PvM posted Entry 2973 on March 10, 2007 11:31 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2963

On Uncommon Descent, JohnnyB states that

I’m currently working through Robustness and Evolvability in Living Systems, and came across the following information which seems to be right in line with Denton’s evolution by natural law ideas:

A final, especially counterintuitive feature of RNA sequence space is that all frequent structures are near each other in sequence space. Consider a randomly chosen sequence that folds into a frequent structure and ask how far one has to step away from the original sequence to find a sequence that folds into this second structure…For instance, for RNAs of length n = 100 nucleotides, a sphere of r = 15 mutational steps contains with probability one a sequence for any common structure. This implies that one has to search a vanishingly small fraction of sequence space…to find all common structures.

Yes, laws of nature have indeed led to RNA space being extremely suitable for ‘evolution’ due to its scale free nature. Of course, scale free networks have been shown to be able to arise from the simple process of duplication and preferential attachment. And that’s exactly what we observe in for instance gene duplication. In other words, johnnyb has once again observed how the designer is quite natural, reducing even further ID’s standing and underlining ID’s scientific vacuity as it provides NO explanations as to why, how etc. Unlike science.

I have discussed these fascinating properties of RNA space and the topic of evolvability in many postings at PandasThumb. It’s good to come to realize that some IDers are actually reading scientific research, even though accepting scientific explanations completely undermines ID’s attempt to hide in ignorance.
JohnnyB also gives me some hope that IDers, properly exposed to real science, will quickly reject Intelligent Design as scientifically vacuous.

Of course there are significant problems if ID were to go down this path

Jehu
Designed to evolve? This just seems silly. You reduce ID to a tautology. First you argue, it couldn’t have evolved by random chance. Then when random chance is not a problem, you argue it was designed to evolve.

bfast hopes for a more interactive designer

“Designed to evolve” = the front-loading hypothesis. There’s a lot to be said for the front-loading hypothesis, but I personally am more convinced of frequent acts of agency. Though I think that life is designed to withstand, even periodically benefit from, random accidents, I don’t beleive that random accidents + the great cull engine in any way accounts for life’s divercity.

Never mind the lack of supporting evidence. The problem is with bfast’s fallacious beliefs. Even when ID proponents point to the obvious IDers are quick to return to their deity

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Comment #164976

Posted by djlactin on March 11, 2007 12:51 AM (e)

Oops!

Important rule of writing is to ensure that a pronoun can be linked unambiguously to its antecedent…

JohnnyB also gives me some hope that IDers, properly exposed to real science, will quickly reject it as scientifically vacuous

I read this as ‘it’ = science. I’m pretty sure you don’t mean this!

Comment #164984

Posted by PvM on March 11, 2007 2:18 AM (e)

Oops, thanks, corrected it.

Comment #164989

Posted by djlactin on March 11, 2007 3:12 AM (e)

ok. please delete my previous entry and this one. (and PvM’s reply?)

Comment #165006

Posted by Dan Gaston on March 11, 2007 9:17 AM (e)

RNA is hardly the only thing to share this trait, we know that with proteins structure space is much smaller than sequence space but in this case it isn’t so much how far can we move away from the sequence and maintain the structure (which is quite far actually) but how many unique protein folds are there? And the current estimate is not very many, which is perfectly in line with how we believe proteins involve which is as modular units and possibly through domain building in loop regions.

We can go well down in to the “twilight zone” of protein sequence homology and still identify homology based on structure, which changes at a much slower pace than sequences do.

Comment #165007

Posted by Rupert Goodwins on March 11, 2007 9:47 AM (e)

Reading the rest of the discussion on UD, it seems as if they’re inching their way towards the strong anthropic principle.

Perhaps we could categorise all creationist theories along a scale from 0 to 100:

0 - No intentional act of creation, no creator
10 - Creator set in place physical laws for a universe, then stepped back
20 - Creator set in place physical laws designed to permit life, then stepped back
30 - Creator set in place physical laws designed to permit life, then made ongoing adjustments to results until basics of self-replicating life were in place
40 - As 30, except ongoing adjustments continued for elements of complex organisms
50 - As 40, except ongoing adjustments are continuing today
60 - Creator explicitly created complex organisms from nothing
70 - As 60, and ‘laws of physics’ are not as science thinks of them today
80 - As 70, except creation continues today
90 - All things exist under the direct and immediate control of the creator, nature is unknowable
100 - All things are just figments of the creator’s imagination

Sort of a Richter scale for creationism. ID would sit, I think between 30 and 50 - but only because a step back to 20 would leave evolutionary theory entirely untouched and going to 60 would be indistinguishable from classic creationism even to them (although I don’t know what in ID prevents wholesale creation a la Genesis). The scale also doesn’t differentiate the idea that man was created directly by God, with everything else being as it appears, although it might be somewhere in the high 50s.

But the pressure is certainly on to move ID down the scale to the 20s, where strong anthropic theory lies, because until the ideas of specified complexity (or whatever it’s called today) have been shown to have validity there’s just no reason for ID to pick its ground any higher, except through belief.

The arguments in that UD discussion seem to implicitly accept that, since some of the participants are now saying “well, even if physical laws allow that [the small space in which RNA variations live] then how likely is THAT to just have happened? Eh? Eh? See! Proof!”

R

Comment #165016

Posted by normdoering on March 11, 2007 11:34 AM (e)

Rupert Goodwins,

I like your Richter scale for creationism. I think I want to tweak it though to get in ideas about macro versus micro evolution and such.

I think I’ll put something like it on my blog and credit you, if you don’t mind.

http://normdoering.blogspot.com

Comment #165018

Posted by Rupert Goodwins on March 11, 2007 12:27 PM (e)

Please do! It’s only a crude idea at the moment and needs a lot of modification before exhibiting fitness, if ever. The middle ground needs more resolution, while the stuff at either end takes up forty percent of the space for a minimal amount of utility. As it is, though, I think it can take quite a lot of standard creationist stances (and not just those in the Mosaic religions).

I’d be interested in the reaction of ID supporters to such an idea, too: I don’t think it’s in any way biased against them.

Rupert

Comment #165019

Posted by MarkP on March 11, 2007 12:42 PM (e)

I think I want to tweak it though to get in ideas about macro versus micro evolution and such.

Wouldn’t that be in the 40-50 range?

Comment #165024

Posted by stevaroni on March 11, 2007 1:40 PM (e)

Wouldn’t that be in the 40-50 range?

No, macroevolution is between 20-30. Set it, forget it, walk away.

Microevolution is between 40-30. There are still limits, so the big D has to come back and tweak things once in a while to keep things running on the rails. Therefore he’s still important.

Thats’ why it’s absolutely critical for the ID team to make a distinction where none exists. They simply have to accept some level of evolution to be taken seriously - it’s just too demonstrable to ignore - but they still have to find some critical, continuing job for the big guy upstairs.

RG’s right, there’s some line in the sand at about 25 that ID dare not cross.

Comment #165027

Posted by normdoering on March 11, 2007 3:07 PM (e)

stevaroni wrote:

Microevolution is between 40-30.

Uh-Oh, we’ve got semantic arguments already.

I thought an 80 could still believe in microevolution, at least as far as micro-organisms go, and maybe even finch beaks and dog breeding. Don’t they allow for that at Answers in Genesis?

Comment #165028

Posted by stevaroni on March 11, 2007 3:28 PM (e)

Uh-Oh, we’ve got semantic arguments already.

On the plus side, Rupert gave us 9 more gaps!

Comment #165029

Posted by MarkP on March 11, 2007 3:29 PM (e)

I think what we are accidentally exposing is just how muddled the micro vs macro concept is. I was thinking 40-50 for macroevolution because the creator would hav to step into microevolution world to make it happen. “Let there be new species” and some such. The IDer/creationist mindset may not be expressable in such an ordered way, for perhaps the same reason their thinking went astray in the first place.

Comment #165032

Posted by David B. Benson on March 11, 2007 3:54 PM (e)

MarkP — Rationality Disorder?

Comment #165036

Posted by Rupert Goodwins on March 11, 2007 5:30 PM (e)

I don’t know exactly where the various flavours of speciation/differentiation would fall, but I’m not sure that there’s a big enough vocab overlap with the creationists who care about such things to make it useful. Macro would be below 40, I guess. At the other end, there could be a ‘creator explicitly created all complex creatures’ between 70 and 80.

But yes, this highlights the facts that in evolutionary biology there are ever more subtle ideas of how to differentiate and group, while in ID any attempt to make clear distinctions immediately raises the terrible spectre that some blighter will then try and test for them.

R

Comment #165037

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on March 11, 2007 6:11 PM (e)

The Goodwin scale for creationism is a great way to expose the underlying “front-loading” of their preconceptions and the consequent barrenness of their ideas.

I’m sure one can find similar scales to place scientific ideas against, an example is perhaps degree of adaptationism in evolution. But the difference is that no one scale covers the whole, there are a lot of paradigms around, and they change over time.

PvM wrote:

Of course, scale free networks have been shown to be able to arise from the simple process of duplication and preferential attachment.

Sounds interesting. Does anyone have suggestions for references?

Comment #165071

Posted by Frank J on March 12, 2007 4:09 AM (e)

Rupert,

I’m not sure what mechanisms you have in mind in the 30-59 range, but before you get to “from nothing” (60) you should specify:

a. independent abiogenesis of species from existing nonliving matter.

b. “in vivo” origin of new species by non-evolutionary mechanisms.

IOW, “a” denies common descent, but “b” doesn’t. That’s the part IDers especially want to avoid, because they know that the classic creationist explanations are nonsense, but they can’t admit it for political reasons. Dembski did admit, however, that the “from nothing” is nonsense. Heck, even classic creationists say “dust” (though one wonders where the water came from).

Nevertheless, because of its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, ID attempts to accommodate anything >0.

Comment #165073

Posted by Rupert Goodwins on March 12, 2007 5:24 AM (e)

Common descent’s a good ‘un, and I’ve never fully understood ID’s stance on this - well, that’s a bit of a fib. I’ve never fully understood ID’s _stated_ stance on this, or even if there is one. I know where they’re coming from.

Evolutionary biology is clear. All species we know are believed to come from a common ancestor. If a completely different sort of life were discovered in some long-isolated niche, that wouldn’t damage evolutionary thought in the slightest (in fact, it’s a discovery devoutly to be wished: the new perspectives would be incredibly valuable). If cats and dogs were shown to have no common ancestor, then evolution would need to be massively rethought.

Above 60, common descent is fairly meaningless. If you have a creator making complex creatures through individual, single acts of creation, and if there’s no way of telling created creatures from evolved creatures, then you cannot use any of the scientific evidence for common ancestry. Godidit. That sort of thinking is used by believers in von Daniken who, having watched Randi replicate the spoon-bending, say “Ah, but you can’t prove that von Daniken did it that way. He could still be using psychic powers”.

What would be genuinely interesting would be to write an online questionnaire to find out where IDers sit on all these issues, and then map the spread of results.

R

Comment #165088

Posted by Frank J on March 12, 2007 10:13 AM (e)

rupert goodwins wrote:

Common descent’s a good ‘un, and I’ve never fully understood ID’s stance on this - well, that’s a bit of a fib. I’ve never fully understood ID’s _stated_ stance on this, or even if there is one. I know where they’re coming from.

Behe admitted it early on, and to my knowledge, no other IDer has challenged him directly. Not even the supposed YEC Paul Nelson. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t want the “masses” to believe YEC or at least a no-common-descent OEC.

Comment #165089

Posted by Frank J on March 12, 2007 10:17 AM (e)

Rupert Goodwins wrote:

What would be genuinely interesting would be to write an online questionnaire to find out where IDers sit on all these issues, and then map the spread of results.

If the Kansas Kangaroo Court is any indication, you’ll get mostly evasion.

Comment #165090

Posted by MarkP on March 12, 2007 10:31 AM (e)

Rupert said:

Above 60, common descent is fairly meaningless. If you have a creator making complex creatures through individual, single acts of creation, and if there’s no way of telling created creatures from evolved creatures, then you cannot use any of the scientific evidence for common ancestry. Godidit. That sort of thinking is used by believers in von Daniken who, having watched Randi replicate the spoon-bending, say “Ah, but you can’t prove that von Daniken did it that way. He could still be using psychic powers”.

I believe you mean Uri Geller’s spoon bending. Von Daniken had the planets almost colliding with the earth, IIRC.

While we are on the subject of Randi, contrary to what some lying trolls might say, as is easily verified with a little searching on Youtube, Randi goes out of his way to never claim he knows that psychic phenomina don’t exist. He merely asks for evidence, gathered under controlled conditions, and again contrary to what some lying trolls might say, with the methods of evaluation and passing and failing scores agreed to by all participants beforehand.

Randi directly admits that his ability to bend spoons with trickery does not prove that Uri Geller doesn’t do it with psychic abilities. He just sees it as the more reasonable explanation. When one considers how rapidly Geller’s and other’s abilities evaporate when controls are applied to prevent them from using trickery, it seems even more reasonable.

Likewise with the IDers/creationists. No one can ever disprove the magic of the designer. But if we have identified known mechanisms that could conceivably do the job without magic, that is the more reasonable explanation.

Comment #165091

Posted by Glen Davidson on March 12, 2007 10:40 AM (e)

Evolutionary biology is clear. All species we know are believed to come from a common ancestor. If a completely different sort of life were discovered in some long-isolated niche, that wouldn’t damage evolutionary thought in the slightest (in fact, it’s a discovery devoutly to be wished: the new perspectives would be incredibly valuable). If cats and dogs were shown to have no common ancestor, then evolution would need to be massively rethought.

Above 60, common descent is fairly meaningless. If you have a creator making complex creatures through individual, single acts of creation, and if there’s no way of telling created creatures from evolved creatures, then you cannot use any of the scientific evidence for common ancestry. Godidit. That sort of thinking is used by believers in von Daniken who, having watched Randi replicate the spoon-bending, say “Ah, but you can’t prove that von Daniken did it that way. He could still be using psychic powers”.

Right. And of course they have no reason to expect common descent at all. What’s the deal, the “designer” didn’t know how to think things out on paper (or CAD), but had to work out everything by making prototypes?

Common descent is our prediction alone, for there is no other reasonable scenario in which mutation, natural selection, and a few other processes, could produce what we see in life. Their prediction, using their analogies, would suggest that evolution wouldn’t happen, both because we see no “design by evolution” of the kind that we see in the organic sphere from actual designers , and because the predictivity of their “designer” really must be astounding (beyond any capability to be found in our universe) to be able to “frontload” or even predict what would happen in complex environments (well, unless this designer is God—yes, I know it’s not a coincidence that their designer is indistinguishable from claims for God).

Evolution of any kind (barring Lamarckism and other unevidenced mechanisms) is our prediction only, and then of course all of the details that are seen are what would be expected from RM + NS +, further confirming the prediction.

What the IDiots forget (or ignore) is that evolution wasn’t established by Lamarck because he didn’t have any reasonable mechanism for it (to be sure, Lamarck didn’t supply the same evidence either, but one ought also to note that Darwin’s evidence was supportive of natural selection (vestigials, homologies, etc.). And even if Darwin’s mechanism was only partially accepted, it was largely because he related observed changes (in animal breeding, and in apparent small changes in “natural environments”), “microevolution” to the IDiots, that people finally accepted evolution. IOW, it was because mechanisms were shown to be working (though there was much dispute about what they were and their relative impact) that people accepted evolution. Like plate tectonics, that there would be something actually causing it was needed to believe that the purported changes did indeed take place.

The IDiots want to claim evolution without providing anything to produce this evolution. It’s sort of the opposite of how honest ideas are accepted in science, for in ID you believe what evidently happened while denying that the known means for effecting this did indeed cause it to happen.

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

Comment #165108

Posted by sparc on March 12, 2007 2:45 PM (e)

Goodwins:

Sort of a Richter scale for creationism.

The Richter scale is logarithmic. Thus, getting from 50 to 20 needs quite some effort if the same is true for your creationist scale. This would indeed explain why IDiots are so evidence resistant.

Comment #165169

Posted by Sam on March 12, 2007 10:02 PM (e)

Von Daniken had the planets almost colliding with the earth, IIRC.

That was Velikovsky. Von Daniken was the “We were visited by (comparatively) god-like aliens in the distant past, as you can see by this aztec drawing of a spaceship” guy. I had a comic-book based on his sterling research as a child - which was great, but didn’t answer that most important of questions - Astronaut vs Caveman, who would win?

Comment #165306

Posted by DP on March 13, 2007 6:51 PM (e)

Mr. Goodwins,

How about adding some kind of scoring for each entry say, according to testability \ measurability?

Related to this, I’d like to see someone set a potted plant down in front of Dembski and ask him to calculate its CSI.
Gee (LOL) what do you think would happen?

Comment #165529

Posted by Anny on March 15, 2007 1:42 AM (e)

very useful stuff over here. thanx. http://www.iwannaforum.com/orderxanax4

Comment #166246

Posted by Forthekids on March 21, 2007 1:46 PM (e)

Testing.

Comment #166263

Posted by ben on March 21, 2007 3:56 PM (e)

No, FTK, you’re still not banned or censored here. For banning and censoring, try uncommon descent, or maybe your blog.