PvM posted Entry 2725 on November 15, 2006 06:38 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2716

Seems that noone has informed Logan Gage of his erroneous interpretations of Darwinian theory, the concept of randomness and the meaning of purpose. In a followup posting Gage argues

Logan Gage wrote:

If you have not seen it already, you will enjoy playing with this random mutation generator. You will see how wonderful the Darwinian process is at taking your text and moving on to ever-greater levels of complexity.

In addition to failing to comprehend the concept of randomness, Gage now seems to confuse random mutation with ‘the Darwinian process’. Has noone informed him that the Darwinian process consists of two components? In fact, mutations were not even known in Darwin’s days, thus Darwin speaks of variation and selection.

In addition, he also seems to mangle Dawkins’ Weasel example, which seems a common affliction amongst creationists.

In other news, David Opderdeck explores the flawed logic in Logan Gage’s position and argues that Gage’s position “was unfair, and reflects a serious theological problem with some “strong” ID arguments.”

Is there anything redeeming to Intelligent Design?

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Comment #144239

Posted by normdoering on November 16, 2006 12:43 AM (e)

… also seems to mangle Dawkins’ Weasel example, which seems a common affliction amongst creationists.

If you mangle the Weasle, then you can’t can’t understand genetic algorithims and evolutionary programming.

Comment #144251

Posted by k.e. on November 16, 2006 6:05 AM (e)

Am I being a nitpicker if I say
“Nobody knows nothing about no one at noone”?
Must be my aural fixation.

Comment #144252

Posted by k.e. on November 16, 2006 6:31 AM (e)

Sorry PvM I mean no off fence and I hope none is taken.

Comment #144254

Posted by DrFrank on November 16, 2006 6:39 AM (e)

As someone who’s done a lot of work with population-based optimisation algorithms seeing people show such ignorance about the basic ideas severely pisses me off. (Dembski’s talk of the No Free Lunch theorems and optimisation makes my blood positively boil)

The main mistaken assumption seems to be that they believe knowing the objective function and knowing the optimal solution are one and the same. Only in trivial toy cases, such as Dawkins purely illustrative Weasel example, is this the case.

Someone should hand one of these people a Rubik’s Cube, tell them to get all the colours on each face the same, and then call them a moron if they can’t instantly do it. Hey, look, I defined the target, why can’t you do it?! In the majority cases, of course, there is no actual target at all, just a desire to minimise or maximise some value (number of offspring, anyone?), so any argument based on targets falls utterly apart.

Genetic algorithms and related population-based algorithms are used every day to solve complex and mathematically intractable problems. From the impression these guys give you’d think that the entire field of optimisation is just some scam made to prop up evolutionary biology.

Comment #144273

Posted by Popper's ghost on November 16, 2006 9:03 AM (e)

In the case of Steiner networks, it was remarkable that some people just couldn’t grasp that the value being optimized – the sum of the path lengths – was only a property of, and thus a very different thing from, the network – a set of points, and that the built-in “knowledge” that a smaller sum was preferable to a larger sum was in no way built-in knowledge about the solution.

Comment #144278

Posted by DrFrank on November 16, 2006 9:53 AM (e)

Agreed, Popper.

Although the Steiner problem is pretty simple (at a definition level), I’d say the simplest example to use to defeat this sort of thinking is probably the Travelling Salesman Problem: trivial problem definition, trivial calculation of solution quality, bastard hard problem :)

Comment #144279

Posted by Stevaroni on November 16, 2006 10:07 AM (e)

If you mangle the Weasle, then you can’t can’t understand genetic algorithims and evolutionary programming.

“Mangling the weasel” sounds like one of those things you tend to do alone.

Comment #144293

Posted by AJ Milne on November 16, 2006 12:13 PM (e)

Is there anything redeeming to Intelligent Design?

… it occupies people who would otherwise be defending Time Cube?

… okay, I guess that’s an ambiguous benefit, really. Sorry. Got nothing.

But ‘mangling the weasel’ has a lovely resonance. I think I’ll be using it, generally, for all such confusions to come.

Comment #144296

Posted by Mike Elzinga on November 16, 2006 12:56 PM (e)

In the physics community there has been over 30 years of research on the kinds of persistent misconceptions students bring with them to physics courses. Even after addressing the roots of these misconceptions and seemingly correcting them, they often return in other contexts.

The misconceptions the ID/Creationists have about things related to information, statistical mechanics and thermodynamics seem to me to be among the most persistent I have seen. It raises some questions. What are the roots of these misconceptions? Are they misconceptions about fundamental physical processes and cause and effect? Are they misconceptions about what is being selected? Are they misconceptions about targeted and non-targeted outcomes? Are they misconceptions about probabilities? Is it a deliberate exploitation of the misconceptions many people have about randomness and order?

I have often suspected that there is something about their prior beliefs that almost guarantees the ID/Creationists will have the kinds of persistent misconceptions they routinely exhibit. It is too painful for them to acknowledge that the physical world may behave in ways that are inconsistent with their beliefs. Therefore there must be something wrong with the science. They fix this in their own minds by adopting misconceptions that allow their prior beliefs.

Unfortunately for them, they cannot use these misconceptions to produce any viable research results because they will always be asking the wrong questions and getting nonsense answers that remain consistent with their beliefs. That in turn reinforces their confidence in the truth of their beliefs and entrenches the scientific misconceptions they already have. They then accuse us of doing what they have been doing. The “Wedge Document” gives a pretty good outline of how they mean to fix the secular world.

I suspect it will be almost impossible to address their misconceptions in any significant way because it is such a deeply emotional issue for them involving Pascal’s wager. Going to hell for eternity is not an option for them.

Comment #144300

Posted by steve s on November 16, 2006 1:19 PM (e)

“Seems that noone has informed Logan Gage”

Who’s this noone fellow, and how does he know Logan?

Comment #144311

Posted by normdoering on November 16, 2006 1:53 PM (e)

Pim van Meurs asks: Is there anything redeeming to Intelligent Design?

Yes. Without ID PvM would never have come up with the term “mangle the Weasle,” (or rather, “mangle Dawkins’ Weasel,” which actually sounds more perverse).

Also, ID exposes interesting and subtle questions about “what is intelligence?” and “what is design?” even if ID proponents can’t see past their own assumptions about intelligence and design. It does so in a way that makes me notice the similarity between the way genetic algorithms work and the way neural nets work.

Comment #144330

Posted by Adam Ierymenko on November 16, 2006 2:58 PM (e)

Mike Elzinga wrote:

The misconceptions the ID/Creationists have about things related to information, statistical mechanics and thermodynamics seem to me to be among the most persistent I have seen. It raises some questions. What are the roots of these misconceptions? Are they misconceptions about fundamental physical processes and cause and effect? Are they misconceptions about what is being selected? Are they misconceptions about targeted and non-targeted outcomes? Are they misconceptions about probabilities? Is it a deliberate exploitation of the misconceptions many people have about randomness and order?

Religion is basically Platonism, and the fundamental core of Platonism is the belief that order must be supernatural.

Comment #144447

Posted by snaxalotl on November 16, 2006 7:12 PM (e)

the weasel shouldn’t even exist. It’s only there because, amazingly, people are too stupid to understand the not incredibly difficult concept of cumulative selection. and THEN, those people it was designed for can’t even learn it’s simple message; instead, they think weasel’s supposed to be a (or the) proof of evolution.

Comment #144449

Posted by Timothy Chase on November 16, 2006 7:16 PM (e)

PvM wrote:

In addition to failing to comprehend the concept of randomness, Gage now seems to confuse random mutation with the Darwinian process’. Has no one informed him that the Darwinian process consists of two components? In fact, mutations were not even known in Darwin’s days, thus Darwin speaks of variation and selection.

My apologies, but I feel an uncontrollable rant coming on…

Creationists who have been active in propagandizing any appreciable amount of time understand full well that evolution involves variation and selection. Their attempt to equate evolution with “random mutation” is deliberate. Their dishonesty is deliberate.

While I don’t think they are particularly bright, they enjoy “proving” how stupid the bright guys on the other side are by getting them to buy into their “dumb guy” routine. Particularly when it means that you will keep trying to explain to them the same principle over and over to them until you give up exhausted. If they use the same tired quotes and send you off on a wild goose chase time and again to prove that a given evolutionary biologist didn’t mean what they twisted their words to say, do you think that is out of shear innocent stupidity? No one keeps posting the same erroneous arguments time and time again, spaced only a few days apart, after having been corrected each time - unless the “error” is deliberate.

Particularly when no amount of pointing out just how wrong they are on something so simple ever gets them to change.

On something as basic as this, it is not a lack of understanding, but a perversion of the will. However, in their minds, the fact that they can get some of us to buy into their dumb-guy routine no matter how dumb they play it proves that they are the one’s who are actually brighter. Of course, this sort of approach means that they will never understand much more than how to play simple mind games with those who are brighter than they are, but for them I suppose, such are the limits of their ambitions. In the meantime, those who buy into their act are spinning their wheels for the amusement of such self-styled fools.

Comment #144570

Posted by PvM on November 16, 2006 10:48 PM (e)

Yes. Without ID PvM would never have come up with the term “mangle the Weasle,” (or rather, “mangle Dawkins’ Weasel,” which actually sounds more perverse).

ROTFL

Comment #144574

Posted by Sir_Toejam on November 16, 2006 10:54 PM (e)

If you mangle the Weasle, then you can’t can’t understand genetic algorithims and evolutionary programming.

… and i also hear it leads to hairy palms and blindness.

just to complete the obvious analogy running rampant through this thread.

*whew*

Comment #144601

Posted by PaulH on November 17, 2006 4:01 AM (e)

‘mangle the weasel’ could be something like ‘jump the shark’?

as in

“How about Behe’s latest argument on flagella?”
“Nah, it’s rubbish, he really mangled the weasel on that one”

Or, “Check out Sal’s latest article, its a cracking piece of weasel mangling”

Comment #144603

Posted by PaulH on November 17, 2006 4:48 AM (e)

Is it me, or am I missing something? I’m not a biologist, and I’m not even particularly eddicated, but the weasel mangling applet seems to miss out on some important steps that were detailed by Dawkins.

As I understood it, the weasel thing only works if you make a random change, then duplicate that random change as ‘offspring’ randomly mutate all of the offspring, then take the most ‘successful’ one and rinse and repeat.

This applet seems to be a ‘straw applet’ that couldn’t possibly work.

Or, is there something about natural selection and genetic algorithms that I’ve failed to grasp?

Thanks all.

Comment #144763

Posted by Pigwidgeon on November 17, 2006 12:20 PM (e)

Cordova’s grappling with Dave Thomas’s genetic algorithm was one of the funniest things I’ve seen here. The only way he could avoid lying was to pretend to be so stupid that he didn’t know the difference between a simulation and the software running it.

Of course, he could have genuinely been that stupid, but I don’t want to insult him.

Comment #144899

Posted by brightmoon on November 17, 2006 6:22 PM (e)

paul h …not exactly

the weasel thingy only works if the mutations are “beneficial” ..anything that is in the correct position and is the correct letter is retained and passed on to offspring

this is genetic variation and natural selection

in real organisms this probably wouldnt be so black and white

Comment #144955

Posted by normdoering on November 17, 2006 8:52 PM (e)

There’s a new computer related entry on UnDe:
http://www.uncommondescent.com/archives/1787

It’s called, “DNA as the Repository of Intelligence” and it’s about this article:
http://www.physorg.com/news82989044.html

They hardly say enough to mangle anything:

Here’s an article just in from PhysOrg.com. What Professor Shepherd proposes should prove to be very enlightening. He used his algorithm on the book, Emma, by Jane Austen, and was able to break up 80% of the text–minus punctuation marks and inputted just as a string of letters–into words and sentences without any knowledge of grammar. Just think of what analogies can be drawn if they end up breaking up 80% of DNA into grammatical wholes!

But that last sentence, “Just think of what analogies can be drawn if they end up breaking up 80% of DNA into grammatical wholes,” seems to be based on a mangled weasle.

Comment #145044

Posted by bagaaz on November 18, 2006 4:11 AM (e)

For goodness sake, Dawkins himself was fully aware of the limitations in his example. Why do people keep repeating the mistake of claiming he made a mistake?

http://youtube.com/watch?v=pzgEZa0r4qE

He was just using it to illustrate the difference between complete randomness and cumulative selection, it’s not a model of evolution and Dawkins fully knew this.

Will people now please stop making this mistake?

Thanks.

Comment #145076

Posted by Dave S. on November 18, 2006 12:31 PM (e)

It should be kept in mind that to a Creationist (including those of the ID persuasion) the term “Darwinism” does not have a specific technical scientific definition. At least it doesn’t just have that. What it really means is, “that part of evolutionary theory that runs afoul of my religion”. Really, it often isn’t even limited to evolutionary theory … virtually any finding in science that runs afoul of their religion (as they understand it anyway, and who doesn’t of course understand it the way God really intends) will also be derided as ‘Darwinism’. And anyone who accepts such findings is obviously a ‘Darwinist’. It all has very little to do with selection and whatnot.

Comment #145082

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on November 18, 2006 1:36 PM (e)

It should be kept in mind that to a Creationist (including those of the ID persuasion) the term “Darwinism” does not have a specific technical scientific definition. At least it doesn’t just have that. What it really means is, “that part of evolutionary theory that runs afoul of my religion

Indeed, it’s just part of that whole “evolution is religion” crapola that they tried to argue in court a couple times (and got laughed right out of the building).

Sort of like DonaldM’s silly “SCIENCE IS ATHEISTIC !!!!!” screeching. (shrug)

Comment #145084

Posted by Henry J on November 18, 2006 2:17 PM (e)

Re “Will people now please stop making this mistake?”

Very unlikely, given that many of them already knew it was a mistake when they made it.

Henry