PZ Myers posted Entry 2126 on March 20, 2006 05:43 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2121

fly_eye_tease.jpg

What has always attracted me to developmental biology is the ability to see the unfolding of pattern—simplicity becomes complexity in a process made up of small steps, comprehensible physical and chemical interactions that build a series of states leading to a mostly robust conclusion. It's a bit like Conway's Game of Life in reverse, where we see the patterns and can manipulate them to some degree, but we don't know the underlying rules, and that's our job—to puzzle out how it all works.

compoundeye.jpg

Another fascinating aspect of development is that all the intricate, precise steps are carried out without agency: everything is explained and explainable in terms of local, autonomous interactions. Genes are switched on in response to activation by proteins not conscious action, domains of expression are refined without an interfering hand nudging them along towards a defined goal. It's teleonomy, not teleology. We see gorgeously regular structures like the insect compound eye to the right arise out of a smear of cells, and there is no magic involved—it's wonderfully empowering. We don't throw up our hands and declare a miracle, but instead science gives us the tools to look deeper and work out (with much effort, admittedly) how seeming miracles occur.

One more compelling aspect of development: it's reliable, but not rigid. Rather than being simply deterministic, development is built up on stochastic processes—ultimately, it's all chemistry, and cells changing their states are simply ping-ponging through a field of potential interactions to arrive at an equilibrium state probabilistically. When I'd peel open a grasshopper embryo and look at its ganglia, I'd have an excellent idea of what cells I'd find there, and what they'd be doing…but the fine details would vary every time. I can watch a string of neural crest cells in a zebrafish crawl out of the dorsal midline and stream over generally predictable paths to their destinations, but the actions of an individual melanocyte, for instance, are variable and beautiful to see. We developmental biologists get the best of all situations, a generally predictable pattern coupled to and generated by diversity and variation.

One of the best known examples of chance and regularity in development is the compound eye of insects, shown above, which is as lovely and crystalline as a snowflake, yet is visibly assembled from an apparently homogenous field of cells in the embryo. And looking closer, we discover a combination of very tight precision sprinkled with random variation.

Continue reading "Chance and regularity in the development of the fly eye" (on Pharyngula)

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Comment #87977

Posted by Qualiatative on March 20, 2006 6:57 PM (e)

PZ,

Another fascinating aspect of development is that all the intricate, precise steps are carried out without agency…It’s teleonomy, not teleology.

I thought PT’s whole shtick was that teleology is philosophy and, therefore, it doesn’t belong in science. Apparently that’s just a cover for a priori excluding design in order to better sell your atheistic worldview. The gig is up!

Comment #87988

Posted by Steviepinhead on March 20, 2006 7:13 PM (e)

Thanks for the fascinating post, PZ.

Sorry, however, not to have gotten that comment up before the first mouth-breather defaced the thread. Ah, well.

For those who do know how to read:

TELEONOMY: the element of apparent purpose or possession of a project in the organization of living systems, without implying any vitalistic connotations. Frequently considered as a necessary if not sufficient defining feature of the living organization.

Comment #87994

Posted by Qualiatative on March 20, 2006 7:30 PM (e)

Steviepinhead,

I read the article and I know what teleonomy means.

PZ does a fine job of manipulating words like “chance” and “randomness” to imply “purposelessness”. I tend to agree with quantum physicist Henry Stapp’s assessment: “Chance is an idea useful for dealing with a world partly unknown to us. But it has no rational place among the ultimate constituents of nature.”

Comment #87996

Posted by PvM on March 20, 2006 7:36 PM (e)

The role of manipulating chance and randomness to imply purposeness has been assigned to the Intelligent Design movement. Did you not get the memo?

What PZ shows is that the concept of design or teleology is complicated by the fact that chance and regularity appear to be sufficient. In other words, the eliminative approaches sought by ID are once again found to be vacuous.

Comment #87997

Posted by Steviepinhead on March 20, 2006 7:42 PM (e)

You and Stapp can think whatever you like. If you want to call that philosophizing, then indulge your penchant.

Do let us know when you have any actual evidence for the larger propositions you have put forth here, i.e.:

“The gig is up!”

“ ‘Chance is an idea useful for dealing with a world partly unknown to us. But it has no rational place among the ultimate constituents of nature.’ “

Oh, and be sure to let us know what evidence you have that physicist Stapp was addressing emergent phenomena like biology when he was propounding upon the “ultimate constituents of nature.”

Needless to say, I won’t be holding my breath awaiting a reply that actually contains evidence for these hallucinations qualia of yours.

Comment #88008

Posted by PZ Myers on March 20, 2006 8:27 PM (e)

I don’t get it – Qualiatative is being self-defeating. So he wants to argue that there is some “purpose” behind the fact that a rhabdomere 2 ommatidia in from the posterior margin, 3 ommatidia down from the equator, is expressing Rh3 in Fly Alpha, and some other purposeful reason why the equivalent rhabdomere in Alpha’s sister, Beta, is expressing Rh4?

That is remarkably stupid.

Comment #88012

Posted by Qualiatative on March 20, 2006 8:37 PM (e)

PvM,

the eliminative approaches sought by ID are once again found to be vacuous.

ID, as I understand it, is not committed to everything in nature being the direct product of intelligence.

Steviepinhead,

Do let us know when you have any actual evidence for the larger propositions you have put forth here, i.e.:
“The gig is up!”

I was being facetious here. PZ will, in all likelihood, be ranting until the day he days.

Oh, and be sure to let us know what evidence you have that physicist Stapp was addressing emergent phenomena like biology when he was propounding upon the “ultimate constituents of nature.”

Accounts of causality are inherently metaphysical. Thus, PZ’s attempt to use biology to demonstrate purposelessness on a “scientific level” is non sequitur. Ultimately, randomness only reflects our ignorance of the underlying system.

Comment #88015

Posted by Qualiatative on March 20, 2006 8:44 PM (e)

PZ,

I am not the one making philosophic inferences here. It seems to me that you are advocating “randomness” as an irreducible constituent of nature. Is this true?

Comment #88016

Posted by mynym on March 20, 2006 8:45 PM (e)

PZ:Except us developmental biologists, of course: the fly eye is an extremely well studied developmental system, and we know that it is assembled by unthinking cellular processes with no design or engineering required.

Except that no one ever said that flies are thinking with their eyes or that they think their own eyes into existence.

I know, it’s all a little bewildering and complicated—intensely complicated with all kinds of interactions between cells.

Apparently Myers got out his special smarty pants that Mother Nature gave him, just for this post. It was probably her natural selection again.

Fortunately for any without naturally selected smarty pants Myer’s own text just so happens by quite a happenstance to be assembled by unthinking cellular processes. Given a little historical narrative about how his text came to be (Darwinists shouldn’t object to that!) his few attempts at a mixture of his personal philosophy about “unthinking cellular processes” in it probably reduce to neurosis derived from personal history, a sort of cosmic Oedipus complex that is typical to certain fellows.

However, when you dig into it and explore the literature, what you find is the successful application of a reductionist program of study, with each piece of the story a fully comprehensible and actually rather simple product of a molecular/cellular interaction.

Molecular/cellular? Even for those with the urge to merge blurring the difference between molecules and cells is pushing it.

Comment #88018

Posted by PvM on March 20, 2006 8:48 PM (e)

ID, as I understand it, is not committed to everything in nature being the direct product of intelligence.

Indeed, it merely limits it to that which we do not yet understand. But remember that ID is also proposing to move the initial injection of ‘information’ to a front loading event such as perhaps the Big Bang.
As long as ID relies on eliminative approaches exclusively, it will fail to be scientifically relevant.

Comment #88020

Posted by PvM on March 20, 2006 8:49 PM (e)

Accounts of causality are inherently metaphysical. Thus, PZ’s attempt to use biology to demonstrate purposelessness on a “scientific level” is non sequitur. Ultimately, randomness only reflects our ignorance of the underlying system.

And ID seems to be willing to take the place of randomness by arguing that our ignorance should be evidence of design.

Comment #88024

Posted by PvM on March 20, 2006 8:54 PM (e)

I am not the one making philosophic inferences here. It seems to me that you are advocating “randomness” as an irreducible constituent of nature. Is this true?

Hi Bill…

But yes, randomness IS an irreducible constituent of nature. Or at least at the quantum level that is what it appears to be.
What better place for an Intelligent Designer (wink wink) to hide than in the ‘randomness’ of the quantum world. Next we can imagine the designer to use an infinite wavelength channel to communicate. Oops forgot that the bandwidth becomes zero. Back to the drawing boards

Comment #88029

Posted by PvM on March 20, 2006 9:02 PM (e)

An interesting question: Is randomness an irreducible component of nature or is randomness reducible to deterministic forces?

One may be tempted to argue that randomness is real due to the chaotic nature of nature but chaos could be due to our inability to measure the relevant parameters continuously. In other words, randomness in chaos could be reduced to determinism IFF we had sufficiently accurate data.

More later

Comment #88034

Posted by mynym on March 20, 2006 9:09 PM (e)

So he wants to argue that there is some “purpose” behind the fact that a rhabdomere 2 ommatidia in from the posterior margin, 3 ommatidia down from the equator, is expressing Rh3 in Fly Alpha, and some other purposeful reason why the equivalent rhabdomere in Alpha’s sister, Beta, is expressing Rh4?

That is remarkably stupid.

So you wouldn’t agree that the purpose of the unfolding of events that you trace back to “chance” is for the eye to see?

I wonder, how does the Blind Watchmaker make things to watch it? I suppose that we should keep watch on her to make sure that she keeps time with us. After all, as Myers has now proven the flies with their unthinking eyes probably will not keep watch.

“But you don’t seriously believe,” Einstein protested, “that none but observable magnitudes must go into a physical theory?”
“Isn’t that precisely what you have done with relativity?” I asked in some surprise. “After all, you did stress the fact that it is impermissible to speak of absolute time, simply because absolute time cannot be observed; that only clock readings, be it in the moving reference system or the system at rest, are relevant to the determination of time.”
“Possibly I did use this kind of reasoning,” Einstein admitted, “but it is nonsense all the same. Perhaps I could put it more diplomatically by saying that it may be heuristically useful to keep in mind what one has actually observed. But on principle, it is quite wrong to try founding a theory on observable magnitudes alone. In reality the very opposite happens. It is the theory which decides what we can observe.”

(Physics and Beyond
by Werner Heisenberg
trans. Arnold J. Pomerans (New York:
Harper & Row, Publishers, 1971) :63)

That will not make sense to some. I leave it to inverts to relegate themselves to being a useful heuristic.

Comment #88038

Posted by Qualiatative on March 20, 2006 9:14 PM (e)

PvM,

Hi Bill…

I’m flattered but you are mistaken. I believe philosophic inferences involving causality should remain in philosophy.

But yes, randomness IS an irreducible constituent of nature. Or at least at the quantum level that is what it appears to be.

Now do you see why I quoted a quantum physicist?

Comment #88041

Posted by PZ Myers on March 20, 2006 9:19 PM (e)

How remarkable. Usually, my science posts get almost no comment…I’d forgotten, though, that the word “random” throws creationists into such a tizzy.

Look at the title, you silly illiterates.

“Chance and regularity in the development of the fly eye”.

Chance is involved in the determination of photoreceptor types. It’s absurd to argue otherwise.

Regularity is also involved – there are specific rules and patterns of interaction that set up the arrangements of rhabodmeres.

I’m certainly not arguing that everything in biology is just random noise. You’d have to be a major idiot to assume that.

It’s also eminently clear that biology is not purely determinate.

Qualiative and mynym: what are you guys, some kind of dolts?

Comment #88049

Posted by Qualiatative on March 20, 2006 9:38 PM (e)

PZ,

I can engineer systems of dots in Conway’s Game of Life that will spawn a potentially infinite series of generations. As the game flickers to proceeding generations the change could be misconstrued by a passive observer as “random”. Yet we know that the game is contingent upon initial conditions acted upon by a repetition of rules.

So what is “random”, PZ? Is it irreducible? Is it patterned determinism? Or is it something else?

Comment #88050

Posted by normdoering on March 20, 2006 9:40 PM (e)

Qualiatative wrote:

I tend to agree with quantum physicist Henry Stapp’s assessment: “Chance is an idea useful for dealing with a world partly unknown to us. But it has no rational place among the ultimate constituents of nature.”

That’s only true in the sense that whether it’s random or predictable (it could be a regular algorithm which some “random” number generators are) doesn’t change the outcome. What is needed is a source of variation – almost any source will do. The fact that it can be random (or a simple minded algorithm) eliminates the need for an intelligence to supply the variation. The creativity and designing engine is in the selectionism working on varied outputs, not in the variation.

Comment #88082

Posted by PvM on March 20, 2006 11:03 PM (e)

Now do you see why I quoted a quantum physicist?

Who?

Comment #88087

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on March 20, 2006 11:09 PM (e)

“Now do you see why I quoted a quantum physicist?”

Not by any chance (oops I mean Design - there is no chance) a screwball one with his own version of QM?

In any case much is chance so far as the organisms are concerned.

Comment #88095

Posted by PvM on March 20, 2006 11:37 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'url'

Comment #88126

Posted by BWE on March 21, 2006 1:29 AM (e)

Qualiataliatedive,
Dork, it’s “jig” not “gig”.
You know, I have all the info you need on my blog.

Comment #88127

Posted by BWE on March 21, 2006 1:47 AM (e)

Posted by Qualiatative on March 20, 2006 09:38 PM (e)

PZ,

I can engineer systems of dots in Conway’s Game of Life that will spawn a potentially infinite series of generations. As the game flickers to proceeding generations the change could be misconstrued by a passive observer as “random”. Yet we know that the game is contingent upon initial conditions acted upon by a repetition of rules.

So what is “random”, PZ? Is it irreducible? Is it patterned determinism? Or is it something else?

Dork, you are calling this fractal geometry or chaos or continuous phase transitions or something. If you throw a stick in a creek, are you designing the ripples? You are religious and stupid. Please keep quiet and let others speak for you.

Comment #88129

Posted by Arden Chatfield on March 21, 2006 2:27 AM (e)

I have a question for ‘Qualiatative’ and Mynym. How come ID trolls who come here never talk to each other? You guys all pretend like the other trolls aren’t here. You guys are all trying to defeat ‘methodological naturalism’, shouldn’t you stick together? Or are you maybe embarrassed by your fellow trolls?

Comment #88131

Posted by Air Bear on March 21, 2006 2:42 AM (e)

Let’s give Qualiatative a chance

ID, as I understand it, is not committed to everything in nature being the direct product of intelligence.

So, according to ID, what are some things in nature that are the direct product of intelligence, and what are some things in nature that are NOT the direct product of intelligence?

Examples from biological nature would be greately preferred. Extra bonus points for examples of different parts of the same organism (i.e. species).

And for a specific intelligent product and a specific non-intelligent product, what is the particular calculation that demonstrates the difference between them?

As a larger point, is there any rhyme or reason for the distribution of intelligent products and non-intelligent products among organisms? For example, if the eye is intelligently designed, does it follow that the eyelid is intelligently designed? What about the eyebrow?

Or if the blood-clotting mechanism is intelligentlly designed, can we infer that blood vessels (which blood clotting seal up when they’re torn) are intelligently designed also? If not, doesn’t it seem unlikely that animals would exist with blood circulation systems but not blood clotting, only to be helped out by an Intelligent Designer who came along later with a fix-it mechanism for their blood vessels?

Comment #88137

Posted by Grendel on March 21, 2006 4:23 AM (e)

PZ,

I appreciate what you have written, carefully qualifying your assertions and comments. I can tell that you are passionate about science.

Wouldn’t it be neat if there existed a decent simulation of some complex biological process, with sufficient fidelity to show behaviour consistent with observation? I am not talking about microscopic systems such as 1,000 water molecules, or even the folding of a large protein. Rather, how about, say, a complete simulation of a small ecosystem based on Caenorhabditis elegans, the tiny worm that some people spent years studying in excruciating detail? (“In the beginning was the worm,” Andrew Brown, Simon and Schuster, 2003.)

Such a simulator has not yet built, nor may it ever get built, if people lose interest in C. elegans as a model organism. However, wind the clock forward 1,000 years and who knows what science will have at its disposal? Perhaps then there might exist something akin to a “mathematical proof” of the detailed origin and explanation of some complicated biological process such as evolution in action within a colony of nematodes?

Still, I wonder what the future creationists will make of such a “proof”. I suspect they will bang their war drums as loudly as ever before, and refuse to acknowledge such proof as may exist.

It’s funny how nobody, creationist or scientist alike, would fault the solution I will give to a simple problem:

PROBLEM: Find the number y that makes the following assertion true …

2y-4=0

SOLUTION: y = 2

No creationist will dispute this, as it has nothing to do with religion. This does not challenge any cherished notions. Even if I got the solution wrong, nobody’s blood would boil. The most hardened advocate on either side of the fence would simply scoff at me, and nothing much more than that. But say something that threatens to step on the toes of that holiest of holies, GENESIS, and look out … real listening stops and the argumentum ad hominem begins in earnest.

Comment #88139

Posted by Frank J on March 21, 2006 6:28 AM (e)

Arden Chatfield wrote:

How come ID trolls who come here never talk to each other? You guys all pretend like the other trolls aren’t here. You guys are all trying to defeat ‘methodological naturalism’, shouldn’t you stick together? Or are you maybe embarrassed by your fellow trolls?

C’mon now. Surely you have heard of the pseudoscience code of silence. They are “sticking together” by their silence. What they should do is debate each other on their respective positions as “evolutionists” do with each other. Even YECs and OECs used to do that until the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ID strategy came along to discourage it.

Comment #88143

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on March 21, 2006 7:50 AM (e)

Apparently that’s just a cover for a priori excluding design in order to better sell your atheistic worldview.

But ID isn’t about religion. No sireee Bob. Not at all. It’s just those lying atheist darwinists who say it is.

Thanks for (once again) demonstrating so clearly that (1) ID is just religious apologetics, (2) IDers are lying to us when they claim it’s not, and (3) Judge Jones was entirely correct when he concluded that it was.

This is why I love fundies so much – they are by far their own worst enemies. No matter how long they rant and rave that ID is science and has nothing to do with religion, just let them talk long enough, and every single one of them will shoot themselves in the head sooner or later, by shouting “Jesus saves!!!” at the top of their lungs.

Not only CAN’T they keep quiet about their religious motives and goals, but they don’t WANT to.

It’s why ID will never see the inside of a science classroom.

Comment #88144

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on March 21, 2006 7:52 AM (e)

ID, as I understand it, is not committed to everything in nature being the direct product of intelligence.

Um, how do you propose we determine which are and which aren’t?

BTW, what the heck *does* ID commit itself to? ID seems to me to try, very very hard, never to actually say anything at all.

Comment #88150

Posted by William E Emba on March 21, 2006 8:30 AM (e)

Qualiatative wrote:

I read the article and I know what teleonomy means.

Really? Then why did you criticize it for its teleology? I’m guessing soreheaded creationist style sour grapes, but I could be wrong.

PZ does a fine job of manipulating words like “chance” and “randomness” to imply “purposelessness”.

Well, PZ sure fooled me. Can you be explicit?

I tend to agree with quantum physicist Henry Stapp’s assessment: “Chance is an idea useful for dealing with a world partly unknown to us. But it has no rational place among the ultimate constituents of nature.”

Yes, and Einstein said the same thing. So what? In what sense is it “rational” to reject one of the best and stunningly accurate of all the sciences? Neither Einstein, Stapp or numerous other quantum physicists have ever articulated a reason (as opposed to a feeling) to reject chance as an ultimate constituent of nature.

Comment #88154

Posted by Raging Bee on March 21, 2006 9:11 AM (e)

Fortunately for any without naturally selected smarty pants Myer’s own text just so happens by quite a happenstance to be assembled by unthinking cellular processes. Given a little historical narrative about how his text came to be (Darwinists shouldn’t object to that!) his few attempts at a mixture of his personal philosophy about “unthinking cellular processes” in it probably reduce to neurosis derived from personal history, a sort of cosmic Oedipus complex that is typical to certain fellows.

This paragraph is random, purposeless, and shows no sign of an intelligent designer. But it is mildly amusing…

Comment #88159

Posted by Keith Douglas on March 21, 2006 10:10 AM (e)

Even if Bohm and Einstein and so on are correct, there is still another useful understanding of randomness - causal independence, which of course comes in degrees. Good random number generators are very independent of the programs they influence, for example. Similarly, in an ideal gas the positions and momenta of the particles are independent of each other. Philosopher Mario Bunge (for example) has written about this since 1959, and there are others.

Comment #88171

Posted by BWE on March 21, 2006 11:19 AM (e)

PZ, does “the wave” occur in a Fibonacci Series? i.e. are the balancing rh’s occurring in proportions of phi in a non-mutant eye?

Comment #88176

Posted by Arden Chatfield on March 21, 2006 11:43 AM (e)

what the heck *does* ID commit itself to? ID seems to me to try, very very hard, never to actually say anything at all.

I think “some stuff looks designed” is quite literally the only thing they’ve ever committed themselves to.

A whole ‘science’ that can be exhaustively summed up in one 4-word sentence.

Comment #88179

Posted by PZ Myers on March 21, 2006 12:17 PM (e)

No obvious fibonacci relationships: it’s a single linear wave that sweeps once across the eye, from back to front.

Comment #88184

Posted by Madam Pomfrey on March 21, 2006 12:30 PM (e)

“Apparently Myers got out his special smarty pants that Mother Nature gave him, just for this post.”

They always get back to this one too, like the lumbering class bully who picks on the “brainiacs.” The green haze of jealousy hovers over every ID nut who wants to bring them smart scientists down a notch.

Comment #88201

Posted by Qualiatative on March 21, 2006 1:46 PM (e)

Air Bear,

So, according to ID, what are some things in nature that are the direct product of intelligence, and what are some things in nature that are NOT the direct product of intelligence?

I want to preface my reply by saying that I am not advocating ID as a scientific program. With that said, ID claims to be able to detect design via irreducible complex structures that exhibit complex specified information.

—–

Rev “Dr” Lenny Flank,

Thanks for (once again) demonstrating so clearly that (1) ID is just religious apologetics, (2) IDers are lying to us when they claim it’s not, and (3) Judge Jones was entirely correct when he concluded that it was.

Again, I was not advocating ID here. Religion extends beyond the ID community, as evidenced by PZ.

Um, how do you propose we determine which are and which aren’t?

For the ID position, see above.

—–

PZ,

You haven’t answered my question. Why the dodge?

—–

QUESTION TO ALL PTers:
You cry foul when Creationists, IDers, or theistic evolutionists talk about their worldview. Yet you credulously accept PZ’s vitriolic atheism. Why the double standard?

Comment #88212

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on March 21, 2006 2:04 PM (e)

Qualitative wrote:

I want to preface my reply by saying that I am not advocating ID as a scientific program. With that said, ID claims to be able to detect design via irreducible complex structures that exhibit complex specified information.

And “claim” is the operative word. The ID advocates (let us not conflate the actual idea of ID - one that we know to be true - with the peculiar nonsense version being peddled by the current religious movement which has hijacked that concept) “claim” to be able to detect design. They have presented no evidence whatever that they can do so. Irreducible complexity is admitted by Behe to be evolvable; and Dembksi’s filter has never been shown to work. Even Dembski hasn’t bothered to show it work

Again, I was not advocating ID here. Religion extends beyond the ID community, as evidenced by PZ.

PZ is not religious. PZ is an atheist. The current ID advocates are religiously-motivated. Dembski himself says that it’s all about giving God Her due.

Um, how do you propose we determine which are and which aren’t?

For the ID position, see above.

This is not an ‘ID’ position - and it is scientifically vacuous; no ID advocate has ever demonstrated that they can detect design in anything. Not once.

You haven’t answered my question. Why the dodge?

Perhaps he has better things to do?

QUESTION TO ALL PTers:
You cry foul when Creationists, IDers, or theistic evolutionists talk about their worldview. Yet you credulously accept PZ’s vitriolic atheism. Why the double standard?

There is no double standard. We cry foul about bad science - the fact that the bad science being pushed forward by ID advocates is religiously motivated is relevant.

Comment #88224

Posted by BWE on March 21, 2006 2:44 PM (e)

I want to preface my reply by saying that I am not advocating ID as a scientific program. With that said, ID claims to be able to detect design via irreducible complex structures that exhibit complex specified information.

I am not advocating that religion makes people stupid. With that said, religion seems to make people stupid.

Comment #88231

Posted by BWE on March 21, 2006 2:50 PM (e)

So what is the mechanism alerting the adjacent cell to begin its process?

Comment #88233

Posted by PvM on March 21, 2006 2:57 PM (e)

Qualiatative wrote:

With that said, ID claims to be able to detect design via irreducible complex structures that exhibit complex specified information.

And looking more carefully at these claims they come down to assigning intelligent design to structures which are functionally (specified) and cannot be explained to the satisfaction of ID activists.

In other words ID is scientifically vacuous and comes down to: we do not know how these structures arose and thus we claim intelligently designed. Of course the step from intelligently designed and the designer is fraught with additional complications. Suffices to point out that ID is fully scientifically vacuous.

Comment #88244

Posted by Arden Chatfield on March 21, 2006 3:30 PM (e)

I am not advocating that religion makes people stupid. With that said, religion seems to make people stupid.

Let’s stick with the evidence at hand: religion seems to make Qualiatative stupid.

I never did get an answer to my question of why the ID/C folks here never acknowledge each other. Darn.

Comment #88269

Posted by mynym on March 21, 2006 5:00 PM (e)

This paragraph is random, purposeless, and shows no sign of an intelligent designer.

It contains the wisdom of the species simply through the use language, if nothing else. And that is the result of a lot of intelligent and many a designer using symbols and signs quite on purpose.

But it is mildly amusing…

Still no answer on how the Blind Watchmaker makes things see the light to keep an eye on time, I suppose?

Comment #88277

Posted by David B. Benson on March 21, 2006 5:15 PM (e)

Einstein said “God does not play dice with the universe.” He was always opposed to the quantum in physics. Physicist, not quantum physicist.

Chaos is a property of some, but not all, deterministic dynamical systems. Randomness is a property of stochastic processes, never deterministic. So strictly speaking, a pseudo-random number generator is a non chaotic deterministic dynamical system. The resulting sequence of pseudo-random numbers, however, passes almost all known tests for randomness.

This means that the same data can often be viewed as representing the outcomes of a deterministic dynamical system or a stochastic process. Certain answers are easier to obtain one way or the other, for macro physical phenomena. In the microworld, only quantum mechanics, necessarily a stochastic process according to the vast majority of physicists, produces correct answers.

However, here on PT, I think molecular biologists ought to speak next.

Comment #88282

Posted by mynym on March 21, 2006 5:20 PM (e)

How remarkable. Usually, my science posts get almost no comment…I’d forgotten, though, that the word “random” throws creationists into such a tizzy.

Look at the title, you silly illiterates.

For the person who simply slaps the label of natural on pretty much anything and everything and then claims that the notion is good enough to define a way a thinking which can define “naturals” who are supposedly enlightened and so on, your claims about buzzwords are ironic.

“Chance and regularity in the development of the fly eye”.

Chance is involved in the determination of photoreceptor types. It’s absurd to argue otherwise.

Chance is involved perhaps for no other reason that it is just a word that you are using as a sort of chance-of-the-gaps, a term that is slapped on any complex state of flux and the like in which the chain of cause and effect is not currently “understood.”

Regularity is also involved — there are specific rules and patterns of interaction that set up the arrangements of rhabodmeres.

And that, in all probability, has much more to do with evolution by orderly law than does “chance”….whatever it was that chance was supposed to mean. It is appropriate, though, for those whose explanation is ultimately meaningless to choose meaningless terms.

I’m certainly not arguing that everything in biology is just random noise. You’d have to be a major idiot to assume that.

It’s also eminently clear that biology is not purely determinate.

What is it that you mean by “random noise,” perhaps you are referring to causes without effects or effects without causes?

Qualiative and mynym: what are you guys, some kind of dolts?

I would think that a charlatan would prefer dolts. But thinking, would that be natural or “artificial”….I wonder, who is it that said that flies eyes are designed to see by thinking cellular processes, anyway? If no one thought that, then why are you taking the time to try to prove that flies eyes are organized by unthinking processes and the like?

Comment #88288

Posted by mynym on March 21, 2006 5:28 PM (e)

They always get back to this one too, like the lumbering class bully who picks on the “brainiacs.”

You read too much into my metaphoric fun. But it may well be that “community” forms a bit too tightly given the psychological dynamics involved, then the Herd all runs together. At any rate, my historical narratives that seek to reduce organisms to a supposed history are at least as likely as the little narratives typical to Darwinism.

The green haze of jealousy hovers over every ID nut who wants to bring them smart scientists down a notch.

So you are saying that scientists are intelligent, which is not always case, but for the sake of argument how would we go about detecting scientific intelligence in scientific ways?

Comment #88291

Posted by PZ Myers on March 21, 2006 5:32 PM (e)

Chance is involved perhaps for no other reason that it is just a word that you are using as a sort of chance-of-the-gaps, a term that is slapped on any complex state of flux and the like in which the chain of cause and effect is not currently “understood.”

Silly fellow. It is chance as determined operationally – there is no way to predict what the receptor type of a particular R7 cell will be in advance, other than that there is a 70% chance it will be one thing, 30% another. There’s nothing magical or underhanded about it.

Ah, but I know your type perfectly: the insecure, anal-retentive creationist who is utterly terrified that God hasn’t nailed down every last grain of sand and every last molecule of every cell of every single individual in the universe, and that every choice might not have cosmic import.

Comment #88297

Posted by mynym on March 21, 2006 5:53 PM (e)

I never did get an answer to my question of why the ID/C folks here never acknowledge each other.

Often those opposing Darwinism seem to tend to the opposite psychological dynamics of the urge to merge, running with the herd, communalizing with the scientific community, etc. So expect the iconoclastic tendency, the curmudgeons, etc.

As far as I’m concerned it’s all in good fun. You have to make fun to have fun.

See, I’ll say hello to Qualiative. Yeah, hi there…out gathering fertilizer, I see.

Note:I was being facetious here. PZ will, in all likelihood, be ranting until the day he days.

I know you meant on the day he dies and his own unthinking cellular processes recede into molecules, back into the womb of Mommy Nature again, finally, to be natural!

I would have added that he’s metaphorically dead in the head already.

Comment #88299

Posted by BWE on March 21, 2006 5:59 PM (e)

So you are saying that scientists are intelligent, which is not always case, but for the sake of argument how would we go about detecting scientific intelligence in scientific ways?

qualiatative, info to support your case.

Comment #88300

Posted by Arden Chatfield on March 21, 2006 6:05 PM (e)

Often those opposing Darwinism seem to tend to the opposite psychological dynamics of the urge to merge, running with the herd, communalizing with the scientific community, etc. So expect the iconoclastic tendency, the curmudgeons, etc.

Hmm. Let’s recap: your agenda here is to further the cause of a reactionary religious establishment, and to reverse the last 100+ years of scientific learning and replace it with unchangeable 2,500 year old religious dogma. And this makes you some kind of iconoclastic ‘rebel’.

Well, I’M impressed.

If you want to see ‘urge to merge, running with the herd’, I suggest you check out Uncommon Descent.

Comment #88301

Posted by mynym on March 21, 2006 6:08 PM (e)

Silly fellow.

Oh just give me a chance, you seem to have plenty, after all…although I suppose I can always select to take a chance to have a chance. When cellular processes begin to think that they are thinking then in this craaazy way that they sometimes do, then perhaps I will have a chance.

It is chance as determined operationally…

What do you suppose the chances are that your operational determination of the chances has nothing to do with defining chance in such a way that it can be opposed to design?

Ah, but I know your type perfectly: the insecure, anal-retentive creationist who is utterly terrified that God hasn’t nailed down every last grain of sand and every last molecule of every cell of every single individual in the universe, and that every choice might not have cosmic import.

Choice? I thought that only Nature selected things in the Darwinian way, naturally enough. If Darwinism is based ultimately more on chance than natural laws and chance opens the door to choice, then how long do you suppose that we have been guiding our own evolution by choice?

Comment #88305

Posted by BWE on March 21, 2006 6:17 PM (e)

Choice? I thought that only Nature selected things in the Darwinian way, naturally enough. If Darwinism is based ultimately more on chance than natural laws and chance opens the door to choice, then how long do you suppose that we have been guiding our own evolution by choice?

Mynym, have you ever taken LSD? I think you could seriously benefit from a really powerful trip, preferrably out in nature somewhere.

Comment #88310

Posted by mynym on March 21, 2006 6:32 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #88312

Posted by mynym on March 21, 2006 6:36 PM (e)

Well, I don’t have time now. These tags are nonstandard.

Mynym, have you ever taken LSD? I think you could seriously benefit from a really powerful trip, preferrably out in nature somewhere.

I’m only taking him at his own words. He said that we could choose or select if given a chance, so I simply asked how long we have been choosing.

LSD would seem to result in natural selections, naturally enough, so Myers is probably all for it. I’m against it, I suppose I’m an “artificial.” If you don’t understand that it is because you have not read what Darwinists write.

Comment #88315

Posted by Antonym on March 21, 2006 6:45 PM (e)

What a maroon…

Comment #88321

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on March 21, 2006 7:01 PM (e)

I want to preface my reply by saying that I am not advocating ID as a scientific program.

Um, IDers are. Precisely and exactly.

Indeed, IDers deny, specifically and pointedly, that ID is religious apologetics.

Are they lying when they say that?

With that said, ID claims to be able to detect design via irreducible complex structures that exhibit complex specified information.

And it claims to do this scientifically, right?

So stop bullshitting us.

You cry foul when Creationists, IDers, or theistic evolutionists talk about their worldview. Yet you credulously accept PZ’s vitriolic atheism. Why the double standard?

You haven’t been here very long, have you.

You might want to go back and read some of the previous pointless religious wars. Just do a search for my name and PZ’s.

Are you under the idiotic impression that all “darwinists” are atheists? If so, allow me to correct your stupid assumption: Polls show that about 50% of people in the US accept evolution. Since atheists make up, at most, 15% of the US population, that means 35% of the US population that IS NOT ATHEIST, accept evolution.

In other words, over two-thirds of all the people in the US who accept evolution and deny ID/creationism, are NOT ATHEISTS.

So the whole ID paranoid fantasy about the “atheistic darwinists” is … well … really really stupid.

Comment #88324

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on March 21, 2006 7:04 PM (e)

Hey Mynym, would you mind explaining to me what the scientific theory of ID is?

Thanks.

Comment #88327

Posted by argy stokes on March 21, 2006 7:26 PM (e)

So, according to ID, what are some things in nature that are the direct product of intelligence, and what are some things in nature that are NOT the direct product of intelligence?

I want to preface my reply by saying that I am not advocating ID as a scientific program. With that said, ID claims to be able to detect design via irreducible complex structures that exhibit complex specified information.

Right… but that doesn’t answer the question “what are some of the things in nature that are NOT the direct product of intelligence?”

Comment #88336

Posted by mynym on March 21, 2006 8:24 PM (e)

Hmm. Let’s recap: your agenda here is to further the cause of a reactionary religious establishment…

The religious establishment has never had much of a problem with Darwinism, if it had then Darwinism would have never been accepted. See the book Darwin’s defenders, it probably should have had more of negative attitude to Darwinism but it can be demonstrated historically that the attitude has been one of syncretism.

…and to reverse the last 100+ years of scientific learning…

The last 100+ years, eh? Would you include the eugenics movement in that, or just everything that you currently think is beneficial or progressive? It would seem that most who believe in scientism these days include every single advancement, all technology and all that is good and right under the term “science.” So everytime a creationist engineer makes use of some intelligent design and creativity to invent something that leads to technological progress and so on, that is argued to somehow support the Darwinian creation myth. It’s gotten so bad that some associations for the advancement of science define support for “evolution”/Darwinism as “natural” and so everytime creationists step outside and experience the natural world, well, then they must be agreeing with the whole Darwinian creation myth or somethin’. Not to mention that they experience gravity, naturally enough, which is a theory just like Darwinism or somethin’ too.

…and replace it with unchangeable 2,500 year old religious dogma.

If you think that religious dogma has not changed then you’re ignorant of religion.

And this makes you some kind of iconoclastic ‘rebel’.

Well, I’M impressed.

I never claimed to be anything. I’ll run with a herd if there’s a good herd to run along with. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with the urge to merge, even now your brain is blurring things together to paint a picture and an image for you to see.

If you want to see ‘urge to merge, running with the herd’, I suggest you check out Uncommon Descent.

What do you expect, they’re beginning to form their own community. It’s the establishment’s lose because ID is a tool that is already in use that only needs to be formalized so that it can be used even more. In the end, no one is going to care what is called “scientific” as long as it works.

Hey Mynym, would you mind explaining to me what the scientific theory of ID is?

In the instance I have in mind it would be taking a specification or definition of what you think a work of malevolent intelligence would look like in patterns of information and then testing if the data for it. I don’t really care if you call that scientific or not, as long as the results are correct and the pursuit of truth is furthered.

What’s the scientific theory of evolution? Where has the definition that you refer me to been published in the peer reviewed literature as the scientific theory of evolution?

Comment #88342

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 21, 2006 8:51 PM (e)

It’s the establishment’s lose because ID is a tool that is already in use that only needs to be formalized so that it can be used even more. In the end, no one is going to care what is called “scientific” as long as it works.

er, but it doesn’t.

We’ve been waiting for years for someone who supports the ID concept (no, it’s not a theory, not even a hypothesis in the correct sense) to show us how it makes correct and testable predictions.

We’ve been met with silence.

it’s really simple. All an IDiot has to do is design an experiment that tests ANY prediction that is equivalent in nature to any of the dozens evolutionary theory already has made and tested.

search for truth??

how do you define “truth”? How does organized religion arrive at “truth”? by consesus? by edict?

why do you think the scientific method exists at all eh?

I think you are hopelessly muddled, mynym.

Comment #88346

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 21, 2006 9:08 PM (e)

Where has the definition that you refer me to been published in the peer reviewed literature as the scientific theory of evolution?

man, you are dumb.

this is just like asking the question:

where do we find the definition of the modern theory of meteorology published in the peer reviewed literature?

A theory encompasses multiple hypotheses, correlates, and lines of evidence; it includes all of the history of experiment in testing relevant predictions. you won’t find a “definition of the entire theory of evolution” just like you won’t find a definition of all of quantum theory in a peer reviewed article.

the Modern Synthesis (the current ToE) is a theory about how evolution works at the level of genes, phenotypes, and populations whereas Darwin was concerned mainly with organisms, speciation and individuals.

However, you can start with Origin of species as the first peer reviewed publication, then you might try look at RA Fisher’s seminal publications relating to the formation of the more modern synthesis.

or hell, you could just go to any of the links on the front of PT and find the information you “seek”.

I’m sure you really aren’t interested in the “truth”, though.

In that case, er,

Just keep shakin’ that fist harder, boy!

Comment #88349

Posted by Arden Chatfield on March 21, 2006 9:20 PM (e)

Hmm. Let’s recap: your agenda here is to further the cause of a reactionary religious establishment…

The religious establishment has never had much of a problem with Darwinism,

How nice. Evangelicals and conservative Christians have now dropped their objections to ‘Darwinism’? Cool, must have happened when I wasn’t looking. Guess we can all go home now.

We’re talking about the last 20-30 years, genius.

if it had then Darwinism would have never been accepted. See the book Darwin’s defenders, it probably should have had more of negative attitude to Darwinism

Not everyone shares your hostility to empericism.

…and to reverse the last 100+ years of scientific learning…

The last 100+ years, eh? Would you include the eugenics movement in that, or just everything that you currently think is beneficial or progressive? It would seem that most who believe in scientism these days include every single advancement, all technology and all that is good and right under the term “science.”

Let me guess: Darwin caused Adolf Hitler, right?

A pathetic strawman argument, which I’ll do you the favor of ignoring, tho I can see you don’t spend much if any time among people ‘who believe in scientism’.

…and replace it with unchangeable 2,500 year old religious dogma.

If you think that religious dogma has not changed then you’re ignorant of religion.

I’m sure the Book of Genesis is a very dynamic document.

And this makes you some kind of iconoclastic ‘rebel’.

I never claimed to be anything. I’ll run with a herd if there’s a good herd to run along with.

So running with the herd is good if you like the herd. Otherwise it’s bad. Swell.

If you want to see ‘urge to merge, running with the herd’, I suggest you check out Uncommon Descent.

What do you expect, they’re beginning to form their own community.

Yes, with DaveScot forcibly evicting all dissenters.

It’s the establishment’s lose because ID is a tool that is already in use

By who, preachers?

that only needs to be formalized so that it can be used even more.

Ho ho. Yeah, you guys get right on that. So far ID consists of nothing more than “some stuff sure looks designed”. You can start by ‘formalizing’ it to deciding whether the earth is 5,000 or 4.5 billion years old, and whether the ‘designer’ was God or space aliens. And then everything else after that.

In the end, no one is going to care what is called “scientific” as long as it works.

Please offer your evidence that ID ‘works’. You’ll be the first one.

Comment #88374

Posted by Henry J on March 22, 2006 12:06 AM (e)

Ya know, thinking about “evolutionists” “running with the herd”, I’ve thunked up a hypothesis as to why that might be the case:

Consider several people who pay attention to reality, and then describe the same aspect of nature.

I hypothesis that while they may use different phrasing, what they say is quite likely to sound like it’s describing the same stuff.

Henry

Comment #88378

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on March 22, 2006 12:42 AM (e)

Hey Mynym, would you mind explaining to me what the scientific theory of ID is?

In the instance I have in mind it would be taking a specification or definition of what you think a work of malevolent intelligence would look like in patterns of information and then testing if the data for it. I don’t really care if you call that scientific or not, as long as the results are correct and the pursuit of truth is furthered.

OK, so there isn’t any scientific theory of ID. Got it. Thanks. It’s what I suspected.

Comment #88379

Posted by Michael Geissler on March 22, 2006 12:56 AM (e)

Mynym is like Homer Simpson in that episode where he was trying to be a hippy. “Never fear, the Cosmic Jester is here!”. He thinks he’s freaking with people’s minds and being really profound. Everyone else just thinks he’s annoying. And smelly.

Comment #88468

Posted by AC on March 22, 2006 12:57 PM (e)

mynym wrote:

What’s the scientific theory of evolution?

“Natural selection” - according to your strawman anyway.

Chance is involved perhaps for no other reason that it is just a word that you are using as a sort of chance-of-the-gaps, a term that is slapped on any complex state of flux and the like in which the chain of cause and effect is not currently “understood.”
-
ID is a tool that is already in use that only needs to be formalized so that it can be used even more. In the end, no one is going to care what is called “scientific” as long as it works.

Considering these statements, you should be able to easily answer the following question: If what we think of as chance in a given process is really the meddling of a god, how could you tell? But perhaps you have already answered:

In the instance I have in mind it would be taking a specification or definition of what you think a work of malevolent intelligence would look like in patterns of information and then testing if the data for it. I don’t really care if you call that scientific or not, as long as the results are correct and the pursuit of truth is furthered.

Not only is that not scientific, it isn’t even coherent. It is incapable of producing results, correct or otherwise. You should work for the DI.

Comment #88494

Posted by Keith Douglas on March 22, 2006 2:43 PM (e)

Why am I not surprised that mynym has failed utterly to engage with the literature on randomness even when prodded? Another ignorant creationist, for sure, if I can be forgiven the redundancy.