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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Mailvox: certainly self-comlimentary

BB affects to be surprised:
I found this site by accident. This discussion of evolution is certainly on a low level for a site that is so deeply self-comlimentary. I am always surprised that people refuse to accept biological evolution because of its supposed implausibility, yet easily accept the idea of spontaneous human appearance. God, in this view, did not need to develop, but just "is." The plausibility of God goes unquestioned. Said another way, the argument is that man evolved is unsupportable, but the idea that God is and was forever, self-conceiving, is logical.

By the way, I believe in God.

I suggest you apply the same argument to God and man. But I readily admit that doing so will not answer the Question that you and I both have. The old question of something out of nothing.
Color me dubious.  An affectation of disinterest, followed by a nonsensical naked assertion, followed by a complete strawman.  And notice how quickly the "defense" of evolution rapidly transitions to its scientific plausibility to a philosophical attack on God.  What I find amusing is how the Neo-Darwinian faithful continue to insist that evolution is every bit as probable no matter how much the necessary complexity is observed to have increased

The recent recognition - long expected by me and others - that genetics are much more complex than previously understood and that junk DNA is somehow involved in the process, to say nothing of the toppling of the "tree of life", all significantly increase the improbability and necessary time scales of evolution by natural selection.  And yet, there hasn't even been any attempt to account for these additional complexities, partly because evolutionary biologists are both relatively innumerate and logically challenged, but mostly because the so-called science is little more than an article of willfully blind faith.

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230 Comments:

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Anonymous Stickwick October 02, 2012 2:57 AM  

God, in this view, did not need to develop, but just "is."

How this statement follows from the previous one eludes me, but no matter. As recently as fifty years ago, many of the best minds in science believed the universe didn't need to develop, but just "was." I wonder if our new friend finds this problematic.

Blogger Doom October 02, 2012 3:14 AM  

yet easily accept the idea of spontaneous human appearance
Whether by evolution or by the Hand of God, man did just spontaneously exist. He wasn't, then he was. That simple. The choice isn't whether he was spontaneously created, only whether it happened through "natural" ways or was created whole.

The plausibility of God goes unquestioned.
The existence and nature of God is more questioned here then on any site I have visited! Someone *cough* you *cough* doesn't read here much at all. I have never been to a site that offers more variety of thought on God, or even whether He exists at all.

site that is so deeply self-comlimentary(sic)
As the boss says, take what is earned. I don't even see it as self-complimentary. I see it more as a means of combating the notion that he isn't qualified to debate, a claim usually laid by people who have no ability or function beyond what and which books have been crammed down their pseudo-intellectual gullets. Still, if the lad is a bit cocky... He's earned it in my books. Quite a lark though, altogether, and you fell right into the vinegar trap. Vinegar looks good on you though.

Anonymous expat October 02, 2012 3:25 AM  

Unlike BB, I totally found this site on purpose. Then again, I was looking for an interesting forum with some standard for intellectual integrity. I wonder what BB was looking for.

Anonymous Mudz October 02, 2012 3:50 AM  

I agree with BB in a sense, though I came from the reverse. I had wondered why God was supposed to be an improbable and unacceptable phenomenon, but cosmic chance was not only acceptable, but the only acceptable answer. My wonder didn't last long.

The difference for me is that we can evaluate the chances and evidence for evolution as insufficient in context of opposing evidence and explanations (ID for example); whereas we have absolutely no basis or even context upon which to evaluate the chances of God, scientifically. We have no way to know what the earliest conditions of existence were. A divine intelligence may have been inevitable, or it may have been a necessary precause, or it may have been extremely, extremely unlikely; but there's really no scientific way to distinguish between that sort of theory, and say, myriad invisible alternate universes invoked for statistical strength. That makes it the province of philosophy, I think. It's not that science isn't allowed to make divine inquiries, we simply don't have the technological capability.

Which is why God was not a scientific invention, belief in him is based on historical record and testimony, which yields to different methods of inquiry than theoretical physics or evolutionary biology. (Though the latter really should be more aware of the shortcomings of fossil history, so perhaps there is some similarity there.)

Questions of design or chance, creation or evolution, all belong to an observable sphere of contemporary human knowledge. It can be evaluated upon the universe we see and know, because anything before or outside would be completely irrelevant to our localised system.
Whereas God has an unspecified origin, generally considered to be at some point prior to the observable universe, perhaps even prior to physical laws, which makes probabilities somewhat less certain. Much the same problem applies to a non-God universe. The question of ultimate origins is much trickier than the question of creation/evolution.

But like they say, here we are. We must have gotten here somehow. And if there's a God, then he must have gotten here somehow (in whatever way you wish to frame it). One question at a time.

Non-Overlapping Inquiry, perhaps. Or maybe a one-way overlap.

Blogger Taylor Kessinger October 02, 2012 4:12 AM  

The recent recognition - long expected by me and others - that genetics are much more complex than previously understood and that junk DNA is somehow involved in the process

This is a good example of why you can't take science journalism seriously sometimes. The recent ENCODE project's press releases and interviews border on deceptive, and it's a shame to see you got suckered into the popular misinterpretation of their work. Finding that 80 per cent of junk DNA is "functional" seems a lot less impressive when you check out the definition of "functional" they used, which was roughly "it binds to something else in a specific manner". This says nothing about, e.g., whether the function discovered is beneficial or useful.

to say nothing of the toppling of the "tree of life", all significantly increase the improbability and necessary time scales of evolution by natural selection.

The "tree of life" hasn't been toppled; again with sloppily reading science journalism.

Blogger Lucas October 02, 2012 5:25 AM  

Vox doing his usual thing: smashing juvenile "arguments".

The fowl atheist is unavaible for comment.

Anonymous DrTorch October 02, 2012 6:39 AM  

Did BB actually propose an argument? Looked like a lot of handwaving.

Anyway, evolution is so 19th C. We can just assume that true now, b/c the consensus agrees.

The real action is with Sean Carroll who tells us we'll soon have a theory for everything thanks to computers, even though our multi-core processors are nowhere near the scale that Douglas Adams apprised us we'd need.

Anonymous Sexual Chocolate October 02, 2012 6:47 AM  

I just want to know, why Romanes in the end changed his mind. It might just have something to do with truth being written on man's heart. A truth that no man can extricate of his own pure will.

The true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful being. His duration reaches from eternity to eternity; His presence from infinity to infinity.…He governs all things and knows all things that are or can be done. He is not eternity and infinity, but eternal and infinite; he is not duration or space, but he endures and is present. He endures forever, and is everywhere present; and, by existing always and everywhere, he constitutes duration and space. This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.…He is omnipresent not virtually only, but also substantially; for virtue cannot subsist without substance. In him are all things contained and moved.
-- Sir Isaac Newton, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687)

Anonymous GmbH October 02, 2012 7:29 AM  

Vox, good sir,

What are your thoughts on the presuppositional apologetic arguments, specifically, that evolutionism/naturalism cannot by itself account laws of logic, uniformity in nature, absolute truth, morality, etc. and that evols unknowingly (!) rely on God in order to try to reject Him.

It's not surprising that PZ's response to such an logical argument was “you’ve said such absurd things that I don’t need to employ my reasoning, I can just laugh and shoo you away.”

Mr. Sye Ten Bruggencate of Canada-eh has the website ProofThatGodExists.org as a Q&A. He also hosts several youtube vids showing the apologetic getting evols into a stammer.

Dr. Jason Lisle (astrophysics) of Answers in Genesis is also a proponent of this apologetic method.

Anonymous The Great Martini October 02, 2012 7:32 AM  


This is a good example of why you can't take science journalism seriously sometimes. The recent ENCODE project's press releases and interviews border on deceptive, and it's a shame to see you got suckered into the popular misinterpretation of their work. Finding that 80 per cent of junk DNA is "functional" seems a lot less impressive when you check out the definition of "functional" they used, which was roughly "it binds to something else in a specific manner". This says nothing about, e.g., whether the function discovered is beneficial or useful.


This is almost verbatim what PZ Myers said about the result. The trouble is, as far as genetics goes, "binding to something else in a specific manner" is about as functional as genetics gets. I would actually object to what was written in this post in another way, which is that even genetics in the so-called "functional," non-junk region of the genome is composed of an extraordinarily complex soup of chemical reactions and is far from understood. Extending that complexity to the rest of the genome is hardly an indictment against the plausibility of evolution. If it is claimed that evolution created what we already know about functional genomics, it is already so far beyond our grade of mastery (at the moment) that we might as well extend it a couple orders of magnitude beyond that.

Anonymous Roundtine October 02, 2012 7:35 AM  

God just is, otherwise it's turtles all the way down.

Anonymous Mr Green Man October 02, 2012 7:35 AM  

This letter writer is an example of what abuse of the chronic does to a person. He would have been more coherent if he had quoted some Genesis lyrics from the Peter Gabriel years.

Anonymous Kickass October 02, 2012 7:55 AM  

Nicely handled, and I see this Taylor person is ripe for a whupping as well. Do you think there is some deviant payoff the mice get for poking the lion then?

Anonymous Mrs. Pilgrim October 02, 2012 7:59 AM  

Said another way, the argument is that man evolved is unsupportable, but the idea that God is and was forever, self-conceiving, is logical.

It comes down to whom you believe: man or God?

Blogger Nate October 02, 2012 8:16 AM  

All he is doing is reversing the reverse. We point out that evolution is just sponteneous creation by magic soup... and to that he says... "But God is improbable! just as improbable as magic soup!"

Where as the appropriate attitude of the skeptic should be... "where can this magic soup be observed?"

Anonymous Orville October 02, 2012 8:21 AM  

Besides spelling issues, which I grant could just be fat fingers, there are the mutually exclusive statements that he puts together in one idea. "God is and was forever" AND "self-conceiving". He doesn't even understand what he is saying. Vox, just pin him to your butterfly collection.

OpenID meistergedanken October 02, 2012 8:25 AM  

Vox wrote: "The recent recognition...that genetics are much more complex than previously understood and that junk DNA is somehow involved in the process...all significantly increase the improbability and necessary time scales of evolution by natural selection. And yet, there hasn't even been any attempt to account for these additional complexities,"

Wrong (I say respectfully). This has been seriously addressed, a la "COMPLEXITY: THE EMERGING SCIENCE AT THE EDGE OF ORDER AND CHAOS" by M. Waldrop, a fascinating cross-disciplinary book on this very topic.

This is how the level of discussion, which could still use a bit of "elevation", could be raised. As I say to knee-jerk progressive Darwinian devotees (even to my wife, who is not liberal but who has taught H.S. biology), the mechanisms described in evolutionary theory are observable and accurate, but in and of themselves are insufficient to account for our development over such a duration. To fully describe man's ascent to the top rungs of the ladder, we need to employ Complexity Theory. It is disappointing that no one brings this up. The gaping lacunae in most people's knowledge would seem to disqualify them from expounding on the topic. Please add this book (or others of its ilk) to your reading list so you can get up to speed and render additional insight on the matter that I may have missed!

Anonymous Nah October 02, 2012 8:25 AM  

I am always surprised that people refuse to accept biological evolution because of its supposed implausibility, yet easily accept the idea of spontaneous human appearance.

Why is that surprising? The latter part follows logically from the former. If you think evolution is implausible, what else is left but to believe in divine creation? (I guess you could believe in alien creation, but then you have the problem of where the aliens came from.)

Blogger Nate October 02, 2012 8:26 AM  

All he is doing is reversing the reverse. We point out that evolution is just sponteneous creation by magic soup... and to that he says... "But God is improbable! just as improbable as magic soup!"

Where as the appropriate attitude of the skeptic should be... "where can this magic soup be observed?"

Blogger Nate October 02, 2012 8:38 AM  

"As I say to knee-jerk progressive Darwinian devotees (even to my wife, who is not liberal but who has taught H.S. biology), the mechanisms described in evolutionary theory are observable and accurate, but in and of themselves are insufficient to account for our development over such a duration."

No. no they are not.

In simple terms... they are not predictable. Evolution is not a theory. its a narrative in which observations are made through a filtered lens and then applied ex-post-facto to the storyline.

Anonymous Outlaw X October 02, 2012 8:50 AM  

Vox, sometimes you make me laugh with your no BS straight forward attitude. God didn't make the Rainbow The Government and Biologists did.

Anonymous zen0 October 02, 2012 8:54 AM  

To fully describe man's ascent to the top rungs of the ladder, we need to employ Complexity Theory. It is disappointing that no one brings this up. The gaping lacunae in most people's knowledge would seem to disqualify them from expounding on the topic.--- meistergedanken

A consensus regarding a single universal definition of complex system does not yet exist.

Yah, that will clear things up immensely.

Anonymous HH October 02, 2012 8:59 AM  

Does it not seem reasonable that even if the universe was created by God that he would create it with systems that were somewhat self correcting and autonomous --- ... I have always view evolution as one of the things that show the hand of God the designer at work.

Its not a science vs God (and I did not use the term religion because the the biggest hindrance to a belief in God IMHO is religion). Science is the study of the creation ... study the creation, learn about the Creator.

Anonymous GmbH October 02, 2012 9:04 AM  

"...the mechanisms described in evolutionary theory are observable and accurate,..."

Details, please. (sotto voce) Especially the part of where information magically compiles itself and is somehow encoded and transmitted in genetic material. Please be aware of the fallacy of reification in your answer.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus October 02, 2012 9:04 AM  

"Wrong (I say respectfully). This has been seriously addressed, a la "COMPLEXITY: THE EMERGING SCIENCE AT THE EDGE OF ORDER AND CHAOS" by M. Waldrop, a fascinating cross-disciplinary book on this very topic."

No offense intended, Mr. GDK...
Ugh...every time I hear someone appeal to chaos theory to explain the origin of INFORMATION I curse James Gleick.

Chaotic order and structure is to information (and information Processing structures!) as a Snowflake is to a microprocessor die. Or as the phrase "God is Good" repeated for 1200 pages is to the actual contents of the the Bible.

Anonymous Athor Pel October 02, 2012 9:08 AM  

Isn't evolution supposed to be a progression from less complex organisms to more complex through the use of genetic mutation? If that is the case then more than half of all mutations should add information and therefore complexity. Have any genetic mutations been observed that have added information and complexity to an organism?

I ask this because from what I've read there are only mutations that subtract information. This being in line with physics which says we live in an entropic universe.

Anonymous Athor Pel October 02, 2012 9:10 AM  

"HH October 02, 2012 8:59 AM
...
Its not a science vs God (and I did not use the term religion because the the biggest hindrance to a belief in God IMHO is religion). Science is the study of the creation ... study the creation, learn about the Creator.
"



Sshhh.... you'll scare away the heathens and the pagans.

Anonymous Something October 02, 2012 9:14 AM  

Found this. Sharing.
http://www.doesgodexist.org/AboutClayton/PastLife.html

Anonymous Outlaw X October 02, 2012 9:19 AM  

Ladies and gentleman of the jury, the prosecution is not going to get that man today, NO! Because I am going to get him! From "And Justice For All". This post reminded me of it.

Anonymous OK October 02, 2012 9:28 AM  

What BB is not seeing is the possibility that awareness is the original state of existence.

Physical matter is nothing more than energy fields. So physical matter doesn't exist as it appears to be, but is actually energy. So what is energy then? Energy is simply thought power.

Everything in existence is the result of thought.

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 October 02, 2012 9:31 AM  

BB,

Does it really matter how we got here? You believe that God exists and, I'm assuming, that God created the universe and everything in it. How He did it is inconsequential and largely unimportant. For man, it is really nothing more than a chasing after the wind.

What really matters is why He did it.

Blogger Taylor Kessinger October 02, 2012 9:38 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Taylor Kessinger October 02, 2012 9:40 AM  

Isn't evolution supposed to be a progression from less complex organisms to more complex through the use of genetic mutation? If that is the case then more than half of all mutations should add information and therefore complexity. Have any genetic mutations been observed that have added information and complexity to an organism?

1. No, evolution is a change in allele frequencies across generations; or perhaps you're referring to the theory of evolution, which necessitates that evolution at least sometimes be able to increase the "complexity" of a lineage. "Devolution" is not consistent with the theory of evolution; in some lineages (obligate parasites, for example), it is quite well predicted by it.
2. Why on earth would you think that half of mutations would need to increase "complexity" for evolution to be true? Presumably many mutations do not, but those are screened out by selection.
3. Since you are asking for mutations that increase information, it follows that you must have a definition of information such that it is quantifiable. Can you provide one? Evolution can indeed increase measures of information like the Shannon entropy or Kolmogorov complexity.

When horrible garbage posts like this go completely uncorrected, it's not hard to see why readers would lose faith in this blog's commenters' ability to police themselves and use rational thought.

Blogger Lucas October 02, 2012 9:49 AM  

OT,

Vibrancy in Detroit

Anonymous Nihilus October 02, 2012 9:49 AM  

And God said, "Let the EARTH bring forth living creatures according to their kind, cattle and creeping things and the beasts of the earth according to their kind," and it was so.

It's been there all along.

Anonymous Daniel October 02, 2012 9:50 AM  

In other words, our God is implausible therefore our evolution isn't!

Anonymous The other skeptic October 02, 2012 9:51 AM  

An affection of disinterest, followed by a nonsensical naked assertion,

Perhaps you mean affectation

Anonymous Josh October 02, 2012 9:55 AM  

I find out amusing that no atheists are going around saying that the folks who think Allah created everything are bunch of lunatic fundie stupidheads.

Blogger Kentucky Packrat October 02, 2012 9:59 AM  

The recent recognition - long expected by me and others - that genetics are much more complex than previously understood and that junk DNA is somehow involved in the process,

The real problem is that biological apologists have no understanding of computer science or information theory. DNA is a Turing-equivalent system and Turing-complete. Not only can you use DNA to compute the same problems a Turing machine can compute, but you can implement a Turing machine in DNA.

Essentially, DNA is machine code. Just like changing or adding one byte of an old mainframe program is more likely to crash it than create a new function, our DNA is more likely to break than pick up a new function.

Also, DNA is ONLY machine code. You have to have the computer to run the program. Even if your infinite monkeys with typewriters manage to make a DNA molecule pop up whole and intact(*), if there's no cell for it to run in, nothing will happen.

"junk" DNA is very consistent with an entropic, fallen universe. Humans were created perfect, and then deteriorated through multiple genetic issues (the Flood, post-Babel population isolation, malfunctioning viruses, etc.). The idea that parts of DNA don't work right any more doesn't cause me any issues.

Anonymous Athor Pel October 02, 2012 10:10 AM  

"Taylor Kessinger October 02, 2012 9:40 AM
...
2. Why on earth would you think that half of mutations would need to increase "complexity" for evolution to be true? ...



If less than half of all mutations added information then no living organism like us would have arisen at all since the majority of all mutations would have subtracted information. You don't get bigger positive numbers by adding a bunch of negative numbers together.




3. Since you are asking for mutations that increase information, it follows that you must have a definition of information such that it is quantifiable. Can you provide one? Evolution can indeed increase measures of information like the Shannon entropy or Kolmogorov complexity."



You didn't answer the question.

Answer the question. Here it is again.
Have any genetic mutations been observed that have added information and complexity to an organism?

Blogger Taylor Kessinger October 02, 2012 10:11 AM  

Essentially, DNA is machine code. Just like changing or adding one byte of an old mainframe program is more likely to crash it than create a new function, our DNA is more likely to break than pick up a new function.

This just isn't true. DNA is "modular" and robust in ways that computer code is not. This is why, for example, homologous proteins might share only 20% sequence identity even if their fold is essentially the same.

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 October 02, 2012 10:17 AM  

I find out amusing that no atheists are going around saying that the folks who think Allah created everything are bunch of lunatic fundie stupidheads.

Largely because such assertions are associated with a higher risk of death.

Blogger Spacebunny October 02, 2012 10:22 AM  

You don't get bigger positive numbers by adding a bunch of negative numbers together.

But if you multiply them.....;-)

Blogger Taylor Kessinger October 02, 2012 10:24 AM  

If less than half of all mutations added information then no living organism like us would have arisen at all since the majority of all mutations would have subtracted information. You don't get bigger positive numbers by adding a bunch of negative numbers together.

...does anyone else want to point out why this makes no sense before I do?

Have any genetic mutations been observed that have added information and complexity to an organism?

As stated, the question is unanswerable. You have not told me what you mean by "information" or "complexity". These are ambiguous terms. Please define them.

Anonymous The other skeptic October 02, 2012 10:25 AM  


Answer the question. Here it is again.
Have any genetic mutations been observed that have added information and complexity to an organism?


Hmmm, the question was not addressed to me, so I want to explore the parameters.

What sense of observed is acceptable to you? Directly observing the mutation as it is happening or is it enough to note the difference (long) after it has occurred?

I note also that Kentucky Packrat said:


The real problem is that biological apologists have no understanding of computer science or information theory. DNA is a Turing-equivalent system and Turing-complete. Not only can you use DNA to compute the same problems a Turing machine can compute, but you can implement a Turing machine in DNA.


I had just been checking the definition of Turing Completeness in the context of that question ...

I would claim that a very large range of organisms are inherent in the structure of the "DNA" mechanism. Possibly all organisms, including Bigfoot :-)

So, the real question, surely, is not about mutations in the programs, but how did the machinery arise?

Anonymous The other skeptic October 02, 2012 10:27 AM  


"I find out amusing that no atheists are going around saying that the folks who think Allah created everything are bunch of lunatic fundie stupidheads."

Largely because such assertions are associated with a higher risk of death.


And, as such, reduce your Darwinian fitness.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus October 02, 2012 10:32 AM  

@Taylor

"or perhaps you're referring to the theory of evolution, which necessitates that evolution at least sometimes be able to increase the "complexity" of a lineage."

Perhaps You are referring to the theory of evolution, which POSTULATES that evolution at least sometimes be able to increase the "complexity" of a lineage.

"Can you provide one? Evolution can indeed increase measures of information like the Shannon entropy or Kolmogorov complexity."

Funny, I was just about to ask you to provide some meat to go with all the hand-waving here. I call B.S. here. I'm sure that you are Assuming that Naturalistic Evolutionary Models explain the information increase of genomes, but that doesn't make it so. You're merely assuming the conclusion.

First, Shannon Entropy is a quantity one would want to see decrease in order to support your case.

also, appealing to Kolmogorov complexity doesn't help to support your case when you are essentially assuming that NET explains the increase. Incidentally, living organisms have very, very, very high K-Complexity relative to the kinds of things that can be explained by chaotic dynamics, such as snowflakes and fractal sets.

Also, you would be better off trying to give an actual example, as opposed to an ex-post-facto or just-so story, where NET has be demonstrated to change the Kolmogorov entropy of genomes over time.

"This just isn't true. DNA is "modular" and robust in ways that computer code is not. This is why, for example, homologous proteins might share only 20% sequence identity even if their fold is essentially the same."

This is hand-waving. Even if we assume that the folding (which is part of the information and coding PROCESSING mechanism) the information encoded on the base pairs of the DNA (the "ladders" on the spiral staircase) There are no chemical preferences or affinity for any combination over another. Meaning that the DNA is a content-neutral storage media. In other words, the processing machine may be "modular" (begging a definition) but the code isn't required to be.

Blogger Nate October 02, 2012 10:33 AM  

"As stated, the question is unanswerable. You have not told me what you mean by "information" or "complexity". These are ambiguous terms. Please define them."

And... you're done.

Anonymous Athor Pel October 02, 2012 10:41 AM  

" Taylor Kessinger October 02, 2012 10:24 AM
...
As stated, the question is unanswerable. You have not told me what you mean by "information" or "complexity". These are ambiguous terms. Please define them.
"




You must be accustomed to dealing with people that change definitions of words as they use them. I don't do that. Use a dictionary, like an educated adult.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/information
see 2b.





"The other skeptic October 02, 2012 10:25 AM
...
Hmmm, the question was not addressed to me, so I want to explore the parameters.

What sense of observed is acceptable to you? Directly observing the mutation as it is happening or is it enough to note the difference (long) after it has occurred?
"



Can't even answer a straightforward question, either of you. Please tap dance some more. This is fun.

Blogger Taylor Kessinger October 02, 2012 10:46 AM  

Funny, I was just about to ask you to provide some meat to go with all the hand-waving here. I call B.S. here. I'm sure that you are Assuming that Naturalistic Evolutionary Models explain the information increase of genomes, but that doesn't make it so. You're merely assuming the conclusion.

No, I don't have to assume it. Pretty much any gene duplication will increase the Kolmogorov complexity of a genome. As for the Shannon entropy, I'm not exactly sure what the problem is supposed to be. Selection decreases it pretty obviously by biasing a sequence toward particular subsets of the sequence ensemble.

Of course, neither of these is particularly helpful, because Kolmogorov complexity and Shannon entropy do not capture the intuitive notion of "complexity" one sees when one looks at organisms. But that's the thing; that sense of "complexity" is a gut feeling, not something any of you have rigorously defined.

Blogger Taylor Kessinger October 02, 2012 10:49 AM  

You must be accustomed to dealing with people that change definitions of words as they use them. I don't do that. Use a dictionary, like an educated adult.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/information
see 2b.


I don't see, in here, a way to quantify or measure "information". Walk me through it. Show me how, given two DNA sequences (or an ensemble thereof), I'd be able to tell which one has more "information" in the way you're using the word.

Did you just mean "function"? Are you asking for an example of a mutation that gives a new "function"? If so, why didn't you just say that? Why did you bandy around with the notion of "information" at all?

Anonymous duckman October 02, 2012 10:49 AM  

Using spellcheck is harder than being a devout Evolutionist. It actually requires thought.

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 10:54 AM  

Kentucky Packrat wrote: Essentially, DNA is machine code. Just like changing or adding one byte of an old mainframe program is more likely to crash it than create a new function, our DNA is more likely to break than pick up a new function.

Maybe. It depends on where the change occurred and the structure of the code/data. In LISP, for example, the line between code and data is very fuzzy, and genetic algorithms in LISP are fun to watch.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus October 02, 2012 11:00 AM  

"Pretty much any gene duplication will increase the Kolmogorov complexity of a genome."

This is completely wrong in spirit, although vague enough in the letter to allow you a modicum of wiggle-room.

Kolmogorov complexity, or Algorithmic Complexity specifically deals with the issue of duplication. There is no increase in K-Complexity for mere duplication.

Shannon entropy isn't a good measure for the supposed effects of NET, but K-Complexity actually is.

Your statement about Shannon Entropy:

"Selection decreases it pretty obviously by biasing a sequence toward particular subsets of the sequence ensemble."

That's patently False, for reasons both obvious and subtle, and I'm wondering if you even know why...

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 11:03 AM  

Nate wrote: And... you're done.

Actually, he's spot on. One side keeps talking about information theory and information complexity, but when asked to actually calculate it, or show how it would be calculated for various inputs, then it gets really, really quiet. Or the silence is filled with name calling.

Blogger Nate October 02, 2012 11:18 AM  

" One side keeps talking about information theory and information complexity, but when asked to actually calculate it, or show how it would be calculated for various inputs, then it gets really, really quiet. Or the silence is filled with name calling."

Mate... claiming that you can't quantify the complexity delta between a single celled organism (the start) ... and modern man... (the end) is not just deflection. Its drooling retardery of the class that normally is reserved for the window lickers.

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 11:25 AM  

Nate wrote: Mate... claiming that you can't quantify the complexity delta between a single celled organism (the start) ... and modern man... (the end) is not just deflection. Its drooling retardery of the class that normally is reserved for the window lickers.

Fine, Nate. Show us just how retarded we are and how smart you are. Please do the calculations, provide us with the results, and show your work so that it can be independently verified. Thanks.

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 11:27 AM  

Nate wrote: (the start) ... and modern man... (the end)

And, btw, evolution is ateleological. There is no "end". There is only "is". Either an organism reproduces or it doesn't. With respect to evolution, the "specialness" of man is just a byproduct of human ego.

Anonymous Anonymous October 02, 2012 11:39 AM  

VD, a nuance that you are either missing or, I think, failing to mention, is that many people sense that life has "evolved" but don't know the mechanism(s) by which it has.

You always point out that you are particularly skeptical of TENS. I think this fact is missed by many of your critics. I missed it at first too.

In other words, you are open to the idea that life on Earth has evolved, but you don't believe there is sufficient evidence to support the theory that it did so via natural selection.

Another nuance that many people miss, perhaps yourself included, is that there is a difference between abiogenesis and evolution.

I think there is gobs of evidence that life certainly has evolved. However, I agree with you that natural selection doesn't seem to be the main mechanism underlying evolution. When it comes to abiogenesis, I'm agnostic.

Cumquat

Blogger James Dixon October 02, 2012 11:44 AM  

> When horrible garbage posts like this go completely uncorrected,

Someone posts a high school biology level of understanding of a theory and you say it's a "horrible garbage post".

If the high school level understanding is wrong, then correct it. Preferably in a way the average person with a high school understand of the matter can understand. Don't insult the person for not having a PHD in biology.

> This just isn't true. DNA is "modular" and robust in ways that computer code is not.

He's arguing the theoretical nature of the items and you're arguing the details of the currently existing samples. The phrase "is not" is correct, but the phrase "cannot be" wouldn't be.

Blogger Nate October 02, 2012 11:51 AM  

"And, btw, evolution is ateleological. There is no "end". There is only "is". Either an organism reproduces or it doesn't. With respect to evolution, the "specialness" of man is just a byproduct of human ego."

Irrelevant. the process went from a "simple" single celled organism... to the organism of today which are obviously... more complex. If you prefer a shark to man... fine. Irrelevant. Its still orders of magnitude more complex than a single cell.

Anonymous kh123 October 02, 2012 12:03 PM  

Asking for a quantification of complexity in the current scientific community is probably as likely as an honest accounting of GDP between communist and capitalist systems in the former Soviet Union. Even within the U.S. "capitalist" system currently, getting honest economic numbers requires ignoring the official line.

Anonymous Kickass October 02, 2012 12:03 PM  

Taylor, you have to answer direct questions around here and back up your assertions. Didnt PZ mention that when he sent you? Do it or behold the wrath of the Dread Ilk. Now dance you slightly evolved monkey who exists because nothing went bang!

Blogger Kentucky Packrat October 02, 2012 12:20 PM  

This just isn't true. DNA is "modular" and robust in ways that computer code is not. This is why, for example, homologous proteins might share only 20% sequence identity even if their fold is essentially the same.

He's arguing the theoretical nature of the items and you're arguing the details of the currently existing samples. The phrase "is not" is correct, but the phrase "cannot be" wouldn't be.


Moreover, Taylor confuses the language with the program with the system. I write and compile a Hello World program on one of work's Power7 boxes. The disk unit stores that using RAID-5 technology. Every part of the system between the disk and the CPU on a Power7 box uses built-in ECC to make sure the bytes run by the CPU are the same bytes I created. If the CPU has a problem, the OS transparently attempts to recover the program on another CPU, so that the user can't see an interruption.

Underneath it all is just a whole bunch of computer instructions, created in the same type of language used for the Hello World process.

DNA is similar. The cell has error correction and error detection hardware, among other defenses against DNA mutations. However, DNA itself is still just a program carrier; you need the mechanisms of the cell to carry out the "instructions".

Anonymous Outlaw X October 02, 2012 12:38 PM  

"specialness" of man is just a byproduct of human ego."

Bullshit we were made in the image of God. Just go to a park and watch the children play and quit over anal lizing it all. The happiest people are ignorant over thinking is a death sentence.

Anonymous Dead Kulak October 02, 2012 12:38 PM  

"but mostly because the so-called science is little more than an article of willfully blind faith."

I read this line and snicker at the "blind" part...

An atheist reads the same line...and is horribly offended by the "faith" word...

Anonymous kh123 October 02, 2012 12:48 PM  

If Phylogenetics* or Cladistics (The Tree of Life) are dependent upon the same sort of "big and small" fuzzy math as is Complexity or Information theory, then calling into question the methodology of the one...

Etc.

*Phylogenies don't have the luxury of being able to quantify the "looks the same, therefore it must be related" homology as a function, or the efficacy thereof - merely as (what Nate points out) an ex-post-facto narrative; whereas trying to divine the actual real-time function of biochemistry seems to be truer to the spirit of observational science.

Anonymous kh123 October 02, 2012 12:56 PM  

So how would we quantify autocatalysis, for instance.

It would be dependent upon the specific reaction or "loop" we choose to look at, the level of complexity of the immediate system it was working within (e.g., blood clotting mechanism with its several other autocatalytic loops).

But would this number go up when we took into account what else has to be functioning in tandem (e.g., the human body and its host of other biochemical systems) in order to facilitate our one example? Would we have to hierarchy out between biochemical and gross morphological? Is the chicken quantified as more complex than the egg, or vice versa?

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus October 02, 2012 1:15 PM  

@wrf3

"One side keeps talking about information theory and information complexity, but when asked to actually calculate it, or show how it would be calculated for various inputs, then it gets really, really quiet. Or the silence is filled with name calling."

In this particular case, one side is playing buzzword-bingo without understanding. It reads like a regurgitation of something read-but-not-digested from talk.origins.

When one drops buzzwords, it shouldn't come as a surprise getting called on it. The guy was the first one to claim that TENS/NET demonstrated an increase in information...when that is the very question at hand.

Funny, my experience is that it is the TENS proponents who are least interested in attempting to work this numerical angle, and often attack efforts to do so. They tend to be the ones hiding in the penumbra of Uncertainty.

Even if good metrics aren't set out, no one in their right mind is going to claim that from start to present, TENS is invoked to preside over a huge increase in genome size, complexity, and information content.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus October 02, 2012 1:20 PM  

"In other words, you are open to the idea that life on Earth has evolved, but you don't believe there is sufficient evidence to support the theory that it did so via natural selection."

Second that. In the dictionary sense of the word: there is no doubt that Life has evolved over time on Earth. Evolved meaning "changed over time". I have serious doubts that TENS/NET explains this.

And yes, abiogenesis is a completely different matter even though TENS/NET requires that as a given.

The more we know, the more unlikely abiogenesis becomes.

Blogger RobertT October 02, 2012 1:23 PM  

I used to marvel at the idea that "the pilgrims didn't believe in bright colors". I used to think, "how stupid is that, all they have to do is look at a flower". But that wasn't the issue, faith was the issue, and at that age that escaped me. It also seems to have escaped BB. He may marvel at the fact that people can accept "spontaneous appearance" but for them, it's completely obvious. It struck me as I read the post that a belief in God isn't just a singular isolated belief, it opens up a whole system of related beliefs that are part and parcel of the whole. Because it settles a whole lot of issues. Apparently, a belief in science isn't that encompassing.

Anonymous Noah B. October 02, 2012 1:43 PM  

(OT) And three weeks later, we get the first piece of the real story about what actually happened in Benghazi.

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 1:47 PM  

Darth Toolpodicus wrote: The guy was the first one to claim that TENS/NET demonstrated an increase in information...when that is the very question at hand.

Except that it observably does. Single bit errors can increase Shannon and Kolmogorov complexity which, by definition, is an increase in information.

Anonymous Athor Pel October 02, 2012 1:49 PM  

" Taylor Kessinger October 02, 2012 10:49 AM
...
Did you just mean "function"? Are you asking for an example of a mutation that gives a new "function"? If so, why didn't you just say that? Why did you bandy around with the notion of "information" at all?
"



And the dancing continues.


" wrf3 October 02, 2012 11:25 AM
...
Fine, Nate. Show us just how retarded we are and how smart you are. Please do the calculations, provide us with the results, and show your work so that it can be independently verified. Thanks.
"



And then it keeps on going.


And nobody has answered the question. Are you unwilling or unable? Because either one is fine.

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 1:51 PM  

Darth Toolpodicus wrote: Funny, my experience is that it is the TENS proponents who are least interested in attempting to work this numerical angle, and often attack efforts to do so.

So what's Nate? He hasn't provided any calculations whatsoever for his position. All he's done is said, "look at sharks, then look at man. Obviously more complex."

A pile of sand is more complex than a grain of said, too. Until he's willing to define what he means by complexity, then it's no different from pornography, i.e. everybody knows what it is when they see it, but nobody agrees on any particulars.

Anonymous Stilicho October 02, 2012 1:51 PM  

Taylor Kessinger: how did modern creatures evolve if there was no additive change in the information contained in their DNA as measured from whatever arbitrary starting point you choose and how did those same creatures evolve without increasing the complexity of the organism? Define "complexity", "information", and "did" however you choose.

Blogger Andre B October 02, 2012 2:02 PM  

wrf3: "Single bit errors can increase Shannon and Kolmogorov complexity which, by definition, is an increase in information."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but that increase in information, ironically, is only an increase because you have defined it to be so. That could also be interpreted as noise, and it would still be "new", in the sense that new strings of data are added. But that says nothing about function. The genetic code operates within very strict boundaries for information, having its own "programming language" even in the most basic level of protein encoding (that now, thanks to the discovery of function in junk DNA, can be regarded as a simplistic way of explaining life. Of course, protein encoding couldn't have explained all the regulatory processes required for life).

So in the genetic code, a single bit error cannot be regarded as new information if it forms a new string of data, simply because it has been defined a priori that new strings = information. It has to be interpreted in light of the function of the organism. And we all know that single bit errors will almost certainly make the code, even in the level of protein building, less efficient. The protein will almost certainly show a worse performance of its function, and I have seen researches on this specifically, not merely articles. I've seen results.

I've actually seen a research team that assumed this is a basic truth in order to perform their research on the specific dietary needs of destitute populations. They assumed errors in protein encodings and went from there to find specific dietary needs for them. Can you reasonably believe that those single digit errors in those populations' DNAs could be interpreted as "new information" in the sense that we are talking about building more fit, more complex, more functional organisms? It was clearly entropy at work.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus October 02, 2012 2:24 PM  

"So what's Nate? He hasn't provided any calculations whatsoever for his position. All he's done is said, "look at sharks, then look at man. Obviously more complex."

A pile of sand is more complex than a grain of said, too."

I don't want to get between you and Nate.

yes, there is a shortage of hard metrics, but I think the underlying point remains. Although to be fair, I wouldn't say that humans physically are necessarily much more complex than Sharks. I would focus on the more obvious comparisons.

Blogger Nate October 02, 2012 2:26 PM  

"So what's Nate? He hasn't provided any calculations whatsoever for his position. All he's done is said, "look at sharks, then look at man. Obviously more complex.""

Wow.

No.

What I said was... Look at a single celled organism.. then look at man... or sharks... either one.

Sharks and men are obviously more complex than single celled organisms.

Blogger Andre B October 02, 2012 2:28 PM  

Darth Toolpodicus: "Although to be fair, I wouldn't say that humans physically are necessarily much more complex than Sharks."

For the discussion at hand, it's actually irrelevant. The shark only needs to be more complex than its supposed evolutionary origins. I don't think I've ever seen anyone defending that mankind has evolved from sharks.

Blogger Nate October 02, 2012 2:32 PM  

If both sharks and man evolved from single celled organisms... then clearly complexity has been added.

Blogger Andre B October 02, 2012 2:37 PM  

Maybe not if you're a very confused individual, but yes. Clearly.

Here's some new information for this discussion:

´~po231 qp50j 8372 kjl2937 *¨ll23i *&¨T23 ~0P58 V3

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 2:45 PM  

Andre B wrote: Correct me if I'm wrong, but that increase in information, ironically, is only an increase because you have defined it to be so.

Information is just a collection of "bits", whether those bits are high and low voltages, spin-up or spin-down particles, or what have you. Shannon information is basically a measure of the compressibility of those bits. The less something can be compressed, the more information it has. Noise, therefore, has the most information under this definition.

Kolmogorov complexity is a measure of what it takes to reproduce a given sequence.

In either case, a single bit error can either increase or decrease information complexity. Evolution is not unlike bit errors, so it can increase or decrease information.

If you don't like this definition of information, feel free to provide one that we can agree on and start using.

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 2:48 PM  

Nate wrote: Sharks and men are obviously more complex than single celled organisms.

Still waiting for you to provide the numbers showing the difference in complexity between single-celled organisms and sharks or men. After all, you're the one who wrote: claiming that you can't quantify the complexity delta between a single celled organism ... is drooling retardery of the class that normally is reserved for the window lickers.

Show me how you compute the complexity delta.

Anonymous Daniel October 02, 2012 2:54 PM  

wrf3 -

A single-celled organism has one (1) cell.

A shark has more than one (1+n) cell.

1 is measurably less than 1 + another number.

I hope this satisfies your rigorous demands for a quantifiable information gap.

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 2:59 PM  

Daniel wrote: I hope this satisfies your rigorous demands for a quantifiable information gap.

Let's run with it. So a pile of sand has more information complexity than a grain of sand. So sand dunes have greater complexity than a grain of sand. Random processes in nature produce sand dunes and, therefore, an increase in information complexity.

The analogy to evolution should be clear.

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 3:06 PM  

Andre B wrote: Can you reasonably believe that those single digit errors in those populations' DNAs could be interpreted as "new information" in the sense that we are talking about building more fit, more complex, more functional organisms?

So you don't like the Shannon or Kolmogorov definitions of complexity, where it's clear that evolution can increase or decrease this complexity, and now you move the goalposts to "more fit", "more complex", "more functional" organisms. Tell me, is an African who has sickle-cell anemia more, or less, fit than a European who doesn't? Did the "giant of Gath", who was said to have six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, more or less "fit"/"complex"/"functional" [2 Sam 21:20].

Anonymous Stilicho October 02, 2012 3:20 PM  

The sheer amount of obfuscation to avoid answering questions about evolution is astounding and quite indicative of the inability of the evolution proponents here to support their theory. They've already resorted to the equivalent of saying it depends on what the meaning of "is" is.

Note to Taylor: claiming that you cannot accurately quantify complexity or the amount of information involved does not, as Nate pointed out, help you avoid the uncontested fact that a shark is observably more complex than a single celled organism. Of course, you either know that or you are simply too stupid to be allowed out of daycare.

Anonymous Stilicho October 02, 2012 3:24 PM  

If both sharks and man evolved from single celled organisms... then clearly complexity has been added.

Nah, it depends on how high higher is. Or how much more is. or even how great greater is...

Anonymous Noah B. October 02, 2012 3:25 PM  

There is a basic problem with an attempt to apply information theory to the theory of evolution. Information theory is totally silent as to what constitutes relevant information (knowledge) and assumes prior agreement on that subject between a sender and receiver. If we arbitrarily make an assumption about what constitutes relevant information, we are likely to be wrong, as our understanding of biological processes is far from complete.

Blogger Giraffe October 02, 2012 3:31 PM  

wrf3 Let's run with it. So a pile of sand has more information complexity than a grain of sand. So sand dunes have greater complexity than a grain of sand. Random processes in nature produce sand dunes and, therefore, an increase in information complexity.

Sure.

A single cell organism contains the information to replicate itself. An multicelled organism contains the dna to rebuild the cell, the cells combine to form organs, which form systems, which form the organism. Add in sexual reproduction and we aren't pissing around anymore. We aren't just multiplying 1 x the number of cells.

Anonymous MendoScot October 02, 2012 3:38 PM  

The analogy to evolution should be clear.

No it's not. A colony of protozoa is not a metazoan. Additional information is required for tissue differentiation and coordination.

Blogger Nate October 02, 2012 3:45 PM  

"Still waiting for you to provide the numbers showing the difference in complexity between single-celled organisms and sharks or men. After all, you're the one who wrote:"

Doubling down then?

Fine.

How about we go with Chemistry?

How many unique chemical reactions take place in a single celled organism?

Now how many unique chemical reactions take place within a shark... or human?

Simple system... complex system.

Now... go back to licking the window.

Anonymous Anonymous October 02, 2012 3:46 PM  

To the evolution skeptics and God-clinging theists, watch this excellent BBC documentary:

The Secret Life of Chaos

http://ww3.tvo.org/video/173822/secret-life-chaos

Description:

haos theory has a bad name, conjuring up images of unpredictable weather, economic crashes and science gone wrong. But there is a fascinating and hidden side to Chaos, one that scientists are only now beginning to understand. It turns out that chaos theory answers a question that mankind has asked for millennia - how did we get here? In this documentary, Professor Jim Al-Khalili sets out to uncover one of the great mysteries of science - how does a universe that starts off as dust end up with intelligent life? How does order emerge from disorder?


Science has answered this question. The laws of the universe are such that there complexity and patterns are able to appear out of what seems to be meaningless, random motion of matter and disorder. There really is no "God" directing evolution or life. Learn to accept it and then move on.

Blogger Nate October 02, 2012 3:52 PM  

Seriously... I haven't seen this kind of willful pedantry since the debates on calvin...


oh.

Right.

Nevermind then.

Anonymous Noah B. October 02, 2012 3:52 PM  

"If both sharks and man evolved from single celled organisms... then clearly complexity has been added."

I would argue that complexity has increased in a part of the system where sharks and men evolved, but only as the result of a huge increase in entropy of the whole system as the sun burned through vast quantities of hydrogen. I know of no law or axiom that precludes a localized increase in complexity within a system, provided that the entropy of the whole system increases in accordance with the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

The same sort of thing (increased localized complexity resulting from external energy input) can happen outside of the biological realm, as in the case of the formation of gemstones, snowflakes, or the formation of any of the great geological wonders.

Blogger vandelay October 02, 2012 3:59 PM  

Maybe BB means he found this site by accident a couple years ago, and has since been afflicted with an unhealthy obsession with it, as so many of Vox's critics seem to be.

Anonymous Turtles all the way down!! October 02, 2012 3:59 PM  

"Science has answered this question. The laws of the universe are such that there complexity and patterns are able to appear out of what seems to be meaningless, random motion of matter and disorder."

<--- This sentence is PROOF complexity and patterns are able to appear out of meaningless, random motion of matter and disorder.

Is science complex? Is science order? Then it's really meaningless, random motion of matter and disorder. Which means what I just wrote is meaningless, random motion of matter and disorder. Which means what I just wrote now is meaningless, random motion of matter and disorder. Etc etc etc

Blogger Andre B October 02, 2012 4:00 PM  

wrf3: "Tell me, is an African who has sickle-cell anemia more, or less, fit than a European who doesn't? Did the "giant of Gath", who was said to have six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, more or less "fit"/"complex"/"functional" [2 Sam 21:20]."

The african is less fit, of course. His life expectancy is shortened, his quality of life is decreased. It is actually mind-boggling that such a concept can be hard to understand to an individual that throws around so many fancy definitions, in the hopes of scaring away debaters, I assume.

I am not moving goalposts here and you are being willfully obtuse when you accuse me of doing so. You have presented a metric of information gain by random digit mutations and you don't want it to be tied with other concepts such as fitness, complexity and function? What kind of bizarre dimension does your mind operate in?

Anonymous Daniel October 02, 2012 4:04 PM  

wrf3 "The analogy to evolution should be clear."

Ah yes, so a controlled and measurable outside force blows over the cells in a predictable pattern, causing them to evolve.

Sure you want to follow that line of thought to its reasonable conclusion, my good man?

Blogger Giraffe October 02, 2012 4:10 PM  

I know of no law or axiom that precludes a localized increase in complexity within a system, provided that the entropy of the whole system increases in accordance with the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

The second law. Yes, we can make a thing like a computer. But there has to be a net increase in entropy. Worse, from the non-theistic point of view, you have to have a human directing that expenditure of energy to actually end up with a computer. Nature has no equivalent guiding hand.

Anonymous OK October 02, 2012 4:11 PM  

Andre B, just FYI, sickle cell anemia gives resistance to malaria.

Anonymous Stilicho October 02, 2012 4:18 PM  


oh.

Right.


NACALT...but if they are, it was bound to happen

Blogger Andre B October 02, 2012 4:23 PM  

OK: "Andre B, just FYI, sickle cell anemia gives resistance to malaria."

Still, it is characterized as a disorder. Simple Wikipedia excerpt: "The term disease is applied, because the inherited abnormality causes a pathological condition that can lead to death and severe complications." Also "Sickle-cell disease may lead to various acute and chronic complications, several of which have a high mortality rate."

Many mutations decrease information in the genetic code while also increasing fitness for a specific scenario. I know wrf3 wanted to play a game where noise brought about a fitness benefit, but overall the african in that example is less fit. Would you want every human being on the planet to instantly receive this disease?

We live in such a confused world that even the concept of health seems to be somehow blurred.

Anonymous Daniel October 02, 2012 4:28 PM  

Andre B, just FYI, sickle cell anemia gives resistance to malaria.

Evolution is the freaking Yugo of innovation and adaptation, then, considering that people in other parts of the world eliminated malaria via far more effective means than a secondary illness.

Anonymous Noah B. October 02, 2012 4:31 PM  

"Nature has no equivalent guiding hand."

But that's the whole point of dispute. Arguing that evolution did/did not occur because nature did/did not facilitate it is nothing more than circular logic.

Blogger James Dixon October 02, 2012 5:06 PM  

> ...considering that people in other parts of the world eliminated malaria via far more effective means than a secondary illness.

Not really. Malaria doesn't exist in all parts of the world. It's primarily a tropical and less a subtropical disease. And I don't believe it's been "eliminated" in any area where it exists. I could be wrong about that, of course.

Blogger JD Curtis October 02, 2012 5:06 PM  

God, in this view, did not need to develop, but just "is." The plausibility of God goes unquestioned. Said another way, the argument is that man evolved is unsupportable, but the idea that God is and was forever, self-conceiving, is logical.


"But God, as the classical Catholic intellectual tradition understands him, is not one cause, however great, among many; not one more item within the universe jockeying for position with other competing causes. Rather, God is, as Thomas Aquinas characterized him, ipsum esse, or the sheer act of to-be itself -- that power in and through which the universe in its totality exists. Once we grasp this, we see that no advance of the physical sciences could ever "eliminate" God or show that he is no longer required as an explaining cause, for the sciences can only explore objects and events within the finite cosmos." Link to full article



Blogger James Dixon October 02, 2012 5:07 PM  

The above should be has existed, or course. Obviously it has been eliminated where it exists. Some days it just doesn't pay to try to post. :(

Blogger James Dixon October 02, 2012 5:07 PM  

Hasn't been. Like I said.

Anonymous Daniel October 02, 2012 5:20 PM  

James Dixon
Not really. Malaria doesn't exist in all parts of the world.

Yes. Because it was eliminated.

It's primarily a tropical and less a subtropical disease. And I don't believe it's been "eliminated" in any area where it exists. I could be wrong about that, of course.

You are. Malaria gets its name from the Romans, and not from their tropical/subtropical adventures. The ancient Chinese, eliminated it from parts of the region by use of medicine. The Greek city state suffered grievously with malaria. The South American Indians processed quinine as a viable cure. French medicine identified its root cause. The Brits in India identified the carrier. The U.S. and other countries virtually eliminated Malaria thanks to DDT.

So, pretty much everyone in the world at some point had to face and fight Malaria. Only sub-saharan Africans developed a potentially debilitating disease as a not-terribly efficient defense.

Malaria is a terrible argument in favor of evolution by natural selection.

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 5:31 PM  

Nate wrote: How many unique chemical reactions take place in a single celled organism?

You're supposed to tell us. You're the one who wrote that one has to "quantify the complexity delta".

Now how many unique chemical reactions take place within a shark... or human?

Again, you're supposed to tell us. Here, you aren't quantifying anything. All you're doing is appealing to fuzzy impressions based on big numbers.

Simple system... complex system.

So's a grain of sand vs. a sand dune. As of yet, all you're doing is hand-waving and name calling in an attempt to hide the fact that all you have are vague intuitions.

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 5:37 PM  

MendoScott wrote: Additional information is required for tissue differentiation and coordination.

And? Natural processes can't do that? I'm not going to accept an appeal to incredulity that it cannot, just as I won't engage in special pleading that it can. Tell me how you define this information so we can test whether or not natural processes can create it. So far, whether one uses Shannon or Kolmogorov definitions of complexity, evolution can both increase and decrease it. If you're going to say "evolution can only go so far, but no farther" then you're going to have to show why.

Anonymous Daniel October 02, 2012 5:38 PM  

wrf3 - The math was done, above.

Anonymous Aeoli Pera October 02, 2012 5:44 PM  

"What the hell is this? For cryin' out loud, somebody throw a pie!" - Peter Griffin

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 5:44 PM  

Andre B wrote: The african is less fit, of course. His life expectancy is shortened, his quality of life is decreased.

The problem with your answer is that those are your purely subjective measures of fitness. Evolution doesn't "care" about those things -- all it cares about is reproduction. You can't argue against the merits of the theory when you don't understand what the theory actually says.

It is actually mind-boggling that such a concept can be hard to understand to an individual that throws around so many fancy definitions, in the hopes of scaring away debaters, I assume.

Not at all. Your projection as to my motives is just as wrong as your definition of evolutionary fitness.

I am not moving goalposts here and you are being willfully obtuse when you accuse me of doing so. You have presented a metric of information gain by random digit mutations and you don't want it to be tied with other concepts such as fitness, complexity and function?

I have no problems with tying those things in if you will rigorously define what you mean by them, first. You didn't get "fitness" right; you don't seem to like Shannon or Kolmogorov complexity measures -- in which case you then need to define what you're talking about; and the same goes for function.

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 5:50 PM  

Daniel wrote: Ah yes, so a controlled and measurable outside force blows over the cells in a predictable pattern, causing them to evolve.

And just where did you get this? Evolution isn't controlled -- it's random. It's no more predictable than the outcome of the roll of a die is predictable.

Sure you want to follow that line of thought to its reasonable conclusion, my good man?

Of course not, since it's not something that is true to fact.

Anonymous Outlaw X October 02, 2012 5:53 PM  

"So's a grain of sand vs. a sand dune. As of yet, all you're doing is hand-waving and name calling in an attempt to hide the fact that all you have are vague intuitions."

Show us a sand dune that is aware of its existence. I got tired of your BS in the SR argument. Aware means something, piles of sand are are just piles if no one is there to see them...

Anonymous Daniel October 02, 2012 5:53 PM  

wrf3 - It isn't "naturally selective" for sickle cell anemia to develop in the Congo but not in India. Evolution obviously only cared enough about the African to give him the sickle cell adaptation, making him more fit than the Indian without sickle cell anemia.

And yet, they both reproduce. The only problem is that the sickle cell African is less likely to pass on good health to his children, even though Evolution randomly blessed him with a weird resistance to a disease that the Indian has conquered via other, non-evolutionary means.

So: I've got fitness right...and you are still wrong about evolution: sickle cell anemia is not good evidence in defense of TENS.

Anonymous Daniel October 02, 2012 5:54 PM  

wrf3 - And just where did you get this? Evolution isn't controlled -- it's random. It's no more predictable than the outcome of the roll of a die is predictable.

I got it from you, wrf3. I got it from you.

Anonymous Daniel October 02, 2012 6:01 PM  

wrf3
Let's run with it. So a pile of sand has more information complexity than a grain of sand. So sand dunes have greater complexity than a grain of sand. Random processes in nature produce sand dunes and, therefore, an increase in information complexity.

You were talking about wind, a fairly predictable, easily measurable and physically verifiable outside force acting as a randomizing agent. And yet, when I made the logical conclusion that you thought that wind is to sand as x is to single cell, and suggested that x, therefore had to be a fairly predictable, easily measurable and physically verifiable outside force, you stumped yourself.

And just where did you get this?

The real question is: why on earth won't you tell us what that measurable outside force determining random evolution is?

I've given you the numbers to determine the complexity delta.

Why won't you tell me the formula or force for determining the rate of evolution?

Blogger Andre B October 02, 2012 6:04 PM  

wrf3: "The problem with your answer is that those are your purely subjective measures of fitness. Evolution doesn't "care" about those things -- all it cares about is reproduction. You can't argue against the merits of the theory when you don't understand what the theory actually says."

Oh really, brainiac? You've been playing the definition game for quite some time now, while simultaneously responding to Nate in the most dishonest way possible. Does he really need to provide you with numbers when you know for a fact that one is immensely bigger than the other? This is the whole point and you ignore it unless someone gives you two numbers. That is incredible.

Here, the same thing. We are all aware that the african has acquired resistance to malaria, but at what cost? Did that mutation make his blood cells function in a better way? Seeing him only as a robot, is he now a better robot? This is like removing all the electric wires from a robot and saying that it's now resistant to rain! And relying the accumulated complexity that evolution has to account for to such a process!

You know what, I think I remember you. Aren't you that insufferable Calvinist snob who has a very peculiar view on human beings as essentially androids with no free will?

Anonymous Noah B. October 02, 2012 6:06 PM  

"So far, whether one uses Shannon or Kolmogorov definitions of complexity, evolution can both increase and decrease it."

Since you've attempted to undermine Nate's suggestion that sharks and people are more complex than single celled organisms by demanding that he provide a method of calculating the difference in complexity, it's only fair that you adhere to your own standards. How exactly does one go about calculating the Shannon or Kolmogorov complexity of an organism? I'll accept an algorithm for determining either measure of complexity for a unicellular organism.

Anonymous kh123 October 02, 2012 6:48 PM  

John Calvin has a highly complex posse.

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 7:01 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 7:03 PM  

Andre B wrote: Does he really need to provide you with numbers when you know for a fact that one is immensely bigger than the other? This is the whole point and you ignore it unless someone gives you two numbers. That is incredible.

Apparently you don't understand complexity metrics. Just because one number is bigger than another number doesn't necessarily mean that one is more complex than the other. That's why the complexity metric has to be specified before you start making claims about what nature might, or might not, be able to do in creating that complexity.

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 7:05 PM  

Noah B wrote: Since you've attempted to undermine Nate's suggestion that sharks and people are more complex...

No, I've asked Nate to describe which complexity metric he's using and how it's calculated. You know, the exact same thing you're asking me. After all, if the claim is "evolution can't increase complexity" then you just can't wave your hands and say "it's obvious" (which is all Nate has done).

How exactly does one go about calculating the Shannon or Kolmogorov complexity of an organism? I'll accept an algorithm for determining either measure of complexity for a unicellular organism.

That's not my field of expertise, but Google is your friend: The calculation of information and organismal complexity.

Anonymous Outlaw X October 02, 2012 7:14 PM  

"No, I've asked Nate to describe which complexity metric he's using and how it's calculated. You know, the exact same thing you're asking me. After all, if the claim is "evolution can't increase complexity" then you just can't wave your hands and say "it's obvious" (which is all Nate has done)."

Your a scientist or scientific so think! Do things go from organization to disorganization? The opposite is true is what you claim. I don't know that any of it really matters what we believe.

Anonymous Godfrey October 02, 2012 7:46 PM  

I am always surprised that people refuse to accept possibility of a God in heaven, yet easily accept the possibility of a man made heaven on earth.

Blogger Andre B October 02, 2012 7:56 PM  

Really, wrf3? Is it ever possible for a single cell organism to be more complex than a creature made of a million of the same cells, all working together for different functions? If so, give us an example, a real example, and prove to us that you're not just hot air.

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 8:03 PM  

Outlaw X wrote: Your a scientist or scientific so think! Do things go from organization to disorganization? The opposite is true is what you claim.

Explain snowflakes to us, Outlaw X, if there's never any increase in organization in nature.

Anonymous Outlaw X October 02, 2012 8:09 PM  

"Explain snowflakes to us, Outlaw X, if there's never any increase in organization in nature."

No you explain snow flakes and crystallization. I see snow flakes, snow flakes don't see me. wf3, I like you but sometimes I tire, as people tire of me.

Blogger Taylor Kessinger October 02, 2012 8:26 PM  

This is completely wrong in spirit, although vague enough in the letter to allow you a modicum of wiggle-room.

Kolmogorov complexity, or Algorithmic Complexity specifically deals with the issue of duplication. There is no increase in K-Complexity for mere duplication.


Yes, there is, for two reasons. First, consider the sequence:
acc
Now consider the sequence:
accacc
The second requires at least one more integer to specify, namely one corresponding to the number of times the sequence is repeated. It is more complex, albeit not much more.
Second, consider a protein sequence; ordinarily, mutations in it are pruned away due to functional constraints. However, suppose the sequence is duplicated. The second copy is now much less functionally constrained. Thus, duplication can lead to variation; this new sequence will have much higher Kolmogorov complexity than the original.


Your statement about Shannon Entropy:

"Selection decreases it pretty obviously by biasing a sequence toward particular subsets of the sequence ensemble."

That's patently False, for reasons both obvious and subtle, and I'm wondering if you even know why...


No, it's not, but feel free to enlighten me. Off the top of my head, see Barton and Coe (2009) for an analysis along these lines.

Blogger Nate October 02, 2012 8:27 PM  

"No, I've asked Nate to describe which complexity metric he's using and how it's calculated. You know, the exact same thing you're asking me. After all, if the claim is "evolution can't increase complexity" then you just can't wave your hands and say "it's obvious" (which is all Nate has done)"



The Train is Fine.


Blogger Taylor Kessinger October 02, 2012 8:28 PM  

Honestly, looking through the remainder of the comments in this thread, I am completely flabbergasted that anyone could reach any conclusion other than the one BB did. There is an enormous amount of unwarranted arrogance and self-congratulatory behavior because "hey, evolution sure is dumb!" coming from people who do not understand even the basics of evolutionary theory, much less information theory or any of the other fields they claim to champion.

If you want to be a condescending prick, you have to earn that right. Calling evolutionary biologists morons, interspersed with reading evolutionist statements in as vicious and uncharitable a fashion as possible and patting yourself on the back for parroting whatever VD tells you, doesn't qualify.

Blogger Taylor Kessinger October 02, 2012 8:32 PM  

Someone posts a high school biology level of understanding of a theory and you say it's a "horrible garbage post".

If the high school level understanding is wrong, then correct it. Preferably in a way the average person with a high school understand of the matter can understand. Don't insult the person for not having a PHD in biology.


Well, it wasn't a high school biology level understanding of a theory; it was a math error, and a pretty huge one at that. The claim was that, for evolution to be viable, half of all mutations must lead to an increase in information. Notwithstanding the ambiguity surrounding the word "information", this is false if, e.g., information-increasing mutations are rare but lead to great increases in information, or (more likely) information-decreasing mutations tend to decrease the fitness and therefore are pruned away by evolution.

Obviously not everyone needs a PhD-level understanding of biology, but if your level of familiarity with the subject really is a high school one (augmented, perhaps, by reading a couple of Wikipedia articles), some level of humility is to be expected. "Evolutionary biologists are all morons for not understanding this simple argument" is a little ridiculous.

Blogger James Dixon October 02, 2012 8:49 PM  

> Yes. Because it was eliminated.

We'll get to that later. But I honestly don't believe I've ever heard of anyone contacting malaria in Canada, for one example. The Canadian Public Health Agency page on malaria (http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/media/advisories_avis/mal_faq-eng.php) doesn't mention one.

You are. Malaria gets its name from the Romans, and not from their tropical/subtropical adventures.

You are correct in that I should have included the Mediterranean. However, a map of what is considered sub-tropical (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2a/Subtropical.png) may be of interest to you. Hint, the Mediterranean is included.

> The ancient Chinese, eliminated it from parts of the region by use of medicine. The Greek city state suffered grievously with malaria. The South American Indians processed quinine as a viable cure. French medicine identified its root cause. The Brits in India identified the carrier. The U.S. and other countries virtually eliminated Malaria thanks to DDT.

All of which are subtropical regions (yes, China, the US, France, and India all have subtropical regions. India even has tropical ones). Notice that the British were fighting it in India, not in England.

Medication doesn't eliminate malaria, it treats it. And viturally eliminated doesn't equal eliminated. If the parasites and carriers are still around, you haven't eliminated the disease, you've merely controlled it.

> So, pretty much everyone in the world at some point had to face and fight Malaria.

If you look at the map above, you'll see that's not surprising.

You haven't disproven either of my points. Malaria isn't found everywhere. It's rare to very rare in temperate climates and virtually unknown in subarctic and arctic ones. And we haven't eliminated it. We've merely controlled it. I'd be willing to consider a demonstrated argument that we may have eliminated it in certain select areas, but you haven't even made that.

Anonymous kh123 October 02, 2012 8:52 PM  

"Honestly, looking through the remainder of the comments in this thread..."

Since numerous vapors have caused an outbreak of acute Aspergers, I'd assume the gloves are safely off at this point.

"However, suppose the sequence is duplicated. The second copy is now much less functionally constrained. Thus, duplication can lead to variation...

And the ball is safely moved via shell.

Anonymous Outlaw X October 02, 2012 8:53 PM  

"Evolutionary biologists are all morons for not understanding this simple argument" is a little ridiculous.

I'm not an evolutionary biologist but I request from them to explain the conscious self aware mind. I request that they explain love and sorrow. I request that they explain all things under the sun that man has seen. To love and to hate to forgive and to kill.

Anonymous Stilicho October 02, 2012 9:00 PM  

Notwithstanding the ambiguity surrounding the word "information", this is false if, e.g., information-increasing mutations are rare but lead to great increases in information, or (more likely) information-decreasing mutations tend to decrease the fitness and therefore are pruned away by evolution.

You're getting dangerously close to admitting that more evolved organisms are likely to be more complex or to contain more information however you want to define those terms.

Blogger James Dixon October 02, 2012 9:03 PM  

> The claim was that, for evolution to be viable, half of all mutations must lead to an increase in information. Notwithstanding the ambiguity surrounding the word "information", this is false if, e.g., information-increasing mutations are rare but lead to great increases in information, or (more likely) information-decreasing mutations tend to decrease the fitness and therefore are pruned away by evolution.

And you just explained your point, in fairly understandable terms. Congratulations. And thanks, most people don't take the time.

But I would say you're incorrect in stating that it's a math error. It's an error of understanding your last point in the above, which is biology, not math.

Anonymous Darth Toolpodicus October 02, 2012 9:24 PM  

@taylor

"Now consider the sequence:
accacc
The second requires at least one more integer to specify, namely one corresponding to the number of times the sequence is repeated. It is more complex, albeit not much more."

Wow. As an electrical engineer, I deal with this sort of thing occasionally, although Shannon entropy comes up much more often. I can be excused for assuming that what you just pointed out should have been patently obvious as a trivial case.

Equally obvious is that a proper compression, which is a practical application of this concept (a'la RaR or Gzip) of any sequence will have placeholders for repeat symbol count, even if the lack of one implies (1). This does not affect the K-Complexity metric. Likewise for positional markers as well.

I considered pointing that out earlier, but I didn't seriously think you would make that mistake.

Re; Shannon Entropy:

As a messaging metric, Shannon Entropy isn't germane to the question of how information content in a genome changes over time at a level well below that of measuring allele frequencies. That should be obvious.

On a more subtle level, (Nate actually touched upon this) even should we consider treating the Genome change from the bottom of an evolutionary branch to the top as a message...given that messaging involves symbolism that is both shared and by necessity pre-existing, there are serious questions of how we establish that a process such natural selection can provide any useful information development without any meaningful feedback except after-the-fact. In other words, hindsight is 20-20, but foresight is blind.

Anonymous MendoScot October 02, 2012 10:08 PM  

And? Natural processes can't do that? I'm not going to accept an appeal to incredulity that it cannot, just as I won't engage in special pleading that it can. Tell me how you define this information so we can test whether or not natural processes can create it. So far, whether one uses Shannon or Kolmogorov definitions of complexity, evolution can both increase and decrease it.

I'm an experimental scientist, I work on data. I find your appeals to models as laughable as your claim that neurons can be modelled as NAND gates. You simply have no idea of how complicated biology is.

If you're going to say "evolution can only go so far, but no farther" then you're going to have to show why.

Try this and this. Negative epistatis means that TENS operates under the law of diminishing returns. So far, and no further.

Anonymous Jay October 02, 2012 10:22 PM  

Apes are becoming human. All you have to do is watch learn about bonobo research. That settles the matter entirely.

Vox, unless you are keenly aware of the work of places like Great Ape Trust (http://www.greatapetrust.org), you really shouldn't comment about this topic.

Yes, scientists are far too often dissociated mild autistics, but that doesn't mean Darwin wasn't onto something, and you can view the REAL LIFE EVIDENCE with your own eyes.

Bonobos are SETTLING the issue. Let's move on.

Anonymous MendoScot October 02, 2012 10:34 PM  

For those who enjoy a bit of history.

Lysenko's Lamarkian heresy is now mainstream science. Such a shame that the atheists had to torture the geneticist who questioned the idea to death.

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 10:36 PM  

Darth Toolpodicus wrote: Equally obvious is that a proper compression, which is a practical application of this concept (a'la RaR or Gzip) of any sequence will have placeholders for repeat symbol count, even if the lack of one implies (1). This does not affect the K-Complexity metric. Likewise for positional markers as well.

Not quite. KC complexity is the number of instructions to generate a given sequence. The sequence "a" can be generated by "print a;" or "for i := 1 to 1 print a;" The first sequence has less KC complexity than the second but, once you have the second, you can substitute any bounds without an increase in complexity.

Blogger wrf3 October 02, 2012 10:45 PM  

MendoScott wrote: I'm an experimental scientist, I work on data. I find your appeals to models as laughable as your claim that neurons can be modelled as NAND gates.

Are you familiar with the program NEURON?

Negative epistatis means that TENS operates under the law of diminishing returns. So far, and no further.

I hope you'll allow me some time to read those two links. A quick scan of the first one recalls Behe's "Edge of Evolution." And that's perfectly fine. Please don't misunderstand me; I'm not arguing either for or against TENS. I'm arguing against bad arguments that appear on both sides. I'll note in closing that I suspect you've taken the results of these studies and incorporated them into a model.

Anonymous Outlaw X October 02, 2012 10:47 PM  

"Lysenko's Lamarkian heresy is now mainstream science. Such a shame that the atheists had to torture the geneticist who questioned the idea to death."

Oh hell if you want someone to blame blame the Darwin's and the Galton's. We have no one to blame but our self. We put up with it. Two stupid men, two stupid families. Just look at their breeding program.

Anonymous Stickwick October 02, 2012 10:47 PM  

[X] are SETTLING the issue. Let's move on.

This is one of the most UNscientific statements a person could possibly make.

Anonymous Noah B. October 02, 2012 10:57 PM  

wrf3, you should try reading your own source -- it actually supports what Nate has been saying. We might not be able to explicitly calculate complexity for a highly complex system, but we can have some idea of whether one system is more complex than another. And we can be fairly certain that multicellular organisms like sharks and humans are more complex than single celled organisms.

You seem to accept that premise readily enough from this particular paper, but from those who disagree with TENS, you demand exact calculations of complexity. Seems a bit disingenuous to me.

Anonymous MendoScot October 02, 2012 11:15 PM  

Are you familiar with the program NEURON?

Yes, I worked in the same department as the developers for five years. I considered using the program for teaching in my present position, but it was too advanced for 2nd year medical students.

I'll note in closing that I suspect you've taken the results of these studies and incorporated them into a model.

No, I linked to the studies without interpretation. The titles are:

Negative Epistasis Between Beneficial Mutations in an Evolving Bacterial Population

and

Diminishing Returns Epistasis Among Beneficial Mutations Decelerates Adaptation

My interpretation is based on the most recent fad in epigenetics, which suggests that it is not the DNA sequence that is deterministic, but rather the gene network, which also includes higher order structures in the chromosome.

A shot, and off to bed. My wife was visiting her family over the weekend and now needs cuddling.

And really, I preferred the Bigfoot discussion.

Anonymous Daniel October 02, 2012 11:29 PM  

JayApes are becoming human. All you have to do is watch learn about bonobo research. That settles the matter entirely.

Vox, unless you are keenly aware of the work of places like Great Ape Trust (http://www.greatapetrust.org), you really shouldn't comment about this topic.

Yes, scientists are far too often dissociated mild autistics, but that doesn't mean Darwin wasn't onto something, and you can view the REAL LIFE EVIDENCE with your own eyes.

Bonobos are SETTLING the issue. Let's move on.


Well, as someone who has lived in the shadow of and followed the Great Ape Trust very closely since its inception, both as a bureaucratic, taxpayer boondoggle (brought to you by the same team of politician-scientists who dreamed up the now dead Earthpork - er, Earthpark venture), and as a scientific endeavor allow me to say:

Sir, if your highest scientific authority is the (quite literally) motherfucking bonobos, not only is your understanding of Darwinism, TENS, science, reason, and basic reasoning deeply flawed, but so might be your sanity.

Please tell me you were being funny.

Even if you weren't, please tell me you were being funny.

Because if you weren't joking, and I have to come to terms with the fact that you weren't joking, my only reasonable conclusion is that mankind's next stage in evolution most certainly must be death by mass autoerotic asphyxiation.

At which point the Bonobos can have their way with our corpses, and teach us all what Darwin was truly getting at.

Darwinism must be spot on: the telepathic monkeys are telling me so!

Anonymous kh123 October 03, 2012 12:03 AM  

"...motherfucking bonobos..."

The Bigfoot debate continues.

Anonymous Jay October 03, 2012 12:15 AM  

Daniel: Because if you weren't joking, and I have to come to terms with the fact that you weren't joking, my only reasonable conclusion is that mankind's next stage in evolution most certainly must be death by mass autoerotic asphyxiation.

You're very witty... and completely missing the point.

Bonobo (pygmy chimps) are the species that look the most like us humans, and they also happen to have the most highly developed minds (in the ability to manage cause and effect, and in self-awareness).

This evidence is available to everyone. It is indisputable. Bonobos are learning language, how to start fires, and they even joke around with one another and make fun of others.

The main point that you are missing is... What will you say when Bonobos are having full-fledged conversations with humans (even if only through sign language)? Will you still blindly insist that evolution didn't happen?

Will you at least then have the courage to admit that maybe you don't know...?

Bonobo apes are becoming conscious and self-aware unlike any other species. If you don't want to admit the implications of that, that's fine. But don't stand in the way of others who want to understand.

Anonymous Rip October 03, 2012 12:22 AM  

The cake is a motherfucking lie.

The rest of this is an exercise in mental masturbation, from both "sides".

Hope y'all got your jollies.

Anonymous Outlaw X October 03, 2012 12:46 AM  

"Bonobo apes are becoming conscious and self-aware unlike any other species. If you don't want to admit the implications of that, that's fine. But don't stand in the way of others who want to understand."

My damn dog is self aware, what heck are you talking about? Dose common sense allude you? You go on and learn what ever it is you want to learn. You are dead on your feet (that's not a threat a truth throughout the ages), we all are. That being said what do boo boo apes have to do with anything? We all live and die and we are the only species I know that buries the dead. Do boo boo apes bury their dead? Why do we do that and mark the tomb stone? This thread has brought out the most ridiculous of all people.

Anonymous Professor Jim Al-Khalili October 03, 2012 1:02 AM  

OK everybody just shut the f#ck up for one second! Look I figured this sh#t out so you don't have to and I made a movie about it. It's all over.

Anonymous Jay October 03, 2012 1:13 AM  

My damn dog is self aware, what heck are you talking about?

This thread does indeed bring out the most ridiculous people.

Anonymous Azimus October 03, 2012 1:19 AM  

I have GOT to read up on bonobos... if somebody's using the ability if monkeys to make fun of each other ad proof there is no God, it's got to be worth checking out for at least a few hours, right?

I can just see the guy descending into the depths of hell now, shaking his fists and screaming "but what about the f#cking bonobos?!?!?!" No offense intended about the hell comment, however you wouldn't disagree it is the natural consequence of being wrong...

Anonymous Jay October 03, 2012 1:26 AM  

I have GOT to read up on bonobos... if somebody's using the ability if monkeys to make fun of each other ad proof there is no God

No, you have GOT to stop assuming. I am definitely not an atheist.

There are LEVELS of cognition, and the high human level is UNIQUE TO US. But out of all the species on earth, bonobos are the closest to us. And this is what evolution (Darwin) predicts would be the case.

Explanatory power.

Anonymous Outlaw X October 03, 2012 1:31 AM  

Jay make an argument and quit telling me my dog is not self aware. And answer the question, do boo boo apes bury their dead? What separate them from men? You only used it because you saw me use it, but didn't understand.

Anonymous Jay October 03, 2012 1:33 AM  

Sue Savage Rumbaugh has documented bonobos being asked to do something, and then they go and do the opposite ON PURPOSE, and then they have a good laugh over it, making fun of the person who told them to do it (I can provide the reference to anyone who wants).

To not only understand the command, but to also go and do the opposite just to make a joke out of the matter and have a good laugh, requires high cognition (unlike your dog).

There is only one species aside from humans that do this, and that is the species the closest to us, Bonobo (pygmy) chimps.

Anonymous Jay October 03, 2012 1:41 AM  

None of this, however, disproves the existence of God or Christianity. In fact, I believe in God and I think Christianity is (in the main) one of the best forces for good on this planet.

And I also agree that atheists like Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens and EO Wilson are not doing the world any favors with their dissociated, autistic ramblings. Their fear of purpose and love and meaning are just as disturbing as religious fundamentalists screaming that the world is only 6,000 years old.

I believe there is value in the Bible (and even in the Creation records), but just because I don't take everything literally, it doesn't mean I'm a hardened atheist.

Anonymous Azimus October 03, 2012 1:41 AM  

Jay while the bononos are fascinating, I don't see how an increased understanding of a species constitutes a proof of evolution. Also Darwinism would've predicted far, far more species with advanced cognition than the handful identified in 200yrs of study in order to be supported. Same with thel anthopologic fossil record.

I apologize for the atheistic assumption. However I am confused now as to what your move on comment was referring to now.

Anonymous Outlaw X October 03, 2012 1:45 AM  

My dog understands, he tries but for me to bite kids who make fun of him and tease. He knows when I am joking and serious I guess I have a boo boo dog. I can tell him to do something on a whim and he looks at me and says FU with his eyes. That look! He is a lot like his master.

Anonymous Daniel October 03, 2012 1:47 AM  

Jay, you seem well-meaning, but Planet of the Apes-style Bonobo anecdotes are not the scientific fulfillment of a missing link, nor of natural selection. After all, do you not notice that these alleged advancements/leaps forward have only been recorded as an effect of a human cause?

Does the domestication of a wolf indicate evolution?

You're in the weeds, man. Bonobos aren't the magic bullet you are looking for. There's nothing natural about the selection going on at the glorified (and revamped) zoo known as the Great Ape Trust.

After all, as the Venerable Jorge of the Name of the Rose can tell you: medieval debates over monkeys who laugh is not the realm of science, but of faith.

Anonymous Jay October 03, 2012 1:47 AM  

As far as I am aware, there is no video proof that Bonobos bury their dead (although some have claimed that). There is, however, video footage of Bonobos mourning their dead as a group, seeming to try to make sense of it, wondering why one of their own is unresponsive and gathering around it. Also, there is video footage of them vigorously protecting their dead. I can provide these links if desired.

Albeit this is not as compelling as Bonobos intelligently communicating, which is clearly documented.

Anonymous Outlaw X October 03, 2012 1:53 AM  

"There is, however, video footage of Bonobos mourning their dead as a group, "

Elephants do the same thing.

Anonymous Bruno October 03, 2012 1:56 AM  

Something out of nothing? Such a seemingly inteligent man and yet he doesnt hide his inability to distinguish between creation - matter being just a part of it - and the Eternal.

If you're reading this smart boy, drop the Teilhard de Chardin and go get yourself some Rene Guenon. Drop your Dawkins and go for St. Aquinas. You're drawing conclusions on the higher based on your observations of the lower.

A hint: the First Cause isn't located in time, so don't look for it there.

Anonymous kh123 October 03, 2012 1:57 AM  

"...just as disturbing as religious fundamentalists screaming that the world is only 6,000 years old."

Well, the standard boiler plate shibboleth has been met. Next will be facultative bipedalism proves common descent between circus bears and anthropomorphic apes.

"There are LEVELS of cognition, and the high human level is UNIQUE TO US. But out of all the species on earth, bonobos are the closest to us. And this is what evolution (Darwin) predicts would be the case."

If it came to problem solving skills, cephalopods would probably be claimed the closest to us; if regard for the dead, Elephants; if numeracy, equines. Homological features could be made to fall in line at a later date. All to serve the purpose of fulfilling a Darwinian prophe... prediction.

Anonymous Jay October 03, 2012 1:58 AM  

Jay while the bononos are fascinating, I don't see how an increased understanding of a species constitutes a proof of evolution.

First let me clarify that I think that Darwin himself did not intend "social darwinism". I think atheists were happy to twist his theory in that direction. But anyway, that's besides the main point.

My main point is explanatory power. If I predict that species have "evolved" or "developed" or whatever your word, I should expect to find that the species that are the most like us would have the highest cognition. And this is indeed what we do find.

But even if this doesn't prove common descent (and Bonobos alone do not prove this), it still shows that "evolution" or "development" might very well to at least some degree be true.

And when we see these monkeys doing uniquely human things like making fun of others and having a good laugh, in my mind that is very compelling evidence.

NONE of this kills God however. And our "human condition" of "fallenness" is not solved either. Whether we need a "Savior", or just further understanding of ourselves that has yet to be found, is a whole different matter outside this scope of just assessing whether there is at least some truth in "evolution".

Anonymous Jay October 03, 2012 2:04 AM  

If you can have an intelligent dialogue with an ape, you don't kill God or Christianity.

You DO however, kill religious fundamentalism that insists on an actual literal talking snake in a garden. You DO kill the idea that humans were literally "dropped" into nature 6000 years ago.

We are products OF nature, struggling to understand ourselves. And the evidence shows bonobos are entering this phase as well.

Anonymous Daniel October 03, 2012 2:08 AM  

Jay, no, you actually open up the possibility of a snake with the ability of speech. Are you even riding on your own train of thought?

Anonymous Outlaw X October 03, 2012 2:14 AM  

"You DO however, kill religious fundamentalism that insists on an actual literal talking snake in a garden."

This pisses me off more than anything. It wasn't a talking snake it was a serpent, which represents evil, you are a literalist.

Anonymous Jay October 03, 2012 2:17 AM  

Jay, no, you actually open up the possibility of a snake with the ability of speech.

No, I'm talking about the theory of evolution (not the theory of animals spontaneously developing an ability out of the blue), and this theory predicts gradual change (as Darwin explained), not spontaneous change. And the bonobos are confirming gradual change in real-time (over the past hundred years or so that we have been studying them).

Anonymous Greatheart October 03, 2012 2:19 AM  

swiftfoxmark2 October 02, 2012 10:17 AM: "'I find out amusing that no atheists are going around saying that the folks who think Allah created everything are bunch of lunatic fundie stupidheads.'

Largely because such assertions are associated with a higher risk of death."

Which shows the level of cowardice in an atheist's heart. They'll only challenge those they know won't attack them physically.

Anonymous Jay October 03, 2012 2:20 AM  


This pisses me off more than anything. It wasn't a talking snake it was a serpent, which represents evil, you are a literalist.


Again, you're misunderstanding me. I already said there is value in the serpent story, implying that I already take a non-literalist view. There is much metaphorical insight into our "condition" as humans in the creation story.

I am NOT an atheist OR a literalist!!

Anonymous Jay October 03, 2012 2:22 AM  

Oops, I think I might have misunderstood your comment, outlaw. You were taking issue with fundamentalism, not my comment, correct?

Anonymous Jay October 03, 2012 2:26 AM  

Which shows the level of cowardice in an atheist's heart. They'll only challenge those they know won't attack them physically.

I could not agree more! Islam is the most medieval and non-thinking of all religions, and atheists are terrified of criticizing them for fear of reprisal.

Anonymous Outlaw X October 03, 2012 2:29 AM  


Jay

Now you will understand, don't worry.

3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

In which you eat.

Anonymous Jay October 03, 2012 2:36 AM  

In which you eat.

Yes I do eat! Because if you insist on taking this story literally, then you are making God out to being a heartless prick who planted humans into a set-up! Not only does that fundamentalism go against the historical record, but you mar your own religion.

You imagine a deity that creates humans, and then tells them to not eat of something that he puts smack dab in the center of the garden, and on top of it he makes it tempting by making the fruit "desirable".

So in your fundamentalist framework, thousands of years of the horror of human history, is due to a set-up.

Don't mock Christianity or Christ with literalism. Rise above that.

Anonymous Outlaw X October 03, 2012 2:53 AM  

Who is the literalist here, not me. You think that God made it to tempt man I don't, I think God made it to explain fallen man and evil. Death is certain this explains it. Why do you protest? You want it. Some people think the earth is 6000-10,000 years old I don't. I don't even deny evolution read Francis Collins.

http://www.nih.gov/about/director/

Book.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Language-God-Scientist-Presents/dp/1416542744/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349247046&sr=8-1&keywords=francis+collins

I'm not some dumb country bumpkin however I wish now I were, and won't tell you why.

Anonymous Greatheart October 03, 2012 2:57 AM  

Anonymous October 02, 2012 11:39 AM: "VD,... many people sense that life has "evolved" but don't know the mechanism(s) by which it has...When it comes to abiogenesis, I'm agnostic. Cumquat"

Genesis 1:24
Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so.

-and-

Matthew 3:9
..."and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘ We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham."

Hope that helps.

Anonymous Outlaw X October 03, 2012 3:00 AM  

You don't know anything about me, all you know is stuck, I am not. and frick the damn monkeys, could care less. Good night Jay.

Anonymous Jay October 03, 2012 3:00 AM  

Ok, I misunderstood your comments, Outlaw. I see what you were doing now. I wasn't picking up on your nuance.

Glad to see it. :)

I'm off to bed, night all!

Anonymous Mudz October 03, 2012 3:35 AM  

Of what value is obedience if you're never tempted? Wasn't that the point of Jesus living a mortal life, and being tempted by the Devil, and suffering as a man? (As opposed to just being sacrificed on arrival.) Virtues aren't virtues if they have no context. I don't think God was interested in a race of people that behaved well because there was no alternative. It doesn't mean anything to be good, if you're not tempted to do evil.

That's what I believe may be the point of a lot of what's going on. The worthy will enter into a future paradise, but they would have no context with which to appreciate it unless they know what an imperfect world looks like. And it means something that they've gained entry to the world. That even if the world is crap, they can be relied upon to do the right thing, honour God, and still be good.

It may well be a set-up that God has put into place to achieve the world he wants.

That's just a theory though.

Anonymous Greatheart October 03, 2012 4:28 AM  

Outlaw X October 03, 2012 2:14 AM: [Jay]> "'You DO however, kill religious fundamentalism that insists on an actual literal talking snake in a garden.'

This pisses me off more than anything. It wasn't a talking snake it was a serpent..."

And aren't dinosaurs considered great serpents? Why aren't there any more dinosaurs? I wonder.

Anonymous Outlaw X October 03, 2012 4:42 AM  

"And aren't dinosaurs considered great serpents? "

No and they were never expected of talking either. I am afraid where is is going is not good.

"Why aren't there any more dinosaurs? I wonder."

Really?

Anonymous Greatheart October 03, 2012 4:42 AM  

Jay October 03, 2012 2:36 AM: "...if you insist on taking this story literally, then you are making God out to being a heartless prick..."


Not a prick at all. As Mudz pointed out, God gives us boundaries and expects us to utilize our ability to be disciplined to voluntarily stay within said boundaries. Only the rebellious fools who convince themselves (and others) there is no God, or God is of no consequence, refuse instructions and discipline on their way to eternal destruction.

Besides, you can't say for certain it didn't happen unless you can prove for a fact it didn't happen. I've got 5700+ year documentation on my side. The other side, not so much.

Anonymous Greatheart October 03, 2012 4:55 AM  

Outlaw X October 03, 2012 4:42 AM: "'And aren't dinosaurs considered great serpents?'

'No and they were never expected of talking either. I am afraid where is is going is not good.'

'Why aren't there any more dinosaurs? I wonder.'

'Really?'"

You're funny. Actually, I can remember my science teachers refering to dinosaurs as "great serpents" or "great lizards". When did they stop refering to them as such?

And yes, REALLY! If you can allow the dinosaurs to indeed being great serpents, then that is a very small jump to make. Since you made to reference to the Genesis record above, you'll remember the serpents curse.

And from there it is not that unbelievable that the dinosaurs, as we understand them, would have died off leaving the species as we now see them. Job makes mention of dinosaurs which means they were around at least until the flood, although there were no mention in the Ark account. Now, that is only a theory that came to me many years ago, but that certainly doesn't mean it didn't happen at all.

Have fun.

Anonymous Outlaw X October 03, 2012 5:15 AM  

God shouts in a deaf world. CS Lewis said is their a grandfather in Heaven looking down or does adversity make men. It's not fun. There is no miracle around every corner.

Anonymous Mudz October 03, 2012 5:16 AM  

There was a Psalms I believe to the effect of 'you broke the head of Leviathan, to feed the people of the waterless region.' Something loosely like that. That was the first scripture that made me wonder about YEC.

Anonymous Greatheart October 03, 2012 6:47 AM  

Outlaw X October 03, 2012 5:15 AM: "God shouts in a deaf world. CS Lewis said is their a grandfather in Heaven looking down or does adversity make men. It's not fun. There is no miracle around every corner."

Ah, but there are miracles, sometimes on a daily basis. I don't know that CSL quote, but I can say God is certainly not a grandfatherly figure who thinks our behavior is cute as we see some grandfathers today. He is, however, our Father in Heaven who will discipline us as he sees fit to do in order to bring us back to Him. The Scriptures are very clear as to Who and What God is, and what He is not is answerable to us. We can debate the pros & cons of the religion of evolution until the cows come home and it won't make a difference. There is a God in Heaven and the evidence to that is all around us to those with eyes to see. God does shout into a deaf world, that's why we require the infilling of His Holy Spirit to help tune to His frequency in order to hear Him.

Blogger James Dixon October 03, 2012 7:14 AM  

> Will you still blindly insist that evolution didn't happen?

Education is not evolution. Have the changes you're discussing been linked to genetic changes in the Bonobo populations?

> To not only understand the command, but to also go and do the opposite just to make a joke out of the matter and have a good laugh, requires high cognition (unlike your dog).

From which I can only conclude that you've never owned a dog.

> There is only one species aside from humans that do this, and that is the species the closest to us, Bonobo (pygmy) chimps.

Or a cat, apparently.

The only thing you've mentioned that is unique to the bonobos would be the social aspects of sharing he laugh afterwards. And there's absolutely no indication that this is evolutionary in nature from the information you've provided.

Blogger Taylor Kessinger October 03, 2012 8:16 AM  

Try this and this. Negative epistatis means that TENS operates under the law of diminishing returns. So far, and no further.

1. "Diminishing returns" does not mean asymptotics.
2. These experiments all involve short-term adaptation. This says nothing about whether beneficial mutations in the long run are subject to antagonistic epistasis.

Wow. As an electrical engineer, I deal with this sort of thing occasionally, although Shannon entropy comes up much more often. I can be excused for assuming that what you just pointed out should have been patently obvious as a trivial case.

Equally obvious is that a proper compression, which is a practical application of this concept (a'la RaR or Gzip) of any sequence will have placeholders for repeat symbol count, even if the lack of one implies (1). This does not affect the K-Complexity metric. Likewise for positional markers as well.


It does affect the K-complexity. If you don't need a placeholder to specify single copy of a sequence but you do for two, the latter has higher K-complexity. Period.

As a messaging metric, Shannon Entropy isn't germane to the question of how information content in a genome changes over time at a level well below that of measuring allele frequencies. That should be obvious.

Of course it's obvious. I included it for completeness, since apparently the evolution skeptics in this thread have some kind of aversion to clearly defining their terms and showing how they're relevant to the argument at hand.

Blogger Andre B October 03, 2012 10:08 AM  

Nate wrote: "Sharks and men are obviously more complex than single celled organisms."

wrf3 wrote: "Still waiting for you to provide the numbers showing the difference in complexity between single-celled organisms and sharks or men."

Andre B wrote: "Does he really need to provide you with numbers when you know for a fact that one is immensely bigger than the other? This is the whole point and you ignore it unless someone gives you two numbers. That is incredible."

wrf3 wrote: "Apparently you don't understand complexity metrics. Just because one number is bigger than another number doesn't necessarily mean that one is more complex than the other. That's why the complexity metric has to be specified before you start making claims about what nature might, or might not, be able to do in creating that complexity."

Andre B wrote: "Really, wrf3? Is it ever possible for a single cell organism to be more complex than a creature made of a million of the same cells, all working together for different functions? If so, give us an example, a real example, and prove to us that you're not just hot air."

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

wrf3, I'm still waiting for your answer. Since I don't understand complexity metrics, prove that you're not appealing to empty rhetoric here. I'd like to see an example of a unicellular organism that is more complex than a multicellular one. Say, a shark. I'm not asking you to compare a unicellular organism with an individual cell of a multicellular organism. I'm asking you to compare the unicellular organism with a multicellular one, specifically a shark, since you seem to be skeptical that a shark is always more complex than a unicellular organism. Give me ONE exception to this rule. I'm curious to know what kind of twisted metric would make this work.

Remember, rule 2 of the blog.

Anonymous MendoScot October 03, 2012 10:28 AM  

1. "Diminishing returns" does not mean asymptotics.

Looks pretty asymptotic to me.

2. These experiments all involve short-term adaptation. This says nothing about whether beneficial mutations in the long run are subject to antagonistic epistasis.

Yeah, well, following tens of thousands of generations of hominid adaptation is going to take a while. We'll get back to you on that one. In the meantime, you might want to look at what happens to lizards in just 35. You need to know a bit about physiology to appreciate the difference between the two results, but when you do you'll see why a hefty dose of skepticism about the current models is in order.

Blogger Taylor Kessinger October 03, 2012 10:38 AM  

Looks pretty asymptotic to me.

I remain unconvinced, but appreciate the effort.

Yeah, well, following tens of thousands of generations of hominid adaptation is going to take a while. We'll get back to you on that one. In the meantime, you might want to look at what happens to lizards in just 35. You need to know a bit about physiology to appreciate the difference between the two results, but when you do you'll see why a hefty dose of skepticism about the current models is in order.

35 years of lizard evolution is pretty short, too. Of course you expect rapid adaptation to an environment followed by slowing down. I'd be interested to see, e.g., if Lenski's bacteria have reached some asymptotic fitness or not. I'd put money on the latter.

Blogger wrf3 October 03, 2012 11:35 AM  

Andre B wrote: wrf3, I'm still waiting for your answer. Since I don't understand complexity metrics, prove that you're not appealing to empty rhetoric here.

I'm not going to give you a tutorial on complexity metrics. When you're tall enough for this ride, you can come back.

Blogger Andre B October 03, 2012 12:12 PM  

I didn't ask for a tutorial, I asked you for one single example.

Do you ever feel ashamed of being so full of shit, wrf3?

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