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Source: (consider it) Thread: The Death of Darwinism
Rex Monday

None but a blockhead
# 2569

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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
Until computers spontaneously start generating their own software, I will find it difficult to see AVIDA (and its results) in any light other than a human artefact.

Nobody's asking you to think of it as anything other than a human artefact. And anyway, wouldn't you then say "But the computer was built by people, or the computer before that was, so there's no proof"?

What would you accept as proof?

quote:


quote:
Rex Monday said:
Ah, good. We're getting somewhere. What are these flaws? Are they implementation or design flaws?

See some of my response above to Sleepyhead.

[lots of uncontentious explication snipped]

The model certainly works and the digital life-forms show evolutionary progress in performing more complex functions. There’s no argument from me on these basic facts – the flaws lie elsewhere.

To my mind the success of the program is simply an artefact of human design and the product of programming skill. The programming rewards each step of the way as the digital creatures evolve towards the most complex function. When the rewards for these intermediate stages were stopped, the program consistently failed to evolve the most complex function.

That's what it was intended to show. Are you saying that Avida's flaws are that it works?
[links to other stuff snipped - I'm primarily interested in what _you_ think]
quote:
Rex Monday said:
quote:

You've just described evolution! I thought you didn't believe that worked?

There’s no argument from me that variation (whether random or non-random) followed by natural selection can generate some evolutionary change, such as the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics. The key question is whether this mechanism alone can explain the present diversity and complexity of biological life.


To which the answer is "yes, it can.", as specific objections don't hold up and the evolutionary model is consistent, explicative and well-documented in fossil, DNA, morphological and other ways.

We've been around this loop a thousand times. Evolution has evidence, nay-sayers have naught but nays to say. Certainly no facts. Avida is just one little bit more evidence on the biological side (specifically good at deflating ID, but there we go).

quote:

quote:
Rex Monday said:
Er, wot? That's not a circular argument, that's testing a theory!

Guesswork and speculative thought certainly have their place in asking questions, proposing a hypothesis and formulating a research strategy. An accurate computer model of the proposed ideas may indeed help the research strategy – I don’t disagree there at all – but it cannot of itself determine whether those ideas are true or false.

Good. So you didn't mean
quote:
A working computer simulation that embodies certain starting assumptions cannot be cited as evidence for the truth of those assumptions. That is a circular argument.

after all. All I wanted to know.
quote:

Personally I do not see any way round the philosophical conundrum that any computer model is the product of an intelligent human mind. How could such a model ever then conclusively demonstrate that intelligent life evolved in the absence of an intelligent mind?

By that argument, nothing could ever be so demonstrated.

Modelling a snowflake forming out of water vapour would seem to me to show that snowflakes weren't cut out of clouds by angels with scissors but made by water molecules, energy changes and interatomic bonding. Your argument would say that this was not demonstrated.

Modelling the way DNA changes over time if measured rates of mutation were extrapolated and showing that this ties in with fossil evidence of morphological changes would seem to me to show that natural forces are adequate to explain what we see. Your argument would say that this was not demonstrated.

Presumably you do accept that models of some systems do work. So what's magic about biology?

If we had an accurate model of the early Earth, ran time forwards to the present day and could examine each individual step from pre-biotic compounds to modern humans, wouldn't that demonstrate that it was at least possible?

* The starting model is in accordance with physics.

How does the fact that we created the starting model with our intelligence make this statement invalid?

* Each step of the way is in accordance with physics.

How does the fact that we wrote down the mathematics that mirror physics make this statement invalid?

* And if the original model was good, and each step was good, what can the philosophical problem be with the result? What strange and eerie effect affects it? From where does the error come? Why does it not affect anything else we model?

I'm not saying that we could easily make such a model, but I am concerned that you reject it out of hand for philosophical reasons. Philosophy cannot overturn evidence. You sound like a vitalist, and look what happened to them.

quote:


The limiting factor in the future is unlikely to be computing technology, but our understanding of all biological processes including evolutionary ones. Any knowledge shortfall is necessarily where any model will fail to produce meaningful results.


So... evolutionary models will fail because we won't understand evolution. That's a surprisingly bold statement to make. On what do you base it? There's been no slow-down in evolutionary research lately. Quite the opposite. What about biology will make it beyond us? And when the model starts to fail, what's to stop us investigating the cause of failure and learning from it - as we do already, especially when our models give us the luxury of examining each step in turn.

Look how good we are with QM, and that's deeply weird.

quote:


If our future understanding of all biological processes reach the levels you suggest, then it is possible that parts of the computer model may become sentient and self-aware, and may even make a break for freedom. Who wants to do calculations all day? [Smile]


Ask your visual cortex.

quote:
Yes, everyone uses computer simulations these days, but the point I have made about digital fiction needs to be borne in mind. Personally I think that attempting to develop a computer simulation of a non-Darwinian evolutionary process is barking up the wrong tree entirely. Ultimately it will be no more convincing than AVIDA has been.


But why? Repeating what you think is very unsatisfying. You have to bring some facts and logic to the game, otherwise it's no fun.
quote:


Davison considers that his Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis is testable and falsifiable by conventional bench experimentation. This work remains to be done due to a lack of research funding and the fact that he is now retired. His ideas presently remain untested.


And disbelieved, for reasons made very plain by others earlier. I believe there is little work going on with Velikovsky, either, and Aristotle's theories about otters and crocodiles have scored very low in project proposals for quite some while now.

quote:

Neil [/QB]

R

--------------------
I am largely against organised religion, which is why I am so fond of the C of E.

Posts: 514 | From: Gin Lane | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
ken
Ship's Roundhead
# 2460

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quote:
Originally posted by sharkshooter:
Now, perhaps I have not followed all the arguments so far (of course I haven't) but could someone explain how, and if, this supports evolution in the absence of a pre-defined goal? How do you know which sequences of random letters (genetic mutations) to keep unless you know you want English or German, for example?

Why keep "yes" but not "oui" or indeed "aserifwe"?

Because the language is standing in for the environment here.

A bacterium that can eat sugar can survive in a world fll of sugar. (& yes, there are loads that can't)

A computer program that can produce English can maybe survive in a world of English speakers.


NB I do not regard these programs, still less genetic algorithms, as proof of anything much... they are fun to do, and they are useful ways of modelling the progress of evolution, but that's not any kind of "proof".


For what its worth my first take on randomising character strings & checking them against an English dictionary has churned out lots and lots of short words - obviously these are more likley to turn up at random.

So, for example:

0
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10
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20
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50
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100
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150
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200
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300
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400
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--------------------
Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

Posts: 39579 | From: London | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Papio

Ship's baboon
# 4201

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Ken - is it possible that you have subconsciously, but deliberately, inserted those words into the text?

Or, in other words, is it not possible that the fact that a few sort words appeared in a "random" set of text does not actually works in favour of Sharkshooter's position because the text is arguably NOT totally random, but the product of a creative mind?

Even if, as is the case with humans, our brains transcend our own understanding and, certainly, our awareness at any given moment.

I mean, I pretty much believe in random evolutionary process, but I don't think your example proves your point.

--------------------
Infinite Penguins.
My "Readit, Swapit" page
My "LibraryThing" page

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Rex Monday

None but a blockhead
# 2569

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Look on the bright side. We might be getting somewhere with glossolalia...

R

--------------------
I am largely against organised religion, which is why I am so fond of the C of E.

Posts: 514 | From: Gin Lane | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Sleepyhead
Shipmate
# 3862

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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
I particularly recommend some further study on Dembski’s concept of specification, which plays a key part in his ideas. This heavyweight paper takes his ideas further and now gives specification a rigorous mathematical definition, as opposed to his earlier qualitative definitions.

Currently wading through this steaming pile. [Projectile] Could you please clarify what you mean by 'heavyweight'? The paper assumes the reader is not familiar with terms like 'compact' and 'cardinality'. I also object to the fact that his analysis of the probability of certain runs of coins is incorrect. You will probably claim that this is irrelevant to the paper, but it is hardly reassuring. [Ultra confused]

[ 19. July 2005, 02:00: Message edited by: Sleepyhead ]

--------------------
If I blame them for anything
it's nothing more than I blame on myself

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Faithful Sheepdog
Shipmate
# 2305

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quote:
Originally posted by Sleepyhead:
quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
I particularly recommend some further study on Dembski’s concept of specification, which plays a key part in his ideas. This heavyweight paper takes his ideas further and now gives specification a rigorous mathematical definition, as opposed to his earlier qualitative definitions.

Currently wading through this steaming pile. [Projectile] Could you please clarify what you mean by 'heavyweight'? The paper assumes the reader is not familiar with terms like 'compact' and 'cardinality'. I also object to the fact that his analysis of the probability of certain runs of coins is incorrect. You will probably claim that this is irrelevant to the paper, but it is hardly reassuring. [Ultra confused]
Please can you give me some reasons for your opinions. I find it most frustrating to hear nothing but abuse about "steaming piles" and unsupported assertions about allegedly incorrect probability analyses.

By "heavyweight" I was referring to the level of mathematical knowledge needed to understand the paper properly. Some of Dembski's writing is aimed at the literate non-specialist public, and some at mathematical specialists.

This particular paper comes into the latter category. It is part of an ongoing series being published at his website. Dembski welcomes informed constructive criticism, and so do I.

Neil

--------------------
"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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ken
Ship's Roundhead
# 2460

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quote:
Originally posted by Papio.:
I mean, I pretty much believe in random evolutionary process, but I don't think your example proves your point.

Er, I don't have a point. I just thought it would be fun to write the program.

Of course the outcome isn't random because only those words in the dictionary can survive. Though of the over 200,000 words I'm using very few get in. If I get a spare half hour maybe I'll rewrite it to look for larger words in some way.

Ahah! I just realised how to do that!

A better tack for glossolalia is to start with a piece of text & reformat it - I have some code to do that as well - maybe I'll try it on this thread...

--------------------
Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

Posts: 39579 | From: London | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
ken
Ship's Roundhead
# 2460

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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
I find it most frustrating to hear nothing but abuse about "steaming piles" and unsupported assertions about allegedly incorrect probability analyses.

Maybe Spleepoyhead will tell us whats wrong with the coin section.

I can tell us what's wrong with the notion of a "universal probability bound". Its the old golfball-an-blade-of-grass problem again.

So something has a probability of less than 1 in 10^150 and ought never imaginably to happen? But everything is unlikely if you specify enough detail (as Dembski has just spent some pages telling us). Such analysis only tells you that you cannot predict exactly what will happen - not that you can claim that what has happened could not have happened by chance & therefore must be designed. Looking at the whole universe (or een anyt reasonably macroscopic chunk of it) all events are improbable at that sort of level. Dembski's notion would imply a universe too nervous of improbability to allow anything to happen at all.

--------------------
Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

Posts: 39579 | From: London | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Faithful Sheepdog
Shipmate
# 2305

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Rex Monday:

I reaaly do think there is a fundamental difference of opinion between us on what a working computer model of any scientific theory can be expected to prove, even an accurate model of a well-established theory. Under Popperian concepts of observation, repeatability, testability and falsifiability, a working computer model (accurate or otherwise) is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition.

I am going to take a break for a few days from long detailed replies, in order to regenerate my energy and to reread the original Nature paper about AVIDA in more detail. I read it briefly last summer when it came up on this thread, but the focus then was an electronics experiment.

(This paper's here for those who need it, with supplemmentary information here.)

I will respond more fully in due course concerning AVIDA and other computer models. In the meantime I would like to ask you why you think that AVIDA reveals any true information about the biological world and why you think it is "specifically good at deflating ID".


Ken:

I understand what you mean by the golfball-and-blade-of-grass problem, but I think you have completely misunderstood what Dembski means by his universal probability bound. Neither Dembski nor I disagree that extremely improbable events occur all the time, such as a golfball hitting a particular blade of grass on a huge course.

Dembski's work is aimed at the probability mathematics of processes that construct information. To visualise this, consider not just one golf ball, but a whole series of them, all driven from the same tee by the same person. Suppose that we mark the position where each one landed and construct an ad hoc pattern.

We then look down from a high vantage point and find that the resulting pattern spells out a clearly discernible message in English: "You're a lousy golfer and you'll need to do much better".

If such an event ever occurred, would it be wholly explainable by naturalistic science - the laws of physics, aerodymamics, human physiology and the like? Or would it clearly signal the work of some skilful trajectory manipulation by a purposeful mind, or in other words, intelligent design?

That is the area of Dembki's work. To my eyes he's much more sophisticated than you give him credit for.

neil

--------------------
"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

Posts: 1097 | From: Scotland | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
leonato
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# 5124

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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
I particularly recommend some further study on Dembski’s concept of specification, which plays a key part in his ideas. This heavyweight paper takes his ideas further and now gives specification a rigorous mathematical definition, as opposed to his earlier qualitative definitions.

Well, I've had a chance to have a look at it, if not in complete detail, and I'm deeply unimpressed. It seems to be little more than a long-winded and non-technical (it is certainly not written for probabalists!) discussion of calculating probablities of rare events, with plenty of lack of precise statistical and probabalistic knowledge shown along the way.

His multiple formulae seem to say nothing more than that the probablity of some pattern T occuring by chance is approximately N.N(T).P(T) where P(T) is T's probability, N(T) the number of such patterns, and N the number of chances to produce such a pattern - hardly groundbreaking stuff.

If that probablilty bound were small then you might conclude that T did not form by chance, but there is a long way between this and showing that patterns in nature have such a low probablilty.

--------------------
leonato... Much Ado

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Papio

Ship's baboon
# 4201

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quote:
Originally posted by ken:
NB I do not regard these programs, still less genetic algorithms, as proof of anything much... they are fun to do, and they are useful ways of modelling the progress of evolution, but that's not any kind of "proof".

Note to self: do not post late at night, when tired, after having watched several complicated films in a row and drunk three pints of beer.

Ok, Ken, sorry.

I thought you were attempting to show that random process can be meaningful and intelligent, although why I thought that I am no longer sure.

[Hot and Hormonal]

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Rex Monday

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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
Rex Monday:

I reaaly do think there is a fundamental difference of opinion between us on what a working computer model of any scientific theory can be expected to prove, even an accurate model of a well-established theory. Under Popperian concepts of observation, repeatability, testability and falsifiability, a working computer model (accurate or otherwise) is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition.


Never said it was. So, what exactly is this difference of opinion?
quote:


I am going to take a break for a few days from long detailed replies, in order to regenerate my energy and to reread the original Nature paper about AVIDA in more detail. I read it briefly last summer when it came up on this thread, but the focus then was an electronics experiment.

(This paper's here for those who need it, with supplemmentary information here.)

I will respond more fully in due course concerning AVIDA and other computer models. In the meantime I would like to ask you why you think that AVIDA reveals any true information about the biological world and why you think it is "specifically good at deflating ID".


Ask away.

By the way, at a rough count I make it something like seven unanswered questions of mine in my last post (that's not atypical) so perhaps you'll forgive me if I wait for a few answers before reciprocating.
quote:


neil [/QB]

R

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Faithful Sheepdog
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quote:
Originally posted by Rex Monday:
Ask away.

By the way, at a rough count I make it something like seven unanswered questions of mine in my last post (that's not atypical) so perhaps you'll forgive me if I wait for a few answers before reciprocating.

Rex Monday, I have already given you many substantial answers. I am not here as your personal answering service and there are other posters on this thread. Despite the disguised personal attack contained in your sarcastic remarks about Aristotle and Velikovsky, I have chosen to continue posting for now.

This afternoon has been spent studying the AVIDA paper in Nature Journal and refreshing my memories. In due course I am likely to be able to discuss that program in some depth. I trust that you will be able to do likewise.

My questions asked you to substantiate the viewpoint about AVIDA that you have already expressed on this thread. They were highly pertinent to the discussion. However, if you are not willing to substantiate your own viewpoint, then I can only draw the obvious conclusions.

Neil

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Justinian
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
quote:
Justinian said:
I believe that the assertion is on your side that it can not be so creative. The Darwinian argument here is along the lines of the infinite number of monkeys.

Gradualism is an essential part of Darwinian theory, even in its Punctuated Equilibrium variation. The burden of proof is definitely in the Darwinian court at this point. Even Darwin recognised this point, but did not rise to it, when he wrote:

quote:
“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

Yes. It's just a pity that none such has ever been found, despite the attempts by the ID movement. It is a falsifiable theory (unlike ID), and falsifiable with empirical measurement - and therefore (unlike ID) fits the scientific cannon.

All I was saying was that with sufficient amounts of trial and error, every possible solution will be found. Regardless of how "creative" you think the solutions are.

quote:
But even if it had an infinite amount of time, that does not render possible an intrinsic impossibility.
Nothing renders possible an intrinsic impossibility.

quote:
quote:
Justinian said:
New functions can trivially be shown to happen- see the giraffe's neck for one example. Also look at the vast variety of domestic dogs.

The giraffe’s neck and dog breeds are not examples of qualitative change – it’s still a neck, and they are still dogs. It is the more far-reaching qualitative change that remains to be demonstrated.
The giraffe's neck is qualitiative change in function. It changes the purpose of the neck from providing extra flexibility for the head to allow a wider field of vision and more possible angles of biting to a mechanism for reaching tall trees.

quote:
The falsification of gradualism is a consequence of the irreducible complexity argument (assuming that one accepts it – I know you don’t).
I would accept it if anything irreducibly complex had been found. Such a pity it hasn't...

quote:
quote:
Justinian said:
There are lots of patterns in the digits of Pi - but they are short range and an artifact of Pi being a pseudorandom number.

I think we differ in what we mean by arithmetical “patterns”. I am thinking of something that could reduce the infinite digits of pi to a formula that is much shorter than a long lists of digits. I believe that the mathematical term for this is ‘compressibility’.
Yes.

quote:
I am told that flipping an unbiased coin several hundred times will often generate strings of six or seven heads in a row (or tails in a row) – a result that is far from intuitive, but true nonetheless. As far as the overall result goes, I would not call that a pattern, but it may be what you are referring to as a “short range pattern”.
It is a pattern (as is a sequence of HTHTHTHTHT) and many people have attempted to use such as evidence of patterns and non-randomness.

quote:
What do you mean by a “pseudorandom number”?
The colloquial definition is "the best a computer can do when attempting to generate a random number" - unless you know how a pseudorandom number (or rather number sequence - I'm thinking of the digits here) was generated it looks random.

quote:
Justinian said:
And I would say that given sufficiently large resources (the proverbial "infinite number of monkeys"), there is no solution that will not eventually be found by trial and error.

The probabilistic resources of the universe are finite, not infinite. Dembski’s work on the universal probability bound has attempted to quantify these resources.

quote:
The AVIDA people have been quite clear on the Internet that their program does not attempt to capture all essential aspects of biological reality, but is a research platform incorporating a much simplified model in order to facilitate study of certain aspects of evolutionary theory as it applies to artificial life.
Well, yes. Find me a model that doesn't do the above.

quote:
When the rewards for these intermediate stages were stopped, the program consistently failed to evolve the most complex function.
Who on earth said that the most complex organism was the most successful one? There are many species that have more complex DNA than humans...

Reading the Dembinski paper as a professional statistician (B.A. (Honours) Oxford in Mathematical Sciences, Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society if you want my professional credentials):

The second chapter is long-winded descriptions of Type 1 and Type 2 errors - also known as false positives and false negatives. Dembinski somehow manages not to mention either of these terms despite the fact that they are very well known facets of statistics.

The third chapter outlines the need for Baysean Statistics. Baysean Statistics deals with just the problems being outlined- but Dembinski fails to mention it here.

After that, Dembinski wanders off into complexity theory, a subject about which I know little.

Furthermore, all the mathematics in that paper appears to be largely unused and at least as much an attempt to blind as having an actual practical use.

I'm afriad that if that paper is considered heavyweight by the ID community, anything less must be made of cardboard or hot air- I'd have problems classifying that paper as balsa wood.

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Rex Monday

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# 2569

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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
quote:
Originally posted by Rex Monday:
Ask away.

By the way, at a rough count I make it something like seven unanswered questions of mine in my last post (that's not atypical) so perhaps you'll forgive me if I wait for a few answers before reciprocating.

Rex Monday, I have already given you many substantial answers.
I am not here as your personal answering service and there are other posters on this thread.


By all means feel free to leave those seven questions. I won't read anything into that.

It would have been helpful had you answered them, and the subsequent question concerning the disparities in our views, because it would have helped me move the discussion on a tad.
quote:


Despite the disguised personal attack contained in your sarcastic remarks about Aristotle and Velikovsky, I have chosen to continue posting for now.


Merely seeking to show that there many reasons why theories are not followed up. No personal attack intended, although you could reasonably infer my opinion of Davison's theories. And perhaps a moue of confusion over why they were introduced into a discussion about modelling, should you wish.
quote:


This afternoon has been spent studying the AVIDA paper in Nature Journal and refreshing my memories. In due course I am likely to be able to discuss that program in some depth. I trust that you will be able to do likewise.


It would have been foolish of me to introduce the subject otherwise, wouldn't you think?
quote:


My questions asked you to substantiate the viewpoint about AVIDA that you have already expressed on this thread. They were highly pertinent to the discussion. However, if you are not willing to substantiate your own viewpoint, then I can only draw the obvious conclusions.

Neil

If there are conclusions to be drawn, let me be the last to suggest they remain in any other state.

It's actually nothing I haven't mentioned before: there are Avida creations that fulfil all ID requirements for irreducible complexity despite being demonstrably generated by classic evolutionary processes.

R

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Faithful Sheepdog
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Once more into the breach… [Smile]

quote:
Rex Monday asked:
Nobody's asking you to think of it as anything other than a human artefact. And anyway, wouldn't you then say "But the computer was built by people, or the computer before that was, so there's no proof"?

What would you accept as proof?

Definitely not any computer model. Such a model is logically incapable of proving anything other than the skill of the programmer and the correct functioning of the computer. For any scientific theory the Popperian concepts of observation, repeatability, testability and falsifiability work fine for me. That’s what I call proof.

quote:
Rex Monday asked:
That's what it was intended to show. Are you saying that Avida's flaws are that it works?

AVIDA’s flaws are that is doesn’t demonstrate what it sets out to demonstrate. In fact, it is logically incapable of demonstrating what it sets out to demonstrate. That’s a serious failing in my mind.

And at one crucial point the AVIDA paper illustrates and supports the ID concept of irreducible complexity very neatly, thank you very much. I don’t think the writers of the paper intended that at all, but at least reporting such a result is a tribute to their honesty, if not their scientific awareness.

quote:
Rex Monday said:
To which the answer is "yes, it can.", as specific objections don't hold up and the evolutionary model is consistent, explicative and well-documented in fossil, DNA, morphological and other ways.

We've been around this loop a thousand times. Evolution has evidence, nay-sayers have naught but nays to say. Certainly no facts. Avida is just one little bit more evidence on the biological side (specifically good at deflating ID, but there we go).

Now you’re confusing the issues of common descent and evolutionary change in general, with the specific Darwinian issues at stake. Even if I accept, for the sake of argument, that the “fossil, DNA, morphological and other evidence” points to universal common descent, that says nothing about the mechanism of evolutionary change over the years. Darwinism thinks that it has explained this mechanism comprehensively with no room to doubt. I beg to differ.

You comment that “naysayers have naught but nays to say” is another misrepresentation. It is factually incorrect and indicates that you are not familiar with the work of e.g. Davision, who definitely has a lot more than “nay” to say.

His work has built on known biological facts and the previous work of some prominent evolutionary non-Darwinists in the non-English speaking world, such as the distinguished French scientist Pierre Grassé and the Russian Leo Berg.

quote:
Rex Monday said:
Er, wot? That's not a circular argument, that's testing a theory!

quote:
Guesswork and speculative thought certainly have their place in asking questions, proposing a hypothesis and formulating a research strategy. An accurate computer model of the proposed ideas may indeed help the research strategy – I don’t disagree there at all – but it cannot of itself determine whether those ideas are true or false.
Good. So you didn't mean
quote:

quote:
A working computer simulation that embodies certain starting assumptions cannot be cited as evidence for the truth of those assumptions. That is a circular argument.
after all. All I wanted to know.
I fail to see where my two statements conflict with each other. In terms of the substantiating evidence for any scientific theory, a working computer model is irrelevant. It is logically incapable of proving anything apart from the skill of the programmer and the correct functioning of the computer.

At best it may generate useful results that enable researchers to make progress and confirm earlier speculations and hypotheses. At worst it may generate misleading digital fiction. Any scientific ‘proof’ is done by the humans using logic, reason, and Popperian concepts.

Any computer model is only as good as its programmers. So I stand by my comments.

quote:
Rex Monday asked:
By that argument, nothing could ever be so demonstrated.

Modelling a snowflake forming out of water vapour would seem to me to show that snowflakes weren't cut out of clouds by angels with scissors but made by water molecules, energy changes and interatomic bonding. Your argument would say that this was not demonstrated.

Modelling the way DNA changes over time if measured rates of mutation were extrapolated and showing that this ties in with fossil evidence of morphological changes would seem to me to show that natural forces are adequate to explain what we see. Your argument would say that this was not demonstrated.

Presumably you do accept that models of some systems do work. So what's magic about biology?

There is a vast qualitative difference between the construction of a snowflake and biological life-forms. A snowflake is easily and fully explainable by the basic laws of physics. The role of water molecules, energy changes and inter-atomic bonding in snowflakes was understood long before any computer model was built.

A working computer model may indeed demonstrate this physics in action. However, the model does not “prove” that this is what is really going on. Any proof involved was done outside the model by humans. As for computer models in general, “No servant is greater than his master”.

Regarding your comment on DNA modelling, you are confusing the computed output from a model with the truth of the model. Extrapolation is an inherently risky process. No one denies that a computer model produces results, but whether those results are accurate or otherwise is one of the fundamental points at issue. A computer cannot confirm the accuracy of its own results.

quote:
Rex Monday asked:
If we had an accurate model of the early Earth, ran time forwards to the present day and could examine each individual step from pre-biotic compounds to modern humans, wouldn't that demonstrate that it was at least possible?

Your question here is highly speculative and presupposes a computer model of huge complexity based on a level of biological knowledge vastly in excess of present reality. But even supposing such a model were possible, its results would only be a good as its programming assumptions. At best it may be a useful tool to researchers.

quote:
Rex Monday asked:
* The starting model is in accordance with physics.

How does the fact that we created the starting model with our intelligence make this statement invalid?

This presumes that our understanding of physics and the biological world is complete in all essentials and can be programmed accordingly. It also assumes that nothing but the basic laws of physics (and chemistry, biochemistry etc.) will be required to model biological processes. That is one of the fundamental questions at issue here.

quote:
Rex Monday asked:
* Each step of the way is in accordance with physics.

How does the fact that we wrote down the mathematics that mirror physics make this statement invalid?

Mathematics is a symbolic language incorporating many conventions and assumptions. The truth of those conventions and assumptions has to be found elsewhere. Insofar as the mathematics encodes our human understanding of physics, it is only as good as our human understanding.

quote:
Rex Monday asked:
* And if the original model was good, and each step was good, what can the philosophical problem be with the result? What strange and eerie effect affects it? From where does the error come? Why does it not affect anything else we model?

The philosophical problem is the up-front assumption that the biological world can be modelled completely and accurately with only the laws of physics (and chemistry, biochemistry, etc). I see no scientific basis at all for that assumption, but as a working convention it may be acceptable.

Of course, assuming we could build such a comprehensive model on those terms and let it run, there is of course no guarantee that it would produce results showing anything like present biological life. It may only tell us that our starting assumptions were fundamentally flawed. Metaphysics may be more essential than you think.

quote:
Rex Monday said:
I'm not saying that we could easily make such a model, but I am concerned that you reject it out of hand for philosophical reasons. Philosophy cannot overturn evidence. You sound like a vitalist, and look what happened to them.

Well, we clearly disagree over what constitutes evidence in support of a scientific theory, but at least you have moved away from the scatter-gunning of ‘creationist’ all over your posts. For that, at least, I am grateful.

quote:
Rex Monday asked:
So... evolutionary models will fail because we won't understand evolution. That's a surprisingly bold statement to make. On what do you base it? There's been no slow-down in evolutionary research lately. Quite the opposite. What about biology will make it beyond us? And when the model starts to fail, what's to stop us investigating the cause of failure and learning from it - as we do already, especially when our models give us the luxury of examining each step in turn.

Look how good we are with QM, and that's deeply weird.

I base my statement on the (to me) obvious flaws in the Darwinian understanding of evolutionary mechanisms. As I have argued in depth on this thread, the random mutation/natural selection model of evolution is at best only a partial understanding of biological reality.

Your second question makes no sense to me. I am quite happy for people to undertake as much biological and evolutionary research as they wish. I am always happy to see the frontiers of knowledge pushed back, especially when it punctures the hubris of earlier generations.

As for the examination of failures, that is an essential part of science, and often a very educational one. Failures are inevitable, but the failure to learn from them is a disaster. Sadly, not learning from failures is one of the longest running stories in human history.

quote:
Rex Monday asked:
But why? Repeating what you think is very unsatisfying. You have to bring some facts and logic to the game, otherwise it's no fun.

Why? Because a computer model is logically incapable of proving the truth of any form of evolutionary scenario. The proof, if any, will lie outside the computer in the form of observation, repeatability, testability and falsifiability. “The truth is out there”.

AVIDA is an interesting piece of software, but of no relevance to the discovering of the truth about biological evolution. If you think otherwise, you need to provide some arguments to substantiate your own position. So far I’ve seen a lot of unsupported assertion.

quote:
Rex Monday said:
And [Davison is] disbelieved, for reasons made very plain by others earlier. I believe there is little work going on with Velikovsky, either, and Aristotle's theories about otters and crocodiles have scored very low in project proposals for quite some while now.

I initially brought up the name of Davison to refute the misrepresentation that the ID world produces no testable and falsifiable scientific ideas of its own - whether or not his ideas are correct was not the issue.

However, your opinion on his scientific work would carry more weight if you showed some basic familiarity with his proposals and argued for your position in your own words. Your sarcasm here does you no credit and is frankly most unwelcome.

Now it’s your turn to answer some questions and defend your own views. As I asked before:

quote:
Why do you think that AVIDA reveals any true information about the biological world and why do you think it is "specifically good at deflating ID".
I await your response.

Neil

--------------------
"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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Sleepyhead
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FS: A longer report on why I find the paper you linked to so bad as mathematics is forthcoming - this post will not be my last on the subject. If this was actually a technical mathematical proof of something it would actually be much easier to critique. However, the paper does not make any well-defined statements or formal proofs such that one can just pinpoint one thing that is wrong. He spends a great deal of time explicating the non-controversial ideas mentioned in his paper, but these long sections are punctuated by extremely controversial statements for which he provides very little, if any, argument.

Perhaps the most charitable response is to limit a response to these statements, treating them as philosophy of mathematics rather than mathematics itself. However, since the paper was presented to me as a "heavyweight", "rigorous" one I feel that I must respond in such a way as to demonstrate that these adjectives do not apply. So, under the circumstances I think it is appropriate to list the clearest mathematical errors and 'tone' errors in addition to what I see as the philosophical errors, in the hopes that it will be seen why I receive this work as nonsense. (By 'tone' errors mean key words and phrases that suggest he is not writing to a mathematically sophisticated audience.) I do work full-time and pursue other activities, but I hope a rough analysis of this sort will not take me too long.

For example, take a look in the endnotes at the "proof" he uses to determine the probability of a run of a certain length during a sequence of coin flips. I immediately saw that this argument is incorrect, although it does give the right answer in the limit for sequences long with respect to run length. On the other hand, his argument implies that for two coin flips, half would be the same as the previous, and so we should expect a run of two! I hope you can see why this is wrong. One could turn it into a serviceable proof by keeping track of a bounded error, and noting that this is small for his example cases; he doesn't do this. Mathematical writers in this situation often write that the full problem is complex, but that there is an intuitive argument that approximates the problem; he doesn't do this either.

So, this is either a major logical error, in that the proof is wrong, or a major tone error, in that he presents an argument as a proof, that does not meet the criteria of that name that would be expected by a mathematician. This may not seem like such a bad thing to you, but I would think any real mathematician would be extremely embarassed to see such a mistake go into print. Yet, this kind of sloppiness pervades the paper - he is very loose with his definitions and train of argument, in a way that defies expectations for a mathematical work.

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Faithful Sheepdog
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Sleepyhead:

I await your longer report with interest. Please note that Dembski’s paper is part 4 in a series entitled “The Mathematical Foundations of Intelligent Design”. It develops ideas about which he has already written elsewhere in some depth. I have found his concept of ‘probabilistic resources’ very useful in understanding the limitations inherent in natural selection.

The terms “heavyweight” and “rigorous” were mine, not Dembski’s. By these terms I meant that the maths was at the limit of my ability to critique effectively [Smile] – that’s my fault, not his. Dembski has PhDs in both mathematics and philosophy, so it is no surprise that his research straddles the boundary between the two.

I don’t fully understand the point you are making about the run of coins. For two coin flips I would expect a run of two heads or two tails on average 50% of the time. In any case, I think the coin example is for illustrative purposes only. It is not a crucial part of the overall argument.

Dembski welcomes informed constructive criticism. You may wish to send your longer report to him c/o his website.

Neil

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Rex Monday

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# 2569

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Sifting through that lot, as far as I can tell your objections to modelling are:

1. Philosophically, modelling can't prove anything
2. Practically, models may be based on flawed assumptions and thus their results cannot be trusted
3. Logically, computers can't do anything better than people can

Is that right? Have I missed anything?

quote:

Now it’s your turn to answer some questions and defend your own views. As I asked before:
quote:
Why do you think that AVIDA reveals any true information about the biological world and why do you think it is "specifically good at deflating ID".
I await your response


As I've answered before, Avida shows that it is possible to create complex systems through random modification and subsequent selection. This matches what we know about evolution. I wouldn't call this a revelation as such. It certainly wasn't a surprise, although the sheer creativity shown by such a mechanistic system was.

It is specifically good at deflating ID because some of the complex systems it has created match any definition I know for 'irreducible complexity' or CSI or whatever other ideas IDers use as examples of why such complex systems cannot be created.

I may have missed some definitions, of course. Which of the various ideas in ID do you think are immune to Avida?

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Sleepyhead
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
The terms “heavyweight” and “rigorous” were mine, not Dembski’s. By these terms I meant that the maths was at the limit of my ability to critique effectively [Smile] – that’s my fault, not his.

So, it is hard for me to know how to criticise the paper such that I know you understand my criticism. If it is too high of a level then faced with a choice between two jargon-filled reports you will probably just choose the one that agrees with your biases. On the other hand if it is at too low a level you might rightly object to my lack of rigor.

In my opinion, the objections that many people have to certain mathematical* and scientific concepts is that most people receive these purely at the "popular" level through magazines, newspapers, and general-interest books. Frequently the objections to ideas presented at the popular level are quite valid! And furthermore the popularizers themselves are sometimes seen as leading experts when those in the field disagree. For instance, many anti-evolutionsists see Dawkins as the best source to understand evolutionary theory, perhaps because his militant atheism is a good fit to their worldview. As I understand it, though, most biologists do not see his specific views on evolution to be mainstream.

So, what level do you think I should be aiming for, and what elements of this paper do you see as the most essential?

quote:

I don’t fully understand the point you are making about the run of coins. For two coin flips I would expect a run of two heads or two tails on average 50% of the time.

You're right, but following the argument in the endnotes gives a run of two heads or two tails 100% of the time. He says half the flips will be the same as the previous, ignoring that the first flip has no predecessor. It is increasingly correct for longer sequences of coin flips because relatively more coins have valid predecessors.

quote:
Dembski welcomes informed constructive criticism. You may wish to send your longer report to him c/o his website.
I'd prefer not to, but feel free to forward any comments to him if you hope it will do any good.

(* If you want to see how even fairly simple mathematics is rejected, with accusations of "establishment" mathematicians using "politics" and "collusion" to deny the "truth", search sci.math sometime for "Cantor" or "James Harris". James Harris posted to sci.math for 9 years, and even though many people tried patiently to educate him, he never showed any sign of acknowledging his errors or learning anything new. Fortunately there aren't any sects that doctrinally deny Cantor or algebraic integers, so the impact of these people has been fairly minimal. Even then, it is annoying.)

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Faithful Sheepdog
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# 2305

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quote:
Originally posted by Sleepyhead:
quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
The terms “heavyweight” and “rigorous” were mine, not Dembski’s. By these terms I meant that the maths was at the limit of my ability to critique effectively [Smile] – that’s my fault, not his.

So, it is hard for me to know how to criticise the paper such that I know you understand my criticism. If it is too high of a level then faced with a choice between two jargon-filled reports you will probably just choose the one that agrees with your biases. On the other hand if it is at too low a level you might rightly object to my lack of rigor.
I suggest you write your report at the highest technical level of which you are capable and aim it a people of equal competence. Any shortfall in my level of competence is my problem, not yours.

I trained initially as an engineer specialising in structural integrity and nuclear safety issues. I can easily recognise someone using specialist technical terminology consistently, as well as someone who isn't [Smile] . I do not dismiss such terminology as "jargon" just because if I don't fully understand it (yet).

We all have "biases", but I trust that I can recognise a good argument when I see it, even if I don't like its conclusions. Whether it is ultimately convincing remains to be seen.

<snip>

quote:
Originally posted by Sleepyhead:
So, what level do you think I should be aiming for, and what elements of this paper do you see as the most essential?

Dembski is particularly noted for his concept of complex specified information, or CSI for short. The paper we are discussing develops his ideas on specification (and hence specified) much further than previously.

He has introduced (page 12) the concept of prespecification and in particular, he has now (page 24) formulated the concept of specification quantitatively in mathematical terms. In Dembski's own words:

quote:
"The basis intuition I am trying to formalise is that specifications are patterns delineating events of small probability whose occurrence cannot reasonably be attributed to chance".
Note the reference to "patterns". Extremely improbable one-off events happen all the time, but the creation of "patterns" is something else. That is where I suggest you make your critique.

quote:
Originally posted by Sleepyhead:
quote:
Dembski welcomes informed constructive criticism. You may wish to send your longer report to him c/o his website.
I'd prefer not to, but feel free to forward any comments to him if you hope it will do any good.
Fair enough. Dembski is an extremely able character, but of course that doesn't automatically make him correct. If your report is of a high enough standard, I may forward it to him.

quote:
Originally posted by Sleepyhead:
(* If you want to see how even fairly simple mathematics is rejected, with accusations of "establishment" mathematicians using "politics" and "collusion" to deny the "truth", search sci.math sometime for "Cantor" or "James Harris". James Harris posted to sci.math for 9 years, and even though many people tried patiently to educate him, he never showed any sign of acknowledging his errors or learning anything new. Fortunately there aren't any sects that doctrinally deny Cantor or algebraic integers, so the impact of these people has been fairly minimal. Even then, it is annoying.)

That sounds to me like they were dealing with a mentally unhealthy personality who was governed by denial and obsession. Sadly, some people live in a false reality and it is impossible to penetrate their psychological defenses with a true reality.

Neil

--------------------
"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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Rex Monday

None but a blockhead
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
He has introduced (page 12) the concept of prespecification and in particular, he has now (page 24) formulated the concept of specification quantitatively in mathematical terms. In Dembski's own words:

quote:
"The basis intuition I am trying to formalise is that specifications are patterns delineating events of small probability whose occurrence cannot reasonably be attributed to chance".
Note the reference to "patterns". Extremely improbable one-off events happen all the time, but the creation of "patterns" is something else. That is where I suggest you make your critique.


The trouble with this is that it is extremely sensitive to extra information in the determination of probability and "reasonably", but makes no attempt to acknowledge this.

Powerful bursts of radio signal from deep space were at first unknown, and then seen as very unusual (hence improbable) events. By Dembski's logic, that's OK - there's a lot of the universe, so improbable events will happen. But what of rapid repeating bursts of radio signal from deep space? When these were first found, the astronomers indeed intuited that they might be signs of intelligence (the "BEM" or Bug Eyed Monster hypothesis) - they had pattern, after all. Now we know to a reasonable degree of confidence that pulsars are natural phenomena: our cosmology can explain their creation and nature, albeit imperfectly. New information has changed what may be determined as 'probable'.

Dembski's ideas would have been at best a distraction here. How do they distinguish between patterns that may be explained by natural means, and patterns that may not be? What are the limits of Dembski's proposition? Probability only works when you can set bounds on the system you are investigating - that's also one of Popper's components of falsifiability, by the way - but I've not come across Dembski introducing bounds.

So this is just an extension of the 'god of the gaps' argument, somewhat modified by the supposition of gaps that are not generally thought to exist.

R

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Faithful Sheepdog
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quote:
Rex Monday said:
Sifting through that lot, as far as I can tell your objections to modelling are:

1. Philosophically, modelling can't prove anything

2. Practically, models may be based on flawed assumptions and thus their results cannot be trusted

3. Logically, computers can't do anything better than people can.

Is that right? Have I missed anything?

Points 1 and 2 are fair summaries of my views, but point 3 needs to be nuanced. Computers can certainly do calculations very much faster and run algorithms much more efficiently than unassisted humans can. When the search space is huge, that is an enormous advantage. Hence computerised algorithmic searches in general (and genetic algorithms in particular) have proved to be a very useful technique.

However, the manufacture of the computer, the programming of the algorithms, and the achievement of the subsequent result, are completely dependent on the prior existence of human creativity and intelligence. We are not the only primates to use tools, but ours are of a sophistication and power that far exceed other animals.

If the algorithmic process being used broke, say, the security encryption at a bank, no court of law would consider that the computer alone was responsible, any more than the tools a burglar uses. Whoever programmed the computer and/or used it would be liable to the court. Computers are no more than a (potentially very useful) tool in our hands.

quote:
Rex Monday said:
As I've answered before, Avida shows that it is possible to create complex systems through random modification and subsequent selection. This matches what we know about evolution. I wouldn't call this a revelation as such. It certainly wasn't a surprise, although the sheer creativity shown by such a mechanistic system was.

This is where your argument remains unclear and unsupported. Bearing in mind the starting condition of all the digital organisms – reproduction was a given from the start - what precisely do you mean by “create complex systems”?

The aim of AVIDA is for the digital creatures (“critters”) to develop the ability to perform binary logical functions in addition to the already given ability to replicate. The mechanism for this development is variation followed by selection.

The permitted variations to the critters are severely constrained and the selection process is not dissimilar (in principle) to many genetic algorithms or even Dawkins’ “weasel” illustration (although the implementation is much more sophisticated). Each stage of the way (i.e. each intermediate function) is known in advance and progress is checked against that knowledge.

So far as I can see from the paper, sufficient raw materials were present from the start (especially the i/o, nand, push, swap, nop-A, nop-C and pop statements in the language of the critters) to construct all the necessary intermediate stages and guarantee the eventual emergence of the most complex logic function (EQU) provided that all intermediate stages were also rewarded appropriately.

When the reward for all intermediate stages was removed, AVIDA consistently did not evolve the EQU function. That is a very good illustration of the concept of irreducible complexity, but as I’ve said, doesn’t prove it – it’s only a computer model [Smile] .

quote:
Rex Monday said:
It is specifically good at deflating ID because some of the complex systems it has created match any definition I know for 'irreducible complexity' or CSI or whatever other ideas IDers use as examples of why such complex systems cannot be created.

Again, I see no argument here, just an unsupported assertion. Taking any definition of irreducible complexity that you wish (such as Behe’s original or subsequent refinements by others – see here), please show that at least one of the “evolved complex systems” reported by the paper meets one of these criteria.

quote:
Rex Monday said:
I may have missed some definitions, of course. Which of the various ideas in ID do you think are immune to Avida?

The AVIDA paper was certainly interesting and has sparked off a great deal of scientific discussion. However, the program deliberately did not set out to model biological reality directly, and consequently its programming contains virtually no biotic information.

The paper was a study of the evolution of digital life under very particular circumstances. How this correlates to biological reality is not at all clear and the paper itself makes little or no attempt at that correlation. This is a major flaw.

Behe’s original definition of irreducible complexity was derived with reference to the mechanical and biochemical function of biological systems. His (exceedingly simplified) poster-boy illustration was, of course, the mechanical function of a mouse-trap. There certainly has been a lot of discussion within the ID world (and outside it) on the precise form of that definition as it applies to biological life.

However, whether any standard definition relevant to biological life can be extended appropriately into the very different realm of digital life is a good question. Each AVIDA critter doesn’t constitute an independent biological life-form by any stretch of the imagination. That is a further example of the correlation problem mentioned above.

Neil

--------------------
"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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Faithful Sheepdog
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quote:
Rex Monday said:
Dembski's ideas would have been at best a distraction here. How do they distinguish between patterns that may be explained by natural means, and patterns that may not be? What are the limits of Dembski's proposition? Probability only works when you can set bounds on the system you are investigating - that's also one of Popper's components of falsifiability, by the way - but I've not come across Dembski introducing bounds.

Our posts crossed, so I’ll reply to this one now. I’m gobsmacked by your last sentence. Dembski has proposed several tools to discriminate between what unintelligent natural processes can achieve under the laws of science and what requires more than unintelligent natural processes to explain.

Firstly there is an explanatory filter aiming to discriminate between patterns governed either by law, chance or design, based on the presence or absence of complex specified information (CSI). Dembski has given this technical term a precise meaning.

Then there is his work on the universal probability bound. This was originally 10E-150, but in his latest paper, drawing on work from Seth Lloyd, he has been able to revise it to 10E-120 in conjunction with a more developed view of specification.

The universal probability bound is certainly not a “look out of a window and see a bus” type of number. On the contrary, it was a rigorous attempt to quantify the probabilistic resources of the universe in the light of our knowledge about its finite size and age and constitution.

Since, in the Shannon definition, probability and information are linked by the equation: Information (in bits) = log2 (1/probability) or I = -log2 p, this bound can also be expressed as 500 bits of information (for p = 10E-150). Many completely natural processes generate intricate patterns, but their Shannon information content is normally very low. So, for Dembski, more than 500 bits is ‘complex’.

Hence, in Dembski’s methodology, one of the key questions for identifying complex specified information is not just the presence of a pattern, but its informational content (which makes it complex) and the presence of specification (which makes it specified). His latest paper now combines these two concepts into one mathematical formulation (see the bottom of page 34).

In the case of pulsars, so far as I can see, Dembski’s methodology would not have considered the patterns of a pulsar signal to be outside what natural scientific laws can explain. It would therefore have not have reported it as the work of intelligent design.

Dembski’s work is definitely falsifiable. All it takes is to find a clearly unintelligent, non-teleological, natural process that produces complex specified information, as he has defined it. At that point he is back to the drawing board.

Neil

--------------------
"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
In the case of pulsars, so far as I can see, Dembski’s methodology would not have considered the patterns of a pulsar signal to be outside what natural scientific laws can explain. It would therefore have not have reported it as the work of intelligent design.

Would that have been the case when pulsars were first discovered, and there was still no known natural source?

quote:
Dembski’s work is definitely falsifiable. All it takes is to find a clearly unintelligent, non-teleological, natural process that produces complex specified information, as he has defined it. At that point he is back to the drawing board.
OK, I must admit to not having had anything like enough time to read the links posted here. But, does he offer any examples of CSI? Something that others can look at in detail and see if it is "a clearly unintelligent, non-teleological, natural process" or not? I do know that a lot of the popular descriptions of ID I read a few years back included such examples as blood-clotting cascades which are the result of unintelligent, non-teleological, natural processes.

--------------------
Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

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leonato
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:

Dembski’s work is definitely falsifiable. All it takes is to find a clearly unintelligent, non-teleological, natural process that produces complex specified information, as he has defined it. At that point he is back to the drawing board.

Well, yes and no. Dembski's work here is more statistical than scientific. A statistical theory is not falsifiable based on scientific evidence, it is either true or false just as any mathematical theorem is. Whether his probability bound is valid or not is purley a mater of logical inference.

What is falsifiable is any inference drawn using that bound. Has Dembski described any system or pattern he considers outisde the bound (i.e. designed)? Is it even possible to tell if something lies outside the bound? The probabilities involved seem practically incalculable to me.

--------------------
leonato... Much Ado

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Faithful Sheepdog
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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
In the case of pulsars, so far as I can see, Dembski’s methodology would not have considered the patterns of a pulsar signal to be outside what natural scientific laws can explain. It would therefore have not have reported it as the work of intelligent design.

Would that have been the case when pulsars were first discovered, and there was still no known natural source?
I strongly suspect so, given Dembski's other writings. He has illustrated some of his ideas in action with respect to the real-life Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project and its representation in the (totally fictional) Hollywood film 'Contact'.

In that film the crucial informational string superimposed on a deep-space signal turned out to be all the prime numbers rising monotonically from 1 to 101 and then repeating regularly. That was a good enough intelligence indicator for the film script.

Whether this complies with Dembski's strict mathematical criteria, I am not sure, but I would hazard a guess that it does, since he is fond of using it as an example. As for the real-life SETI project, it so far has not been nearly so eventful as the Hollywood film. [Smile]

quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
quote:
Dembski’s work is definitely falsifiable. All it takes is to find a clearly unintelligent, non-teleological, natural process that produces complex specified information, as he has defined it. At that point he is back to the drawing board.
OK, I must admit to not having had anything like enough time to read the links posted here. But, does he offer any examples of CSI? Something that others can look at in detail and see if it is "a clearly unintelligent, non-teleological, natural process" or not? I do know that a lot of the popular descriptions of ID I read a few years back included such examples as blood-clotting cascades which are the result of unintelligent, non-teleological, natural processes.
Here we get into very controversial and hotly contested territory (and biochemistry is definitely not my specialist subject). The action of the blood clotting cascade is clearly a natural action, but the construction and origin of that biochemical cascade was the question at hand.

Behe held it up as a biochemical example of irreducible complexity. Could such a system ever come about as a result of an incremental Darwinian process ("unintelligent, non-teleological, and natural")? Behe as a biochemist said "no", and I believe that he still holds this opinion despite his critics.

Some sort of link between the idea of irreducible complexity and CSI is suspected, I think, but that definitely remains to be demonstrated. Irreducible complexity involves multiple coupled variables, and I personally am not sure how to measure the information in such a non-linear system.

To date I do not know if Dembski has attempted to quantify the informational content of real-life biological systems in acordance with his ideas about CSI - I suspect not. That is a weakness of the ID world at present and I think that there is a great deal more research to be done in this area.

Neil

--------------------
"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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ken
Ship's Roundhead
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quote:
Originally posted by Sleepyhead:
As I understand it, though, most biologists do not see his specific views on evolution to be mainstream.

Dawkins general descriptions of natural selection and neo-Darwinian ideas in his books are very much mainstream.

Some biologists will dislike the "selfish gene" model, and many, maybe most, will have issues with specific parts of his ideas that fit into what was once called "socibiology" and now sometimes "evolutionary psychology"

--------------------
Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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Rex Monday

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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
[QB]
quote:
Rex Monday said:
Sifting through that lot, as far as I can tell your objections to modelling are:

1. Philosophically, modelling can't prove anything

2. Practically, models may be based on flawed assumptions and thus their results cannot be trusted

3. Logically, computers can't do anything better than people can.

Is that right? Have I missed anything?

Points 1 and 2 are fair summaries of my views
1. Where do you stand on computer-generated proofs? Perhaps the most famous is the four color map theorem, but it's a standard (if not universally applicable) concept.

2. All science is based on flawed assumptions and potentially fallible logic. It relies on empiricism and objectivity to test its results, the effectiveness of which is all around us. Why should modelling be excluded from this process?

quote:


but point 3 needs to be nuanced. Computers can certainly do calculations very much faster and run algorithms much more efficiently than unassisted humans can. When the search space is huge, that is an enormous advantage. Hence computerised algorithmic searches in general (and genetic algorithms in particular) have proved to be a very useful technique.

However, the manufacture of the computer, the programming of the algorithms, and the achievement of the subsequent result, are completely dependent on the prior existence of human creativity and intelligence. We are not the only primates to use tools, but ours are of a sophistication and power that far exceed other animals.

If the algorithmic process being used broke, say, the security encryption at a bank, no court of law would consider that the computer alone was responsible, any more than the tools a burglar uses. Whoever programmed the computer and/or used it would be liable to the court. Computers are no more than a (potentially very useful) tool in our hands.


None of which says that they may not be used to simulate natural processes, nor create things that we cannot create. I'm reluctant to come back to an analogy that I've used before, but there's no way we can create weather systems - yet we can model them through computers.

Because we create models through intelligence for intelligent purposes, it does not imply that the system we are modelling was created the same way. We cannot affect the system we are modelling merely by how we choose to model it, so we cannot endow it with purpose by acting purposefully in modelling it. The model merely has to accurately reflect the thing it is modelling. Just because that thing is modelled, doesn't make it teleological.
quote:


quote:
Rex Monday said:
As I've answered before, Avida shows that it is possible to create complex systems through random modification and subsequent selection. This matches what we know about evolution. I wouldn't call this a revelation as such. It certainly wasn't a surprise, although the sheer creativity shown by such a mechanistic system was.

This is where your argument remains unclear and unsupported. Bearing in mind the starting condition of all the digital organisms – reproduction was a given from the start - what precisely do you mean by “create complex systems”?


Create - as in 'cause to exist' - complex - as in 'more involved and complicated than the original' - systems - as in 'linked functions that produce a discrete effect'. Is this a trick question?

quote:


(repetition of Avida description removed)
So far as I can see from the paper, sufficient raw materials were present from the start (especially the i/o, nand, push, swap, nop-A, nop-C and pop statements in the language of the critters) to construct all the necessary intermediate stages and guarantee the eventual emergence of the most complex logic function (EQU) provided that all intermediate stages were also rewarded appropriately.

When the reward for all intermediate stages was removed, AVIDA consistently did not evolve the EQU function. That is a very good illustration of the concept of irreducible complexity, but as I’ve said, doesn’t prove it – it’s only a computer model [Smile] .


How on earth does gradualist evolution from less complexity driven by beneficial mutation show irreducible complexity? You've just described normal evolutionary processes!

quote:

quote:
Rex Monday said:
It is specifically good at deflating ID because some of the complex systems it has created match any definition I know for 'irreducible complexity' or CSI or whatever other ideas IDers use as examples of why such complex systems cannot be created.

Again, I see no argument here, just an unsupported assertion. Taking any definition of irreducible complexity that you wish (such as Behe’s original or subsequent refinements by others – see here), please show that at least one of the “evolved complex systems” reported by the paper meets one of these criteria.


Behe's original: "A single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function of the system, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning."

From Lenski, Ofria, Pennock and Adami:"Our experiments also show that many different genomic solutions produce the same complex function. Following any particular path is extremely unlikely, but the complex function evolved with a high probability, implying a very large number of
potential paths. Although the complex feature first appeared as the immediate result of only one or two mutations, its function invariably depended on many instructions that had previously evolved to perform other functions, such that their removal would eliminate the new feature."

That seems to me to match to a high degree the requirements of Behe!

quote:
Rex Monday said:
quote:
I may have missed some definitions, of course. Which of the various ideas in ID do you think are immune to Avida?
The AVIDA paper was certainly interesting and has sparked off a great deal of scientific discussion. However, the program deliberately did not set out to model biological reality directly, and consequently its programming contains virtually no biotic information.

The paper was a study of the evolution of digital life under very particular circumstances. How this correlates to biological reality is not at all clear and the paper itself makes little or no attempt at that correlation. This is a major flaw.

Behe’s original definition of irreducible complexity was derived with reference to the mechanical and biochemical function of biological systems. His (exceedingly simplified) poster-boy illustration was, of course, the mechanical function of a mouse-trap. There certainly has been a lot of discussion within the ID world (and outside it) on the precise form of that definition as it applies to biological life.

However, whether any standard definition relevant to biological life can be extended appropriately into the very different realm of digital life is a good question. Each AVIDA critter doesn’t constitute an independent biological life-form by any stretch of the imagination. That is a further example of the correlation problem mentioned above.

Neil

Er..

So! Which of the various ideas in ID do you think immune to Avida?

R

--------------------
I am largely against organised religion, which is why I am so fond of the C of E.

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Faithful Sheepdog
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quote:
Rex Monday said:
1. Where do you stand on computer-generated proofs? Perhaps the most famous is the four color map theorem, but it's a standard (if not universally applicable) concept.

Your question moves away from scientific theories to mathematical theorems. A mathematical theorem is not a scientific theory in the Popperian sense. What constitutes ‘proof’ will therefore be different.

The following comment about an early attempt at a computer proof (taken from your URL) shows that I am not alone not alone in my general reservations about computer techniques:
quote:
The [earlier] Appel and Haken proof attracted a fair amount of criticism. Part of it concerned the proof style: the statement of the Four Colour Theorem is simple and elegant so many mathematicians expected a simple and elegant proof that would explain, at least informally, why the theorem was true — not opaque IBM 370 assembly language programs [5]. Another part, however, was more rational skepticism: computer programming is known to be error-prone, and difficult to relate precisely to the formal statement of a mathematical theorem. The fact that the proof also involved an initial manual case analysis [4] that was large (10,000 cases), difficult to verify, and in which several small errors were detected, also contributed to the uncertainty.
However, the attitude to computer proofs has now moved on, apparently. I am certainly interested to see that mathematical computer techniques have been developed to the point where they can assist in the resolution of the proof of a long-suspected but previously unproven theorem. Unfortunately, I am not sufficiently competent in pure mathematics to critique and comment any further on the computer-assisted proof of the four-colour theorem.

quote:
Rex Monday said:
2. All science is based on flawed assumptions and potentially fallible logic. It relies on empiricism and objectivity to test its results, the effectiveness of which is all around us. Why should modelling be excluded from this process?

It shouldn’t be. I ought to have nuanced my reply here to say that any computer model needs to earn one’s trust, rather than automatically being deserving of trust from the start, simply because it is a computer model.

An accurate model with proven techniques and calibrated parameters may well be very trustworthy and of enormous use to researchers and others, especially if used correctly and interpreted wisely. However, an inaccurate model may be generating useless fiction.

quote:
Rex Monday said:
None of which says that they may not be used to simulate natural processes, nor create things that we cannot create. I'm reluctant to come back to an analogy that I've used before, but there's no way we can create weather systems - yet we can model them through computers.

I think the word “create” has a wide semantic range and it may be muddying the waters somewhat. At one end of its range it definitely has some philosophical and theological baggage that can be confusing, particularly on this thread.

Engineers of my acquaintance rarely use the words “create” and “creation” to describe their work. “Design” “specify”, “invent”, “discover”, “develop”, “evolve”(!), “construct”, and “assemble” are the sort of words they would use. I think that software engineers tend to use the word “write” to describe their work, in parallel with literary writers and other artistic composers.

All may use the word “creative” to describe novel solutions and techniques, but not in any philosophical or theological sense. It tends to be a description of either someone’s character or the nature of the work produced.

quote:
Rex Monday said:
Because we create models through intelligence for intelligent purposes, it does not imply that the system we are modelling was created the same way. We cannot affect the system we are modelling merely by how we choose to model it, so we cannot endow it with purpose by acting purposefully in modelling it. The model merely has to accurately reflect the thing it is modelling. Just because that thing is modelled, doesn't make it teleological.

“The model merely has to accurately reflect the thing it is modelling” is a statement with which I would agree. I would also agree that any computer model of a real-world system does not automatically endow that real-world system with a sense of purpose and thus render it teleological.

It has been my consistent argument so far that all computer models are inescapably linked to the characteristics and consequences of human teleology. The fact that the model exists is definitely not something explainable by the laws of nature alone. Writing, debugging and running the model are human activities. Any results of any model are a consequence of human purpose.

Weather is clearly understood by all to be non-teleological process described fully by the laws of science. The physical processes of the weather are understood well enough and they can be programmed accordingly.

Hence the presence of human teleology in the modelling process does not automatically invalidate the functioning of a weather model, since there is no teleology in the real-world weather. Any weather model isn’t automatically trustworthy, but real-world testing and accurate calibration will prove the usefulness of the model for its purpose.

Things become much more complicated when considering evolution. Firstly, the presence or absence of teleology acting in evolution is one of the major questions at stake. Secondly, an evolutionary model built to demonstrate that evolution followed a non-teleological process cannot escape the human teleology built into the model.

That human teleology will ensure that the model runs (somehow) and reports results (of some form) based on its programming assumptions (be they right or wrong). That is how human intelligence and purpose work in a model. But if the evolutionary model is based on fundamentally flawed information, its results will be useless.

In the case of a weather model, testing and calibration against real-life weather will reveal any flaws in the model. There is no teleology in weather and no controversy over the basic physics.

Unfortunately, the requirement to test and calibrate the evolutionary model throws us right back to the original question. What happened in real-life history and what is presently happening in the real-life world?

Unlike the weather model, the fundamental underlying processes of evolution are under intense debate by non-Darwinians and remain to be finally resolved (if ever [Smile] ).

quote:

quote:
This is where your argument remains unclear and unsupported. Bearing in mind the starting condition of all the digital organisms – reproduction was a given from the start - what precisely do you mean by “create complex systems”?
Rex Monday said:
Create - as in 'cause to exist' - complex - as in 'more involved and complicated than the original' - systems - as in 'linked functions that produce a discrete effect'. Is this a trick question?

Absolutely not – it was a serious question – with some very important consequences. I’ve already commented on the confusion inherent in the use of the word “create”.

In this particular case, Avida did not “cause [something] to exist” that had not previously existed. The logical EQU function was already well known and understood. As a result, Avida was programmed to recognise this function as soon as the critters were able to perform it.

What did Avida did do – and here I would use the word ‘discover’ rather than ‘create’ – was to discover a whole series of different critter genomes that could perform the EQU function in addition to replication.

It is quite likely that they have found some functional genome configurations that unassisted humans would have taken a very long time to discover, if at all. It is an interesting result, but in absolute terms no new function has been “created”.

‘Complex’ is another word that is poorly defined here, and that applies to its use in some ID writing as well. It is often used in opposition to ‘simple’ or, as you have used it, in a relative or comparative sense. Dembski proposes a numerical test between ‘simple’ information and ‘complex’ information

The title of the Avida paper is “The Evolutionary Origin of Complex Features”, but the authors don’t define “complex” any further. I suspect (on political grounds) that the use of the word “complex” by the paper’s authors is evidence of the desire to draw significance from their results for the concept of irreducible complexity. However, that is not stated explicitly.

As for “systems”, it is by no means obvious to me that this technical term is appropriate in this context. The task of an Avida run is to find grammatically permissible genome configurations that perform the designated function(s). I am not sure that I would describe the final genome configuration as a “system” or “linked functions that produce a discrete effect”, as you have defined it.

Underlying the whole genome function is the infrastructure of the operating system and the low-level programming of the genome coding language. If the word “system” is appropriate, as you have defined it, then that has to include both the genome and all its supporting computer infrastructure.

A word I would use to describe the advent of the various logic functions is ‘development’. The ability to perform the functions is ‘developed’ from the raw materials provided in the ancestor genome, the syntax of the programming language, and the permitted scope of the mutations (which in practice is very highly constrained – an essential part of the program’s success).

quote:

quote:
So far as I can see from the paper, sufficient raw materials were present from the start (especially the i/o, nand, push, swap, nop-A, nop-C and pop statements in the language of the critters) to construct all the necessary intermediate stages and guarantee the eventual emergence of the most complex logic function (EQU) provided that all intermediate stages were also rewarded appropriately.

When the reward for all intermediate stages was removed, AVIDA consistently did not evolve the EQU function. That is a very good illustration of the concept of irreducible complexity, but as I’ve said, doesn’t prove it – it’s only a computer model [Smile] .

Rex Monday said:
How on earth does gradualist evolution from less complexity driven by beneficial mutation show irreducible complexity? You've just described normal evolutionary processes!

I don’t understand your response here at all, and you appear to have misunderstood my point completely. I was commenting on the one occasion noted in the paper when Avida failed to develop the logical EQU function in any genome (top of page 143, left, 2nd paragraph). This happened when all possible intermediate stages were unrewarded.

Since irreducible complexity could also be described (loosely) as “inaccessible to a gradualist evolutionary process”, this particular Avida run has a good case for being an example of that concept. Some people have also used the term “evolvability” to describe the class of changes that are accessible to a gradualist evolutionary process. This result could also be an example of its opposite – “unevolvability”.

quote:
Rex Monday said:
Behe's original: "A single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function of the system, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning."

From Lenski, Ofria, Pennock and Adami: "Our experiments also show that many different genomic solutions produce the same complex function. Following any particular path is extremely unlikely, but the complex function evolved with a high probability, implying a very large number of potential paths. Although the complex feature first appeared as the immediate result of only one or two mutations, its function invariably depended on many instructions that had previously evolved to perform other functions, such that their removal would eliminate the new feature."

That seems to me to match to a high degree the requirements of Behe! ."

Er, not quite. I have already commented on whether an individual Avida digital critter could be considered a “single system” that is explicit in Behe’s definition for biological life-forms.

Personally I don’t think the extension of his definition to digital creatures is automatically valid. It needs to be fully justified and attempted only with caution. His definition may simply not be applicable in a digital context. It is, after all, a very different world to real life.

The terms “well-matched, interacting parts” originally applied to a mechanical and biochemical context, hence the implicit topology in the definition. In an Avida context, the “well-matched, interacting parts” bit can only correlate to a specific genome configuration in the correct syntax to perform the EQU function.

Figure 4 in the paper shows what happened when an individual line of code was removed from the first genome to evolve the EQU function. In some cases there is no effect at all, but in most cases the EQU function was immediately lost, as well as some other intermediate logic functions.

However, in every case where the EQU function is lost, some rewardable (i.e. selectable) intermediate logic function remained. That is a crucial point. In other words, the critter returned to some intermediate stage and not to the starting point where it could perform no logic functions at all.

Results for the knockout test on other genomes are, somewhat annoyingly, not given. I cannot tell from the paper whether there was any genome that evolved the EQU function and then lost both the EQU function and all other intermediate functions when a random line of code was removed. That would certainly have been a result worth quoting if they had found it.

quote:
Rex Monday said:
Er..

So! Which of the various ideas in ID do you think immune to Avida?

In short, all of them. The paper is interesting, but ultimately of little relevance since it correlates poorly to the real biological world and therefore cannot demonstrate what is really going on in evolution. That is a job for observational biology.

I would also add that the paper does not explicitly references any ID literature, despite the statement right at the beginning that “a long-standing challenge to evolutionary theory has been whether it can explain the origin of complex organismal features”. The paper also makes no explicit attempt to address any of the ID world’s ideas.

That is a shame, and may reflect current political controversies in the USA. The ID world does need an informed and comprehensive critique, but it’s not going to get it from this paper.

Neil

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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tclune
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There has been a major advance in Christian scientism, as reported here. Enjoy your weekend. [Biased]

--Tom Clune

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Faithful Sheepdog
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At last, an informed, fair and honest appraisal of intelligent design theory from a secular American writer who nevertheless is not persuaded by the arguments. Click here to see numerous myths, distortions and downright untruths suitably disembowelled.

quote:
As I said at the opening, I am not persuaded by intelligent design arguments, not because the theory of evolution is unassailable – it most certainly has weaknesses – but because I don’t think anyone has successfully answered the criticisms of intelligent design offered by Hume, Kant and Kiergegaard. If those secular fundamentalists who wish to gag intelligent design theories are so worried about future generations, let them demand, then, that we also teach Hume, Kant and Kierkegaard in our public schools – rather than censorship! Our students should be exposed to this great discussion in all its dimensions, so that they can make up their own minds.
No objection to that last proposal from me.

Neil

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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J. J. Ramsey
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
Click here to see numerous myths, distortions and downright untruths suitably disembowelled.

If you were to have left off the last two words of that sentence, you would have been correct. A rebuttal to that article is here:

Evolutionblog

[Edited to shorten url address]

[ 28. August 2005, 22:07: Message edited by: TonyK ]

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I am a rationalist. Unfortunately, this doesn't actually make me rational.

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Faithful Sheepdog
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quote:
Originally posted by J. J. Ramsey:
If you were to have left off the last two words of that sentence, you would have been correct. A rebuttal to that article is here:

Evolutionblog

I'm familiar with that blog and its writer (Jason Rosenhouse). I'm afraid I cannot take him at all seriously when I see gross overstatements such as this:
quote:
He's about to lecture us about David Hume and Soren Kierkegaard, but that's beside the point. I have often said that frequently you can spot a crank even if you know very little about the subject in question. And the line above could only have been written by a major league crank.
Given this kind of overblown rhetoric, it's simply hilarious when he starts up with his own Internet lecturing about sombody else's alleged lecturing. And I switch off completely when I come across numerous uses of the word "crank".

I'll grant you that it is a reply to Cohen's article, but a competent rebuttal? No way!

Neil

[Edited to fix long url address]

[ 28. August 2005, 22:09: Message edited by: TonyK ]

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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J. J. Ramsey
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
I'm afraid I cannot take him at all seriously when I see gross overstatements such as this:
quote:
He's about to lecture us about David Hume and Soren Kierkegaard, but that's beside the point. I have often said that frequently you can spot a crank even if you know very little about the subject in question. And the line above could only have been written by a major league crank.
Given this kind of overblown rhetoric, it's simply hilarious when he starts up with his own Internet lecturing about sombody else's alleged lecturing. And I switch off completely when I come across numerous uses of the word "crank".

That's right. Look at the rhetoric and not the facts. Neglect that the first "myth" mentioned in the article, "The theory of intelligent design is a modern version of Creationism," is substantially true, and that the next two "myths" are caricatures of the positions of ID critics.

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I am a rationalist. Unfortunately, this doesn't actually make me rational.

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Faithful Sheepdog
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quote:
Originally posted by J. J. Ramsey:
"The theory of intelligent design is a modern version of Creationism," is substantially true, and that the next two "myths" are caricatures of the positions of ID critics.

Well, it's over to you, then. Please substantiate your assertions above with some facts and arguments.

Neil

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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J. J. Ramsey
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
quote:
Originally posted by J. J. Ramsey:
"The theory of intelligent design is a modern version of Creationism," is substantially true, and that the next two "myths" are caricatures of the positions of ID critics.

Well, it's over to you, then. Please substantiate your assertions above with some facts and arguments.
That was already done briefly in the article. I see no need to reinvent the wheel.

--------------------
I am a rationalist. Unfortunately, this doesn't actually make me rational.

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Justinian
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
At last, an informed, fair and honest appraisal of intelligent design theory from a secular American writer who nevertheless is not persuaded by the arguments. Click here to see numerous myths, distortions and downright untruths suitably disembowelled.

quote:
As I said at the opening, I am not persuaded by intelligent design arguments, not because the theory of evolution is unassailable – it most certainly has weaknesses – but because I don’t think anyone has successfully answered the criticisms of intelligent design offered by Hume, Kant and Kiergegaard. If those secular fundamentalists who wish to gag intelligent design theories are so worried about future generations, let them demand, then, that we also teach Hume, Kant and Kierkegaard in our public schools – rather than censorship! Our students should be exposed to this great discussion in all its dimensions, so that they can make up their own minds.
No objection to that last proposal from me.

Neil

Of course you would favour that last proposal. As would the authors of the Wedge Strategy.

Nevertheless, if you want to try to get ID added to RE, feel free. Preferably along side the "God of the Gaps". When it becomes mainstream science, let me know - until that point there is too much useful and relevant science to bother to dignify Cold Fusion, Erich von Daniken or ID with a platform.

As for his arguments,

quote:
Myth: The theory of intelligent design is a modern version of Creationism.
...
Fact: The theory of intelligent design goes back at least as far as classical Greece and it has been debated in nearly every century since then.

A statement that is both true and misleading. People have hypothesised an intelligent creator for about as logn as we have records - but the current incarnation of the ID movement are largely crypto-creationists.

Historical Precident does not imply continuity.

quote:
Myth: The theory of intelligent design claims that the designer is the God described in the Bible.
...
Fact: It is a matter of formal logic, not deception, that allows one to consistently accept the intelligent design argument while utterly repudiating the theory of creationism as well as the Bible itself and its God.

Again, true and misleading. You can have ID and no monotheistic God (flying spaghetti monster, anyone?) - but I have yet to see ID propogated by someone who was not a Christian. (Incidently, ID seems to break down unless you have a (probably monotheist) God that was outside time because you need something to make that God - it certainly couldn't have arisen by chance, meaning you iterate back to either a God or a paradox).

Besides, ID is usually fought on the grounds that it is not science and that almost the testable examples so far have been shown to be wrong. Whether or not it is Christian Creationism is largely irrelevant here.

quote:
Myth: Conservatives and Christians necessarily accept the intelligent design argument.

Jean Chen (Pop & Politics):

“Intelligent design is just another strategy from conservative Christians to ban evolution.”

Fact: You can consistently be a political conservative or a devout Christian and still totally reject the argument from intelligent design.

Serious strawman here. I have yet to see anyone claim that all Conservative Christians accept ID or Creationism. Let alone anyone saying that all Conservatives and all Christians accept ID. (The closest I've seen is the claim that all who accept ID are Conservative Christians. This is not the same as saying all Conservative Christians accept ID).

quote:
Myth: The theory of evolution and monotheism are logically at odds or, at least, inimical.
...
Fact: You can consistently accept the theory of evolution and still be a monotheist, seeing the hand of God in the evolutionary workings of the universe.

He has a point here- and I detest the Dawkinsites when it comes to religion as much as I do YECies.

In short, he's dealing with the lunatic fringe and thinks he's making a telling point. At least he seems to have a (rather trivial) point here. Still, I suppose if you throw enough mud, some of it will stick.

To summarise, the link you give is neither informed, nor fair, nor honest despite your assertions to the contrary, FS. I thought better of you.

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My real name consists of just four letters, but in billions of combinations.

Eudaimonaic Laughter - my blog.

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Faithful Sheepdog
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quote:
Originally posted by J. J. Ramsey:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
quote:
Well, it's over to you, then. Please substantiate your assertions above with some facts and arguments.
That was already done briefly in the article. I see no need to reinvent the wheel.
I will take this as an indication that you are either unwilling or unable to defend your assertions publicly.

As for the Rosenhouse blog article, I wouldn't be so quick to claim that he has already "invented the wheel". From where I'm sitting this so-called wheel is completely square. Consider his statement below:

quote:
Let's begin with the obvious: The Old Testament, which is, after all, the founding document of creationism, came well before Plato's dialogues. See what I mean about idiocy?
On the basis of this magnificent piece of rhetorical and logical garbage, we are now led to understand that the study of classical Greek thought is simply a cover for “creationism”.

Well, that is certainly a novel thesis. He definitely gets marks for imagination – or should that be paranoia? - if not for factual correctness, logical consistency and relevance to the point at hand.

Rosenhouse’s ambiguous comment about “idiocy” is very appropriate. I think you'll find that all his wheels have fallen off. I would stick to walking for now.

Neil

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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Faithful Sheepdog
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quote:
Originally posted by Justinian:
Of course you would favour that last proposal. As would the authors of the Wedge Strategy.

The only appropriate reply to this post in in Hell. Accordingly Justinian is called to Hell. I will send a PM as soon as I have made the OP.

Neil

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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J. J. Ramsey
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
As for the Rosenhouse blog article, I wouldn't be so quick to claim that he has already "invented the wheel". From where I'm sitting this so-called wheel is completely square. Consider his statement below:

quote:
Let's begin with the obvious: The Old Testament, which is, after all, the founding document of creationism, came well before Plato's dialogues. See what I mean about idiocy?
On the basis of this magnificent piece of rhetorical and logical garbage, we are now led to understand that the study of classical Greek thought is simply a cover for “creationism”.
Um, no. The point is obviously that classical Greek thought is a red herring that doesn't have a whole lot to do with ID.

If you are going to grossly misconstrue Rosenhouse's blog entry like that, there is little point in arguing with you.

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I am a rationalist. Unfortunately, this doesn't actually make me rational.

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Faithful Sheepdog
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quote:
Originally posted by J. J. Ramsey:
Um, no. The point is obviously that classical Greek thought is a red herring that doesn't have a whole lot to do with ID.

I think the misconstrual here is yours.

Cohen’s original point is that present ID ideas are simply the latest form of a school of thought that has been around for over 2,500 years. The difference now is that the present ID community has access to mathematical tools and scientific knowledge unknown in the classical period. That has enabled the argument to be restated in a much more vigorous fashion.

quote:
If you are going to grossly misconstrue Rosenhouse's blog entry like that, there is little point in arguing with you.
I think you’ll find that the fundamental misconstrual is with Rosenhouse himself.

The OT (“the founding document of creationism”, according to Rosenhouse) is revered by Jews, as well as by Christians of all stripes. Indeed, it was Jewish scripture long before it became Christian scripture. Only in the Christian era was it disseminated widely beyond the Jewish community.

The “scientific creationism” (sciat young earth creationism) that Rosenhouse attacks is associated with a particular strand of evangelical Protestantism, mainly in the late 20th century USA . Such ideas have found little support in the RC, Orthodox and mainstream Protestant churches, despite their having a vigorous theological doctrine of creation.

It therefore follows that access to the OT is not a sufficient criterion for the development of “creationist” ideas. As a matter of historical fact, regardless of the date of its writing, it is in any case impossible that Plato had access to the OT in a language he could understand, since its translation into Greek was only made several centuries after the classical period, in circa 250BC.

Rosenhouse therefore misunderstands Cohen’s argument completely and so his attempted rebuttal fails.

Neil

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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J. J. Ramsey
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
Cohen’s original point is that present ID ideas are simply the latest form of a school of thought that has been around for over 2,500 years.

And Rosenhouse's point is that ID is no such thing.

quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
The "scientific creationism" (sciat young earth creationism) that Rosenhouse attacks is associated with a particular strand of evangelical Protestantism, mainly in the late 20th century USA .

And Rosenhouse's point is that ID is a continuation and modification of this "scientific creationism" movement, not of a continuation of Plato's philosophy.

quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
the OT is not a sufficient criterion for the development of "creationist" ideas.

That is beside the point. The creationist movement arose as a defense of the OT against Darwinism, and that is why Rosenhouse calls the OT is "the founding document of creationism."

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I am a rationalist. Unfortunately, this doesn't actually make me rational.

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Soror Magna
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Here's a couple of fun things:

Show me the science

Intelligent Spaghetti

I do remember Chariots of the Gods being in the house when I was young, and I briefly looked at it, and to quote another Shipmate, it was nonsense on stilts. Had the left-wing won the culture war, it might have ended up on the curriculum in California!

Cheers, Olivia G

(Edited to link to first page of article)

[ 29. August 2005, 22:57: Message edited by: OliviaG ]

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"You come with me to room 1013 over at the hospital, I'll show you America. Terminal, crazy and mean." -- Tony Kushner, "Angels in America"

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RuthW

liberal "peace first" hankie squeezer
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quote:
Originally posted by OliviaG:
I do remember Chariots of the Gods being in the house when I was young, and I briefly looked at it, and to quote another Shipmate, it was nonsense on stilts. Had the left-wing won the culture war, it might have ended up on the curriculum in California!

We had Governor Moonbeam's committee on how to promote self-esteem in children, but some things are too nuts even for California.
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Faithful Sheepdog
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quote:
Originally posted by J. J. Ramsey:
And Rosenhouse's point is that ID is no such thing.

That is certainly Rosenhouse's point of view, but it is not substantiated by his poor arguments.

quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
And Rosenhouse's point is that ID is a continuation and modification of this "scientific creationism" movement, not of a continuation of Plato's philosophy.

Again, that is Rosenhouse's viewpoint, but his arguments utterly fail to substantiate his position. "Scientific creationism" is an attempt to support a literalistic interpretation of the book of Genesis through some very selective scientific understandings, such as "flood geology".

By contrast, the ID world's arguments are specific to a very limited area (the detection of intelligent activity) and are made on logical, rational and scientific grounds. They say nothing about gods, scriptures and religions. On these issues one may adopt any view one likes.

ID ideas are fully compatible with accepting the established scientific age of the world (4.6 billion years). They are also compatible with accepting some notion of common evolutionary descent, either in its universal form, or in some modified form, depending on how one reads the palaeontological evidence.

I would also add that ID ideas are fully compatible with Francis Crick's panspermia hypothesis (basically, space aliens "seeded" this planet) and, frankly, even the bizarre "Gaia" hypothesis of the whole Earth as a single living entity.

What ID ideas contest vigorously is that the Darwinian mechanism of random mutation and natural selection is adequate alone to explain fully the historical development of biological complexity. Other than that, ID ideas are fully compatible with some form of evolutionary development in history.

If Rosenhouse can't see the crucial differences betwen the YEC world and the ID world, then his credibility as a commentator is utterly destroyed.

quote:
That is beside the point. The creationist movement arose as a defense of the OT against Darwinism, and that is why Rosenhouse calls the OT is "the founding document of creationism."
If Rosenhouse thinks that the only opposition to Darwinism came from Genesis literalists brandishing the KJV, he is sorely ignorant of the history of scientific thought in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Neil

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"Random mutation/natural selection works great in folks’ imaginations, but it’s a bust in the real world." ~ Michael J. Behe

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HenryT

Canadian Anglican
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quote:
Originally posted by OliviaG:
...Had the left-wing won the culture war, it might have ended up on the curriculum in California!...

I think we need a better term than "left-wing". To me C of G and YEC live in different quadrants on the same side of some axis.

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"Perhaps an invincible attachment to the dearest rights of man may, in these refined, enlightened days, be deemed old-fashioned" P. Henry, 1788

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tclune
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hi, Henry.

Since you assign only non-quoted material to the public domain, must I quote you as follows:

quote:
Originally posted by Henry Troup:
I think we need a better term than "...". To me C of G and YEC live in different quadrants on the same side of some axis.

Just curious.

--Tom Clune

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J. J. Ramsey
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quote:
Originally posted by Faithful Sheepdog:
"Scientific creationism" is an attempt to support a literalistic interpretation of the book of Genesis through some very selective scientific understandings, such as "flood geology".

By contrast, the ID world's arguments are specific to a very limited area (the detection of intelligent activity). . . .

Rosenhouse did not contend otherwise, and nor do I. Rather, it is noted that both the old scientific creationism and the new ID are pseudoscientific attacks on Darwinism. It is also noted that ID came to the fore after scientific creationism failed in its political goal of making headway into schools. It is for these reasons that ID is considered just another form of creationism, a form that is far more pared down in its claims, but a form of creationism nonetheless.

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I am a rationalist. Unfortunately, this doesn't actually make me rational.

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Russ
Old salt
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quote:
To my mind the success of the program is simply an artefact of human design and the product of programming skill. The programming rewards each step of the way as the digital creatures evolve towards the most complex function.
If the universe were a computer program, wouldn't the scientists be completely right to describe the development of life forms within it in terms of the rules that had been programmed in ?

And the religiously-minded completely right to assert that God had programmed the whole ?

And the agnostics completely right to point out that the existence of God, and the nature of his purpose in writing this software, were not deducible from observations within the system ?

So where's the beef ?

I can only suppose that the reason that this topic has run to 21 pages is that someone is seriously confused as to the sorts of proposition being made and the framework within which they are valid propositions...

Russ

Posts: 3169 | From: rural Ireland | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged



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