Pete Dunkelberg posted Entry 3034 on April 1, 2007 02:09 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/3024

Stephen Meyer, Discovery Institute cofounder and major IDist, in support of the Designer on this somewhat trying day, offers this amazing discovery: Meyer proves that information of any sort, not just complex specified information, comes from out of this world! Meyer’s impeccable proof is so astonishing in its simplicity that it can be explained to a first grade class! Here it is.

Stephen Meyer, explaining why biological information cannot originate through a materialistic process, said:

One of the things I do in my classes to get this idea across to students is I hold up two computer disks. One is loaded with software the other one is blank. And I ask

“What’s the difference in mass between these two computer disks as a result of the difference in the information content that they posses?”

Meyer of Disco

And of course the answer is zero - none. There is no difference as a result of the information. And that’s because information is a massless quantity. Now if information is not a material entity, then how can any materialistic explanation explain its origin? How can any material cause explain its origin. And, this is the real fundamental problem that the presence of information in biology has posed. It creates a fundamental challenge to the materialistic evolutionary scenarios because information is a different kind of entity that matter and energy cannot produce. uhm  In the nineteenth century we thought that there were two fundamental entities of science: matter and energy. At the beginning of the 21st century we now recognize that there is a third fundamental entity, and it’s information. It doesn’t - it’s not reducible to matter, it’s not reducible to energy, but it is still a very important thing that is real, we buy it we sell it, we send it down wires. Now what do we make of the fact that information is present at the very root of all biological function? [picture of DNA] That in biology we have matter we have energy but we also have this third, very important entity, information? The biology of the information age I think poses a fundamental challenge to any materialistic approach to the origin of life.

This is a quiz. You have until sometime Monday morning to say if this is for real. Which is it, why, and how sure are you? Only your first answer counts toward your grade.

The answer is now posted, in Comment #167968 below. Per that comment, slight correction is made to the Meyer quote. The sense of it is unchanged.

Commenters are responsible for the content of comments. The opinions expressed in articles, linked materials, and comments are not necessarily those of PandasThumb.org. See our full disclaimer.

Comment #167831

Posted by Duncan Buell on April 1, 2007 2:56 PM (e)

One of my previous supervisors, who then worked for NASA, was once asked about how to account for the weight of the software on the space missions. Apparently the bean counters were unwilling to accept an answer of zero weight.

They were, however, willing (according to his story) to accept as the weight of the software the weight of the punched chads from the cards.

According to this version, then, information would in fact have had a mass and weight up until punched cards or paper tape disappeared, at which point the information itself would have evolved into a massless entity.

One correct answer to Meyer’s question, however, is that mass and energy are interrelated (Einstein, right?) and thus one estimate of “the mass of the information on the disk” can be obtained from knowing how much energy it took to organize the electrons from the patterns on the disk as shipped.

Comment #167833

Posted by D. C. Pfeifer on April 1, 2007 3:01 PM (e)

That’s a really tough choice… But because I do believe that every human being (yes, even creationists.) is in possession of at least a minimum amount of common sense, I’d wager that this is not for real. I cannot believe that anyone in this position would suggest that there is no physical difference between a blank and a loaded CD. Or that the “Information” he describes are due to no “materialistic” cause.

Nevertheless I am not sure about this (about 51%), since we’re still talking about a creationist here, that is.

Comment #167834

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on April 1, 2007 3:03 PM (e)

One correct answer to Meyer’s question, however, is that mass and energy are interrelated (Einstein, right?) and thus one estimate of “the mass of the information on the disk” can be obtained from knowing how much energy it took to organize the electrons from the patterns on the disk as shipped.

What if the disk is formatted with all blanks?

Comment #167835

Posted by Dave on April 1, 2007 3:03 PM (e)

According to an article Talk Islam.com, at least part of what you quoted comes from a talk called “Why Can’t Biological Information Originate Through a Materialistic Process” on the Unlocking the Mystery of Life dvd.

Comment #167837

Posted by David Stanton on April 1, 2007 3:15 PM (e)

I am almost certain that this is for real. After all, you can’t make up stuff this stupid for no good reason. I once went to a creationist presentation in a church where the guy held up a “spork” and claimed that it was a “transitional form” between a spoon and a fork! Boy, that really proved how wrong evilution is.

Seriously, no argument is too stupid for these people if someone falls for it. We need to adapt Dembski’s design detector as a BS detector. Of course he won’t let us do that because he is afraid we will turn it on him.

Comment #167838

Posted by RBH on April 1, 2007 3:20 PM (e)

Duncan Buell wrote

One correct answer to Meyer’s question, however, is that mass and energy are interrelated (Einstein, right?) and thus one estimate of “the mass of the information on the disk” can be obtained from knowing how much energy it took to organize the electrons from the patterns on the disk as shipped.

Well, according to Dembski (see here) information can be “imparted” via an infinite wavelength/zero energy communication channel:

How much energy is required to impart information? We have sensors that can detect quantum events and amplify them to the macroscopic level. What’s more, the energy in quantum events is proportional to frequency or inversely proportional to wavelength. And since there is no upper limit to the wavelength of, for instance, electromagnetic radiation, there is no lower limit to the energy required to impart information. In the limit, a designer could therefore impart information into the universe without inputting any energy at all.

Never mind that as wavelength goes to infinity and energy goes to zero, in the limit the channel capacity goes to zero. In Dembski’s and Meyer’s fantasy world, energy isn’t even necessary. The information is just … well … imparted. It’s like, y’know, magic, dude.

RBH

Comment #167839

Posted by Brian on April 1, 2007 3:22 PM (e)

They got me on the Egnor thing, but I’m not falling for this one. It has to be a self parody - it just has to be.

The sad thing is that’s kind of hard to tell with these guys. Just to be safe we should treat everything that comes out of the Discovery Institue as part of an elaborate April Fools Day joke.

Comment #167840

Posted by David B. Benson on April 1, 2007 3:24 PM (e)

Is this another April Fools?

;-)

Comment #167841

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on April 1, 2007 3:28 PM (e)

You’re suppose to answer that question.

Comment #167842

Posted by Jesus Christ on April 1, 2007 3:44 PM (e)

Not reducible to matter or energy? Without matter or energy, you have NO information.

Comment #167843

Posted by David B. Benson on April 1, 2007 3:45 PM (e)

Pete Duckelburg — Well, it is April and they are fools

:-)

Comment #167846

Posted by Vyoma on April 1, 2007 4:08 PM (e)

It’s a joke; must be. Of course “information” is massless. If I take a bunch of objects and change their configuration in regard to one another so that they have meaning, I haven’t added or lost mass. To use the computer disk example, what happens isn’t that something is added or removed from the disk; what happens is that magnetic domains are created on the disk by changing the polar orientations of the material from which the disk is made.

An even simpler example; I have a quill pen and an ink pot. As long as the ink is in the pot, there’s no information. If I use the pen to arrange the ink into meaningful forms until I use it all up, then I’ve created information. It’s the same exact mass of ink I started with. Nothing’s been added or subtracted, it’s just an arrangement that can be interpreted by someone who looks at it as meaningful.

So yeah, this is too simple to cut through. Either it’s another prank, or else it should be one.

Comment #167847

Posted by dorkafork on April 1, 2007 4:09 PM (e)

1. Yes it is real. Stephen Meyer really did say it and believe it.
2. Why do I say that? Well I googled it.
3. Pretty sure.

Or are you asking if he is correct:

1. Yes, absolutely. His arguments support my own views on gravity, and the atheist conspiracy surrounding Newtonist views.
2. Why? Come on. If everything falls down, how could I possibly lift anything up? That would mean when I lift this can of Coke, I’m violating the laws of physics. Also birds fly, how does that happen? So-called scientists rule out a priori an Intelligent Lifter (who may or may not be Yoda.) You can tell this because of Irrefutable Height. Take those discs Meyer was holding. Say he was holding one higher than the other. The higher one has IH, and guess what, the discs both have the same mass. Height is a massless quantity, so how can any materialistic explanation explain its origin? Height is a different kind of entity that matter and energy cannot produce. (Cannot produce! No sireee Bob! No relation to energy there at all! Unless you mean The Force, or whatever energy field you coincidentally happen to believe that binds the galaxy together.)

3) How sure am I? I’m open minded enough to know the Newtonists are completely wrong. They should learn science, and stretch out with their feelings.

May the Force be With You.

Comment #167851

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 1, 2007 4:23 PM (e)

Well OK, it’s April 1 and all that, but then again he probably wrote it earlier.

What’s particularly stupid is that it is indeed likely that there is the same amount of information on a blank disk as on a written disk (any difference is likely to be trivial, though a tiny difference ispossible). The domains (if we’re talking about magnetic media) are already “coding” 1s or 0s, holding information that is utterly uninteresting to us—we replace that information with information we find interesting/useful.

That’s the way it is with these ignorant types, they don’t know the difference between information and meaningful information, thus they think that information cannot arise.

And really, what is wrong with a purported philosopher not having even a slight acquaintance with the ancient notion of “formal cause” as being related to information issues? There’s nothing at all new about “information” as an issue, if we don’t insist upon a formal definition for “information”. Meyer ought to know enough about language as a “philosopher” even to recognize that in-form-ation has, in some sense, to do with (internal) form, a very ancient concept (almost certainly prehistorical).

Plato, and even more so Aristotle, discussed information (as form) reasonably and usefully, which means that even a poorly educated philosopher ought to know something about it.

Discuss entropy, please, Meyer. There’s where information is inextricably tied into physics, and governs the effects of energy. The trouble is that you, like your cohorts, really know nothing about science as a universal practice, you guys only know bits and pieces, so it is hardly surprising that you never manage to recognize a successfuly synthetic theory as such.

They like to accuse us of being “reductionists”, never realizing that they are the supreme reductionists, for they don’t know how energy and information are related. Likewise, they also think that the information in biology is all accident, whim, or whatever is supposed to drive their designer (they evidently agree that making the best design for a given function is not driving said designer—the one way in which they have characterized the “designer”, albeit not in a straightforward manner). Everything in their “biology” is reduced to disconnected bits, mere bits in an inherently not-understandable set of parts.

Of course the piece is real, for it is uncomprehending and totally disconnected from any reasonable discussion of the highly interconnected and comprehensive scientific explanations that his foes have worked out.

Glen D
http://tinyu

Comment #167854

Posted by steve_h on April 1, 2007 4:39 PM (e)

Jesus Christ wrote:

Not reducible to matter or energy? Without matter or energy, you have NO information.

Nonsense, if you whip away the disk really quickly, the disk will become blank and pure information will be left behind. A person subsequently happening on the spot may suddenly be struck by a new thought or image.

Comment #167856

Posted by BC on April 1, 2007 4:40 PM (e)

Funny enough, Egnor makes a similar claim on the “Evolution News and Views” webpage. I realize that it’s April 1st, but it seems to be a legitimate post (unlike the one on evolutionnews.net). Egnor writes: “Materialism is nonsense, because if matter and energy are all that exist, then truth doesn’t exist (it’s neither matter nor energy). If truth doesn’t exist, then materialism can’t be true.”

Wow. Is that dumb. I would think it was an April Fool’s day joke, but the rest of the article is pretty typical IDist claims.

Comment #167857

Posted by jonathan Kurtzman on April 1, 2007 4:41 PM (e)

Information on a computer disk is encoded in an arrangement of materials so it directly exists as a material entity. It is created through a process that manipulates the structure of the disk and which must follow basic laws of physics, including of course the laws of thermodynamics regarding the conservation of energy. DNA encodes genetic information. The information does not float around without a physical structure connected to it.

What the hell is this “materialistic” label? You see this kind of wording in Islamic materials - see Taner Edis’ The Illusion of Harmony about science and Islam. In their usage, which seems to mirror this, “material” is a derogatory label applied to maintain the Islamic necessity that the spiritual approach must dominate. Edis explains how this approach roots in the Quranic statements and the accompanying belief that the text is without doubt. This “without doubt” statement limits the ability of Islam to process ideas which create doubt.

The oddity of finding this sentiment expressed in Christian fundamentalist thought is striking because the war about doubt in the Bible was over, in the history of Western civilization, with the Englightenment, meaning that Mr. Meyer, probably without realizing it, has expressed a medieval, pre-Englightenment point of view, one which agrees with fundamentalist Islam.

Comment #167859

Posted by J. Peltola on April 1, 2007 4:45 PM (e)

I have to do a little nit-picking here, since (disregarding the obvious confusion Meyer has with the concept of information in system state permutations) there is a difference in mass between blank and written CD discs. CDs function optically, that is, one must mold small ridges in the grooves on the CD surface to store binary data. This causes a minuscule reduction in disc mass (or, in the case of CD-Rs, grooves are not burnt, but the reflective properties of the surface are changed which, I believe, still causes an even more minuscule difference in mass).

This has no relevance whatsoever with the computational complexity of a physical system, just thought I’d mention it. I’ll leave tearing the real argument to the professionals.

Comment #167860

Posted by BC on April 1, 2007 4:47 PM (e)

According to an article Talk Islam.com, at least part of what you quoted comes from a talk called “Why Can’t Biological Information Originate Through a Materialistic Process” on the Unlocking the Mystery of Life dvd.

When I first read your statement, I thought you were saying that TalkIslam was making this argument. In fact, they cite Steven Meyer in their article. (Do a google search on “difference in mass between these two computer disks”, and you’ll find the article.) It states:

Stephen C. Meyer, a philosopher of science from the Cambridge University and who is critical of the theory of evolution as well as materialism, says in an interview:

One thing I do in classes to get this idea across the students is that I hold up two computer disks. One is loaded with software, the other one is blank. And I ask, “What is the difference in mass between these two computer disks as a result of the difference in the information content that they possess”? And of course the answer is zero, none, there is no difference as a result of the information. That is because information is a massless quantity. Information is not a material entity.

Comment #167861

Posted by Fred from Pescadero on April 1, 2007 4:55 PM (e)

Actually, in the information-theoretic sense there is likely to be more information on the blank disk. (Well, it depends on how it was manufactured, I suppose.) Information, in so far as it has a precise definition, means more or less the opposite of what Meyer, Dembski, et. al. think it does. It is, informally, the absence of pattern. That is, a random string has much more information that a string with a concisely described pattern. See

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolmogorov_complexity

for a more precise definition of algorithmic information.

As for the idea that information in the sense of order cannot be created by material means, that is simply an assertion with no basis in fact. And, as it happens, it’s a false assertion. See Stuart kauffman’s The Origins of Order for a (somewhat technical) discussion of this.

And no, I don’t think it’s an April Fool’s joke, but even if it were, the fact that it’s hard to tell is all you need to know.

Comment #167863

Posted by Andrew on April 1, 2007 5:13 PM (e)

There is zero information on either disk unless you have some way to read and interpret it. Take 2 5 1/4” disks. Both are CP/M formatted and one contains Wordstar, the other nothing. Now tell me which is blank and which contains information. I’m picturing an Uncertainty Priciple of Information. It is non-existant until observed…

Come on - that is just as valid an observation as Meyer’s insn’t it? :-)

Comment #167864

Posted by Whatever on April 1, 2007 5:15 PM (e)

I’m going to say this is not for real, just because the argument is so convoluted. If you use the same media across the board, then the more information you accumulate will make the mass of media increase. In the example with the floppy disks it should be easily recognized that if one photo fits on one disk, then 10 photos of the same quality and size will take up ten disks. This is such a simple concept I find it hard to believe it could even trick a bunch of first graders.

Also, I’m not aware if Stephen Meyer would know this, but scientist can measure the weight of DNA, and guess what DNA from bacteria weighs less than from a humans. I wonder if that is because human DNA has more information? In fact if we put the DNA of a bacteria on 3.5” floppy disks, and DNA from humans and the same media you would have more disks for the human DNA than for the bacteria. And if you used a scale to measure the total weight of the disk, guess which one would weigh more? I really really hope this is bull crap, if not screw you guys I’m switching sides. I am pretty sure I could BS my way into a pretty high paying job telling people crap I made up. I mean if their dumb enough to fall for it anyway, why not make a couple of bucks?

Comment #167866

Posted by Ken on April 1, 2007 5:19 PM (e)

If it’s not real it deserves to be - the quality of the argument is as good or better than average for the ID’er attempts to persuade. Can information exist in the absence of matter and energy? It surely takes physical processes to create it, store it and access it. The success of the argument would depend on following up with further similarly flawed arguments before the victim’s brain can kick into gear. It happening in the presence of massed true believers providing a sense of belonging (you can belong too)is also a good way to sidetrack reasoned thought. I have to vote for yes it’s real.

Comment #167867

Posted by Ex-drone on April 1, 2007 5:23 PM (e)

However, the state of no information is also massless. As proof, I point to the heads of IDist. Containing air instead of brains, they are both without information and without mass. Yet, IDist have a materialistic explanation - just make your cheque out to “The Discovery Institute”. Operators are standing by.

Comment #167868

Posted by Whatever on April 1, 2007 5:28 PM (e)

For fun let’s make this argument and see how well it holds up. I have three one gallon jugs, I fill one with water, one with vegetable oil, and one with air. So in order of weight it goes air, vegetable oil, and water. Since they all hold the same volume this proves that water has more information in it than air, and vegetable oil. Take that evolution, PROVE ME WRONG!

Comment #167869

Posted by ben on April 1, 2007 5:56 PM (e)

Stoned college dude #1: “Dude, I just totally realized that information, like, doesn’t weigh anything, dude.

Stoned college dude #2: “Man, have you ever looked at your hand? I mean, like, really looked at it?

Stoned college dude #1: “That’s gotta, like, demonstrate something really, you know, really heavy, man,

Stoned college dude #2: “Wow, man. Just, wow.”

Comment #167870

Posted by raven on April 1, 2007 6:08 PM (e)

This is just a rehash of the “you can’t get something from nothing” fallacy.

A biologist would say, yes you can evolve new information from mutation and selection. All of which involve matter and energy but do not depend on some esoteric third state, not matter or energy.

Micrevolution creates new information all the time, empirically seen countless times and a deadly nuisance occasionally. Flu viruses continually adapt to their hosts by antigenic drift. The AIDS virus adapted to a new host, humans. Cancer cells mutate to resist treatments. So take microevolution, repeat N times. You’ve gone from a prokaryote to a human.

Comment #167871

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on April 1, 2007 6:19 PM (e)

This argument is proof that footprints are divine creations.

1. Mud without a footprint weighs the same as mud with a footprint (unless it’s really sticky mud the footprint is caused by squishing the matter out of the way, not removing it).

2. Therefore there is no possible materialistic cause.

3. Profit!!

Comment #167872

Posted by raven on April 1, 2007 6:32 PM (e)

Taken off the net Encyclopedia Columbia

“Interestingly, the mathematical expression for information content closely resembles the expression for entropy in thermodynamics. The greater the information in a message, the lower its randomness, or “noisiness,” and hence the smaller its entropy. Since the information content is, in general, associated with a source that generates messages, it is often called the entropy of the source. Often, because of constraints such as grammar, a source does not use its full range of choice. A source that uses just 70% of its freedom of choice would be said to have a relative entropy of 0.7. The redundancy of such a source is defined as 100% minus the relative entropy, or, in this case, 30%. The redundancy of English is estimated to be about 50%; i.e., about half of the elements used in writing or speaking are freely chosen, and the rest are required by the structure of the language.”

I’m by no means an expert in information theory to put it mildly. I believe though that formally information is a decrease in entropy. Entropy doesn’t weigh anything but it still exists as part of the physical, empirically accessible world. Hopefully someone who knows information theory will show up and chime in.

Comment #167873

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 1, 2007 6:45 PM (e)

Unfortunately, raven, that encyclopedia has it all wrong. There does seem to be a notion of “entropy” that embraces that idea, however in actual physics information increases with entropy. Indeed, it is the reason why a perpetual motion machine of the second kind cannot work (Maxwell’s demon).

Here’s a quote from a source, and the link to it:

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 Kolmogorov 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

Glen D

Comment #167874

Posted by Andrew Lee on April 1, 2007 6:47 PM (e)

Nick has nailed it precisely. As I like to say, ID is the thesis that it is impossible that a footprint should resemble a foot, unless God himself tore the laws of physics asunder to shape it so.

Comment #167875

Posted by David B. Benson on April 1, 2007 6:49 PM (e)

The story goes that Claude Shannon was told by John von Neumann to call his information measure entropy because nobody knew what that meant. So Shannon did…

Comment #167877

Posted by mark on April 1, 2007 6:56 PM (e)

This sounds to me like a bona fide example of a DIer exploiting his audience’s lack of knowledge and willingness to believe whatever codswallop he serves up. Meyer should, and likely does, know better. But it’s just so tempting to use such a simple analogy, despite being disingenuous and downright deceitful.

I think Meyer himself realizes that the information on the disk having software is determined by the geometry of magnetic domains (or optical properties, or whatever depending on type of disk) and that the process of emplacing the information can readily be described as occurring via naturalistic processes. So what does he do if one of his students is smart enough not to fall for this ruse? I haven’t heard this particular story before, but it is entirely consistent with many other disingenuous analogies used to support ID.

Comment #167884

Posted by Duncan Buell on April 1, 2007 7:35 PM (e)

Pete Dunkelberg wrote:

What if the disk is formatted with all blanks?

If the disk is formatted with all X, whatever X is, then there is no information on the disk. The intuitive version of information from Shannon’s theory is that it is a measure of the inability to predict the next symbol.

Comment #167886

Posted by Michael on April 1, 2007 8:00 PM (e)

Forgetting everything else (is this, or is this not a April Fools joke, how information is stored on a disk of any sort, etc.) the challenge to make is to ask Meyer to try hold the same amount of information without the disk, and *then* tell us that no matter or energy is required!

Then we’ll see who looks like an April Fool!

Comment #167887

Posted by secondclass on April 1, 2007 8:23 PM (e)

Pete, let me help you out:

Pete Dunkelberg wrote:

Meyer’s impeccable proof is so astonishing in its simplicity stupidity that it can be explained sold only to a first grade class!

Comment #167889

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on April 1, 2007 9:20 PM (e)

Let’s see if we can analyse the possibilities:

CD type
- Information content
- Mass difference
————————————
Unix
- Retrievable
- NA
Windows
- Highly uncertain
- NA
Mac
- Lots of graphics
- NA
Music
- Music
- Depends on choral composition
ID
- None
- None

Comment #167890

Posted by Clastito on April 1, 2007 9:34 PM (e)

“ Information” always requires components and is restricted by their physical properties.
I think the notion of biological information is too often misunderstood as a storage of encoded instructions or “programs” in DNA, as in a book or a floppy disk. The basic organization of an organism is in no way comparable to that of a book or a computer, these are usuary-oriented objects that only make sense within a much removed domain of linguistic and human interactions. While analogies can be made, presumably we can find better ways to describe what is going on at the more basic level of DNA within the living cell. Unfortunately In biology the notions of “information” and “program” are used in loose fashion at the cell level, which is ultimately quite misleading.

Comment #167893

Posted by Unsympathetic reader on April 1, 2007 9:57 PM (e)

This is a bit of a tangent but: If we presume that the universe is designed and its contents ordered with “information”, then who is to say that the blank disk has more or less information than the one loaded with software? Does he have a metric for the information quantity contained in an object that has not related to material operations?

Also, if I burn both disks, do I lose “information” or does it continue to exist in the paths of the atoms and photons dispersed? Does the one with the program lose more information?

Comment #167894

Posted by Ferrous Patella on April 1, 2007 10:03 PM (e)

One of the things I do in my classes to get this idea across to students is I hold up two computer disks. One is heated to 30 degrees and the other cooled to 0. And I ask

“What’s the difference in mass between these two computer disks as a result of the difference in heat content that they posses?”

And of course the answer is zero - none. There is no difference as a result of the heat. And that’s because heat is a massless quantity. Now if heat is not a material entity, then how can any materialistic explanation explain its origin?

Comment #167895

Posted by divalent on April 1, 2007 10:57 PM (e)

Ferrous Patella said: “I hold up two computer disks. One is heated to 30 degrees and the other cooled to 0. “What’s the difference in mass?” And of course the answer is zero - none”

Actually, the warmer one is more massive: e=mc^2 (i.e., m=e/c^2).

Comment #167896

Posted by Henry J on April 1, 2007 11:06 PM (e)

“What’s the difference in mass between these two computer disks as a result of the difference in heat content that they posses?”

E = mc squared. ;)

(Course, that’s probably swamped by the mass of random dust particles settling on one disk or the other, so it’s not really significant in this context.)

Henry

Comment #167910

Posted by Dave Mullenix on April 2, 2007 4:11 AM (e)

Steve, thanks for confirming my opinion of the intellectual mass of the Discovery Institute. Information is carried by the ARRANGEMENT of matter and/or energy. Changing the ARRANGEMENT of matter and/or energy doesn’t change its mass.

Award that man the Dempski Prize for spinning his intellectual wheels.

Comment #167911

Posted by David Mullenix on April 2, 2007 4:13 AM (e)

Oh yeah, I forgot. Steve, matter and energy are both material.

Comment #167918

Posted by k.e. on April 2, 2007 6:46 AM (e)

Ferrous Patella said: “I hold up two computer disks. One is heated to 30 degrees and the other cooled to 0. “What’s the difference in mass?” And of course the answer is zero - none”

Actually, the warmer one is more massive: e=mc^2 (i.e., m=e/c^2).

Yes but since Einstein said ‘dog lets lice play in the universe’ most creationists still think Einstein believed in dog.

That naturally leads to Einstein’s theory of relevance being subverted for the purposes levitation as a cure for obesity.

Thus whenever you get too close to the spinning DI Disk of Doom you will be partially deprogrammed (or sliced) due to the inverse elector-magic field and lose intelligence…… cause and affect, more rock solid Machiavellian flibbity gibbity with earnest suburban arm waving with one hand on hip.

If one holds ones mouth slightly open during one of these displays the net effect will be losing mass and eventually your brain will resemble an empty soufflé…… all puff and no meat.

Which may just explain the very strange look on that mans face ….which is the only reason I can think that explains how Mr. Stephen “I’m not the designer my eyes are too just close together” Meyer didn’t hear any of his students openly mock him.

Either that or he confused his students with a rock garden. Either way it obviously works.

Comment #167919

Posted by Peter on April 2, 2007 6:51 AM (e)

I just want to know how you have information if you don’t have matter or energy. Really.

Can someone tell me?

Please.

Comment #167920

Posted by Ron Okimoto on April 2, 2007 6:56 AM (e)

This is the Meyer that just admitted that teaching ID was “premature.” The same guy that was advocating teaching ID in the mid 1990’s when it must have been even more premature, and that gave the teach the controversy replacement scam to the Ohio rubes back in 2002 without telling them how premature ID was, so my guess is that he really said the junk. I could be wrong, but how can you tell? Might as well flip a coin.

Comment #167922

Posted by analyysi on April 2, 2007 7:03 AM (e)

Pete Dunkelberg wrote:

… Meyer proves that information of any sort, not just complex specified information, comes from out of this world!

Where did Meyer argue, that information could only come “from out of this world”?

Comment #167926

Posted by delphi_ote on April 2, 2007 9:03 AM (e)

There is no physical difference between the disks, unless you count the different magnetic properties. But we all know that electromagnetics aren’t physical, they’re magic. Haven’t you seen “The Prestige”?

Comment #167927

Posted by Martial law on April 2, 2007 9:04 AM (e)

Let’s play with words: If we keep argument as the same and just change the word “information” in word “shape”. (Why we can not do that?)

What’s the difference in mass between these two bits of clay, which have different shape as a result of the difference in shape content that they posses?

And of course the answer is zero - none. There is no difference as a result of the shape. And that’s because shape is a massless quantity. Now if shape is not a material entity, then how can any materialistic explanation explain its origin? How can any material cause explain its origin. And, this is the real fundamental problem that the presence of shape has posed. It creates a fundamental challenge to the materialistic scenario because shape is a different kind of entity that matter and energy cannot produce.

Comment #167929

Posted by Ric on April 2, 2007 9:23 AM (e)

Come one, two April fools jokes in one day? This “proof” is so dumb, it has to be an April fools joke. Don’t overdo it, guys.

Comment #167930

Posted by fbarrett on April 2, 2007 9:44 AM (e)

Since information is the recognizable patterns of dots, lines, base pairs, etc., then the swirling cloud patterns on a radar screen is information to a meteorologist that says *I am a hurricane”. Stephen Meyer must be right, because The Designer makes hurricanes to punish the sinful.)

Comment #167931

Posted by raven on April 2, 2007 10:01 AM (e)

The question is not where the information for the software came from. It came from whoever wrote the software.

The question is more what is information?
There are many definitions of the word information depending on context and field. One source I looked at stated that information per se is an abstraction that has no existence by itself. It only makes sense when referring to transmission, storage, receiving, content, etc.

Several other posters have pointed out that abstractions such as shape are massless. Didn’t Plato come up with some sort of theory like this?

To borrow the analogy. You have two identical jello statues in weight and shape from the same mold. One is dropped on the floor, thereby changing its shape. This proves the existence of a supernatural realm?

Comment #167932

Posted by Ken on April 2, 2007 10:09 AM (e)

It is a shame that nobody has realised that by stating a scenario, Meyer has boxed in your thoughts. Information is not weightless. The difference in the two disks in the organisation of the material in it. This is caused by an investment of energy - a reduction of entropy. The so-called information is merely rearranged matter.

Secondly, is Meyer suggesting that the transition from an empty disk to a full disk did not come from some materialistic cause - the investment of energy from a computer program organising the material on the disks?

Is this a simple answer that he has provided - yes. And it is just as wrong as the suggestion that we don’t fall off the planet because the earth is flat.

Comment #167933

Posted by Lonnie on April 2, 2007 10:15 AM (e)

Is my brain getting heavier as I read this? :)

Comment #167935

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on April 2, 2007 10:27 AM (e)

Is my brain getting heavier as I read this? :)

No, lighter ;)

Comment #167936

Posted by k.e. on April 2, 2007 10:33 AM (e)

Ken pipes up:

Secondly, is Meyer suggesting that the transition from an empty disk to a full disk did not come from some materialistic cause - the investment of energy from a computer program organising the material on the disks?

What? A reasoned response, by pointing out the bleeding obvious? Does he deserve it?

The smug twit runs a philosophy course which as far as I can tell is like teaching breathing to fish. (PG if you’re reading this you’re excused)

Certainly in his case it seems a total waste of time, energy and ‘information’.

Comment #167937

Posted by cwj on April 2, 2007 10:33 AM (e)

I’m picturing a partly cloudy April 1 where a sundial gains and loses information/mass as the clouds pass over.

Comment #167938

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on April 2, 2007 10:40 AM (e)

Secondly, is Meyer suggesting that the transition from an empty disk to a full disk did not come from some materialistic cause - the investment of energy from a computer program organising the material on the disks?

Yes.   I think Meyer and Co. would trace the cause back to a human mind, which is immaterial in their dualist view.

Comment #167939

Posted by Christophe Thill on April 2, 2007 10:51 AM (e)

And this guy calls himself a philosopher of science? He’s a sophist, that’s what he is. He wants to make his students believe that materialism only admits the existence of matter, of stuff with a definite weight. So, “if information is not a material entity, then how can any materialistic explanation explain its origin?”

Well, it’s utter BS.

What about replacing “information” with one among the infinity of weightless, matterless things that materialistic science know and uses everyday?
Time.
Distance.
Change.
Quantity.
and so on…

For a philosopher, Mr Meyer doesn’t seem to be very fluent in philosophy. I suggest he reads a bit.

Comment #167940

Posted by Ian Wood on April 2, 2007 11:01 AM (e)

Meyer makes a subtle shift in the fourth paragraph quoted above, between the third and fourth sentences:
“And that’s because information is a massless quantity. Now if information is not a material entity….”

I don’t think those two sentences are equivalent.

If information is a massless quantity, then ask Meyer if he can point to an organism which grows without the mass of DNA in its cells.

In fact, ask him to take his disk that has the information on it and to totally trash the material of which the disk is made. Then ask him to make use of the information the disk contains.

Ian

Comment #167943

Posted by Henry J on April 2, 2007 11:23 AM (e)

Re “Thus whenever you get too close to the spinning DI Disk of Doom you will be partially deprogrammed (or sliced) due to the inverse elector-magic field and lose intelligence…… cause and affect, more rock solid Machiavellian flibbity gibbity with earnest suburban arm waving with one hand on hip.”

The who whatting how with huh?

—-

Re “Either that or he confused his students […]”

That does appear to be a likely result of the described “lesson”. :D

—-

Re “Meyer makes a subtle shift in the fourth paragraph quoted above, between the third and fourth sentences:
“And that’s because information is a massless quantity. Now if information is not a material entity….””

Another thought here- photons are referred to as “massless”. Does that mean the light from your computer screen isn’t a material entity (whatever that means)?

—-

Henry

Comment #167951

Posted by Dick on April 2, 2007 11:41 AM (e)

Silly him! Information is created by people, who are material. Information, language, ideas, habits, … are all immaterial items, but they all derive from material “creators”.

Comment #167954

Posted by swbarnes2 on April 2, 2007 12:26 PM (e)

Mass is one of the 7 base units of measurement. There’s also time, length, electrical current, thermodynamic temperature, amount, and luminous intensity.

So if Meyer believes that massless = non-material, anytime you measure something in one of those other 6 measures, or their derivitives, you are measuring something non-material, for which there is no material cause?

So Meyer looks at his computer when there is a non-zero currnet running through it, causing it to be on, and another identical computer with 0 current.

And the difference between them is supernatural?

Or, as others mentioned, he stretches his silly putty a little, and now it’s changed in some non-material way that has no natural explanation?

Hilarious.

Comment #167959

Posted by Martial law on April 2, 2007 12:57 PM (e)

I believe that Meyer is not claiming that information is “supernatural”, but “naturalistic prosesses can not explain it”.

The way how he do the argument is just not good becouse many things that are physically explained ~ “naturalistically explained” do the exaktly same thing that his “information” (which is actually what?) in his argument. (like shape, which is attribute of matter)

And yes, like someone sayd it earlier: I thing that Meyer is just renaming the old “Plato’s ideaworld” -stuff.

Comment #167968

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on April 2, 2007 3:17 PM (e)

The answer

The quote from Meyer is real and complete, transcribed from the bonus material on the Unlocking the Mystery of Life dvd, except that I have to fix a couple minor things - see below. One of the CD’s bonus features is “Darwin & Design: Questions & Answers“. It is a sort of IDC Catechism with different Disco Fellows giving the answers, as sincerely as you please. Meyer answers Q 11. And yes it was also a little fun on April one to see if readers could tell if the quote was a parody. Most realized that if it’s creationism of course it’s bonkers - what else do they have? and so you can’t tell if it’s a parody or not. Quite a few good points came out in comments anyway.

The idea that information comes from the Designer is not new to creationism; see Mark Perakh on Phillip Johnson and Lenny Flank on ID’s history . The creationists’ real starting point is probably that information is the Logos of the gospel of John, so it’s not surprising that their “science” is bonkers.

As commenters point out, Meyer is quite tricky in going from “massless” to “not a material entity”. In the spoken version it goes by pretty fast. The basis of physics is matter, space and time, or mass, length and time (MLT) to use the standard quantities you know from any physics class. Only one of them is mass but all are physical, or ‘materialistic’ as the creationists say. Velocity, acceleration, force, energy, momentum and so on are derivatives of MLT. To MLT you may add temperature and other quantities that do not have precise expressions using MLT. This just gives a longer list of physical quantities, only one of which is mass. [Or you might say that mass is two properties of matter: inertial mass and gravitational mass].

Corrections to the Meyer quote (guess I’m not good at taking exact dictation):

“One is loaded with software and the other is blank.”
omit “and”, insert “one” after “other”

“…difference in information content…”
should be … difference in the information content…

“And, this is the real fundamental problem that the presence of information has posed.”
should be …presence of information in biology has posed.

“…energy cannot produce. In the nineteenth century…”
between sentences add “uhm”

“It creates a fundamental challenge to the materialistic scenario….”
should be … materialistic evolutionary scenarios …

So the result is

Stephen Meyer, explaining why biological information cannot originate through a materialistic process, said:

One of the things I do in my classes to get this idea across to students is I hold up two computer disks. One is loaded with software the other one is blank. And I ask

“What’s the difference in mass between these two computer disks as a result of the difference in the information content that they posses?”

And of course the answer is zero - none. There is no difference as a result of the information. And that’s because information is a massless quantity. Now if information is not a material entity, then how can any materialistic explanation explain its origin? How can any material cause explain its origin. And, this is the real fundamental problem that the presence of information in biology has posed. It creates a fundamental challenge to the materialistic evolutionary scenarios because information is a different kind of entity that matter and energy cannot produce. uhm  In the nineteenth century we thought that there were two fundamental entities of science: matter and energy. At the beginning of the 21st century we now recognize that there is a third fundamental entity, and it’s information. It doesn’t - it’s not reducible to matter, it’s not reducible to energy, but it is still a very important thing that is real, we buy it we sell it, we send it down wires. Now what do we make of the fact that information is present at the very root of all biological function? [picture of DNA] That in biology we have matter we have energy but we also have this third, very important entity, information? The biology of the information age I think poses a fundamental challenge to any materialistic approach to the origin of life.

The original post will be corrected.

Comment #167970

Posted by Julie Stahlhut on April 2, 2007 3:43 PM (e)

Let me see if I can figure out this logic.

1. Organizing bits of information on a computer disk does not change the mass of the disk.
2. DNA carries information.
3. Therefore a DNA molecule has no mass.

(Anyone else remember the Red Dwarf where Lister asked for ketchup on his lobster and Kryten’s head exploded?)

Comment #167975

Posted by DP on April 2, 2007 4:26 PM (e)

As Glen Davison rightly points out:

“That’s the way it is with these ignorant types, they don’t know the difference between information and meaningful information, thus they think that information cannot arise.”

GD is being quite generous here because it’s actually much worse than this. See Meyers article “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories” where he says “Thus, to constrain a set of possible material states is to generate information in Shannon’s sense.”

Smell test anyone? This is maximally ignorant because maximum constraint occurs when there is zero bits not generated bits.

In the same article he also says, “The more improbable (or complex) the arrangement, the more Shannon information”. Meyers continuing with his duplicitous style, damages his cause again when he equates complexity with more Shannon information. Naturally the complete opposite is true as has been pointed out by Mark P and even an IDcreo website somewhere.

Comment #167985

Posted by Duncan Buell on April 2, 2007 7:05 PM (e)

pescadero wrote:

Actually, in the information-theoretic sense there is likely to be more information on the blank disk. (Well, it depends on how it was manufactured, I suppose.) Information, in so far as it has a precise definition, means more or less the opposite of what Meyer, Dembski, et. al. think it does. It is, informally, the absence of pattern. That is, a random string has much more information that a string with a concisely described pattern.

The best intuitive way to think of information theory, I believe, is in its original context, and that is in the transmission of signals and the ability to compress the number of signal symbols sent. In doing this we assume that all symbols that are sent are intuitively meaningful.

So if we assume that all symbols are meaningful, and if every transmitted signal is a blank, then there is no more information sent than would be sent by a single blank. If we assume that all symbols are meaningful, and if any symbol is equally likely to follow any other symbol (that is, the sequence is “random”), then we have maximized the amount of information sent because there is no redundancy. Information decreases as “the next” symbol’s predictability increases.

I don’t happen to see how any of what Meyer has said in his quoted text makes any sense at all, though…

Comment #167991

Posted by Henry J on April 2, 2007 10:46 PM (e)

Re “and if every transmitted signal is a blank, then there is no more information sent than would be sent by a single blank.”

Unless the number of symbols is being used to convey a numeric value. ;)

Re “In the nineteenth century we thought that there were two fundamental entities of science: matter and energy.”

As swbarnes2 pointed out, there’s also a bunch of other fundamental measurements. Wait, he said “entities” when he meant “units of measurement”? I’d think “fundamental entity” would mean a particle that isn’t composed of other particles (e.g., neutrino, electron, quark).

(On a side note, in Q.M. (iirc), time and energy are in a sense inversely related, and so might need only one fundamental unit. (Distance and momentum are inversely related as well, but that doesn’t affect the number of fundamental units.))

Henry

Comment #167992

Posted by Mike Elzinga on April 2, 2007 11:04 PM (e)

Groan! There are so many problems with Meyers’ philosophical mind games that it is hard to even begin.

Would a squid agree that there is information on one or other of the disks? Would we agree with (or even recognize) what a squid thinks is information? How does Meyers conclude that it is he or an ID/Creationist who decides what is information?

He offers no justification for what he thinks is information. Couldn’t any creature responding to patterns that are important to its survival be said to be responding to “information?” Humans may seem work with what they perceive as complex abstract patterns, but how does Meyers know that other creatures don’t work with some kinds of abstractions? Do patterns represent information just because humans attribute significance to them? Evidently he seems to believe this.

What are suns and planets doing when they respond to gravitational forces to form regular patterns such as galaxies and solar systems? What about the complexities in Jupiter’s atmosphere or in Saturn’s rings? What about the complexities that form in all sorts of other non-living systems, to say nothing of living systems?

Photons have no mass. Does that make them supernatural? Hardly. They can convert into matter (e.g., electron-positron pairs).

Why does he even think he can set the parameters of the discussion about information? That is such a classic ploy of the ID/Creationists; throwing out a bunch of crap and expecting everyone to debate on their terms. This is probably a trial balloon to determine what kinds of responses they will get.

Why am I even wasting time to respond to his silliness? It is meaningless “information”, not worth the effort. I wonder what a squid would think?

Comment #167999

Posted by Alan Bird on April 2, 2007 11:38 PM (e)

Re Comment #167875, posted by David B. Benson on April 1, 2007 6:49 PM (e)
“The story goes that Claude Shannon was told by John von Neumann to call his information measure entropy because nobody knew what that meant. So Shannon did…”

I’m actually reading about this at the moment, in a book called The Dream Machine: JCR Licklider & the revolution that made computing personal, by M Mitchel Waldrop. Here’s the relevant bit, which puts David Benson’s quote into a bit of context:

‘Another of Shannon’s confidants was John von Neumann. It was that word information, Shannon explained to the great mathematician at one point: he had never liked it. The technical distinction between information and meaning was too much a violation of common usage, he felt, and would just end up confusing people. Could von Neumann suggest anything better?
‘Von Neumann’s answer was immediate, as Shannon later recounted the story: “You should call it entropy for two reasons.” First, von Neumann told the younger man, his formula for the information content of a message was methematically identical to the physicists’ formula for entropy, a mathematical variable related to the flow of heat. (Shannon was astounded to learn this; he had derived his formulation totally on his own.) But second, and much more important, said von Neumann, “most people don’t know what entropy really is, and you use the word entropy in an argument, you will win every time!” ‘
[In the end Shannon decided to stick with information, since engineers had been using the word since Hartley’s dayand weren’t about to abandon it.]

Comment #168008

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on April 3, 2007 1:11 AM (e)

There are many definitions of the word information depending on context and field.

As for the other darlings of creationism, complexity and entropy. By using gedanken experiments such as Maxwell’s demon one can find relations between energy, entropy, observations, and information in certain senses. But it isn’t a complete story.

Energy is easily defined as the amount of work one system can do to another. But already that results in different and intangible quantities such as potential energy. (Which, I guess, doesn’t exist for a creationist, being dependent on context.)

Entropy is slightly harder, since we have a couple of different definitions depending on structure.

Complexity and information is even harder, since no single measure can capture all structures or fit all our questions.

Comment #168011

Posted by Mike Elzinga on April 3, 2007 2:06 AM (e)

“First, von Neumann told the younger man, his formula for the information content of a message was mathematically identical to the physicists’ formula for entropy…”

The relevant formulae are:

Information content is proportional to the negative of the logarithm to base 2 of the product of probabilities (alternatively, the sum of the logs to base 2 of each probability).

One should probably clarify that negative sign is introduced because the probabilities are relevant numbers between 0 and 1, so their product is a number between 0 and 1, hence the logarithm of this product is negative.

In many systems, entropy is Boltzmann’s constant times the natural logarithm of the number of available states of the system. Often the probability of the states being populated is not stated, but in principle, could be. It is usually not necessary.

The only problem in making these equivalent is how one decides what probabilities are relevant and what their values are. If you know enough about the details of the system under study, you could, in principle, enumerate all available states and assign a probability to their being populated. Then the two ways of calculating would produce results that differ by a multiplicative constant, provided you allow for not only the number of states, but their probability of being populated.

In dynamic, open systems, states that normally would not be reached in a closed system can become accessible. Hence, a system can be driven “uphill” into a less probable configuration, and if the system is “pumped”, some such states could be such that they remain occupied after the system is “relaxed”, i.e., they could be metastable states or stable states that are reached indirectly given sufficient “drive” to the system. The entropy has thus been decreased, or alternatively, the information content has been increased.

I think that is as simple as I can make it without being too inaccurate.

Comment #168014

Posted by Popper's Ghost on April 3, 2007 2:58 AM (e)

So there’s no material explanation for shuffling cards? Oh, but that involved intelligent humans … well, suppose a strong wind blows them all over … I guess that’s God’s breath, not a materialistic explanation, cuz their mass didn’t change.

“it’s not reducible to matter, it’s not reducible to energy”

It’s reducible to processes that are implemented via matter and energy, and thus is reducible to matter and energy.

The real challenge to materialism is how someone as stupid as Stephen Meyer can survive from day to day.

Comment #168015

Posted by Popper's Ghost on April 3, 2007 3:03 AM (e)

They got me on the Egnor thing, but I’m not falling for this one. It has to be a self parody - it just has to be.

Sigh. They got you on the Egnor thing because you were willing to believe that Egnor’s rants were just parodies, so you’ve made the same mistake again – both Egnor and Meyer mean just what they say; they really are idiots.

Comment #168016

Posted by Popper's Ghost on April 3, 2007 3:33 AM (e)

If the disk is formatted with all X, whatever X is, then there is no information on the disk. The intuitive version of information from Shannon’s theory is that it is a measure of the inability to predict the next symbol.

The fact that you can never perfectly predict the next bit, no matter how many 0 bits in a row you’ve seen, should tell you that you are incorrect that there’s no information on a blank disk. The only bit sequence with no information is a zero-length sequence.

Comment #168020

Posted by Frank J on April 3, 2007 6:01 AM (e)

This may have been mentioned before, but Pete’s question, intentionally or not, was a trick one. Meyer’s rant is at the same time the silliest thing yet and pure genius.

Apparently Meyer is serious in that the particular article doesn’t deviate from the standard ID line. Nor has he confessed to it being a parody. But does that mean that he believes a word of it? No. While I keep saying that it’s impossible to know what one truly believes in private, there are many indications that Meyer and most leading IDers know that they are peddling nonsense, and that evolution, if not their caricature of “Darwinism,” is correct. IOW, ID has been a joke all along.

The only thing that I think they have ever been sincere about is that the “masses” need to believe fairy tales in order to behave properly.. If they truly believed that the evidence supported one of those fairy tales (e.g. YEC, OEC), they would have no problem promoting its evidence on its own merits, and leave out the legally risky design-speak, the long-refuted misrepresentations of evolution, and the constant bait-and-switch of the two.

Furthermore, if they truly believed that they detected design, they would have no need to misrepresent evolution, but just admit – as most major religions do - that design implementation occurs by common descent with modification over ~4 billion years, and add that the process in not “unguided” as some “evolutionists” insist. Indeed, some IDers started to admit that in the early days, before it became apparent that they needed rank-and-file YECs and OECs for political support. Even in this “don’t ask, don’t tell” era, no IDer is ever foolish enough to day that ID specifically rejects common descent or an old earth.

What frustrates me after a decade of following the “debate” is that most critics are still only interested in exposing the “common ancestry” of ID and classic creationism (e.g. YEC, OEC), while mostly ignoring the strategic differences, and why they became necessary. Which is not so much the legal failure of classic creationism but the scientific failure. Downplaying the differences (e.g with a well-intentioned but misleading “ID ‘is’ creationism”) can only help ID activists. Even if we give promoters of classic creationism the benefit of the doubt that they honestly believe what they promote, a hard look at ID should leave no doubt that it’s pure scam.

Comment #168035

Posted by Dizzy on April 3, 2007 10:49 AM (e)

Hey:

1) I took a slab of granite and weighed it. Then I took a chisel and hammer and carved “2 + 2 = 4” into the surface and weighed it again. It weighed less! Information has NEGATIVE mass!

2) Then I took a piece of blank paper and weighed it. I put letter-stickers on it spelling out “Dizzy was here” and weighed it again. It weighed more! Information has POSITIVE mass!

3) Then I took a piece of parchment paper and weighed it. I took a paintbrush, dipped it in clean water, and wrote “Stephen Meyer is a sh*t-flinging baboon” on it, let it dry, and weighed it again. It weighed the same!

Conclusion: God decides how much mass information has, whether positive, negative, or none. There’s no other explanation, certainly not a materialistic one!

Comment #168038

Posted by Mike Elzinga on April 3, 2007 12:10 PM (e)

I quite agree with Frank J that the IDiots have developed a deliberate shtick to bamboozle naive minds and anger scientists. But the Creationists did the same thing. I used to watch Duane Gish and Henry Morris and their antics. No reasonably intelligent person could believe they seriously believed what they were saying. Their comments and illustrations were so laughable. They were doing it to incite their followers and pique scientists. It got them the publicity they wanted, and helped create the illusion of a controversy. It was a political strategy.

All the evidence brought out at the trial in Dover shows the morph of Creationism into ID. Their flagship textbook, “Of Pandas and People”, was one of the striking demonstrations of this. Also, the links they have to common sources of money are evidences that they are part of the same political movement, despite their apparent “theological” differences.

So I think it is proper to refer to them as ID/Creationists to keep reminding people of the connections, and to point out that their tactics over the last 40 years strongly indicate that they know they are making things up. Gish reveled in this, and I suspect that the IDiots at the Discovery Institute get the same pleasure in making scientists mad. It reinforces the images planted in the minds of people attending churches that rule by fear. Historically, many politicians exploited these tactics, and evidently still do.

Comment #168039

Posted by raven on April 3, 2007 12:20 PM (e)

Stephen Meyer, explaining why biological information cannot originate through a materialistic process, said:

One of the things I do in my classes to get this idea across to students is I hold up two computer disks. One is loaded with software the other one is blank. And I ask…

Well he doesn’t prove anything like that. The original question was about the origination or source of information. Then he claims that information is nonmaterial so it cannot originate through a materialistic process.

But in his software example, the creator of the information is known, someone wrote it. It originated through a materialistic process. The example is flawed to begin with.

To make it worse, as pointed out here, information is in fact part of the material universe. It is an attribute or abstraction that only makes sense when referring to material objects or processes much like shape, quantity, time etc.

Essentially Meyers poses one question, origination, and answers another, the materiality of information, and gets that completely wrong.

Just a rehash of this thread. My question is; what is the point of this for the IDers? To anyone well educated and/or of reasonable intelligence, it just makes them look stupid. Could it be they aren’t even trying to look like real philosophers and scientists but just trying to fool a subset of the masses? While you can always fool some of the people some of the time, it doesn’t strike me as a good way to advance a religous viewpoint.

Comment #168044

Posted by David B. Benson on April 3, 2007 1:18 PM (e)

Popper’s Ghost — Nope. If the dick contains all the same symbol and you know that then reading the disk provides no information, in Shannon’s sense.

True, if you didn’t know that, then reading the disk provides some information, that the disk contained all the same symbol. Not sure how to measure how many bits of information that provides…

Comment #168051

Posted by eric collier on April 3, 2007 2:29 PM (e)

The loaded disk itself has no more mass than the blank one. But energy was expended loading the disk with information. In a sense, the information has mass, though now dissipated, because of the mass of energy (and other resources) used to load it. Simple 2nd law of thermodynamics, right? Now, this leaves open the question of where the mass/energy came from that went into the human work/brainpower that produced the information in the first place. But that just puts us back to the debate we’ve had all along–what is the original source of matter/energy in the universe, and can purely natural processes explain it? Stevie may eventually produce a challenging answer to that question–but his parable about the disks is fit only for 9-year old Christian home-schoolers.

Comment #168060

Posted by David B. Benson on April 3, 2007 3:40 PM (e)

Er, disk. Blush.

I seem to be hitting the ‘c’ key instead of some other key too much lately. Source entropy? :-)

Comment #168089

Posted by stevaroni on April 4, 2007 12:41 AM (e)

David B Benson writes…
True, if you didn’t know that, then reading the disk provides some information, that the disk contained all the same symbol. Not sure how to measure how many bits of information that provides…

Well, it depends on how you encode your symbols. ASCII symbols would give you 7 bits of information, enough, for example, for a text character “a” or unambiguous integer from 0 to 127. Some other systems would give you 6, 8, or 9 bits, depending on their effective word size. probably slightly less on a properly formatted disk, because some formats disallow certain characters.

On the other hand, that’s all the information the disk would give you be it a 360K floppy, or a 1Tb hard drive array.

I suppose the number of characters could be considered information, so you could encode, say, pi to 11 places, by providing a 400gig disk disk formatted with exactly 314159265358 identical bytes, but that seems somewhat inefficient.

Comment #168109

Posted by Frank J on April 4, 2007 6:25 AM (e)

Mike Elzinga wrote:

I quite agree with Frank J that the IDiots have developed a deliberate shtick to bamboozle naive minds and anger scientists. But the Creationists did the same thing.

I agree there too. Such tactics as repeating claims after being repeatedly being corrected is a staple of classic creationism as well as ID. So is the curious emphasis on problems with “Darwinism” (and the apparently deliberate caricaturizing of evolution as such), rather than supporting one’s position on its own merits. However, if I may sparingly invoke the “innocent until proven guilty” excuse that I think is used much too often by others, I tend to allow some possibility of honest belief, or compartmentalization, for any anti-evolutionist who at least commits to “independent origin of species” or common descent, and and a particular age of the Earth. It may be that it has been a total scam ever since the ‘60s “scientific” creation, but the tactics have changed, and in the opposite direction one would expect if it were either honest science or honest belief.

Mike Elzinga wrote:

So I think it is proper to refer to them as ID/Creationists to keep reminding people of the connections, and to point out that their tactics over the last 40 years strongly indicate that they know they are making things up.

The problem is that defenders of evolution too often carelessly leave it with “ID ‘is’ creationism,” without emphasizing that the common feature is deception, not honest belief. To a critic of ID/creationism “creationism” means “any strategy that misrepresents evolution and proposes a pseudoscientific design-based alternative.” But to most audiences it means “honest belief in a 6-day, 6000 years ago creation.” Unless the critic makes that distinction, the IDer who replies with “I’m not a creationist, I don’t care whether Genesis is true or not” looks more open-minded to most audiences.

Also, while the abrupt change in “Pandas” draft language after the Edwards v. Aguillard decision makes a dramatic story, and one that’s apparently crucial to keeping ID pseudoscience out of public schools, it’s the other part that could be even more dramatic, if it weren’t such a well-kept secret. If anything, “Edwards” should have been a wake-up call for anti-evolutionists to drop everything about creation/design and the long-refuted anti-“Darwinism” canards, and just pick one alternate “theory” and defend it on its own merits. Instead they did the opposite, though eventually dropping the risky “design” language for public schools. Without a theory, or even a basic “what happened and when” that they could agree on, all they had was the canards, and a dichotomy that they knew was a false one.

Last I heard 60-70% of adult Americans are in favor of “teaching the controversy.” That must include ~20% who accept evolution. That’s why I think a different approach is needed. Not necessarily new arguments, but a different balance of the ones we have.

Comment #168122

Posted by Popper's Ghost on April 4, 2007 9:43 AM (e)

Popper’s Ghost — Nope. If the dick contains all the same symbol and you know that then reading the disk provides no information, in Shannon’s sense.

As usual, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

Comment #168124

Posted by Popper's Ghost on April 4, 2007 9:54 AM (e)

I suppose the number of characters could be considered information

Yes, of course it is. A message consisting of N 0’s can be reduced to three pieces of “information”:

a) that the message consists entirely of the same bit; the number of bits to encode that
depends on the encoding system; the number of bits used by an efficient system (e.g.,
Huffman or arithmetic encoding) will depend on the relative frequency of such messages

b) that it’s a 0 bit, vs. a 1 bit – that’s requires 1 bit

c) the length of the message – that requires log2 N bits

The claim that there is no information on the disk is stupid and ignorant.

Comment #168126

Posted by Popper's Ghost on April 4, 2007 10:11 AM (e)

If the dick contains all the same symbol and you know that then reading the disk provides no information, in Shannon’s sense.

The breathtaking stupidity of this statement is actually so deep that it’s difficult to fathom. If you already know the contents of the disk, then of course reading it “provides no information”, regardless of what’s on the disk – all the same symbol, or Shakespeare, or the output of a random number generator, or whatever. But how the heck do you know what’s on the disk before reading it? Clairvoyance?

Comment #168141

Posted by Pete Dunkelberg on April 4, 2007 11:32 AM (e)

Hey Popper, couldn’t you just say “I think there is/is not information is a given instance, here’s my reasoning ….”, without adding personal remarks? Please?

Comment #168144

Posted by Popper's Ghost on April 4, 2007 12:11 PM (e)

I like to tell the truth, and what I said of Benson’s comment is true.

Comment #168145

Posted by Popper's Ghost on April 4, 2007 12:18 PM (e)

BTW, my comment isn’t much different from “The Silliest Thing Yet”, so stow your hypocrisy. I’m truly tired of this moronic cliquishness that treats people perceived to “our side” with a different standard than people on “their side”. The number of idiots posting here who were told to their face that they were being SUCKERED (and on PZ’s site THIS IS A JOKE in giant red) on April 1st but paid no attention to the evidence should put an end to that.

Comment #168146

Posted by Steviepinhead on April 4, 2007 12:31 PM (e)

Almost all of “us” (to the extent that “we” have weighed in on the topic) would probably agree–and I have certainly said before–that Popper’s Ghost phrases some of his arguments in sharper terms than most others might.

Whether, in a particular case, and from the point of view of a particular habitue of this blog, Popper’s Ghost crosses some fuzzy line of decorum might, therefore, be left as an exercise for the individual reader.

Nonetheless, stating that a particular claim or statement under consideration is wrong, or that–

The claim that there is no information on the disk is stupid and ignorant.

–or even that–

The breathtaking stupidity of this statement is actually so deep that it’s difficult to fathom.

–is simply NOT the same as stating that the person making the claim or statement is, him or herself, “stupid,” “ignorant,” or “breathtaking[ly] stupid.” Thus, PG’s remarks, though both blunt and pointed, are not actually personal in nature.

Nor are they “ad hominems,” which take the form: Since you are bad/stupid/otherwise defective, your argument must be as well.

While this difference between an attack on a claim and an attack on the person making the claim may appear to be an overly-technical one, it is also one that is frequently misunderstood around here, particularly by some of our more “civility”-obsessed thread-meisters.

That all being said, Pete’s request of PG is simply that, a request, and a politely-phrased one as well. While, technically, PG may not have ventured into personal-attack or ad-hominem territory, it’s less than clear what of significance beyond shock value is added to his critiques by characterizations of this kind.

Pete’s request, in my view, thus bears consideration by PG, not because any of us ought to be immune from acid-etched critique, but simply because we risk dulling our sharpest and most finely-honed weapons when we deploy them indicriminately against those who are, arguably, only in error, rather than reserving them for those who are both wrong and mendaciously so…

Comment #168150

Posted by Dizzy on April 4, 2007 1:17 PM (e)

but simply because we risk dulling our sharpest and most finely-honed weapons when we deploy them indicriminately against those who are, arguably, only in error, rather than reserving them for those who are both wrong and mendaciously so…

Hahaha. I’ve seen PG deploy much “sharper” weapons when appropriate…methinks you underestimate PG’s capacity for b*tch-outitude!

Comment #168151

Posted by David B. Benson on April 4, 2007 1:26 PM (e)

Popper’s Ghost — You have just demonstrated that you have no comprehension of Shannon’s Theory of the Transmission of Information.

A source which always produces the same symbol encodes no information.

Go read some Shannon Theory before you spout off…

Comment #168152

Posted by David B. Benson on April 4, 2007 1:31 PM (e)

Popper’s Ghost — And I know that because I just finished writing the disk.

Jeez, since you can’t get a life, being just a ghost, at least think things through before you post…

Comment #168154

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 4, 2007 2:49 PM (e)

Here is what Shannon writes of recording information:

The choice of a logarithmic base corresponds to the choice of a unit for measuring information. If the base 2 is used the resulting units may be called binary digits, or more briefly bits, a word suggested by J. W. Tukey. A device with two stable positions, such as a relay or a flip-flop circuit, can store one bit of information. N such devices can store N bits…

From: Wikipedia’s site “Information”

There are different ways of looking at information, like what information is encoded, vs. the number of bits of information recorded on a disk or in energy waves.

When Shannon is discussing the information held in a device with two stable positions, it is always capable of holding one bit of information. A disk comprised of “devices” having two stable positions thus has as many bits of information as it has of those operable “devices”. Kolmogorov tells us how compressible those data are, and Shannon measures the “information” which is encoded in a stream which has noise in it (the disk and its reading, by contrast, may be thought of as having arbitrarily small noise), however the information held in a disk is simply measured by the number of two-stable position “devices” that exist on it.

Any quibbles about whether or not the unrecorded disk has “information” on it would involve mere semantics. Obviously the information about which stable states the “devices” on the disk do themselves constitute bits of information, which in fact is why they are able to record information reliably.

And frankly, I think that PG has a right to be less than polite when such basic facts are “challenged”.

I would, however, characterize the whole falling for the April Fools ruse somewhat differently than did he, that is, as a kind of emotional vulnerability that the pranksters preyed upon, rather than something obviously related to their being “fools” or what-not (I came in late, but I can say that my immediate perception was that it was a joke). I suspect that most could have seen the ruse had they looked at it from outside, but not when they themselves were immediately placed on the emotional defensive by the pranksters. Which still means that there’s more gullibility (perhaps excessive reliance upon the “judgment” of the bloggers and other commenters) on these forums than I like.

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

Comment #168155

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 4, 2007 2:53 PM (e)

The following was a bit ambiguous, so I’m amending it here:

There are different ways of looking at information, like what information is encoded in a noisy system, vs. the number of bits of information recorded on a disk or in (clean) energy waves.

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

Comment #168163

Posted by David B. Benson on April 4, 2007 3:57 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — In which you also demonstrate you do not understand the Shannon Theory of the Transmission of Information.

You ought to actually study the theory before commenting on it…

Comment #168166

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 4, 2007 4:17 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — In which you also demonstrate you do not understand the Shannon Theory of the Transmission of Information.

You ought to actually study the theory before commenting on it…

Maybe you should learn how to read before you go confusing data storage devices with the process of information transmission. Your obtuseness in dealing with different informational phenomena is galling, and calls for the sorts of responses that PG gave you.

Apparently you’re incapable of recognizing that with a disk we’re discussing the bits “coded” in the “devices”, not the overall informational state of the entire system. It’s context that you don’t understand. There are as many bits on an unrecorded disk as there is on a recorded one, and it matters not one whit whether or not we record white noise onto the disk or a series of 1s (or alternatively, if the manufacturing process left all the domains of a magnetic disk in the position of “1”), the amount of information is the same. This is because we’re talking about information in a context, which is the measurement of the bits held by the two-state “devices”.

What you need to learn is what people mean by words. I’ll assume that you know something about Shannon information, now you need to learn the difference between recording information and deciphering information from a noisy stream.

I see that you have no answer to what I have written except for a Charlie Wagner-like dismissal based upon your ignorance. I suppose you’d tell Shannon that he didn’t know what he was talking about when discussing bits. So be it, you’re useless to these discussions.

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

Comment #168168

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 4, 2007 4:23 PM (e)

In which you also demonstrate you do not understand the Shannon Theory of the Transmission of Information.

By the way, it appears that you’re as dishonest as Charlie Wagner and the IDiots. No matter that I wasn’t discussing the Shannon theory of the transmission of information, as anyone with a modicum of reading ability would recognize, you drone on in your incomprehension as if your projections and biases were all that matter.

As the inimitable Popper’s Ghost wrote:

The claim that there is no information on the disk is stupid and ignorant.

Changing the subject to the transmission of information is equally stupid and ignorant, a strawman of IDiot proportions, and thereby as dishonest as it is stupid and ignorant.

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

Comment #168170

Posted by David B. Benson on April 4, 2007 4:33 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — I appears that I have assumed too much knowledge on your part and that of Popper’s Ghost.

A storage device must be read, yes?

Reading a storage device provides a stream of bits, yes?

A stream of bits is a Shannon source, yes?

The capability of the device is such that all states are possible. That does not mean all states are equiprobable.

Suppose it is the case that all the bits are zeros and furthermore I know they are. I use the word know in the precise sense of believing a truth. That is, I cannot be said to know something unless it is true.

Ok, I know, in just this sense, that all the bits are zeros. Then, reading the source to produce this long string of zeros provides no information. I have learned nothing that I did not already know. Hence I have gained exactly zero Shannon bits of information. Got it?

For another example, suppose I know that the probability of the next bit from a source (a different one) being one is 0.75, (3/4). Then if I guess that the next bit is a one, I have better than even chance of being right. Therefore, upon seeing a one, I have gained less than one Shannon bit of information.

And I haven’t the slightest idea what you meant by ‘context’. Shannon theory goes far to eliminate that to replace with precise concepts…

Comment #168171

Posted by David B. Benson on April 4, 2007 4:35 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — More ignorant name-calling while I was composing a decent reply, I see.

Looks like you are the troll here now…

Comment #168178

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 4, 2007 5:04 PM (e)

Suppose it is the case that all the bits are zeros and furthermore I know they are.

Again, you simply assume. I don’t care about your particular scenario, I’m talking about information recorded on a disk.

I use the word know in the precise sense of believing a truth. That is, I cannot be said to know something unless it is true.

Meaning that you have privy information to the states of the single-bit devices. But if you don’t know that, then you are learning the information state of the system which each device is. Apparently you can’t grasp what information storage actually means.

Ok, I know, in just this sense, that all the bits are zeros.

Okay, so you already know the information in each bit. Which only proves that you already know the information.

Then, reading the source to produce this long string of zeros provides no information.

Obviously it does not. Just as if you already knew each “one” and each “zero” (in sequence) on the entire disk, recounting that again would give you no new information.

Apparently you have never understood what PG wrote. He knows that if you already know a bit of information, then repeating it gives you no new information. It hardly changes the fact that the information state of each device capable of two stable states tells you the status of each bit on the disk.

I have learned nothing that I did not already know. Hence I have gained exactly zero Shannon bits of information. Got it?

Gee, you’re like Egnor or Salvador, you can’t do anything but tell us what is obvious and irrelevant to the issue at hand.

PG and I are discussing the data that define the disk, you’re writing about something else, the repetition of data when those data are already known to repeat earlier data.

That is to say, when data are processed for compression and then transmission, the device(s) doing these processes have to read each and every bit and/or pixel in order to know the information making up (say) a TV picture. The transmission need not repeat each and every bit, because of redundancy, however each and every bit has to be reproduced in order to reconstitute the picture (perhaps PG could have disagreed with you, but asked why you brought up “Shannon information” when we’re talking about the information on a disk, not what is generally called “Shannon information”).

Likewise, if the disk is going to be copied and sent to record another disk, while redundant information does not need to be transmitted, every bit of information has to be reproduced on the new disk if one is going to get an exact (or exact as possible) replica. It does not matter that I might send the information 100,000X1 to tell the write head to record 100,000 ones in sequence, the replication of one disk’s state to another disk involves writing each bit down. That is, the information state of the binary “devices” on the disk involves 100,000 “ones” in sequence, and that is how you would define that portion of the disk. That is the information contained in that portion of the disk.

You drone on and on about transmission, which we do understand, while you utterly fail to comprehend what we’re discussing, the information held on the disk (hint: a 1 in one position is not truly the same thing as a 1 in another position on the disk, for they each describe an information state for each of their “bits” of the disk.

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

Comment #168180

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 4, 2007 5:14 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — More ignorant name-calling

Actually, I discussed the name-calling, and supported my particular name-calling. That you’re too ignorant to comprehend either the informational state of a sequential set of bit-devices held on a disk, or to respond to what I wrote about “name-calling”, shows how appropriate my name-calling really is.

while I was composing a decent reply, I see.

What was decent about it? The fact that you’ve never once comprehended what PG and I were discussing? The fact that you drone ignorantly on about repetitions when we’re talking about defining the disk by the bits on the disk?

Each and every bit-device on the disk has to have its informational state ascertained in order to know what is contained on the disk, and each and every bit-device corresponding to the bits on the disk has to be re-created in order to represent what was on that disk.

The repetitions do not have to be sent. We know that, and a decent reply would respond to the fact that we know that, not to your confusion about what we’re discussing.

Looks like you are the troll here now…

Looks like any falsehood suits you. Indeed, you don’t have to repeatedly dissemble in order to communicate your dishonesty to us. Shannon could tell you that, although in human terms the repetition tells us more about you than you ought to prefer to tell us.

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

Comment #168181

Posted by David B. Benson on April 4, 2007 5:22 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — The information on the disk is a meaningless phrase unless you first define what you mean by information. I hold you can obtain nothing from the disk without its being transmitted to you, somehow. Hence we are precisely in the situation that Shannon considered, in which he choose to use the term information, but others persist in calling entropy.

So the usual information technology use of the word bits, as stored on the disk, is different than the meaning of Shannon bits, as I have previously illustrated.

As for what you and Popper’s Ghost have been hopping all over me for, it is because you fail to understand the fundamentals involved. I have been attempting to straighten you out, but you keep changing the goal posts and resorting to name-calling.

Now, just which definition of information do you care to use, in the context of the original point of this thread? Where the IDiot Meyer didn’t bother to define information either…

Comment #168184

Posted by David B. Benson on April 4, 2007 5:46 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — Not only repeating things sorta known to many, indeed fairly obvious, but doing so in a way that demonstrates you know little about modern information storage and transmission. Ignoramus.

I’ll try again. A Shannon source which appears to be random, half the time delivering a one and half the time a zero, provides the maximum rate of one Shannon bit per IT bit. The goal of the engineering of modern digital communication devices is to approach this rate, despite the possibility of the transmission device introducing noise. (Let us agree to ignore noise.)

The goal in the design of storage devices is to obtain one IT bit per magnetic domain, despite read/write errors. Here again Shannon theory is put to use.

An ideal disk contains one IT bit per magnetic domain. It is what has been discussed here.

Since a device reading an arbitrary disk has no prior knowledge of the state of the disk, it is forced to read the entire disk to determine the contents. This fairly obvious fact you have repeated several times, in different ways. What is more interesting is the case of having some prior knowledge of the state, such as a probability that the next IT bit is a zero. Indeed, various applications make use of this, using Shannon bits as the measure. That is interesting, but probably not relevant if the discourse is to remain close to whatever the IDiot Meyer might have been attempting to lie about…

Comment #168185

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 4, 2007 5:47 PM (e)

Perhaps I should try to explain a bit further what PG and I understand, more for other people out there than for Benson, who seems fixed upon the little he learned about “Shannon information”.

A (sensibly) dimensionless bit of information need not be repeated in a transmission, for that datum was already transferred the first time it was sent.

It’s when you’re describing a disk or a picture that you simply must repeat (at some point, though not in transmission) each bit of the data in order to replicate it. A magnetic disk with a 100,000 1s in sequence has that informational state imprinted into its magnetic domains. It doesn’t simply have a “1” in one of its domains, it has 100,000 1s in a row, and it doesn’t matter whether you know that or not, that is what is the case for 100,000 sequential magnetic domains.

Benson wants to think that the entire sequense is just a “1”. The reason that it is not is that the disk is designed so that each domain (or particle—I doubt that a bit is really contained by simply one domain, actually, but it’s convenient to think so) is a separate system with an independent informational state (the disk is dimensional, and the points in “its space” have to be ascertained). To replicate the disk, you have to replicate each bit. Conveniently, one may send the “one” and tell the machinery at the other end to replicate that “one” 100,000 times in the proper space, but that’s telling you to cause there to be a 100,000 1s in sequence on the picture screen or other device at the other end.

Each bit of information is exactly that, a bit of information. If it repeats the same thing over and over it is not very interesting, but each bit of information is necessary to know and to replicate in order to replicate the disk. This is because each “domain” is physically a separate system for our purposes, just as we record each pixel in a scene because each of these pixels is independent from the rest of the scene (not always, but the camera has to treat it as if it were). Each pixel is not merely a replica of the other, even if the “same datum” is recorded in each pixel, for each pixel describes an independent (for our purposes of replication) information system, the pixel.

So we scan each bit in a disk in order to know the informational state of the disk, because the disk is comprised of millions of separate systems which have to be queried (a blank disk would similarly have to be queried, unless it had been put in a certain known informational state and we knew it hadn’t been changed). In transmission we don’t have to repeat each “1” in order to transmit it, but we would have to repeat each one if we instantly transmitted the data instead of storing it in order to compress the data stream. To repeat, this is because the “1” in one bit-device tells you nothing about the “1” in the next device.

Benson wants to make something of the fact that repetition of the “1” can be stored and instructions for replication of this “1” are all that need to be sent (and he has a point with respect to Shannon transmission, not to what we’re talking about). What he doesn’t seem to know is that instantaneous (so to speak) transmission with no storage can only mean that each bit has to be transmitted separately, because each bit is all that relates the informational state of each bit-device on the disk.

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

Comment #168187

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 4, 2007 5:56 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — The information on the disk is a meaningless phrase unless you first define what you mean by information.

No it isn’t, because that has been defined by the computer industry. How come you fail to understand anything that obvious?

I hold you can obtain nothing from the disk without its being transmitted to you, somehow. Hence we are precisely in the situation that Shannon considered, in which he choose to use the term information, but others persist in calling entropy.

We’re not talking about “obtain”ing something from the disk, we’re talking about the data on the disk that we would need to record and transmit if we wanted to record and transmit such information.

So the usual information technology use of the word bits, as stored on the disk, is different than the meaning of Shannon bits, as I have previously illustrated.

Sorry, Shannon has the same concept of the bit as the computer industry does.

As for what you and Popper’s Ghost have been hopping all over me for, it is because you fail to understand the fundamentals involved. I have been attempting to straighten you out, but you keep changing the goal posts and resorting to name-calling.

You continue in your ignorant manner to talk about transmission of information when we’re talking about information in the context brought up by Meyer. You’re woefully unable to keep up, not even beginning to recognize what was discussed in the first place.

Now, just which definition of information do you care to use, in the context of the original point of this thread? Where the IDiot Meyer didn’t bother to define information either…

Meyer was discussing data placed onto a disk, without recognizing that the same number of bits define the informational systems of the bit-devices whether or not the disk has been recorded.

Yet it’s not difficult to know what sort of information he was discussing, at least not for those of us who have good reading comprehension.

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

Comment #168188

Posted by David B. Benson on April 4, 2007 6:03 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — From simply ignorant to hopelessly wrong.

First, you didn’t bother to explain you definition of information. This just confuses everyone, including you. There are at least four standardly used definitions, all slightly different.

You appear to be using what I call the IT bit definition. An inference on my part, to be sure. See the previous paragraph.

Then you go on to confuse everybody, including yourself, about not having to transmit repetitions. This is wrong! What repetitions have to be transmitted depend upon several factors, one of the subjects of what is called Information Theory, but would better be called “Shannon Information Theory”.

I have come to the conclusion that you are just making stuff up, hoping that it sounds good to somebody or other. Now who else to we accuse of doing that?

Comment #168189

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 4, 2007 6:06 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — Not only repeating things sorta known to many, indeed fairly obvious, but doing so in a way that demonstrates you know little about modern information storage and transmission. Ignoramus.

How stupid can you get? I know about information storage and transmission and include it in my posts, which no doubt is why you continually fail to deal with what I write, instead repeating your mindless little bit you heard about Shannon information once.

And, oh no, the name-calling by the cretin who doesn’t know what sort of information is being discussed with respect to computer disks. You know, name-calling only works if you can make it stick, and you can hardly do so with your muddled comprehension.

I’ll try again. A Shannon source which appears to be random, half the time delivering a one and half the time a zero, provides the maximum rate of one Shannon bit per IT bit. The goal of the engineering of modern digital communication devices is to approach this rate, despite the possibility of the transmission device introducing noise. (Let us agree to ignore noise.)

Yeah, I know. So?

The goal in the design of storage devices is to obtain one IT bit per magnetic domain, despite read/write errors. Here again Shannon theory is put to use.

Yeah, so?

An ideal disk contains one IT bit per magnetic domain. It is what has been discussed here.

Since a device reading an arbitrary disk has no prior knowledge of the state of the disk, it is forced to read the entire disk to determine the contents. This fairly obvious fact you have repeated several times, in different ways. What is more interesting is the case of having some prior knowledge of the state, such as a probability that the next IT bit is a zero. Indeed, various applications make use of this, using Shannon bits as the measure. That is interesting, but probably not relevant if the discourse is to remain close to whatever the IDiot Meyer might have been attempting to lie about…

Yes, that’s all obvious and boring. We’re talking about the information contained by the unrecorded disk, not the fact that I obviously know, that it can be compressed.

Apparently you know something about Shannon theory, just not how to relate it to what we’re talking about.

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

Comment #168190

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 4, 2007 6:19 PM (e)

I probably should have fleshed out this some more:

Sorry, Shannon has the same concept of the bit as the computer industry does.

And of course he does, at least for recording purposes. However, it may not be so in every context, that is, in contexts we weren’t discussing.

Glen Davidson — From simply ignorant to hopelessly wrong.

It’s good for you to admit it, and I see that your projector is working just fine.

First, you didn’t bother to explain you definition of information. This just confuses everyone, including you. There are at least four standardly used definitions, all slightly different.

Of course I didn’t, because we’re discussing recording material.

I’m not confused, certainly, you’re incapable of responding to what others write, and so you confuse perfectly understood concepts with your tiny bit of knowledge about Shannon information.

You appear to be using what I call the IT bit definition. An inference on my part, to be sure. See the previous paragraph.

That’s because we’re discussing computer bits. How stupid can you be not to understand what’s being discussed?

Then you go on to confuse everybody, including yourself, about not having to transmit repetitions. This is wrong!

OK, you’re just lying now. I mentioned one instance where repetitions have to be transmitted, your problem is that you can’t read and don’t care what falsehoods you perpetrate.

What repetitions have to be transmitted depend upon several factors, one of the subjects of what is called Information Theory, but would better be called “Shannon Information Theory”.

Dear tard, I was discussing the transmission of essentially digital information. That you’re too stupid to understand plain English is your problem.

I have come to the conclusion that you are just making stuff up, hoping that it sounds good to somebody or other.

Yes, you do seem incapable of recognizing a discussion held within context, and dissemble not only because you don’t care about honesty, but also because you can’t understand what others write. To “make up for” your inability to read, you take words out of context and invest them with an absolute and literalistic aura in order to shoot down the strawman you have thus created.

Now who else to we accuse of doing that?

You’re right, you and the IDists practice the same misdirection, goal-shifting, and out-of-context reading. Mere projection of your many lapses doesn’t change the fact that you’re operating without even bothering to respond to what’s written, but merely to what you want to think was written.

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

Comment #168191

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 4, 2007 6:24 PM (e)

And I’m going to quit this thread for some time now. Arguing with someone who has to ask what is being discussed at every turn is fruitless. I have things to do, and will take this up again later, if ever.

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

Comment #168192

Posted by David B. Benson on April 4, 2007 6:27 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — Well, recently you’ve been writing about what can be stored on a disk. With many misconceptions, I fear…

While the utility gzip AKA zip uses the clever Lempel-Ziv adaptive coding algorithm to obtain high compression for files being stored on disk, many decades ago, when disk space was expensive and before Lempel and Ziv worked out their algorithm, we noticed that most program files contained a high proportion of blanks, i.e., the ascii code for blank. Thus it was obvious that we were not getting anywhere near one Shannon bit per IT bit. So we devised the following very simple compression algorithm. After an ascii coded for blank byte, treat the following byte as a number. This number was to be interpreted as the number of blanks in a row when decompressing the program file. This scheme saved around 10% of the bytes required to store the file on magnetic tape.

I do hope you can understand the point of my relating this just now…

Comment #168194

Posted by David B. Benson on April 4, 2007 6:36 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — “essentially digital information’. Well, perhaps that is the problem. I’ve been discussing actually digital information. As is done in the subject called Information Theory with important ideas such as the Shannon Coding Theorem. A theorem about digital encoding of digital data. Oh well, never mind, since you have once again displayed your ignorance of anything having to do with information…

Now all of this started because I pointed out an important misconception having to do with prior knowledge. This idea plays an important role in the storage and transmission of information. I attempted to explain it as simply as possible. Unfortunately, Glen Davidson did not understand and things went downhill from there.

Comment #168196

Posted by David B. Benson on April 4, 2007 6:55 PM (e)

Shannon had the same concept of the bit as the computer industry does.

I fear this was true. Unfortunately, the two definitions of bit are different. The two only agree for a one bit per sample Shannon source. This has been and continues to be a source of vast confusion, as has been recently demonstrated…

Comment #168211

Posted by stevaroni on April 4, 2007 10:13 PM (e)

Oddly, I suspect that at this point in our little discussion on this one little page we have probably put more on the table about information, and how you go about defining, quantifying and measuring it, than all the published work from the entire “information argument” wing of the ID party.

I’m actually not exaggerating, since we’ve had maybe 4 or 5 good, researchable, definitions in play while the ID camp has to date provided exactly - wait for it - none.

Comment #168259

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 5, 2007 10:15 AM (e)

Glen Davidson — Well, recently you’ve been writing about what can be stored on a disk. With many misconceptions, I fear…

I’m sure you’d add many misconceptions.

While the utility gzip AKA zip uses the clever Lempel-Ziv adaptive coding algorithm to obtain high compression for files being stored on disk, many decades ago, when disk space was expensive and before Lempel and Ziv worked out their algorithm, we noticed that most program files contained a high proportion of blanks, i.e., the ascii code for blank. Thus it was obvious that we were not getting anywhere near one Shannon bit per IT bit. So we devised the following very simple compression algorithm. After an ascii coded for blank byte, treat the following byte as a number. This number was to be interpreted as the number of blanks in a row when decompressing the program file. This scheme saved around 10% of the bytes required to store the file on magnetic tape.

I do hope you can understand the point of my relating this just now…

Of course I understand the point. You’re incapable of discussing information in the sense in which it makes up an object, you know a little about Shannon Information, and so you’re running your strawman fallacy yet again.

The problem with you is that if a physicist told you to use an atomic force microscope to obtain information from a “blank disk”, you’d come back and say that there was no information on the disk. You’d be fired, because they’d know that each “bit-device” is designed to maintain a stable information state, and that anyone with a brain could discover what that information state is, and could do so over and over again with each succeeding bit.

Apparently you take computer disks to be zero entropy as long as the same information is recorded in each “bit-device”. Well it isn’t, essentially the same entropy (or total information) exists no matter what information is encoded onto the disk. Which is why we consider the information state of each of the parts of the aspects designed to save information. Indeed, the reason why you can compress information into a more ideal Shannon configuration is that the bits are indifferent to what information they are recording, be it compressed data or long strings of the same binary “digit”.

Computer disks are designed to hold have switchable bits that stand for 1s or 0s (on and off, yes and no, however you want to symbolize it), and the information is there and possible to be read in each bit whether or not it was encoded or accidental.

And btw, you sure are snarky for an idiot who can’t follow a conversation about encoded bits of information. “I hope you can understand…” blah blah. It’s more than obvious that you think only you know about Shannon information, and you drone on and on about what I already know, trying to sound superior by resorting to it when the discussion was, as you call it, about IT bits. Very disingenuous of you, throughout and continuing up through the latest posts.

Try to understand what you didn’t before. In post #168178, I wrote this parenthetically:

(perhaps PG could have disagreed with you, but asked why you brought up “Shannon information” when we’re talking about the information on a disk, not what is generally called “Shannon information”).

And you stupidly asked what definition of information I was using rather later on. It’s obvious that you can’t follow a discussion, but I’d have at least thought you could understand something directly stated.

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

Comment #168266

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 5, 2007 10:33 AM (e)

Glen Davidson — “essentially digital information’. Well, perhaps that is the problem. I’ve been discussing actually digital information.

Wow, clever word play. Maybe you could be a comedian, a politician, a lawyer, or a writer. Just quote mine, twist the meaning, claim superiority in your dimwitted uncomprehension, and think that you are smart. I’m sure it’s the only way you can think yourself smart.

As is done in the subject called Information Theory with important ideas such as the Shannon Coding Theorem. A theorem about digital encoding of digital data.

Can you do anything but repeat your humming, idiot? I noted early on that you were changing the subject, incapable of following what was being discussed, the coded information on a computer disk, but you only know your one thing refuse to discuss these affairs properly.

Oh well, never mind, since you have once again displayed your ignorance of anything having to do with information…

Why because I already know most of what you’ve written about it, and shown up your obtuse reading and comprehension of the issues at hand? Sure, pretend that I don’t know your boilerplate “knowledge”. You’re a brother of the IDists, who think we don’t understand metaphysics, when we’re actually discussing science. I’m discussing the bits of information that a computer disk is designed to hold, indeed must hold whether recorded or not, and you’re off on a tangent, driveling on about matters that I know and that don’t pertain to the discussion.

Now all of this started because I pointed out an important misconception having to do with prior knowledge.

Yes, as usual you had a misconception about the knowledge being discussed. No one needed your self-important preening, or your irrelevant statements that a “blank disk” has no information on it. In the scientific sense, we must gather the information from a string of exactly the same binary “digits” in order to determine their independent information states. Only then do we concern ourselves with “Shannon information”, after we’ve gotten the information off of each “bit-device” that is encoded there.

All of your obfuscations only show that a little learning is a dangerous thing.

This idea plays an important role in the storage and transmission of information. I attempted to explain it as simply as possible.

Yes, it was simple, boring, repetitive, because I already knew it (not every bit of the terminology, etc., but what is going on with Shannon Information in general). You can’t stand it that I knew your precious knowledge, so you drone on endlessly on your tangent of self-primping.

Unfortunately, Glen Davidson did not understand and things went downhill from there.

I see that you’re a consummate liar, and have no evidence to back up your falsehoods (naturally). Dimwitted moron that you are, all you can do is repeat the false charges, just like the pseudoscientists do, hoping that someone will believe you despite your marked lack of ability to answer your interlocutor.

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

Comment #168267

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 5, 2007 10:41 AM (e)

Shannon had the same concept of the bit as the computer industry does.

I fear this was true. Unfortunately, the two definitions of bit are different. The two only agree for a one bit per sample Shannon source. This has been and continues to be a source of vast confusion, as has been recently demonstrated…

Yes, rather than staying on subject, you have to pretend that no one knows your “knowledge” by switching the subject away from what was being discussed. Only you confused the two, not anyone else, not even the egregious Stephen Meyer (though for different reasons he thought that the blank disk was without information).

What’s really egregious on your part is that, like IDists, you don’t address what I write, but blither on about what you think it’s all supposed to be about. It’s not only dimwitted, it’s dishonest.

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

Comment #168273

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 5, 2007 11:26 AM (e)

By the way, not long ago I quoted and linked the sort of information you pretended to teach me, here:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2007/03/_abstract_accor.html#comment-164529

The quote:

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 Kolmogorov 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.]

Reference link is at the post (if I include the link this won’t post, not soon anyway).

I could have written something similar to that quote (indeed, I have), but quoted and linked because the writer knows more, and utilizes the right jargon.

So yeah, unsurprisingly I don’t enjoy the pretense that I don’t know these things, nor the confusion of what was meant in this discussion vs. the largely irrelevant Shannon Information theory.

Glen D

Comment #168275

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 5, 2007 11:32 AM (e)

I hit post, then before it had posted I thought of a caveat I should include, to prevent a possible cheap shot. So here’s the last sentence changed:

So yeah, unsurprisingly I don’t enjoy the pretense that I don’t know these things, nor the confusion of what was meant in this discussion vs. the largely irrelevant (to the discussion) Shannon Information theory.

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

Comment #168298

Posted by David B. Benson on April 5, 2007 3:08 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — I fear you are simply wrong regarding the relevance of Shannon theory to the storage of ‘information’. As I have previously posted, the ‘information’ on a disk, say, is there to be transmitted via a ‘reader’. Thus it is a Shannon source.

Therefore prior knowledge of the state of the disk is relevant to any discussion of the Shannon information content of the disk.

So far, all you have done is say that the above is false. Cite any competent authority. Start, for example, with a paper in IEEE Transactions on Information Theory. :-)

Comment #168308

Posted by David B. Benson on April 5, 2007 3:54 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — Please stop making stuff up. I never posted anything which stated you did not know something about Shannon theory. Also, while I am sure I have many failings, telling lies is not one of them.

Further, notice I have posted nothing whatsoever regarding an ‘unformated’ disk. The reason is simple. Some drives require formatted disk in order to properly read the contents. I have no idea at all what the reader would transmit from an unformated disk.

Comment #168321

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 5, 2007 5:36 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — I fear you are simply wrong regarding the relevance of Shannon theory to the storage of ‘information’. As I have previously posted, the ‘information’ on a disk, say, is there to be transmitted via a ‘reader’. Thus it is a Shannon source.

There you go again, twisting what I wrote to set up a strawman. I didn’t say that Shannon theory isn’t relevant to the storage of information, liar, I said that it wasn’t relevant to the discussion of whether or not information exists on a “blank disk” (more or less).

Therefore prior knowledge of the state of the disk is relevant to any discussion of the Shannon information content of the disk.

Of course it is, which is why I discussed the state of the disk as containing “bit-pieces” that store information whether or not it has been deliberately inputted.

So far, all you have done is say that the above is false.

So far you have avoided what I’ve written and substituted your incoherent imaginings in place of what I wrote. That is another lie, you’re taking the matter out of the context of the discussion in order to make claims that have little or nothing to do with the discussion.

It’s not surprising that you almost never quote me (though when you do it’s out of context, twisted, and dishonest), for you could not support virtually any of the charges that you make in your ongoing thuddingly dull insistence that everything revolve around your misconceptions of what this is all about.

Why don’t you for once try to back up your scurrilous charges with some evidence?

Cite any competent authority. Start, for example, with a paper in IEEE Transactions on Information Theory. :-)

Sure, I’m out to support your delusions about what I’ve written.

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

Comment #168323

Posted by Glen Davidson on April 5, 2007 5:53 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — Please stop making stuff up. I never posted anything which stated you did not know something about Shannon theory.

The weaselly modifier (“something”) won’t get you out of your cretinous and false claims. You started in with this false charge, just the sort of falsehood that anyone would despise when aimed at him:

Glen Davidson — In which you also demonstrate you do not understand the Shannon Theory of the Transmission of Information.

You ought to actually study the theory before commenting on it…

I don’t care about your “something”. I didn’t make up what I actually wrote, which no doubt is why you again fail to provide an honest reference:

So yeah, unsurprisingly I don’t enjoy the pretense that I don’t know these things, nor the confusion of what was meant in this discussion vs. the largely irrelevant Shannon Information theory.

This was in-line with your false charges in the beginning, only you had to misrepresent what I wrote with your illegitimate modifier, “something”.

Also, while I am sure I have many failings, telling lies is not one of them.

I have yet to see in this thread where you have honestly treated a non-trivial subject. True, you hardly understand the discussion, but if you don’t know you shouldn’t be making it up to replace what was written.

Further, notice I have posted nothing whatsoever regarding an ‘unformated’ disk.

Another strawman. According to the search function, “unformatted” (I do spell it correctly) doesn’t appear in this thread, and the only one who wrote “unformated” is you. I wrote “blank disk”, usually in quotes because a “blank disk” is not well defined, and I didn’t wish to write “unformatted disk”. It seemed okay because formatted floppies are frequently called “blank” disks, floppies, whatever.

So again the trumped up charge, with no supporting evidence—because there is none.

The reason is simple. Some drives require formatted disk in order to properly read the contents. I have no idea at all what the reader would transmit from an unformated disk.

Which is why you made up the false insinuation that I had referred to “unformatted disks”, in the post in which you whine that you don’t lie.

And again, I’m not spending more time with all of this disingenuity at this time. Perhaps later tonight, maybe tomorrow, or perhaps I’ll just ignore the constant drumbeat of false accusations thrown to cover up his many lapses.

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

Comment #168330

Posted by David B. Benson on April 5, 2007 6:35 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — I never claimed that you had written anything regarding unformatted disks. Quit making stuff up!

You continually fail to address the point that Shannon theory is relevant to the storage of ‘bits’, other than to simply claim that it is largely irrelevant.

The basic problem is that the word information has more than one meaning, even in this limited context. Earlier you agreed, I believe, that reading a disk entirely written to zeros and you know that it is provides no information. That is, zero Shannon bits of information. Thus the fact that the disk has a storage capacity of, say, one billion bits does not mean that it contains one billion bits of information. It is only that it has the capacity to do so.

Most often one makes the most pessimistic assumption that all the possible states of the device are equiprobable. In this case one has no prior knowledge of the state of the device and so the device can be said, correctly, to contain one billion bits of Shannon information.

But sloppy use of language leads to sloppy reasoning…

My apologies for my spelling mistake, surely another demonstration of one of my failings. However, I am certain that I understand information storage and transmission the better of the two of us. I am also certain that you are the better at name calling, moving the goal posts, and otherwise attempting to appear correct even when you are wrong…

Comment #168335

Posted by David B. Benson on April 5, 2007 6:52 PM (e)

Glen Davidson — Apologies, I didn’t see your post #168321 before responding to your post #168323.

I don’t know what you mean by a “blank” disk (more or less)”. Further, all this is not completely specified until the nature of the reading device is given. Once given, then Shannon theory will indeed provide the answer to the bits of Shannon information contained on the “blank” disk, provided the reading device is capable of actually transmitting any bits at all from a “blank” disk.

But if one assumes that a “blank” disk is always readable by a reader which always delivers up a zero or a one for each position and that the magnetization on the “blank” disk is random, then the “blank” disk is a one Shannon bit per IT bit device.

Sorry, but you are wrong about the role of Shannon theory.

Comment #168337

Posted by David B. Benson on April 5, 2007 7:08 PM (e)

I just happened to meet a sysadmin guy who explained what happens when one attempts to mount an unformatted floppy disk: the mount program always delivers the same error code, the one for no fs.

Therefore a “blank” floppy, which is known to be “blank”, contains zero Shannon bits of information. In this sense, it contain no information.

Comment #168455

Posted by chaos_engineer on April 6, 2007 1:50 PM (e)

OK, I think I’ve got it:

Suppose I’ve got a pound of lead and a pound of gold, both at room temperature:

1 - They contain the same amount of matter, and the same amount of energy.
2 - Therefore the difference between them can’t be explained in materialistic terms.
3 - Therefore the difference between them is spiritual in nature.
4 - Therefore I can change lead to gold by praying over it.
5 - Profit!!!

Comment #168519

Posted by stevaroni on April 7, 2007 12:24 AM (e)

Imagine a 50 pound ball of lead and a 50 pound ball of plutonium.

The lead is happy with it’s lot in life. It’s not glamorous, but it’s content with it’s place in the world, and knows it should be happy with the way the metallic creator made it. It will be rewarded with eternal life, probably as fishing weights.

The plutonium is restless, uncomfortable with the way the metallic creator made it. It wants excitement. It craves change, it understands science, dabbles with alchemy, with things that no atom should try to know. Poof!

The moral of the story is clear. Science is dangerous, and Periodic-Tableism is just plain evil.

Comment #168625

Posted by Henry J on April 7, 2007 5:44 PM (e)

Re “Periodic-Tableism”

Webelements

:p

Henry

Comment #168630

Posted by stevaroni on April 7, 2007 6:42 PM (e)

Webelements

Aw come on now! Element 114; ununquadinuim! Now I know those Tableists are just makin stuff up!

Comment #168652

Posted by Henry J on April 7, 2007 11:37 PM (e)

ununquadinuim - it’s elementary! Oh, and also periodic!

Henry

Comment #168753

Posted by David Edwards on April 8, 2007 6:33 PM (e)

I suspect Poe’s Law is applicable here - “A parody of fundamentalism is likely to be indistingushable from the real thing”. However, having encountered real examples of stupidity from the creationist brigade, I suspect this may well be real.

Meanwhile, as an answer to the quoted piece …

* Headdesk *

The information on the disc with the software written to it is contained in the magnetic orientations of the ferrous oxide particles. Which is a material quantity. It can be measured. Quantitatively if you so wish (i.e., what is the coercivity of the magnetic field required to change the state of an individual bit on the disc).

information is a different kind of entity that matter and energy cannot produce.

The irony of him holding a floppy disc full of software whilst saying this is not lost upon me.

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