PvM posted Entry 2344 on June 6, 2006 10:42 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2339

A while ago I discussed the relevance of motive in determining whether or not something may have been designed. A good example of how this can be turned into a scientific concept is given in a paper submitted to Arxiv called “Message in the Sky“:

“It’s a crazy assumption that there’s a supreme being that wants to send us a message,” said Steve Hsu, an associate professor at the University of Oregon, admitting that believing in a message involves a leap of faith. “But, if you could create a universe in your laboratory, wouldn’t you want to leave a message inside?”

(Seed Magazine article)

Remarkably (or perhaps not) this ‘tongue in cheek’ paper has attracted Dembski’s attention. Remember that Dembski is still struggling with how an Intelligent Designer could inject information into our universe with zero energy:

Dembski wrote:

What’s more, the energy in quantum events is proportional to frequency or inversely proportional to wavelength. And since there is no upper limit to the wavelength of, for instance, electromagnetic radiation, there is no lower limit to the energy required to impart information. In the limit, a designer could therefore impart information into the universe without inputting any energy at all. Whether the designer works through quantum mechanical effects is not ultimately the issue here. Certainly quantum mechanics is much more hospitable to an information processing view of the universe than the older mechanical models. All that’s needed, however, is a universe whose constitution and dynamics are not reducible to deterministic natural laws. Such a universe will produce random events and thus have the possibility of producing events that exhibit specified complexity (i.e., events that stand out against the backdrop of randomness).

For those who are more familiar with information theory, it is clear that an infinite wavelength signal would have zero bandwidth. In other words, it will take infinite amount of time to even send one bit of information, showing once again that when philosophers venture into unfamiliar areas they may end up making some interesting mistakes.

Okay, back to the paper. In an almost tongue in cheek manner, the authors seem to mimic ID’s attempt to deny a supernatural designer. And what better way than refer to science fiction:

How would they send us a message? That the universe was started by superior Beings is not only the province of religious thoughts from the earliest days of the human race, but has also been a staple of science fiction. In one of our favorite scenarios, our universe is a school-assigned science experiment [1, 2] carried out by a high school student in a meta-universe. Perhaps he or she or it even started an assortment of universes like ant farms and stashed them away somewhere in the basement, out of his or her or its parent’s way. Perhaps by now he has lost interest and forgotten about the universes, leaving some to expand, others to collapse, in complete futility and silence. But, perhaps not without leaving a message for the occupants…

So what motivates the authors to explore this concept? Well:

If one of the present authors had gotten the universe going and if he had wanted to announce this fact, he would clearly want all the advanced civilizations, not just in our galaxy, but in the entire universe, to know.

Since ID insists that it cannot address motives, it thus remains scientifically vacuous. The authors also consider what the message would be and conclude,

The next question is what might the message be. We thought of various possibilities and decided that the best choice would be the following. We now know, and we suppose that any civilization advanced enough to detect Cl in the comic microwave background would also know, that three of the four fundamental interactions are governed by gauge theories, based on the Lie algebras (formula omitted) Thus, we suggest that the coded message would simply be an announcement along the line “Hey guys, the universe is governed by gauge theories, and the relevant algebras are such and such.”

As to other possible messages, the authors mention:

[5] For example, another suggestion might be the sequence of prime numbers, but this strikes us as not informative enough. (One may even conceive of civilizations for which the prime numbers may not hold as much fascination as for our own.)

Oh, the irony must have been totally lost on some…

But in the message Dembski sent us, another interesting acknowledgement is being made, namely:

All that’s needed, however, is a universe whose constitution and dynamics are not reducible to deterministic natural laws. Such a universe will produce random events and thus have the possibility of producing events that exhibit specified complexity (i.e., events that stand out against the backdrop of randomness).

Random events and the possibility of producing events that exhibit specified complexity… Wow, quite an admission and quite a problem for those who thus believe that the complement of regularity requires an intelligent designer to produce specified complexity.

PS: The authors are not the first one to think of the message opportunity:

You might take this all as a joke,” he said, “but perhaps it is not entirely absurd. It may be the explanation for why the world we live in is so weird. On the evidence, our universe was created not by a divine being, but by a physicist hacker.”

Linde’s theory gives scientific muscle to the notion of a universe created by an intelligent being. It might be congenial to Gnostics, who believe that the material world was fashioned not by a benevolent supreme being but by an evil demiurge. More orthodox believers, on the other hand, will seek refuge in the question, “But who created the physicist hacker?” Let’s hope it’s not hackers all the way up.

A followup paper title, “The real message in the sky”, exends the findings of Hsu et al.:

A recent paper by Hsu & Zee (physics/0510102) suggests that if a Creator wanted to leave a message for us, and she wanted it to be decipherable to all sentient beings, then she would place it on the most cosmic of all billboards, the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) sky. Here we point out that the spherical harmonic coefficients of the observed CMB anisotropies (or their squared amplitudes at each multipole) depend on the location of the observer, in both space and time. The amount of observer-independent information available in the CMB is a small fraction of the total that any observer can measure. Hence a lengthy message on the CMB sky is fundamentally no less observer-specific than a communication hidden in this morning’s tea-leaves. Nevertheless, the CMB sky does encode a wealth of information about the structure of the cosmos and possibly about the nature of physics at the highest energy levels. The Universe has left us a message all on its own.

As ID relevant research go, these papers should be an inspiration to any aspiring IDer.

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Comment #104068

Posted by Kalium on June 6, 2006 11:39 AM (e)

Mssage -> Message

Comment #104073

Posted by Rich on June 6, 2006 11:58 AM (e)

No, “Massage”.

No ‘comming of the lord’ jokes, please.

Comment #104075

Posted by stevaroni on June 6, 2006 12:11 PM (e)

But, if you could create a universe in your laboratory, wouldn’t you want to leave a message inside?

When I was a kid, I had an ant farm. It was a fascinating little world, but I never felt the need to try to communicate with the ants.

Doesn’t it seem like a being smart and powerful enough to create an entire universe would probably have very precious little to talk to us about. Even today, much less 3000 years ago.

God: “I dabbled with an entirely new method of superstring formation in a distant galaxy today, what did you do?”

Man: “I disemboweled a goat, and splashed its blood on a fire to please you. Then I foretold the future by looking at its intestines.”

God: “What?”

Man: “And then we went to the afternoon crucifixions. Good double matinee today, heathens and masturbators.”

God: “Right. Well, I’ve got to go create some new worlds now…”

Man: “OK, we’ll just be here circumcising ourselves till you get back!”

Comment #104076

Posted by DragonScholar on June 6, 2006 12:15 PM (e)

So the idea is that we look for signals from a creator, under the assumption that we can decode the mind of said creator, who we don’t know is there, and then look for said information that requires advanced knowledge for us to even find it, under the assumption that the supreme being, who wants to leave the message, also wants to hide it.

I say go with the Hitchhikers Gude to the Galaxy Method. *I* want giant flaming letters reading “We Apologize for the Inconvenience.”

Comment #104079

Posted by Henry J on June 6, 2006 12:19 PM (e)

Re “In the limit, a designer could therefore impart information into the universe without inputting any energy at all.”

Um. He does realize that imparting even a bit of information would involve changing the location or state of at least a subatomic particle? Last time I checked, moving even one electron takes nonzero energy.

Henry

Comment #104082

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on June 6, 2006 12:36 PM (e)

From the “Message in the Sky” paper:

“Thus, we suggest that the coded message would simply be an announcement along the line ‘Hey guys, the universe is governed by gauge theories, and the relevant algebras are such and such.’”

If the CMB encodes “Hey guys” I will assume that Douglas Adams really is the Creator of the Universe.

Comment #104083

Posted by Grey Wolf on June 6, 2006 12:42 PM (e)

stevaroni wrote:

When I was a kid, I had an ant farm. It was a fascinating little world, but I never felt the need to try to communicate with the ants.

Really? I, on the other hand, have never had an ant farm, but I have known several fish tanks and other glass-encased pets and I have always tried to communicate - mostly tying to get them to acknowledge my presence. I.e. I tapped the glass in an effort to make them look at me. That counts as communication, though. Mind you, I would *not* do that in a science project, since that would be tampering with it.

Just be happy that there is a chance that out universe does not exist because HEX needed somewhere to output the thaumatic energy of thaum fission. Wizards prodding our universe looking for chelonium and for target practice is something my imagination would rather not contemplate outside of Discworld.

Henry wrote:

Um. He does realize that imparting even a bit of information would involve changing the location or state of at least a subatomic particle? Last time I checked, moving even one electron takes nonzero energy.

Oh, he realises that all right. The whole point is that he was trying to explain how Go… the Intelligent Designer had inserted the mutations into the genome of the first living form (which is more than electron big), to direct is evolution. The fact that he would’ve taken an infinite time is the bit that D*mbski overlooked.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

Comment #104085

Posted by Tyrannosaurus on June 6, 2006 12:53 PM (e)

D_mbski wrote;
In the limit, a designer could therefore impart information into the universe without inputting any energy at all
.

WD, why do you still insist on seeking the fifth leg to the cat? Do not complicate your life when you already know (and have asserted so) that everything came to be because,
POOF, GODDIT

Comment #104087

Posted by Tyrannosaurus on June 6, 2006 1:02 PM (e)

Stevaroni, I am rolling on the floor after reading your post. That is hilarious.

Comment #104088

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 6, 2006 1:04 PM (e)

Dembski wrote:

All that’s needed, however, is a universe whose constitution and dynamics are not reducible to deterministic natural laws. Such a universe will produce random events and thus have the possibility of producing events that exhibit specified complexity (i.e., events that stand out against the backdrop of randomness).

Random events and the possibility of producing events that exhibit specified complexity… Wow, quite an admission and quite a problem for those who thus believe that the complement of regularity requires an intelligent designer to produce specified complexity.

Dembski seems to be confusing the fact that so-called “specified complexity” stands out against the backdrop of randomness, with the ability of such a universe to produce this “specified complexity”. It’s a non-sequitur, and another in a long list of bad thinking.

It seems that he’s trying to suggest, too, that any stand-out in such a universe is due to “specified design”. Naturally this would cast a net wide enough to catch, well, just about anything that we see. But it is likely that Dembski is just following his creationist impulses here, since the real point is that the Word made everything (the gospel of John, with which Dembski equates ID), and “without him not anything was made that was made.” The Privileged Planet also gave the game away, when it essentially took all of the features of our world to have been specifically made to support humans and their investigations.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #104092

Posted by Raging Bee on June 6, 2006 1:20 PM (e)

So the idea is that we look for signals from a creator, under the assumption that we can decode the mind of said creator, who we don’t know is there, and then look for said information that requires advanced knowledge for us to even find it, under the assumption that the supreme being, who wants to leave the message, also wants to hide it.

Yup. And all of this without even trying to discuss or speculate on the nature of this creat – oops, I mean designer. ‘Cause that would be religion, see, and ID is NOT ABOUT RELIGION, nosireebob, you better get that straight…

Comment #104093

Posted by Raging Bee on June 6, 2006 1:22 PM (e)

Dembski seems to be confusing the fact that…

Look, this is getting boring. Just wake us up when Dembski DOESN’T confuse something with something else…

Comment #104094

Posted by Jim Harrison on June 6, 2006 1:23 PM (e)

Since the right key converts any message into any other message, the secret of universe is indeed encoded in the digits of pi. Unfortunately, a different key turns pi into an endless series of recipes for hush puppies, and another makes it into a Latvian translation of Fanny Hill.

Comment #104095

Posted by wamba on June 6, 2006 1:24 PM (e)

42

Comment #104096

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 6, 2006 1:37 PM (e)

Look, this is getting boring. Just wake us up when Dembski DOESN’T confuse something with something else…

Do you really want to sleep that long?

The odd thing about Dembski is that he seems to want to come up with a new model (ok, this requires believing his statements, which can only be done provisionally) by the very processes that he purports to find inadequate, random searching.

He’s just going to throw out ideas until he stumps enough people. The ideas that others can’t shoot down, he will baptize as “truth”. Unfortunately for him, such random searches are almost never effective, especially not against those who design their searches according to the evidence.

It amazes me that someone can be wrong so many times, yet remains a generator of nearly as poor ideas as the previous ones.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #104098

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on June 6, 2006 1:49 PM (e)

I have fixed the title, and in an irrational fit of type-editing I put punctuation in Pim’s post, since he was obviously in a hurry…

(Commas, Pim, commas! And the occasional colon!)

Comment #104099

Posted by Henry J on June 6, 2006 1:50 PM (e)

Re “Stevaroni, I am rolling on the floor after reading your post. That is hilarious.”

The goat disagrees. ;)

Comment #104105

Posted by steve s on June 6, 2006 3:01 PM (e)

Comment #104098

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on June 6, 2006 01:49 PM (e) | kill

I have fixed the title, and in an irrational fit of type-editing I put punctuation in Pim’s post, since he was obviously in a hurry…

(Commas, Pim, commas! And the occasional colon!)

Good. I don’t like to read PvM posts. Something about the language makes them a bit hard to read. Not as bad as K.E.’s, though.

Comment #104110

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 6, 2006 4:05 PM (e)

One thing that is striking about the idea of Hsu, et al, with regard to ID/creationism, is that by no means would they be looking for “specified complexity” as such. They’d be looking for specificity, all right, but it is the kind of specificity that, amazingly enough, is specified in advance by researchers, not “identified” by probability measures afterward.

This is the thing: we know that, under some (many, actually)circumstances, the specification of the fundamental interactions governed by gauge theories, or sequences of prime numbers, would not appear in the data under “natural conditions”. Hence we might at least suspect that certain kinds of data appearing where we would not expect it to be, at least could be the result of intelligence. True, it might be due to something else, but certain data that could be specified by ourselves as well as by the “creator of the universe”, and which would not be expected otherwise, might give us reason to hypothesize such an unknown intelligence.

By contrast, finding the information in complex DNA sequences is not going to tell us much. DNA strands are unavoidably contain information, and we cannot specify through principles what kind of information they will contain. Evolution, design, or sheer randomness might be responsible for the information contained in DNA. Without a specific designer, whose specifications become our specifications for identifying that designer, it is very unlikely that we could pin down the existence of this designer.

Perhaps if DNA contained information about gauge theory or prime number sequences, we might again suspect that some kind of intelligence was responsible–whether or not we could be sure. These sorts of scenarios seem to be about the only plausible way of giving evidence for an unknown designer through DNA.

So this particular analogy may tell us something, which is that ID has no characteristics to indicate a designer of “natural” DNA. Whether or not Hsu, et al, have an idea that is at all worthwhile on its own, at least it shows that anyone looking for specified information to indicate an unknown designer is not going to follow the ID scenario. The EF is ignored in even mildly serious hypothetical situations, while the usual method of matching up information that can be specified by intelligences independently is still the preferred method of determining intelligence in a situation involving the unknown.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #104111

Posted by stevaroni on June 6, 2006 4:14 PM (e)

The goat disagrees.

The goats always disagree. The biblical era… not such a good time for the goats.

Comment #104114

Posted by natural cynic on June 6, 2006 4:32 PM (e)

Ahhh, but information is carried on a non-infinite wavelength carrier wave.

Have you not seen the elegant sine wave signature of His Noodly Appendage!!!

Comment #104115

Posted by Brian on June 6, 2006 4:46 PM (e)

This is arrant idiocy. The only reason a creator would set up the message in advance (ie, putting it in the CMB), rather than simply giving it directly to his little subjects, is that he/she/it either could not or would not interfere with the universe after its creation. In which case, the universe could be preset to evolve life, but this would be indistinguishable from a sheerly deterministic universe without massive amounts of essentially unknowable information. And the process that resulted in life on Earth would still be occurring via evolution from a common ancestor. This would also negate any concept of free will.

Comment #104116

Posted by Brian on June 6, 2006 4:48 PM (e)

Sorry - what I was referring to as “arrant idiocy” was Dembski’s assertion that this idea had anything to do with ID in its current incarnation.

Comment #104117

Posted by Bruce Thompson GQ on June 6, 2006 4:54 PM (e)

The biblical era… not such a good time for the goats.

Fortunately, things are much better Today.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Comment #104118

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 6, 2006 5:44 PM (e)

But it is likely that Dembski is just following his creationist impulses here, since the real point is that the Word made everything (the gospel of John, with which Dembski equates ID), and “without him not anything was made that was made.” The Privileged Planet also gave the game away, when it essentially took all of the features of our world to have been specifically made to support humans and their investigations.

That’s why IDers have so much trouble telling us simply how to tell what is designed from what isn’t. Everything, you see, is designed. (shrug)

Comment #104119

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on June 6, 2006 5:44 PM (e)

The real question is how a paper tangentially critiquing SETI ends up being seen as supportive by D*mbski, when SETI has been mentioned as demonstrating design methods.

D*mbski works in mysterious ways.

Comment #104122

Posted by stevaroni on June 6, 2006 5:54 PM (e)

The biblical era… not such a good time for the goats.

Fortunately, things are much better Today.

In my kitchen everything is pretty much a burnt offering anyway.

(That might be, by the way, the most incredibly obscure link I’ve seen this year)

Comment #104125

Posted by KiwiInOz on June 6, 2006 6:05 PM (e)

If the message is there, it will probably read as the cosmic equivalent of “Made in China”

Comment #104140

Posted by Bruce Thompson GQ on June 6, 2006 8:26 PM (e)

The biblical era… not such a good time for the goats.

It occurred to me that it is possible that the history of planetary goat abuse is really a sign of something deeper, more fundamental. Several lines of evidence suggest that goats may have been aligned with the designers and may not have been the good guys (1, 2, 3). Early man realized this and began his terror campaign against goats in retribution for an alliance with these evil designers. The first reference is particularly telling in this regard. The space alien designers and their goat minion are roasted by a coalition of vertebrates. An avian leader tosses the match while the ichthyological wheel man speeds the coalition away to safety.

Instead of looking at the cosmic microwave background for evidence of designers, I think we should be watching the goats.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Comment #104149

Posted by Henry J on June 6, 2006 9:39 PM (e)

Hmm. Could this relate to the choice for menu for one of the denizens of Jurassic Park?

Henry

Comment #104151

Posted by k.e. on June 6, 2006 10:01 PM (e)

Steve S. said
….Not as bad as K.E.’s, though.

May the retribution of a thousand foreskin collectors be visited upon thee.

I’m praying to The Great Bearded Goat Sacrifice God in the Sky (TGBGSGS)(or gods ..just in case) that in exchange for all that blood, I at least get one little itty bitty confirmation he/she/it is there to absolve me of guilt when I smite my foes (and kill their women,children,goats and mice).(No guilt? Don’t worry, psychopaths have gods too…they’re the gods that really frighten me).

In the meantime, even if I don’t get an answer, I’m just going to make a nice big fat assumption that he/she/it is there and carry on regardless.

Oh *LATE NEWS* I got that confirmation, W got a message from TGBGSGS …..guilt (if any) taken care of.

Comment #104153

Posted by Bruce Thompson GQ on June 6, 2006 10:31 PM (e)

Could this relate to the choice for menu for one of the denizens of Jurassic Park?

Although it seems a bit excessive to resurrect a whole ecosystem of extinct fauna to continue our campaign of retribution, we beat the goats and their evil space alien designers once and we can do it again if need be. We just need to demonstrate our preparedness.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Comment #104154

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 6, 2006 10:53 PM (e)

A good example of how this can be turned into a scientific concept is given in a paper submitted to Arxiv called “Message in the Sky“

This is no more a good example of a scientific concept than is searching a haystack for a needle when you have no reason to expect a needle to be there. Science is based on observe/hypothesize/predict/test. Speculations ungrounded in observation are no substitute for hypotheses concerning the causal mechanism of an observation. In the case of SETI, we at least have the observation of intelligent life on this planet and a set of observations that suggest that there may be similar planets with similar levels of development, and searching for the sort of artifacts that we would expect from creatures similar to ourselves could produce confirmation. It’s not good science, but at least it’s not pulled out of thin air. With “message in the sky”, we have absolutely no basis for assuming any attribute of a creator, including motives for leaving messages. One might just as well speculate that the creator has chosen to firmly plant the belief that he exists in some of of his creations’ minds – but only some, just for the sport of watching them go at each other. This “concept” might be dubbed “lurker in the sky”.

Comment #104159

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 6, 2006 11:30 PM (e)

but only some, just for the sport of watching them go at each other. This “concept” might be dubbed “lurker in the sky”.

so… God is just trolling?

Comment #104167

Posted by Wheels on June 6, 2006 11:50 PM (e)

You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s hackers all the way up.”

Comment #104168

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 6, 2006 11:59 PM (e)

so… God is just trolling?

Sure, if merely writing down a groundless speculation makes it a fact.

Comment #104171

Posted by steve s on June 7, 2006 12:58 AM (e)

Dembski claims that Freeman Dyson agrees with him on the physics question:
http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archives/1191

Comment #104188

Posted by Frank J on June 7, 2006 5:22 AM (e)

Continuing stevaroni’s discussion:

God: “I dabbled with an entirely new method of superstring formation in a distant galaxy today, what did you do?”

Dembski: “I learned how to write in Jello.”

God: “I need to spend more time with beetles.”

Comment #104190

Posted by GT(N)T on June 7, 2006 6:33 AM (e)

“The biblical era… not such a good time for the goats.”

It’s still the biblical era, and it’s still not a good time for goats.

Comment #104194

Posted by RBH on June 7, 2006 6:51 AM (e)

steve s wrote

Dembski claims that Freeman Dyson agrees with him on the physics question:
http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archive…

I’m not sure precisely what Dembski thinks Dyson agrees with him on. Dembski’s claim is

What’s more, the energy in quantum events is proportional to frequency or inversely proportional to wavelength. And since there is no upper limit to the wavelength of, for instance, electromagnetic radiation, there is no lower limit to the energy required to impart information. In the limit, a designer could therefore impart information into the universe without inputting any energy at all.

As I read the Dyson lectures Dembski referenced, Dyson implies no such thing. In fact, Dyson concludes

I have thus reached the same optimistic conclusion concerning communication as I reached in the previous lecture about bilogical survival. It is in principle possible to communicate forever with a remote society in an expanding universe, using a finite expenditure of energy. (Emphasis added)

Dyson’s conclusion that communication between societies in the material universe can be sustained “using a finite expenditure of energy” is far from Dembski’s claim that “there is no lower limit” to the energy required for a disembodied (i.e., non-material) designer to inject information into the material universe. Dyson’s “finite expenditure of energy” is not Dembski’s “without inputting any energy at all”.

RBH

Comment #104195

Posted by k.e. on June 7, 2006 7:21 AM (e)

Très Bon RBH. You’re on to it.
Our Bill WHO art in Heaven wants us to believe that an EM receiver with an infinitely small bandwidth filter integrating over an infinitely long period of time will produce a “1” god exists or “0” it does not exist.
No prizes for guessing what his assumptions are prior to us reaching an infinite amount of time (given that time is dimensionless) or even that dimensionless time as we define it is only 15BY old.

Logically he knows his material god can’t exist

Comment #104202

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on June 7, 2006 8:05 AM (e)

“Dyson’s “finite expenditure of energy” is not Dembski’s “without inputting any energy at all”.”

And mathematically that means D*mbski confuses something like a timedendent ‘Fourier series’ for a continuously damped ‘carrier wave’ radiation with something like a Laplace transform or a windowed continuous Fourier transform for an intermittent communication. Maybe he should take a refresher course in math?

Comment #104214

Posted by mark on June 7, 2006 10:04 AM (e)

Dembski’s arguments remind me of one of the best explanations of intelligent design to hit Saturday morning television: When Heckyl turned to Jeckyl and said, “We’re cartoon characters–we can do anything!”

Comment #104217

Posted by Donald M on June 7, 2006 11:08 AM (e)

Pim writes (quoting Dembski):

In the limit, a designer could therefore impart information into the universe without inputting any energy at all. Whether the designer works through quantum mechanical effects is not ultimately the issue here.

Pim here misquotes. There needs to be an ellipsis between the first and second sentence because Pim left out,oh,only about 11 paragraphs of further explanation between those two sentences. And all this time we’ve been told that it is only the “creationists” that quote mine!! Guess that myth is now finally laid to rest!! Pim, thanks for finally making clear the double standard that exists regarding the charge of “quote mining”.

Comment #104218

Posted by Kristine on June 7, 2006 11:12 AM (e)

I really don’t get all this stuff at all.

What does Dembski want–to prove that nature is unnatural, a contrivance? Why does he need to believe such a thing?

Why not ascribe to nature all the powers that one ascribes to God (who doesn’t “come from” anywhere, who was not created, etc.) when nature is, certainly, here? I don’t understand this anti-naturist perspective. Religious believers think that atheists are negative, but a belief in something is a disbelief in something else, and it’s religious believers who don’t believe in the universe.

Comment #104219

Posted by Matt on June 7, 2006 11:20 AM (e)

Donald M wrote:

Pim here misquotes. There needs to be an ellipsis between the first and second sentence because Pim left out,oh,only about 11 paragraphs of further explanation between those two sentences. And all this time we’ve been told that it is only the “creationists” that quote mine!! Guess that myth is now finally laid to rest!! Pim, thanks for finally making clear the double standard that exists regarding the charge of “quote mining”.

Donald M (and Bill Dembski) should learn to use Google before making such charges.

Comment #104220

Posted by PvM on June 7, 2006 11:23 AM (e)

DonaldM wrote:

Pim here misquotes. There needs to be an ellipsis between the first and second sentence because Pim left out,oh,only about 11 paragraphs of further explanation between those two sentences.

DonaldM should be able to back up his assertions that I left out 11 paragraphs of further explanations when I quoted Dembdksi

In the limit, a designer could therefore impart information into the universe without inputting any energy at all. Whether the designer works through quantum mechanical effects is not ultimately the issue here.

See the original Source

Is Donald now so desperate that he has to accuse people of quote mining for providing an extensive quote?

Last time Donald showed up he ran after I explained how he had inappropriately turned my statement of scientifically vacuous into “not science”. This time he makes other accusations, which on closer scrutiny are as vacuous as the claims of ID itself.

I guess we shall not see much of Donald for yet another week while he is licking his wounds :-)

Comment #104221

Posted by PvM on June 7, 2006 11:25 AM (e)

Donald M (and Bill Dembski) should learn to use Google before making such charges.

Indeed, Donald’s faux pas could have been easily avoided if he had done even the minimum of research. I have found however that ID activists tend to shield themselves from information which causes a cognitive dissonance.
No wonder that ID is not only scientifically vacuous but also mostly an argument from ignorance.

Comment #104222

Posted by PvM on June 7, 2006 11:30 AM (e)

On UncommonDescent Dembski complains that I misquoted him

In addition, the author of the PT post deliberately misquotes me, juxtaposing two passages from my work without any indication that several pages of text intervene between the passages. Here is the passage attributed to me at PT exactly as it appeared there (at the very least, there should have been an ellipsis before “Certainly quantum mechanics …” as well as an indication that his actually is not the start of a sentence):

If Dembski had done the minimal research of cut and pasting the quote into Google he would have found the following link

So not only is he wrong that I misquoted Dembski but he certainly is wrong about ‘deliberately’.

Will Bill apologize for yet another one of his mistakes? Time shall tell. I have saved a copy of his page for reference.

Comment #104223

Posted by Matt on June 7, 2006 11:32 AM (e)

Pim,

I’m sure retractions of the quote-mining charge will be forthcoming from both Dembski and Donald M., once it becomes apparent to them that Dembski did write, and post, the paragraph exactly as you quoted it.

Comment #104224

Posted by tacitus on June 7, 2006 11:37 AM (e)

Dembski’s complaining that the quote you use leaves out several paragraphs that were in his original work. Was the text from meta-link source you mention provided by directly by Dembski as is, or was it adapted/abridged by a third party? If it was provided by Dembski himself (it’s hard to tell) then he hasn’t a leg to stand on.

Comment #104227

Posted by Matt on June 7, 2006 11:43 AM (e)

Clearly, what the ID scholars need is a relational database to keep track of which permutations of what jargon they’ve recycled where. (“ID-SQL”, maybe? Or “LieSQL”?) Such a database would also help Luskin, Dembski et al. keep track of which audiences have been told that ID is religious in nature, and which have been told otherwise. (Possible downside: could be subpoenaed in a future court case.)

Of course, there’s also this to consider:

Mark Twain wrote:

If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.

Comment #104229

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on June 7, 2006 11:43 AM (e)

This misquotation thing is just hilarious. Here’s another version of “Intelligent Design coming clean” (IDCC) by Bill Dembski, in which the paragraph is exactly as quoted by Pim (this version is on ID-friendly ARN, so it’s quite unlikely that they purposefully mangled Dembski’s piece).

I am not sure about the timeline, but IDCC came before No Free Lunch (NFL), from which I think Dembski’s lengthy quote is taken (the origin is unclear from his post). However, I wouldn’t be surprised if ID critics commented on the physical impossibility of infinite-wavelength, zero-energy information transfer as soon as IDCC appeared. Therefore, it is at least plausible that Dembski added the “clarifying” passage in NFL at least in part to counter the criticism that his original statement made no sense. If that were the case, for him to now accuse Pim of misquotation by citing the revised NFL passage instead of the original in IDCC would be amazingly dishonest. Perhaps Dembski can clarify this.

Comment #104230

Posted by Bruce Thompson GQ on June 7, 2006 11:54 AM (e)

Dembski posts:
Casting pearls before swine — okay, I’ll do it and references:
Dyson who lectures:

When I talk in this style, I am mixing knowledge with values, disobeying Monod’s prohibition. But I am in good company. Before the days of Darwin and Huxley and Bishop Wilberforce, in the eighteenth century, scientists were not subject to any taboo against mixing science and values. When Thomas Wright (1750), the discoverer of galaxies, announced his discovery, he was not afraid to use a theological argument to support an astronomical theory. “Since as the Creation is, so is the Creator also magnified, we may conclude in consequence of an infinity, and an infinite all-active power, that as the visible creation is supposed to be full of siderial systems and planetary worlds, so on, in like similar manner, the endless immensity is an unlimited plenum of creations not unlike the known…. That this in all probability may be the real case, is in some degree made evident by the many cloudy spots, just perceivable by us, as far without our starry Regions, in which tho’ visibly luminous spaces, no one star or particular constituent body can possibly be distinguished; those in all likelyhood may be external creation, bordering upon the known one, too remote for even our telescopes to reach.”

Dyson is speaking Dembski language. Dembski has never been afraid to use theologically based arguments to support his position. A giant step backwards, including the theological arguments to support his explanations of the physical world. Dembski is welcome to his world view, just keep it out of the schools.

The goats are watching and they have a good vantage point.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Comment #104233

Posted by Deacon Barry on June 7, 2006 12:00 PM (e)

1. Any computer program can be expressed as a binary number.
2. Numbers go up to infinity
3. 1 & 2 imply that there are an infinite number of computer programs.
4. If 3 is true, then there is a program, which, if run on a suitable computer, is a simulation of our universe.
Therefore, we are either living in our universe or a simulation of our universe.

How do we know which we are living in?

Comment #104236

Posted by Erasmus on June 7, 2006 12:15 PM (e)

Sign of the goat. Beware.

http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Religions/Wicca%20&%20Witchcraft/signs_of_satan.htm

Deacon Barry perhaps we are living in a SIMULATION of the SIMULATION of the universe.

Comment #104239

Posted by Corkscrew on June 7, 2006 12:29 PM (e)

3. 1 & 2 imply that there are an infinite number of computer programs.
4. If 3 is true, then there is a program, which, if run on a suitable computer, is a simulation of our universe.

Your logic is dodgy. There are an infinite number of prime numbers, yet 12 is not one of them. There may be an infinite number of computer programs, but that doesn’t mean our universe is represented by one of them.

Comment #104240

Posted by PvM on June 7, 2006 12:34 PM (e)

Dembski’s complaining that the quote you use leaves out several paragraphs that were in his original work. Was the text from meta-link source you mention provided by directly by Dembski as is, or was it adapted/abridged by a third party? If it was provided by Dembski himself (it’s hard to tell) then he hasn’t a leg to stand on.

Dembski quotes from NFL, my quote came from a response to Howard van Till written by Dembski. Since Dembski, in good ID tradition, seems to recycle a lot of his arguments, it may have been understandable that Dembski made his mistake. To call it deliberate however could benefit from an apology on his part.
I will stand in line patiently…

Comment #104241

Posted by RBH on June 7, 2006 12:54 PM (e)

It’s gotta be tough for Dembski. With all the self-plagiarising he does, keeping track of what he wrote where has to be confusing for him.

RBH

Comment #104242

Posted by J-Dog on June 7, 2006 12:57 PM (e)

Thanks to the link to Dembski’s bad prose… I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for an apology, or a bottle of single-malt scotch from Buffalo Bill.

HOWEVER, as is often the case in science, while looking for one answer, you discover a question: ie WHERE IS DAVESCOTT?
I have not seen the retard post since May 25, back in his hate-the-ACLU tirade phase… Has Buffalo Bill finally hog-tied and spanked him? Voted him off the Island? Fired him ala Trump? Maybe Buffalo Bill turned on him and turned the retard over to Homeland Security?

Maybe a contest, or a pool for the correct answer? Profits to go to ACLU or charity of choice?

The number of the beast indeed!

Comment #104243

Posted by RBH on June 7, 2006 12:57 PM (e)

tacitus asked

Dembski’s complaining that the quote you use leaves out several paragraphs that were in his original work. Was the text from meta-link source you mention provided by directly by Dembski as is, or was it adapted/abridged by a third party? If it was provided by Dembski himself (it’s hard to tell) then he hasn’t a leg to stand on.

The exact quote PvM gave is included in a Dembski-authored paper hosted on Dembski’s site.

RBH

Comment #104245

Posted by steve s on June 7, 2006 1:15 PM (e)

Where is DaveScot? I don’t know. But our good buddy DougMoron had to show up and step in it:

#3

This is sickening. How can one expect a meaningful scientific debate (or even a reasonable dialog) when the other side is so blatently dishonest? Obviously we cannot - and so we should not have such lofty expectations of our adversaries as for them to be honest. But nevertheless we need to stay focused on the facts, take the high ground, and let them drown themselves in their own tidal wave of lies and deceit.

Comment by dougmoran — June 7, 2006 @ 12:31 pm

LOL you make me sick, PvM, with your tidal wave of lies and deceit. LOL.

Comment #104246

Posted by tacitus on June 7, 2006 1:26 PM (e)

Thanks, RBH. A comment has just appeared on Dembski’s thread pointing out the existence of the ARN copy. We’ll see what happens next…

Comment #104247

Posted by Henry J on June 7, 2006 1:26 PM (e)

Re “4. If 3 is true, then there is a program, which, if run on a suitable computer, is a simulation of our universe.”

Maybe for a finite space-time, but not an infinite one.

Does current cosmology theory take a position on whether space is finite or infinite? (I gather that GTR by itself implies that a forever expanding universe would be infinite, but I’m not sure if the recent dark energy/dark matter hypotheses might affect that conclusion.)

Henry

Comment #104248

Posted by Alann on June 7, 2006 1:28 PM (e)

Any good programmer knows how to create a simulation of a universe:

iID = Universe_ID_Number;
oUniverse = iID / 0;

unfortunately our computer software doesn’t know how to interpret this, proving once and for all the God has a better compiler.

Comment #104249

Posted by J-Dog on June 7, 2006 1:28 PM (e)

Steve S - I think that our tsunami of truth(iness) trumps dougmoran’s “ the tidal wave of lies and deceit”.

And you are right about DaveScott - who reeally cares?

Comment #104250

Posted by Henry J on June 7, 2006 1:29 PM (e)

Re “LOL you make me sick, PvM, with your tidal wave of lies and deceit. LOL.”

Yeah, better watch them there tidal waves…

Comment #104255

Posted by Caledonian on June 7, 2006 1:48 PM (e)

There may be an infinite number of computer programs, but that doesn’t mean our universe is represented by one of them.

Ah, but it does. The number system represents everything that can be described. There is therefore an accurate description of our universe within the number system.

Proof that the universe is necessarily describable is left as an exercise for the student.

Comment #104257

Posted by GuyeFaux on June 7, 2006 2:04 PM (e)

Corkscrew wrote:

4. If 3 is true, then there is a program, which, if run on a suitable computer, is a simulation of our universe.

This is true, but has a funny side effect on account of the non-determinism of this universe: the simulations will probably not resemble the actual Universe.

Also, I forget who proved that all simulations of this Universe necessarily require more time than the Universe itself.

So in the interesting case that we are living in a simulation of our Universe, the real Universe is likely to be much farther ahead.

So probably we’re too late on the goat-front.

Comment #104258

Posted by steve s on June 7, 2006 2:13 PM (e)

June 7, 2006
Casting pearls before swine — okay, I’ll do it [take #2]

In my previous post, I attributed a deliberate misquote to the author of a PT blog posting. The PT author gave no citation for the quote (why was that??), so I took it to come from my book NO FREE LUNCH, which it did, though the quote as given at PT left out some crucial portions of text. As it turns out, the quote in question appeared in an earlier paper of mine (unpublished except on the web, portions of which were then incorporated into NFL) exactly as it appeared at PT (see http://www.arn.org/docs/dembski/wd_idcomingclean.htm). I therefore withdraw the charge of egregious quotemining.

On the other hand, I don’t at all withdraw charge of needless crowing about a nonexistent physics error. Anyone who knows anything about mathematics knows that the behavior of a function as one takes a limit can differ drastically from the behavior of the function at the limit point. Moreover, any ambiguity was cleared up in my book NO FREE LUNCH. Finally, if they have a problem with the point I’m making there, let them take up the lectures by Freeman Dyson to which I referred them.
Filed under: Intelligent Design — William Dembski @ 2:03 pm
Comments (0)

Comment #104259

Posted by Corkscrew on June 7, 2006 2:30 PM (e)

Ah, but it does. The number system represents everything that can be described. There is therefore an accurate description of our universe within the number system.

Which number system are we talking about here? The set of finite binary numbers is significantly “smaller” than the set of reals, which doesn’t include infinitesimals, etc etc. There is a stupid range of different infinities on offer.

Comment #104261

Posted by GuyeFaux on June 7, 2006 2:53 PM (e)

Corkscrew wrote:

Which number system are we talking about here? The set of finite binary numbers is significantly “smaller” than the set of reals, which doesn’t include infinitesimals, etc etc.

All you need is Peano Arithmetic (N, +, *, =) to represent anything that’s describable (in the formal sense of “describable”), including Turing machines.

The operating axiom (assumption?) of physics is that the Universe is formally describable.

Comment #104262

Posted by David B. Benson on June 7, 2006 4:04 PM (e)

Henry J: It depends on the particular cosmological conjecture. Some require finiteness, others do not. Just now, take your choice as there is no data beyond the observable universe. This puts no constraint on any cosmological conjecture beyond the observable…

Comment #104263

Posted by Bob King on June 7, 2006 4:08 PM (e)

Quote mining usually refers to using a quote to say something different than what the author intended to say. Dembski complains - incorrectly as it turns out - that PvM quote mined his statements and pastes a huge amount of stodgy prose from his book on his web site to prove it. Egg all over his sanctimonious face because now he accepts that he wasn’t quoted mined at all. So the question remains, what was Dembski’s original point with his two quotes? If the two quotes (from his book and his article) actually mean different things then which is correct? If they don’t mean different things then even if PvM had “quote mined” Dembski exactly how did it misrepresent Dembski?

Conclusion: Dembski is yet again was using dishonest obfuscation to imply that PvM changed his meaning when in fact he hadn’t even if he had left out the ellipses. It’s very childish behavior - Jimmy tells his Mom that his brother “Jack called Mrs Smith next door a big fat ugly lump.” Jack claims that Jimmy is lying and he didn’t say that. In fact he called her an “ugly big fat lump.” Similarly Dembski tried to imply that PvM had altered his meaning by claiming that he had been misquoted when, in fact, the two things don’t imply each other.

It’s hilarious that Dembski, as usual, got nailed. When will these idiots ever learn that serious ID critics are super careful not to given even the hint of quote mining.

Comment #104267

Posted by Coin on June 7, 2006 4:32 PM (e)

All you need is Peano Arithmetic (N, +, *, =) to represent anything that’s describable (in the formal sense of “describable”), including Turing machines.

It is, however, absolutely crucial to remember that just because something is describable does not mean that it is computable.

There are a multitude of things which can be formally described, but which cannot be computed, decided, or sometimes even recognized by a turing machine.

Moreover, it is worth noting that just because something exists does not mean it has an explicit, specific description. The set of all descriptions is countable, because descriptions are strings. But mathematics very frequently reasons about members of uncountable sets. (“Countable” and “uncountable” here are math terms which distinguish between two of the different kinds of infinities. An uncountably infinite group of things has more things in it than a countably infinite group of things, even though both are infinite.)

Finally, it is also worth noting that the Church-Turing thesis (which appears in a number of the above posts either in mangled form or as an implicit assumption) is only a hypothesis. The Church-Turing thesis states that the turing machine is the most “powerful” possible computing device, and all other computing devices can be emulated by a turing machine (and vice versa). We believe the Church-Turing thesis is true and have a number of reasons to think this is true. It has not, however, been proven to be true.

Comment #104269

Posted by AC on June 7, 2006 5:06 PM (e)

Dembski wrote:

What’s more, the energy in quantum events is proportional to frequency or inversely proportional to wavelength. And since there is no upper limit to the wavelength of, for instance, electromagnetic radiation, there is no lower limit to the energy required to impart information. In the limit, a designer could therefore impart information into the universe without inputting any energy at all.

Over an infinite amount of time. Wow, that’s deep, dude.

I think I’ll go watch The Thirteenth Floor and ponder whether Dembski is live or Memorex.

Comment #104271

Posted by stevaroni on June 7, 2006 5:09 PM (e)

iID = Universe_ID_Number;
oUniverse = iID / 0;

Hey! Stop that!

It makes the universe loop, and then you have to reboot, and that really, really sucks a lot

Comment #104272

Posted by Coin on June 7, 2006 5:11 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

If Dembski had done the minimal research of cut and pasting the quote into Google he would have found the following link

Whether it is on google or not, quoting a paper without citing its exact origin is generally not a good idea, and linking a Dembski blog entry and then quoting an entirely different Dembski paper in the next paragraph is very likely to cause confusion with readers. Perhaps you should edit the original post and add an update linking to the specific paper you quote, for clarity.

Comment #104274

Posted by steve s on June 7, 2006 5:29 PM (e)

Dear God, they just can’t stop the Tard Train over there. Davescot responds by posting totally false libels against PvM.

#2

The author of the PT article is Pim Van Meurs (PvM) of talk.politics.guns fame 10+ years ago when he was an undergrad foreigner studying marine biology at UC San Deigo. As far as I know he failed to graduate, married a U.S. citizen (rumored to be an illegal marriage of convenience)in an attempt to remain in the country, and eventually moved back to the Netherlands (deportation rumors swirled). Rumor had it he was fired from a NOAA job in Seattle for spending all his time at work surfing the net. Maybe he should have been less interested in gun laws in a country that wasn’t his home and more interested in his college studies and his job. Interestingly, of all the contributors on Panda’s Thumb, Pimmy is the only one who doesn’t have an entry in the list of contributors. He is also the most prolific contributor at PT by far. My take on that is it would be too embarrassing for PT to list his dismal record along with the people who’ve actually done something constructive in their lives but they want him around because he’s willing to lie and perform hatchet work on people like Bill Dembski and they can remain at arm’s length with plausible deniability of agreement with anything Pimmy says. He probably hooked up with talk.origins, antievolution.org, and PT founder Wesley Elsberry (who also does marine biology work) in San Deigo or Seattle and switched his net surfing addiction from gun control to evolution at that time. And/or maybe he’s like Wesley’s pet monkey who everyone knows stinks and flings feces but can’t criticize because his owner loves him.

So, when it comes to anything Pim Van Meurs has to say, I say “consider the source” and take it with many grains of salt.

Comment by DaveScot — June 7, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

#3

It still seems like a quote mine to me, if less egregious.

Comment by dougmoron — June 7, 2006 @ 3:26 pm

#4

DaveScot wrote:
“As far as I know he failed to graduate…”

But the following link shows that he earned his PhD in 1995:
http://sioalumni.ucsd.edu/foralumni/dsp_detailAlumni_public.php?alum_id=1257

It took me 30 seconds to find this using Google. Dave, why do I have to tell you something you could have easily found out on your own?

Because I didn’t look for anything beyond what was on usenet. -ds

Comment by zapatero — June 7, 2006 @ 3:31 pm

Comment #104275

Posted by Bruce Thompson GQ on June 7, 2006 5:35 PM (e)

To summarize the goat related discussion:

We started with Stevaroni’s comment about disemboweling goats as sacrifices which is followed by a comment from the goat noting that the biblical era was not a good time for goats with disemboweling. I point out that things are better now and reference a recent conference where lambs are now included and instead of disemboweling, goats are roasted. I then point out that perhaps goats are in league with evil space alien designers, including references. This pictorial evidence shows the roasting of both goats and alien designers. Henery J questioned whether the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park play any role in goat control. I continue to support my position by stating that dinosaurs were recreated keep the goats and evil alien designers in check. Erasmus then contributed further evidence that goats are truly evil and have infiltrated the highest levels of our government.

So, we have taken the old concept of disemboweling goat sacrifices and repackaged it into goat/lamb roasting and held a conference at the Hilton on the publics perception of our new concept. Provided evidence that supernatural mechanisms are not involved but purely naturalistic mechanisms (space aliens). Shown that at the highest levels of power in this country there is bias against our concept, goats rule.

And the obvious question arises as to the motives and intentions of the space alien overlords.

Sound familiar?

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Comment #104276

Posted by GuyeFaux on June 7, 2006 5:45 PM (e)

Coin wrote:

It is, however, absolutely crucial to remember that just because something is describable does not mean that it is computable.

The obverse is also true.

For the case of the present Universe, it has been computed at least once if we take existence for granted.

Though I wonder if this proves that the Universe is computable, since the proposed algorithm has indeterminism in it

(I’m not a physicist. Does the world really contain intederminism a la Schrodinger’s cat? I.e. did physicists switch to non-deterministic predictions?)

Comment #104282

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 7, 2006 6:41 PM (e)

Donald, old buddy, you’re back! Has it been four weeks already?

Yes, yes, yes, Donald —- science doesn’t pay any attention to your religious opinions, and you don’t like that. Right. We got it. Really. We heard you the first hundred times.

Of course, weather forecasting or accident investigation or medical practice or the rules of basketball also don’t pay any attention to your religious opinions, do they.

If it makes you feel any better, Donald, none of them pay any attention to MY religious opinions either. Of course, I don’t throw tantrums over it, like you do. (shrug)

But hey, now that you’re here for another drive-by (and I assume FL will shortly follow), let me repeat my questions for you once more, just in case you missed them the first dozen times:

What, again, did you say the scientific theory of ID is? How, again, did you say this scientific theory of ID explains these problems? What, again, did you say the designer did? What mechanisms, again, did you say it used to do whatever the heck you think it did? Where, again, did you say we can see the designer using these mechanisms to do … well . . anything?

Or is “POOF!! God — uh, I mean, The Unknown Intelligent Designer — dunnit!!!!” the extent of your, uh, scientific theory of ID …. ?

How does “evolution can’t explain X Y or Z, therefore goddidit” differ from plain old ordinary run-of-the-mill “god of the gaps?

Here’s *another* question for you to not answer, Donald: Suppose in ten years, we DO come up with a specific mutation by mutation explanation for how X Y or Z appeared. What then? Does that mean (1) the designer USED to produce those things, but stopped all of a sudden when we came up with another mechanisms? or (2) the designer was using that mechanism the entire time, or (3) there never was any designer there to begin with.

Which is it, Donald? 1, 2 or 3?

Oh, and if ID isn’t about religion, Donald, then why do you spend so much time bitching and moaning about “philosophical materialism”?

(sound of crickets chirping)

You are a liar, Donald. A bare, bald-faced, deceptive, deceitful, deliberate liar, with malice aforethought. Still.

Time to run away again, Donald.

See you next month.

Comment #104283

Posted by Jeff on June 7, 2006 6:48 PM (e)

Regarding a computer program to model the universe - I’d imagine that it all depends on the fidelity you want and what you’re trying to model. Like on one extreme I could make a program that modeled the existence of the universe - 0 for nonexistent, 1 for existent. One line. My question, though, is if you’re trying to model all of the individual particles of the entire universe, assuming that your computer is built out of material from the universe, is it possible to have enough material making up your computer that you could model the universe faster than the actual interactions?

Like in my line of work, I use computational fluid dynamics to model airflow around an aircraft. It takes several hours to get a low fidelity result, and up to several days to get a good, accurate result - all of which happens instantaneously in real life. I’m sure this could be accelerating by adding more computers or using more powerful computers, but at what point are there more particles in your computer than the particles that you’re modeling? Would a computer needed to model the universe need more particles than actually exist in the universe?

Comment #104288

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 7, 2006 7:40 PM (e)

Donald M wrote:

Pim here misquotes. There needs to be an ellipsis between the first and second sentence because Pim left out,oh,only about 11 paragraphs of further explanation between those two sentences. And all this time we’ve been told that it is only the “creationists” that quote mine!! Guess that myth is now finally laid to rest!! Pim, thanks for finally making clear the double standard that exists regarding the charge of “quote mining”.

You’re secretly an evilutionist trying to make IDiots look bad, right? I mean, no one can actually be that stupid, that dishonest, and that cowardly, can they? A good indication is that, hidden within this tu quoque argument is the admission that creationists quote mine (and misquote). And when we take away the flat out lie that Pim misquoted or quote-mined, all we have is that admission … plus the stupidity of failing to recognize that the essense of misquoting and quote-mining is misrepresentation, and Dembski has not misrepresented. Now be a man instead of a pathetic coward and come back here and admit that you lied, that you’re an idiot, that you’re a jackass, and that your qualities are shared by your fellow IDiots.

Comment #104290

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on June 7, 2006 8:05 PM (e)

Coin wrote:
Whether it is on google or not, quoting a paper without citing its exact origin is generally not a good idea, and linking a Dembski blog entry and then quoting an entirely different Dembski paper in the next paragraph is very likely to cause confusion with readers. Perhaps you should edit the original post and add an update linking to the specific paper you quote, for clarity.

Yes, of course it is good practice to cite the source of any quotation or specific claim.

Still, in this case, there was no reason for Dembski to pull out the NFL passage instead of the “Intelligent Design coming clean” version, other than a) Dembski being personally confused about how many times he repackaged the very same sentences for publication in different venues without acknowledging the source (itself not entirely a kosher practice, see here, and references therein), or b) Dembski going for a lame attempt to embarass PvM, hoping no one would notice. The latter seems unlikely, because obviously Pim at least would have had the correct source, but on the other hand Dembski is still insisting he had the physics right, and zero energy/infinite wavelength radiation can carry information, so who knows what goes through his mind.

Comment #104292

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 7, 2006 8:10 PM (e)

1. Any computer program can be expressed as a binary number.
2. Numbers go up to infinity
3. 1 & 2 imply that there are an infinite number of computer programs.

There are infinitely many computer programs, but not by your argument, which is plainly fallacious. Suppose there were only 5 computer programs, each of which can be expressed as a binary number. 1 & 2 would be true, but 3 would be false. Your argument only works for the converse of 1: “Every binary number represents some computer program”, the truth of which is far from obvious.

4. If 3 is true, then there is a program, which, if run on a suitable computer, is a simulation of our universe.

A complete non sequitur. Just because there are infinitely many computer programs doesn’t mean that there’s a computer program that does each possible thing, any more than the fact that there are infinitely many integers means that one of them is the square root of two.

Therefore, we are either living in our universe or a simulation of our universe.

That’s a rather pointless tautology; we are obviously living in our universe.

I suggest that you refrain from offering up logical arguments, as you are very very bad at it.

Comment #104293

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 7, 2006 8:11 PM (e)

I mean, no one can actually be that stupid, that dishonest, and that cowardly, can they?

I’ve cyber-known Donald for going on five years or so now.

His three chords haven’t changed a note in all that time. (shrug)

Comment #104297

Posted by Steviepinhead on June 7, 2006 8:20 PM (e)

The Rev:

I’ve cyber-known Donald for going on five years or so now.

His three chords haven’t changed a note in all that time. (shrug)

I’m not sure that Donald’s three notes even make up a chord.

Maybe that’s why even his sharpest remarks invariably fall flat.

Comment #104299

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 7, 2006 8:28 PM (e)

P.S.

Therefore, we are either living in our universe or a simulation of our universe.

How do we know which we are living in?

If what you mean to ask is, how do we know whether we are living in a “real” universe or a simulated one: it’s a distinction without a difference, since all the accessible facts are ex hypothesi identical (if they weren’t, then the simulation wouldn’t be accurate or complete). The word “real” was developed entirely within this universe and applies to this universe. Thus, if this universe is simulated, “real” refers to the simulated universe, and we have no referent for a non-simulated universe – or, there is no difference between real and simulated universes. Or, to put it another way, metaphysics is mental masturbation, and reality is relative.

Comment #104301

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 7, 2006 8:47 PM (e)

There may be an infinite number of computer programs, but that doesn’t mean our universe is represented by one of them.

Ah, but it does. The number system represents everything that can be described. There is therefore an accurate description of our universe within the number system.

Proof that the universe is necessarily describable is left as an exercise for the student.

No, the proof is required from the one who asserts it. A finite universe can be described to any given level of accuracy, but that isn’t the same as saying that the universe can be described. Considering that the natural numbers, which are isomorphic to “binary numbers”, are an infinitesimal subset of the reals, which are an infinitesimal subset of the complexes, etc., clearly not everything can be represented by a “binary number” – proven by Georg Cantor. On top of that, the universe is a dynamic entity with an infinity of states and, per quantum mechanics, these states are not derivable from each other.

Comment #104302

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 7, 2006 8:50 PM (e)

It’s gotta be tough for Dembski. With all the self-plagiarising he does, keeping track of what he wrote where has to be confusing for him.

Yup, the IDiots even misquote themselves.

Comment #104304

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 7, 2006 8:56 PM (e)

I therefore withdraw the charge of egregious quotemining.

Not quite the same as “I apologize for being a conclusion-leaping jackass”, but I guess it’s the best one can expect.

Comment #104305

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 7, 2006 9:00 PM (e)

The operating axiom (assumption?) of physics is that the Universe is formally describable.

There is no such axiom or assumption – no claim of physics is dependent upon such an assumption.

Comment #104306

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 7, 2006 9:16 PM (e)

Finally, it is also worth noting that the Church-Turing thesis (which appears in a number of the above posts either in mangled form or as an implicit assumption) is only a hypothesis. The Church-Turing thesis states that the turing machine is the most “powerful” possible computing device, and all other computing devices can be emulated by a turing machine (and vice versa). We believe the Church-Turing thesis is true and have a number of reasons to think this is true. It has not, however, been proven to be true.

This isn’t accurate. The Church-Turing thesis asserts that all “effectively calculable” functions can be computed by Turing Machines and equivalent formalisms.
But “effectively calculable” is not a defined term (other than by this thesis), and thus the statement is not amenable to proof. However, if we develop quantum computers that can compute functions that Turing Machines can’t, then it will be natural to extend the notion of “effectively calculable” to quantum computations, and the C-T thesis will have to be abandoned or more narrowly construed.

Comment #104307

Posted by pvm on June 7, 2006 9:33 PM (e)

Dembski
responds’

And nowhere in my quote do I say that zero-energy waves impart information — I say that they do in the limit. Let me suggest you read the appropriate chapters in Michael Spivak’s calculus book on limits. In the meantime, you’re out of here. –WmAD

Weird. So what did Dembski mean when he said

In the limit, a designer could therefore impart information into the universe without inputting any energy at all.

Perhaps a mathematical or physics derivation of this principle could clarify matters? One not written in ‘jello’ this time? After all, I am sure he would be interested in making ID scientifically relevant. Until then…

Comment #104308

Posted by Caledonian on June 7, 2006 9:42 PM (e)

Considering that the natural numbers, which are isomorphic to “binary numbers”, are an infinitesimal subset of the reals, which are an infinitesimal subset of the complexes, etc., clearly not everything can be represented by a “binary number” — proven by Georg Cantor.

You don’t get it. That hierarchy of infinities can still be described in finite terms – just because a transcendental’s numeric form requires an infinite number of digits to represent does NOT mean that it cannot be precisely defined and its concept manipulated in a finite form.

Additionally, if you don’t understand that physics does indeed presume that reality can be formally described, you’re a fool.

Comment #104309

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 7, 2006 9:51 PM (e)

William 'outhouse' Dembski wrote:

Every time I get into it with PT, I get this sick, dirty feeling, like I’ve been to an outhouse that’s in constant use but hasn’t been cleaned in years. I’m closing this thread down as well and will be more careful in the future about taking their bait.

Ah, right, Pim set out the “bait” of quoting Dembski, luring him into the trap of falsely claiming that Pim misquoted him.

It’s rather clear where the stench is really coming from.

Comment #104310

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 7, 2006 9:53 PM (e)

You don’t get it.

I get that you’re talking out of your nether orifice.

Additionally, if you don’t understand that physics does indeed presume that reality can be formally described, you’re a fool.

You’ve been taking cues from the IDiots as to how to present an argument, I see.

Comment #104311

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 7, 2006 9:57 PM (e)

You don’t get it. That hierarchy of infinities can still be described in finite terms — just because a transcendental’s numeric form requires an infinite number of digits to represent does NOT mean that it cannot be precisely defined and its concept manipulated in a finite form.

Let me be a bit more precise … there are only aleph-0 possible definitions and descriptions, but C (>= aleph-1) transcendentals. Therefore, not all transcendentals can be uniquely described.

Comment #104316

Posted by k.e. on June 7, 2006 11:10 PM (e)

PvM said:

In the limit, a designer could therefore impart information into the universe without inputting any energy at all.

So his god is powerless….. AND therefore….possesses zero information?

That would sum up his projection nicely, it would also explain why his ideas resonate so loudly in the empty space that pass for brains in his personality cultists.

Expect more hot air from the Deceit Industry( apparently a religiously motivated minority political identity lobby group) to correct this energy and information (spin) shortage.

Comment #104412

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 8, 2006 7:12 AM (e)

I therefore withdraw the charge of egregious quotemining.

Not quite the same as “I apologize for being a conclusion-leaping jackass”, but I guess it’s the best one can expect.

No apology from Donald, I notice ……

Too prideful, self-righteous, and holier-than-thou (literally), I guess.

Comment #104419

Posted by steve s on June 8, 2006 7:47 AM (e)

Every time I get into it with PT, I get this sick, dirty feeling, like I’ve been to an outhouse that’s in constant use but hasn’t been cleaned in years. I’m closing this thread down as well and will be more careful in the future about taking their bait.

That sick feeling is called ‘Humiliation’, Bill.

Comment #104420

Posted by Caledonian on June 8, 2006 7:57 AM (e)

Let me be a bit more precise … there are only aleph-0 possible definitions and descriptions, but C (>= aleph-1) transcendentals. Therefore, not all transcendentals can be uniquely described.

What’s that, you say? Even the infinitely-large description space of the positive numbers doesn’t necessarily permit certain categories of transcendentals to be defined?

Well gee, I guess that would imply that the description space that corresponds with the nature of the cosmos won’t necessarily include certain types of transcendentals, and thus no interactions involving those numbers would ever take place. In other words, there would be no meaningful way that those numbers could be said to be part of existence.

What a shocker! If only someone had anticipated such an argument and acted accordingly beforehand!

Comment #104428

Posted by GuyeFaux on June 8, 2006 8:58 AM (e)

Poppers Ghost wrote:

GuyeFaux wrote:

The operating axiom (assumption?) of physics is that the Universe is formally describable.

There is no such axiom or assumption — no claim of physics is dependent upon such an assumption.

No such assumption my ass. Physicists would shoot themselves if it was proven that math was inadequate to describe the Universe (i.e. not formally describable).

Comment #104435

Posted by Glen Davidson on June 8, 2006 10:34 AM (e)

Dembski wrote:

Every time I get into it with PT, I get this sick, dirty feeling, like I’ve been to an outhouse that’s in constant use but hasn’t been cleaned in years.

PT is what prevents Dembski from ignoring the stench that he puts out. His attacks upon others, his inconsistencies, his many many mistakes and carelessness with the truth, are revealed to him nearly every time he tries to “win one” against PT.

It was he who titled yet another flop that he eventually had to apologize for (if not very convincingly), “Pearls before Swine”. When his “pearls” are ignorance and false accusations, then it isn’t surprising if the one who ends up feeling like a dirty pig is Dembski himself.

With the obligatory rubbishing (for not all potential readers know Bill’s methods) of Dembski done, let’s say, “Good job PT,” (the peccadillo of incomplete documentation is, of course, inconsequential in comparison). If it weren’t for blogs such as this one, Dembski would simply be wallowing in the smell of his sanctimony, calling it a blessed perfume. And though he continues to call it that, others are becoming more aware of how malodorous his engagements with PT, and with other sources of scientific knowledge, really are.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Comment #104438

Posted by secondclass on June 8, 2006 11:13 AM (e)

Dembski wrote:

And nowhere in my quote do I say that zero-energy waves impart information — I say that they do in the limit.

Bill, if you’re reading this, I know you said in the limit. The limits involved in Dyson’s well-behaved functions are perfectly well-defined, so your cop-out that “limits, however, are tricky things” won’t work in this case.

Dyson talks about carrying on communication indefinitely with only a finite dissipation of energy, but this does not imply the possibility of communicating with zero energy. In Dyson’s scenario, bandwidth approaches zero more slowly than energy approaches zero, which results in a non-zero limit of bandwidth per energy, per L’Hopital’s rule. But this doesn’t change the fact that the limit of bandwidth as energy approaches zero is zero. Your claim, “In the limit, a designer could therefore impart information into the universe without inputting any energy at all,” is therefore false, and you are also wrong in claiming that Dyson agrees with you.

Dembski wrote:

Let me suggest you read the appropriate chapters in Michael Spivak’s calculus book on limits. In the meantime, you’re out of here. –WmAD

Thanks for the recommendation. You seem to realize that you have no case. Otherwise, you would present it instead of shutting down the thread.

Comment #104443

Posted by PvM on June 8, 2006 11:48 AM (e)

Well said, Dembski’s response merely seems to serve to appease his disciples more than presenting a scientific argument. Freeman Dyson’s arguments have little relevance to Dembski’s own statement about imparting information at zero energy.

Comment #104445

Posted by Alann on June 8, 2006 12:06 PM (e)

As to programming the following seems sound to me:

1) The universe is finite.
2) The universe consists of rules and structures which can be defined and described, though it is far beyond are present ability to do so.
3) Based on 1 and 2 the universe could be expressed as a computer model which is also finite
4) Any computer program can be expressed as a series of 1s and 0s.
5) Any series of 1s and 0s can be interpreted as a number represented in binary (base 2).
6) Based on 4 and 5 any computer program can be expressed as a number. (a base 10 number (0-9) simply requires fewer digits than a base 2 number (0-1))
7) Based on 3 and 6 the universe can be expressed as a finite number.
8) Our number system is unbounded and thus contains all finite numbers including the number for our universe.

What falls apart is that since the universe is finite and our number system is not, then there exists numbers which cannot be expressed within our universe.

Comment #104452

Posted by Bruce Thompson GQ on June 8, 2006 12:31 PM (e)

Dembski complained:

Every time I get into it with PT, I get this sick, dirty feeling, like I’ve been to an outhouse that’s in constant use but hasn’t been cleaned in years.

Proper maintenance of outhouses is everyone’s responsibility. If you use an outhouse, don’t complain and expect someone else to clean it, propose and implement solutions. For example, the simple addition of a cup full of lime after each use reduces the odor and this is standard practice. Outhouses have a long and colorful history which has led to many innovative designs.

Although many outhouses have fallen into disrepair, they share features, such as garbage disposal sites, which allow archeologists to assign a function to these structures.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

Comment #104469

Posted by Alann on June 8, 2006 2:18 PM (e)

What exactly is the issue which requires zero energy information?
As far as I know information does not represent energy itself.

As an analogy consider ink spilled on a piece of paper.
You can calculation the total energy based on the mass of the ink and paper, the thermal energy, the gravitional potential energy, etc.
So whether the shape is a generic blob, a perfect circle, a religious symbol, or fortune cookie messages is irrelevent to the total energy of the system (or the universe).

Based on this if an given ink blot was suddenly replaced by a detailed message from God the net effect in terms of energy would still be zero.

From this prespective information can be imparted without changing the net energy of the universe. Besides why would we choose to believe that a designer / God who exists outside the system was unable to impart or take energy. An entire galaxy could pop in or out of existence and if we weren’t looking in the right direction we would never know.

Comment #104476

Posted by Coin on June 8, 2006 3:06 PM (e)

Caledonian wrote:

What’s that, you say? Even the infinitely-large description space of the positive numbers doesn’t necessarily permit certain categories of transcendentals to be defined?

Yes, that’s correct (though you’ve introduced some sloppy terminology not present in the post you’re replying to). Some infinities are larger than others. This is what Popper’s Ghost was trying to explain to you. The set of natural numbers, the set of rational numbers, and the set of all symbolic descriptions [for some arbitrary alphabet], are all examples of “aleph null” sized cardinal infinities. The set of all real numbers is an “aleph one” sized cardinal infinity. There are other infinite sizes which are even larger.

There are an infinite number of descriptions and an infinite number of real numbers. However there are more real numbers than there are descriptions, such that you cannot come up with a way of assigning descriptions to real numbers that doesn’t wind up with some quantity of irrational numbers left over. This is very well-settled and very old math.

Of course, we can define classes of these numbers even if the numbers themselves are individually undescribable– that is, there are aleph-one irrational numbers and therefore some irrational numbers lack descriptions, but “all irrational numbers” is itself a description. We can also very easily do meaningful math with numbers we can’t define; we can just say something like “a member of the set of all irrational numbers” and that’s enough description for purposes of a proof. But if you want to perform a computation, such as a simulation of a hypothetical universe, you have to have a description of a specific number, not just a description which applies to a class of numbers.

Turing machines are inherently limited to operating on discrete values, and if when you say “computer” you aren’t talking about a turing machine then nothing you say can be very meaningful: first off, we don’t have a computational model of this hypothetical computer at hand, so we can’t mathematically reason about it; second off, we don’t know how to build the kind of “computer” you’re talking about; third off, we don’t even know whether the kind of “computer” you’re talking about can be built. Maybe someday we’ll come up with a model of computation which is more powerful than the turing machine model and these restrictions won’t matter, but I don’t see one being offered here.

Calcedonian wrote:

Well gee, I guess that would imply that the description space that corresponds with the nature of the cosmos won’t necessarily include certain types of transcendentals

Stop there. There is no reason to believe that there is a “description space”, whatever that means, that corresponds with the nature of the cosmos. In fact the entire argument here is more or less over whether or not the entire cosmos can be fully described [to or by a computer]. You base part of your argument on the idea that the nature of the cosmos “corresponds with” a “description space”, and are thus assuming your own conclusion.

Physicists work toward uncovering descriptions which fully specify the laws of the physical universe. This in no way implies a requirement that there is a description which fully specifies the universe itself. Reasoning about systems or entities which contain undescribable values is something mathematical models can do perfectly well, and experimental scientists are quite good at using approximations for those values they cannot obtain precise descriptions of.

Alann wrote:

As to programming the following seems sound to me:

Depends. By “seems sound” do you mean “is it a sound proof” or do you mean “it feels right”?

Alann wrote:

1) The universe is finite.

This is an unwarranted assumption.

Alann wrote:

2) The universe consists of rules and structures which can be defined and described, though it is far beyond are present ability to do so.

This is an unwarranted assumption, and I personally doubt it’s true. As I said above, it seems very plausible to me that the universe we live in consists of rules that can be explicitly described and structures which cannot be explicitly described.

Points 4, 5 and 6 in your proof are correct under the commonly understood definition of “computer program”. Points 3, 7 and 8 fail because points 1 and 2 have not been shown.

Popper's Ghost wrote:

This isn’t accurate… if we develop quantum computers that can compute functions that Turing Machines can’t, then it will be natural to extend the notion of “effectively calculable” to quantum computations and the C-T thesis will have to be abandoned or more narrowly construed.

Just to be clear: exactly which part of what I said are you disagreeing with here? I see what you are saying though, thanks.

Either way, all I was trying to say is that the C-T thesis is not a general truth and shouldn’t be relied on. Or rather, just because something follows a set of mechanistic rules does not automatically mean it can be emulated by a “computer”.

Comment #104479

Posted by Gerard Harbison on June 8, 2006 3:14 PM (e)

I posed a very simple question to Dembski, and rather than answer it, he removed it. I have my own theory why; anyone have any different ideas?

Comment #104488

Posted by Henry J on June 8, 2006 4:03 PM (e)

Alann,
Re “What falls apart is that since the universe is finite and our number system is not, then there exists numbers which cannot be expressed within our universe.”

Including presumably the number that represents the universe itself. Well, unless one counts that the universe itself is the expression of that number.

(Of course, that argument presupposes a finite universe, which is not guaranteed to be the case afaik.)

Henry

Comment #104507

Posted by Caledonian on June 8, 2006 6:34 PM (e)

Stop there. There is no reason to believe that there is a “description space”, whatever that means, that corresponds with the nature of the cosmos.

If you don’t know what it means, how do you know that there is no reason to believe the statement I made? You don’t even understand the argument I’m making.

In fact the entire argument here is more or less over whether or not the entire cosmos can be fully described [to or by a computer].

Within our cosmos? Of course not. Identify, please, the problem with the following statement:

“The universe cannot be accurately described.”

Comment #104508

Posted by Caledonian on June 8, 2006 6:40 PM (e)

Physicists work toward uncovering descriptions which fully specify the laws of the physical universe. This in no way implies a requirement that there is a description which fully specifies the universe itself.

Um… it doesn’t imply it, it IS it. A full specification of the laws of the cosmos would make it possible (not within the cosmos itself, of course) to describe every possible configuration of said cosmos, including one which accurately describes the cosmos we’re actually in.

Comment #104513

Posted by Ron Starr on June 8, 2006 7:17 PM (e)

“That the universe was started by superior Beings is not only the province of religious thoughts from the earliest days of the human race….”

Uh, no. I realize this may be a quibble, but the need for a creation story is primarily associated with monotheism. And especially with the Big Three. Most polytheisms don’t bother. Creation stories are only important in a religion which has a linear sense of time and an end point for history.

For examples, and how this (mis)shapes religious belief, see Jordan D. Paper, The Deities Are Many: A Polytheistic Theology.

Comment #104520

Posted by Coin on June 8, 2006 8:19 PM (e)

Calcedonian wrote:

If you don’t know what it means, how do you know that there is no reason to believe the statement I made? You don’t even understand the argument I’m making.

1. Make up words
2. Refuse to explain exactly what they mean
3. Claim victory over anyone who fails to guess the secret meaning of your arguments concerning these mystery words

I see you’ve been reading the works of Dembski quite closely.

Calcedonian wrote:

Coin wrote:

Physicists work toward uncovering descriptions which fully specify the laws of the physical universe. This in no way implies a requirement that there is a description which fully specifies the universe itself.

Um… it doesn’t imply it, it IS it. A full specification of the laws of the cosmos would make it possible (not within the cosmos itself, of course) to describe every possible configuration of said cosmos, including one which accurately describes the cosmos we’re actually in.

It would depend on exactly what a “configuration of the universe” is.

A full specification of the laws of the cosmos would, one expects, necessarily fully specify the class of configurations the cosmos can exist in. This is not the same thing as being able to fully describe every individual member of that class. Whether or not we can describe some given specific configuration of the universe would depend.

What is the cardinality of the set of universe configurations, or in other words, how many configurations of the universe are there? If there are as many universe configurations as there are natural numbers, then sure, we can describe any one of those configurations to a computer. If there are as many universe configurations as there are real numbers, then there exist configurations which cannot be assigned a description.

From the perspective of a physicist or a mathemetician, this would not be a problem. A complete description of the state of the universe is not something a physicist really needs. An experimental physicist can be satisfied with an approximation of the state of the universe, a theoretical physicist can just say “let u be the state of the universe” and not concern herself with the specifics.

But if we are talking about computability, then things become quite different. Even if we programmed a “computer” (in any sense we presently have a conception of that word) to simulate the machinery of the natural laws of the universe, it would only be able to simulate those universes which can be in some way finitely described in its memory. This would surely include at least one very close approximation of our universe, but not every universe which is possible.

Comment #104525

Posted by Caledonian on June 8, 2006 9:43 PM (e)

Are you really expecting me to believe that you can’t grasp the concept of descriptions applied to the concept of a mathematical space?

A full specification of the laws of the cosmos would, one expects, necessarily fully specify the class of configurations the cosmos can exist in. This is not the same thing as being able to fully describe every individual member of that class.

At that point, it’s just a matter of being specific.

What is the cardinality of the set of universe configurations, or in other words, how many configurations of the universe are there? If there are as many universe configurations as there are natural numbers, then sure, we can describe any one of those configurations to a computer. If there are as many universe configurations as there are real numbers, then there exist configurations which cannot be assigned a description.

Of course they could be assigned a description – they just can’t be assigned a description that a computational system limited to natural numbers could examine. If phenomena within the universe can be based on the real numbers, there are no reasons to assert that computational systems cannot utilize real numbers.

In such cases, the descriptions would be infinitely long. They would still *exist*, though, just as the end states of procedurally-generated fractals can be said to exist despite never being reachable.

And you end by confusing the description of the universe with descriptions that exist within the universe. Bravo, sir! You have utterly failed!

Comment #104664

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 9, 2006 4:57 AM (e)

No such assumption my ass. Physicists would shoot themselves if it was proven that math was inadequate to describe the Universe (i.e. not formally describable).

This is confused on numerous levels. What physicists might or might not do upon learning something or the other has no bearing on the matter; physics is clearly not dependent on an assumption that the universe is describable because no claim of physics would have to be rejected in the absence of such an assumption. Many mathematicians may have thought of shooting themselves, or abandoning mathematics, when Godel proved that there’s no proof procedure for mathematics, but it didn’t invalidate mathematics, and their psychological reaction was premature. The same was true of Einstein and his reaction to QM, which in essence says that the universe isn’t describable. Einstein refused to believe that “God plays dice”, but he was wrong.

Comment #104665

Posted by Vyoma on June 9, 2006 4:59 AM (e)

Ron Starr wrote:

Uh, no. I realize this may be a quibble, but the need for a creation story is primarily associated with monotheism. And especially with the Big Three. Most polytheisms don’t bother. Creation stories are only important in a religion which has a linear sense of time and an end point for history.

I can’t speak to “most polytheisms,” but I do know that the various religions subsumed under “Hinduism” have a creation story. In fact, there are more than a dozen different creation stories. In just one classical text (I believe it was Linga purana, but it might be one of the other puranas… it’s been awhile since I’ve read any of them) there are three of them, and the conflicts between them is resolved with a statement to the effect that “Since nobody was around to actually see it, we don’t really know. These are a few of our best guesses, but we’ll keep trying to figure it out.”

I like that attitude in a religion, you know? It not only doesn’t preclude further investigation leading to the revision of initial hypotheses, it encourages it. Perhaps its that very attitude that led to the writing of books like Grahanamandana, in which the periodicity of eclispses were worked out with advanced mathematics and precision, or Brhat Samhita, where among much superstition in omens is to be found a deep understanding of the structure of the solar system as heliocentric, again with accurate mathematics regarding the motion of celestial bodies… at a time when most of Europe wasn’t even able to read and questioning doctrine would get one chucked on a barbecue.

Just sayin’.

Comment #104673

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 9, 2006 5:09 AM (e)

Let me be a bit more precise … there are only aleph-0 possible definitions and descriptions, but C (>= aleph-1) transcendentals. Therefore, not all transcendentals can be uniquely described.

What’s that, you say? Even the infinitely-large description space of the positive numbers doesn’t necessarily permit certain categories of transcendentals to be defined?

As vast as the set of positive integers is, the set of trancendentals is vastly vaster. What I wrote is a direct consequence of Cantor’s theorem. That it offends many people’s intuitions makes it no less true.

The continuation of this discussion can be found at
http://www.crank.net/cantor.html

Comment #104681

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 9, 2006 5:45 AM (e)

Either way, all I was trying to say is that the C-T thesis is not a general truth and shouldn’t be relied on. Or rather, just because something follows a set of mechanistic rules does not automatically mean it can be emulated by a “computer”.

But what does “mechanistic rules” mean, if not the sort of recipe-following that the Church/Turing/Post abstractions do fully capture? There are (at least) two characteristics that mechanistic rules can’t deal with: real intervals, and indeterminacy. Mechanistic rules can only approximate real intervals to a specified degree of accuracy. This may or may not be a limitation in regard to the universe: if all processes are fully quantized both spatially and temporally, then the description of the universe can be “digitized”. But indeterminacy is a kicker. As I wrote earlier, “the universe is a dynamic entity with an infinity of states and, per quantum mechanics, these states are not derivable from each other”. While “a set of mechanistic rules” can simulate a class of universes that includes ours (if it is fully quantized), there’s no reason to think that they can pick out this specific universe – Gott spiel Würfel, and dice are truly random devices, as opposed to the pseudo-random number generators that are achievable through “mechanistic rules”.

Comment #104683

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 9, 2006 6:18 AM (e)

there are no reasons to assert that computational systems cannot utilize real numbers

There are, actually: (the complete set of) real numbers cannot be represented, read, or operated on by a “computational” system. There must be as many unique representations as values to be represented, but only aleph-0 unique representations are possible. There are no algorithms for operating on (the complete set of) reals – algorithms are isomorphic to Turing Machines, which are limited to discrete operations. A “computational system” that utilized (the complete set of) reals would operate entirely by magic; its operations would not be decomposable. It would be a goddidit machine. Of course, there are ways to do operations on selected reals, e.g., pi + sqrt(2) can be represented as “pi + sqrt(2)”, but as previously noted, there are only aleph-0 descriptions such as “pi” or “sqrt(2)”, but C (aleph-1 under the continuum hypothesis) reals, so not all reals can be so expressed and manipulated.

To put it another way, there are reasons – powerful reasons – to assert the Church-Turing thesis, which states that all “effectively calculable” functions can be computed by Turing Machines or their computational equivalents.

Comment #104687

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 9, 2006 6:55 AM (e)

What’s that, you say? Even the infinitely-large description space of the positive numbers doesn’t necessarily permit certain categories of transcendentals to be defined?

Well gee, I guess that would imply that the description space that corresponds with the nature of the cosmos won’t necessarily include certain types of transcendentals, and thus no interactions involving those numbers would ever take place. In other words, there would be no meaningful way that those numbers could be said to be part of existence.

I addressed this as if it were a denial of Cantor’s theorem, but it isn’t – my mistake. But what it is, is a circular argument; the implication only follows by assuming the very thing at issue, namely whether is a “description space that corresponds with the nature of the cosmos”. If there is any range of physical values over a real interval, then no transcendentals are excluded, interactions involving those numbers do take place, and there is a meaningful way that those numbers could be said to be part of existence (namely, as points on a real interval). There are good reasons to think that all ranges of physical values are discrete, but there’s no guarantee of that.

Comment #104690

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 9, 2006 7:53 AM (e)

Here’s a relevant wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_number

Measurements in the physical sciences are almost always conceived of as approximations to real numbers. While the numbers used for this purpose are generally decimal fractions representing rational numbers, writing them in decimal terms suggests they are an approximation to a theoretical underlying real number….
Computers can only approximate most real numbers….

The upshot is that, if physical measurements really do only approximate underlying real nunbers, then the universe cannot be simulated by computer (even a vast one running in a universe much larger than this one) – which is where this discussion started. However, the conception of measurements as being approximations to real numbers is somewhat archaic in light of quantum mechanics. Perhaps one could take the apparent quantization of physical quantities as evidence that the universe is a simulation – maybe sort of answering the original question, “How do we know which we are living in?”

Comment #104694

Posted by Caledonian on June 9, 2006 8:37 AM (e)

physics is clearly not dependent on an assumption that the universe is describable because no claim of physics would have to be rejected in the absence of such an assumption.

Have you the brain worms? Since physics is nothing but attempts to accurately describe the cosmos, if the universe could not be described, all of physics would have to be discarded.

Fortunately, “the cosmos cannot be accurately described” is a contradiction in terms, as the statement itself is an accurate description.

***

If you’re going to suggest that reality operates on principles of “magic Goddidit”, you’re damn straight that no natural-number computational system will work. Unfortunately, your assertion requires that no natural-number computational systems actually exist: since every computational system must be implemented within the cosmos, they would all be necessarily magical. It follows that your point, while accurate, is utterly pointless. Everything that we identify as a computer would be capable of handling real numbers.

The concept also violates pretty much everything we know about reality – namely, that it exists and functions in ways that the limited descriptions found in the natural numbers are perfectly capable of representing. Since elements of uncertainty and imprecision will necessarily exist in all internal perspectives of even a deterministic cosmos, there will never be any consequences of your hypothetical real-number reality that are distinguishable from the consequences of natural-number realities.

In short, your arguments are grossly invalid.

Comment #104696

Posted by Caledonian on June 9, 2006 8:45 AM (e)

The same was true of Einstein and his reaction to QM, which in essence says that the universe isn’t describable.

With that, you’ve demonstrated how ignorant you truly are. That is NOT a consequence of quantum mechanics – Einstein was bothered by QM because it does not permit non-probabilistic descriptions of the universe. It is in fact a deterministic predictive system that operates upon probabilities instead of more traditional entities.

Where are you getting your understanding of mathematics and physics? The back of cereal boxes? Pop culture mystics? The Bush administration?

Comment #104697

Posted by k.e. on June 9, 2006 8:47 AM (e)

PsG said
Perhaps one could take the apparent quantization of physical quantities as evidence that the universe is a simulation

In the quote above it only seems like a simulation if you remember the past and project into the future, if one considers time in the absolute ‘here and now’ the ‘simulation’ no longer is a simulation but just is.

Comment #104716

Posted by Donald McLaughlin on June 9, 2006 11:24 AM (e)

Pim:

DonaldM should be able to back up his assertions that I left out 11 paragraphs of further explanations when I quoted Dembdksi

Well, since you didn’t bother to reference from where you drew the quote, like Dembski, I assumed it came from NFL, page335. Telling me that *I* should have googled the quote or something is about as disingenous as it gets, Pim. YOU should have made clear from where you drew the quote. But given the way you consistently misrepresent ID in general and Dembski in particular, I’m not surprised that you wouldn’t take the time to reference your quote in the OP.

And since the paper you quoted pre-dates NFL, the fair thing to do would be to quote the book. If an IDP did the same thing, you guys would have spared no ad hominem in attacking it. The double standards here are palpable. And you expect us to take your ‘critques’ of ID seriously??!!! You can’t be serious.

Is Donald now so desperate that he has to accuse people of quote mining for providing an extensive quote?

You didn’t provide the extensive quote from NFL. I suspect you knew full well that Dembski had, in fact, expanded on this paper in NFL, yet chose to use the paper instead. IN other words, Pim, you deliberately chose to misrepresent the Dembski’s argument. That is the very thing you accuse IDPs of doing all the time…quotemining.

Your deliberate subterfuge has been exposed.

Comment #104718

Posted by k.e. on June 9, 2006 12:05 PM (e)

Well Donald if this latest Dembskian scandal is giving you heartburn maybe you should see Bill’s Doctor the Famous and now deceased (that shouldn’t be a problem for you Fundies) Spike Milligan.

From the Q series ..(Donald)get your own reference.

DOCTOR (MILLIGAN): (Getting rapidly out of his chair and staring intensely at camera) This is a doctor sketch! (Eyes patient suspiciously) What do you want?

PATIENT: Doctor, do you have anything for Amnesia?

DOCTOR: (Incredulous) For WHAT?

(Patient scratches his head)

MILLIGAN: (Grinning, to camera, out of character) For people with bad memories, here it is again!

PATIENT: Here’s what again?

DOCTOR: (Forgetting) Erm…er…(gives withering, cross-eyed look to camera followed by a freeze-frame!!!

Maybe Dembski could take up as an Amnesiac Comic Donald?

He could tell everyone when he forgot about the zero energy wave and the time he forgot he invented an anti-gravity machine.

Comment #104719

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on June 9, 2006 12:15 PM (e)

DonaldM:
Your deliberate subterfuge has been exposed.

CURSES! Foiled again!

Seriously, Donald, have you ever heard of something called cutting your losses? You are just making things worse for yourself here. Amusingly so, as far as I am concerned, but still, you may want to check with Dr. Dembski if he really wants this latest humiliating episode to be discussed any further.

Comment #104720

Posted by steve s on June 9, 2006 12:19 PM (e)

Donald never learned the first rule of holes.

Comment #104726

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on June 9, 2006 1:12 PM (e)

WRT measurements, computer models, approximations, QM, etc.:

Since physics is nothing but attempts to accurately describe the cosmos, if the universe could not be described, all of physics would have to be discarded.

There is a difference between “describe” and “accurately describe” especially if you take the term “accurate” as an absolute. Becoming more and more accurate while knowing full well that you can never be perfectly accurate is not futile.

Fortunately, “the cosmos cannot be accurately described” is a contradiction in terms, as the statement itself is an accurate description.

Yeah, right, and “This statement is a lie” disproves logic in all its forms.

Take it from someone who has been using computer models for almost a quarter century: A computer model is by its very nature an approximation. There is no way to make a completely accurate computer model; you can make it accurate enough, but you can’t make it perfect. Computer simulations are used in industry to predict failure; they are not capable of predicting success. All they can do is fail to predict a failure, and if they are sufficiently robust (covering all likely/known failure modes), then you have a high degree of confidence that any failure that does occur will be highly unlikely. That’s as good as you can do.

Comment #104745

Posted by secondclass on June 9, 2006 2:31 PM (e)

Donald wrote:

I suspect you knew full well that Dembski had, in fact, expanded on this paper in NFL, yet chose to use the paper instead. IN other words, Pim, you deliberately chose to misrepresent the Dembski’s argument.

If the earlier quote is a misrepresentation of Dembski’s argument, then Dembski should recant it. In fact, Dembski might want to recant both versions since he’s wrong in both of them.

Comment #104746

Posted by steve s on June 9, 2006 2:39 PM (e)

Dembski kind of half retracted it, and closed the comments on the threads. And grumbled that his interactions with PT don’t make him feel good. LOL no doubt. But even he didn’t try to replace the allegation with a hypothetical new allegation to blame on Pim, like Donald does.

Because Dembski knows the first rule of holes.

Comment #104748

Posted by k.e. on June 9, 2006 2:53 PM (e)

Because Dembski knows the first rule of holes.

Yep …..fill ‘em real quick before anyone notices and use the Bart Simpson defense ‘I didn’t say Zero Energy Waves’, he couldn’t lie straight in bed.

Comment #104758

Posted by secondclass on June 9, 2006 3:49 PM (e)

steve s, Dembski half-retracted his accusation against Pim, but he didn’t retract the statement that Pim quoted. If Donald thinks that the statement is a misrepresentation, he should take it up with Dembski.

Dembski has a bad habit of trying to fix problems without acknowledging them. When Elsberry and Shallit pointed out the problems in Dembski’s concept of specified complexity, Dembski simply came up with a new version of specified complexity. Shallit assumed that this constituted a repudiation of Dembski’s older work, but Dembski refused to acknowledge it as such:

Dembski (you can Google this, Donald) wrote:

I haven’t repudiated anything, if he would but read my newest article on specification. Regardless of whose court he thinks the ball is in, his criticisms are now out of date.

In other words, “I’m not going to repudiate my earlier work, but I’m not going to be held accountable for it either.”

Comment #104760

Posted by Coin on June 9, 2006 4:25 PM (e)

Caledonian wrote:

Of course they could be assigned a description — they just can’t be assigned a description that a computational system limited to natural numbers could examine. [snip] In such cases, the descriptions would be infinitely long. They would still *exist*, though, just as the end states of procedurally-generated fractals can be said to exist despite never being reachable.

If you are using the word “description” to mean something other than “a finite length string”, then of course the rules are different. But this is outside the range of what others in this thread have meant by “description”.

An infinite-length description is not a particularly useful “description”. You cannot write it down on a piece of paper, you cannot ever be told what it is. From a utilitarian perspective, there is not much of a difference between “an infinitely long description” of an irrational number and the irrational number itself. The mathematical existence of that infinitely long description (though infinite-length strings do of course mathematically exist) is not important to the subject being discussed here– which is whether or not the described value can be operated on by a computational system. Computational systems on the turing machine model are limited to “the natural numbers”, or perhaps it would be better to say they can only operate on finite symbolic strings.

Caledonian wrote:

If phenomena within the universe can be based on the real numbers, there are no reasons to assert that computational systems cannot utilize real numbers.

I see no reason to assert that “computational systems” cannot utilize real numbers either (unless by “computational system” we mean “turing machine”). But that is not important. What is important is, I also see no reason to assert computational systems can utilize real numbers.

The thing is, the only computational systems we know about, the only ones which we have mathematical formalisms for, the only ones we know how to build, can only operate on finite, discrete quantities. Therefore, none of these computational systems can utilize the entire set of real numbers. Without first providing a definition of a computational model which can operate on arbitrary real numbers, you can’t say something like ‘this real-number computational system A can simulate the universe’ because we don’t even know whether A exists. The burden of proof here would be on the person who wishes to claim a computational system can simulate the universe.

Caledonian wrote:

Since physics is nothing but attempts to accurately describe the cosmos…

To the extent physics is accurate, it does not really have to be specific or complete.

Caledonian wrote:

Fortunately, “the cosmos cannot be accurately described” is a contradiction in terms, as the statement itself is an accurate description.

To the extent this description is accurate, it is not specific or complete. It’s not a description of a cosmos, it’s a description of a class of cosmoses. Along the same lines, “the number is even” is an accurate description, but it doesn’t describe any one specific number.

Comment #104762

Posted by Coin on June 9, 2006 5:02 PM (e)

Popper's Ghost wrote:

But what does “mechanistic rules” mean, if not the sort of recipe-following that the Church/Turing/Post abstractions do fully capture?

Hm. Something entirely different :) By the phrase “mechanistic rules” in that post I was trying to express the idea of something that follows the rules of the physical universe. I see now that I made a rather poor choice of words.

Comment #104763

Posted by Alann on June 9, 2006 5:19 PM (e)

As to my previous comments on programming:

The universe is finite was meant as an assumption, the rest of the argument would still hold true if you alternately use a simplest representation of a infinite universe as an immense yet finite subset.

I believe it is fair to say the universe is describable. To explain what I mean take an Electron. An electron cannot be represented as a simple physical object (because of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle); however it can be represented as a probability cloud, and we are able to mathematically express its interactions making it describable.
I think the concept of a hypothetical snapshot of a finite universe does not require a proof, since the universe itself would represents a snapshot.

As far as I know the only concept which cannot be accurately modeled is pure randomness where the result of an interaction cannot be predetermined. If our universe contains pure randomness we can still produce a model which substitutes the pseudo-randomness available to a computer, with the understanding that while a given state can be duplicated the end results may vary by the degree of true randomness.

Back to zero energy waves:

I think its clear that a zero energy wave is nonsensical. In much the same way 1/0 does not equal infinity, it can only be correctly described as undefined; while the limit of 1/n as n->0 does not equal infinity either instead it is said to approach infinity.

What I wonder is if you can theoretically have a negative energy wave?
If so the simultaneous creation of a negative and positive wave could happen without changing the net energy of the universe, and still be able to convey information.

Of course the more relevant question is: Why does God need zero energy waves?

Comment #104769

Posted by fnxtr on June 9, 2006 5:57 PM (e)

secondclass wrote:

Dembski (you can Google this, Donald) wrote:

I haven’t repudiated anything, if he would but read my newest article on specification. Regardless of whose court he thinks the ball is in, his criticisms are now out of date.

In other words, “I’m not going to repudiate my earlier work, but I’m not going to be held accountable for it either.”

… and now you understand the plea of nolo contendre.

Comment #104772

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 9, 2006 6:20 PM (e)

Donald, I think you should post far more often than you do now.

Far far far more often.

Please?

PRETTY please?

Comment #104773

Posted by Lenny's Pizza Guy on June 9, 2006 6:33 PM (e)

Yeah, post away, Donald! You make our arguments far more effectively in your unintended and “back-handed” way than most of the rest of us do with our, um, forehands.

But I want to be clear that you’re also included in the cut-off from the “Special” Oregano topping.

You babble quite incoherently enough as it is.

Comment #104837

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 10, 2006 12:30 AM (e)

physics is clearly not dependent on an assumption that the universe is describable because no claim of physics would have to be rejected in the absence of such an assumption.

Have you the brain worms? Since physics is nothing but attempts to accurately describe the cosmos, if the universe could not be described, all of physics would have to be discarded.

I’ve already answered this idiotic claim. You seem incapable of grasping basic elements of logic. Bye.

Comment #104839

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 10, 2006 12:42 AM (e)

Since physics is nothing but attempts to accurately describe the cosmos, if the universe could not be described, all of physics would have to be discarded.

There is a difference between “describe” and “accurately describe” especially if you take the term “accurate” as an absolute. Becoming more and more accurate while knowing full well that you can never be perfectly accurate is not futile.

Caledonian is deliberately playing stupid word games. The question was whether the universe as a whole has a description; it obviously was not about whether physics describes phenomena in the universe, so Caledonian’s statement is a rather pathetic strawman. Such transparent dishonesty isn’t worth wasting time on.

Comment #104840

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 10, 2006 1:02 AM (e)

Donald McLaughlin wrote:

Well, since you didn’t bother to reference from where you drew the quote, like Dembski, I assumed it came from NFL, page335. Telling me that *I* should have googled the quote or something is about as disingenous as it gets, Pim. YOU should have made clear from where you drew the quote.

What an incredible jackass. There are at least two possible sources of the quote, so you looked at the one that doesn’t match what Pim wrote, and based on your assumption that he took the quote from there, you made the positive assertion that he misquoted Dembski. Indeed, if you accuse someone of something, then the burden is on you to validate the accusation, not to simply ASSume it. And you say it’s “as disingenuous as it gets” to point this out? The very first thing I did, and apparently several other people, when reading the charge of misquotation was to google the text to see if I could determine what was left out … a rather common approach to such things, and I immediately saw that the exact text Pim used is plastered across the net. Plainly, you are not just dishonest and devoid of basic scruples, but quite stupid and lazy and incapable of doing even the most trivial investigation. Which is consistent with your rejecting science and embracing IDiocy.

Comment #104841

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 10, 2006 1:17 AM (e)

physics is clearly not dependent on an assumption that the universe is describable because no claim of physics would have to be rejected in the absence of such an assumption.

Have you the brain worms? Since physics is nothing but attempts to accurately describe the cosmos, if the universe could not be described, all of physics would have to be discarded.

I’m going to revisit this to point out just how ridiculous it is. To say that there is no assumption that something holds is obviously not to say that it doesn’t hold. And attempting to do something obviously does not rest on an assumption that it can be done, and if one succeeds in doing it without assuming that one can do it, the success obviously does not need to be thrown out. Only a very very stupid or confused person could think any of that. We need make no assumptions at all in order to attempt to describe physical phenomena, and whatever successes we have in doing so do not need to be “thrown out” simply because we didn’t assume that we would be successful.

Comment #104842

Posted by Popper's Ghost on June 10, 2006 1:46 AM (e)

Coin wrote:

By the phrase “mechanistic rules” in that post I was trying to express the idea of something that follows the rules of the physical universe.

But rules are imposed by us, in our attempt to describe phenomena; the universe simply is what it is, and it may or may not be fully describable in terms of following a set of rules. The very notion of following rules is what the Church-Turing thesis is about – an “effective calculation” is a calculation that can be carried out by following a specified set of rules; an algorithm. This really is deeply fundamental.

Comment #104863

Posted by wad of id on June 10, 2006 7:47 AM (e)

I don’t get it… I though Dembski declared that ID was not a mechanistic theory. Why now the sudden interest in explaining the mechanism of the Designer imparting information into the Universe?

DonaldM, you should be ashamed of yourself. You are a pitiful excuse for an IDist.

Comment #104898

Posted by steve s on June 10, 2006 12:58 PM (e)

You know what an assumption does, dontcha Donald? It makes an ass out of you and umption.

Comment #104902

Posted by PvM on June 10, 2006 1:25 PM (e)

Donald M wrote:

Well, since you didn’t bother to reference from where you drew the quote, like Dembski, I assumed it came from NFL, page335. Telling me that *I* should have googled the quote or something is about as disingenous as it gets, Pim. YOU should have made clear from where you drew the quote. But given the way you consistently misrepresent ID in general and Dembski in particular, I’m not surprised that you wouldn’t take the time to reference your quote in the OP.

Seems Donald can only blame others for his inabilities to support his arguments. He blindly copied Dembski’s fallacious assertions. So much for critical thinking.

Since Donald accuses me of consistently misrepresenting ID in general and Dembski in particular I may conclude that he has this time some supporting evidence or is there no limit to Donald’s accusations?

Donald M wrote:

You didn’t provide the extensive quote from NFL. I suspect you knew full well that Dembski had, in fact, expanded on this paper in NFL, yet chose to use the paper instead. IN other words, Pim, you deliberately chose to misrepresent the Dembski’s argument. That is the very thing you accuse IDPs of doing all the time…quotemining.

You accused me of misquoting and leaving out words. Seems that your original accusation was erroneous so now you claim that I deliberately chose to misrepresent Dembski’s argument, again lacking any logical or rational foundation for your claims. In addition, I fail to see how I misrepresented Dembksi’s statement.

Care to explain

Comment #104904

Posted by PvM on June 10, 2006 1:31 PM (e)

Your deliberate subterfuge has been exposed.

You are funny Donald, you blindly copied Dembski’s accusations but unlike Dembski you seem to be unable to at least make an effort to apologize. I can understand, being ‘betrayed’ by your ‘master’ may be quite a shock and the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance may cause you to seek blame externally. Of course, eventually you will have to face up to the simple fact that ID and claims by its proponents are scientifically vacuous, and in this case totally fallacious.

So what did Dembski ‘really’ mean when he made the following statement

In the limit, a designer could therefore impart information into the universe without inputting any energy at all

Is he correct or is he merely hiding now behind the backs of real scientists? I’d really like to hear from ID disciples as to how to explain away Dembski’s faux pas.
Perhaps it’s best to just accept that Dembski has no formal training in the area of physics?

Comment #104906

Posted by Sir_Toejam on June 10, 2006 2:02 PM (e)

Perhaps it’s best to just accept that Dembski has no formal training in the area of physics?

perhaps it’s best to accept that Donald isn’t worth the time it takes to write a response?

Really, Pim, it doesn’t matter a whit what you say to him; he’ll be back in a couple of weeks, with the exact same IDiotic arguments as always.

There’s no arguing with a rock.

Comment #104908

Posted by steve s on June 10, 2006 2:31 PM (e)

The anger in Don’s post suggests to me that he’s steamed about Dembski making him look like an ass. Maybe he’ll be a little less credulous in the future.

Comment #104914

Posted by PvM on June 10, 2006 4:48 PM (e)

Really, Pim, it doesn’t matter a whit what you say to him; he’ll be back in a couple of weeks, with the exact same IDiotic arguments as always.

At least Donald et al can serve as a fair warning what happens when one abandons logic, and critical thinking.

Comment #104921

Posted by Caledonian on June 10, 2006 6:10 PM (e)

And attempting to do something obviously does not rest on an assumption that it can be done,

Unfortunately, we can use principles of logical analysis to understand our world only if the universe can be understood through logical analysis.

We can try other things without necessarily thinking they will work because we believe that it might work, and that we might be able to derive benefit from the trying if it works, or even whether it works or not. There are certain principles, however, which if they are not true no profit can be derived, ever, or benefit drawn.

If you disagree, then why are you making arguments? The arguments are useless if we do not presume that language can encode meaning.

Comment #104931

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on June 10, 2006 8:50 PM (e)

You are funny Donald, you blindly copied Dembski’s accusations but unlike Dembski you seem to be unable to at least make an effort to apologize.

Most fundies would rather die than admit they are wrong. About anything.

After all, if a fundie is wrong about anything, then the entire Bible becomes worthless. Right, Donald?

(snicker) (giggle)

Comment #104932

Posted by Caledonian on June 10, 2006 9:12 PM (e)

But rules are imposed by us, in our attempt to describe phenomena; the universe simply is what it is, and it may or may not be fully describable in terms of following a set of rules.

Except that isn’t possible: if that were the case, reality would not be able to operate.

Let’s say I make a measurement. How much uncertainty is inherent in my measurement? If there isn’t a precise answer to that question, then how much uncertainty about the uncertainty is there? If there isn’t a precise answer to *that* question, then how much uncertainty about the uncertainty uncertainty is there?

If there’s never any point at which this infinite recursion ends, then nothing can be said about the content of the measurement – it has no properties other than being something about which I know nothing.

We can impose rules only by following the universe’s rules. Without them, how can *anything* be accomplished?

Comment #105048

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on June 11, 2006 6:50 PM (e)

It ahs been a sunny and long weekend. I see that Dembski has commented on the discussion anyway.

“And nowhere in my quote do I say that zero-energy waves impart information — I say that they do in the limit.”

Either way we construe this limit - max amplitude going to zero, or wavelength going to infinity (or equivalently signal bandwith going to zero) - the result will trivially be that no energy and no information is imparted. Even allowing for QFT zero energy, entropy going to infinity means information goes to zero.

Not only has Dembski multiply showed his incompetence in modelling real physics, biology, or web searches, he is naively incompetent in checking his ideas against basic knowledge. One can only hope he is somewhat competent in the mathematics he was educated in - perhaps he can find a suitable job there, if his current employer finds out his incompetences.

Meanwhile a discussion about simulating universes broke out. “Therefore, we are either living in our universe or a simulation of our universe. How do we know which we are living in?”

Some answers deal with the nature of the universe - is it a computable structure, for example like Wolfram’s cellular automata? One prominent answer from theoretical physiscists, displayed here, is that it isn’t due to QM stochastic nature or its prohibition of local hidden variable descriptions. But the jury is still out.

Other answers deal with the possibility of describing nature with formal and/or computable theories. While chaos shows exponential divergencies that fundamentally restricts the mapping from description to nature, there seems to be no restriction to come as close as desired.

But the question was really if we live in a simulation, not if the simulation was close to fundamental nature. Even in the absence of further information that answer is formally and easily answered to as similar ideas of solipsism, zombies, and last thursdayism - all alternatives to observed reality are more complicated. (And some requires treating ‘self’ different from the rest.) Ockham shaves these hairy questions easily.