PvM posted Entry 2945 on March 1, 2007 11:00 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2935

On Uncommon Descent Bill Dembski shows some confusion as to how to interpret the research by Oliver Rando and Kevin Verstrepen. While it may be that Dembski could not spare the time from his supposedly busy research (sic) schedule, a simple reading of the actual article would have resolved much of the confusion.

Remember to use the secret handshake whenever you need to get an ID paper past the Darwinian goalies: “Although these observations do not undermine Darwin’s theory, …”

ABSTRACT: According to classical evolutionary theory, phenotypic variation originates from random mutations that are independent of selective pressure. However, recent findings suggest that organisms have evolved mechanisms to influence the timing or genomic location of heritable variability. Hypervariable contingency loci and epigenetic switches increase the variability of specific phenotypes; error-prone DNA replicases produce bursts of variability in times of stress. Interestingly, these mechanisms seem to tune the variability of a given phenotype to match the variability of the acting selective pressure. Although these observations do not undermine Darwin’s theory, they suggest that selection and variability are less independent than once thought.

Rando OJ and Verstrepen KJ (2007) “Timescales of Genetic and Epigenetic Inheritance” (review) Cell, Vol 128, 655-668, 23.

The paper in question is actually quite interesting as it argues how some evidence suggests that some heritable phenotypes are “directed” environmentally.

The authors conclude that these examples suggest that contrary to the neo-Darwinian assumption, variation may not be totally random with respect to the environment and that this is actually not surprising from a Darwinian perspective.

At first sight, this close relation between variability and selective pressure contradicts today’s Neo-Darwinian view on evolution. This is only partially true, as the examples do not argue against the randomness of the majority of phenotypic variability. However, the facts lead us to believe that selective pressure and phenotypic variability are not completely independent. It is easy to imagine how organisms may have developed mechanisms to inluence their own phenotypic variability and escape the total randomness of ‘‘blind’’ mutations. Generating variability is a dangerous affair, with many changes leading to reduced, instead of improved, fitness. Hence, organisms that have developed methods to protect vital phenotypes for which abrupt changes in selection are unlikely while maximizing variability for phenotypes that have to respond to frequent variations in selective pressure may have had a selective advantage over individuals that did not have such systems. An analogous argument can be made for mechanisms that regulate the timing of variability.

In fact, these results show evidence of a concept I discussed before, namely evolvability. That there in fact exists a feedback loop from the environment to the source of variation should come as no surprise as selective pressures will select for sources of variability which have shown themselves to be more successful in the past. And while the past is no predictor for the future, such adaptations seem quite logic and quite compatible with the concept of variation and selection. In fact, these findings help us understand why evolution has been so ‘successful’ against ‘all odds’.

As the authors point out Darwin himself was quite aware of these possibilities:

It is interesting to note that in his book The Origin of Species Darwin wrote: ‘‘I have hitherto sometimes spoken as if the variations were due to chance. This, of course, is a wholly incorrect expression, but it serves to acknowledge plainly our ignorance of the cause of each particular variation. [The facts] lead to the conclusion that variability is generally related to the conditions of life to which each species has been exposed during several successive generations.’’ Hence, both Darwin and Lamarck, two of the founders of evolutionary theory, predicted that evolution itself may favor the development of self-guiding mechanisms, maximizing variability where and when it is most likely to yield positive changes while minimizing phenotypic variability when and where it is not needed. It is becoming increasingly difficult to argue that their general idea of nonrandom evolution was entirely wrong.

In other words, Darwin seems to have been a post-Darwinian, far ahead of his time :-)

So why this fascination of ID with the concept of epigenetic variability and ‘directed’ mutations? The answer is surprisingly simple: ID proponents believe that such concepts are anti-Darwinian and thus they form evidence in favor of Intelligent Design.
While most people would recognize that logical fallacies in this argument, this seems to be what drives many ID proponents.

Amongst the voices of ID, a few voices of reason speak out

Jerry wrote:

Darwin never used the term random mutation. That was the product of the research by Morgan in the 1910’s and 1920’s which along with Mendelian genetics formed the basis of the modern synthesis in the late 1930’s, early 1940’s.

Darwin, I beliieve used the term spontaneous variations. So the papers by Schwartz, Woese, Margulis, etc. and that by Rando in this thread are in sync with what Darwin hypothesized as happening. The main difference is that Darwin nor anyone else witnessed anything but small changes happening through artificial selection so he proposed slow changes in nature just as Lyle proposed slow changes in geology.

At least, once again ID proponents have not only shown the scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design, but they also have shown how reading an abstract may not be sufficient.

At least I believe I have shown that most ID proponents, who object to the concept of ‘random mutations’, would make great Darwinists.

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Comment #163519

Posted by Hawks on March 2, 2007 1:20 AM (e)

I think that Dembski’s (and probably most IDists) fascination with this sort of phenomenon springs from their misconception that mutations according to any evolutionary theories has to be completely random (however you want to define that term). So, if some mutations are found not to be completely random (again, however you want to define the term) then they immediately see that some sort of teleology (which is one of their hallmarks of intelligence) has to be involved. This is obviously a non-sequitur, but try telling that to Dembski et al.

Comment #163522

Posted by sparc on March 2, 2007 1:30 AM (e)

Are these findings really surprising? AFAIK, Rupert Riedl developed a concept for different evolvabilities of body plan characters in the 70s/80s.
Wagner and Laubichler sumerized this in the following way:

(…) new characters arise within the context of characters that already existed at the time of their origin. Riedl assumes that new characters will depend, functionally and/
or developmentally, on some of the pre-existing characters. These pre-existing characters then acquire an increased burden through their ‘‘new responsibility’’ towards the novel character. In other words the acquisition of new characters increases the average burden of phylogenetically older characters. Consequently these characters will be less likely to be lost or changed.

Wagner GP, Laubichler MD.(2004): Rupert Riedl and the re-synthesis of evolutionary and developmental biology: body plans and evolvability.
J Exp Zoolog B Mol Dev Evol. 302(1):92-102

Comment #163523

Posted by Mark Perakh on March 2, 2007 1:50 AM (e)

Even Dawkins, a certified defender of Darwinian ideas, in his Blind Watchmaker book, critiqued “mutationists” who exaggerated the randomness of mutations, and asserted that the randomness of mutations has limitations. If new experimental data point to the feedback in the evolutionary process, this in no way contradicts the main postulates of evolution theory. Of course, it could not be expected that Dembski would properly appreciate such data - just recall that in his fruitless “explanatory filter,” as I pointed out years ago in several essays, and again in my book Unintelligent Design (Prometheus 2004), Dembski completely ignored the role of feedbacks in the causal chains leading to observed events.

Comment #163548

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on March 2, 2007 3:41 AM (e)

At least, once again ID proponents have not only shown the scientific vacuity of Intelligent Design, but they also have shown how reading an abstract may not be sufficient.

Meanwhile, ID has shown more fruits of their research into efficient mining techniques for quotes.

It has excellent yield for little to no expense of effort, energy or resources. It’s also very environmentally friendly: it doesn’t touch the rest of the text in anyway. Their employees no longer need chiropractors for their backs - with which they used to bend over backwards and shoehorn ID into quotes when they used older mining equipment.

mutations according to any evolutionary theories has to be completely random (however you want to define that term).

“However you want to define the term”. That’s precisely the way ID proponents define the term! But then, Dembski’s a “mathematician”. He’s the king which means he’s allowed to define random.

Comment #163574

Posted by Sophophile on March 2, 2007 7:47 AM (e)

Why is this not a point for ID?

At Kitzmiller, one of Behe’s main points was the insufficiency of purely random mutations plus selection to build complexity.

I don’t remember any evolutionist responding that mutations are non-random; instead they responded that purely random mutations plus selection is sufficient.

Is this “tuning” feedback a third mechanism for evolution alongside mutation and selection? If so, doesn’t that bolster the ID case?

Comment #163580

Posted by Unsympathetic reader on March 2, 2007 9:17 AM (e)

An additional, *natural* mechanism of evolution does not bolster the ID case.

What were talking about here is evolvability and the mechanisms that provide better responses to environmental challenges. “Can evolvability evolve?” is the question that IDers need to *ask*, instead of asserting: “A system with feedback! It must have been designed!”

Understand that Dembski is currently tuned to picking out references similer to common engineering concepts in biological research. That may partly explain his fascination with the paper (The contents of which are beyond his ken).

Comment #163581

Posted by Pat Hayes on March 2, 2007 9:18 AM (e)

Even the abstract makes clear that evolution is happening. Even if new evidence is uncovered that tweaks how variation and natural selection drive evolution it’s a huge problem for intelligent design.

No matter what they say about the one or two ID “theorists” who accept common descent, the movement will die the moment it accepts the notion that all living species, including humans, evolved – by whatever means – from a common anscestor.

The ID Generals can muddy the water, which is what Dembski is doing here, but they can’t abandon special creation without having their creationist army desert.

Comment #163583

Posted by Mark Perakh on March 2, 2007 9:41 AM (e)

In comment 163574 Sophophile wrote:

I don’t remember any evolutionist responding that mutations are non-random

If you do not remember something, should you not firts blame your memory? Read all comments preceding yours - perhaps you may find there something refreshing week memories? Indeed, in comment 163523 a reference was made to Dawkins highly popular book where, among many other things, Dawkins asserts (fully adhering to Darwinian conceptual system) that mutations are not fully random.

Sophophile further wrote:

Is this “tuning” feedback a third mechanism for evolution alongside mutation and selection? If so, doesn’t that bolster the ID case?

No, it does not. “Design theorists” ignored feedbacks, thus offering faulty schemas like Dembski’s explanatory filter. Critics of ID, on the other hand, pointed out that feedbacks have to be accounted for (as mentioned in comment 163523).

Sophophile’s comment shows not only imperfect memory, but also imperfect logic. There are two separate statements: a) Mutations are not completely random, and (b) Random mutations plus selection are sufficient to build complexity.

Combining both statements does not contradict logic: While mutations happen to be not completely random, even if they were, random mutations plus selection would be sufficient to build up complexity.

Comment #163594

Posted by Anton Mates on March 2, 2007 10:09 AM (e)

Sophophile wrote:

At Kitzmiller, one of Behe’s main points was the insufficiency of purely random mutations plus selection to build complexity.

I don’t remember any evolutionist responding that mutations are non-random; instead they responded that purely random mutations plus selection is sufficient.

Well, mutations have never been considered “purely random” in the sense of every possible mutation being equally likely, although ID advocates often pretend that that’s what evolutionary theory claims. Point mutations are more common than insertions or deletions, transitions are more common than transversions, and so forth.

The undirectedness of evolution is a consequence of mutations being random in a particular sense–their occurence is not deterministic, and their probability of occurrence is not correlated with their impact on fitness. Mutations don’t happen more often because they’re beneficial or less often because they’re harmful.

The findings described above don’t change that. Certain identifiable classes of mutations (say, C->T transitions in one particular stretch of one particular gene), under certain environmental conditions, are more likely to be beneficial, and evolution can exploit that; but that’s still not the same as individual mutations being picked out because they’d be helpful.

Comment #163595

Posted by realpc on March 2, 2007 10:11 AM (e)

Darwin was not a neo-Darwinists. Neo-Darwinists believe that genetic variations are completely independent of the environment, and have no relationship to the survival challenges of an organism. Selection is rational, variation is blind.

This paper shows some degree of rationality in variation, threatening a fundamental assertion of neo-Darwinism. It opens a door to similar types of discoveries.

What if it turns out that not only the quantity of variation, but also the quality, can respond to environmental pressures? Of course we don’t know where this kind of research will lead eventually, but we know that it does not support neo-Darwinism.

Darwinism and neo-Darwinism are not the same theory. Lamarckianism is denied by neo-Darwnists, for example, but Darwin considered it to be one possible mechanism.

The question is whether information can travel from the envirnoment to the genome, or not. Recent research suggests that it can, neo-Darwinism insists that it cannot.

Comment #163596

Posted by Reed A. Cartwright on March 2, 2007 10:13 AM (e)

When we talk about “random mutation”, we are saying that mutations are random with respect to the fitness needs of the organism. Mutation rates can go up in response to environmental stress and certain phenotypes may be buffered against the effects of mutation. However, these do not change the fact that organisms cannot predict what genotype they will need to survive and adjust their DNA accordingly.

Comment #163599

Posted by Raging Bee on March 2, 2007 10:40 AM (e)

Neo-Darwinists believe…

Given how badly, and how consistently, you misstate and misrepresent just about every subject on which you’ve spoken here so far, and given that you never even acknowledge our efforts to correct your misstatements, why should we think you have any clue about what other people “believe?”

Comment #163601

Posted by PvM on March 2, 2007 11:09 AM (e)

realpc wrote:

The question is whether information can travel from the envirnoment to the genome, or not. Recent research suggests that it can, neo-Darwinism insists that it cannot.

Information flow from environment to genome is what is commonly called selection.

Comment #163605

Posted by MarkP on March 2, 2007 11:43 AM (e)

Realpc dissembled thusly:

What if it turns out that not only the quantity of variation, but also the quality, can respond to environmental pressures? Of course we don’t know where this kind of research will lead eventually, but we know that it does not support neo-Darwinism.

You are pontificating via your posterior again. This is a recording. There is nothing about modern evolutionary theory that depends on these quantities being fixed or independent. It works just fine if they aren’t.

If the quantity and quality of variation responded to environmental pressures, that would only make the evolutionary process that much more powerful. Obviously it would be a major blow to speculations that the rate of variation is insufficient to account for what we see in the life forms alive today, as well as providing an excellent explanation for the uneven occurrence of speciation, with potentially long periods of stability offset by bursts of variation.

Comment #163606

Posted by Steve Reuland on March 2, 2007 12:19 PM (e)

So why this fascination of ID with the concept of epigenetic variability and ‘directed’ mutations? The answer is surprisingly simple: ID proponents believe that such concepts are anti-Darwinian and thus they form evidence in favor of Intelligent Design.

I’d suggest an even simpler explanation: They’ve got nothing else to go on, so they grasp at straws. Their propaganda asserts, quite falsely, that new research is constantly coming out in support of ID. To maintain that impression, they have to put a dishonest spin on any new research that appears the least bit “surprising” or “unorthodox”. It doesn’t matter what the research actually says.

Comment #163607

Posted by realpc on March 2, 2007 12:22 PM (e)


If the quantity and quality of variation responded to environmental pressures, that would only make the evolutionary process that much more powerful.

Sure, but we are debating neo-Darwinism, not evolution. Evolution is established and there is no need to keep on arguing about it.

Neo-Darwinism, the currently accepted theory, says that the variations leading to evolution do NOT occur in response to survival pressures. The research we are discussing shows that they DO respond, at least quantitatively. Neo-Darwinism would have to be modified to accommodate these observations.

It’s also possible that variations can respond qualitatively to environmental pressures. You say that would strengthen evolution theory – sure it would. But it would demolish the currently accepted theory. And it would strengthen the ID theory.

ID does not require any supernatural intervention. If the genetic variations demonstrate some kind of intelligence or purpose in response to a changing environment, that would support ID.

We do not know why or how variations respond to environmental changes. It is enough right now to acknowledge that they show responsiveness and purposefulness.

Comment #163608

Posted by J. G. Cox on March 2, 2007 12:27 PM (e)

What the IDers are ignoring is that the molding of mutation probabilities outlined here is itself a heritable trait subject to natural selection. Whether genetic or epigenetic, this tendency is something passed down from generation to generation, and has likely been selected for. One might argue that directed mutation is not like normal phenotype production in that it only increases the chances of (hopefully) ending up with a phenotype appropriate for a new or harsher environment; however, given that phenotype production is a probabilistic process anyway, this argument doesn’t amount to much.

Comment #163611

Posted by Arne Langsetmo on March 2, 2007 12:52 PM (e)

Dembski’s a “mathematician”. He’s the king which means he’s allowed to define random.

“Random” is not random, either. Depends what you’re looking for. A truly “random” number sequence in the usual definition of such exhibits a “structure” in itself, that of being “random”. That is why such “random” sequences are used for statistical analyses such as bootstrap statistical methods.

Cheers,

Comment #163612

Posted by Glen Davidson on March 2, 2007 12:56 PM (e)

Neo-Darwinism, the currently accepted theory,

Who says neo-Darwinism is the currently accepted theory? We hear this primarily, perhaps even exclusively, from pig-ignorant dolts like realpc.

says that the variations leading to evolution do NOT occur in response to survival pressures.

But do you know why this has been what was said? It wasn’t because it is dogma, or that it is inevitable in theory, it is because variations leading to evolution were not found to occur in response to survival pressures. That’s it, it used the available evidence. It can change its view the moment that evidence to the contrary is uncovered.

The research we are discussing shows that they DO respond, at least quantitatively.

No it doesn’t, retard. One reason you’re such an ignorant clap-head is that you apparently don’t even know how to use words properly.

The idea that mutational rates differ according to the need for genetic variation is hardly new at this time. Mutational rates of viruses, particularly, have long been suspected not to be accidentally fast, and indeed the rates of mutation are themselves believed to be selected by so-called Darwinian mechanisms. Your ignorance and attempted obfuscation of the latter fact don’t change anything, though it is useful propaganda for anyone not committed to honesty.

Neo-Darwinism would have to be modified to accommodate these observations.

Evolutionary theory is changing all the time. It’s your beliefs that cannot abide change. We favor research in part because we’re interested in modifying our theories.

It’s also possible that variations can respond qualitatively to environmental pressures. You say that would strengthen evolution theory – sure it would. But it would demolish the currently accepted theory. And it would strengthen the ID theory.

Learn to write in a comprehensible manner. But assuming that you mean that teleological mutational changes would severely strain current theory, fine. However it would be difficult to imagine how anything could ever prevent natural selection from playing a major role, your ignorance notwithstanding.

ID does not require any supernatural intervention. If the genetic variations demonstrate some kind of intelligence or purpose in response to a changing environment, that would support ID.

Pray tell, what does ID require? So far it seems only to require credulous dolts trying to spin anything into support for ID. Since you are too dishonest to let your “theory” fall on the basis of actual evidence, you avoid making the predictions that ID really could make, but refuses to do so because evidence doesn’t exist for it. It is true, though, that Paley’s relatively honest ID could be supported (though it would have to be changed) by apparently teleological mutations occurring.

The only reason I can see for you to bring up this hypothetical, however, is to try to suggest that evidence that doesn’t exist may in fact exist—another dishonest tactic on your part.

We do not know why or how variations respond to environmental changes. It is enough right now to acknowledge that they show responsiveness and purposefulness.

Yes, for anyone whose entire case rests upon lies.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #163613

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 2, 2007 1:25 PM (e)

Why is this not a point for ID?

Because it provides no evidence of or support for intelligent design.

At Kitzmiller, one of Behe’s main points was the insufficiency of purely random mutations plus selection to build complexity.

So what? Behe is not “ID”. Even if Behe is right, that does not support ID, it merely says that purely random mutations aren’t sufficient. Perhaps non-purely random mutations are sufficient. Or perhaps Behe is wrong – this paper doesn’t support his claim (see point c) below).

This is one of the many fallacies that IDiots indulge in – that, if something an IDiot says happens to be true, that proves ID.

I don’t remember any evolutionist responding that mutations are non-random; instead they responded that purely random mutations plus selection is sufficient.

a) Your recollection may be incorrect. b) Perhaps the evolutionists were simply wrong. c) Perhaps purely random mutations plus selection is sufficient, but nonetheless mutations aren’t purely random.

Is this “tuning” feedback a third mechanism for evolution alongside mutation and selection? If so, doesn’t that bolster the ID case?

Uh, no, because it provides no evidence or support for intelligent design.

Comment #163614

Posted by trrll on March 2, 2007 1:35 PM (e)

It’s also possible that variations can respond qualitatively to environmental pressures. You say that would strengthen evolution theory – sure it would. But it would demolish the currently accepted theory. And it would strengthen the ID theory.

This is the two-model notion so beloved of ID. They like to pretend that there are only two choices: 1) The “currently accepted” model of the mechanism of evolution, down to the finest detail, and 2) ID. According to this, it is a zero sum game, and anything that refutes any aspect of current evolutionary theory, no matter how trivial, is viewed as supporting ID.

Of course, the reality is that there is not one theory of evolution, but many. All agree on the broad outlines, such as common descent and the importance of mutation and natural selection, but differ on some of the fine details, such as the relative importance of various other evolutionary mechanisms. The idea that evolvability is itself subject to evolution, or that mutations might vary in frequency, or even be targeted to particular regions of the genome depending upon environmental conditions, is a very old one, and many evolutionary biologists have discussed it as a possibility. It leads to no particular problems for the overall theory, but the question remains of whether this kind of thing has actually played much of a role in evolution. So this is interesting, but it doesn’t “demolish” much of anything.

Comment #163615

Posted by Dan Gaston on March 2, 2007 1:42 PM (e)

The content of the paper is hardly surprising, at least I don’t think many people would be surprised as it isn’t really a new or revolutionary idea, just another documented example. But coming from a molecular evolution perspective the discussion of these sorts of mechanisms has been around for some time.

Comment #163619

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 2, 2007 1:52 PM (e)

Darwin was not a neo-Darwinists.

surely the silliest post of the day.

Comment #163621

Posted by J. Biggs on March 2, 2007 2:02 PM (e)

Neo-Darwinism, the currently accepted theory, says that the variations leading to evolution do NOT occur in response to survival pressures.

Please, show us a reference for this statement. If we “Neo-Darwinists” believe this and insist on asserting our materialist philosophy on evolutionary theory, then site a Biology text that states what you assert Neo-Darwinism says. That should be easy enough if what you say is true. Furthermore, if you cared to read what other contributors are posting you would realize that the above scientific article does not threaten how we perceive evolution at all.

The research we are discussing shows that they DO respond, at least quantitatively. Neo-Darwinism would have to be modified to accommodate these observations.

So noted, and again nobody has a problem with modifying an extremely useful theory in order to make it all the more useful. So why do you insist we do?
Evolutionary theory, as well as any other theory, is always open to revision if well corroborated new data is discovered that changes our understanding of what is observed.

It’s also possible that variations can respond qualitatively to environmental pressures. You say that would strengthen evolution theory – sure it would.

Agreed, anything is possible. And what you suggest can also be researched. Anything that increases our understanding of the mechanisms of evolution strengthens the theory.

But it would demolish the currently accepted theory. And it would strengthen the ID theory.

No, it destroys your straw-man which you emphatically state represents the currently accepted theory. ID “theory” must stand on its own merit. ID does not become stronger due to the failings of ToE, that, as has been pointed out many times, is a false dichotomy. By the way, can you please tell me what the theory of ID is.

ID does not require any supernatural intervention. If the genetic variations demonstrate some kind of intelligence or purpose in response to a changing environment, that would support ID.

Yes but ID does require a designer. In what way does genetic variation in response to a changing environment demonstrate intelligence or purpose is at work? Plain and simple we can’t assume one way or the other and the assumption of intelligence or purpose, or lack thereof does not in any way change what is observed. Until ID can identify an observable designer it enhances our understanding of nothing.

We do not know why or how variations respond to environmental changes. It is enough right now to acknowledge that they show responsiveness and purposefulness.

This research enhances our knowledge of how and why variations respond to environmental changes, it does not in anyway tell us anything about purposefulness. Again, purposefulness or lack thereof is not an observable phenomenon and assumptions either way add nothing to what is actually observed.

If science reinforces your perception of purposefulness, then great, I’m happy for you. But don’t confuse philosophy and science. Your subjective insights will never change or in anyway affect what is actually observed.

Comment #163623

Posted by PvM on March 2, 2007 3:01 PM (e)

realpc wrote:

ID does not require any supernatural intervention. If the genetic variations demonstrate some kind of intelligence or purpose in response to a changing environment, that would support ID.

In other words, ID is nothing more than the environment affecting genetic variation? But that is fully in line with naturalistic science although it uses equivocating terms like intelligence or purpose.

So much for ID, it’s just Darwinism in disguise.

Comment #163624

Posted by realpc on March 2, 2007 3:42 PM (e)


In other words, ID is nothing more than the environment affecting genetic variation?

No, that is just an example of how evolution is much more complex than the ND theory suggests.

There is no clear boundary between NDE and IDE, or between natural and supernatural. The terminology has never been completely defined.

I think evolution theory is in a transitional phase, and IDE is helping it along. ID theorists acknowledge the importance of mutations and natural selection. The question is whether or not the mutations are independent from the organism’s need to evolve, and NDE says they are.

Of course you can say, and someone here did, that the ability to change the frequency of mutations, or the type of mutations, could itself be the result of purposeless mutations and selection. So no matter how much purpose and direction anyone discovers in the mutation process, a neo-Darwinist can say it somehow goes back to blind chance. Well, that’s the advantage of having an unfalisfiable theory!

Comment #163625

Posted by PvM on March 2, 2007 3:45 PM (e)

There is no clear boundary between NDE and IDE, or between natural and supernatural. The terminology has never been completely defined.

Indeed and ID is abusing this lack of definition to further its own cause of the supernatural.

Let’s not confuse these matters, ID is basically not explained by regularity and chance. If, as science finds, there exist regularity and chance explanations for the feedback between environment and genome, then ID has nothing

Comment #163629

Posted by GuyeFaux on March 2, 2007 4:11 PM (e)

There is no clear boundary between NDE and IDE, or between natural and supernatural. The terminology has never been completely defined.

Given that you’ve in the past completely fudged the definitions of
1) Neo-darwinin synthesis,
2) ID,
3) Natural,
4) Super-natural
You statement is completely content-free.

Comment #163631

Posted by J. Biggs on March 2, 2007 4:19 PM (e)

No, that is just an example of how evolution is much more complex than the ND theory suggests.

Straw-man much RealPC. Your distinction between Neo Darwinian evolution and evolution remains meaningless. No one is trying to say that evolution isn’t complex.

There is no clear boundary between NDE and IDE, or between natural and supernatural. The terminology has never been completely defined.

I didn’t realize that there was an Intelligent Designer theory of evolution. Please enlighten us. All I ever hear ID proponents say is biological organisms are really complex, I don’t see how such complex stuff could have evolved; therefore all of this complex stuff must have been designed. Is that the IDE theory to which you refer. If it is, I think it is easy to distinguish it from what you call NDE which actually attempts to explain something without a bunch of hand waving.

Here are some definitions of supernatural from Encarta.

1. not of natural world: relating to or attributed to phenomena that cannot be explained by natural laws
2. relating to deity: relating to or attributed to a deity
3. magical: relating to or attributed to magic or the occult

It is pretty clear that supernatural explanations by these definitions have no place in science.

I think evolution theory is in a transitional phase, and IDE is helping it along. ID theorists acknowledge the importance of mutations and natural selection. The question is whether or not the mutations are independent from the organism’s need to evolve, and NDE says they are.

All theories are in transitional phase and subject to revision. ID theory lacks any substance and is in no way helping science in general and evolution theory in particular. Please tell us what relevant peer reviewed research ID proponents have ever produced. Could you site a few articles for us? And again could you please site a Biology text that asserts mutations are independent from the organism’s need to evolve. Until you answer these questions your claims will remain unsubstantiated.

Of course you can say,… blah, blah, blah,… Well, that’s the advantage of having an unfalisfiable theory!

Why don’t you quit objecting to your straw-man, because its getting really boring.

Comment #163636

Posted by RBH on March 2, 2007 4:56 PM (e)

realpc wrote

Neo-Darwinism would have to be modified to accommodate these observations.

And that phenomenon, which has occurred repeatedly over 150 years, has a technical name. It’s called learning, a concept foreign to IDists.

RBH

Comment #163641

Posted by MarkP on March 2, 2007 5:32 PM (e)

Realpc flatulated thusly:

There is no clear boundary between NDE and IDE, or between natural and supernatural. The terminology has never been completely defined.

Nonsequitor extraordinaire. Intelligent design/creationism posits an intelligent being, the Designer, of some sort being involved in the process of life on this planet. Evolutionary theory has no use for such a hypothesis. It has nothing whatever to do with a boundary between natural and supernatural. It has to do with a complete lack of evidence of such interference from such a being, be it natural or not. The Designer could be aliens from another planet for all we know. The problem is: no evidence.

Comment #163644

Posted by David B. Benson on March 2, 2007 7:27 PM (e)

Dembski, a great Darwinist?

Puleese!

Comment #163645

Posted by realpc on March 2, 2007 7:44 PM (e)

intelligent design/creationism posits an intelligent being, the Designer, of some sort being involved in the process of life on this planet.

That is not true. You frame it that way so you can dismiss ID along with Christian creationism.

There are many laws and forces hypothesized by science. Gravity, electricity, electromagnetic fields, etc., are useful concepts but no one can really understand them. Scientists can describe, but not explain, the effects of these laws and forces.

No one complains that gravity is a mysterious, unscientific, concept according to which objects influence each other without physical contact. No one tries to ban discussions of gravity in science text books. We are familiar with the concept and its usefulness, so we forget how “supernatural” it really is.

What if there is a law of nature, similar to gravity, which says complexity tends to increase in natural systems? Why would that law be any less natural, or any more supernatural, than the law of gravity?

We should stop trying to draw a line between the natural and the supernatural. Instead of thinking about Sylvia Brown every time you hear the word “supernatural,” why not think about gravity or electromagnetic fields?

We call things “natural” when they have become useful concepts in science and technology, not when we have completely understood them. Because most things are never completely understood. We have equations describing relationships between things, but there is no ultimate definition of, for example, an electron.

I think there is a “law of complexity,” a natural tendency for the substances of our universe to organize into increasingly complex systems. This law would make evolution unsurprising.

According to Dawkins, the origin and evolution life is highly implausible. He resorts to parallel universes to account for the long series of unlikely accidents that must have occurred.

But if there is a law of complexity, we would expect life to originate and evolve. No long series of nearly impossible accidents would be required.

And this is the essential message of the ID evolution theory.

I realize that not everyone defines ID in this way. Many ID advocates are religious Christians, so they can’t help wandering beyond the central message to speculations about God the designer. So they invited a ferocious backlash from non-religous scientists.

Unfortunately, because this is a scientific/philosophical debate which has nothing to do with religion.

Comment #163647

Posted by David B. Benson on March 2, 2007 7:55 PM (e)

Bafflegab from realpc

Comment #163648

Posted by snaxalotl on March 2, 2007 8:15 PM (e)

it’s important to point out to creationists that random variation is merely a not-ideal-case scenario. variation and selection is so good, it works EVEN IF the variation is random. but we see many very successful examples where the variation is neither random nor particularly intelligent. the same people who believed putting your finger in a cow’s bottom cured baldness built magnificent cathedrals. the prime mover, separating them from cavemen, was not intelligence or will but rather the cumulative knowledge of keeping good innovation and forgetting bad innovation, regardless of how poorly conceived that innovation is. if I invent a tallow candle because tallow rhymes with glow, people will still copy the idea. creationists love love love rules, but in the unsophisticated manner of eight year olds playing monopoly. if the “rule of random variation” is invalid, they win the argument. it helps a lot if you can identify some rule they have assumed, then point out that it isn’t actually a rule

Comment #163651

Posted by fnxtr on March 2, 2007 8:36 PM (e)

Anonymous_Coward:

Meanwhile, ID has shown more fruits of their research into efficient mining techniques for quotes.

It has excellent yield for little to no expense of effort, energy or resources. It’s also very environmentally friendly: it doesn’t touch the rest of the text in anyway.

Very green: Reduce, reuse, recycle.

I wonder if realpc=386sx.

I realize that not everyone defines ID in this way. Many ID advocates are religious Christians, so they can’t help wandering beyond the central message to speculations about God the designer. So they invited a ferocious backlash from non-religous scientists.

Unfortunately, because this is a scientific/philosophical debate which has nothing to do with religion.

Exactly backwards. It’s a political/cultural scam that has nothing to do with science.

I think there is a “law of complexity,”

Then prove it. Put up or shut up.

If ID is true, realpc, and ID really means Intelligent Design, then what is the Deity, er, I mean Designing Intelligence?

I just want to see you put it in writing. Just once.

Comment #163652

Posted by Flint on March 2, 2007 8:46 PM (e)

We probably don’t need to be biologists to understand feedback mechanisms, even if they are complex. Imagine that excessive amounts of variation impedes reproduction. So the organisms that reproduce best won’t have excessive variation - they’ll have better error correction.

But imagine that eliminating too much variation impedes adaptation, and extinction wipes out those species whose error correction is too stringent, while preventing speciation.

So who’s left from the first cut? Those goldilocks lineages that vary *just enough*, not too much and not too little. Now, in what ways do these winners compete in round 2?

It’s not conceptually that mind-bending to imagine that error-correction that responds to stress by permitting more variation would compete against error-correction that shows no such sensitivity, and the former might end up reproducing better. Just more feedback, that’s all. If Darwin didn’t hypothesize such a thing, so what?

And so evolvability evolves, because the only rule here is “whatever works”. Whatever does not work, dies off. I’d be amazed if there weren’t even deeper levels of evolution, because the competition never sleeps.

Comment #163653

Posted by David B. Benson on March 2, 2007 8:53 PM (e)

fnxtr — realpc is almost surely Charlie Wagner…

Comment #163655

Posted by JohnK on March 2, 2007 9:08 PM (e)

realpc writes:
the ability to change the frequency of mutations, or the type of mutations, could itself be the result of purposeless mutations and selection. So no matter how much purpose and direction anyone discovers in the mutation process, a neo-Darwinist can say it somehow goes back to blind chance. Well, that’s the advantage of having an unfalisfiable theory!

Bull-ony
Note the phrase from the abstract: “…maximizing variability for phenotypes that have to respond to frequent variations in selective pressure may have had a selective advantage.”
Evolution by natural processes makes a general prediction: that this adaptive plasticity should only be generated from frequent environmental challenges, like starvation, drought, etc. It should not be expected to generate organisms which are adaptable to rare circumstances which occur orders of magnitude greater than their generation time. ID is predictionless: either alternative is as ID-possible. And the natural hypothesis should expect the selected genetic adaptations to modify fairly simple things like the mutation rate, as bacteria have long been known to do under starvation. It should not expect elaborate, completely different, unused-for-generations genetic systems to kick in when it would be advantageous. Unlike ID.
If the IDer’s could come up with examples contradicting these general tendencies, it would be interesting.

Comment #163659

Posted by Dan Gaston on March 2, 2007 10:36 PM (e)

realpc wrote:

What if there is a law of nature, similar to gravity, which says complexity tends to increase in natural systems? Why would that law be any less natural, or any more supernatural, than the law of gravity?

What you are positing here is both wrong, and not even consistent with ID which you clearly support.

1)I would be highly dubious about any claims made to a fundamental law saying that complexity tends to increase in natural systems except perhaps that there has been a general trend to a certain point. Sure we have to start with basic single-celled organisms and eventually complex multicellular life can evolve from that, but there is no requirement for natural systems to become more complex. There are a great many documented examples of life become less complex, maintaining large genomes for instance is metabolically costly and so we observe genome reduction occuring at times in the microbial world and even casses of multicellular organisms becoming comparatively less complex. In many ways complex multicellular life is not always the top of the complexity chain in terms of genome size, structure, and mechanisms. I think many microbial species would take the cake there with some of the systems they have developed.

2)Even if there was such a Law, the way you formulated it makes it an intrinsic part of the Universe, an underlying Law of Nature like any other which in itself would merely act as a constraint/evolutionary pressure but not a sign of intelligence in itself, nor could it be considered an intelligent agent. You appear to have argued yourself right out of your own position.

Comment #163660

Posted by stevaroni on March 2, 2007 10:57 PM (e)

At Kitzmiller, one of Behe’s main points was the insufficiency of purely random mutations plus selection to build complexity.

So, um, what point of Behe’s authoritative testimony did you like the most?

Me, I can’t decide between all the high-points, but maybe it was the part where he testified that nobody had done any research into the evolution of the immune system, then continued to testify to this effect as several dozen textbooks on the subject were slowly stacked up in front of him.

Or maybe it was the point where he presented his numbers about how statistically unlikely it was that a dividing bacterium would mutate, ten to the gagillion something, as I recall. Then the prosecution walked him through the real world numbers, and he had to admit that even given those long odds, there were enough cells in common simpler organisms (like lawyers) that mutations were probably happening in the courtroom once every 40 minutes or so.

Comment #163661

Posted by PvM on March 2, 2007 11:08 PM (e)

realpc wrote:

And this is the essential message of the ID evolution theory.

Other than the fact that IDers have a very different message. So why is RealPC so confused about issues of science as well as issues pertinent to ID?

ID as it is formulated is without scientific content, only through equivocation can one mislead people to believe that ID has a real application.

RealPC’s comments show how ID not only is vacuous but also how ID is based on equivocation, conflation and other rhetorical tricks.

Comment #163662

Posted by PvM on March 2, 2007 11:09 PM (e)

I have come to the conclusion that Realpc is a troll who is trying to discredit ID both by showing an unfamiliarity with the concepts of ID as well as by showing an unfamiliarity with concepts of science.

Comment #163669

Posted by MarkP on March 2, 2007 11:37 PM (e)

Realpc dissembled thusly:

I realize that not everyone defines ID in this way.

You don’t get to define words any way you want to, not and expect yourself to be understood by others anyway. “Intelligent Design” is already taken, and it means an intelligence was involved with the structure of life on this planet. You have a different theory? Give it a different name.

I must say, this is an interesting new strategy, since IDers/creationists usually only misrepresent evolution. You misrepresent both.

Comment #163670

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 3, 2007 12:39 AM (e)

I have come to the conclusion that Realpc is a troll who is trying to discredit ID both by showing an unfamiliarity with the concepts of ID as well as by showing an unfamiliarity with concepts of science.

you must be better able to determine motives then.

I only got the troll part out of his ramblings.

Comment #163671

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 3, 2007 12:41 AM (e)

fnxtr — realpc is almost surely Charlie Wagner…

didn’t Wagner pull this exact same stunt just last week?

if it is, well, DAMN. that boy is truly pathetic.

besides, didn’t he tell us he was going in for surgery on an aneurism or something like that?

Comment #163673

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 3, 2007 2:39 AM (e)

So no matter how much purpose and direction anyone discovers in the mutation process, a neo-Darwinist can say it somehow goes back to blind chance. Well, that’s the advantage of having an unfalisfiable theory!

Ah, but the “unfalsifiable theory” here is naturalism.

Comment #163674

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 3, 2007 2:48 AM (e)

The question is whether or not the mutations are independent from the organism’s need to evolve, and NDE says they are.

Organisms don’t evolve, nor do they need to, whatever that could mean, so of course NDE doesn’t say any such thing. Evolution refers to relationships between organisms, not changes in individual organisms, so there’s nothing that could have such a “need”.

Comment #163675

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 3, 2007 2:56 AM (e)

I realize that not everyone defines ID in this way.

In fact no one does other than you. realpc = real pathetic crackpot. Go learn some science; your conception of gravity is very 18 century.

Comment #163691

Posted by realpc on March 3, 2007 10:58 AM (e)


Go learn some science; your conception of gravity is very 18 century.

I know what Einstein said about gravity. That doesn’t make it any less “super-natural.”

Comment #163694

Posted by PvM on March 3, 2007 12:06 PM (e)

Seems that others have come to agree that realpc has defined intelligent design in a ‘unique manner’ which ignores all the common definitions by ID proponents.
In other words, ID now seems to have become that which is not NDE, or perhaps findings in the area of biology which cast a new light on evolution.

In other words, ID is nothing more or less than the science of evolutionary biology. Indistinguishable and thus also very irrelevant.
It’s good to see that some ID proponents have come to realize the scientific vacuity of ID and are trying to redefine it.

Why not be upfront about it. ID as it has been defined is scientifically vacuous and I want to define ID to be nothing more or less that evolutionary biology.

Comment #163706

Posted by David B. Benson on March 3, 2007 1:27 PM (e)

Sir TJ — Maybe this is a different realpc? Somehow I doubt it…

Comment #163739

Posted by realpc on March 3, 2007 4:18 PM (e)

ID uses statistics and information theory to analyse the probability of species originating by random mutations plus selection.

Over at http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog, Jason Rosenhouse presents his pro-NDE argument. He starts by saying NDE is a valid theory because – why not? He can’t think of anything not to like about it. Then he mentions dogs – all those varieties created by artificial selection. He forgets that a new breed of dog does not involve any increaese in complexity. Then he talks about genetic algorithms, and of course neglects to mention how simple they are compared to even the simplest organism. Then he mentions the mountains of evidence that support evolution. And, finally, he tells us how important the selection process is in the evolution of science.

So he has presented convincing arguments for evolution and for selection, but his argument for NDE depends entirely on genetic algorithms and the fact that he sees no problems with NDE.

Well ID research is about seeing problems with NDE. ID accepts evolution and natural selection. Anyone who says otherwise is misinformed about ID. Rosenhouse has no arguments to support evolution by selection from unguided variations.

If an organism can increase its mutation rate in response to environmental pressures, maybe it can also increase the type of mutation generated. If that were true, then we would have to question the central tenet of NDE – that the mutations are in no way a response to environmental conditions.

If it turns out genetic mutations are somehow guided, we still would not know what guides them or how. I suspect that DNA is a much more complex program than most biologists realize. I think this will be a problem for computer science. For example, DNA includes meta programs, or higher level control programs. Maybe it also includes meta-meta programs, and so on. We can be sure that DNA is unimaginably more complex than anything written by humans.

An important question is how “random” genetic mutations are. Is there any research on whether certain types of mutations occur more frequently under certain conditions? Or is it only the quantity that responds to environmental stress?

Comment #163742

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 3, 2007 4:27 PM (e)

RPC, you’re just about as insane as this guy:

http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/i…

You should go have a conversation with him.

Comment #163752

Posted by MarkP on March 3, 2007 5:48 PM (e)

Realpc asserted:

ID uses statistics and information theory to analyse the probability of species originating by random mutations plus selection.

Yes, and a piss poor job they do of it too, as the near universality of rebuke of said analyses by mathematicians and information theorists attests. It’s also, of course, a red herring since no one claims evolution = RM+NS except lying creationists.

[Jason Rosenhouse] mentions dogs – all those varieties created by artificial selection. He forgets that a new breed of dog does not involve any increaese in complexity.

As soon as someone levying this argument can define exactly what they mean by “complexity”, and demonstrate why that is relevant, it can be addressed. Until then, it’s just so much hot air.

Then he talks about genetic algorithms, and of course neglects to mention how simple they are compared to even the simplest organism.

The point is that GAs do what you guys keep claiming they can’t: produce innovative solutions through a form of mutation and nondirected (re the solution) selection. Your objection is just a form of moving the goalposts.

Then he mentions the mountains of evidence that support evolution.

I can certainly see why someone with your worldview would be annoyed at someone defending their position with evidence. The nerve!

Well ID research is about seeing problems with NDE. ID accepts evolution and natural selection. Anyone who says otherwise is misinformed about ID.

Wrong, wrong, and wrong. There is no ID research, there is only intellectually dishonest armchair quarterbacking. ID rejects evolution via natural selection, that’s the whole friggin point. You only brand yourself a loon pontificating such nonsense.

Rosenhouse has no arguments to support evolution by selection from unguided variations.

Yeah, except for all that pesky evidence, and those annoying demonstrations of the mechanisms in question. Other than that…

If an organism can increase its mutation rate in response to environmental pressures, maybe it can also increase the type of mutation generated. If that were true, then we would have to question the central tenet of NDE – that the mutations are in no way a response to environmental conditions.

It is a trivial part of the general theory of evolution, and will be merely adjusted and adopted in with the rest of our knowledge. That’s how science works. Your argument is another version of “But the moths were glued to the trees!”.

If it turns out genetic mutations are somehow guided, we still would not know what guides them or how. I suspect that DNA is a much more complex program than most biologists realize.

I suspect it is far more complicated than you suspect, since nothing we’ve spoken of implies there is any more reason to think anything was guided than there was before.

Comment #163759

Posted by PvM on March 3, 2007 6:08 PM (e)

realpc wrote:

ID uses statistics and information theory to analyse the probability of species originating by random mutations plus selection.

Of course no such thing has ever been applied. In fact, ID uses regularity and chance to argue that a particular mechanism of evolution cannot explain everything. However, if the assumptions are erroneous then these probabilities will lead to flawed conclusions that it was ‘designed’ when in fact, it was our ignorance that led us to such a conclusion.

Realpc already shows why ID is without scientific content as it argues against one of the mechanisms of evolution and fails to provide ANY scientific explanations itself.

Realpc’s ignorance as to what is intelligent design does not bode well for his ‘arguments.

Comment #163771

Posted by realpc on March 3, 2007 6:55 PM (e)

ID rejects evolution via natural selection, that’s the whole friggin point.

MarkP,

You’re having trouble understanding this. I said “ID accepts evolution AND natural selection.” I did NOT say “ID accepts evolution VIA natural selection.”

ID does, however, accept natural selection as PART of the explanation for evolution.

I do not think you can show me any quote from Dembski or Behe saying they reject evolution or natural selection, or natural selection as ONE part of the evolution mechanism.

The anti-ID propaganda strives to confuse these concepts. I’m not saying there is any malicious intent to deceive, and I’m sure they believe their own misconceptions. But what they’re saying is a complete misrepresentation of ID, an attempt to identify it with Christian creationism.

It [that the mutations are in no way a response to environmental conditions.] is a trivial part of the general theory of evolution, and will be merely adjusted and adopted in with the rest of our knowledge.

Ok, what version of NDE are you talking about? The standard version says genetic mutations are random, purposeless. If they respond to the environment or the needs of the organism, then they are NOT random or purposeless. That would not prove ID, but it would disprove the standard NDE theory.

Comment #163777

Posted by Chinchillazilla on March 3, 2007 7:29 PM (e)

ID does, however, accept natural selection as PART of the explanation for evolution.

…Well, yes. The problem is that they REJECT EVOLUTION.

Comment #163778

Posted by realpc on March 3, 2007 7:46 PM (e)


…Well, yes. The problem is that they REJECT EVOLUTION.

Well they don’t. Show me a quote from Behe or Demski saying they reject evolution. You, along with many others, have been misinformed.

Comment #163781

Posted by PvM on March 3, 2007 7:51 PM (e)

ID doubts the process of Darwinian evolution. If, as Darwin already ‘predicted’, variation is not truly random, then so much better for evolutionary theory. Of course nothing gives credibility to ID’s thesis.

Comment #163793

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 3, 2007 9:06 PM (e)

Well they don’t. Show me a quote from Behe or Demski saying they reject evolution. You, along with many others, have been misinformed.

*sigh*

the only thing they are willing to admit is that the evidence is undeniable that organisms have changed over time. that’s it.

then they, like you, claim that is “evolution” and proceed to mischaracterize your description as theory.

You can’t even pin WD-40 down on whether he accepts common descent or not. One week he’ll say ID has no problems with the modern understanding of common descent (see the debate he had with Dennet about 2 years back), then the next you will hear him railing against nested heirarchies (quite frequently along with MasterTard on Uncommonly Dense).

frankly, you’re the one who has shown, time after time, that not only do you not have a grasp of the ToE, but you have a quite limited grasp of what the ID peddlers are pushing as well.

which, of course goes along with the contentless posts you’ve made in every thread so far.

really, you and Here0isreal would get along just fine, I think.

Comment #163806

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 4, 2007 12:07 AM (e)

I know what Einstein said about gravity. That doesn’t make it any less “super-natural.”

Whatever you say, Humpty Dumpty.

Comment #163808

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 4, 2007 12:14 AM (e)

He forgets that a new breed of dog does not involve any increaese in complexity.

A subset X of a set Y, where members of X have some trait not generally possessed by members of Y, necessarily and obviously has a more complex description than Y.

Comment #163809

Posted by Sophophile on March 4, 2007 12:18 AM (e)

Wow. Went away for the weekend, now so much to read!

May I just say that I consider it an honour to receive a direct shellacking from Mark Perakh. Mark: I have read and admired lots of your work.

:: goes off to read lengthy realpc-initiated train-wreck ::

Comment #163810

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 4, 2007 12:23 AM (e)

We can be sure that DNA is unimaginably more complex than anything written by humans.

Yeah evolution has a tendency to do that.

realpc accepts evolution. So he accepts the evolution of the program implemented in DNA. So he accepts that no guidance is necessary. Only he doesn’t. My, what a complex creature is this realpc.

Comment #163881

Posted by realpc on March 4, 2007 6:53 AM (e)

A subset X of a set Y, where members of X have some trait not generally possessed by members of Y, necessarily and obviously has a more complex description than Y.

Well that’s an novel definition of complexity. So, for example, odd numbers are more complex than numbers in general? Short people are more complex than people in general?

I think your definition of complexity needs some work.

Comment #163886

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on March 4, 2007 8:07 AM (e)

A subset X of a set Y, where members of X have some trait not generally possessed by members of Y, necessarily and obviously has a more complex description than Y.

Well that’s an novel definition of complexity. So, for example, odd numbers are more complex than numbers in general? Short people are more complex than people in general?

I think your definition of complexity needs some work.

Dude, you should try reading.

That person specifically wrote “more complex description“. “Description” is the keyword there. In the case of descriptions, subsets are more complex to describe, especially using formal logic notations, than supersets.

Comment #163888

Posted by realpc on March 4, 2007 8:51 AM (e)


That person specifically wrote “more complex description“. “Description” is the keyword there. In the case of descriptions, subsets are more complex to describe, especially using formal logic notations, than supersets.

Yes, and you should try reading the context. I said creating a new breed of dog is not creating something more complex. He replied with that definition. It was irrelevant to the discussion and I should not have bothered to answer.

Comment #163890

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on March 4, 2007 9:29 AM (e)

Yes, and you should try reading the context. I said creating a new breed of dog is not creating something more complex. He replied with that definition. It was irrelevant to the discussion and I should not have bothered to answer.

It may have been irrelevant in that given context, but you used a straw man in countering that argument in the first place.

If something is irrelevant, say so. Don’t use a straw man to counter it.

When someone says “a subset is more complex to describe than its superset”, countering with an argument saying “odd numbers are not more complex than numbers in general” or “short people are not more complex than people in general” is itself irrelevant and therefore a straw man.

Other than that…

This:

I said creating a new breed of dog is not creating something more complex.

More complex than what? In many way’s creating a new breed of dog IS more complex compared to a general description of a dog.

For example, a chihuahua can be (trivially) described as a very small dog. This description requires the qualifier “very small” in addition to the general understanding of what a dog is. That addition of detail means it’s more “complex”.

Of course, you IDists find it convenient to non-define concepts such as complex so you can get away with criticisms such as yours that are essentially meaningless but sounds like something substantial.

Comment #163892

Posted by steve s on March 4, 2007 10:42 AM (e)

Why is this not a point for ID?

ID is like a basketball team that refuses to dress out. They just want to sit in the bleachers, and everytime the evolution team misses a shot they say “Yay! Point for us!”

Coach can’t even get them to practice anymore.

Comment #163898

Posted by MarkP on March 4, 2007 11:58 AM (e)

Realpc gratuitously asserted:

You’re having trouble understanding this. I said “ID accepts evolution AND natural selection.” I did NOT say “ID accepts evolution VIA natural selection.”

I have no trouble understanding what you say. I just recognize, as you apparently do not, that reality does not change with those pronouncements. ID and evolution were defined long before you came on the scene, and differently than you claim.

The reality is that those pushing ID would pretty much accept anything, say anything, that promised to get their theology recognized as science. That’s why they often can’t distinguish satire of their positions from the “real” thing, because: 1) it is, at it’s core, vacuous, ad 2) They don’t care about accuracy, they care about support. So what you or anyone else has to say about the rhetorical route they have taken this week is completely beside the point. It is akin to treating comments made by an actor in a play as facts on which to draw conclusions about the world.

Once again, for those who missed Dover, ID is politics and religion, not science, so, to borrow from Behe’s comments there, there are more fruitful pursuits than analyzing it as science.

Comment #163900

Posted by PvM on March 4, 2007 12:18 PM (e)

Well that’s an novel definition of complexity. So, for example, odd numbers are more complex than numbers in general?

Let’s see, I draw a random number. The probability that the number is from ‘numbers in general’ is 1, the probability that it is an odd number is 0.5

-log(1)=0, -log(0.5) is larger than zero and thus by definition more complex.

Comment #163928

Posted by Richard Simons on March 4, 2007 5:20 PM (e)

realpc:
You assert that “a new breed of dog does not involve any increase in complexity.

How do you know? How has it been measured and by whom? What units did they use? Why do you think that no biologist refers to differences in complexity when describing two similar organisms but only when comparing, say, a flatworm with a lobster?

Like virtually all terms beloved by IDers and creationists they have come up with neither a useful definition nor a means of measuring its value in any organism.

Comment #163939

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 4, 2007 6:32 PM (e)

Yes, and you should try reading the context. I said creating a new breed of dog is not creating something more complex.

hey, idiot, it’s quite simple. If you really thought what you were saying made any sense at all, you would have taken me up on my wager.

The response is still there, and is right on point with this ridiculous “information generation” thing all you idiots seem to have glommed on to.

so, go for it, explain why a simple case like the one i cited, where polyploidy ends up generating a new species, is not an “increase of information”.

this should be good.

Comment #163946

Posted by realpc on March 4, 2007 7:06 PM (e)

Hey Toejam,

There is no way I will answer a post from some idiot who calls me an idiot. If you want answers, learn how to be a human being.

Comment #163950

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 4, 2007 7:19 PM (e)

translation:

“I haven’t the slightest clue how to respond to that, since I don’t understand what I mean by information to begin with.”

how clueless can one troll get, I wonder…

Comment #163951

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 4, 2007 7:22 PM (e)

…oh, and if you want to give the impression you know what you’re talking about… well, maybe you just shouldn’t even try.

Seriously, you’re completely hopeless.

Comment #163952

Posted by Glen Davidson on March 4, 2007 7:26 PM (e)

translation:

“I haven’t the slightest clue how to respond to that, since I don’t understand what I mean by information to begin with.”

how clueless can one troll get, I wonder…

Oh yeah, it’s got to be Charlie, constantly inane, never learns a damn thing, repeats constantly, and plays the “niceness card” even as he rudely repeats stupidity all over the place (did you see where he insisted that as information increases, entropy decreases (to top it off he said something like we have to decide what entropy is, meaning that he doesn’t know what it is). It’s all so DaveTard).

Aside from the fact that he’s extraordinarily stupid, one reason to call him stupid is to not have him respond yet again with the same crushingly idiotic BS that is the stock he’s trying to sell on these forums.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #163966

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 4, 2007 9:23 PM (e)

Well that’s an novel definition of complexity.

No, it isn’t.

So, for example, odd numbers are more complex than numbers in general?

No, the description of odd integers is more complex than the description of integers. And descriptions are what matters when you are talking about programs, and you were, in connection to DNA. So, you lose.

Comment #163967

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 4, 2007 9:31 PM (e)

I said creating a new breed of dog is not creating something more complex.

No, you didn’t say that. What you said was “He forgets that a new breed of dog does not involve any increaese in complexity”, but there is such an increase; the genome of a new breed carries information about the intent of the breeder.

Anyway, you’re the one who claims there’s a law that complexity increases, so it’s a bit odd to see you arguing against specific instances – or it would be if we weren’t all so familiar with your type.

Comment #163968

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 4, 2007 9:33 PM (e)

It may have been irrelevant in that given context

No, it was extremely relevant.

Comment #163971

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 4, 2007 9:43 PM (e)

“I haven’t the slightest clue how to respond to that, since I don’t understand what I mean by information to begin with.”

Or complexity. He seems unable to grasp that the only way to make sense of saying that one thing is more complex than another is by comparing their descriptions – complexity theory deals with bit strings. With an astounding display of ignorance, he says that mention of descriptions is “irrelevant”.

Comment #163975

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 4, 2007 10:03 PM (e)

Finally, to top this off: “odd numbers” is more complex than “numbers”. It isn’t possible to talk about things without dealing with their descriptions. Try explaining poodles without referring to dogs. Of course, if a population of poodles is left to breed in the wild indefinitely, eventually mutations may obliterate their poodle-ness or even their dog-ness. Perhaps eventually the poodle genome will produce only a communicable tumor. But if “increase in complexity” is a law of nature, then such a tumor must be more complex than a poodle, in some way understood only by “realpc”.

Comment #163977

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 4, 2007 10:16 PM (e)

in some way understood only by “realpc”.

which is why I thought he and Here0isreal would get along famously.

coincidental numerology is his realm, which I’m sure RPC would just love.

Comment #163991

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on March 4, 2007 10:57 PM (e)

It may have been irrelevant in that given context

No, it was extremely relevant.

Then the only conclusion one can draw is that realpc obfuscated the context to make it irrelevant. Quite typical of antiscience.

Comment #163993

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 4, 2007 11:06 PM (e)

Then the only conclusion one can draw is that realpc obfuscated the context to make it irrelevant.

No, that’s not the only conclusion one can draw. For instance, I drew the conclusion that neither of you understood the relevance of descriptions to measures of complexity. However, you were correct in pointing out that realpc responded to a strawman; thanks for that.

Comment #164043

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on March 5, 2007 3:20 AM (e)

Popper’s ghost:
For instance, I drew the conclusion that neither of you understood the relevance of descriptions to measures of complexity.

And you can get that conclusion from this, can you?

In the case of descriptions, subsets are more complex to describe, especially using formal logic notations, than supersets.

Comment #164083

Posted by realpc on March 5, 2007 10:34 AM (e)

Subsets are more specific, not more complex. “Banana” is a more specific symbol than “fruit,” but these two symbols cannot be compared in terms of complexity. One set is more heterogeneous and includes more members, but that does not make it less complex.

Complexity is something we understand intuitively but which is difficult to quantify.

It would be very hard to make the case that a banana is more complex than a fruit, simply because the symbol “banana” refers to a more specific category. The same object can be referred to either as a banana or as a fruit. Therefore, the label used to refer to an object in no way reflects the degree of complexity of that object.

The complexity of a particular animal is exactly the same whether I refer to it as a “dog” or as a “poodle.”

Comment #164090

Posted by PvM on March 5, 2007 11:20 AM (e)

realpc wrote:

Complexity is something we understand intuitively but which is difficult to quantify.

ROTFL, seems that realpc, unfamiliar with Dembski’s work has at the same time figured out that complexity as ‘defined’ by dembksi is unworkable.

Comment #164095

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on March 5, 2007 11:37 AM (e)

The complexity of a particular animal is exactly the same whether I refer to it as a “dog” or as a “poodle.”

This quote needs to go to the Wizard to get a proper brain…

Comment #164102

Posted by MarkP on March 5, 2007 12:49 PM (e)

Realpc said:

“Banana” is a more specific symbol than “fruit,” but these two symbols cannot be compared in terms of complexity.

They certainly can’t as long as “complexity” remains undefined.

Realpc is just playing the Dembski game here: refuse to define your term clearly, then claim everyone who takes a stab at it is misrepresenting what you mean.

Define “complexity”, and you can make progress. Refuse to, and all your rhetoric becomes so much yadda yadda yadda.

Comment #164105

Posted by realpc on March 5, 2007 1:02 PM (e)

Ok, then explain why you think complexity is added when a new breed of dog is created. I don’t know why I bothered with such an inane argument. You have to be a very devout neo-Darwinist not to see that some, but not all, evolution results in increasing complexity. A jellyfish is more complex than an amoeba, and a shark is more complex than a jellyfish. There are fanatics who deny this, of course.

It would not make sense to say that a canary is more complex than a sparrow, or a dog is more complex than a cat, or a poodle is more complex than a dog.

Sometimes evolution results in obvious increases in complexity, and that is the aspect of evolution which is not understood.

The ID - ND debate is over whether ND can explain the obvious increases in complexity which have occurred. We know that ND can explain domestic breeding, and that it can explain some adaptation in existing species, and possibly some aspects of the creation of new species which are not more complex than their parent species.

We know that ND fails to explain the origin of life in the first place. And some of us believe it fails to explain the origin of new species that are obviously more complex than their parent species.

Comment #164111

Posted by PvM on March 5, 2007 1:08 PM (e)

realpc wrote:

Sometimes evolution results in obvious increases in complexity, and that is the aspect of evolution which is not understood.

Any specific examples since the fact that simple processes of variation and selection have been shown to be quite able to increase the information and thus complexity in the genome.

So it seems that there is indeed no problem explaining at least in principle, increases in complexity using well established mechanisms. Of course, there are quite a few variations on this theme which help understand how complexity can increase.

Of course, you yourself seems to be accepting that complexity is mostly a subjective measure, hard to quantify so your claims are mostly vacuous.

Comment #164114

Posted by Henry J on March 5, 2007 1:33 PM (e)

What if the amoeba has more DNA than the shark?

Comment #164117

Posted by ben on March 5, 2007 1:39 PM (e)

It would not make sense to say that a canary is more complex than a sparrow, or a dog is more complex than a cat, or a poodle is more complex than a dog.

It would not make sense to say anything is more complex than anything else, if you refuse to say what you mean by “complex.” If you refuse to define your terms–especially when repeatedly requested to–then you’re just a yammering idiot.

We know that ND fails to explain the origin of life in the first place.

“ND” also “fails” to explain why the sky is blue, why 2 + 2 = 4, or why my left nostril gets stuffed up far more often than my right one does. Of course, anyone who doesn’t acknowledge that “ND” doesn’t attempt or claim to explain the origin of life is either comically misinformed or a lying twit.

You, I believe, are likely both.

Comment #164119

Posted by fnxtr on March 5, 2007 1:51 PM (e)

realpc is trying to use the micro/macro argument, without actually having the cajones to use the terms.

Comment #164121

Posted by realpc on March 5, 2007 2:07 PM (e)

You admit that science has no verified explanation for the origin of life. So why not admit it has no verified explanation for the evolution of increasingly complex species?

We could define complexity in terms of how many different necessary parts a machine has, for example. The more inter-related, differentiated, specialized, and necessary, parts, the more complex, I would say. That may not be a perfect definition, but it’s a starting point.

Comment #164123

Posted by Raging Bee on March 5, 2007 2:26 PM (e)

You admit that science has no verified explanation for the origin of life. So why not admit it has no verified explanation for the evolution of increasingly complex species?

Because those are two completely separate and different issues.

We know that ND fails to explain the origin of life in the first place. And some of us believe it fails to explain the origin of new species that are obviously more complex than their parent species.

And have “some of us” produced peer-reviewed work proving that such evolution is impossible? Have “some of us” come up with a specific alternative theory that fits the available evidence, and testable hypotheses by which we might verify such a theory?

Or are “some of us” just a bunch of idiots who hate being forced to process and accept new information?

Comment #164126

Posted by GuyeFaux on March 5, 2007 2:48 PM (e)

We could define complexity in terms of how many different necessary parts a machine has, for example. The more inter-related, differentiated, specialized, and necessary, parts, the more complex, I would say.

This is equivalent to “compex things look complex.” Congratulations on your brilliant analysis.

Comment #164127

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on March 5, 2007 2:49 PM (e)

Define “different necessary parts”, please. The definition of “parts” in biological entities should be especially fun.

Comment #164128

Posted by GuyeFaux on March 5, 2007 2:56 PM (e)

What a surprise, this new-age nitwit has derailed yet another thread with his content-free logorhea.

Here’s a clue: provide a definition for the terms you bandy around, and you will have something substantive.

Comment #164129

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 5, 2007 3:01 PM (e)

Complexity is something we understand intuitively but which is difficult to quantify.

The complexity of a particular animal is exactly the same whether I refer to it as a “dog” or as a “poodle.”

whaaa?

so we can’t quantify a nebulous, subjective concept, except when we use it to define the difference between dog and poodle.

damn, just…

give this guy his own thread and let him talk to himself.

Comment #164130

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 5, 2007 3:03 PM (e)

I don’t know why I bothered with such an inane argument.

we don’t know why you bother to create them to begin with.

Comment #164131

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 5, 2007 3:05 PM (e)

that is the aspect of evolution which is not understood

uh, how can you differentiate, given that you haven’t given any indication you understand ANY of it?

Comment #164149

Posted by MarkP on March 5, 2007 5:05 PM (e)

Realpc said:

Ok, then explain why you think complexity is added when a new breed of dog is created.

I don’t. I don’t think anything with regard to the term “complexity” as applied to evolutionary issues because it is undefined, and in fact in my experience the only time the term arises in such discussions is when ignoramuses are trying to cloud the issues.

I don’t know why I bothered with such an inane argument.

Because without inane arguments you’d be a mime.

You have to be a very devout neo-Darwinist not to see that some, but not all, evolution results in increasing complexity. A jellyfish is more complex than an amoeba, and a shark is more complex than a jellyfish. There are fanatics who deny this, of course.

There is nothing fanatical about refusing to grant a claim containing an undefined term. There is, however, something revealing when someone makes a vague claim, refuses to define his terms, claims it’s all obvious, that only a [insert favorite ad hominem here] would disagree. It reveals he doesn’t have the goods.

It would not make sense to say that a canary is more complex than a sparrow, or a dog is more complex than a cat, or a poodle is more complex than a dog.

It would not make sense to say anything is more complex than anything else until “complex” is given a definition. Otherwise, it is as sensible as saying they are all “snarflike”.

Sometimes evolution results in obvious increases in complexity, and that is the aspect of evolution which is not understood.

It is only not understood insofar as the meaning of “complexity” is lacking.

The ID - ND debate is over whether ND can explain the obvious increases in complexity which have occurred.

Nooooo, that is what lying IDers would like to convince everyone it is about. What it is actually about is religious folk trying to sneak their religion into science class by wrapping it in a lot of sciency sounding terms like “complexity” and “specification”, and pretending scientists understand a lot less than they do.

We know that ND can explain domestic breeding, and that it can explain some adaptation in existing species, and possibly some aspects of the creation of new species which are not more complex than their parent species.

NDE doesn’t explain domestic breeding, basic genetics does that. NDE explains all existing species just fine, regardless of the ignorant and meaningless rants of some who like to toss gibberish like “complexity” around.

We know that ND fails to explain the origin of life in the first place.

Of course it does, because it is not expected to, and the fact that you think it is relevant at all shows how ignorant you are of the very basics of the topic.

Consider a series of dominoes lined up and toppled in sequence. Now imagine someone coming on the scene afterwards trying to determine what happened. They might very well figure out that each dominoe was toppled by the previous one, and might call their theory “The Dominoe Theory”. Of course, this does not answer the question of what toppled the very first dominoe. That was a very different kind of event, and can be completely unknown while still acknowledging the validity of the Dominoe Theory without contradiction. Ditto with evolutionary theory vs abiogenetic theory. Diffferent problems, different solutions.

And some of us believe it fails to explain the origin of new species that are obviously more complex than their parent species.

No scientific theory can answer a question that is undefined. It is obvious to the rest of us that no reasonable standard of argumentation or evidence would persuade such people, so forgive us for not losing sleep over your intransigence of opinion.

Comment #164159

Posted by PvM on March 5, 2007 6:22 PM (e)

realpc wrote:

You admit that science has no verified explanation for the origin of life. So why not admit it has no verified explanation for the evolution of increasingly complex species?

Apples and oranges. I have already provided some plausible explanations so why deny this?

realpc wrote:

We could define complexity in terms of how many different necessary parts a machine has, for example. The more inter-related, differentiated, specialized, and necessary, parts, the more complex, I would say. That may not be a perfect definition, but it’s a starting point.

Apply your ‘definition’

Comment #164214

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 3:01 AM (e)

Ok, then explain why you think complexity is added when a new breed of dog is created.

I already did; you are just being an ass by ignoring what I wrote. As I said, information about the intent of the breeder has been incorporated into the genome of the new breed. The genome has increased algorithmic complexity. This should actually make you happy, because you claim that an increase of complexity is a law of nature. That you deny increases of complexity when they don’t suit you reveals your dependence on ideology rather than reason.

And you are likewise being an ass when you talk about the complexity of the symbols “banana” and “fruit”, when I made the point that the description of bananas is more complex than the description of fruit, and I made the point that the notion of descriptions and algorithmic complexity is relevant when talking about DNA – which you refer to as a “program”, and algorithmic complexity is defined in terms of programs.

Comment #164215

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 3:06 AM (e)

I don’t think anything with regard to the term “complexity” as applied to evolutionary issues because it is undefined, and in fact in my experience the only time the term arises in such discussions is when ignoramuses are trying to cloud the issues.

Then your experience is limited. See, e.g., http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/97/9/4463

Comment #164216

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on March 6, 2007 3:21 AM (e)

As I said, information about the intent of the breeder has been incorporated into the genome of the new breed. The genome has increased algorithmic complexity….
algorithmic complexity is relevant when talking about DNA – which you refer to as a “program”, and algorithmic complexity is defined in terms of programs.

Algorithmic complexity is actually irrelevant in this case.

Algorithmic complexity is not “defined” in terms of programs. They are used in context of programs insofar as that some programs utilise algorithms to process data. It is concerned about how time and memory bounds increases as the number of inputs increase.

That a computer program may contain information about the intent of the programmer does not increase algorithmic complexity (it’s an analogy).

Comment #164217

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 3:29 AM (e)

You admit that science has no verified explanation for the origin of life. So why not admit it has no verified explanation for the evolution of increasingly complex species?

Because one is true and the other is false. Duh. It’s like say that, if we don’t know the origin of crude oil, we can’t know how to refine it. Or because we don’t know how a particular piece of marble was geologically formed, we can’t know how a sculptor turned it into a statue. Such an inference is idiotic.

We could define complexity in terms of how many different necessary parts a machine has, for example.

We could if we were ignorant morons who knew nothing of the extensive work already done on complexity. And this is a particularly stupid definition coming from someone who claims that “increase in complexity” is a law of nature.

Comment #164218

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 3:31 AM (e)

Algorithmic complexity is not “defined” in terms of programs.

You have no idea what you are talking about, and are nearly as stupid as realpc.

Comment #164219

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 3:36 AM (e)

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolmogorov_complexi…

Any string s has at least one description, namely the program

function GenerateFixedString()
return s

Among all the descriptions of s, there is one with shortest length denoted d(s). In case there is more than one program of the same minimal length, choose one arbitrarily, for example selecting the lexicographically first among them. d(s) is the minimal description of s. The Kolmogorov complexity of s, written K(s), is

K(s) = |d(s)|. \quad

In the other words, K(s) is the length of the minimal description of s.

Comment #164223

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on March 6, 2007 4:18 AM (e)

You have no idea what you are talking about, and are nearly as stupid as realpc.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolmogorov_complexi…

Any string s has at least one description, namely the program

function GenerateFixedString()
return s

Among all the descriptions of s, there is one with shortest length denoted d(s). In case there is more than one program of the same minimal length, choose one arbitrarily, for example selecting the lexicographically first among them. d(s) is the minimal description of s. The Kolmogorov complexity of s, written K(s), is

K(s) = |d(s)|. \quad

In the other words, K(s) is the length of the minimal description of s.

Oops sorry. A lowly software engineer like me would not know anything about algorithmic complexity compared to someone like you (whatever it is you do).

Why don’t you search Wikipedia for ALGORITHMIC COMPLEXITY.

Algorithmic complexity simply is NOT defined in terms of programs.

It is defined in terms of its input and the time/memory it requires to generate a technically correct output.

Algorithmic complexity is not the same as Kolmogorov complexity.

Personally, I find that your assertion that the intent of the “programmer” somehow increases algorithmic complexity quite stupid.

An n-squared time complex algorithm completes its run in n-squared time regardless of what the programmer wanted it to do.

Kolmogorov complexity is talking about data and more relevant to your own discussion about complexity of DESCRIPTIONS of data.

While creating a “banana” from “fruit” increases the complexity of its description (the length of the program GenerateFixedString() ), an increase in the length of that program does not necessarily result in an increase in its algorithmic complexity (hence its irrelevance).

In short: Kolmogorov complexity is defined in terms of program (length). Algorithmic complexity in the context of programs is defined in terms of its input, time and memory bounds. Kolmogorov complexity is not algorithm complexity. As an example: a linearly time-complex algorithm that prints subsets of the alphabet in order remains linear despite whether the generated string is “abc” or increased to “abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz” and regardless that the program is now Kolmogorovly more complex.

Comment #164230

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 4:50 AM (e)

Why don’t you search Wikipedia for ALGORITHMIC COMPLEXITY.

That’s an article on “Computational complexity theory”, dimwit. Kolmogorov complexity is frequently referred to as “AC” – gee, I wonder what that is? If you weren’t such a fool, you would appreciate that the term is ambiguous, but that the sense in which I used it is quite clear. See, e.g., http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Algorithmic_…
When I wrote “algoritmic complexity”, I was referring to AC, aka Kolmogorov complexity, which is defined in terms of programs, and it’s the sort of complexity that is increased in the genome when information is transferred from the environment; duh. Saying that “algorithmic complexity” in your sense is “irrelevant” is effing stupid, since I hadn’t even mentioned the terms “algorithmic” or “Kolmogorov” when you and realpc posted your blather about irrelevance; I had merely pointed out the the description of a subset is more complex (requires a longer program to express) than the description of the superset. It was relevant to anyone with a functioning brain, who could realize that the superset I had in mind was “dog of unspecified type” and the subset is “dog with specific bred characteristics”. That has nothing to do with computational complexity theory, and everything to do with “AC”, aka Kolmogorov complexity.

Comment #164235

Posted by Anonymous_Coward on March 6, 2007 5:06 AM (e)

If you weren’t such a fool, you would appreciate that the term is ambiguous, but that the sense in which I used it is quite clear.

If you weren’t such a fool, you would realise that the context in which realpc used the word “program” to describe DNA was purely in terms which would render the word “algorithm” as computer program algorithm rather than the description of data.

When I wrote “algoritmic complexity”, I was referring to AC, aka Kolmogorov complexity, which is defined in terms of programs, and it’s the sort of complexity that is increased in the genome when information is transferred from the environment; duh.

Which makes it completely irrelevant (and a straw man criticism) to realpc’s comments which had, as its foundation, that computer programs were analogous to DNA. When talking about algorithmic complexity in the context of when someone else talks about computer programs (and thus algorithm analysis), computational complexity is the default meaning.

I hadn’t even mentioned the terms “algorithmic” or “Kolmogorov” when you and realpc posted your blather about irrelevance; I had merely pointed out the the description of a subset is more complex (requires a longer program to express) than the description of the superset. It was relevant to anyone with a functioning brain, who could realize that the superset I had in mind was “dog of unspecified type” and the subset is “dog with specific bred characteristics”

Which makes this completely irrelevant to my comments about your misuse of the ambiguity of “algorithmic complexity” to talk about Kolmogorov in a strawman argument, when realpc was talking about programs in terms of computer science algorithm analysis (where time and memory complexity is the norm).

It seems like you like to nitpick on everyone else’s minor technical inaccuracies, but can’t even handle it when served back to you.

Comment #164238

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 5:21 AM (e)

If you weren’t such a fool, you would realise that the context in which realpc used the word “program” to describe DNA was purely in terms which would render the word “algorithm” as computer program algorithm rather than the description of data.

You’re completely clueless. A “computer program algorithm” is a formal description of the output of the algorithm. In the world of biology, the “output” of the DNA “program” is an organism.

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/information/algo…

Given a Universal Turing Machine U, the algorithmic information content, also called algorithmic complexity or Kolmogorov Complexity (KC) H(X) of string X is defined as the length of the shortest program p on U producing string X.

You’re too clueless to understand why talk origins would have an article about that.

Comment #164240

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 5:27 AM (e)

Which makes this completely irrelevant to my comments about your misuse of the ambiguity of “algorithmic complexity” to talk about Kolmogorov in a strawman argument, when realpc was talking about programs in terms of computer science algorithm analysis (where time and memory complexity is the norm).

You’re beyond stupid. realpc wrote “He forgets that a new breed of dog does not involve any increaese in complexity.” I pointed out a sense – the relevant sense – in which there is an increase in complexity: “A subset X of a set Y, where members of X have some trait not generally possessed by members of Y, necessarily and obviously has a more complex description than Y.” That’s the AIT/AC/Kolmogorov sense. Where is that increase in complexity encoded? In DNA. I’m done with you, moron.

Comment #164256

Posted by realpc on March 6, 2007 8:37 AM (e)

A subset X of a set Y, where members of X have some trait not generally possessed by members of Y, necessarily and obviously has a more complex description than Y.”

No. All Dalmations are white with black spots, while this is not true of dogs in general. But it is true of some dogs. The description of dogs in general would include possible fur coloring, and that would be a much longer description than the description of Dalmations.

Possible coloring of dogs in general (only considering coloring right now, to keep this example short, but you get it. Or you should):
- white with black spots
- brown
- black
- grey
etc.

A Dalmation is no more complex than any other dog breed. And a mut or mixed breed would have a longer description than a pure breed. So you’re saying a mut is more complex than a pure breed, which we all know is not the case.

As you can see the assertion that a new breed of dog is more complex than existing breeds – because its description is longer – is utterly ridiculous.

If everyone calls each other brain-dead idiots, it does nothing to clarify the argument. If everyone strives to show off all the technical details they know or can find at wikipedia, it confuses rather than clarifies.

I am a programmer/linguist and I could spout technical BS if I wanted to. It would just obscure the point, which is that biological systems have increased in complexity. A giraffe is more complex than an amoeba. A giraffe has many more levels of inter-related subsystems.

Comment #164264

Posted by GuyeFaux on March 6, 2007 9:26 AM (e)

As you can see the assertion that a new breed of dog is more complex than existing breeds – because its description is longer – is utterly ridiculous.

It’s not; if you use one particular, well defined version of complexity. And, unlike in your case, there’s no ambiguity to what is meant by “complexity.”

A giraffe has many more levels of inter-related subsystems.

I don’t disagree, but prove it. What’s complexity? What’s a “subsystem”? “inter-related”? You need to use words that have meaning.

Comment #164265

Posted by GuyeFaux on March 6, 2007 9:40 AM (e)

Which makes this completely irrelevant to my comments about your misuse of the ambiguity of “algorithmic complexity” to talk about Kolmogorov in a strawman argument, when realpc was talking about programs in terms of computer science algorithm analysis (where time and memory complexity is the norm).

Actually, in this context algorithmic complexity almost always refers to Kolmogorov complexity.

Now, Bog only knows wtf realpc is talking about, but for instance he said:

What if there is a law of nature, similar to gravity, which says complexity tends to increase in natural systems?

Which has nothing to do with the time/resource consumption of software algorithms and everything to do with compressibility and descriptions.

On another note, dalmatians are, if we accept that they were bred from “vanilla” dogs, are more algorithmically complex. See PG’s apt description.

Comment #164271

Posted by Raging Bee on March 6, 2007 10:18 AM (e)

If everyone strives to show off all the technical details they know or can find at wikipedia, it confuses rather than clarifies.

So now the person who doggedly repeats the same refuted assertions over and over, based on concepts he won’t even try to define, is trying to tell us how to discuss complex scientific issues? That’s hilarious!

If what we’re saying confuses YOU, realpc, it is because you have no idea what we’re talking about, and you should stop pretending you have anything to contribute to an adult conversation. Just because you don’t, or won’t, understand the facts and/or logic offered in response to your vacuous blithering, does not make it meaningless or irrelevant.

Comment #164272

Posted by GuyeFaux on March 6, 2007 10:45 AM (e)

I am a programmer/linguist and I could spout technical BS if I wanted to.

We know: your ability to spout BS on any topic was never in doubt.

Comment #164274

Posted by PvM on March 6, 2007 10:58 AM (e)

Seems that realpc has come to realize that his ‘definitions’ of complexity are not really that workable. Nevertheless, he has yet to accept that processes of variation and selection can in fact increase information and complexity (in the Shannon sense).

So far his ‘arguments’ are based on subjective ‘feelings’ that life has gotten more complex and that evolutionary theory cannot explain this.

Comment #164286

Posted by Steviepinhead on March 6, 2007 12:35 PM (e)

realmoron:

So you’re saying a mut is more complex than a pure breed, which we all know is not the case.

Ignoring your woeful spelling, the bolded statement expresses only the dimensions of your ignorance, and your ongoing refusal to define the terms you erroneously believe yourself capable of wielding. “We” don’t necessarily know any such thing. Uh, is “hybrid vigor” one more concept that eluded the grasp of your neurons on its trip through your, *koff*, brain?

Comment #164291

Posted by Richard Simons on March 6, 2007 1:57 PM (e)

realpc:

Suppose we had two strawberry plants, both of which have flowers with protective structures, organs to attract insects and male and female parts. These go on to develop fruits and complex seeds. However, one of the plants also has side shoots that elongate to produce runners that will produce plantlets away from a parent plant. It no longer needs to produce flowers and seeds to reproduce. According to your definition of complexity (“The more inter-related, differentiated, specialized, and necessary, parts, the more complex”) the second plant is therefore less complex, even though it has an extra feature. I am sure this is not what you intend.

Being able to measure the complexity of organisms is not an issue with biologists. However, perhaps this is something you could persuade IDists to work on as they seem to be the only people who care about it.

Comment #164292

Posted by Henry J on March 6, 2007 2:16 PM (e)

Re “A jellyfish is more complex than an amoeba, and a shark is more complex than a jellyfish.”

What if the amoeba has more DNA than the shark?

Comment #164294

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 2:33 PM (e)

No. All Dalmations are white with black spots, while this is not true of dogs in general. But it is true of some dogs. The description of dogs in general would include possible fur coloring, and that would be a much longer description than the description of Dalmations.

Since the description of a Dalmatian is in terms of dogs, it implicitly includes all of the description of dogs. And it wouldn’t be a full description if it didn’t tell us what would happen if it mated with some non-Dalmatian. A Dalmatian still contains the genetic machinery to produce creatures like its parents – although, over time,such machinery could be lost, as I said before. Thus while breeding (or natural evolution) does immediately introduce increased information, and thus complexity, such an increase is not necessarily monotonic – there is no law of “increase of complexity”. Finding a way to verbally describe Dalmatians with fewer words than dogs in general misses the point, and misses understanding, in much the same way that creationists claim that “God did it”
or “it was designed” is a simpler explanation, Ockham Razor-wise, than the theory of evolution.

Comment #164298

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 2:59 PM (e)

biological systems have increased in complexity

Yes, they have. And as Mark Perakh wrote, “While mutations happen to be not completely random, even if they were, random mutations plus selection would be sufficient to build up complexity”. You, OTOH, wish to avoid doing the heavy lifting of science and declare this increase as due to “a law of nature, similar to gravity, which says complexity tends to increase in natural systems”. That’s as dumb as explaining transportation in terms of a law of nature which says that distance from one’s destination tends to decrease over time. And you claim that this view, that there is a such a law of nature, is what ID is about, but not even the proponents of ID are that dumb.

OTOH, I see that you previously wrote “The question is whether information can travel from the envirnoment to the genome, or not. Recent research suggests that it can, neo-Darwinism insists that it cannot.” And yet more recently we have you denying that information can travel from the environment to the genome, when you insist that breeding (and natural selection) doesn’t increase complexity. You know nothing of what “Neo-Darwinism insists” nor of what “ID insists”. You’re a breed apart.

Comment #164300

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 3:08 PM (e)

Notably, PvM responded to realpc’s drivel about what “Neo-Darwinism insists” by writing

Information flow from environment to genome is what is commonly called selection.

But I guess, according to realpc, Neo-Darwinism insists that there is no natural selection, whereas “we would expect life to originate and evolve … is the essential message of the ID evolution theory”.

Comment #164301

Posted by Aryaman Shalizi on March 6, 2007 3:26 PM (e)

I’m a bit confused by the notion that (to paraphrase) “breeding… does immediately introduce increased information, and thus complexity,” at least with reference to the specific example of domesticated dog breeding. Perhaps this is due to the shifting definitions of complexity and information that RPC has thrown around, but here’s how I understand the problem (from the perspective of a biologist with essentially no background in information theory or computer science): The reason pure-bred dogs are pure-bred is because their genetic variability has been reduced through repeated inbreeding. Any given pure-breed dog is more likely to have the same two alleles of a particular gene, and thus be less complex than any given mixed-breed or mutt. At the population level, one would expect the set of alleles in a pure-bred population to be smaller than the set of alleles in an outbred population, and thus easier to describe for the former (pure) population than the latter.

Furthermore, isn’t saying “the genome of a new breed carries information about the intent of the breeder” a bit like saying that “the genome of any successful reproductive event carries information about the intent of the environment”? How would one discern the “intent” of a breeder who intecrosses a small population of animals in the genomes of the resultant offspring from the absence of intent in genomes of the offspring resulting fom a few animals stranded on a desert island?

Comment #164302

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 3:37 PM (e)

And for those who don’t understand the relationship between information and complexity, see this talk.origins article that I cited previously:

This article highlights some of the main concepts of Algorithmic Information Theory. Knowledge of this subject can be useful when arguing with Creationists whose use of concepts from both Classical and Algorithmic Information Theory might be sloppy.

Kolmogorov, Chaitin, and Solomonoff independently came up with the idea of representing the complexity of a string based on its compressibility by representing it as a program.

Given a Universal Turing Machine U, the algorithmic information content, also called algorithmic complexity or Kolmogorov Complexity (KC) H(X) of string X is defined as the length of the shortest program p on U producing string X.

And of course

KC is not the same as computational complexity. Computational complexity theory deals with the amount of computing resources (time and memory) needed to solve a problem. Computational complexity is unrelated to whether a string is compressible on a given UTM.

i.e., computational complexity is irrelevant to the issue of information content, whereas Komogorov complexity is of course quite relevant.

Comment #164303

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 3:57 PM (e)

Any given pure-breed dog is more likely to have the same two alleles of a particular gene, and thus be less complex than any given mixed-breed or mutt. At the population level, one would expect the set of alleles in a pure-bred population to be smaller than the set of alleles in an outbred population, and thus easier to describe for the former (pure) population than the latter.

“two socks of the same color” is a more complex description (has more information content) than “two socks”. One could argue, a la realpc, that “two socks, which might be red or green or white or black or …” is a longer description than “two red socks”, but a description of the pool from which the socks might be drawn is not a description of the socks and is not information about the socks. Of course, you could argue, a la steviepinhead, that “hybrid vigor” is selected, and thus reflects information about the environment, information that is lost through breeding. As I said, it’s not monotonically increasing. So it would be more accurate to say that breeding introduces information about the intent of the breeder into the genome but loses information about the historical environment.

isn’t saying “the genome of a new breed carries information about the intent of the breeder” a bit like saying that “the genome of any successful reproductive event carries information about the intent of the environment”

No, that second “intent” is spurious. “intent” is a shorthand that can be used in regard to rational agents to refer to a complex set of behavioral dispositions; see Daniel Dennett’s work on “the intentional stance”. The facts about bred dogs provide us with information about the environment – specifically about the breeder – more specifically about the breeder’s intent – just as the facts about naturally occurring organisms provides us with information about the natural environment that produced them.

Comment #164305

Posted by GuyeFaux on March 6, 2007 4:01 PM (e)

At the population level, one would expect the set of alleles in a pure-bred population to be smaller than the set of alleles in an outbred population, and thus easier to describe for the former (pure) population than the latter.

My take on it is that this implies that in a pure-breed, the presence of any particular allele is less surprising than in its mutt counterpart. This is a gain in information.

Comment #164306

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 4:13 PM (e)

How would one discern the “intent” of a breeder who intecrosses a small population of animals in the genomes of the resultant offspring from the absence of intent in genomes of the offspring resulting fom a few animals stranded on a desert island?

If the breeder selects pairs with any intent at all, or even randomly, then that is likely to be reflected in a statistical difference from animals acting upon whatever sexual selection strategies they have evolved, although the difference may be too subtle to discern. But the context was of a breeder with some discernible purpose, and the assumption that the breeder actually achieves the desired outcome, so I don’t see the point of the question. That it’s possible to come up with scenarios where a breeder fails to select, and so no information is transferred to the genome, doesn’t change the fact that information is transferred via selection.

Comment #164307

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 4:20 PM (e)

My take on it is that this implies that in a pure-breed, the presence of any particular allele is less surprising than in its mutt counterpart. This is a gain in information.

Indeed, inability to predict the allele in a mutt is a lack of information in the Shannon sense. And there’s a sense in which we can interpret the purebred as a message from the breeder.

Comment #164317

Posted by Aryaman Shalizi on March 6, 2007 5:08 PM (e)

PG and GuyeFaux-
Thanks for the clarification and linkage; is there an emoticon for light bulb going off? If I understand correctly the increase in information in this context is that within the pure-bred population I can predict with greater accuracy the specific allele at any locus because of the reduced variability within a pure-bred population as opposed to an out-bred population, right?

Re your comment 164307, PG, for what it’s worth I was thinking of a hypothetical situation as follows: A farmer has a problem with rabbits eating her crops and weasels eating her chickens; she wants to breed a dog that can go after both, and selects dogs with stockier legs and longer bodies that can chase both rabbits and weasels into a burrow for breeding; after some generations, she has a Dachshund. Now, suppose a pair of dogs are let loose in a remote area where the only prey available are rabbits and weasels; I wouldn’t be surpised to observe something like a Dachshund evolve after a sufficient interval. Of course, one might observe other phenotypes, but I was thinking from the perspective of finding a free-living Dachshund-like dogs in an area where all they had to eat were burrowing animals. That was the sort of scenario that had me puzzled about how you could discern breeder intent form the vagaries of a specific evolutionary pathway, just from genomic comparisons. Thanks for the clarification.

Comment #164323

Posted by realpc on March 6, 2007 5:27 PM (e)

Popper’s ghost said:

You, OTOH, wish to avoid doing the heavy lifting of science and declare this increase as due to “a law of nature, similar to gravity, which says complexity tends to increase in natural systems”. That’s as dumb as explaining transportation in terms of a law of nature which says that distance from one’s destination tends to decrease over time.

Yeah, it’s almost as ridiculous as explaining rocks falling to the ground in terms of a mysterious non-physical attraction between the rocks and the earth!

Comment #164325

Posted by realpc on March 6, 2007 5:33 PM (e)


Information flow from environment to genome is what is commonly called selection.

You are very confused. NDE says that the genone within an individual organism does NOT respond to changes in the environment. Selection modifies the species, not an individual.

Comment #164327

Posted by MarkP on March 6, 2007 5:39 PM (e)

You are very confused. NDE says that the genone within an individual organism does NOT respond to changes in the environment. Selection modifies the species, not an individual.

No shit Sherlock. For you to think anyone posting here needed to be told that shows who the really confused one here is.

Comment #164333

Posted by realpc on March 6, 2007 6:21 PM (e)


No shit Sherlock. For you to think anyone posting here needed to be told that shows who the really confused one here is.

No shit yourself. I was responding to this:


Information flow from environment to genome is what is commonly called selection.

Comment #164335

Posted by GuyeFaux on March 6, 2007 6:22 PM (e)

Selection modifies the species, not an individual.

First of all, duh.

Secondly, PvM’s statement does not imply otherwise:

Information flow from environment to genome is what is commonly called selection.

The information content of a genome is actually a statement about allele frequencies in the gene-pool. The process by which these frequencies change is called selection. In other words, what PvM said.

Comment #164340

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 6:53 PM (e)

You are very confused. NDE says that the genone within an individual organism does NOT respond to changes in the environment.

Sigh. You originally wrote “The question is whether information can travel from the envirnoment to the genome, or not. Recent research suggests that it can, neo-Darwinism insists that it cannot.” If what you meant was that the environment can affect the genes of an individual, you should have said so. Of course, the claim that “Neo-Darwinism insists” otherwise is absurd. But if you are claiming that “recent research suggests” that all the genes (the genome) of an individual change in concert in response to the environment, that’s just one more of the loony things you claim; it certainly isn’t what the Rando/Verstrepen paper asserts.

Comment #164343

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 7:00 PM (e)

You are very confused. NDE says that the genone within an individual organism does NOT respond to changes in the environment. Selection modifies the species, not an individual.

No shit Sherlock. For you to think anyone posting here needed to be told that shows who the really confused one here is.

But realpc thinks that the genome “within an individual organism” does respond to changes in the environment. Either he doesn’t understand what a genome is, or he’s a loon, or both.

Comment #164344

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 6, 2007 7:11 PM (e)

RPC is all over the board, and it’s like he’s deliberately trying to be obtuse.

my conclusion is that he’s simply a sock puppet for somebody like Wagner.

really, his posts are so idiotic and so free of content, that I don’t think there is really any reason to repond to them further, even for the lurkers.

well, there is the whack-a-mole aspect of it, but other than that.

Comment #164345

Posted by David B. Benson on March 6, 2007 7:14 PM (e)

Popper’s Ghost — Both.

Comment #164346

Posted by Popper's ghost on March 6, 2007 7:21 PM (e)

I would note the the environment does change the genome of unicellular organisms, and that such changes aren’t necessarily random with respect to fitness, but this is no more “intelligently guided” than our immune system intelligently guiding the effects of disease organisms on our bodies. Certainly such non-randomness isn’t any support for ID, nor does the “current theory” “insist” that such effects don’t occur; scientific theories aren’t conscious agents, capable of “insisting” anything; they are dynamic explanatory frameworks that shift in response to accumulated evidence.

Comment #164407

Posted by PvM on March 7, 2007 12:23 PM (e)

realpc wrote:


Information flow from environment to genome is what is commonly called
selection.

You are very confused. NDE says that the genone within an individual
organism does NOT respond to changes in the environment. Selection modifies
the species, not an individual.

But that is not what I said. from environment to genome… Not from environment to a genome.
A subtle though important difference which may cause realpc to better understand how science explains information flow from the environment to the genome.

Let’s say that a trait arises via (several) mutation which in the environment has a beneficial effect. Evolutionary theory shows that such a trait can spread under selection to the genome of the species, going from low frequency (effectively zero) to a frequency close to 1. As such, information has flowed from the environment to the genome via selection.

It’s simple. Check out the work by Schneider, Adami or others who have actually done the hard work. It’s out there for all to consider.

I can see why you may have been confused by my statement but the statement stands

PS Are you working on applying your definition of complexity?

Comment #164409

Posted by Glen Davidson on March 7, 2007 12:48 PM (e)

Yeah, it’s almost as ridiculous as explaining rocks falling to the ground in terms of a mysterious non-physical attraction between the rocks and the earth!

That would be ridiculous indeed. Gravity being a physical phenomenon.

I can never figure out whether your ignorance stems more from your lack of any non-trivial science knowledge, or if it is primarily because you don’t even know how words are used in language.

And of course you’ll drone on stupidly without even noting that, once again, you have stepped, up to your neck, in elephant poo.

You’re a programmer-linguist? That’s about as tall a tale as I have ever heard, since you’re about as competent in English as Washoe the chimp was.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #164427

Posted by Washoe Chimp on March 7, 2007 3:25 PM (e)

Washoe not know plenty words.

Washoe not know big words.

Words Washoe know, Washoe know good.

Not like “realpc” hairless chimp.

Comment #164459

Posted by realpc on March 7, 2007 6:48 PM (e)


Gravity being a physical phenomenon.

In what sense, exactly, is gravity “physical?” You mean it has been described by physicists? Before Einstein, “physical” referred to the world of our senses, as it still does in casual conversation.

We no longer have a clear definition of the words “physical” or “material.” We know that matter is made of empty space and “particles” that are not particles at all.

Gravity is still a mystery, however physicists describe it. What about “strings?” Are they physical, well-understood, scientific entities, just because physicists describe them mathematically?

A law of complexity could be a reasonable working hypothesis, and is not any stranger than many accepted constructs in physics.

Comment #164461

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 7, 2007 6:58 PM (e)

RPC, you’re lost in a world of definitions of your own making.

for your own safety, you should stop using the word “we” at any time.

Comment #164462

Posted by GuyeFaux on March 7, 2007 6:59 PM (e)

In what sense, exactly, is gravity “physical?”

Realpc asking for a definition is the height of irony.

Comment #164468

Posted by Glen Davidson on March 7, 2007 8:04 PM (e)

In what sense, exactly, is gravity “physical?” You mean it has been described by physicists?

That’s part of it, yes. That it is known through our senses and via instruments is another factor—IOW, it is something that is able to be tested. This is what distinguishes scientifically investigable phenomena (physics in the ultimate sense) from other purported phenomena.

It’s Galileo working out gravity’s effects (even if he didn’t know it as “gravity”, nor in the manner that Newton knew it) by experiment and producing calculations which described the acceleration of objects under the influence of gravity.

Before Einstein, “physical” referred to the world of our senses, as it still does in casual conversation.

Neither claim is true. Here’s what an etymological dictionary tells us about the origin of the term “physical”:

c.1450, “of or pertaining to material nature,” from M.L. physicalis “of nature, natural,” from L. physica “study of nature” (see physic). Meaning “of the body, corporeal” is attested from 1780. Meaning “characterized by bodily attributes or activities” is attested from 1970. Physical education first recorded 1838; abbreviated form phys ed is from 1955.

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=physica…

Comment #164469

Posted by Glen Davidson on March 7, 2007 8:08 PM (e)

continuing from above:

Nothing to do with “the senses” there, any more than the earlier etymological “physis” coming from Aristotle insists on referring to “the world of the senses.”

And when people say “physical” they typically mean “of or pertaining to material nature” also, regardless of whether or not one can directly “sense” something.

Not that this has anything to do with gravity, as it can be sensed about as readily as light can be, by its effects upon our sensory organs. Exactly how to describe (other than in circular sensory terms), let alone account for, gravity remained a mystery, which was also true of light.

We no longer have a clear definition of the words “physical” or “material.” We know that matter is made of empty space and “particles” that are not particles at all.

We never did have clear definitions of the words “physical” and “material”. So what? There are many treatments of what we mean “inter-subjectively” by the term “physics”, while “matter” and “material” are largely described by physics today.

Gravity is still a mystery, however physicists describe it.

And it is best dealt with via physics. Someday you’re going to have to give up your naive notions about the need for clear “definitions” so that you may recognize how words are actually used in science and in normal human discourse.

What about “strings?” Are they physical, well-understood, scientific entities, just because physicists describe them mathematically?

Wow, you really don’t know what’s at issue in string theory and in the rest of science. The dicey status of string theory at present is due to the relative lack of confirming data. Mathematical description is necessary for theorizing, but strings only exist “scientifically” if they can be satisfactorily shown to exist via evidence (which ultimately is mediated by sensory perceptions).

A law of complexity could be a reasonable working hypothesis,

Except that it doesn’t hold in any predictable manner. Overall complexity is certainly up from the hypothetical earliest days of fairly simple life, but overall complexity, and many cases of organismic complexity, have often decreased over the course of evolution. Since it’s not a workable hypothesis in biology, it could not be a reasonable working hypothesis.

and is not any stranger than many accepted constructs in physics.

It isn’t even formulated properly. We still speak of “laws”, but new laws no longer appear in science, at least as far as I know. Laws were and are merely descriptive, useful to Newton who was too busy explaining the connectedness of “physics” at the time to try to work out what a “law of gravity” might actually mean, but not really much of an explanation for what is merely perceived to be physical regularities.

No one would want a “law of complexity”, then, even if it were workable. We tend to be past the days when description of some regularity (which “increasing complexity” is not) is considered to be anything more than something yet to be explained, if indeed it has not been explained.

The fact of the matter is that the tendency of complexity to rise over time (at least from the earliest levels, though possibly not forever even as a tendency) is adequately understood (so far anyway) via modern evolutionary theory, most of all because increasing complexity is not considered in evolutionary theory even to be a “law-like” phenomenon.

What is more, if any “law-like” increase in complexity is to be considered, it really ought to deal with the total increase in complexity in the universe over time, something that entropy largely covers as a prediction. The truth of the matter is that entropy reasonably describes the increases in complexity of life and of non-life, not surprising since both follow the same “physical laws” (of course much more than entropy has to be used to explain the complexities of cosmos and of life, since entropy measures and predictions tell us that entropy is always either conserved or increased, and does not tell us in what manner this conservation or increase will be observed to be).

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #164517

Posted by realpc on March 8, 2007 9:14 AM (e)

entropy reasonably describes the increases in complexity of life and of non-life, not surprising since both follow the same “physical laws”

There is nothing resembling truth in that statement. Increasing entropy does NOT mean increasing complexity. Life defies entropy, temporarily.

An increase in entropy means a decrease in differentiation, a decrease in order, or an increase in randomness. The opposite of what we generally mean by “complexity.”

Unfortunately, some people here have a naive belief that words can be defined perfectly and easily. As with “complexity,” defining “entropy” depends on knowing the context. Sometimes “negatvie entropy” is used to mean increases in complexity and information content.

One of the problems with mechanistic theories of the origin and evolution of life is that life represents a decrease in entropy, while the laws of physics expect entropy to increase overall. Of course, the answer usually is that life is a temporary exception to the general tendency of entropy to increase.

What if the opposite were true, and the general direction of the universe were towards decreasing entropy (increasing complexity)?

Comment #164520

Posted by fnxtr on March 8, 2007 9:36 AM (e)

Aryaman: “dachshund” means “badger hound”, so you were close. And if they actually ate badgers, then yeah…

Comment #164524

Posted by Raging Bee on March 8, 2007 10:06 AM (e)

Unfortunately, some people here have a naive belief that words can be defined perfectly and easily.

Yeah, right, yet another dodge. Just because YOU can’t work with exact and consistent definitions of words and concepts, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

This is true Stupidity: refusing to understand that the knowledge and talent one lacks even exist at all. It’s the sound of a rigid, lazy “student” insisting that a task he can’t – or won’t – master is impossible, while those who have mastered it laugh at him, and his teacher and parents cringe in embarrassment.

Comment #164529

Posted by Glen Davidson on March 8, 2007 10:50 AM (e)

There is nothing resembling truth in that statement.

Said the uneducated liar to the learned one.

Increasing entropy does NOT mean increasing complexity. Life defies entropy, temporarily.

Translation: You’re stupid and you demand that your idiocy and lies be treated as if they were truth.

Sure, life defies entropy. Moron.

An increase in entropy means a decrease in differentiation,

You need to learn even how to learn, rather than to restate your mindless chatter no matter how much intelligence passes before you.

a decrease in order, or an increase in randomness. The opposite of what we generally mean by “complexity.”

Apparently you learned your “science” from Dumbski, who also stupidly claims that simplicity is complexity.

Unfortunately, some people here have a naive belief that words can be defined perfectly and easily.

Unfortunately, one person here knows nothing about how words convey meaning, and is too stupid even to recognize when somebody else deals with words properly without the idiot’s demand that words be defined perfectly and easily. Since you’re such a cretin, realpc, I’ll note that that person is you. Even you’d probably get it, but who knows? You are unable to take up almost everything presented to you.

As with “complexity,” defining “entropy” depends on knowing the context.

What a fool you are. Entropy essentially has only one context, which is a selected region of energy states (or the totality of energy states) as understood in physics. Now some not-too-bright folk think that this means that entropy doesn’t apply to, say, disorder “matter” as well, but of course it does because matter disorders via energy states. Still it’s more complicated when, for instance, colloidal particles are involved than when adiabatic expansion of gases occurs.

It seems that you learned one thing in your schooling: how to ask for definitions as a debating tactic. Since you’re too dimwitted to understand that meanings are indeed possible even where definitions strictly understood are not, and that even definitions are possible (even if not absolute) within the context of physcs, you’re stuck blithering on about “contexts” that you don’t understand, and pointing out the banal fact that “complexity” is contextual. Everyone here has little or no problem with the latter fact, it’s only you who are unable to use the term “complexity” properly within the implied contexts.

Sometimes “negatvie entropy” is used to mean increases in complexity and information content.

How very stupid you are. You don’t even know the difference between order and complexity. “Negative entropy”, which is simply a metaphor (Idiot! You who claim to be something of a linguist doesn’t know the difference between metaphors and the carefully defined “original” meaning of a word), tends to mean increase in order, which may or may not involve the decrease in complexity and information that would really constitute a reduction in entropy. This “negative entropy” really is dependent upon context, particularly since it is often used to mean the opposite of what “decrease in entropy” actually means, but as you’re using non-scientific meanings where you ought to be using scientific meanings (apparently because you don’t know anything about the latter), you’re incapable of dealing with entropy in a scientific context. Thus your stupid and dishonest responses.

But then you so clearly know nothing about physics, and very little about how to understand English as used in philosophy and in science.

One of the problems with mechanistic theories of the origin and evolution of life is that life represents a decrease in entropy,

Life involves local decreases in entropy, which are well understood by those of us who know science, and remain a fog (like language) to cretins such as yourself.

while the laws of physics expect entropy to increase overall.

Which it does, retard.

Of course, the answer usually is that life is a temporary exception to the general tendency of entropy to increase.

Of course that isn’t the answer, liar. Modern chemistry wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t know how to effect local decreases in entropy, while paying for it by increasing entropy overall (SLOT doesn’t demand an increase, and would be “content” with conservation, but practically, conservation is impossible). Life is chemistry, dolt (that laboratory chemistry operates typically by moving from disequilibrium to equilibrium, while life remains far from equilibrium until death changes nothing about the fact that the same physics is involved in “both processes”).

What if the opposite were true, and the general direction of the universe were towards decreasing entropy (increasing complexity)?

You apparently are incapable of learning anything beyond a pack of lies, fool.

Since you are too stupid to be educated, I suspect it’s meaningless to bring in an authority who knows more about this than I do (I’m no physicist, but have some college physics under my belt and a philosophical education which requires knowledge of crucial aspects of physics)), but here it is anyway (others might benefit):

Many view information as a logical sequence of bits of some meaning as oppose [sic] to a thermal state, which is a state of randomness. The known scientific knowledge does not support this mystic idea. Shannon has shown that the higher the randomness of the bits in a file, the higher the amount of information in it. The Landauer and Bennet school suggests that the randomness of the bits in a file is related to Kolmogorove complexity. This claim may give an impression that the Shannon information is a meaningful subjective quantity. However, according to the Shannon theory a compressed file, containing meaningful information, has similar amount [sic] of information as an identical file, with one flipped bit that cannot be decompressed and therefore, for us the receivers, it is just a noise. [Reference numbers left out, and bolding added. Mistakes in number by the author probably are due to his being a non-native English speaker.]

Page 2 of:

http://arxiv.org/ftp/cs/papers/0602/0602023.pdf

Comment #164530

Posted by Glen Davidson on March 8, 2007 10:52 AM (e)

continuing from above:

Of course the direction of the universe is toward increasing complexity, you’re just too stupid to understand what that actually means. Or as Oded Kafri (author of the above quote) put it more kindly, yours is a “mystic idea.” It is thus not surprising that pseudoscientists like yourself and the IDists constantly believe this mystic idea, as you certainly don’t know anything about science (or how to use words, recognize truth, or how to refrain from stupidly lying).

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #164531

Posted by Glen Davidson on March 8, 2007 10:55 AM (e)

And because Kolmogorov is an important figure in the relatedness of information and entropy, I should point out that I added an “e” at the end of “Kolmogorov” (I wrote “Kolmogorove”) in my quote from Kafri’s paper.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #164534

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on March 8, 2007 11:09 AM (e)

realpc wrote:

Life defies entropy, temporarily.

There is nothing resembling truth in that statement. Of course all physical laws applies for life as well. Since we live in an open environment (receives energy from the sun), and life is a complex and open system, it is hard to measure and model entropy. It is up to you to show that any system such as life defies entropy.

But for what it is worth, it is generally considered that “living organisms preserve their internal order by taking from their surroundings free energy, in the form of nutrients or sunlight, and returning to their surroundings an equal amount of energy as heat and entropy” ( Lehninger).

realpc wrote:

An increase in entropy means a decrease in differentiation, a decrease in order, or an increase in randomness.

In classical thermodynamics, entropy is simply describing irreversibility in thermodynamic systems. When elaborated in statistical mechanics, it measures the number of microscopic configurations of the system.

Spontaneous processes that tend to smooth out differences is described by increasing entropy. To use it as a measure of disorder is difficult, and it is meaningless to substitute ‘randomness’ for disorder. Randomness is about stochasticity, not the degree to which the probability of the system is spread out over different possible configurations.

realpc wrote:

life represents a decrease in entropy

So now it no longer ‘defies’ entropy?

This is forgetting that any example of life is an open system. As Lehninger says above, any order built or preserved that would result in decreased entropy (which must be shown, as noted) is then balanced by increasing entropy in the environment.

Comment #164536

Posted by Raging Bee on March 8, 2007 11:13 AM (e)

And every winter, water defies entropy whenever it freezes from a disordered liquid to an orderly crystalline structure. Is this proof of a “designer?”

Comment #164571

Posted by PvM on March 8, 2007 3:25 PM (e)

realpc wrote:

In what sense, exactly, is gravity “physical?” You mean it has been described by physicists? Before Einstein, “physical” referred to the world of our senses, as it still does in casual conversation.

We no longer have a clear definition of the words “physical” or “material.” We know that matter is made of empty space and “particles” that are not particles at all.

It’s physical because it can be quantified, measured in an objective manner. Unlike your concept of complexity

Comment #164589

Posted by AC on March 8, 2007 4:11 PM (e)

realpc wrote:

Yeah, it’s almost as ridiculous as explaining rocks falling to the ground in terms of a mysterious non-physical attraction between the rocks and the earth!

Assuming that your rhetoric does not stem from personal ignorance, it would still only impress the ignorant. People who know the first thing about modern gravitational theory would laugh at your use of “non-physical” to describe an attractive force proportional to the masses of objects and your use of “mysterious” to describe something as well-formulated as modern gravitational theory.

“Nobody knows how electricity works. I don’t; do you?” only works on insipid Oprah-watchers. You’ll find few of those here.

Comment #164679

Posted by Popper's Ghost on March 9, 2007 1:38 AM (e)

What if the opposite were true

What if realpc weren’t a moron? Well, we’ll never know.

Comment #164692

Posted by Sir_Toejam on March 9, 2007 4:31 AM (e)

hey, RPC -

how many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop?

Comment #164737

Posted by Helen Nanney on March 9, 2007 1:05 PM (e)

All you need to do is read my E-book on “The Intelligent Designer” or order my paperback, “journey Into the Light” from any on line or local bookstore, by visiting my web site http://www.journey-book.com and click on e-book.

All the controversy will be settled once and for all. Theory and all the other speculations will not answer the questions, enlightenment can offer. After all these years of research science should have proof beyond a doubt. I have proof beyond a doubt. There is too much to document in this space, so if you are really interested in the science of the universe, enjoy, and it is a science beyond what you may expect.

Comment #164821

Posted by MarkP on March 9, 2007 11:49 PM (e)

No, please, document it in this space. I love seeing swine shredded.

Comment #164827

Posted by Popper's Ghost on March 10, 2007 2:41 AM (e)

I doubt that someone who can’t even spell her own name can provide “proof beyond a doubt”.

Comment #164886

Posted by Henry J on March 10, 2007 4:33 PM (e)

Re “All the controversy will be settled once and for all.”

If there really was one book that would settle the “controversy”, there wouldn’t be a controversy.

Henry

Comment #164973

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on March 11, 2007 12:46 AM (e)

HN wrote:

Theory and all the other speculations

This tells us you don’t know what a scientific theory connotes - it makes predictions, not speculations. So unfortunately you have written your book and now commented in vain.

Comment #186442

Posted by victoria on July 7, 2007 10:20 AM (e)

;)Man is only happy as he finds a work worth doing, and does it well.