Jeffrey Shallit posted Entry 2123 on March 18, 2006 07:36 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2118

I don’t know about you, but whenever I want to learn about information theory, I naturally turn to the creationists. Why, they know so much about geology, biology, and paleontology, it only seems reasonable that their expertise would extend to mathematics and computer science.

Take Nancy Pearcey, for example. Here, for example, we learn that Ms. Pearcey has studied philosophy, German, and and music at Iowa State; that she has a master’s degree in biblical studies; that she is a senior fellow at that temple of truth, the Discovery Institute; and that for nine years she worked with former Watergate conspirator and convicted criminal Charles Colson on his radio show, “Breakpoint”. Why, those seem exactly the sort of credentials one would want in an instructor of information theory…

Read more at Recursivity.

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Comment #87609

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on March 18, 2006 8:22 AM (e)

she has a master’s degree in biblical studies

But ID has nothing to do with religion or the Bible. No sirree Bob. Not a thing. It’s only them lying atheist darwinists who think so.

(snicker) (giggle)

Comment #87618

Posted by JohnK on March 18, 2006 8:52 AM (e)

And that’s merely the tiniest fraction of the ridiculous claims in her ideologically driven book, The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy.
A professional historian could have a fisking field day.

Comment #87621

Posted by Corkscrew on March 18, 2006 9:48 AM (e)

OT: where does the verb “to fisk” actually come from? It sounds like a co-opted proper name or something.

Comment #87622

Posted by Zim on March 18, 2006 9:51 AM (e)

I heard it came from Robert Fisk, the Middle East correspondent of The Independent, whose articles were often “fisked”.

Comment #87627

Posted by jonboy on March 18, 2006 10:28 AM (e)

How the hell do you receive a masters degree in biblical studies? I suppose in depends on the time it take to figure out all them begets.
One quote worth noting from her book: “The law is not merely a set of procedures or an argumentative technique.It is God’s means of confronting wrong, defending the weak, and PROMOTING THE PUBLIC GOOD”
I’m sure Judge Jones would agree with her statement

Comment #87632

Posted by wamba on March 18, 2006 11:04 AM (e)

OT: where does the verb “to fisk” actually come from? It sounds like a co-opted proper name or something.

The first thing that comes to my mind is Fiskars, a brand of scissors. But it says here that it derives from Robert Fisk.

Comment #87642

Posted by Peter Henderson on March 18, 2006 3:28 PM (e)

My claim to fame is that I once worked in the same building as Robert Fisk’s wife Judy. I met her on a number of occasions and she was a very pleasant and charming lady.(Robert Fisk was the Times “Ireland” correspondent for a while so at that time he was stationed in Belfast).

With regard to information theory, this is a well worn creationist argument, and I know I’ve posted this before but I think it’s relevant to this topic. This is how they tricked Richard Dawkins and how they fool their followers into making them believe that information theory is a problem for evolutionary biologists:

url http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file007.html

I’ve seen this video at my church and I still hear it referred to on a regular basis by creationists. I’m surprised he hasn’t taken them to court !

I think to most people information theory is a bit baffling so when these so called creation scientists come up with things like this, they haven’t a clue what they are talking about but since they are believers most Christians will accept their word rather than an atheistic scientist like Richard Dawkins.

I enjoyed Jason’s demolishing of Dr. Verner Gitt and Philip Bell at the mega conference last July on the subject. If only more people had the courage to do this then maybe they wouldn’t be so cocky and be allowed to get away with so much.

If anyone from this side of the pond wants to have a go then most of the speakers at that event are taking part in a UK version of the mega - conference in April in Derbyshire. Ken Ham will even be there and I’m sure the subject of information theory will be one of the main topics.

Comment #87643

Posted by David B. Benson on March 18, 2006 3:48 PM (e)

Only slightly off-topic, I just finished reading

E.D. Schneider & D. Sagan
Into The Cool: energy flow, thermodynamics, and life,
Univ. Chicago Press, 2005.

Now entropy has some close connection to information, but it is Chapter 20, entitled “Purpose in Life” that might bring forth some informed comment here. Of course the authors slam Behe and Dembski, but also take Dawkins to task in one paragraph.

Comment #87645

Posted by axel on March 18, 2006 4:36 PM (e)

it’s interesting to note that the classic evidence of how wildly improbably life is supposed to be is a case of a specific outcome versus any outcome.
where as her definition of information content is almost that backwards

Comment #87646

Posted by mark on March 18, 2006 4:42 PM (e)

I guess I’ll have to re-read “Information Theory and the Living System” by Lila Gatlin (1972), which I bought years ago because it sounded like it might give an interesting angle to evolution. One quote: The second law of thermodynamics is indeed an order-degrading principle in itself and without constraint; but when we place it under the control of the higher laws of information theory, it becomes directly responsible for the production of order of a very important type. This is why life has arisen.

Comment #87650

Posted by David B. Benson on March 18, 2006 5:28 PM (e)

Mark – Try “Into The Cool”. The authors argue that thermodynamics explains life, as a gradient reducing system. This is NET, non-equilibrium thermodynamics. I found the account both novel and informative, but then I’m neither a biologist nor a physicist.

Comment #87665

Posted by gatogreensleeves on March 19, 2006 2:56 AM (e)

M. Perakh does a nice summery of where creationists fall off the information theory wagon (and the 2nd Law of Therm.) in “Unintelligent Design.”

Comment #87670

Posted by Steve Reuland on March 19, 2006 4:48 AM (e)

I don’t know about you, but whenever I want to learn about information theory, I naturally turn to the creationists.

I don’t know why, but this just killed me. I could barely read the rest of it I was laughing so hard.

Comment #87681

Posted by Laser on March 19, 2006 9:35 AM (e)

I haven’t read “Into the Cool” yet, but I think PT readers might find the Physics Today review of it interesting.

It requires a login, so I cut and pasted it in. I’m not sure of copyright issues, but I think that this is fair use

[Begin book review]
In a universe obedient to the second law of thermodynamics, how is it that life was able to arise, replicate itself faithfully, and ultimately produce organisms of ever greater complexity? That paradox, discussed by Erwin Schrödinger in his 1943 lecture series “What is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell,” appears in the first chapter of Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life by Eric D. Schneider and Dorion Sagan. From that starting point the authors launch into a well-researched and often fascinating discussion that covers an impressive range of subjects, including Maxwell’s demon (the gnome in James Clerk Maxwell’s thought experiment), weather patterns, natural selection, the maturity of ecosystems, and the purposefulness of life.

The disparate topics are linked by the book’s central thesis—that complex structures arise spontaneously to eliminate or reduce thermodynamic gradients because “nature abhors a gradient.” For instance, chapter 10 describes hurricane formation. What begins as a modest low-pressure system over the ocean, with vertical air currents, is amplified by positive feedback into a monster storm. Although potentially devastating, a hurricane serves a basic thermodynamic purpose: The massive movement of moist air to higher altitudes where condensation occurs greatly accelerates the transfer of heat from the warm waters of the ocean to the cool reaches of the atmosphere. In that way, the storm acts to reduce a temperature gradient and thus increases the entropy of its surroundings. A hurricane provides just one example in which a complex structure arises to counteract a thermodynamic gradient. Other instances discussed in the book include the hexagonal patterns of Bénard convection and counter-rotating Taylor vortices.

With such examples under their belts, Schneider, formerly a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and director of the National Marine Water Quality Laboratory of the US Environmental Protection Agency, and Sagan, an accomplished science writer, move on to “the scientific meat” in the book’s third section, “The Living.” They argue that life itself, far from conflicting with the second law of thermodynamics, is the quintessential example of complexity reducing a gradient, specifically “the immense gradient between a 5,800 K sun and the 2.7 K temperature of outer space.” Toward the end of chapter 15, on plants, the authors note that some two-thirds of the radiation impinging on a tree is ultimately spent pumping water into the surrounding air (evapotranspiration) and conclude, unpoetically, that “a tree is best understood as a giant degrader of [solar] energy.”

It is well known, of course, that most organisms feed directly or indirectly off the stream of energy that arrives as photons from the Sun. Only by cycling energy and matter through its metabolic network is an organism able to stave off the decay toward thermal equilibrium—that is, death. Schneider and Sagan, however, contend that a “thermodynamic imperative” to efficiently reduce gradients provides the key to understanding such processes as the evolution of species (“Genetics … is not enough,” they write) and the development of ecosystems. At times the authors give the second law of thermodynamics a Darwinian status, as in chapter 17, where one reads that it “ ‘selects’… those systems best able to reduce gradients under given constraints.” In the book’s final chapter, Schneider and Sagan suggest that tapping into thermal gradients is not just a necessary condition for life but ultimately the explanation of life’s purposeful behavior. These ideas are neat, but does the evidence really support them? Although it is true that life, to persist in its state of low entropy, must continually degrade the free energy of its surroundings, it is not clear that a dictate to do so with maximum efficiency is really what drives the biosphere’s evolving complexity.

Physicists might also quibble with the authors’ promotion of the slogan “nature abhors a gradient” as a kind of distillation of the second law. “The world changes when you view it through the lens of irreversible gradient reduction, rather than mere entropy increases and decreases,” they write. The authors envisage “a thermodynamics in which the spontaneous degradation of gradients is paramount.” Even if we leave aside gravity, which the authors acknowledge does not quite fit their paradigm, it should be clear that nature does not always abhor a gradient. Entropy is ultimately a more useful concept than gradient reduction for explaining why an oil droplet placed in water does not diffuse while an ink droplet does.

Into the Cool shows that there is much more to thermodynamics than Carnot cycles and phase diagrams. The book delivers an engaging, nontechnical introduction to a variety of topics, with some interesting speculations along the way, and an excellent bibliography for those interested in learning more. Although I have not been converted to Schneider and Sagan’s point of view, the book left me thinking long after I had closed its pages.
Christopher Jarzynski
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos, New Mexico

[End book review]

Comment #87684

Posted by Flint on March 19, 2006 10:21 AM (e)

Why, those seem exactly the sort of credentials one would want in an instructor of information theory…

To be sure. Those whose expertise is in information theory itself can tell you in great detail how it works, but are not necessarily qualified to tell us what lessons we should draw from it. Pearcey’s background, on the other hand, makes her such a thorough expert on the proper conclusions we should draw as to make the subject matter on which these conclusions are “based” quite superfluous.

Information theory, German, music, geology, biology, Colson, does it really matter? They all point to the One True Faith because there only IS One True Faith. When you start with the answer, meaningful errors become impossible no matter what the topic being used to illustrate it.

Comment #87688

Posted by MAJeff on March 19, 2006 11:00 AM (e)

Dammit, why is it that every time Iowa State comes up on here it’s because of some dumbfuck. First that goofy Guillermo Gonzalez, and now it’s this nutjob. And, shit, she was a music major (I got my BA in music at Iowa State). It’s really, actually, a pretty good school, and it doesn’t just spew IDCers out into the world…there are even some of us who studied music who get this shit. Grrrrrrr, it’s getting hard to be a proud alum.

Comment #87694

Posted by JustAsking1 on March 19, 2006 12:57 PM (e)

“Why, those seem exactly the sort of credentials one would want in an instructor of information theory”

Hey, fellas – is this the best argument you have – attacking “credentials”?

I’ll bet each of you (myself included) has opinions on subjects in which you do not have advanced formal training. The validity of your opinions and conclusions is judged by logic and reason, or perhaps by results in practice, not by sheepskin and whether you have been admitted to some designated club.

Deal with the merits, fellas.

Comment #87696

Posted by Drew Headley on March 19, 2006 1:11 PM (e)

JustAsking1 said: “Deal with the merits, fellas.”

If you read the actual post over at Recursivity you would see that the merits of her statements on information theory are addressed.

Comment #87697

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on March 19, 2006 1:17 PM (e)

Deal with the merits, fellas.

First, there must be some merits. By the way, did you read the full article?

Comment #87702

Posted by Corkscrew on March 19, 2006 2:13 PM (e)

I’ll bet each of you (myself included) has opinions on subjects in which you do not have advanced formal training.

That’s correct - I do. However, mostly these views are in accord with those of the scientific establishment (not a coincidence).

In cases where they differ, if I want to claim that these views are in any way scientific/mathematical, I feel that I have a responsibility to do some serious reading up on the subject first to ensure that this is in fact the case. Passing off personal views as scientific or mathematical fact without actually checking is, IMO, seriously unethical.

It does not appear that Ms. Pearcey agrees with me on this, as otherwise she would know that the basic principles of a;gorithmic information theory directly contradict what she’s saying. In particular, information, as defined by Kolmogorov (which appears from context to be the definition she’s using), is vastly higher for a random string than for an ordered string.

Comment #87705

Posted by David B. Benson on March 19, 2006 2:48 PM (e)

Laser – Thank you for the review of “Into The Cool”.

Comment #87707

Posted by axel on March 19, 2006 3:17 PM (e)

I’ll bet each of you (myself included) has opinions on subjects in which you do not have advanced formal training. The validity of your opinions and conclusions is judged by logic and reason, or perhaps by results in practice, not by sheepskin and whether you have been admitted to some designated club.

i do have opinions on things i’m not trained, however i also don’t publish books purporting to be true on those opinions

Comment #87709

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on March 19, 2006 3:32 PM (e)

Deal with the merits

Already done. ID had the opportunity to present all its merits. In as much detail as they wanted to. Under oath. In a little town in Pennsylvania called “Dover”.

The judge considered those merits, and concluded that IDers were deceptive evasive dishonest liars.

Comment #87712

Posted by Air Bear on March 19, 2006 4:10 PM (e)

i do have opinions on things i’m not trained, however i also don’t publish books purporting to be true on those opinions

Me neither. Nor do I go around trying to get my personal opinions taught in science classess of public schools.

Comment #87717

Posted by Henry J on March 19, 2006 5:38 PM (e)

Laser,
Re “Entropy is ultimately a more useful concept than gradient reduction for explaining why an oil droplet placed in water does not diffuse while an ink droplet does.”

Would a physicist really use entropy to explain that? I’d have expected the explanation to involve the relative attraction and/or repulsion between the various types of molecules, rather than something referring to the entropy of the system.

Henry

Comment #87719

Posted by steve s on March 19, 2006 6:15 PM (e)

FYI, a little bit of the oil does diffuse into the water, and it’s because of the entropy.

Comment #87723

Posted by Stevaroni on March 19, 2006 7:00 PM (e)

Regarding the post about Richard Dawkins getting sandbagged with a set-up question during an interview (Comment #87642)

There’s a simple response to these kinds of questions. It goes…

“OK, I’ll play. There’s a simple answer, but before I give it to you I want you to explain exactly what your question asks and what the answer’s going to tell you. I ask this because I find that this question is often a set-up; people are prodded to ask a complicated, technical question that they don’t really understand, and when they get a technical answer back it sounds like evasion”.

“So go ahead, explain your question, and I’ll give you the answer”.

Often, I just use the short form…

“Could you elaborate on your question?”

It works pretty well for questions on information theory, the second law, micro vs macro evolution, that sort of thing. I live in the Baptist Belt of Texas, and I’ve never had someone sucessfully quote the second law of thermodynamics to me.

It won’t work with True Believers, but once you defuse the “gotcha!”, most honest people who are goaded into “ask this of the next Evolutionist you see” are reasonable enough to have an “Um, yeah, what *does* this mean?” moment.

Comment #87727

Posted by Henry J on March 19, 2006 8:01 PM (e)

steve s,
Re “FYI, a little bit of the oil does diffuse into the water, and it’s because of the entropy.”

Is it because of entropy, or is increased entropy simply an effect? I tend to blame it on the ways in which the molecules react to each other (with entropy increase simply being a net result).

Henry

Comment #87729

Posted by steve s on March 19, 2006 8:23 PM (e)

Those are the kind of questions which cause physics people to make weird faces while they think. Entropy is not really a force per se…it actually costs energy to get the water molecules into the oil region and the oil into the water…i think…but that’s made possible by statistical fluctuations…

uh I mean, “yeah, it’s the entropy.”

Comment #87730

Posted by Laser on March 19, 2006 8:26 PM (e)

David B. Benson,

You’re welcome.

HenryJ,

steve s got it mostly right. I’ll elaborate a little bit. A physicist (I’m not one, I’m a chemist, so I’m extrapolating) could use either molecular forces or entropy to describe the diffusion (or dissolution) of ink into water. From start (ink drop dangling from eyedropper over water) to finish (ink evenly distrubted throughout the water), the entropy of the system (ink and water) increases. This process is also thermoneutral (it involves essentially no energy change), so there is no entropy change because of exchange of energy between the system and surrounding. Thus, the entropy of the universe (system plus surroundings) increases for this process. Scientists have observed that every spontaneous process in this universe involves an increase in entropy of the universe. That, in layman’s terms, is the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Thus, an increase of entropy is an accurate way of explaining the diffusion of ink in water.

Using molecular forces is also a valid way to explain the process. On a molecular level, if the ink is soluble in water, water molecules surround the ink molecules, forming a little “solvation cage” because of the attractive forces between the water molecules and ink molecules. Entropy can be defined on a molecular level, as done by Boltzmann. The entropy is proportional to the number of states accessible to the system. This number of states is determined by, you guessed it, the forces between the molecules. The process of determining the number of states accessible to the system and calculating the entropy from that is called statistical thermodynamics. It turns out that if you determine the entropy change macroscopically and compare it to the value you get using statistical thermodynamics, they agree very well. That is one of the triumphs of modern physics.

I have somewhat oversimplified for the sake of clarity, but the main points are all there. Really, macroscopic entropy and molecular forces are linked, and each is a valid way of describing the process. I hope that you find it useful.

Comment #87731

Posted by Laser on March 19, 2006 8:36 PM (e)

steve s,

There is an “energy cost” (it takes energy to get water molecules around oil molecules and vice versa) and an “entropy cost” (separate phases have lower entropy than mixed). A balance is struck between these two. At constant temperature and pressure, Gibbs energy describes this balance: delta-G = delta-H minus T*delta-S. Oil and water strike a balance with a very small amount of intermingling. The energy cost is too high to get complete mixing. If one adds energy by shaking vigorously or heating, more mixing takes place.

You are, of course, correct about statistical fluctuations. I’m speaking in terms of large numbers of molecules, where those fluctuations happen in only a tiny fraction of the total number.

Comment #87755

Posted by Morgan-LynnLamberth on March 19, 2006 11:20 PM (e)

Even a great biologist such as Francisco Ayala uses faith-based reasoning .In condemning Daniel Dennett’s book on religion,Ayala states that the author does not take into consideration the believers need of assuagement of the dread of death and their need for meaning.He needs to get counseling from someone such ad Albert Ellis who would help him overcome that dread and fingd his own meanings[ I am my own meaning.].His faith-based reasoning will not permit him to see a contradiction between causality, a sequential process and teleoligy whic h puts the cart before the horse,the event before the cause,thus negating time. Or,in other words he acknowedges that the cosmos did not have us in mind,but he wants a spook to put meaningwher there is no meaning!His faith-based reasoning causes him to engage special pleading whenever he puts his god int another category from the cosmos.Is that not pellucid?[teleology]

Comment #87757

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on March 19, 2006 11:37 PM (e)

Huh? What the hell are you gibbering about?

If you’re gonna repeat it four times, could you at least TRY to make it intelligible?

Comment #87764

Posted by Morgan-LynnLamberth on March 20, 2006 1:32 AM (e)

Sorry .but others can.

Comment #87765

Posted by administrator on March 20, 2006 1:39 AM (e)

Mr. Morgan Lynn-Lambert, you have posted five times the same comment. This is unacceptable; if you continue such behavior, the PT administration may consider limiting your privilege as a contributor of comments.

Comment #87766

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on March 20, 2006 2:00 AM (e)

Actually, it should not take long to remove duplicate comments. If a commenter convinces us that multiple-posting is being done deliberately, then that is certainly a cause for concern. [Note: the duplicates have been removed.]

Comment #87768

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on March 20, 2006 2:12 AM (e)

Deal with the merits, fellas.

The comment that came from was similar to one on Jeff’s blog, and here is the text of the comment I entered there on the topic:

This isn’t a dust up over issues in science. If it were, the discussion over the things creationists (Paleyists, scientific creationists, creation scientists, cdesign proponentsists, ID advocates, “teach the controversy” advocates, etc.) bring up would be recognized as having been addressed long, long ago, and the discussion would now be about other things.

But what is going on is a socio-political fight, as anti-science forces (the ones who use political processes to alter the definition of science, among other things) seek to get what they want, but can’t establish via the mechanisms of science. As such, yeah, character is definitely something that deserves examination. I thought there was an issue of character over the falsehoods piled upon falsehoods in Henry Morris’s “The Scientific Case for Creation”. Others deserve to know about it, and not have it covered up by folks who claim that such is irrelevant to a discussion about the science. This isn’t a discussion about the science; this is a discussion about the people who can’t deal with the science and are out to cripple it by any means available.

So, for those who think that I, or others who work for the integrity of science education, should be muzzled concerning all the relevant information about the socio-political threats to science education, well, all I can say is that I’m not buying it, and I will continue to address both the content of the arguments (so far as there is content there), and also the issues of character that are surely relevant to understanding the complete picture.

Comment #87769

Posted by Renier on March 20, 2006 2:28 AM (e)

wtf? Are those comments on the right thread?

Comment #87799

Posted by J. Early on March 20, 2006 8:13 AM (e)

http://recursed.blogspot.com/2006/03/nancy-pearcey-creationists-miss.html says,
“Where did Pearcey and Thaxton go wrong? They make two mistakes. First, although the procedure they suggest (‘select at random a letter‘ and ‘do it again‘) indeed appears to be short, it does not constitute a description of a specific string. Run their procedure a second time, and you’d get a different string. Second, in Kolmogorov’s theory, the description of a string must be completely deterministic; no ‘select at random‘ instructions are allowed. These are the kind of mistakes that could only be made by people completely unfamiliar with even the most basic aspects of information theory.“

Aren’t these “two mistakes“ really the same mistake – that random selection is erroneous because the description of the string must be “specific“ or “deterministic“? And this statement about mistakes is contradicted by the above article’s following nonsensical statement: “it is a basic result of the theory …… that a string of letters chosen uniformly at random has high information content, with very high probability. That’s because such a random string is very unlikely to be generated by a simple program.“ How can a randomly chosen string of letters have information content that is not accidental? And what does the likelihood of generating the random string by computer have to do with the information content of the string? Also, though a random string generated by software may be “pseudo-random,“ truly random strings can be generated by hardware random number generators – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudo-random_number_generator
– and –
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardware_random_number_generator

Comment #87688 posted by MAJeff on March 19, 2006 11:00 AM

Dammit, why is it that every time Iowa State comes up on here it’s because of some dumbfuck. First that goofy Guillermo Gonzalez, and now it’s this nutjob.

Well, maybe the fact that Iowa is the only state with no K-12 science education standards has something to do with it. LOL

Comment #87709 posted by ‘Rev Dr’ Lenny Flank on March 19, 2006 03:32 PM

“Deal with the merits”

Already done. ID had the opportunity to present all its merits. In as much detail as they wanted to. Under oath. In a little town in Pennsylvania called “Dover”.

The judge considered those merits, and concluded that IDers were deceptive evasive dishonest liars.

Yeah, “already done.” No one has any right to question the great wisdom of Judge Jones.

A lot of people don’t care what Judge Jones thinks (shrug). Rarely has such importance been attached to the opinions of a single person.

Comment #87717 posted by Henry J on March 19, 2006 05:38 PM

Laser,
Re “Entropy is ultimately a more useful concept than gradient reduction for explaining why an oil droplet placed in water does not diffuse while an ink droplet does.”

Would a physicist really use entropy to explain that? I’d have expected the explanation to involve the relative attraction and/or repulsion between the various types of molecules, rather than something referring to the entropy of the system.

I searched the Internet and found different explanations for miscibility. Miscibility was sometimes explained or partially explained in terms of entropy.
http://www.bookrags.com/sciences/chemistry/miscibility-woc.html explains miscibility in terms of molecular polarity and hydrogen bonding –

“…the more similar two compounds are in terms of polarity, the more likely that one is soluble in the other, i.e., polar compounds dissolve in polar compounds, and non-polar compounds dissolve in non-polar compounds. (Polar molecules dissolve in polar molecules because the dipole of one attracts the dipole end of the other.)“

“Both alcohols and ethers with up to three or four carbons are miscible in water because the OH groups in these molecules form hydrogen bonds with the water molecules. Alcohols and ethers with higher molecular weights are not miscible in water, however, because the water molecules can not completely surround those molecules.“

Comment #87804

Posted by Jeffrey Shallit on March 20, 2006 8:30 AM (e)

J. Early:

I view the mistakes as somewhat different. The first mistake is that in the Kolmogorov theory, a description must uniquely identify a string. You can’t give “All strings with the same number of 0’s and 1’s” as a description of “0000011111”, because there are other strings that fit this description. The second is that one cannot use “random instructions” in the description.

Your question, “How can a randomly chosen string of letters have information content that is not accidental?” demonstrates that you don’t understand the definition of Kolmogorov complexity. The definition of Kolmogorov complexity of a string is the length of the shortest program+input combination that generates the string (using a fixed computing model, such as a univeral Turing machine). Since there are many more strings of length n than there are programs of length = n-k when k is reasonably large, that means “most” strings need long descriptions. Therefore, a string chosen at random is likely that have lots of information in the Kolmogorov sense.

I think your confusion arises because you want your information to be “meaningful”. But in the mathematical theory of information, meaning plays no role.

Why not read something about Kolmogorov complexity? Wesley Elsberry and I have a brief introduction to the theory in our contribution to Why Intelligent Design Fails.

– Jeffrey Shallit

Comment #87812

Posted by Laser on March 20, 2006 10:19 AM (e)

J. Early is Larry. Still living in your fantasy world, Larry? BTW, what you found on the internet (ever opened a book?) has no useful information to contribute to the discussion. At least it wasn’t wrong.

Comment #87820

Posted by AR on March 20, 2006 11:19 AM (e)

One of the advantages of PT is its accessibility to anybody who has something of interest to share with others. Unfortunately this feature also opens the gates for whatever nonsense anybody chooses to trumpet on this popular blog. Look at comments by somebody who uses the moniker of Early. He wrote that a lot of people are not interested in what Judge Jones thinks. It may be true, but certainly much more people are not interested in what “Early” thinks. Professor Shallit is a renowned expert in algorithmic theory of probability/complexity/information but “Early,” who obviously does not know a rap about it, tries to argue against Shallit’s argument. It’d be funny if it were not disgusting.

Comment #87867

Posted by Moses on March 20, 2006 2:22 PM (e)

Comment #87694

Posted by JustAsking1 on March 19, 2006 12:57 PM (e)

Deal with the merits, fellas.

Sure. She has no training or demonstrated expertise and she’s coming off like a crack-pot with a head chock-full of crack-pot ideas.

Comment #87876

Posted by Madam Pomfrey on March 20, 2006 3:04 PM (e)

This link is to an article about Mormon apologetics, but a lot of it pertains to the Pearcey types and ID psychology:

http://www.exmormon.org/mormon/mormon441.htm

Comment #87879

Posted by Alann on March 20, 2006 3:08 PM (e)

While I am not well informed on information theory, I believe I understand it well enough to comment. Those who are better informed, please feel free to correct me.

J. Early wrote:

And this statement about mistakes is contradicted by the above article’s following nonsensical statement: “it is a basic result of the theory …… that a string of letters chosen uniformly at random has high information content, with very high probability. That’s because such a random string is very unlikely to be generated by a simple program.“ How can a randomly chosen string of letters have information content that is not accidental? And what does the likelihood of generating the random string by computer have to do with the information content of the string? Also, though a random string generated by software may be “pseudo-random,“ truly random strings can be generated by hardware random number generators

I believe the issue is that a random number generator inherently contains more information than the end result.

In software pseudo-random numbers which is easier to explain, a seemingly random series of numbers “098564” is generated using a seed number (often the millisecond that the process started) and a predefined “random” sequence (created by a hardware random number generator) which is thousands of digits long. So comparatively storing the resulting series is only 6 digits but to include random generation adds several thousands of digits.

Hardware generation is harder to quantify and is significantly more complex. It is based on a physical structure which would likely have to be expressed at a quantum level, including billions of units of information for even the smallest representation.

In other word a single line like of pseudo-code “Get Random Number” requires thousands, millions, or even billions of units of information (bytes / single characters)

I believe you could also view this in terms of compression. Take a pure white image (300x300 pixels), compared to the same image with black spray paint added. Both are the same size in 24-bit color bmp format (27k or 3 per pixel X 300 X 300). Now using a compression algorithm (windows compression or WinZip, etc) the pure white image compresses to negligible size (430 bytes in my case) versus the spray painted image which still requires close to 14 thousand bytes. As you can see the information contained in the spray painted image while random and meaningless is significantly greater than the information in the blank image. In addition if you create a third bitmap with text written on it, when you compress it you are likely to find that while the information may be meaningful it still contains less information than the random image. (4k when I tried it)

Comment #87917

Posted by J. Early on March 20, 2006 4:40 PM (e)

Comment #87804 posted by Jeffrey Shallit on March 20, 2006 08:30 AM

J. Early:

I view the mistakes as somewhat different. The first mistake is that in the Kolmogorov theory, a description must uniquely identify a string. You can’t give “All strings with the same number of 0’s and 1’s‘ as a description of “0000011111“, because there are other strings that fit this description. The second is that one cannot use “random instructions“ in the description.

The second principle – that “random instructions“ cannot be used – is just a corollary of the first principle, that a description must uniquely identify a string. So in charging Pearcey and Thaxton with improperly discussing randomly-generated strings in terms of information theory or Kolmogorov theory ( I agree that this was improper ), you charged them with two mistakes for the price of one. And you violated your own rules by describing randomly-generated strings in terms of information theory, saying, “it is a basic result of the theory …… that a string of letters chosen uniformly at random has high information content, with very high probability.“

Wikipedia mentions something called “Chaitin-Kolmogorov randomness“: “Chaitin-Kolmogorov randomness (also called algorithmic randomness) defines a string (usually of bits) as being random if and only if it is shorter than any computer program that can produce that string.“ Perhaps this was the “andomness“ that you were thinking of when you described randomly-generated strings in terms of information theory. However, this is not real randomness – the string is really fixed rather than being random. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaitin%E2%80%93Kolmogorov_randomness Wikipedia is not always right, but it usually has good introductions to a lot of subjects, and also usually has a good list of references for further reading.

I think your confusion arises because you want your information to be “meaningful“. But in the mathematical theory of information, meaning plays no role.

OK, I agree that not all “information“ appears to be meaningful – for example, encrypted data does not appear to be meaningful. But I feel that extending the mathematical meaning of “information“ to include randomly-generated strings is going too far.

Sometimes, when it comes to meanings of mathematical terms, there is no “right“ or “wrong“ – it is a matter of definition and interpretation.

Comment #87820 posted by AR on March 20, 2006 11:19 AM

Look at comments by somebody who uses the moniker of Early. He wrote that a lot of people are not interested in what Judge Jones thinks. It may be true, but certainly much more people are not interested in what “Early” thinks.

When I said, “a lot of people don’t care what Judge Jones thinks (shrug),“ I was just mocking Lenny Flank‘s frequent stupid gibe, “no one cares what you think (shrug).“ Anyway, Jeffrey Shallit appeared to care about what I thought, because he replied to me with a clarification of his comments.

Professor Shallit is a renowned expert in algorithmic theory of probability/complexity/information but “Early,“ who obviously does not know a rap about it, tries to argue against Shallit’s argument. It’d be funny if it were not disgusting.

As a lay person in this area, I am better qualified than the “experts“ to judge how Prof. Shallit‘s comments come across to lay people. And I am a very fast learner – a few months ago I couldn‘t even spell “evolooshun“ and now I am arguing the “experts“ into the ground about it, particularly on the subject of co-evolooshun. Disgusting, isn‘t it?

Comment #87923

Posted by Madam Pomfrey on March 20, 2006 4:48 PM (e)

troll:2. n. An individual who chronically trolls: regularly posts specious arguments, flames or personal attacks to a newsgroup, discussion list, or in email for no other purpose than to annoy someone or disrupt a discussion. Trolls are recognizable by the fact that they have no real interest in learning about the topic at hand - they simply want to utter flame bait. Like the ugly creatures they are named after, they exhibit no redeeming characteristics, and as such, they are recognized as a lower form of life on the net, as in, “Oh, ignore him, he’s just a troll.” Compare kook.

Comment #87936

Posted by Steviepinhead on March 20, 2006 5:10 PM (e)

“Tramp! tramp! tramp!” sounded from the wooden deck boards, as the biggest of the three goat brothers clopped out onto the bridge.

Beneath his bridge, the ugly old troll hesitated for a moment. To make that much noise, the third goat brother must be awfully big. Of course, awfully big could also mean a whole lot of food.

But–golly!–even trolls knew, somewhere in the dim recesses of their tiny little minds, that loud sounds and large beings could also signal Danger

Comment #87937

Posted by Laser on March 20, 2006 5:11 PM (e)

To all lurkers, especially new ones:

J. Early is Larry, aka Andy, aka numerous other pseudonyms. Jubal Early was a Confederate general. Larry, being a Confederate sympathizer/apologist, probably has picked this new name to post under because of its Confederate connections. He is also a Holocaust denier.

Larry posts here, seeking attention. His numerous posts have demonstrated that he knows nothing about subjects relevant to evolution, including biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics (he doesn’t understand imaginary numbers, but he thinks that reading Wikipedia makes him an expert on information theory), or the workings of the US legal system.

He is just seeking attention. Try not to give it to him.

Comment #87939

Posted by Jeffrey Shallit on March 20, 2006 5:17 PM (e)

J. Early:

In the example I gave, “all strings with the same number of 0’s and 1’s” has nothing to do with randomness. Therefore the second mistake need not be a corollary of the first, as you claim.

You go on to say, “you violated your own rules by describing randomly-generated strings in terms of information theory, saying, ‘it is a basic result of the theory …… that a string of letters chosen uniformly at random has high information content, with very high probability.’ “

You seem quite confused. In the Kolmogorov theory, one measures information in a string x by the length of the shortest program-input pair that generates x. What is illegitmate is to use “random instructions” in this program, and thereby deriving a smaller measure of information. There is nothing that prevents discussing the information in a randomly-generated string. In fact, this is done routinely. See, for example, the book of Li and Vitanyi I have now recommended to you twice.

“Chaitin-Kolmogorov randomness” is the same as Kolmogorov complexity (with the proviso that Chaitin demands that descriptions be self-delimiting). In this theory, the terms “information”, “randomness”, and “complexity” are often used interchangeably.

You say, “Anyway, Jeffrey Shallit appeared to care about what I thought, because he replied to me with a clarification of his comments.” I don’t believe I attempted to “clarify” anything. Rather, I was responding to your incorrect characterization of my argument. I did so because I thought you were genuinely puzzled. Now I see you are just trolling. Further comments will probably be ignored.

Comment #87940

Posted by Steviepinhead on March 20, 2006 5:23 PM (e)

Nice timing, professor: the biggest goat brother stomps troll, right on cue!

Comment #87941

Posted by Lenny's Pizza Guy on March 20, 2006 5:30 PM (e)

I’m probably going to regret saying this but, from up here, leaning out over the bridge railing, that round reddish blotch on the sharp rocks way down by the riverside sure looks a lot like a double cheese with tomato sauce and extra pepperoni that I once dropped on my way up Lenny’s sidewalk…

Comment #87942

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on March 20, 2006 5:31 PM (e)

I wondered how long it would take before Larry would show up with another patently false personas.

Mr. Shallit, he’s really not worth wasting any time on.

Comment #87956

Posted by AR on March 20, 2006 6:05 PM (e)

Re: Professor Shallit’s reference to his and Elsberry’s chapter in Why Intelligent Design Fails.

Indeed, for those who wish to learn seminal concepts of Kolmogorov-Chaitin theory, this chapter provides a well-written introduction (besides a devastating demolition of Dembski’s CSI). For those who hesitate to get the anthology in question (which is now available in a paperback edition, priced more reasonably) there is an even more detailed exposition of the same stuff by Shallit and Elsberry available on Talk Reason website (see here).

Comment #87963

Posted by Gorbe on March 20, 2006 6:17 PM (e)

One is automatically an expert on every subject imaginable when one believes that they own the very words spoken by God; and that they happen to also own the correct interpretation of same word.

Every man-made subject must necessarily submit to the authority of the interpreted spoken word of God. End of story.

Is anyone surprised that this history of these kind of people is one of constant opposition to social, medical and scientific progress?

Comment #87972

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on March 20, 2006 6:49 PM (e)

I’m probably going to regret saying this but, from up here, leaning out over the bridge railing, that round reddish blotch on the sharp rocks way down by the riverside sure looks a lot like a double cheese with tomato sauce and extra pepperoni that I once dropped on my way up Lenny’s sidewalk…

See? There I was, starving and weak from hunger all night long, all because my pizza guy dropped my double cheese with extra pepperoni over a cliff.

Does anyone still wonder why I never tip him?

Comment #87973

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on March 20, 2006 6:53 PM (e)

Don’t talk to me, Larry.

Thanks.

Comment #87982

Posted by Lenny's Pizza Guy on March 20, 2006 7:05 PM (e)

Sigh.

I knew I was going to regret mentioning the spilled pizza episode.

Do we want to explain to folks, Lenny, why I tripped heading up your sidewalk?

Well, I won’t go into detail on a family blog, but try to imagine whatever poor kid who gets to deliver, oh, say, Steve Irwin‘s pizzas. Then think about some of Lenny’s favorite critters and imagine what happens when your favorite pizza delivery person unexpectedly steps over an, um, escapee from the Flank menagerie…

Admittedly, it did turn out, on closer acquaintance to be a very prettily-patterned critter, with remarkably soft, warm, dry scales, and a pleasant personality (not to mention a multiplicity of eyelids).

But that all came a little too late to save the pizza.

Comment #88017

Posted by jeffw on March 20, 2006 8:47 PM (e)

Apparently these days, experienced scientists of all stripes are being assaulted by “qualified” people who “know better”. Today, I happened to be browsing the faq for Rodney Brooks, the well-known director of AI and robotics at MIT. Check out the very last paragraph. I suspect that as an “intelligent designer” of robots, the ID’ers are after him: http://people.csail.mit.edu/brooks/faq.shtml

Comment #88054

Posted by J. Early on March 20, 2006 9:51 PM (e)

Comment #87939 posted by Jeffrey Shallit on March 20, 2006 05:17 PM

J. Early:

In the example I gave, “all strings with the same number of 0’s and 1’s“ has nothing to do with randomness.

Yes it does – the 0‘s and 1‘s may be randomly distributed, even if they are equal in number. The only piece of “information“ that would be conveyed is that the 0‘s and 1‘s are equal in number, if the purpose of the string is to provide counts of 0‘s and 1‘s (this may be sufficient information for some purposes, but strings defined just by the numbers of 0‘s and 1‘s do not satisfy your requirement of uniqueness.).

Therefore the second mistake need not be a corollary of the first, as you claim.

The use of “random instructions“ – i.e., the alleged “second mistake“ – and your example of 0‘s and 1‘s are both just examples of the “first mistake,“ i.e., a violation of your own stated principle that in Kolmogorov theory, “the description must uniquely identify a string.“

“Chaitin-Kolmogorov randomness“ is the same as Kolmogorov complexity

Not according to the definitions in Wikipedia and elsewhere.

In this theory, the terms “information”, “randomness”, and “complexity” are often used interchangeably.

As a mechanical engineer, I am well aware that many terms have different common and engineering meanings (e.g., engineering “stress“ and “strain“ and the misnamed auto parts called “radiators“ and “shock absorbers“). However, using the terms “information,“ “randomness,“ and “complexity“ interchangeably is bound to create confusion.

I don’t believe I attempted to “clarify“ anything. Rather, I was responding to your incorrect characterization of my argument. I did so because I thought you were genuinely puzzled. Now I see you are just trolling.

No, I was genuinely puzzled, and I am still genuinely puzzled.

To me, your response was a clarification, or at least an attempted clarification.

Comment #88069

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 20, 2006 10:37 PM (e)

No, I was genuinely puzzled, and I am still genuinely puzzled.

that’s our Larry alrighty.

Is there any time you haven’t been genuinely puzzled?

Is there any time you actually correctly chose to ask questions before launching into others “errors”, that ALWAYS turn out to be your own?

Damn, man, you must have been the worst engineer on the face of the planet.

Comment #88078

Posted by MP on March 20, 2006 10:58 PM (e)

On behalf of the lurkers around here, I’d like to say that folks needn’t worry about Larry’s ideas infecting us lay people. Even to someone who is completely unfamiliar to a topic, Larry usually makes it clear that he knows absolutely nothing after a couple posts.
Just looking at his post #87917, he mixes in boasting and snide defensive remarks (usually signs of a charlatan). If that’s not enough to tip someone off, he also combines authoritarian statements with admission that he just looked the thing up on wikipedia. Since this is his standard practice, I don’t how any reasonable lay person could fall for his act (Not to say it couldn’t happen).

Larry, if you honestly think that anyone, anywhere believes that you know what you’re talking about, or even sides with you on any of the issues, then why haven’t any of the other pro-id people who comment on this website come to your defense, or really anyone at all, for that matter? You get skewered on a regular basis, and I have never seen anyone say,”hey, I think Larry’s right.” Not a one. I think it’s time to face the fact that you are utterly, hopelessly alone.

Comment #88084

Posted by MP on March 20, 2006 11:08 PM (e)

BTW, Larry, I think you’ve mentioned that you live in L.A. You wouldn’t happen to frequent any libraries in the west San Fernando Valley, would you? Cause I was at one the other day and saw a guy that really fit my image of you. It would be cool to have an actual Larry sighting.

back to lurking…

Comment #88122

Posted by k.e. on March 21, 2006 12:44 AM (e)

MP Why was it Elvis popped into my head when you mentioned “the Larry sighting”
The other places I thought one might see a “Larry” is in any public intitution -law courts etc. mercessly badgering public servants with their own pet peave.

He seems to be the sort of guy that would cause those workers to ring for the security guy as soon as he enters the door.

There was a classic John Cleese/Marty Feldman sketch a few years before Monty Python where a guy goes into a book store and asks for “‘Olsen’s Standard Book of British Birds’“.

Customer The expurgated version.
Assistant The expurgated version of ‘Olsen’s Standard Book of British Birds’?
Customer Yes. The one without the gannet.

Comment #88140

Posted by J. Nameless on March 21, 2006 7:35 AM (e)

Comment #88078 posted by MP on March 20, 2006 10:58 PM

On behalf of the lurkers around here

Who are you to presume to speak for others here ?

he also combines authoritarian statements

“Authoritarian“? LOL No, the authoritarian statements are made by those who believe that we lay people should all blindly accept the opinions of the “experts.“ I think that you mean “authoritative,“ but I don‘t try to look authoritative except when I am citing references.

– with admission that he just looked the thing up on wikipedia.

I have been using Wikipedia for a long time and I have found that it is not often wrong. It also has good lists of references. I try to check other references too, particularly when something in Wikipedia appears questionable or is challenged by others. People who condemn Wikipedia have failed to provide references which contradict it.

if you honestly think that anyone, anywhere believes that you know what you’re talking about, or even sides with you on any of the issues, then why haven’t any of the other pro-id people who comment on this website come to your defense, or really anyone at all, for that matter?

I presume that a lot of sensible people leave this blog in disgust because – like me – they are incessantly heckled with nothing but insults and ad hominem attacks if they try to comment here. It is obvious that there are very few anti-Darwinist commenters on this blog.

OK, I propose the following. I will go to some neutral message board – e.g., the AOL message board on evolution – and ask for comments about some of the incredible things I have seen in this thread, e.g. –

(1) – saying that the words information, randomness, and complexity are used interchangeably in information theory.

(2) – comparing the definitions of “Chaitin-Kolmogorov randomness“ and “Kolmogorov complexity“ and saying that these terms mean the same thing.

(3) – saying that using “random instructions“ in the description of a string is not just a violation of the principle that the description must uniquely identify a string, but is something different.

Comment #88145

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on March 21, 2006 7:58 AM (e)

I will go to some neutral message board

You do that, Larry.

Then don’t come back.

Comment #88148

Posted by Rilke's Granddaughter on March 21, 2006 8:16 AM (e)

Larry wrote:

I presume that a lot of sensible people leave this blog in disgust because — like me — they are incessantly heckled with nothing but insults and ad hominem attacks if they try to comment here. It is obvious that there are very few anti-Darwinist commenters on this blog

Let’s be quite clear and candid, Larry.

You are heckled on this blog because you are scientifically illiterate, dishonest, completely lacking in both intellectual integrity and reasoning ability.

In other words, you are an ignorant liar who refuses to abide by the rules of the site you’re posting on.

No one cares what your opinion is on any subject whatever.

Comment #88152

Posted by Red Mann on March 21, 2006 9:01 AM (e)

*Sigh* Another episode of “As The Wingnut Turns”

Comment #88158

Posted by AD on March 21, 2006 10:06 AM (e)

But what is going on is a socio-political fight, as anti-science forces (the ones who use political processes to alter the definition of science, among other things) seek to get what they want, but can’t establish via the mechanisms of science. As such, yeah, character is definitely something that deserves examination.

I know Wesley made this comment a while back in the thread, before the attempted derail by the usual suspect, but I thought I’d go back and address this.

When someone makes a character assertion about another individual in the course of a rhetorical discussion, there are generally two possible outcomes.

1) It is an ad hominem attack, which is used to distract from the actual argument. You can pick these out quickly because the level upon which someone is being attacked is irrelevant to the argument. A good, though somewhat exemplified, example would be:

Professor Al has developed a potential cure for cancer and would like it to be tested. However, he’s an admitted adulterer, so he can’t possibly be right.

Even if he was an adulterer, it would have no bearing on the merits of his scientific argument.

However…

2) It is relevant to establishing the credibility/ability or lack thereof of the person in question. For instance:

Professor Al has developed a potential cure for cancer and would like it to be tested. However, he’s lied about developing cold fusion, cloning, and the internet already.

In this case, the character assertion is directly relevant to the discussion because it is connected to the decision being made.

Thus, my point: Examining the scientific credentials and past work of speakers in the field of evolution, along with their history of academic and/or judicial honesty is not only fair, it is also quite possibly necessary. If someone has a past history of peddling lies and erroneous statements, then this person deserves to have the burden of proof placed upon them whenever they speak. Thus, the fact that creationists/IDiots were shown to be liars and/or scientifically vacuous in Dover is highly relevant to any additional discussion on the topic, especially when others are directly connected to the same movement and groups involved.

So Wesley is dead on to attack their credentials and behavior about this exact topic we are discussing. It is highly relevant.

Comment #88161

Posted by Arden Chatfield on March 21, 2006 10:23 AM (e)

Bottom line, hasn’t Larry been banned?

Comment #88194

Posted by Henry J on March 21, 2006 1:25 PM (e)

And the banned played on…

Comment #88365

Posted by MP on March 21, 2006 10:50 PM (e)

I apologize for continuing to derail this, but …
Larry said,

Who are you to presume to speak for others here?

In a group that doesn’t speak for itself, the spokesman is just someone who chooses to speak. As a lurker, I chose to speak for lurkers. Unless other lurkers speak up and disagree with me, I will assume that I spoke on their behalf.

Larry also said,

Authoritarian? LOL No, the authoritarian statements are made by those who believe that we lay people should all blindly accept the opinions of the “experts.“ I think that you mean “authoritative,“ but I don‘t try to look authoritative except when I am citing references.

No, you are incorrect. I meant authoritarian. An authoritative statement requires that it be based on some competent authority to be legitimate. An authoritarian statement merely invokes an authority and expects you to accept it; no legitimacy required. You set yourself up as an authority without any legitimate basis:

…now I am arguing the “experts“ into the ground about [evolooshun] (sic)

and then expect us to accept your arguments. I realize the difference is nuanced and requires reading comprehension (dictionaries don’t just tell you these things), so I’ll forgive your error, but I’ll thank you for not correcting me when I’m right.

Btw, I’m not refuting the quality of Wikipedia, just your ability to understand anything you’re reading from it.

Also, as an engineer ashamed that Larry could ever have shared my profession, I gotta say:

Larry claimed: As a mechanical engineer, I am well aware that many terms have different common and engineering meanings … the misnamed auto parts called “radiators“…

Dude, an engine’s radiator radiates internal heat from coolant fluid into the outside environment. It does exactly what the name implies! WTF did you think it did, and what cereal box did you mail in to get your degree? Cause I could use a Master’s degree, and that would save a lot of time.

Comment #88383

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on March 22, 2006 2:50 AM (e)

Dude, an engine’s radiator radiates internal heat from coolant fluid into the outside environment. It does exactly what the name implies! WTF did you think it did, and what cereal box did you mail in to get your degree? Cause I could use a Master’s degree, and that would save a lot of time.

While a car radiator does radiate some heat to the cooler environment, I think that you will find that the primary mode of heat exchange is convection in that case, not radiation. One can note that heat transfer works better for a moving car, yet that would not change radiative heat transfer. But it does change the amount of air passing over/through the system, which makes a big difference for convective cooling. I’m willing to hear arguments contrary to this, but I think this holds up.

Comment #88429

Posted by Raging Bee on March 22, 2006 11:00 AM (e)

Anyway, Jeffrey Shallit appeared to care about what I thought, because he replied to me with a clarification of his comments.

This is Larry/Andy/J.Early/J.Nameless/Whatever in all his senile incontinent glory: his only reason for posting here is to get people to respond to him, and no matter now negative the attention is, it’s still better for him than the miserable stagnation and irrelevance that passes for his life off-line.

There are sadder people than this, but they generally can’t afford Internet access and wouldn’t know what to do with it anyway.

PS: What does the “J” stand for – “jackass” or “jerkoff?”

Comment #88430

Posted by Raging Bee on March 22, 2006 11:05 AM (e)

I presume that a lot of sensible people leave this blog in disgust because — like me — they are incessantly heckled with nothing but insults and ad hominem attacks if they try to comment here. It is obvious that there are very few anti-Darwinist commenters on this blog…

Actually, they show up making a lot of insulting remarks (as Larry did about Judge Jones) and incoherent, indefensible statements; then they quietly vanish when those statements are painstakingly refuted by people who know what they’re talking about.

It seems to me that the only places where “anti-Darwinist commenters” feel at all safe, are places like UD whose owners dilligently filter out people who question their brittle faith.

Comment #88463

Posted by MP on March 22, 2006 12:41 PM (e)

Wes:

While a car radiator does radiate some heat to the cooler environment, I think that you will find that the primary mode of heat exchange is convection in that case, not radiation. One can note that heat transfer works better for a moving car, yet that would not change radiative heat transfer. But it does change the amount of air passing over/through the system, which makes a big difference for convective cooling. I’m willing to hear arguments contrary to this, but I think this holds up.

Point taken. I am aware of how the heat transfer works, therefore I should have been more clear (but I was tired and annoyed..). Still, the radiator works as its name implies, which is what bothered me, by radiating the heat from the coolant fluid over the large surface area of the radiator, so that convection may occur. You are quite correct in your statement, and a car engine’s radiator wouldn’t do much cooling without an air current. However, air currents moving over an engine with no radiator would be ineffective as well. It’s a system (intelligently designed, no less), and I was not clear on that. My apologies.

Comment #94868

Posted by Keith on April 5, 2006 10:57 AM (e)

Perhaps you should read The Biotic Message if your complaint is the credentials of authorship or maybe Dembski’s numerous publications.

Assuming your complaint’s are justified it merely points out your preference for amplifying Red Herrings and Strawman fallacies frequenttly committed by the proponents of Scientific Mysticism (evolution).

Can you demonstrate in scientific terms and methods anything you know to be proven true about S.M.?

Please refrain from tautologies, special exceptions, “lame” arguments, etc… in other words the stock and trade of S.M.

Comment #95095

Posted by Jeffrey Shallit on April 6, 2006 6:19 AM (e)

Keith:

Check your reading comprehension. The point of the post was to show that Nancy Pearcey was wrong in her claims about information. Do you have any evidence to the contrary? If so, present it.

If you want to know what we know about evolution, I’d suggest picking up a textbook. Futuyma is a good choice. Of course, it’s easier to simply rant.

Now, a question for you: why do anti-evolution crackpots so often use bizarre capitalization and terminology of their own invention? Is it mere incompetence or some more sinister psychological disturbance?