on blog sites about evolution and design), or you should say that, though your knowledge is limited, one position strikes you as stronger than the others, and give your reasons.

    The one person I can’t abide is the one who says that we must defer to the majority of experts. First of all, no one ever says that unless they have already canvassed the experts and determined that the majority agrees with them, so the argument is not a principled one, but purely political. Second, the expectation of deference by the specialists makes for lousy argumentation and lousy teaching. It’s up to the self-declared experts to take their highly specialized, incomprehensible jargon and mathematics, and turn them into arguments that non-specialist (but educated) persons can grasp, and try to make the case to those people. The physicists have had no trouble convincing intelligent lay people that the law of gravitation is universal, and the chemists have had no trouble convincing the same people of the soundness of the periodic table of elements, because these scientists argue honestly and write in a clear way. If the Darwinists can’t convince the public that random mutations plus natural selection can turn an amoeba into a man, I would say that the problem lies not in any anti-scientific prejudices among the public, but in either the Darwinists’ lack of pedagogical skill, or in the lack of inner plausibility of the theory itself.

  159. 159
    Mung says:

    Remind me again, where is the fossil evidence for the “radiation” of prokaryotes and the fossil evidence that eukaryotes “evolved” from prokaryotes along with the subsequent “evolution” of eukaryotes into plants and animals?

    Oh, there is none?

    The plants and animals just “magically” appear?

    Say it isn’t so.

  160. 160
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    I repeat my remark that, as far as I can see, all the people commenting here recently (apart from Nick Matske) are laymen WRT to biology.

    Really? I doubt Nick knows more about biology than most of the posters here. And it is a given that he doesn’t know macrevolution.

    And nice to see that Alan still equivicates with his use of the word “evolution”.

  161. 161
    Alan Fox says:

    Timaeus

    I have no problem with your definition of “layman.”

    Good.

    What I was objecting to was that your usage of the term, *in the particular context that started this discussion*, seemed to be a device to dismiss the opinions of certain people.

    Why? I was making a valid point that all current contributors commenters on this site are laymen WRT to biology, including me and excluding Nick Matzke. If I have mis-spoken, perhaps the commenter wrongly described would correct me.

    Two scenarios:

    1. You feel unwell. You visit your doctor and he thinks you should see a heart specialist who suggests you need heart bypass surgery. Do you meekly agree? Do you ask for a detailed explanation of why the surgery is necessary? Do you ask to see his credentials and an indication of his success rate. Do you make enquiries as to his competence? Do you get a second opinion? All turns out well and you meet him later socially and mention you have been having problems with the electrical system in your house. He tells you you need to get the house rewired. Do you take his advice?

    2. You have wiring problems in your house. You call in an electrician who says because of the age of the installation, it would be best to go for a complete re-wire. Do you meekly agree? After getting two or three other electricians (who all agree that a re-wire is best) to quote for the job, you choose the guy whose quote seems reasonable and about whom you’ve had good reports from the neighbours. All goes well and later you meet him socially and you say you’ve been feeling unwell. He says you obviously need heart bypass surgery. Do you take his advice?

  162. 162
    Alan Fox says:

    If the Darwinists can’t convince the public that random mutations plus natural selection can turn an amoeba into a man, I would say that the problem lies not in any anti-scientific prejudices among the public, but in either the Darwinists’ lack of pedagogical skill, or in the lack of inner plausibility of the theory itself.

    There are quite a few scientists that the observed pattern of common descent did happen by evolutionary processes over three billion years ago but under the aegis of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent creator. I don’t have much argument with that view myself. It leaves the facts alone. Where I part company with many on this site is that reality is not hostage to wishful thinking, in my view. Don’t like Darwinism? Suggest a plausible alternative!

  163. 163
    Alan Fox says:

    Oops

    The superfluous “ago” changes the sense.

    S/B

    …by evolutionary processes over three billion years or so but…

  164. 164
    Alan Fox says:

    In other words, can you derive the coordinated social response “attack the invader” from the chemical bonds of the pheromone, or does one need the action of the system in order to establish that correspondence?

    No. No more than you can predict the biological activity of a novel protein sequence without synthesizing it and testing it and of course that activity or lack would depend on context. Not to say anything of how pheromone production and detection could co-evolve! 🙂

    Talking pheromones, you appreciate that pheromones are produced in exocrine glands that discharge to the exterior, avoiding self-dosing. The suggestion is that pheromones evolved along with sociality from hormones and the chemical-to-receptor reaction is thought to be a precondition to this development.

  165. 165
    Alan Fox says:

    sterusjohn

    Alan,

    If evolution is true…

    Oh, and someone once warned me about analogies.

    Stephen

    Stephen, I acknowledge I have not paid you much attention in this thread. If you are genuinely interested in biology, I am certainly not the person to be informing you. I am afraid you will not find anyone else suitable posting on this site. I have seen a succession of working scientists come and go here but most stop posting after awhile. Perhaps they forget their login details, perhaps they are discouraged by the mighty counter-arguments, perhaps they ask themselves “is this worth the effort to correct so many misconceptions by so few”. I don’t know.

    For the real low-down on biological research, look elsewhere.

  166. 166
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    It leaves the facts alone.

    What facts? The fact that the premise cannot be tested- that fact? The fact that no one knows if the transformations required are even possible- that fact?

    Don’t like Darwinism?

    Who likes it and why?

    Suggest a plausible alternative!

    We have. Again your willful ignorance is meaningless.

  167. 167
    bornagain77 says:

    Mr. Fox states

    Don’t like Darwinism? Suggest a plausible alternative!

    Mr. fox, It’s not about liking or disliking Darwinism, or finding it appealing or unappealing, it’s about the fact that the entire framework of metaphysical naturalism, which undergirds neo-Darwinian thought, is absurd through and through.

    Is Metaphysical Naturalism Viable? – Dr. Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....age#t=251s
    Entire video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzS_CQnmoLQ

    As to ‘Suggest a plausible alternative!’, ,, did you mean like the alternative Richard Dawkins suggested here?

    Ben Stein vs. Richard Dawkins Interview
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....irc#t=186s

    Or did you mean the alternative Anthony Flew suggested here?

    Anthony Flew – The Honest Ex-Atheist – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbyTwmaJArU

  168. 168
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox,

    You aren’t the person to be talking about biology nor are you the person to be talking about science, nor are you the person to be talking about evolution, nor are you the person that should be talking about ID.

  169. 169
    Alan Fox says:

    You aren’t the person to be talking about biology nor are you the person to be talking about science, nor are you the person to be talking about evolution, nor are you the person that should be talking about ID.

    Don’t blame me for the discriminatory membership rules here. Anyhow, I have to post a minimum number of words or Barry’s paychecks will stop arriving! 😉

  170. 170
    Joe says:

    What discriminatory membership rules?

  171. 171
    Upright BiPed says:

    Alan,

    So we agree that its not possible to transfer recorded information (form) into a concrete physical effect without using an arrangemet of matter as a medium. And we also agree that the production of a particular effect from the input of a particular arrangement of media (into a system) cannot bet determined by the physical properties of the medium, but is establishd by the action of the system producing the effect.

    Is this correct Alan?

  172. 172
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks: At this point, it is clear that AF is simply spewing talking points. He is unwiling to accept that whatever biologists of the Darwinist school may say, they a5re also touching on topics where the knowledge of those in several different areas come to bear. A priori materialism and a priori methodological naturalism are philosophical commitments that carry self-refuting and/or question-begging implications. The molecular changes imagined to account for the claimed origin of life and body plans are subject to chemical dynamics and physical ones, especially statistical thermodynamics (thus, needle in haystack challenges and the issues of constructing highly endothermic, specific molecules that are complex). And, now that we know that digital codes and information processing systems are implicated, the whole world of information comes to bear. Biologists cannot simply traipse into such fields and impose their own ideas, in the teeth of the issues and implications that are raised. Yes, that makes it much harder for biologists to account for their own theories, but that is so for any theory with interdisciplinary implications. And so far a pivotal issue is that for excellent reason the only observed and needle in haystack plausible source for FSCO/I is design. KF

  173. 173
    Alan Fox says:

    So we agree that its not possible to transfer recorded information (form) into a concrete physical effect without using an arrangemet [sic] of matter as a medium. And we also agree that the production of a particular effect from the input of a particular arrangement of media (into a system) cannot bet determined by the physical properties of the medium, but is establishd [sic] by the action of the system producing the effect.

    If you mean there are no discontinuities, no real efffects that are the result of imaginary causes, in this universe, then, I have no reason to disagree. If anyone else, reading UB’s prose, can make his point somewhat clearer, I’d be grateful.

  174. 174
    Alan Fox says:

    And so far a pivotal issue is that for excellent reason the only observed and needle in haystack plausible source for FSCO/I is design.

    I have seen no endorsement of FSCO/I by any other non-pseudonymous ID proponent. FSCO/I exists only in your imagination as far as I can see.

  175. 175
    Alan Fox says:

    Just occurs to me that radioactive decay might be an instance of an event without an apparent cause. Carbon 14 has a half-life of 5’730 years, which means in any pure sample there will be half as many carbon 14 atoms after that time. There is no way to tell beforehand which atoms will decay or when but it’s either God poking them with a stick or “stuff happening” I guess!

  176. 176
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    Just occurs to me that radioactive decay might be an instance of an event without an apparent cause.

    How so? Why couldn’t it be that radioactive elements are part of the design?

  177. 177
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    I have seen no endorsement of FSCO/I by any other non-pseudonymous ID proponent. FSCO/I exists only in your imagination as far as I can see.

    So computer programs and the genetic code are all imaginary? Really, Alan?

  178. 178
    Alan Fox says:

    Why couldn’t it be that radioactive elements are part of the design?

    Whose design? And is that a verb or a noun?

    So computer programs and the genetic code are all imaginary?

    Nope.

  179. 179
    Joe says:

    Computer programs and the gentic code are examples of FSCO/I. You said it was imaginary. Make up ypur mind.

    Whose design?

    Ours to discover.

    And is that a verb or a noun?

    In this context, design is a noun. However you don’t appear to undersatnd context, nouns and verbs. So what does it matter.

  180. 180
    sterusjon says:

    Alan,

    Your retort:

    I have seen no endorsement of FSCO/I by any other non-pseudonymous ID proponent. FSCO/I exists only in your imagination as far as I can see.

    Is there no obvious difference to you in the following two blocks of text?

    #include
    using namespace std;

    int main ()
    {
    cout << “Hello World!”;
    return 0;
    }

    *hjashakje ]jksdjdskjd[
    Js, qduhrjt llelwelflllnr kjuqx\

    Expo beq -=
    ]
    Owhy ;; ;,ssoftbbe, jfmeq;
    Me4oaxn 843’
    [

    Most sane people will say there is. I have no clue what you will say.

    If there is a difference, is it imaginary?

    If it is not an imaginary difference, is it conceivably describable?

    If it is describable, is it conceivably quantifiable?

    Or, are we to be treated to some more argument by obfuscation where we discuss the whether “FSCO/I” is a proper or common noun or possibly an anthimeria . Or, instead focus on your estimations of the merit of the qualifications of the individual who is addressing an observed feature of the world around us. So as to avoid the obvious.

    Stephen

  181. 181
    kairosfocus says:

    SJ & Joe,

    thanks.

    And yes, the contrast between random and meaningful, functional strings is often quite blatant. as is that between either and highly repetitive patterns stamped by mechanical necessity. That is, FSCO/I describes a highly evident, easily observable state of affairs.

    It is therefore saddening but revealing to see AF reduced to refusing to acknowledge what was put on the table in the 1970’s by OOL researchers.

    He has had this pointed out to him over and over but refuses to attend to obvious facts, such as:

    WICKEN, 1979: ‘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.)]

    –> The direct root of the descriptive term, Functionally Specific, Complex Organisation and/or Information should be obvious, to all save the willfully obtuse. (And indeed, that is exactly what I have highlighted from the beginning.)

    ORGEL, 1973: . . . 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. [[The Origins of Life (John Wiley, 1973), p. 189.]

    –> This cite, similarly, gives the relevant root of the terms specified complexity and complex specified information

    –> We may add,

    HOYLE, 1982: Once we see that life is cosmic it is sensible to suppose that intelligence is cosmic. Now problems of order, such as the sequences of amino acids in the chains which constitute the enzymes and other proteins, are precisely the problems that become easy once a directed intelligence enters the picture, as was recognised long ago by James Clerk Maxwell in his invention of what is known in physics as the Maxwell demon. The difference between an intelligent ordering, whether of words, fruit boxes, amino acids, or the Rubik cube, and merely random shufflings can be fantastically large, even as large as a number that would fill the whole volume of Shakespeare’s plays with its zeros. So if one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure or order must be the outcome of intelligent design. No other possibility I have been able to think of in pondering this issue over quite a long time seems to me to have anything like as high a possibility of being true.” [[Evolution from Space (The Omni Lecture[ –> Jan 12th 1982]), Enslow Publishers, 1982, pg. 28.]

    Now, this has been repeatedly brought to the attention of AF and ilk, but evidently the mere simple plain facts do not fit their agenda, and such too easily revert to narratives and talking points that fail at the bar of duties of care to truth and fairness. (And that is before we look at the fact that the undersigned — just to name one of many — has some basis of learning and experience for being able to address matters of functional, complex, specific organisation and information based on his own background. That is, Orgel, Wicken and Hoyle are not being blindly cired, but are listed as those who first pointed the significance of certain phenomena that seem to go to the heart of the matter.)

    The insistence on avoiding dealing with pivotal matters on the merits, as we have yet again seen, speaks volumes on the want of substance for the case that has to object to the inductively strong point that FSCO/I is a routinely observed, strong sign of design as most credible material causal factor.

    KF

  182. 182
    Alan Fox says:

    @ sterusjohn:

    No, no and yes. And information, grammatically speaking, is an abstract noun.

  183. 183
    Alan Fox says:

    …instead focus on your estimations of the merit of the qualifications of the individual who is addressing an observed feature of the world around us.

    What “observed” feature are you talking about? Come to that what individual and what merits? Why does everyone here need to talk in riddles?

  184. 184
    Alan Fox says:

    FSCO/I is a routinely observed, strong sign of design as most credible material causal factor.

    Routinely observed? You can’t tell us how this is done, where to look, what to measure. This is all pie-in-the-sky! “Design as most credible cause” indeed! It’s pure conjecture based on a default assumption.

  185. 185
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    “If anyone else, reading UB’s prose, can make his point somewhat clearer, I’d be grateful.”

    Sure.

    UB: “So we agree that its not possible to transfer recorded information (form) into a concrete physical effect without using an arrangemet of matter as a medium.”

    He is asking if you agree that transferring recorded information from its initial form into the effect that it specifies cannot be done without using a physical medium (another arrangement of matter).

    UB: “And we also agree that the production of a particular effect from the input of a particular arrangement of media (into a system) cannot bet determined by the physical properties of the medium, but is establishd by the action of the system producing the effect.”

    Here he is asking if you agree that the effect produced within the context of a system by the information which specifies it cannot be determined by the physical properties of the medium that carries the information, and if instead the effect can only be determined in the context of the system in which it operates.

    For anyone else following along, systems which transfer recorded information into a concrete physical effect can be modeled by the mathematical notion of a function. The set A = {a1, a2, … an} can be mapped to set B = {b1, b2, … bn} by means of a function F:A→B. The function is an arbitrary onto mapping of elements from A to elements of B. Concretely, elements from both A and B are arbitrary arrangements of matter, where a_i ∈ A has an image under F:, that is, b_i ∈ B. In this relationship, it is only in the context of the system F:→B that elements in A obtain an identity as elements in B, such that F(a) = b. In other words, the elements in set A have no physical relation to the elements of set B; the effect is only realized within the context of the system F:A→B in which it operates.

    Let’s consider an example. In the case of a cassette tape player, we have recorded information on magnetic media. This recorded information represents sounds. When functioning within the context of a cassette tape player, the magnetic data is transformed into audio signals. However it should be apparent that the arrangement of magnetic particles on the tape are not the sounds themselves; they merely represent the sounds, and it is only within the context of the entire system that magnetic data become sounds. So we have a system F:A→B, in which packets of magnetic data (elements from set A) are transformed into packets of audio signals (elements from set B) by way of a third concrete arrangement of matter (the cassette tape player). It is only in the context of this system that F(a) = b; that is to say, discrete packets of magnetic data (a) when delivered to the system in which they are specified to operate (F) become audible signals (b) but only in the context of F:. This same system of relation between information and the effect that it specifies is required for the transfer of recorded information. It’s an arbitrary mapping specified by F:A→B.

  186. 186
    Alan Fox says:

    Here he is asking if you agree that the effect produced within the context of a system by the information which specifies it cannot be determined by the physical properties of the medium that carries the information, and if instead the effect can only be determined in the context of the system in which it operates.

    I still find the phrasing so general that it is difficult to say yes or no. But your example:

    In the case of a cassette tape player, we have recorded information on magnetic media. This recorded information represents sounds. When functioning within the context of a cassette tape player, the magnetic data is transformed into audio signals. However it should be apparent that the arrangement of magnetic particles on the tape are not the sounds themselves; they merely represent the sounds, and it is only within the context of the entire system that magnetic data become sounds.

    Is clear and uncontroversial. Of course information can be recorded in various media and decoded by many different systems. I am wondering what this has to do with “Intelligent Design” but UB will enlighten us in good time, I guess.

  187. 187
    kairosfocus says:

    AF:

    At this point, some remarks on level of behaviour are, sadly, in order.

    For, with all due respect, you are being willfully obtuse and in denial of easily accessible facts to the contrary; indeed, you are speaking with willful disregard to easily observed truth and fact you know or full well should know.

    For immediate instances of FSCO/I, consider posts in this thread, which are 7-bit per character ASCII strings (the 8th bit commonly seen being a parity check), in English, and contextually responsive. The typical post is beyond 72 characters, i.e. the 500 bit solar system search capability threshold. The characters in a string in the posts are highly contingent but are not random, instead they are in a functionally organised nodes and arcs pattern, here a string: *-*-*- . . . -*

    Taking your last post as an example [and onlookers, this has been done with AF and many others of like ilk before], we see 301 characters, from a possibility space of 1.863 * 10^604 configurations of that many characters. This is more than 10^450 times a generous threshold for a space that can reasonably be sampled by our solar system across its lifespan. That is, we have no reason to trust that a blind search on the scope of the solar system or the observed cosmos, will have anything but a vanishingly small prospect of finding anything but configs from the bulk of the possibilities, i.e. meaningless gibberish.

    The reasonable conclusion, per the needle in haystack search analysis just outlined, and the massive base of known cases, is, design.

    Similarly, the PC on which you presumably typed is an illustration of wiring diagram complex organisation and its empirically known source, design.

    There is only one well documented, observed source for such FSCO/I, design.

    As for the further false, confident manner assertion of taking a default, from Plato in the Laws, Bk X, it was immemorial that causal factors for aspects of phenomena come in three flavours: mechanical necessity (natural regularity), chance (stochastically distributed contingency), art or design by intelligent, purposeful cause. This pattern is both longstanding and well established.

    FSCO/I is of high contingency, so the first default in the per aspect design inference filter fails: highly contingent. Next, functional specificity multiplied by high complexity beyond 500 – 1,000 bits triggers the SECOND default to fail. That is, it is maximally implausible per needle in haystack analysis that a blind chance process would throw up such an outcome, which also holds for combinations of chance and necessity as the high contingency is coming from chance in such a case.

    This leaves on the table the only — and routinely — observed cause of FSCO/I, design.

    In recent days, you have tried to suggest some vague, unknown cause as preferred to design as best candidate. This is a case of the IOU promissory note, in a situation where it has not been delivered on after 2350 years of trying. It is also a selectively hyperskeptical rejection of the well warranted induction from a massively and reliably observed pattern, that FSCO/I is commonly observed as caused by design.

    And, all of this is after eight years of being repeatedly corrected.

    In short, inadvertently, you are showing the real problem: materialist indoctrination and unwillingness to follow the evidence on its merits. Lewontinian a priori materialism and/or its fellow traveller, so-called methodological naturalism.

    In addition to all of this, when cogently corrected on the merits, you will not acknowledge such, you just go on to the next side track, strawman and objection. That is truly, sadly, revealing.

    Please, think again.

    KF

  188. 188
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: AF would be well advised to ponder carefully the D/RNA, enzymes and ribosome system that uses digitally coded information to effect step by step control of the protein assembly process. D/RNA is of course here a string data structure carrying a digital code, i.e. explicit information. But of course, such has been drawn to his attention any number of times. Just, it is being brushed aside using some now very familiar rhetorical tactics. This is an example of FSCO/I in the biological world, one known about since 1953.

  189. 189
    sterusjon says:

    Alan,

    No, no and yes.

    Since I asked four questions, I am unsure of how your three answers are to be matched to the questions. So, I need a little more info.

    …instead focus on your estimations of the merit of the qualifications of the individual who is addressing an observed feature of the world around us.

    What “observed” feature are you talking about? Come to that what individual and what merits? Why does everyone here need to talk in riddles?

    The “observed” feature I was referring to, in the context of the post, was the difference that most people readily take note of when inspecting the first block of text in my post along side the second block. I thought the particular individual from among others of us see that there is merit in his case was obvious in the context of “FSCO/I.” I was not trying to pose a riddle.

    Stephen

  190. 190
    Timaeus says:

    Alan Fox (161):

    You’re blathering. I did not contest your application of the word “laymen” to anyone. I was pointing out your motivation, which, in the context in which you used the term, was to cast doubt upon the opinions offered by the named people. You implied that one should doubt their conclusions, not because you had pointed out any weaknesses in them, but because they were “laymen.” And my *only* point — which you seem to find hard to grasp — was that a remark like that can be applied on all sides. So either don’t make such remarks at all, and stick to argumentation, or be prepared to have the label “layman” thrown back at you and your side when you or your allies say something that people on the other side lack the knowledge or ability to refute, and want an easy retort.

    Have you got it now, Alan? I hope so, because I’m not going to explain such a simple point again.

  191. 191
    Box says:

    Alan Fox: You feel unwell. You visit your doctor and he thinks you should see a heart specialist who suggests you need heart bypass surgery. Do you meekly agree? Do you ask for a detailed explanation of why the surgery is necessary? Do you ask to see his credentials and an indication of his success rate. Do you make enquiries as to his competence? Do you get a second opinion?

    Your wife has been brutally murdered. At the police station you are told that they do not believe in the existence of ‘persons’ let alone ‘persons who are capable of murder’. The professionals at the police station only believe in natural causes of death. Is that ok with you or do you get a second opinion?

  192. 192
    Upright BiPed says:

    Alan,

    So we agree that it’s not possible to transfer recorded information (form) into a concrete physical effect without using an arrangement of matter as a medium. And we also agree that the production of a particular effect from the input of a particular arrangement of media (into a system) cannot be determined by the physical properties of the medium, but is established by the action of the system producing the effect.

    I have no reason to disagree

    So now we have two arrangements of matter which must act together in order to produce concrete physical effects from information (form) recorded in a material medium. And I would ask you if both these objects constituted an irreducible core in such systems, but you’ve already appropriately characterized them as a pre-condition to function. The arrangement of a medium without a translation apparatus would be as non-functional as a translation apparatus without a medium. So we agree on that physical necessity as well.

    In short, these two arrangements of matter establish a relationship between the arrangement of a medium and the effect it will produce from a system, where the relationship is not determined by the physical properties of the medium, but is physicochemically-arbitrary to that medium. Instead, the relationship is established by a second arrangement of matter within the system, or it would not exist.

    So unless you are suggesting that the principle of uniformity can be suspended, the conditions you’ve agreed to are the essential physical conditions required for the onset of the information-based biological organization and evolution. These conditions describe a semiotic state, and consequently, the onset of the biological organization/evolution from the gene will require a mechanism capable of establishing this semiotic state.

  193. 193
    franklin says:

    Hello UB I was wondering if you(or any other proponent of this argument) could tell me if these chemicals contain the same information? If yes could you explain why and if no could you explain your answer

    Dobutamine
    Isopreoternol
    Xamoterol
    Salbutamol (aka albuterol)
    Levosalbutamol
    Fenoterol
    Formoterol
    Metaproterenol
    Salmeterol
    Terbutaline
    Clenbuterol
    isoetaurine
    pirbuterol
    procaterol
    ritodrine
    epinephrine

    or how about this series:

    Butchers broom (Ruscue aculeatus)
    Cirazoline
    Etilefrine
    Metaraminol
    Midodrine
    Naphazoline
    Oxymetazoline
    Phenylephrine
    Synephrine
    Tetrahydrozoline
    xylometazoline

    thanks!

  194. 194
    Upright BiPed says:

    If anyone else, reading UB’s prose, can make his point somewhat clearer

    Are you having a hard time following along, Alan? Here is what all this means: it means that semiotic systems allow recorded information (form) to produce concrete physical effects which are not produced by physical law alone. It is the fundamental driving force in biological organization. And you are now in good company Alan. You followed the same path that Francis Crick followed when he proposed the famous adapter hypothesis in 1955 and 1958.

    All you can do now is attack it. That ball is in your court.

    😐

  195. 195
    Upright BiPed says:

    Hello Franklin,

    could tell me if these chemicals contain the same information?

    If you’ll take a moment to understand the observations, you’ll ask questions that relate to the topic in some meaningful way.

  196. 196
    franklin says:

    Seems you don’t understand my question. My question stems from and is directly related to empirical observations of the mechanism of action of these chemical compounds.

    Maybe you’d like to try again to give a meaningful answer which actually addresses the empirical observations related to the chemicals I listed.

  197. 197
    franklin says:

    If my question was too difficult for you then perhaps you could answer these:

    Isw it your argument that if/when a ligand binds to a receptor and elicits an ‘in vivo’ effect the ligand has transfered information to the receptor?

    is this a correct summary of your most recent argument related to pheromones?

  198. 198

    franklin,

    Do you dispute that information is transferred from DNA to, say, mRNA?

  199. 199
    Upright BiPed says:

    Franklin,

    If you had familiarized yourself with the argument, you’d have the benefit of the definitons used.

    An object does not contain recorded information just because the object exist. If it does, then we’ll need new words for those objects that are actually arranged to contain recorded information. If you’ve already developed that language, then share with me how you make the distinction and I’ll rewrite the argument on your behalf, and we can start again.

  200. 200
    Upright BiPed says:

    Franklin,

    My question stems from and is directly related to empirical observations of the mechanism of action of these chemical compounds.

    Physical laws are not altered by the transfer of recorded information.

  201. 201
    franklin says:

    UB it seems to me that you are simply stating that if/when a ligand 9in yoru example a pheromone)binds to a receptor and elicits a response in an organism that information has been transferred. Is this correct?

    let’s discuss a bit about ligand/recepetor binding and see if your assertion that an object (in this case molecules)does or does not contain the ‘recorded information’ responsible for the elicited effect. A start would be to answer my questions in #197 and perhaps even #193

  202. 202
    franklin says:

    Physical laws are not altered by the transfer of recorded information.

    do you think my question pertain to violation of physical laws? if yes why? if no..good and why did you throw that out there?

  203. 203
    kairosfocus says:

    Franklin:

    Do you understand that when a transistor circuit acts as two cross-coupled NOR or NAND gates to constitute an RS latch, the behaviour of the gates, junctions, wires, and resistors involved are wholly described by the involved physics?

    Do you see that at the same time, that particular arrangement of parts forms a physical layer in a hierarchy — a layer cake if you will [cf., the seven layer OSI model that underlies the Internet, etc] — of interactions where the materially important one is the fact that the latch is now acting as a storage device that holds one bit of information?

    From this, do you see that phycico-chemical interactions per acting forces and constraints do not necessarily exhaust the levels of understanding that are required to analyse a system?

    [And yes, I deliberately chose a case that shows a different technical base, to make a point. We could highlight the DNA- mRNA, tRNA, Enzymes, Ribosomes etc cluster that translates proteins to make much the same point, but it seems that you would likely want to insist that the direct physical interactions are all that need to be invoked to explain the system’s behaviour. That is on the argument you have tried to make, you are blind to the quite evident fact that this is an algorithmic information system that synthesises the workhorse proteins of life through programmed chemistry.]

    When it comes to pheromones, let us cite Wikipedia testifying against known ideological interest to bring out the issue:

    A pheromone (from Greek ???? phero “to bear” and hormone, from Greek ???? “impetus”) is a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species. Pheromones are chemicals capable of acting outside the body of the secreting individual to impact the behavior of the receiving individual.[1] There are alarm pheromones, food trail pheromones, sex pheromones, and many others that affect behavior or physiology. Pheromones are used from basic unicellular prokaryotes to complex multicellular eukaryotes.[2] Their use among insects has been particularly well documented. In addition, some vertebrates and plants communicate by using pheromones . . .

    You will see that this fits very well with the communication network model whereby we require the following core cluster of items for communication based on information that is encoded and/or modulated into a carrier:

    source -> encoder/modulator -> transmitter ==>

    Channel

    ==> receiver -> demodulator/decoder -> sink

    [In addition, there may be a feedback path]

    All of these (as simple common sense will confirm) must be co-ordinated through protocols so that there is a coherent flow from source to sink, and each must be present in some form that corresponds, or the communication process fails. Where also, in a world where we deal with physically instantiated signals, there needs to be some form of apparatus that modifies or specifies ways in which information can be impressed into matter and/or energy as signals, and transferred from source to sink through a channel.

    That, BTW, is what UB has been saying for months, and the resistance to what he has said simply tells me that those who have been so militantly objecting every step of the way are unfamiliar with communication systems, and/or fail to understand and/or outright refuse to see that such systems are real, that they require the sort of flow of process logic just outlined, and that they are found in living systems from the cells on up, especially in cases of organisms with nervous systems and/or hormone based communication systems.

    I trust as well, that this helps you to see that we are here dealing with an interdisciplinary interface, and that what is well warranted as knowledge and embedded in our overall scientific picture of what is going on, needs to at once satisfy insights from several relevant disciplines.

    (That seems to be a big problem in the context6 of the current debate, with dismissive terms like “laymen” being tossed around to blunt the force of insights that are unwelcome in the halls of evolutionary materialism-dominated origin of life and origin of body plans schools of thought.)

    KF

  204. 204
    Upright BiPed says:

    Franklin,

    Is it your argument that if/when a ligand binds to a receptor and elicits an ‘in vivo’ effect the ligand has transfered information to the receptor?

    Again, there is a huge potential to talk past each other.

    My argument is that if a ligand binds to a receptor and evokes a functional effect within a system, where the effect is not determined by the material properties of the ligand itself, but is determined by the ligand operating in the context of that particular system – then information has been translated into a functional effect. Do you believe that an organism that the capacity to recognize and respond in a particular way to a pheromone from an adjacent organism has been transferred information?

  205. 205
    franklin says:

    My argument is that if a ligand binds to a receptor and evokes a functional effect within a system, where the effect is not determined by the material properties of the ligand itself, but is determined by the ligand operating in the context of that particular system

    Your pheromone example clearly does not fit the requirements you’ve outlined in #204.

    Could you give me an example where a ligand and receptor interact that is not dependent on the specific chemical moities present in both ligand and receptor?

  206. 206
    franklin says:

    My argument is that if a ligand binds to a receptor and evokes a functional effect within a system, where the effect is not determined by the material properties of the ligand itself, but is determined by the ligand operating in the context of that particular system

    Outside of binding to the receptor what is the operational context of the ligand in your pheromone example? Does it do something other than binding to the receptor? Or does its binding trigger a biochemical response in the receptor as a result of the ligand binding at the active site of the pheromone receptor system you are using as an example?

  207. 207
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: From AF at 14 above: “I don’t generally read G’s posts . . . ”

    In short, AF is obviously failing to do duties of care before objecting, and the pattern obviously extends to a great many cases. Whenever the details of the design theory pattern of reasoning and evidence are laid out, AF is missing in action, or snips, strawmannises and snipes.

    No wonder, he so consistently comes across as having a very poor understanding of what he objects to.

    Just, perhaps, he needs to ask himself whether that which he is most disinclined to work through is exactly what would help him see what is actually going on.

    Beyond this, if he continues to show persistent misunderstandings and distortions in the teeth of correction, and refuses to engage content on the merits [e.g. cf recently above at 181 on Orgel, Wicken and Hoyle in reply tot he astonishing assertion or insinuation of want of observability and quantification of FSCO/I in 180 . . . again], that will be further evidence that he is refusing to do what he needs to do under duties of care to truth and fairness before objecting. KF

  208. 208
    kairosfocus says:

    Franklin: Pardon, but had you attended to the basic architecture of communication systems, you would not be objecting on the lines of, but the physical layer is indispensable. Yes, but that layer is only one part of the overall system hierarchy involved in information and communication. Chemistry is used, but that chemistry is in a context that goes well beyond chemistry, to an information system. KF

  209. 209
    franklin says:

    Franklin: Pardon, but had you attended to the basic architecture of communication systems, you would not be objecting on the lines of, but the physical layer is indispensable. Yes, but that layer is only one part of the overall system hierarchy involved in information and communication. Chemistry is used, but that chemistry is in a context that goes well beyond chemistry, to an information system. KF

    OK we agree that chemistry is involved. What information does the bindng of epinephrine to a receptor transfer that is not transfered by allbuterol or do they both transfer the same information?

  210. 210
    Upright BiPed says:

    Franklin,

    Could you give me an example where a ligand and receptor interact that is not dependent on the specific chemical moities present in both ligand and receptor?

    Like I said, we can easily talk past each other.

    All ligand/receptor reactions are dependent on their combined chemical characteristics (i.e. my #200). The system requires the pheromone to be recognizable, so I cannot give you an example of it being otherwise. But that is not what is at issue. To serve as a medium, the production of the effect cannot be reversible, in the sense that the alarm response in a colony cannot be derived from the physical characteristics of a pheromone – that is simply not something the characteristics of a pheromone has to give. So the pheromone serves as a medium within a system capable of producing the effect. This allows form to be inputted into the system, making it possible to produce physical effects that operate within physical law, but are not determined by them.

    If you’ll bear with me, let us say that I have designed an ant in the laboratory which has no system to coordinate its attack and better protect its colony, and I want it give it one. I could set up a system where any threatened ant would give off a signal that causes the other ants to attack. But the signal to create this behavior cannot rely on physical law to accomplish its task because “attack the invader” is a form which doesn’t stem from physical law, and consequently, receiving that signal cannot equal “attack the invader”. The signal must therefore act as a representation of the form, and must operate within a system capable of producing it.

    I believe KF suggested that understanding the mechanics of a system is not always a complete analysis, particularly when an irreversible relationship is instantiated in that system.

    – – – – – – – – – – – –

    In a previous response, I asked if you believed an organism with the capacity to recognize and respond in a particular way to a pheromone from an adjacent organism was being transferred information of some sort. If so, how do you think it is transferred?

  211. 211
    Alan Fox says:

    Your wife has been brutally murdered. At the police station you are told that they do not believe in the existence of ‘persons’ let alone ‘persons who are capable of murder’. The professionals at the police station only believe in natural causes of death. Is that ok with you or do you get a second opinion?

    Aha! You, perhaps inadvertently, neatly illustrate a preferential problem when discussing issues with creationists and ID supporters.

    What is the opposite of “natural” here and what has it to do with anything I said. In your context it is “non-natural” (the result of intervention, deliberate or accidental etc) rather than “natural” the result of illness etc.

    Also we have natural vs artificial and natural vs supernatural. That’s why I use real and imaginary rather than natural and supernatural. I try to avoid equivocation and obfuscation. Not everyone else seem to here!

    PS sorry not much time today, the sun’s shining and the weeds are rampant.

  212. 212
    Alan Fox says:

    Preferential???

    Sorry did not notice the spell-check top choice.

    S/B perennial!

  213. 213
    William J Murray says:

    Franklin,

    Perhaps it might be more easily understood if you look at it this way. Pheromones are physical objects like keys. In the key world, there are countless physical objects that the key can run into that do not react in any appreciable way to the key.

    In the case of one particular object, an alarm lock that is structured in a very particular way, and because of the system the lock is attached to, the key fits and an alarm is sounded in the system.

    The key doesn’t carry the alarm around with it. The shape of the key, in and of itself, doesn’t produce alarms as a matter of physical law or else such an alarm would sound in everything it touched. The physical properties of the key is not a universal hard code (physical law) for “sound the alarm”. That makes the arrangement arbitrary. You could change the key shape, change the lock shape and system to correspond, and accomplish the same task. Thus, it is not the shape of the key (physical properties) or the shape of the lock (physical properties) that represent any universal hard code for “sound the alarm”.

    “Sound the alarm”, thus, is not a hard code (physical law) property of anything involved. “Sound the alarm” is an arbitrary system response result of a particular key/lock interaction. When that key hit that lock, the reaction could could have been anything, depending on the way the system is constructed. If you change the system (not the key or the lock it fits), the reaction from that key hitting that lock could have as easily (or perhaps more easily) been nothing, or “kill the queen!” or “dance a jig”.

  214. 214
    kairosfocus says:

    Franklin:

    Have you attended to the observation on the inevitably hierarchical nature of communication and more generally cybernetics systems? (This, I drew to your attention above, and asked you to look at some links that will amplify.)

    I find it disappointing that so soon as I have pointed out that device physics or chemistry are just one part of a much bigger picture, you try to reduce the matter to this.

    Yes, chemistry and physics are involved in say the making of a protein etc, but this is not the whole story, there is an organised, stored information based system that moves us from instructions stored in DNA to assembly of a protein through organised chemistry and physics in what has to be called a molecular nanotechnology system in the living cell, as well you know or should know. Persistent refusal to attend to the “there’s more” speaks volumes, and not in your favour. It simply tells us that at best, you are in the materialist reductionism trap, which has much bigger problems than this (cf here on for just one example . . . ) and which notoriously blinds those so caught up to other dynamics that are happening at different levels that are just as valid and observable as what is happening at the level of chemical or physical interactions.

    Device physics [and related chemistry and materials science etc. . . . ] will not answer to the issues of circuits and networks, much less signals and systems, to advert to the language of communication and control technologies.

    Please, think again.

    KF

  215. 215
    kairosfocus says:

    AF: The artificial, FYI, is just as real, just as empirically observable, and often producing of characteristic and reliable signs, as the natural; as posts in this thread amply exemplify. This was of course already pointed out — yet again — above, but as now seems to be your policy, you ignored the correction to your errors the better to chase red herrings and strawmen. No wonder that after eight years you seem to be stuck in such errors. Please, wake up. KF

  216. 216
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    I try to avoid equivocation and obfuscation.

    LoL! And yet you always equivocate “evolution” and unguided/ blind watchmaker evolution. And obfuscation seems to be your only posting option.

  217. 217
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM:

    The key-lock image is a good one.

    Keys and locks are components of a system, and the organisation of that system is what makes them work. Using the Yale type lock as a familiar example, the prongs of the key (and the slots in it) store a password. Once activated properly, the system responds to trigger a lockup or unlock.

    The materials and interactions of the components based on physical forces and structures play a part, but they are by no means the whole story.

    I don’t know if the hardware/software partitioning of information systems will also help those who have a genuine conceptual challenge. (Those who are playing at red herring and strawman rhetorical games will not be helped by attempts to help them see what they are determined to overthrow by any means fair or foul. But, the onlooker, now and later, will be able to see what is going on. I can only hope that Franklin is one facing a genuine conceptual challenge, and who may need to heed the caution that to the man with a brand new hammer, everything looks like a nail.)

    KF

  218. 218
    William J Murray says:

    If Alan was actually interested in anything other than anti-ID posturing and denial, he wouldn’t say things like:

    Routinely observed? You can’t tell us how this is done, where to look, what to measure. This is all pie-in-the-sky! “Design as most credible cause” indeed! It’s pure conjecture based on a default assumption.

    … after having just those very questions and objections answered multiple times, including being repeatedly referred to a immediately-available FAQ on these very subjects on this very site.

    If Alan doesn’t understand the answers, he should say that and pursue understanding, instead of insisting that the answers do not exist.

    However, I don’t hold out much hope for someone that cannot even comprehend that his writing on this very blog is an example of the very FSCO/I which he claims doesn’t exist.

    I think this might be because Alan doesn’t possess the capacity to logically understand and arbit ideas himself, but rather simply protects his beliefs with what appears to him to be the consensus of experts. If he cannot google scholar “FSCO/I” and find any specific reference to it outside of this venue, then he processes a response to the effect that it’s just something a handful of people hold in their imagination that has no real significance.

    He doesn’t attempt to understand a concept; all he does is mechanically process words and terms in service of his programming – er, ideology. IMO, this is why he (and so many others, like Nick Matzke and Gregory) have such massive failures of understanding over what are, to the rest of us, relatively simple and straightforward terms, phrases, contexts, arguments, and – in some cases – whether or not a couple of words are capitalized.

    IMO, these people do not understand concepts; they process words and phrases (and in some cases, punctuation) with little or no regard for context in service of their programming. They may be programmed to defend something we consider a concept – like Darwinism, or materialism – but it is clear from only a little debate that they do not really understand those concepts.

    It seems to me that they are only defending territory; they do not understand the territory they are defending, or probably even why, and they will employ any tactic to do so.

    Much of what transpires in these discussions is better understood when one assumes that most of these guys are not rational minds defending concepts; they are biological mechanisms defending territory (which, interestingly, is their self-asserted position, and all they can be under materialism/Darwinism).

    You cannot reason with a wolf defending its territory, even if the territory is toxic.

  219. 219
    Box says:

    Thomas Nagel: “In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper–namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.
    The Last Word, Oxford University Press, 1997, pp. 130-131.

    This fear of religion -‘I don’t want there to be a God’- is incomprehensible to me. Maybe others can shed some light on this issue. I was raised an atheist, but I have never been a willful atheist myself. Now I believe there is a God, of course it was a struggle, and the doubts are somehow still there, but I never wanted atheism to be true.

    WJM: You cannot reason with a wolf defending its territory, even if the territory is toxic.

    I’m afraid I cannot understand the wolf. I’m reading Nagel’s words and I watch Alan Fox defending his territory, but I don’t understand any of it.

  220. 220
    Gregory says:

    “his writing on this very blog is an example of the very FSCO/I which he claims doesn’t exist.” – W.J. Murray

    Doesn’t it ever strike you to question why the vast majority of people who have carefully and closely studied it reject ‘ID theory,’ W.J. Murray? Are we really simply so stupid and ignorant and you and your fellow IDists so brilliant and clever?

    As suggested, I Googled “FSCO/I”. The result: yes, I would agree that the fantasy term is “just something a handful of people hold in their imagination that has no real significance.”

    There are a handful of seriously deluded people who promote the universalism of FSCO/I and who could never get a position in a credible higher educational institution in the United States of America, especially if their views were known (even under the friendly supervision of administrators who hold their same worldview).

    Thank you for calling this to our attention!

    “these people do not understand concepts…something we consider a concept – like Darwinism, or materialism”
    Darwinism and materialism are ideologies. They are not mere ‘concepts.’ Marshall McLuhan would light you up as a deviant ‘conceptual type’ of thinker.

    The IDM is ‘defending territory’ as a political Movement based in the DI. That territory in recent years is dramatically shrinking. This is what I’ve been studying and partially wrote a masters thesis on. Most credible scholarly institutions worldwide, not just American schoolboard courts, have rejected ID theory.

    Why won’t you consider the logic, the rationale and the significance of their criticisms of ‘ID’ theory?

    People who reject ID theory, anti-IDists run the range from theists to agnostics and atheists, from biologists to cosmologists to physicists, anthropologists and psychologists. We have seen through IDist ideological smokescreens.

    And IDists have not answered our basic questions regarding its self-proclaimed ‘natural scientificity.’ Their lack of evidence for ‘who, when, where, how and why’ reveals how pitifully weak the explanatory power of their so-called ‘theory,’ that is supposed to be a threat to Darwinian evolutionary natural history, actually is.

    A wolf(cub) defending toxic territory, i.e. an IDist. Yup, that about covers it.

  221. 221
    sterusjon says:

    Franklin,

    Your line of discussion brings to my mind signal jamming. A jamming scheme prevents the receiver from detecting an authentic signal from the transmitter. It is also possible to fool a receiver into inappropiate action with a false signal. Does either of these scenerios mean that information is not communicated in a system such as the one ants use via pheremomes?

    Stephen

  222. 222
    William J Murray says:

    Doesn’t it ever strike you to question why the vast majority of people who have carefully and closely studied it reject ‘ID theory,’ W.J. Murray? Are we really simply so stupid and ignorant and you and your fellow IDists so brilliant and clever?

    In your case, not so much stupid and ignorant as suffering from confirmation bias and some sort of ego issue, but that’s just my opinion based on what I admit is a poor source of evidence – a blog on the internet.

    And yes, I’ve often wondered why anyone would reject the the rather modest and even trivial proposal that some things can be scientifically discerned as most likely the result of intelligent design,whether or not humans are known or believed to have generated the thing in question, but I have as yet not encountered what I consider to be a sound argument against that proposal.

  223. 223
    Alan Fox says:

    You’re blathering. [snip faux outrage ]I’m not going to explain such a simple point again.

    You, Timaeus, started the derail on qualifications. No-one else – You. Physician heal thyself!

  224. 224
    William J Murray says:

    This fear of religion -‘I don’t want there to be a God’- is incomprehensible to me. Maybe others can shed some light on this issue. I was raised an atheist, but I have never been a willful atheist myself. Now I believe there is a God, of course it was a struggle, and the doubts are somehow still there, but I never wanted atheism to be true.

    I was a willful atheist for many years, defending my “no-god-allowed” territory. I suppose at the time I wished there was a god but I just couldn’t see any way that any god worth the label could exist and be good, and the world be the way it was. That made me both sad, hurt and angry – at the world, I guess.

    Now, with the help of many here, I realize that without god, there is no “good” worth the label. However, one must first choose to stop defending their anti-god territory before they can start listening to reason.

  225. 225
    franklin says:

    UB

    Like I said, we can easily talk past each other.

    Not if we are careful to use recognized language for the thing we are discussing.
    UB

    All ligand/receptor reactions are dependent on their combined chemical characteristics (i.e. my #200). The system requires the pheromone to be recognizable, so I cannot give you an example of it being otherwise.

    So far so good!

    But that is not what is at issue.

    Of course it is what is at issue. Your claim is that we cannot determine what functional response will occur by looking at the pheromone…is this still correct?

    UB

    To serve as a medium, the production of the effect cannot be reversible, in the sense that the alarm response in a colony cannot be derived from the physical characteristics of a pheromone – that is simply not something the characteristics of a pheromone has to give.

    It seems to me you are now saying that it is the irreversibility that is the important component and not the generation of the functional response. Is this correct?
    I am very much in disagreement with your assertion that from the physical characteristics of the pheromone we cannot determine the functional response when bound to a receptor. The binding of epinephrine and allbutorol to a Beta 2 receptor will invoke the same functional response. Why do you think this happens? Is the same information contained in two (many) different molecules? Could we look at structure and predict what would happen with interaction with a given receptor?

    UB

    So the pheromone serves as a medium within a system capable of producing the effect. This allows form to be inputted into the system, making it possible to produce physical effects that operate within physical law, but are not determined by them.

    This is very confusing language. What form is inputted into a system with epinephrine and allbutorol binding a receptor?
    UB

    If you’ll bear with me, let us say that I have designed an ant in the laboratory which has no system to coordinate its attack and better protect its colony, and I want it give it one. I could set up a system where any threatened ant would give off a signal that causes the other ants to attack. But the signal to create this behavior cannot rely on physical law to accomplish its task because “attack the invader” is a form which doesn’t stem from physical law, and consequently, receiving that signal cannot equal “attack the invader”. The signal must therefore act as a representation of the form, and must operate within a system capable of producing it.

    Would you describe for me the chemistry you used to design your ant? Something along chemical formula for the pheromone and the chemical characteristics of the active site of the receptor that you designed. In other words what is the biochemical nature of the ‘attack the invader’ response in your designed ant?

    I believe KF suggested that understanding the mechanics of a system is not always a complete analysis, particularly when an irreversible relationship is instantiated in that system.

    Chemists and biochemists are aware that there are irreversible chemical reactions that once initiated cannot be quenched until the reactants have been exhausted, e.g., tnt explosion.
    UB

    in a previous response, I asked if you believed an organism with the capacity to recognize and respond in a particular way to a pheromone from an adjacent organism was being transferred information of some sort. If so, how do you think it is transferred?

    In order to answer this question I would need you to answer my #193 as the premise presented in that post is crucial to my response. In shortened form, does epinephrine and allbutorol contain the same information to be transferred to the organism?

  226. 226
    Joe says:

    Gregory:

    Most credible scholarly institutions worldwide, not just American schoolboard courts, have rejected ID theory.

    It is safe to say that most credible scholarly institutions worldwide, and American schoolboard courts, don’t know a darn thing about ID. And they sure as heck cannot provide any positive evidence for materialism. So where does that leave them?

  227. 227
    franklin says:

    Sterusjon

    Your line of discussion brings to my mind signal jamming. A jamming scheme prevents the receiver from detecting an authentic signal from the transmitter. It is also possible to fool a receiver into inappropiate action with a false signal. Does either of these scenerios mean that information is not communicated in a system such as the one ants use via pheremomes?

    Using biological terminology would be more appropriate when discussing biology/biochemistry. For example, your jamming is analogous to a antagonist (several various flavors) and your authentic signal would represent the agonist. The question at issue is can we predetermine what response will be elicited by looking at the chemical structure of either the antagonist or the agonist. Do you think that is possible or impossible as UB has claimed.

  228. 228
    franklin says:

    Wjm

    Perhaps it might be more easily understood if you look at it this way. Pheromones are physical objects like keys. In the key world, there are countless physical objects that the key can run into that do not react in any appreciable way to the key.

    True as far as it does. There are many locks a key cannot unlike. But locks are easy to pick evening biochemistry there can be many keys for one lock.
    Wjm

    In the case of one particular object, an alarm lock that is structured in a very particular way, and because of the system the lock is attached to, the key fits and an alarm is sounded in the system.

    Do you think your alarm lock is unpickable or can many chemical compounds act as a key?

    The key doesn’t carry the alarm around with it. The shape of the key, in and of itself, doesn’t produce alarms as a matter of physical law or else such an alarm would sound in everything it touched.

    Then we could agree that the key as well as the lock does not produce an alarm as a matter of physical law (whatever that’s suypposed to mean) otherwise the lock would be sounding the alarm when anything else came near it.
    Wjm

    The physical properties of the key is not a universal hard code (physical law) for “sound the alarm”. That makes the arrangement arbitrary. You could change the key shape, change the lock shape and system to correspond, and accomplish the same task. Thus, it is not the shape of the key (physical properties) or the shape of the lock (physical properties) that represent any universal hard code for “sound the alarm”.

    The response is very much dependent on the physical properties of the key and the lock. If one won’t bind the other nothing will happen.
    Sound the alarm”, thus, is not a hard code (physical law) property of anything involved. “Sound the alarm” is an arbitrary system response result of a particular key/lock interaction. When that key hit that lock, the reaction could could have been anything, depending on the way the system is constructed. If you change the system (not the key or the lock it fits), the reaction from that key hitting that lock could have as easily (or perhaps more easily) been nothing, or “kill the queen!” or “dance a jig”.

    Ligand/receptor interaction are anything but arbitrary. From a biochemical perspective how have you determined that the ligand/receptor system could have been anything?

  229. 229
    franklin says:

    kf@214
    please think again and do better.

    UB has outlined a scenario of pheromones interacting with a receptor and that, to him/her, this means that information has been transferred based on the generated functional response.

    In the light of his scenario does epinephrine and allbutorol contain the same information if they both elicit the same biochemicaly functional response in the organism after binding to the same receptor, i.e., beta 2 receptor in this instance? A simple yes or no would suffice.

  230. 230
    Alan Fox says:

    Kairosfocus:

    …if he continues to show persistent misunderstandings and distortions in the teeth of correction, and refuses to engage content on the merits [e.g. cf recently above at 181 on Orgel, Wicken and Hoyle in reply tot he astonishing assertion or insinuation of want of observability and quantification of FSCO/I in 180 . . . again], that will be further evidence that he is refusing to do what he needs to do under duties of care to truth and fairness before objecting. KF

    I’m having a déjà vu moment. Do I recall a discussion here that went on for some time over several threads. What was it now? Something about Dawkins’ “Weasel” program and whether the program latched on to the correct “mutation” once it turned up. Did we not then get all sorts of twisting and turning, ending up with nonsense like “quasi-latching”? Remember that, G?

  231. 231
    Alan Fox says:

    Just quickly, I see franklin has already pointed out what a misleading analogy “lock and key” is in biochemical reactions such as ligand/receptor signalling.

  232. 232
    Alan Fox says:

    In fact, if you carry on like this, franklin, I’m taking my ball home. Your lucid and patient clarifications are making me look bad! 😉

  233. 233
    Alan Fox says:

    Upright Biped:

    Here is what all this means: it means that semiotic systems allow recorded information (form) to produce concrete physical effects which are not produced by physical law alone.

    Well, if you mean by that, physical properties of matter and energy in this universe can be inconsistent and discontinuous, then, rubbish.

    I’m glad you finally cut to the chase. Your difficulty in defining semiotic processes will be to define them narrowly enough to be meaningful and broadly enough to get in the processes that you want to call semiotic. Certainly, you’re on the wrong track with pheromones. (As you are with protein synthesis!)

    And that is just the start of your difficulties. You never answered when I asked you what you meant by “an agency” and we still need to establish why this is going to be some sort of validation of ID rather than the usual claim of insufficiency for evolutionary processes.

  234. 234
    Joe says:

    And Alan continues his obfuscation and equivocation…

  235. 235
    kairosfocus says:

    Franklin:

    I will start with you.

    By now it should be obvious that I am not going to follow a red herring to a strawman caricature. In this case, a side track that leads away from the pivotal case, protein synthesis. In plain terms, if you are unable or unwilling to see the comms system at work in the making of proteins based on DNA coded info, there is no point in going farther or trying to discuss examples — injection of alternative signals for whatever reason — that are evidently being raised to cloud what SHOULD be clear and even simple.

    Maybe, you don’t like such a strong set of terms, so let me put it another way.

    So far, I have seen zero substantial responsiveness from you on the basic architecture of a technical communication system (admittedly in a slightly expanded form from that in Shannon’s 1948 classic paper; which happens to better fit today’s layer-cake protocol world of OSI frameworks, packet switching and whatnot).

    I am stopping here first, on the grounds that if you do not understand or accept basic comms system architecture and cases of such in action in living systems, you cannot properly discuss cases in point.

    Not that this is particularly hard for the student who wants to understand.

    In my experience with my students, it typically takes about 5 minutes to introduce the overall topic, lay out the model and then another 5 – 10 for a couple of examples, and bingo, we are good to go.

    Following up from above with a simple example:

    [a] mike –> [b] Amp that modifies amplitude of an oscillator –> [c] Power amp and antenna ==>

    CHANNEL (here, space itself)

    ==> [c’] antenna –> [b’] diode 1/2 wave rectification envelope detector ckt –> [a’] Amp and Loudspeaker

    We see here source to modulation –> transmission –> channel –> receiver antenna –> amp and detection –> audio amp and output. (We leave off superheterodyne complexities. And let’s not get into the math of multiplication of sinusoids to get carrier plus side bands.)

    In a digital system, we have coding that sits on the physical modulation transmission process, and that can go to several levels with different protocols. That is how the Internet works. Coding, in simple summary maps one set of states in some reliably detectable manner to another per a set of rules.

    Thus, we see a logical process that has several matching components, each of which is needed for the system to work. And, we see that signals take some physically variable phenomenon and control its variation in accord with a protocol, to convey information from source to sink.

    All of this reflects systematic organisation, and points to purposeful design. Indeed, by contrasting observable characteristics, one of the key quality metrics in comms systems is signal to noise power ratio. Signal is intelligent and recognisable on characteristics, noise is produced by chance based contingent processes and has identifiable characteristics. Noise, obviously, can drown out signal or degrade its quality.

    Next, when we look in the living cell, we see such systems at work.

    The protein synthesis process is iconic, where info coded and stored in DNA is retrieved by unzipping and transcribing, maturing mRNA then transferring to ribosomes where, step by step AA chains are assembled under cybernetic control. The particular sequences used in life forms are such that the AA strings can fold into useful forms, proteins including enzymes.

    This means that whatever we may think of hormones, we have a definite case in point. One that brings to bear explicit digital code, the genetic code. (so, to try to inject hormones as though that would undermine what has been established through multiple Nobel prize winning work, looks very much like an all too familiar red herring led out to strawman pattern.)

    Having noted that concern, let me cite Wikipedia speaking against known ideological interest, as it underscores the point about the general architecture of comms systems:

    HORMONE: A hormone (from Greek ????, “impetus”) is a chemical released by a cell, a gland, or an organ in one part of the body that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism. Only a little amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. In essence, it is a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one cell to another.[1] All multicellular organisms produce hormones; plant hormones are also called phytohormones. Hormones in animals are often transported in the blood. Cells respond to a hormone when they express a specific receptor for that hormone. The hormone binds to the receptor protein, resulting in the activation of a signal transduction mechanism that ultimately leads to cell type-specific responses.

    Endocrine hormone molecules are secreted (released) directly into the bloodstream, typically into fenestrated capillaries. Hormones with paracrine function diffuse through the interstitial spaces to nearby target tissues.

    A variety of exogenous chemical compounds, both natural and synthetic, have hormone-like effects on both humans and wildlife. Their interference with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in the body can change the homeostasis, reproduction, development, and/or behavior, just as endogenously produced hormones do.[2] . . . .

    Hormonal signaling involves the following:[citation needed]

    1 Biosynthesis of a particular hormone in a particular tissue
    2 Storage and secretion of the hormone
    3 Transport of the hormone to the target cell(s)
    4 Recognition of the hormone by an associated cell membrane or intracellular receptor protein
    5 Relay and amplification of the received hormonal signal via a signal transduction process: This then leads to a cellular response. The reaction of the target cells may then be recognized by the original hormone-producing cells, leading to a down-regulation in hormone production. This is an example of a homeostatic negative feedback loop.
    6 Degradation of the hormone.

    In short, we see that hormones, in general, are chemical signals, released to cause various effects through receptors. And, we see that it is possible to interfere, by accident or deliberately, with the communication process. That can be by noise or jamming or spoofing, all very familiar from t/comms work.

    Comms systems, notoriously, are prone to noise, cross-talk, jamming, spoofing etc.

    So, the citation of such abnormal states does not undermine the basic point.

    Next, Wiki again underscores how pheromones fit into the same pattern:

    A pheromone (from Greek ???? phero “to bear” and hormone, from Greek ???? “impetus”) is a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species. Pheromones are chemicals capable of acting outside the body of the secreting individual to impact the behavior of the receiving individual.[1] There are alarm pheromones, food trail pheromones, sex pheromones, and many others that affect behavior or physiology. Pheromones are used from basic unicellular prokaryotes to complex multicellular eukaryotes.[2]

    In short, taking things up to the level of primitive social communication by chemical signalling. Attack one minnow, and it exudes “fright Stuff” that signals the others to run for cover.

    So, th4 matter is one of further bringing out the ways in which comms systems exist in the world of life. All this does, is to highlight the functionally specific complexities involved, for all of these multiple comms networks within and beyond a given creature.

    In short, inadvertently, more evidence of FSCO/I, which per a massive base of inductive evidence, we know points straight to design. (To see why, start asking about how you come to have things like receptor proteins, and where the info to code such comes from and how it is given effect, then ask how this then integrates into the life processes of the life forms in view. We are right back to key case no 1.)

    KF

  236. 236
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: apparently, AF has not heard about how skeleton keys, master keys and lock picks are cases of interference with the normal functioning of a communication system directly comparable to spoofing. Similarly, he obviously did his “I am here to push talking points, not to read and respond thoughtfully” game, when it was pointed out several times how prong height is used in Yale Locks and D/RNA alike. Let us see if he takes a moment to actually read and respond to the correction of the side track that F has tried to open up. KF

  237. 237
    franklin says:

    kf@235
    I’ll take your unresponsiveness to mean you cannot answer the question UB has raised, i.e., can we determine the functional response by observing the ligand structure as well as not being able to answer if both epinephrine and allbutorol contain the same information.

    please do better in the future.

  238. 238
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: The problem with the wolf defending turf scenario is that we are presumably rational human beings, with an obvious duty of care to truth and fairness.

    We do not blame a wolf for attacking, though we may have to destroy it if it is a threat (though I once heard about a pig being put on trial . . . ), but a human being who refuses to act with a modicum of respect for truth and fairness through tactics that boil down to, I am here to snip, distract, strawmannise, and snipe, is still a responsible human being.

    Just, sadly, a dishonest and uncivil one.

    Of course, some are incorrigible and so blatantly destructive and abusive that they need to be warned and removed in the interests of basic civility.

    Others, are subtler.

    The remedy for such, is to expose their tactics of evasion, distraction, distortion, caricaturing and sniping, then keep on pointing out that they are up to their old tricks if they refuse correction.

    Sadly, G has reached that point and AF is following hard on track. We hope F will not go there.

    One thing is already crystal clear, if the evidence for blind watchmaker thesis OOL and body plan level macro evolution were anywhere near so decisive as so often so confidently asserted, we would not be seeing such tactics.

    So the major take-home lesson is that the reports of near practical certainty of the materialist narrative of origins are patently grossly exaggerated.

    We are dealing with a hitherto dominant ideology in claws out mode, now that its confident manner assertions are beginning to crumble.

    KF

  239. 239
    kairosfocus says:

    F: I DID answer the question — your gotcha strawman tactic fails. Just, the answer is not the simplistic yes/no you demanded but an answer to the underlying issue. Instead, it has to do with the comms system architecture and the role of noise, jamming, cross-talk, spoofing, etc in such systems. That such things exist are further signs that we are dealing with irreducibly complex system architectures that point to the questions as to how such, per empirical warrant and related analysis, come to be. KF

  240. 240
    franklin says:

    kf@239

    If there are multiple means to generate a functional response then how is that Irreducibly complex.

    And please, UB and I were discussing his scenario and the question of ‘can we determine the functional response by observing the ligand? If you don’t want to participate please do not derail the discussion for whatever reason you might have for doing so…it is rude.

  241. 241
    kairosfocus says:

    F: With all due respect, you know or should know that that which works correctly and in doing so requires multiple, correctly interfaced and interacting parts can also be spoofed. That does not change requisites of correct working nor does it answer to the issue of the source of such multi-part functionality. Second, you directly implicated me in your exchanges above at 206 leading to my comment at 208, so I have a reasonable right of reply to your onward remarks. And, it is not rude, when I have been thereafter forced by your behaviour to point out that you are failing in duties of care to truth and fairness. where, you STILL have given no evidence of attending to what is implied by the basic architecture of a communication system. Also, for the sake of onlookers, I have a right of fair comment in the face of patently distractive and misleading information — a blog is in public, not in a private dining booth at a restaurant. KF

  242. 242
    Timaeus says:

    Box:

    “I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”

    This is a lovely quotation from Nagel! Thanks for providing it! And there’s reason to suspect that Nagel’s honest self-revelation here indicates what goes on in the heads and hearts of a number of the loudest internet critics of ID and/or Christianity: Alan Fox, Jerry Coyne, P. Z. Myers, Jeffrey Shallit …

    You say you don’t understand this attitude, because it wasn’t yours when you were an atheist. But there are different kinds of atheist, and different motivations for being atheist. For many atheists, “God” stands for “restrictions on my freedom” — a set of moral or social standards that tell a person what to do, or not to do. And these restrictions on freedom are for them intolerable. Conversely “the death of God” spells “freedom” — freedom to do as they please.

    So you want to watch sadomasochistic pornography, but the idea that God might disapprove makes you feel a bit guilty about it? Fine! Deny that God exists, buy lots of New Atheist books and devour them, until they have convinced you (which wasn’t hard, when you wanted to be convinced) that you are right, and then there’s no God to disapprove. You want to be a selfish person, double-parking and cutting off people in traffic and barging ahead of people in lines? — don’t worry about it; there is no God keeping track of when you’re selfish and you’re not; there are only Darwinian processes, which justify your actions, because by putting Number 1 first, you increase your chances of worldly success, and worldly success is the only happiness for an organism that there is. You’re a male university professor of philosophy, and you “fall in love” with a foxy 25-year-old grad student, and decide to ditch your loyal middle-aged wife of 20 years, and some preacher or rabbi tells you that God says this is wrong? No problem; tell the teacher or rabbi to go to — a place that you no longer believe exists, and proudly bellow that you have the “right” to “happiness” or “fulfillment” (of course, your wife doesn’t have the same right, your wedding vows not being binding on you), and you don’t intend to let God stand between you and your desires. You want an abortion? Don’t let the thought that a fetus might be in the image of God deter you; there is no God for it to be in the image of.

    I’m not of course saying that all atheists are pure libertines who are driven by selfish ends; I have met principled atheists, moral atheists, etc. But much modern atheism is found in the circles of well-educated middle-class professionals who want an intellectual justification for their rejection of the constraints of traditional middle-class morality and traditional social mores. The idea that individuals, or societies, ought to be restricted in their actions, choices, entertainments, etc. is anathema to such people.

    And it’s not just formal belief in God. The desire for “freedom” leads to rejection not just of God, but of any idea of “natural law” or “absolute standards” by which human moral and social life can be guided. The modern atheist generally hates and despises, not only Aquinas, but Aristotle; not only Thomas More, but Plato. If you apply to a job in a modern philosophy department, and indicate that you want to spend your life defending a conservative interpretation of Plato, you can kiss your job good-bye; but tell the faculty you want to champion Derrida or Gadamer or Stanley Fish or some radical feminist philosopher, and you’re well on your way to tenure. The hatred of the idea of limit, order, etc. and the hatred of the idea of God are ultimately one and the same. Freedom, individual desire, one’s own “creative” ambitions — those are what drive a good number of intellectuals and educated middle-class people today.

  243. 243
    Box says:

    Timaeus: The hatred of the idea of limit, order, etc. and the hatred of the idea of God are ultimately one and the same. Freedom, individual desire, one’s own “creative” ambitions — those are what drive a good number of intellectuals and educated middle-class people today.

    Timaeus, isn’t it ironic that people who reject God for the sake of freedom throw themself into the cold arms of naturalism, which not only denies the existence of freedom, but also the existence of the very foundation of freedom: personhood?
    Intriguing is your idea that atheism is based on an image of God; or more accurately of one’s perceived (bad) relationship with Him. If this is true, then the question is what went wrong when good and reasonable people opt for atheism.
    In defense of atheists I would like to state that if our choice would be limited to a cruel, unreasonable and warmongering God (who is rapidly gaining ground in Europe) and no God that I also would opt for atheism.

  244. 244
    Upright BiPed says:

    I just returned to read the responses. Good grief.

    On one side I have Alan who wants to oppose the argument by saying “no” when asked if the establishment of a particular effect from a particular pheromone is context specific, meaning it is only established within the context of the system the pheromone operates within … and on the other side I have Franklin, who wants to oppose the argument by saying he can discern the establishment of a particular effect from a particular pheromone by the context of the system it operates within.

    Meanwhile, the conditions required of systems that produce concrete physical effects from the input of information, not from physical law alone – remain unchanged, and unchallenged.

  245. 245
    Barry Arrington says:

    @Box and Timaeus:

    “I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption . . . The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves . . . For myself . . . the philosophy of meaningless was essentially an instrument of liberation . . . sexual [and] political.”

    Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means: An Inquiry into the Nature of Ideals and into the Methods Employed for Their Realization (New York: Harper Bros, 1937), 270.

  246. 246
    Mung says:

    Folks: At this point, it is clear that AF is simply spewing talking points.

    Honestly, I don’t think Alan is organized enough to even have “talking points.”

  247. 247
    Mung says:

    Alan Fox:

    Just occurs to me that radioactive decay might be an instance of an event without an apparent cause.

    lol. And just above this Joe said you weren’t the one to be talking about science. I guess he was right..

    It’s funny how “defenders of science” don’t seem to mind much believing that things can “just happen” without any cause.

    Or should we blame that on Darwinism too? (HT: Gregory)

  248. 248
    Mung says:

    No intelligent designer would use C++. So there.

  249. 249
    Mung says:

    Alan Fox:

    And information, grammatically speaking, is an abstract noun.

    So?

    And abstracted from what? And abstracted how?

  250. 250
    Mung says:

    Chance Ratcliff @185.

    It’s common knowledge amongst those “in the know” that Upright BiPed’s argument is just so much “word salad.”

    So you need to get on board and stop pretending like you can make sense of it. Word might get around, then people would be trying to find out who you really are.

    Besides, what you’re describing sounds too much like a code.

  251. 251
    Mung says:

    Gregory:

    Why won’t you consider the logic, the rationale and the significance of their criticisms of ‘ID’ theory?

    Because they are based primarily on lies and misrepresentations. Had you been more critical in your analysis you might have noticed without someone having to tell you.

  252. 252
    Mung says:

    Gregory:

    As suggested, I Googled “FSCO/I”.

    Why not just enter some randomly generated nonsense string of characters into Google?

    You people kill me, you really do. But it’s nothing I’m not used to from people who are blinded by their ideology.

  253. 253
    Mung says:

    obtuse > intelligence

  254. 254
    Mung says:

    that applies to a number of people in this thread

  255. 255
    William J Murray says:

    Franklin said:

    If there are multiple means to generate a functional response then how is that Irreducibly complex.

    There is a FAQ available on this site that addresses these questions, objections, and weak argument. Under the “resources” tab at the top of the page, there is a menu item called: Frequently raised but weak arguments against Intelligent Design”.

    If you click it and read, you’ll find this at #32:

    For, following Behe, such an entity will be irreducibly complex if and only if: its core functionality relies on a multi-part interacting set of mutually co-adapted, interacting components.

    IOW, if some entity has multiple parts, and each part is necessary for the thing to have the function it has, then the function of that thing cannot be selected for prior to all the parts being constructed, put together, and operational.

    Just because there are multiple ways to construct an alarm system doesn’t mean that each of those alarm systems are not irreducibly complex.

  256. 256
    William J Murray says:

    ROFL Mung @250:

    It took me a while to understand UB’s semiotic argument – but then, it has taken me a while to understand several arguments by ID proponents – and not just about biology. The key is that first one has to choose to try to actually understand it, not just figure out how to phrase denials and dismissals as if they understand it.

  257. 257
    Mung says:

    @256

    I love his argument. First and foremost it’s about physical requirements

    Second, it’s about something all of us in this day and age understand intuitively, even if we don’t want to admit it or have never deeply thought about it.

    Each of us as we submit a post to this blog site depend on the transfer of recorded information. Who would argue that there were no physical requirements involved in the transfer or that it’s not a transfer of information?

    The number of opponents to his argument that are willing or able to define the requirements for the transfer of information can’t even be be counted on a single fingerless hand.

    And yet their lives depend on it, daily. Bizarre.

    Talk about cognitive dissonance.

  258. 258
    franklin says:

    UB

    Meanwhile, the conditions required of systems that produce concrete physical effects from the input of information, not from physical law alone – remain unchanged, and unchallenged.

    so you’ve retreated back to this stance. maybe now you are in a position to answer my question @#193 (since we are retreading this ground)….Do those listed chemical compounds input (to use your language) the same information?

  259. 259
    William J Murray says:

    Do you think your alarm lock is unpickable or can many chemical compounds act as a key?

    I think that if there were very many chemical compounds that could pick the “alarm” lock, it would very quickly become useless as an alarm system.

    Ligand/receptor interaction are anything but arbitrary. From a biochemical perspective how have you determined that the ligand/receptor system could have been anything?

    I can make a key and a lock any physically possible shape, as long as they fit each other. However, that a key fits a lock is not the reason an alarm sounds, because by themselves they do not produce an alarm. The key/lock system by itself doesn’t have an alarm. I can connect an alarm system to **any** key/lock mechanism, regardless of how they are shaped, and that key, fitting into that lock, will set off the alarm.

    Thus, the shape of the key and the lock are arbitrary in terms of producing an alarm, because it doesn’t matter what the shape of the key/lock is as long as it is connected to an alarm system.

  260. 260
    franklin says:

    Wjm

    I think that if there were very many chemical compounds that could pick the “alarm” lock, it would very quickly become useless as an alarm system.

    Yet it is a certain fact that many chemicals pick biochemical locks of all sorts.
    Wjm

    I can make a key and a lock any physically possible shape, as long as they fit each other. However, that a key fits a lock is not the reason an alarm sounds, because by themselves they do not produce an alarm. The key/lock system by itself doesn’t have an alarm. I can connect an alarm system to **any** key/lock mechanism, regardless of how they are shaped, and that key, fitting into that lock, will set off the alarm.
    Thus, the shape of the key and the lock are arbitrary in terms of producing an alarm, because it doesn’t matter what the shape of the key/lock is as long as it is connected to an alarm system.

    Could you describe this biochemical lock/key system you are making? I’m curious what your downstream design is for your alarm system(s).

  261. 261

    franklin:

    The kind of information contained in DNA, and in which we are interested, is representative. For example, a sequence of nucleotides in DNA represents certain amino acids, but the sequence is not directly, physically connected to the amino acids.

    The mere existence of a physical object — whether a single molecule, a batch of chemicals, a planet or otherwise — does not mean it contains information. Similarly, one would have to take a close look at the particular processes involved in any specific sequence of events in an organism to determine whether information is being transferred on a case-by-case basis, but the mere occurrence of a chemical reaction does not necessarily mean that information has been transferred. Again, we need to focus on the representative aspect.

  262. 262
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Apparently, it needs to be underscored, that spoof-ability is actually a requisite of diagnostic testing of a signal-flow dependent system. In signal tracing, signal injection and half-break analysis — all familiar to hardware trouble shooters or debuggers — the ability to construct and inject a spoof signal that will propagate in ways that can then be detected and diagnosed, is an important feature, and an inevitable one. And, where we deal with organic chemistry-based molecular nanotechnology, the very nature of C as a connector-block atom means that we can construct novel nanomachines that will fit into the system in diverse ways and may have spoofing characteristics. However, for realistic and robust function, all that is required for the system to work well is that in normal environments, it will not usually encounter such spoofs. (BTW, the same occurs for vision and hearing, indeed our modern multimedia animated images world depends on spoofing. In the chemical world, I think one of the significant features is that naturally occurring sweet-tasting substances are not normally poisonous. Poisons tend, strongly, to be bitter; which we are obviously instinctively programmed to find repellent. But, pharmacology is then the study of poisons that are useful in small doses.) KF

    PS: Onlookers, observe the ongoing pattern of unresponsiveness on substantial core matters multiplied by the next tangential objection.

  263. 263
    Timaeus says:

    Gregory wrote:

    “Most credible scholarly institutions worldwide … have rejected ID theory.”

    And therefore, everyone should reject ID, right? Obviously.

    Let’s test the soundness of the argumentative logic here by applying it to determine the value of sociology:

    “Most people with Ph.D.s in credible scholarly institutions worldwide, in subjects that have a track record of being scientific — physics, chemistry, biology, geology, geography, economics — have rejected the claim that sociology is ‘scientific’.”

    We could fatten up this claim with more detail: we could add that most Ph.D.s in serious science subjects think that sociology is a “Mickey Mouse” subject for weaker students (and weaker professors) who aren’t strong enough in math to do anything really scientific, but like giving a quantitative veneer to what is basically an incoherent mess of left-wing social and political ideology. But there’s no need to elaborate; everyone knows the snickering that’s heard on every university campus when someone speaks of “the science of sociology.” So let’s just focus on the quoted statement.

    The quoted statement is, of course, accurate. So does it follow that we should reject sociology as a “social science”? Or is there, perhaps, something wrong with the logic of the argument?

  264. 264
    Gregory says:

    Wow! Just wow! That’s a really jaded and sour-faced man. Attacking sociology simply because he doesn’t want to go to church too early in the morning. Sad times for Timaeus at UD.

  265. 265
    Timaeus says:

    I didn’t attack sociology. I showed the absurdity of arguing from “what most prestigious institutions [or people] think,” by using the example of the general low esteem in which sociology is held by most scientists. Should the sociology department be trashed because most of the physicists, chemists, and biologists think that sociology is scientific bunk, and a waste of taxpayers’ money that could be better spent on nanotechnology, medical research, etc.? If that’s a reasonable conclusion, then I guess Gregory’s implied argument against ID is reasonable, too.

    Put another way: Gregory is arguing: “Bejan and Francis Collins and Gingerich and Feser and the gurus of the Faraday Institute are really smart guys, and they think ID is unscientific trash, so everyone should agree that ID is unscientific trash.” But I could say: “8 of 10 Nobel Prize Winners in Chemistry, Medicine, and Physics think that sociology is unscientific trash, and they are really smart guys, so it must be true that sociology is unscientific trash.” The reasoning is parallel.

    And if Gregory answers: “Yeah, but those guys aren’t qualified to evaluate sociology,” the answer is: “But sociology claims to be “science” (just as ID claims to be science, in Gregory’s posts). And since chemistry, physics and medicine were all well-established sciences before sociology came along, surely they have the right to decide whether sociologists have rightly taken on the title of “scientific” or are frauds who have usurped it. So before the sociologists have the right to say their work is “scientific,” they have to get approval from the senior sciences — and that approval has been largely withheld.

    Or if Gregory says: “No, the sociologists don’t have to accept the narrow, constrictive understanding of “scientific” used by these older sciences” — then fine; similarly, ID people don’t have to accept the narrow, constrictive understanding of “natural science” (which excludes teleology and design inferences) used by Darwinian biologists, the NCSE, the Faraday Institute, BioLogos, etc.

    If sociology were invented tomorrow, and its ‘scientific’ status went up before Judge Jones in Harrisburg, and “expert witnesses” were called in on both sides (Harvard and Caltech physicists, chemists, and biologists on the anti-side, and novelists and social reformers plus a handful of maverick politics professors on the pro-side), I wonder what his ruling would be? (Given how easily he was led by the nose by arguments from authority in his ruling on what counts as “scientific” and what doesn’t, I think the answer is pretty clear.)

  266. 266
    franklin says:

    Eric

    The mere existence of a physical object — whether a single molecule, a batch of chemicals, a planet or otherwise — does not mean it contains information. Similarly, one would have to take a close look at the particular processes involved in any specific sequence of events in an organism to determine whether information is being transferred on a case-by-case basis, but the mere occurrence of a chemical reaction does not necessarily mean that information has been transferred. Again, we need to focus on the representative aspect.

    OK, so it would be an accurate description to say that epinephrine and allbutorol contain the same ‘representative aspect’ to an organism with beta 2 receptors with both transferring the same information?

  267. 267
    sterusjon says:

    Franklin,

    Speaking for myself, I think that by pressing the point about different ligands activating the receptor, you demonstrating one of UP’s principal contentions. That is, the arbitrary nature of much of the transmitter->channel->receiver system. The fact of the matter is that the specific ligand is of little importance as long as the ligand meets some requirements that make it a reasonably reliable transmission medium. In point of fact, the system has fundamental components, none of which is even required to be a ligand or a chemical for that matter.

    1. A means to detect the presence of some danger to the colony.
    2. A means to impress upon the environment a signal that can be rather unambiguously represent the danger when detected.
    3. A receptor that is sufficiently sensitive to the impressed signal.
    4. A mechanism that reliably and appropriately responds to the detection of a signal.

    A little more discussion about #2. “Rather unambiguously” is intended to encompass such things as signal properties. In a chemical signal that involve such things as the persistence of the chemical in the environment. Too, rapid disintegration would cause the signal to attenuate too soon. Too persistent and the colony may find itself in state of perpetual alarm. Some chemical classes are too common so members of those classes would generate unacceptably frequent false alarms. After taking those and similar caveats into account, the only other restraint on the chemical is that the receptor have some sufficiently high sensitivity to it.

    As you can see, there is a great deal of flexibility in how the complete system can be implemented. In point of fact, it need not even be chemically based. It could just as easily be transmitted by sound or light, as demonstratted by the existence of such elsewhere in nature

    Again, I emphasize, speaking for myself, I see the information (I prefer to think of it in terms of “a message”) being contained, in the ant pheromone instance, in the presence and concentration of the specific chemical produced by the ants in response to what they detect as danger. That message is present even if there are no other ants in existence. I will grant that it is a futile call for help. But it is a call, none the less. If one were to investigate in a lab and, when threatening ants, invariably detected the production of a certain chemical one would be justified to hypothesize a message to other ants as a possible purpose (along with defensive mechanism, metabolic byproduct etc.) for the chemical’s production. The message is present whether there is a receiver present or not. For instance, if the ant colony’s queen had a genetic defect that rendered the receptors in operative, the message would still be generated.

    A word of caution. The message is relayed through the system. Upon detection by the receptor, another chemical representation is made in a different set of chemicals. The receptor may be relaying a true message that accurately represents the presence of danger to the colony or a “false” message triggered by a chemical “noise” that bears no relation to the purpose of the system.

    Bottom line: The information, with regard to the pheromone component of the system, is contained in the correspondence of the presence and concentration of pheromone with the presence and intensity of the danger to the colony. If 100 ants detect danger, the concentration would 100 times that it would be if only one ant sensed danger. “Noise” in the system from any of possibly thousands of other chemicals does not imbue any of those chemicals with information. They simply interfere with the system’s proper operation.

    With respect to making UP’s point, any one of your listed chemicals could serve as the message carrier, as long as the ants can modulate its presence and concentration in correspondence to the intensity of the detected danger to the colony. (Whether it would make an effective and reliable system is another issue.) In that respect it is not governed by law/necessity but is arbitrary.

    Stephen

  268. 268
    franklin says:

    kf

    However, for realistic and robust function, all that is required for the system to work well is that in normal environments, it will not usually encounter such spoofs.

    But as we both know or at least should know is that organisms encounter these type of chemicals all the time. For example, ant pheromones (those related to ‘alarm response’) are often some type of carboxylic acid which are encountered frequently in their food. How often do you think ants encounter carboxyilic acids in their fdaily oraging?

  269. 269
    William J Murray says:

    Yet it is a certain fact that many chemicals pick biochemical locks of all sorts.

    I always find it interesting when anti-ID advocates make such entirely irrelevant points. That many chemicals pick many locks is entirely irrelevant to my point that if very many chemicals were able to “pick” this particular lock, it wouldn’t be of much use as an alarm system, because it would constantly be going off for no good reason.

    Could you describe this biochemical lock/key system you are making? I’m curious what your downstream design is for your alarm system(s).

    Another entirely irrelevant question; I’m explaining/describing examples of the semiotic argument. It doesn’t matter what the key is; or what the lock is; or what kind of response system the lock is attached to. All that matters is that the key has physical attributes that “fit” the lock; and that the lock activates whatever response system that it is attached to when the a properly shaped key fits into it.

  270. 270
    sterusjon says:

    Franklin,

    I don’t understand where you are headed in #268. Do you want us to believe that the system is buried in noise in the immediate environment and essentially useless? I doubt it. Or are saying the system is more discriminating than you seem to imply by your query about the information content of the chemicals in some list? Have you just multiplied the complexity of the system under discussion with additional coordinated features to instill that discrimination?

    Stephen

  271. 271
    Upright BiPed says:

    UB: Meanwhile, the conditions required of systems that produce concrete physical effects from the input of information, not from physical law alone – remain unchanged, and unchallenged.

    franklin: so you’ve retreated back to this stance.

    Your inability to accurately assess the situation has misled you. I haven’t retreated to or from anything in this thread. These are complicated issues and like anyone else, I have the capacity to mis-speak, to be mistaken and to be corrected, but that hasn’t happened here. The necessary material conditions to transfer form through a material medium and produce concrete physical effects has been the core of the argument from the very start. And the conditions described in the argument remain unrefuted. So for you to suggest I’m standing by them, or even being forced to stand by them, is probably not the bold positioning statement you might have imagined. And I find it interesting that you want me to return to your question in #193, given that your question has no impact whatsoever on the argument I’ve proposed. In #193 you want me to quantify the information acting within a system – asking me if a list of chemicals all “contain the same information”. So immediately in #195 I told you to familiarize yourself with the argument so you could ask meaningful questions. Then in #196 you came back to inform me that I was surely mistaken – apparently you’ve estimated your question in #193 to be the critical issue in the whole affair.

    I’d like to think I have at least some familiarity with my own argument – perhaps even as much as you. And from my perspective, I can tell you that the quantity (or source, or intent, etc) of information a system may transfer into an effect does not alter the physical requirement that the system actually be capable of transferring information into an effect in the first place. In fact, when you say it out loud like that, it’s almost seems obvious. And it’s given me the crazy idea that any quantity of information transferred by such a system depends entirely upon the system’s ability to transfer information. And since my argument is about the physical conditions required to transfer information in the first place, I have come to consider all objections (to the validity of those physical conditions) based on the quantity of information, as being meaningless to the argument. However, given your last post to me, you seem adamant about it. So let’s test it out.

    In the exchange above, I stated that the effect evoked by a pheromone (e.g. the coordinated alarm response in an ant colony) cannot be determined by physical law, for the obvious reason that physical law does not establish such things as “when an ant should attack its enemies.” Therefore the physical characteristics of the pheromone (those making it identifiable and integrated to the system) are used as a medium to transfer form and produce effects which are obviously not determined by physical characteristics of the pheromone. In other words, the product of the pheromone acting within the system (attack the invaders) is the product of form being inputted to the system, not the product inexorable physical law.

    So what is at issue here are physical necessities. There are realities such as “when an ant should attack its enemies” which are not determined by physical law, and therefore require a system capable of bringing those realities into being. Such systems use a medium (an arrangement of matter to evoke an effect) in order to accomplish that task. The medium evokes an effect but cannot determine what that effect will because the effect cannot be determined by the physical properties of the medium. It requires the system to establish what the effect will be (i.e. a second arrangement of matter to establish the effect). Now please tell me how quantifying the amount of information transferred in a system alters these physical requirements.

  272. 272
    Alan Fox says:

    Sterusjon

    Here are the three question you asked that I answered

    If there is a difference, is it imaginary?

    If it is not an imaginary difference, is it conceivably describable?

    If it is describable, is it conceivably quantifiable?

    The replies are in the same sequence.

    I see you also asked:

    Is there no obvious difference to you in the following two blocks of text?

    Answer: Yes the two texts are different. Sorry for not being clear.

  273. 273
    Alan Fox says:

    Apologies to Upright Biped. My earlier reply:

    In other words, can you derive the coordinated social response “attack the invader” from the chemical bonds of the pheromone, or does one need the action of the system in order to establish that correspondence?

    No. No more than you can predict the biological activity of a novel protein sequence without synthesizing it and testing it and of course that activity or lack would depend on context. Not to say anything of how pheromone production and detection could co-evolve!

    was rushed, not very clear and probably wrong!

    I should have thought more about the fact that most known pheromones are not proteins but chemicals that could in principle (and as franklin points out at least in some case in practice) be synthesized and I suspect functional synthetic substitutes could be predicted and produced. Here’s a 2008 review of ant pheromones from “Myrmecological News”.

    Here’s another considering evolutionary pathways for pheromones.

  274. 274
    Upright BiPed says:

    Alan,

    Alan, the ability to synthesize a substitute for a pheromone does not answer the questions asked.

  275. 275
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Mung @ 250,

    “It’s common knowledge amongst those “in the know” that Upright BiPed’s argument is just so much “word salad.”

    So you need to get on board and stop pretending like you can make sense of it. Word might get around, then people would be trying to find out who you really are.

    Besides, what you’re describing sounds too much like a code.”

    My mistake. Allow me to make up for it. For a set of behavioral responses, B = {gather, attack, follow, …} there is a corresponding set of chemical signals, A = {s1, s2, s3, …}. It must be true that the chemical signals themselves are the behaviors, and don’t merely represent them, because that would be too code-like. Moreover, we don’t have to examine the system in which the signals operate to determine the behaviors they invoke, because that “information” is present in the signals themselves independent of any systemic context. By implication, the binary sequence 01000001 is the letter ‘A’, not merely a representation of it; and the letter ‘A’ is the sound “ay” and so on.

  276. 276
    Box says:

    Upright BiPed, what is information?
    Information (form) is something that can be transferred through a material medium. But what is it? Is it something tangible? I take it that you are not speaking metaphorical?

  277. 277
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    “Upright BiPed, what is information?
    Information (form) is something that can be transferred through a material medium. But what is it? Is it something tangible? I take it that you are not speaking metaphorical?”

    You might enjoy this ten-minute video featuring Oxford physicist David Deutsch commenting about the nature of information. He seems to believe that information is causal, and irreducible to whatever medium happens to carry it.

  278. 278
    sterusjon says:

    Alan,

    Thanks for the clarification in #272. Now, onward.

    Is there no obvious difference to you in the following two blocks of text? (see #180 above)

    You say, “Yes.” I say, “Agreed!” (I suspect some disingenuity from what I see onward from here.)

    If there is a difference, is it imaginary?

    You say, “No.” I say, “Agreed!”

    If it is not an imaginary difference, is it conceivably describable?

    You say, “No.” I say, “What are you smokin’?”

    If it is describable, is it conceivably quantifiable?

    You say, “Yes.” I say, “Trick answer! From your perspective the undescribable is equal to null so whatever undescribable difference you see in two blocks of text is meaningless.”

    Well, let’s go back to your response to question three.

    Do you deny that the text in the first block conforms to the rules of the programming language C++ whereas the second does not? Is that not a description of an observable difference? I can elaborate on the difference further, but that much will suffice for my point.

    Do you really mean to reduce your position to such absurdity?

    Stephen

    PS. Onlookers. Equivocation and obsfucation leap to mind. I suspect that the difference that Alan is admitting of in question # 1 is the difference of the actual characters while absurdly denying of the difference the meaning intentionally placed in the first block of text that is absent in the second! Willful equivocation and obsfucation in place of honest and truely sceptical discourse?, I ask of you in our audience.

  279. 279
    William J Murray says:

    Willful equivocation and obsfucation in place of honest and truely sceptical discourse?, I ask of you in our audience.

    It’s rather obvious that what goes on in a lot of these exchanges is that the anti-ID advocate understands where straightforward, honest answers to simple, straightforward questions inevitably lead, and so inserts obfuscation and equivocation to derail, distract and deny.

    Some ID advocates I’ve run into would not even admit that humans engage in intelligent design. Whether they are being willfully dishonest in this behavior … I don’t know. In this arena, I prefer to think that I’m interacting with Turing machines when a responder absolutely refuses to understand very simple concepts and very simple arguments thereof.

    It’s a little depressing, at times, to think that people can be so relentlessly immune to the obvious.

  280. 280

    franklin @266:

    What information do you contend exists in the first place that could be transferred?

  281. 281
    Box says:

    Chance Ratcliff (277),

    To be quite honest I didn’t enjoy that video. David Deutsch, an atheist, believes in ’emergent properties (*poof* consciousness, *poof* free will, *poof* information) that do have an effect’. It doesn’t help me to get a coherent idea of what information is.

  282. 282
    Alan Fox says:

    Upright Biped:

    Alan, the ability to synthesize a substitute for a pheromone does not answer the questions asked.

    Well, you’re the expert at not answering questions. I figure you owe mea few. Paste your question again. Even better, rephrase it to make it less ambiguous.

  283. 283
    Alan Fox says:

    Stephen in 278

    Just make your point if there is one.

  284. 284
    sterusjon says:

    William,

    It’s a little depressing, at times, to think that people can be so relentlessly immune to the obvious.

    Depressing, but helpful. Years ago I found myself in a truly skeptical search on the question of origins. Alan’s method of defense of “natural explanations only” was found to be quite prevalent in that search. It brought to my mind the question, “What are they hiding under all those confident assertions when I just want an actual answer to a simple question- ‘How do you know?’?” and can get a straight answer that actually acknowledges my concern and addresses it.

    There are those who truly would like to understand what the real answer is. Maybe one of them will wander by and take notice, too.

    Stephen

  285. 285
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    Well, you’re the expert at not answering questions.

    Alan, you are an expert not answering questions. Perhaps if you were a little more giving in that area…

  286. 286
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, Box. 😉 Perhaps it’s only me, but I can certainly appreciate the opinions of atheists where they differ from garden-variety reductionism. Would you refuse to suffer Thomas Nagel, who as an atheist rejects neo-Darwinist explanations of life and instead posits some sort of natural teleology? Deutsch’s admission that information is causal, and irreducible to matter, is noteworthy among the stale, “consciousness is an illusion” tripe that masquerades as intelligent thought; it’s more in line with what we observe, regardless of the fact that we won’t agree about agency or theism. I hazard to suggest that I have more in common with Nagel and Deutsch in regard to the nature of reality than I do with Dawkins, et al. I don’t know the religious affiliation of James Shapiro, but I can certainly summon some respect for the concept of “natural genetic engineering” because it more accurately describes the observations than do “unguided processes,” even though this would beg the question if used as an explanation of origins. I don’t find it helpful to disregard the opinions of thoughtful atheists because I can’t accept their metaphysics in full, but perhaps I misunderstand you.

    The nature of information is largely enigmatic, as is the nature of consciousness, maybe because the two are fundamentally related, being arguably immaterial quantities. Given such mysteries, I find it quite helpful to consider not only what information is (causal) but what information is not (reducible). For that reason I found the Deutsch interview fascinating, despite his atheism.

    However there may be helpful ways to describe or define information, based on what we observe. For a given function F:A→B, which maps between arbitrary arrangements of matter from set A to set B, we can consider the information portion of the arrangement, the elements of set A, as their image under F:; this defines the material arrangements in set A in terms of their effects, the elements in set B. We could alternately define information as the specification of a functional arrangement of matter which produces a well-defined effect or something of that sort. We can also consider information as that which agency can uniquely accomplish attempting to tie the definition with its known source. None of these are entirely satisfying, perhaps because analyzing the cause of consciousness is a little bit like trying to look at one’s own face without a mirror.

    maybe in some respects the wikipedia description is as good as any:

    Information, in its most restricted technical sense, is a sequence of symbols that can be interpreted as a message. Information can be recorded as signs, or transmitted as signals. Information is any kind of event that affects the state of a dynamic system. Conceptually, information is the message (utterance or expression) being conveyed. The meaning of this concept varies in different contexts.[1] Moreover, the concept of information is closely related to notions of constraint, communication, control, data, form, instruction, knowledge, meaning, understanding, mental stimuli, pattern, perception, representation, and entropy.

    Wikipedia – Information

    Whatever information is, it is not easily extricated from the notions embodied by consciousness (representation, perception, stimuli, knowledge, meaning, understanding, etc.). It may not be logically possible to fully analyze consciousness, since analysis requires both an observer and a subject, and each distinctly. It may be that, for that reason, we can readily observe the effects of consciousness, but only where they are distinct from the observer. And down the rabbit hole it goes.

  287. 287
    Upright BiPed says:

    Hello Box,

    Upright BiPed, what is information?

    Information (form) is something that can be transferred through a material medium. But what is it? Is it something tangible? I take it that you are not speaking metaphorical?

    No, I am not speaking metaphorically. Information is a real, tangible thing. The argument I am making is concerned with being able to materially identify information, so I approach it from that perspective and try to limit myself to those material observations I can defend. As you can imagine, creating endless lines of speculation is not advantageous when arguing with those determined to side-track a dialogue. Having said that… Information is the incomplete form of a thing, instantiated in the arrangement of a material medium. It is not reducible to its medium, which is why we must see it in action to know it exists. It has causal powers within a system, which dictates that it must precede its effect. Through universal experience, it has only been observed within the living kingdom. And from a purely material perspective, it is only associated with pre-existing organization.

  288. 288
    Upright BiPed says:

    282,

    The question is the same one you copied in your post:

    “can you derive the coordinated social response “attack the invader” from the chemical bonds of the pheromone, or does one need the action of the system in order to establish that correspondence?”

    Your previous answer was “no”, and is the correct answer. ‘When’ an ant should attack its enemies is not something established by physical law. It is established by information acting within a system. That is what the phreromone accomplishes, it gives form to the action of the colony in response to an intruder.

  289. 289
    sterusjon says:

    Alan,

    Quite frankly, I think you know perfectly well what I was getting at.

    My point, for the benefit of others who chance by, was to try to pin you down with regard to your denial of the validity the concepts captured in the acronyms CSI, fCSI and the dreaded FSCO/I. You have proven to be more slippery than I thought. I could not see how anyone could make such an absurd presentation in such a small space as you have succeeded in doing. Live and learn, I guess.

    Since you have made no objection to my PS. in #278, may I conclude that I was essentially correct in my characterization of your answers?

    Stephen

    PS. I point of fact I believe I had a measure of success in that Alan showed his objection to FSCO/I is an incoherent denial of the obvious.

  290. 290
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Upright BiPed,

    “Information is the incomplete form of a thing, instantiated in the arrangement of a material medium. It is not reducible to its medium, which is why we must see it in action to know it exists. It has causal powers within a system, which dictates that it must precede its effect.”

    That’s a nice way of putting it. 🙂

  291. 291
    Upright BiPed says:

    gracias mi amigo

  292. 292
    Box says:

    Chance Ratcliff (286)
    About Thomas Nagel and David Deutsch … the thing is that I’m appalled by their obvious irrational inclination to naturalism. It’s very telling that one dares to propose teleological principles without involving a creator. I prefer the “consciousness is an illusion tripe” as an opponent.

    Chance Ratcliff: I don’t find it helpful to disregard the opinions of thoughtful atheists because I can’t accept their metaphysics in full, but perhaps I misunderstand you.

    Thank you for pointing this out. Perhaps I will reconsider my ways.

    Chance Ratcliff: The nature of information is largely enigmatic, as is the nature of consciousness, maybe because the two are fundamentally related, being arguably immaterial quantities.

    I agree that the two are fundamentally related. Information, like meaning and thoughts, only exists within consciousness. Thoughts imply consciousness. The meaning of a gesture is context depended. One cannot isolate a gesture from its context. One cannot ask ‘what is does it mean (what is the information) when someone raises his hand?’. It may be a 1 million dollar bid on a painting or something entirely different.
    The thoughts ‘in’ a book enter in existence when someone (a consciousness) reads the book. If no one reads the book there are no ‘thoughts in the book’. I mean there is nothing more than paper and ink; the book doesn’t glow in the dark. Same goes for information. I think it’s accurate to say that information only exists in the context of a mind. In regard to pheromones one should say that the information (and its meaning!) only exist because there is an ant colony.

  293. 293
    Box says:

    Upright BiPed (287)

    UB: Information is the incomplete form of a thing, instantiated in the arrangement of a material medium. It is not reducible to its medium, which is why we must see it in action to know it exists.

    I’m still unable to understand your concept if information. What is the information in a written text? There is just paper and ink when no one is looking. Indeed one ‘sees it in action’ when one reads a text. It enters into existence after the written text is transformed into thoughts. And thoughts have meaning within consciousness. Can we say that consciousness completes ‘the incomplete form’?

  294. 294
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Box,

    “I prefer the “consciousness is an illusion tripe” as an opponent.”

    I actually identify with that sentiment to some degree. If I understand properly, you prefer this type of opponent because their belief is taken to its implications, and can be viewed as metaphysically honest. However it can also be absurd. Let me make up for the first video by risking another, in which William Lane Craig takes Alex Rosenberg to task for what he considers absurd reasoning: Reductio ad absurdum. I guess I’m saying that while Nagel et al don’t carry their observation of teleology to its logical conclusion, imo, they at least carry it to some conclusion that doesn’t so easily reduce to “it’s just an illusion,” which seems like it’s designed to end the debate by fiat, and no less absurd than anything Nagel or Deutsch believe.

    For example, if naturalism is true, then I can’t actually think about anything. If we take this as a premise, and add the premise, “naturalism is true” then the conclusion is that I can’t actually think about anything. However, as Craig does in the video, we can use the first premise and add our own second premise: I’m thinking about naturalism. The conclusion then becomes, naturalism is not true. Many atheists are lead to the first formulation, which is indeed honest with regard to a non-negotiable premise (naturalism is true), but this leaves no room for experience and observation to dictate otherwise.

    The thoughts ‘in’ a book enter in existence when someone (a consciousness) reads the book. If no one reads the book there are no ‘thoughts in the book’. I mean there is nothing more than paper and ink; the book doesn’t glow in the dark. Same goes for information. I think it’s accurate to say that information only exists in the context of a mind.

    I agree. Thoughts in a book, outside of the context of a mind, are just ink and paper. But there’s a good metaphysical reason to believe that the information in a book doesn’t cease to exist as soon as the cover is closed: because there is always an Observer. It may be that the universe itself exists from instant to instant because there is a primary Observer who is omnipresent.

  295. 295
    Box says:

    Chance Ratcliff (294)

    Chance Ratcliff: (…) you prefer this type of opponent because their belief is taken to its implications, and can be viewed as metaphysically honest.

    Exactly. Metaphysically honest and indeed absurd; Alex Rosenburg is almost hilarious.

    Chance Ratcliff: I agree. Thoughts in a book, outside of the context of a mind, are just ink and paper.

    I’m wondering about my memories; I regard them to be non-physical. Am I saying that they don’t exist when I’m not thinking about them? That seems absurd.

    But there’s a good metaphysical reason to believe that the information in a book doesn’t cease to exist as soon as the cover is closed: because there is always an Observer. It may be that the universe itself exists from instant to instant because there is a primary Observer who is omnipresent.

    That’s a very intriguing concept of existence. Everything exists and continues to exist because it is encapsulated by the mind of God. Can we understand existence differently, since we can only understand something within a context?
    I do believe though that we, as conscious beings, carry our own existence – at least partly.

  296. 296

    Box @293:

    I think we have to be careful to distinguish between information and recognition of the information.

    Does the information in my books blink in and out of existence depending on whether I happen to be looking at it? That isn’t a very helpful notion of information, and would just require us to create some other term, such as, “that which a mind would recognize as information when looking at it.” But if we do that it is just a semantic game, because we can take that long description and just relabel it as “information.”

    Thus, while information flows from a mind and is recognizable by a mind, it does not follow that information does not objectively exist once it has been created.

    Further, under your hypothesis, the amount of information contained in, say, a written text would depend on who is looking at it. The amount of information I would glean from a hieroglyphic wall in Egypt would be significantly less than the information a trained ancient Egyptian linguist would glean. Yet in both cases there is a mind. One mind is more trained and more capable of recognizing the information that is there.

    So we have to be able to take the position that information can exist objectively, independent of the particular observer. Yes, it is true, when we recognize information we are doing so by virtue of our mind, but that is what we are doing, namely recognizing the information that already exists in whatever we are studying.

    The information and the recognition of the information are separate.

  297. 297
    PeterJ says:

    Thinking back to the line of discussion on this thread regarding ‘keys and locks’ there is a very interesting article over on ENV.

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....69941.html

  298. 298
    Upright BiPed says:

    297.

    What an intersting turn of events.

    SETI, looking for a sign of intelligence beyond the borders of our own gravitational pull, finally discovers the genetic code, and finds that the sign of intelligence from beyond our planet was here all along.

    The NCSE must be going wild.

  299. 299
    Upright BiPed says:

    I wonder of the Project Director might call up Miller and Co and tell them that to be of any use at all, the genetic code requires the medium to operate within an IC system.

    No ifs, no ands, and no buts.

    It simply cannot operate in any other way.

  300. 300
    Upright BiPed says:

    And what does it mean for the entire planet of evolutionary biologists to know that the genetic code operates within an IC system, producing concrete physical effects which are not determined by physical law, all from a iterative (digital) symbol system, whose causal structures do not exist as a matter of their lowest potential energy state?

    Evolution dun it baby, and you know that’s right.

    The tiny fact that evolution doesn’t even exist until all these physical conditions are met, well… whatever. Evolution dun it.

  301. 301
    Alan Fox says:

    Upright Biped (288):

    “can you derive the coordinated social response “attack the invader” from the chemical bonds of the pheromone, or does one need the action of the system in order to establish that correspondence?”

    Your previous answer was “no”, and is the correct answer.

    You might take a look at the article I linked to in comment 273. An evolutionary pathway is suggested deriving from cuticular hydrocarbons originally present for waterproofing and being co-opted as nest_mate recognition. “Attack the invader” is rather anthropomorphic and “detect shared smell – nest-mate” and “no right smell – intruder” is all that’s needed. Of course this is raw material for evolutionary processes to develop, diversify and “fine-tune”.

    ‘When’ an ant should attack its enemies is not something established by physical law. It is established by information acting within a system. That is what the phreromone accomplishes, it gives form to the action of the colony in response to an intruder.

    Not sure what you mean by “established by physical law”. I am sure the “laws” of this present universe are not violated in ant colonies. Anyway, it is apparent that there is much still to be discovered on pheromone signalling in ants and much work in progress aimed at discovering answers on how such systems have evolved.

  302. 302
    Alan Fox says:

    My point, for the benefit of others who chance by, was to try to pin you down with regard to your denial of the validity the concepts captured in the acronyms CSI, fCSI and the dreaded FSCO/I. You have proven to be more slippery than I thought.

    Well, why not just ask? Pin me down about CSI etc? My view is that CSI (and derivatives) are bogus. I don’t know how long you have been following this site. There was a commenter using the pseudonym “Mathgrrl” (real name Patrick May) who spet a while asking for a demonstration of how to calculate CSI. The squirming failure to produce anything remotely plausible was painful to observe.

  303. 303
    Alan Fox says:

    Oops missed a tag. First paragraph in 302 is a quote from Sterusjon.

  304. 304
    Upright BiPed says:

    You might take a look at the article I linked to in comment 273. An evolutionary pathway is suggested deriving from cuticular hydrocarbons originally present for waterproofing and being co-opted as nest_mate recognition.

    I may have been mistaken about you Alan. It seems you are still unable to differentiate between how a system operates and the origin of that system. How you can even say “co-opted for nest-mate recognition” and still not get it is beyond me.

    Apparently, nest-mate recognition is a chemical property of hydrocarbons.

  305. 305
    sterusjon says:

    Alan,

    Well, why not just ask? Pin me down about CSI etc?

    Why not indeed! I made the following statement about what I suspected of your method of discourse:

    PS. Onlookers. Equivocation and obfuscation leap to mind. I suspect that the difference that Alan is admitting of in question # 1 is the difference of the actual characters while absurdly denying of the difference the meaning intentionally placed in the first block of text that is absent in the second! Willful equivocation and obfuscation in place of honest and truly skeptical discourse?, I ask of you in our audience.

    You have had ample opportunity to disabuse me of my suspicion. You have not. Why not just ask? Because I have not expectation of getting a straight answer out of you is why.

    I, also, asked:

    Do you deny that the text in the first block conforms to the rules of the programming language C++ whereas the second does not? Is that not a description of an observable difference?

    You did not answer. (So much for just asking a question.) Based on your lack of correction of any misapprehensions I may have, I assume my assessment of your answer to my first question was correct. And, therefore, I conclude that you refuse to acknowledge that the first block of text has any meaning, with respect to C++, intentionally imbedded within it. A wildly foolish position to embrace so tenaciously.

    All of that tells me, and our audience, that you are not to be taken seriously in any intelligent discussion about anything, whatsoever. You are wildly foolish and that makes you a raving lunatic!

    Bottom line. If you cannot even acknowledge the very existence of the obvious, talking about qualifying and quantifying it is a waste of words. By parsing out the issue, I had hoped to find the reason we have come to different conclusions about CSI and its derivatives. It seems there are no reasons. You are just loony tunes from the get-go.

    Stephen

  306. 306
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    I don’t know how long you have been following this site. There was a commenter using the pseudonym “Mathgrrl” (real name Patrick May) who spet a while asking for a demonstration of how to calculate CSI.

    And it was provided. All Patty did was say it wasn’t good enough- IOW he acted like the bratty child he is.

    It was very telling that Pat could never give us anything from his positiion that we could could compare CSI against. It’s easy to disagree- any child can do that. However Pat could never provide any reason nor anything that he accepts that we could compare with.

    I am sure the “laws” of this present universe are not violated in ant colonies.

    The point is that the laws alone cannot account for any colonies (nor termite mounds nor beaver dams).

  307. 307
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: On Metrics for FSCI, here in context (and there is much more, here and so forth). I am sure nothing will ever be acceptable to the dismissively selectively hyperskeptical, especially when it cuts to the heart of their claims. So, I now only care to provide record for the reasonable. And, evolutionary materialism is inherently unreasonable, being self-refuting. KF

  308. 308
    Mung says:

    franklin:

    Could you describe this biochemical lock/key system you are making? I’m curious what your downstream design is for your alarm system(s).

    Design? Who said anything about design?

  309. 309
    Mung says:

    So talk of locks and keys and anti-spoofing brings something to mind with respect to pheromones and information transfer.

    If the lock can be opened by just any old key, what sort of lock is it, really? If the same pheromone means “food that way” and “it’s time to party!” and “it’s time to sleep,” what good would it be?

    We’re talking about discrimination. About meaning vs non-meaning. The question “how much information” is nonsensical. Enough information. Not too much, not too little.

    The alternatives are no response or varied responses.

  310. 310
    Mung says:

    Chance @275,

    And so now you can see that no physical laws are violated and Upright BiPed’s argument may as well have come out of a cracker jack box.

  311. 311
    Mung says:

    Chance @286,

    I thought you had repented of your codism. But now it seems like you are once again appealing to codes. This must UAG!

  312. 312
    Mung says:

    Chance Ratcliff:

    Thoughts in a book, outside of the context of a mind, are just ink and paper.

    Nope. There are no thoughts in a book.

    There are no ideas in a book.

    There are no books.

  313. 313
    Mung says:

    Eric:

    The information and the recognition of the information are separate.

    I disagree. If it fails to inform, it is not information.

    Upright BiPed’s argument would also seem to require that there be an effect.

  314. 314

    Mung @313:

    Sorry, but you can’t disagree. 🙂

    Kidding aside, it is not likely for me to be substantively mistaken on this point, because the attempt to collapse information and the recognition of that information is but a semantic game.

    First of all, let me point out that your requirement that information “inform” is not a counter to my point that recognition is separate from the information itself. I don’t have a particular issue with the idea that information has the ability to “inform.” But the act of informing is not the same as the existence of the information itself. So I’m not sure if your statement really disagrees with me.

    But just to flesh things out for purposed of discussion, if someone were to argue that recognizing information and the existence of the information are the one and the same, they would be incorrect for the reasons I have outlined.

    Reread my comment #296, but in case I didn’t explain it well the first time, let me offer a simple example.

    Let’s say we have a string of characters on a hard drive. We want to know whether it contains information (for purposes of forensics, for example).

    We have two possibilities: either it does or it does not. Yet at this moment we do not know. We have not recognized the information. It has not yet informed us. So under the collapsed idea of recognition/existence, we can definitively answer at this moment that “No, the string does not contain any information.” And that statement would be absolutely, unequivocally, 100% true, not because it is substantively the case, but because we have definitionally said that everything we don’t know is non-information. In other words, we have just defined the question away. And — in a great twist of irony — by so defining “information” we have robbed our very answer of all meaningful information content.

    So if I’m running the forensics lab and you tell me that there is no information on the hard drive (because you haven’t recognized it yet), and I ask whether you have even looked at the contents of the drive yet, a “No” response is likely to get you fired or reprimanded. Furthermore, if I know you are being a smartaleck and playing a semantic game with me about what constitutes “information,” then instead of asking you whether there is information on the hard drive I will ask you whether there is anything on the hard drive, that when retrieved, reviewed and analyzed would be reasonably recognized as information. And to top it off, to save time thereafter, I will tell you that whenever in the future I ask you whether something (a hard drive, a floppy disk, a book, a document, etc.) contains “information,” that is what I am referring to. So I can just define my way back out of the silly problem we created and return substantive meaning to our original question.

    And, indeed, that is nearly always what we mean by “information”. When we ask whether something contains information we are asking whether it is objectively there. We are asking whether there is something that can be recognized as information, not whether we have bothered to look or whether we have already recognized it as such.

    Finally, we can note that the act of recognizing a piece of information does not produce the information in question. That would result in other absurd incongruities.

    So, yes, information is capable of informing and it often can produce an effect. But the act of recognizing information is not the same as the existence of the information itself.

  315. 315

    Alan Fox @302:

    There was a commenter using the pseudonym “Mathgrrl” (real name Patrick May) who spet a while asking for a demonstration of how to calculate CSI. The squirming failure to produce anything remotely plausible was painful to observe.

    Can you tell us how much specified information exists in the above quote from you? If you can, then you’re basically there. If you deny that it can be calculated, then you eviscerate your own argument.

  316. 316
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks, dere ent no string o’ karactuhs on no haad driv, noway! Dey’s be onlys magnetic fieldz! Daaz allz.

  317. 317
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Re 315, we cannot trust the dismissive summaries presented by objectors to ID. (Cf my onward links, above, here.)

    Okay, let’s use the chi_500 metric that was developed as a log reduction and simplification of the Dembski Chi metric (and which MG failed to recognise as a log calculation, trying to dismiss as a probability calc. Something Mr May never came back to in any satisfactory manner; let’s just say that at that point the pretence of being a Math whiz evaporated.)

    1: Chi_500 = I*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold for FSCO/I.

    2: We have here 230 ASCII characters at 7 bits/128 states per character (the 8th bit commonly used is a parity check bit, it is not a free digit), i.e. 1610 bits

    3: Now S is a dummy variable on functional specificity, which defaults to 0 unless there is positive reason to set it to 1.

    4: We have above 230 characters in an ASCII string structure, in English, with at least one typo, a misspelling of “spent.”

    5: it is reasonable to conclude, functional specificity, as recognised.

    6: Chi_500 metric value:

    Chi_500 = 1610 * 1 – 500 = 1110 bits beyond the solar system level FSCO/I threshold

    7: Inference on the bit string: designed.

    8: I assume the objector is unwilling to state that his string originated by lucky noise on the internet so we can chalk this up to yet another successful case of the FSCO/I inference being confirmed as a reliable index of intelligent design.
    ________

    AF has been repeatedly corrected on this point, but insists on using a dismissive talking point. At this stage, sadly, I think this goes to character.

    KF

  318. 318
    Box says:

    Eric Anderson (314 & 296)
    If I don’t arrange two empty milk bottles on my porch my neighbor knows that mother won’t visit me next weekend. That’s the sign my neighbor and I agreed upon. Is there actually information in the not-presence of two empty milk bottles on my porch? Does this information exist objectively in this non-presence? If my neighbor and I won’t tell anyone, will anyone be able to derive this information about the non-actions of my mother from the ‘coded’ void on my porch?

    There are just signs and minds. And the meaning (information) of those signs resides in our minds and nowhere else.

  319. 319

    kf @316:

    LOL! Thanks for the clarification. But you know what i”m getting at . . . 🙂

  320. 320

    Box @318:

    You have a code you have agreed upon with your neighbor. The information has been produced (by you) and now exists. Whether anyone ever looks at the information is logically another question. Also, the fact that one individual (your neighbor) is capable of recognizing more information than someone else (the man off the street), does not mean that the information doesn’t exist.

    Again, don’t get hung up on the idea that information only exists in an intelligent agent’s mind. This is quite simple. Either there is something there to be recognized or there isn’t. If there is, we call it information. We can feel free to come up with some other term for it, but that is just a semantic exercise, and we aren’t going to gain any traction, because the concept of information as used in everyday life is as I have described it.

  321. 321
    sterusjon says:

    Box,

    Are you Alan’s doppelganger?

    As for your hypothetical in #318

    Without obtaining any information from either you or your neighbor, an attentive and patient and very nosey observer could decode the information in the absence of two bottles. After enough data points, such an observer could deduce that there is a correlation between milk bottles and maternal visits and from that be able to accurately predict the next non-visitation of your mother. From where does he get the information if, as you say, it is only in the minds of you and your neighbor?

    Stephen

  322. 322
    Box says:

    Sterusjon 321

    Sterusjon: Are you Alan’s doppelganger? As for your hypothetical in #318

    I suppose it’s best to ignore this insult.

    Sterusjon: Without obtaining any information from either you or your neighbor, an attentive and patient and very nosey observer could decode the information in the absence of two bottles. After enough data points, such an observer could deduce that there is a correlation between milk bottles and maternal visits and from that be able to accurately predict the next non-visitation of your mother.

    If I have a long-term agreement with my neighbor, you may be right. Of course it could have been a one-time agreement, in which case you are wrong.

    Sterusjon: From where does he get the information if, as you say, it is only in the minds of you and your neighbor?

    My point is that the nosey observer cannot get information directly just from the milk bottles or their non-present counterparts in isolation. The multiple occurrences have to be integrated in a context. The nosey observer has to study relations within context. The information is not in the bottles (or in their arrangement) nor can information be derived from them when studied in isolation – without context. It is his mind which is capable of contextualizing the empty milk bottles and the visits and can detect their meaningful relationship.

  323. 323
    Phinehas says:

    Perhaps the information is in the protocol and not the bottles? In other words, it is the mapping that makes it information. Once the mapping is created (requiring mind), then the information exists whether the bottles are present or not.

    Is it possible for something (or its lack) to represent something else without there being information present? From this view, the information in this post inheres in the mapping of various arrangements of letters to meanings in the English language more than in the content itself, which is perhaps a strange way to look at it.

  324. 324
    sterusjon says:

    Box,

    Let me see if I have this right.

    one time- zero information
    two times- a teeny-tiny bit of information

    one thousand times- whole bunch of information

    Isn’t it better to say that each instance has the same amount of information? (I would prefer the term ‘message’ in place of ‘information’.)

    The fact that information does require a context (semiotic system) does not mean that information is not imbedded in the arbitrarily selected absence of milk bottles (placing the milk bottles on the floor inside the front door and out of sight instead of placing them on the porch.) Actually, the existence of the context (semiotic system that has been established) defines the arrangement of milk bottles to be information. Their absence signifies one thing and their presence means something else.

    The hypothetical is that you and your neighbor have setup your semiotic system and an outside observer can watch the information flow through it. At first, not even recognizing the reality of what has occurred (know but not understand). An astute observer, with enough repetitions, will crack the code (come to an understanding) of the semiotic system and tap into the information as future messages are sent whether your neighbor receives them or not (since, in your hypothetical the neighbor need not acknowledge or act based on the information).

    The receiver of the information need not even be a person. I could easily install a camera and pattern recognition software to monitor your porch and automatically remotely control your front porch light to not come on those evenings that your mother is not going to arrive for a visit. After the system is designed and implemented, no human is required at the receiving end..

    I do think you are committing the same error that Alan has. There is something present in the ink on the printed page or the “missing bottle” code that is actually there whether someone is paying attention or not. Something is captured, recorded, symbolized, represented by the arrangement of matter. Alan absurdly denies there is anything. From what I have seen, you are essentially saying the same thing. If, on the other hand, you are saying there is something there but it is not information, then Eric is correct and you are playing a semantics game. If you wish to discuss information/message vs. knowledge vs. understanding then let’s move on to that instead of trying to make information disappear by not putting two milk bottles the front porch (when you otherwise would have) to signify you mother not coming (instead of coming for a visit as she normally would.)

    Stephen

  325. 325

    Box @322:

    I don’t think anyone is disputing that information has to be obtained before it can be recognized and used, or that it may exist within a particular context or a particular code.

    But that doesn’t mean something isn’t objectively there. Once it is created by a mind it exists. And it doesn’t just pop into and out of existence depending on whether a potential receiver happens to be looking at it or aware of it or thinking about it or has forgotten it and so on.

  326. 326
    Box says:

    Eric A.: But that doesn’t mean something isn’t objectively there. Once it is created by a mind it exists.

    Eric, you keep saying that, but the question is whether we can pinpoint the location of the information. And whether it is ‘a real tangible thing’ like UB claims.

  327. 327
    Box says:

    sterusjon: Let me see if I have this right.
    one time- zero information
    two times- a teeny-tiny bit of information

    one thousand times- whole bunch of information

    We have a misunderstanding, unless you reason from the perspective of the nosey observer. I arguid that a one-time agreement between my neighbor and me would be ‘undecodable’ for this nosey observer.

    sterusjon:The fact that information does require a context (semiotic system) does not mean that information is not imbedded in the arbitrarily selected absence of milk bottles (placing the milk bottles on the floor inside the front door and out of sight instead of placing them on the porch.) Actually, the existence of the context (semiotic system that has been established) defines the arrangement of milk bottles to be information. Their absence signifies one thing and their presence means something else.

    Indeed. Now, before I comment any further: where do you locate the information?

  328. 328
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Mung,

    “There are no thoughts in a book.”

    Pedant! :p

    Will the judges accept “thoughts translated into codes and recorded as symbols” in a book?

    And could we shorten “thoughts translated into codes and recorded as symbols” to “thoughts” presuming the context is sufficient to glean the appropriate meaning?

  329. 329
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Given the relationship between information and its effect within the context of a system, it sure seems difficult to insist that there is no objective sense of information at all. Upthread I used a cassette tape player as an example of a system for transferring recorded information. In the context of that system, packets of magnetic data are converted into audio signals by way of the specific configuration of the cassette player hardware. Is it agreed that the information present on the cassette tape is objectively present even when it is not currently being played? I suppose we could call this a form of prescriptive information in that it’s a form of information which has a specific material effect within the context of a specifically configured system.

    Are we in error to confuse the information on the cassette tape with the audio signals which emanate from the speaker of the player? It would seem so. I only mean that it seems obvious there needs to be a careful distinction between the cause of the effect and the effect itself. I haven’t always been making this distinction myself when discussing information. When a book is closed and not read, is it the information which ceases to exist, or is it the effect that the information causes? And if we should be calling the effect of reading the text “information,” then what do we call the cause?

    I suppose we could say that descriptive information is fundamentally different. Prescriptive information can have its effect independent of an agent once the system has been properly configured. For example, a motion detector is an independent system, and the information which goes into programming it can be said to be part of a deterministic system once it is input. So the whole thing can basically operate independently of agency once it is operational. However descriptive information, as I understand it, would be like the comments on this blog. They only invoke their effect on agents capable of deciphering them. However we still have the fundamental components of information transfer — the symbols, the brain which comprehends them, and the effect which are the thoughts produced by comprehension.

    In that latter case, if we are calling the symbols the information, then surely they objectively exist, regardless of whether anyone is reading the comments. However if we are calling the effect that the symbols produce the information, then surely they can only have an effect while being processed by the system (brain). Therefore it seems to me that the status of descriptive information when it is not being observed is dependent on whether we are defining information as the input or the output, the symbols or thoughts themselves, the cause or the effect. Or have I hacked it up?

  330. 330

    Chance @329:

    In that latter case, if we are calling the symbols the information, then surely they objectively exist, regardless of whether anyone is reading the comments. However if we are calling the effect that the symbols produce the information, then surely they can only have an effect while being processed by the system (brain). Therefore it seems to me that the status of descriptive information when it is not being observed is dependent on whether we are defining information as the input or the output, the symbols or thoughts themselves, the cause or the effect. Or have I hacked it up?

    I think you are very much on track. This is essentially the point I have been making.

    If we take the somewhat unusual approach being proposed by some folks and define “information” as the effect, then we just have to come up with a different term to use for the coordinated symbols themselves. There is no need to go through this semantic game. The word “information” is regularly and typically used for the coordinated symbols.

    This is pretty binary and simple: Is there something there? If not, then there is nothing to recognize. If so, then what do we call that something. Simple. We call it “information.”

    Everyone knows that information can be produced and can be recognized.

    To produce something means there must be something to be produced. To recognize something means there must be something to be recognized.

  331. 331
    Box says:

    [I wrote this attempt of analysis with the example of written text in mind]

    – What we call information is something that flows from a mind.

    – Once outside the mind it is ‘information without context’ (IWC) – it went from 3D to 2D. It is potentially coherent, potentially meaningful. UB calls it ‘incomplete form’. Maybe ‘content without form’ (flattened) would be an alternative.
    In principle it can be no longer understood because it is about things that can only be understood in context – without context no information / meaning. It needs a 3D world to regain shape.

    – 2D to 3D. Another mind can resurrect a context for IWC and give it form. This mind will provide a different context, but when not too different from the original mind the information has meaning / can be recognized.

    What is IWC? Is it out there? Does it exist on its own? Is it real en tangible? Or does it only become real en tangible once it is encapsulated in a mind?

  332. 332
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Box @ 331,

    Good comments. The notion of context representing a “dimension” of information is certainly interesting. In this video, Winston Ewert talks about Conditional Kolmogorov Complexity, which attempts to measure how much information is imported into meaning via various degrees of context.

    With regard to your statement,

    “What we call information is something that flows from a mind.”

    I agree with that statement, understanding information to be that form of thought which proceeds outside of, and becomes external to, a mind. Is this the sense that you intended? In that sense, information is also what “enters into”, and causes thought, inside of a mind. In a very important sense then, information is the external form of thought, the material product of a conscious mind expressing ideas for the purposes of communicating/sharing them. In this case we can consider the both spoken word and its written form, as information. I don’t know if you agree, but it seems quite comfortable and natural to consider thought as that which exists within the context of a mind, and information as the spoken or written form of thought, delivered outside of a mind, for the purpose of expressing ideas and even emotions. We need identifiers for both things, and the term information is formally defined, and generally excepted, as the external form of thought, the material product of a mind.

    What is IWC? Is it out there? Does it exist on its own? Is it real en tangible? Or does it only become real en tangible once it is encapsulated in a mind?

    I think that certain types of information don’t really become alive until they are ascertained, but I don’t generally consider information in a vacuum either. Any external form of thought, the material representation of it, information, proceeds from real and genuine thought, and was given its life on that occasion. The letters “HELP” scrawled largely and desperately upon the beach of a desert island represent genuine, living thought. They are not the thoughts themselves, they are information, an artifact of the conscious expression of a living being.

  333. 333
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Eric @ 330, thanks for the response.

    “Everyone knows that information can be produced and can be recognized. To produce something means there must be something to be produced. To recognize something means there must be something to be recognized.”

    Agreed. I don’t know of a better way of keeping track of thoughts/ideas which occur “inside” a mind, versus that which externally represents them. We naturally consider information to be the external representation of thought.

  334. 334

    Chance @332:

    Well said and clearly spelled out, particularly the latter half of your large middle paragraph.

  335. 335
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Eric @334,

    Thanks, you’re too kind. 🙂 And I can see, now that I’ve bothered to read more carefully the comments upthread, that you’ve indeed been making the same general point. Sterusjon @324 has an interesting post as well.

  336. 336
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Phinehas @323,

    “Perhaps the information is in the protocol and not the bottles? In other words, it is the mapping that makes it information. Once the mapping is created (requiring mind), then the information exists whether the bottles are present or not.”

    I think I largely agree, although I would say the protocol is what gives the information its context, where the presence or absence of the bottles is the bit of information taken in the context of the protocol, the agreement between neighbors. The meaning of the presence or absence of the bottles, as is understood by the receiving neighbor, is the effect I suppose. And with a single bit of information, the presence or absence of that bit (its state) are both necessary for the communication of the agreed meaning. In a byte of information, the state of each of the eight bits, whether on or off, are necessary for information to be properly conveyed. The binary string 01000001 generally represents the letter ‘A’ on a computer system, and for this combination of values, their presence or absence is the information.

    “Is it possible for something (or its lack) to represent something else without there being information present?”

    I don’t see how, not if we define information to be the input portion of the mapping between symbol and meaning, and if the protocol is currently in effect.

  337. 337
    sterusjon says:

    Box,

    Indeed. Now, before I comment any further: where do you locate the information?

    I locate the information, in the your specific hypothetical case, in the arrangement of matter, specifically the absence or presence of two milk bottles on the porch, as defined by a semiotic system agreed to by two intelligent agents. That does not mean it is restricted to that place. It originates in the sender (you) and is deposited by you on the porch. It is transmitted via reflected light to the receiver (your neighbor or any other neighbor or other detector in a position to observe your porch and interpret it within the information definition) who recognizes the information you have positioned at the designated place as agreed when defining what constitutes information in the construction of the semiotic system.

    In my previous post I made mention of information/message vs. knowledge vs. understanding. That is where I think our discussion should focus. Information is ubiquitous. Take, for example, the room temperature. There is a arrangement of matter in the room that is the heat content of the air around me. I, by means of a semiotic system, whether, Celsius, Fahrenheit, Kelvin or one of my own invention, convert that arrangement of matter to a numerical or qualitative (as in cold, cool, perfect, warm or hot) representation. That representation is information, also. I can add that information to the other information I hold in a catalog of knowledge. The catalog of knowledge is inert. It changes nothing. It causes nothing. It is the unique power of intellect to utilize a catalog of knowledge by perceiving the interconnections and interactions among the items of information in the catalog. The essence of intelligence is the ability to understand knowledge. That is the source of creativity, invention and action.

    In the sciences of the mind there may different terminology that is specifically designed to make the differentiations I have just tried to make. I am happy to add to my catalog of knowledge if someone would be so kind. My point is that to dismiss what is by nature or can be instilled by agents in an arrangement of matter as illusionary is foolishness. I am happy to add modifiers to words or even invent new words to eliminate ambiguity, but I strenuously object to the denial of information’s very existence in the absence of your two milk bottles.

    Recognition of its existence is the prerequisite to the onward steps of qualifying it and quantifying it. Important objectives to better understand the issues in the debate at the heart of UD’s mission.

    Stephen

  338. 338
    Alan Fox says:

    I had hoped to find the reason we have come to different conclusions about CSI and its derivatives. It seems there are no reasons. You are just loony tunes from the get-go.

    First off, apologies for the recent break in communication. Our village is due for a once-in-a-generation event for which there have been numerous regional and departmental sponsored preparations, amongst which was an installation of “street” lighting. Unfortunately, in the process, the telephone lines for the commune were severed and we have had no telephone or internet chez nous from Tuesday until today.

    Re CSI:

    The burden is on those who think this is a real concept to define it in a meaningful way.

    Re “loony tunes”

    Fair enough! Ignore any further comment from me.

  339. 339
    Alan Fox says:

    Can you tell us how much specified information exists in the above quote from you? If you can, then you’re basically there. If you deny that it can be calculated, then you eviscerate your own argument.

    What a bizarre comment! I assert information, as hijacked and meaninglessly modified by acronyms such as CSI is not a useful, measurable or scientific concept. Why you think that I could tell you how much CSI was in anything is puzzling? I am saying it is impossible. Is that clear enough?

  340. 340
    Phinehas says:

    Is anyone else starting to see parallels between our discussion on information and quantum theory?

    In one sense, information only exists when there is an observer. (One perspective on the discussion.) In another sense, saying it doesn’t exist outside of an observer is about as helpful as saying the same about matter. (The other perspective on the discussion.)

  341. 341
    Alan Fox says:

    In one sense, information only exists when there is an observer.

    Can you count it, though?

  342. 342
    Phinehas says:

    @Alan Fox

    Do you have a formulation of information (as it is most commonly conceived) that is useful, measurable, and scientific? Or is this simply another area of study in which science (as you’d define it) is impotent?

  343. 343
    Alan Fox says:

    Do you have a formulation of information (as it is most commonly conceived) that is useful, measurable, and scientific? Or is this simply another area of study in which science (as you’d define it) is impotent?

    Science can study any real phenomenon. Phenomena transcend language. You have to go beyond “as is most commonly conceived” to something a little more specific. I have no idea what people (in this venue) mean when they bandy words around such as intelligent, design, agency, information, semiosis etc. There seems an aversion to defining terms. Define a phenomenon and, if it is real, science will find a way of studying it.

    Reification

  344. 344
    Box says:

    Information (signs) only originate from mind and are only understandable by mind. Does information exist independent from mind? No it does not. Signs become meaningless without a mind. Therefor does it not exist objectively? It does exist but for its existence it is dependent on mind. It has no separate existence from mind.
    Mind is a necessary being for information – which is contingent.

  345. 345
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    Re CSI:

    The burden is on those who think this is a real concept to define it in a meaningful way.

    We have. CSI has been defined in a meaningful way as compared to anything your position has to offer.

    IOW Alan, yours is not a valid rejection of the concept.

    I have no idea what people (in this venue) mean when they bandy words around such as intelligent, design, agency, information, semiosis etc.

    We use them in the normal senses, Alan. Just buy a dictionary or use onelook.

  346. 346
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    Science can study any real phenomenon.

    It can’t study non-mobile bacteria evolving a flagellum via blind and undirected chemical processes. So that must not be real. 😉

    It can’t study bacteria evolving into eukaryotes via blind and undirected chemical processes, so that must not be real.

    Geez it can’t study macroevolution as defined by Coyne in WEIT, so that must not be real.

    Nice job Alan.

  347. 347
    kairosfocus says:

    AF @ 339:

    I assert information, as hijacked and meaninglessly modified by acronyms such as CSI is not a useful, measurable or scientific concept. Why you think that I could tell you how much CSI was in anything is puzzling? I am saying it is impossible. Is that clear enough?

    This is of course, in attempted dismissal of a working out of the FSCO/I involved in an earlier dismissive comment made by AF, using the Chi_500 metric model for FSCO/I.

    The sneering dismissal without engaging the actual substantial matter on its merits, inadvertently reveals the actual balance on the merits.

    Namely, there is in fact an adequate definition and metric model for FSCO/I, but that is inconvenient for the objectors to the design inference on FSCO/I as reliable sign, so they will put up a cloud of dismissive words.

    Similarly, we see attempts to pretend there are not adequate definitions of design, intelligence, information, etc.

    All of this is tantamount to a retreat from the world of reasonable, objective analysis, and in the case of those who have been repeatedly corrected and pointed to where they can easily find reasonable answers if those were genuine questions (as in: the resources tab here at UD has in it a glossary link as well as weak argument correctives, and there is reasonable onward access to various sources that can easily be found), it sadly, goes to character.

    AF, please, think again and do better.

    KF

  348. 348
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Cf here on the FSCO/I content of AF’s earlier comment.

  349. 349
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: Biology is the science of life. However, tehre is no generally accepted precise definition of life. And so what is done is that we study on key cases and those with sufficient family resemblance. Over these past 8 or so years, that has been repeatedly highlighted, and its implication, that ostensive definition by key example and family resemblance is quite valid, also. KF

  350. 350
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: kf you may like this,,

    Mark Burnett says ‘weird things happened’ on ‘The Bible’ set by Grady Smith
    ,,,The Bible beat everything on television with a massive 13.1 million viewers, making it cable’s most-watched entertainment telecast this year.,,,
    “The hand of God was on this…. the edit came together perfectly, the actors came together perfectly, it just comes to life.” But Burnett wasn’t just speaking about how well the practicalities of production had gone. “Weird things happened during filming,” he said. “Everybody would look at each other like, “Whoa.”,,,
    A mighty desert wind
    “There’s a scene with Jesus and Nicodemus, when Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the night. It’s a very still night, not a breath of wind, and we’re on the edge of the Sahara desert in a palm grove in an oasis… Jesus says, ‘The Holy Spirit is like the wind.’ At that moment, a wind, like as if a 747 was taking off, blew his hair, almost blew the set over and sustained for 20 seconds across the desert, and the actors didn’t break — they kept going. And everything stopped. Everyone just looked at everyone like, ‘What just happened?’”,,
    http://insidetv.ew.com/2013/03.....bible-set/

    I can relate:

    Miracle Testimony – One Easter Sunday Sunrise Service – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995314/

    John 3:8
    The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

  351. 351
    Mung says:

    Alan Fox:

    The burden is on those who think this is a real concept to define it in a meaningful way.

    Simple unspecified nonsense!

  352. 352
    Phinehas says:

    @Alan Fox

    Do you have a formulation of information (as it is most commonly conceived) that is useful, measurable, and scientific? Or is this simply another area of study in which science (as you’d define it) is impotent?

    Science can study any real phenomenon. Phenomena transcend language. You have to go beyond “as is most commonly conceived” to something a little more specific. I have no idea what people (in this venue) mean when they bandy words around such as intelligent, design, agency, information, semiosis etc. There seems an aversion to defining terms. Define a phenomenon and, if it is real, science will find a way of studying it.

    Alan, you’ve poo-pooed the ID formulation of information as being neither useful, measurable, nor scientific. I’m merely trying to figure out what you have on offer that would better suffice. If you feel that definitions are lacking, then please fill in the blanks as you see fit. Show us how its done. This is your opportunity to help us out and move the science of information forward. After all, no one wants to be a science stopper, do they?

    Alternatively, if you’d like to dig into definitions, perhaps you could explain to me what “real” means when you say, “science can study any real phenomenon.”

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