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Steven Pinker — Let’s show some proper deference to Darwin!

Is this vapid appeal to authority all the Darwinians have left?

Creationism piece no way to honor Darwin’s birthday
July 20, 2009

Letter to BOSTON GLOBE

SHAME ON you for publishing two creationist op-eds in two years from the Discovery Institute, a well-funded propaganda factory that aims to sow confusion about evolution. Virtually no scientist takes “intelligent design’’ seriously, and in the famous Dover, Pa., trial in 2005, a federal court ruled that it is religion in disguise.

The judge referred to the theory’s “breathtaking inanity,’’ which is a fine description of Stephen Meyer’s July 15 op-ed “Jefferson’s support for intelligent design.’’ Well, yes, Thomas Jefferson died 33 years before Darwin published “The Origin of Species.’’ And Meyer’s idea that the DNA code implies a code maker is just a rehash of the ancient “argument from design’’ – that an eye implies an eye maker, a heart implies a heart maker, and so on. Darwin demolished this argument 150 years ago.

In a year in which other serious publications are celebrating the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth and the sesquicentennial of “Origin,’’ the Globe sees fit to resurrect his long-buried opposition.

The advantage that traditional newspapers have over the Internet competition is quality control. If the Globe repeatedly gives its imprimatur to the latest nonsense from an anti-science lobbying organization, what’s the point of going to it for reliable, intelligent commentary?

Steven Pinker
Cambridge

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131 Responses to Steven Pinker — Let’s show some proper deference to Darwin!

  1. Why does everyone, Pinker included, mention the Dover decision? Do federal courts now decide what is science and what is not?

    He does come across as a whiny atheist who can’t understand why everyone doesn’t agree with him.

  2. “Darwin demolished this argument 150 years ago.”

    Apparently Meyer and Dembski didn’t get the memo.

  3. 3

    Pinker’s rant is in direct proportion to the inability to provide evidence supporting the conclusions of he and his fellow ideological bigots.

    So what else is new…

  4. Dr. Dembki,
    Kairosfocus introduced the term FCSI (aka FSCI) on this forum. I may have missed it but do you or the other EIL members use this term. If so could you please share your thoughts on it?

  5. Steven Pinker is a clown, without the humor.

  6. William Dembski:

    Is this vapid appeal to authority all the Darwinians have left?

    No, Darwinians could, for example, argue that ID can’t make any predictions in the form Pr(Observation,ID) without using religious assumptions (for those that haven’t already done so, please refer to Cornelius Hunter’s post on religious assumptions to find out what they entail).

  7. WmAD:

    Is this vapid appeal to authority all the Darwinians have left?

    It strikes me that Meyer’s citation of Jefferson’s purported embrace of ID is also an appeal to authority.

    (Goose, gander, sauce, etc.)

  8. Apparently Meyer and Dembski didn’t get the memo.

    That’s because George McCready Price and Henry Morris collected up all the memos that were bound for American churches and stuffed them into a giant strawman which they proceeded to nail to a cross. (And I don’t say that flippantly. Many Christians now seem to consider creationism as important as the crucifixion.)

    Either that, or the memo was written in a language that they couldn’t understand. Like biologese.

  9. In his zeal to complain, I think Pinker got his facts wrong. I believe Judge Jones used the term “breathtaking inanity” to refer to some of the school boards member’s behavior, never to ID theory itself.

    Also, Pinker is again way off when he says “Virtually no scientist takes “intelligent design’’ seriously…” For just one example, take a look at the Letters section (p 5-6) of the July 6th issue of Chemical and Engineering News. Of six letters published in response to the Editor’s heavy-handed dismissal of ID, five acknowledged flaws in evolutionary theory and, it seems to me, all five were supportive of ID too.

  10. 10

    Diffaxial:

    I think you are misunderstanding Meyer’s argument. His argument is not that Jefferson believed in a Creator God, so we should too. What he means is that the author of the ‘seperation of church and state’ phrase believed in a Creator God for scientific reasons. Consequently, it’s unlikely he himself would have interpreted the seperation of church and state doctrine to mean that the government could not support the idea of a designer from a scientific standpoint.

  11. And yes, I realize my analogy is flawed. I was going for humour, not accuracy.

  12. Sorry to interupt the insult contest, but…

    While we all complain about each other, have we not all noticed something inarguable?

    Every one of our appeals is just that; an appeal to something else.

    Whether it is to authority or evidence, we must appeal to something outside ourselves to support and sell our position.

    All of the above (authority, evidence, hypothesis) have their place and all have their limitations.

    The one thing that does not change no matter the philosophy we are arguing from, is our method by which to argue. That method is the ultimate appeal. All other appeals are based upon its validity.

    What is the method? (imagine cheap suspense inducing crescendos).

    We all accept it, and we cannot deny it, because to even deny it, we must employ it.

    Without it, no science can exist because testing itself assumes the method’s axiomatic authority.

    It is the law of non-contradiction.

    All models of reality (philosophies) are built upon it.

    Science is no exception. It is an institution founded on the bedrock of reason.

    No, reason alone will not do. But we cannot prove that empirically you see. We believe that reason must be combined with empirical data, because it is a further application of the method using the natural world as a neutral medium between us.

    The point is this…

    The judge ruled that ID is a religion. But what is a religion?

    A religion is a philosophy. It is a model of reality. Some invoke deities, and others do not.

    The ultimate test (based again on the same law we have already accepted) is which philosophy most coheres with the evidence.

    Are we so forgetful that we must continually return to such dry basics?

    I don’t have a problem with someone appealing to authority. What interests me is that the judge is in error because he propagates a false dichotomy between science and religion. It is a popular myth. And it is made by declaration, and not argued as is everything else.

    When it is argued, as with Hume and Kant it is immediately self refuting and defeated by the very law it neccessarily employs.

    Yes, I know many of you will not agree with that. Mine is harldy a new argument. But so what. Disageement is not an argument. Its a hand wave. Most of you have never fully grasped the simplicity of what I say. It is so obvious that it is dry and boring.

    This is the issue: What is science? What is objective knowledge?

    When answering, there is no use invoking the empirical world, for to do so means you must assume a logic system by which to judge and measure it. And as you all know (or should know) that system cannot itself be proven legitimate empirically. Empiricism and rationalism rely upon each other to be validated. But reason always precedes observation else we observe a stone as a stone observes us.

    Science is the law of non-contradiction. ‘Natural science’ is the law of non-contradiction applied to the natural world.

  13. Pardon a cross-thread remark:

    Re Sparc @4 above:

    The underlying objection in the cross-threaded question has been (again)answered in the eye into materialism thread at 200.

    Indeed, the Weak Argument Correctives 26 – 29, especially 28, have long had an adequate answer. (But objectors to the inference from reliable signs such as FSCI — and the broader CSI — to the signified, empirically warranted intelligent causes thereof, have been desperate to rhetorically blunt its force without dealing with the issue squarely on the merits.)

    GEM of TKI

  14. 14

    “Why does everyone, Pinker included, mention the Dover decision? Do federal courts now decide what is science and what is not?”

    The Dover judge was asked to decide whether or not intelligent design is a religious idea. The evidence was overwhelming. Intelligent design is most definitely a religious idea, and therefore does not belong in a public school, and definitely not a science classroom. Biology teachers can’t be expected to stick a religious idea into a science lesson. Public school teachers can’t be expected to violate the Establishment Clause. The Dover judge made the only possible correct decision. Anyone who respects our constitution would agree.

  15. Virtually no scientist takes “intelligent design’’ seriously, and in the famous Dover, Pa., trial in 2005, a federal court ruled that it is religion in disguise.

    I can’t help but wonder what Pinker et.al. would have had to say had Jones ruled that ID was science. Would they accept citations of the ruling as de facto evidence that ID is indeed science or would they pound their lecturns shouting that courts and judges do NOT get to decide what is or is not science?

    Pinker continues to fume

    And Meyer’s idea that the DNA code implies a code maker is just a rehash of the ancient “argument from design’’ – that an eye implies an eye maker, a heart implies a heart maker, and so on. Darwin demolished this argument 150 years ago.

    Whenever words like “domlished” or “eviscerated” or “destroyed” are invoked to describe the state of ID arguments, its a sure sign that the critic has nothing of substance to offer. Pinker waving vigorously waving his hands as he shouts “DEMOLISHED! DEMOLISHED!” at the top of his lungs doesn’t exactly amount to any sort of compelling argument. So, Dr. Pinker, should you happen to read this blog, then I have a challenge for you: tell us how you know scientifically that the properties of Nature are such that any apparent design we observe in biological systems can not be actual design, even in principle? I’m not the least bit interested in your philosophical, metaphysical or theological opinion on the subject…only the science. Show me the scientific research studies that confirm this hypothesis and cite the relevant peer reviewed scientific journals where these studies were reported, because I would love to read them. I would also be most interested to hear how these finding might be falsified.

    If you don’t have such scientific studies (hint to Dr. Pinker: you do NOT), then why on earth should anyone give a whit about your philosophical opinion on the subject? Do you really believe that your academic authority includes the right to dictate which philosophical worldview is acceptable for science and which isn’t? If you truly believe that, Dr. Pinker, by all means tell me from whence this authority of yours comes and who or what validates that authority such that the rest of us must yield to it.

    In other words, Dr. Pinker, instead of writing snitty letters to the editor of a newspaper, why don’t you try laying out an actual argument to support your case using actual science, logic and reasoning. For an example of how to do that, I refer you to the original article by Dr. Stephen Meyer which you so vehemntly attack.

  16. DEMOLISHED! DEMOLISHED!” at the top of his lungs doesn’t exactly amount to any sort of compelling argument. So, Dr. Pinker, should you happen to read this blog, then I have a challenge for you

    yeah let him list the mutations, in order, that led to the eye. he cannot, but takes it on faith that the eye evolved, because evolution HAS to be true…the alternative *gasp* God is UNTHINKABLE…

  17. Anyone who believes evolutionary psychology is science but who has to invoke the courts to support his view is either a scoundrel or an idiot.

    Anyone who believes the courts decide what is or isn’t science needs to have his head examined. Preferably by something other than an evolutionary psychologist. Even a rock will do better.

    Pinker is a disgruntled atheist full of angst and all his theories are loaded with his own metaphysical assumptions and tons of speculation. Indeed, that’s what EP is – a ton of gratuitous speculation wrapped up in a lab coat to get it through the presses.

  18. This is so hysterical. Stephen Meyers writes an article in which the whole premise is an argument from authority with a few philosophical argument thrown in, and when Pinker responds with an argument from authority (using the vast majority of current scientists vs one single non-scientist from over 200 years ago) and with some philosophical arguments, the whole ID community here is up an arms.

    How hysterical.

  19. Except that Meyer’s argument isn’t an argument from authority.

    Meyer’s is an argument from data.

    Ya see if people like Pinker don’t like the design inference then all they have to do is to actually start supporting their position!

    Yet it is obvious that they cannot even muster a testable hypothesis pertaining to non-telic processes.

  20. 20

    This is so hysterical. Materialists ideologues fiegn enlightenment by demanding that emperical observation and rational deduction lead the attack on any worldview that does not accord with their own – but they cannot produce it for their own worldview. In fact, the empricism and rationality goes the other direction entirely.

    How hysterical.

  21. *rereads Meyer’s article*

    Meyer’s is an argument from data.

    ROFL

    There is no data in Meyer’s argument.

  22. This is so hysterical. Materialists ideologues fiegn enlightenment by demanding that emperical observation and rational deduction lead the attack on any worldview that does not accord with their own – but they cannot produce it for their own worldview. In fact, the empricism and rationality goes the other direction entirely.

    Every month in articles in magazine such as Science and Nature data is given in support of evolution.
    I don’t see anything for intelligent design.

  23. “Shame on you” indeed! Imagine a newspaper allowing a plurality of opinion to be heard! O, the audacity!

  24. “I don’t see anything for intelligent design.”

    I have read a lot of Nature and Science articles and have not seen anything for macro evolution either. If you have anything, present it. We have been asking for years and all we get are tidbits that are inconclusive.

  25. I just read the Meyer article and is an argument from data mainly. Yes, he uses Jefferson citing the obvious but he then reverts to the argument from DNA and its unique form of complexity in the form of information. Of course we will get our information deniers here but are they any different from the flat earthers denying the obvious.

    “There is no data in Meyer’s argument.”

    He was referring to the information in the genome or are you also in the camp that there is no information in the genome?

  26. He was referring to the information in the genome or are you also in the camp that there is no information in the genome?

    No he didn’t.
    He cleary didn’t use any data.
    Of course if this is what ID considers data, I can see how nothing is published.

    Meyer just complained that DNA is complex like a computer programs so it must have been designed.

    Lets look at real data.
    Scientists know DNA mutates. Scientists know genes can be duplicated. Scientists know chromosomes can have large alterations. Scientists know that an orgranisms phenotype has an affect on survival. Scientists know that in more ancient rocks you will find more ancient organisms. Scientists make predictions about this all the time.

    You can bend and complain about the data and make all these philosopical arguments you want…but the data is not in your court.

  27. Well, we have been inundated with Nature articles. Some of which have the full copy. Maybe some of our anti ID people here will want to peruse them to see which ones support a naturalistic view of evolution and which mechanism of naturalism was supported.

    And speculate on why they have not been brought up before.

    Remember homologies and micro evolution are no support for macro evolution.

    Then it was said:

    “Lets look at real data.
    Scientists know DNA mutates (ID has no problem). Scientists know genes can be duplicated (ID has no problem). Scientists know chromosomes can have large alterations (ID has no problem). Scientists know that an organism’s phenotype has an effect on survival (ID has no problem). Scientists know that in more ancient rocks you will find more ancient organisms (ID has no problem). Scientists make predictions about this all the time (ID has no problem but might want to comment on the specific predictions).”

    But in none of this is there evidence of information origin or information building or the origin of species or how they could arose. Oh I understand that genomic duplication can mutate away but how much has this to do with the information in the genome. I suspect some but not a whole lot.

    And by the way that is the type of data that Meyer was referring to in his Boston Globe article, genomic data. Did you really think he would present data in such an op-ed? Do you really think the editors of the Boston Globe would have printed it?

    There was an admission by the Grants that the finches on the Galapagos were essentially the same species and that it would take about 23 million years for these species to develop into different species after isolation. I am sorry but 23 million years for some birds to part company is not enough of a mechanism for all the changes that had to arise at various times that are far more differentiated or complicated than a new finch species.

    We will look at the various Nature articles to see what was shown and what was speculated but why don’t you get a jump start on this and present the strongest arguments in these articles since most of us do not have the full text or the time to pursue each one.

    Ball in your court.

  28. 4
    sparc
    07/20/2009
    9:19 pm

    Dr. Dembki,
    Kairosfocus introduced the term FCSI (aka FSCI) on this forum. I may have missed it but do you or the other EIL members use this term. If so could you please share your thoughts on it?

    13
    kairosfocus
    07/21/2009
    6:24 am

    Pardon a cross-thread remark:

    Re Sparc @4 above:

    The underlying objection in the cross-threaded question has been (again)answered in the eye into materialism thread at 200.

    Indeed, the Weak Argument Correctives 26 – 29, especially 28, have long had an adequate answer. (But objectors to the inference from reliable signs such as FSCI — and the broader CSI — to the signified, empirically warranted intelligent causes thereof, have been desperate to rhetorically blunt its force without dealing with the issue squarely on the merits.)

    Don’t you agree that a simple “yes” by Dr. Dembski would help you?

  29. hdx:

    Every month in articles in magazine such as Science and Nature data is given in support of evolution.

    1- “Evolution” isn’t being debated

    2- There aren’t any articles that demonstrate that non-telic processes can account for the diversity of life.

    IOW hdx you are so confused all you can do is flail away.

  30. hdx,

    With gene dupication the new gene requires a new binding site just to be able to be activated.

    Yet a peer-reviewed paper tells us that is beyond the reach of non-telic processes:

    See Waiting for Two Mutations: With Applications to Regulatory Sequence Evolution and the Limits of Darwinian Evolution

  31. Joseph:

    With gene dupication the new gene requires a new binding site just to be able to be activated.

    Unless, of course, the binding site is copied as well. Or if the gene gets spliced in near an already existing binding site.

  32. 33

    Joseph,

    In science, a debate is not how one resolves a controversy. Instead one goes about forming hypothesis’, performing experiments, and collecting data.

    As to your second point .. . huh?!?

  33. 34

    Joseph,

    Yet a peer-reviewed paper tells us that is beyond the reach of non-telic processes

    I can’t imagine this is the first time this has been pointed out to you but here goes anyway. Will you stop using that “argument” now?

    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.g.....id=2644970

    The square root on the second factor is an important insight from our calculation and is the main difference between our theory and Behe’s naive calculations, which assume that the two mutations must occur almost simultaneously.

    and also

    In Behe (2009), the accompanying Letter to the Editors in this issue, Michael Behe writes (here and in what follows italicized quotes are from his letter), “… their model is incomplete on its own terms because it does not take into account the probability of one of the nine matching nucleotides in the region that is envisioned to become the new transcription-factor-binding site mutating to an incorrect nucleotide before the 10th mismatched codon mutates to the correct one.” This conclusion is simply wrong since it assumes that there is only one individual in the population with the first mutation

  34. 35

    dhx,

    There is something I am wanting to study further, perhaps you can help.

    Do you have any empirical examples of “naturally-occurring complex algorithms where such analogous phenomena as a “stop” codon exist.”

    Please post any observable examples you have. Thanks.

  35. 36

    Upright BiPed

    Please post any observable examples you have. Thanks.

    DNA

  36. 37

    Upright,
    Is that your argument?

    Show me a naturally occurring X where I have already ruled out X itself because I claim that it is designed, and therefore X cannot be used as an example of X.

    That is a little bit silly.

    Tell me, what type of example are you expecting to get back? That such a thing exists in dust? In waterfalls?

    The only place your example could exist is the place you have already ruled out.

    Is this the best you’ve got?

  37. 38

    Mr. Charrington,

    Your logic conveniently relieves you of the burden of demonstrating that DNA occurred naturally. And you have admitted that you can think of no other example.
    You may use DNA as an example, provided you demonstrate that it occurred naturally. Otherwise you appear to have no response.

  38. 39

    The point is these events are by their nature rare.

    There may be life in the universe using very different mechanisms and materials. Do you agree or disagree?

    To point to one of these rare events and say “that event must have been designed as it is so rare” misses the point.

    If we meet aliens, each of which claim their origin was natural as far as they can tell, what then ScottAndrews?

    Your logic conveniently relieves you of the burden of demonstrating that DNA occurred naturally.

    What sort of evidence would you accept for such a demonstration?

    . And you have admitted that you can think of no other example.

    Horse DNA.

    You may use DNA as an example, provided you demonstrate that it occurred naturally.

    Just so. And Upright may use DNA as an example when he deomonstrates that it was designed. Don’t you agree?

    Otherwise you appear to have no response.

    Not at all. While I while away the time here in my quiet little junkshop I have all the time in the world to compose any response you might like.

  39. 40

    The point is these events are by their nature rare.

    What nature is that? How can you say they are rare, as opposed to nonexistent, when you cannot supply an example?
    Either you can answer Upright Biped’s question or you can’t.

    What sort of evidence would you accept for such a demonstration?

    We can start with whatever evidence led to your conclusion that DNA occurred naturally.

  40. 41

    ScottAndrews

    What nature is that? How can you say they are rare

    The fact that we are not aware of any alien life form indiciates life is rare. If it was not, we’d be aware of them. That or your designer ran out of ideas.

    , as opposed to nonexistent,

    Here we are right now. My example.

    when you cannot supply an example?

    I just did. Us.

    We can start with whatever evidence led to your conclusion that DNA occurred naturally.

    No. That would require me typing in millions of words of research. You can read that for yourself. I can however provide links and book names if you require.

    Of more interest is the evidence that led to your conclusion that DNA was designed. There is much, much less of that. So let’s start with that.

    Or perhaps you’d prefer to give me a example of a thin with 499 bits of FSCI?

    As you prefer.

  41. 42

    Or perhaps you’d prefer to give me a example of a thin with 499 bits of FSCI?

    that should have of course read “thing” with 499 bits of FSCI. I know there are some people on here who take spelling more seriously then the arguments being misspelled and I don’t want to give them any ammunition.

  42. Mr Charrington, the simplest known form of independant life (not requiring a host to reproduce, like viruses do) contains aproximately 500 genes. An average gene is made up of 100 amino acids. Each amino is made up of 3 nucleotides. A nucleotide represents 2 bits of data.

    500 * 100 * 3 * 2 = 300,000. There is 2^300,000 bits of data which represent this organism. We may begin to argue, rightly, that 4^3 is more than necessary to represent the 20+ aminos. We may be able to argue, rightly, that we can make some count deduction due to mutatability of the aminos. However, we would be hard pressed to argue the count down lower than about 2^200,000 bits of FCSI data.

    2^200,000 is rather plenty when you are calling for 2^500.

  43. bFast,
    Ok, now we’re getting somewhere. I guess my first question is:

    A nucleotide represents 2 bits of data

    why?

  44. Mr Joseph,

    With gene dupication the new gene requires a new binding site just to be able to be activated.

    It is a good thing the DNA for binding sites can get duplicated too! And you might form a hypothesis that genes where the DNA for the protein and the DNA for the binding site are close together on the same chromosome are easy to duplicate. Therefore that one protein could get modified over and over again in different ways to serve different purposes. Like opsin.

  45. 46

    bFast

    the simplest known form of independant life

    And there is the key. Known. The simplest known form of life. As you say known you imply there is a possibility of a simpler unknown “lifeform”. I put it in quotes on purpose.

    So, you do not deny the possibility that there are simpler “lifeforms” then the one you are aware of. Then, if we subtract 1 from the number of bits in that lifeform then is that not a simper, but potentially viable “lifeform”. It’s only 1 bit less after all.

    And so on and so forth.

    There is 2^300,000 bits of data which represent this organism.

    OK

    2^200,000 is rather plenty when you are calling for 2^500.

    You have misunderstood my request.

    If 500 bits of FSCI indicates “design” then 499 bits must indicate “not design”. I’m more interested in the edge cases, the “edge of design” if you will. I’m asking for an example of somthing with

    1 bit of FSCI (Is that even possible?)

    250 bits of FSCI (Halfway?)

    499 bits of FSCI (Almost designed)

    500 bits of FSCI (Designed)

    501 bits of FSCI (Designed but more certain then 500)

    1,000,000+ (Most certanly designed).

    However, we would be hard pressed to argue the count down lower than about 2^200,000 bits of FCSI data.

    I believe you’l find it’s FSCI
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/faq/#fsci_rts

    So. OK. You’ve added up a few things to do with the organism in question. How does that prove it was designed, exactly? How do you get from “A huge FSCI value” to “designed”, exactly, and how does the specific value of FSCI get used to do that?

  46. 47

    Still, I have to wonder what Pinker bases his outrage on. Is it:

    a. That the BG has published op-eds from the super-mega-evil Discovery Institute?

    b. That it establishes a trend: TWO–COUNT ‘EM–TWO pro-ID op-eds IN AS MANY YEARS? Why, that’s ONE PER YEAR!! Beware the coming theocracy!!!

    c. That the publication of the super-mega-despicably-evil op-ed from the SMDE Discovery Institute occurred so close to Our Lord’s 200th birthday? Was its publication merely an instance of bad timing? Would there have been a better time to publish it? Arbor Day, perhaps?

    d. Or that it “sows confusion about evolution”? Apparently, this is Pinker’s job. After all, isn’t this the same Steve Pinker who published a NYT op-ed defending infanticide?

  47. If 500 bits of FSCI indicates “design” then 499 bits must indicate “not design

    The further you drift away from 500 bits the less likely it is that natural processes could have produced it. When you say “design” or “maybe designed” or “not designed”, that is not really the question nor does it render “the” answer, in the absolute sense, the question is can natural processes produce it, if not then design becomes more probable. Its as simple as that.

    I’ll admit, the Darwinists do know how to frame something in such a way that makes the subject in question sound stupid or ridiculous, and it seems the more stupid they can make it sound the lesser the subject in question becomes true (in their minds). So they have their own little version of “csi”; decreasing the probability of something being true the more stupid they can make it look/sound.

  48. ab,

    The further you drift away from 500 bits the less likely it is that natural processes could have produced it. When you say “design” or “maybe designed” or “not designed”, that is not really the question nor does it render “the” answer, in the absolute sense, the question is can natural processes produce it, if not then design becomes more probable. Its as simple as that.

    IIRC, someone calculated that 500 bits of FSCI allows you to reject the null hypothesis of “not designed” at the $\alpha = 0.01$ significance level. Damned if I can find the source now, unfortunately.

  49. Mr Charrington, “If 500 bits of FSCI indicates “design” then 499 bits must indicate “not design”.”

    This is terribly boolean thinking. Lets see if we can explain the concept of probability in very practical terms.

    Consider a large pail of pure white paint. If we put one drop of black paint in it, is now no longer white? Is there some majic number of drops of paint that would toggle the entire body of paint analysts where one less = they agree it is still white, one more and they agree that it is now “grey”? No.

    The number of 2^500 or the chance of one in 2^500 is presented as “big enough that any idiot would agree that chance doesn’t play a part”. Other numbers used for the “universal probability bound” (the c’mon, chance didn’t do this, point) are 1 in 10^150 (about the number of atoms in the universe), 1 in 10^40(about the number of organisms that have ever lived) and other numbers. I, personally think that 1 in 10^40 is proof enough. My base 10 to base 2 conversion isn’t good enough to convert 10^40 to base 2, but the number is a whole lot less than 2^500.

    Now that we are past the concept of the magic 2^500 is, 2^499 isn’t, lets look at what 2^500 looks like.

    The average gene contains about 300 nucleotides. This is 2^600 bits of data. So 2^500 is somewhere in the zone of one gene’s worth of data. As genes vary in length, some will have more, and some less than the magic 2^500.

    A gene appearing “de-novo” has about 50% chance of meeting the definition of FCSI if the threshold of complexity is set at 2^500. There appear to be at least 50 de-novo genes that separate the human and the chimp. Each of these, it would appear, should fry the theory of neo-Darwinian evolution. BTW, there’s a bunch of other de-novo genes floating around at about every branch in the proposed tree of life.

  50. Mr bFast,

    I agree that non-boolean thinking may be more appropriate, but mr Charrington is following Mr KF. on the other current thread he defends his use of binary variables and simply tests againsts a limit value, which would lead to the inference that one less bit really would make a difference. But when I asked him about this he stood by it, so I guess it must be the right way to work with FSCI. Or FCSI. Whatever.

  51. Mr Charrington

    I have responded to some of your arguments on another thread, but I don’t mind duplicating my efforts. Anyway, here goes.

    1. You ask how we know what the simplest form of life is. I suggest you have a look at John Glass, et. al., Essential genes of a minimal bacterium, Synthetic Biology Group, J. Craig Venter Institute, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Jan 2006, vol 103, No. 2, pp. 425-430. The study concluded that the simplest form of life known to have existed requires around 382 “essential” genes. The average length of a gene of a prokayote is around 900 nucleotides, or 343,800 nucleotides for the 382 essential genes.

    2. You ask for a cutoff point that would unambiguously indicate the presence of an intelligent designer. I don’t think there is one. To illustrate why, I’d like to quote from a 2008 paper by K.D. Kalinsky, entitled, Intelligent Design: Required by Biological Life? :

    [L]et us imagine that the SETI Institute obtains a signal from outside the solar system that contains the first 50 prime numbers. If they were to conclude that it was more likely that a mind would be necessary to produce the signal than that mindless natural processes were sufficient to produce the phenomenon, then the signal would be a possible example of intelligent design. It would only be a possible example, due to the nature of scientific investigation; we could not be certain. No matter how improbable, it is still logically possible that the signal could have been generated by mindless natural processes. The best we could do is to weigh the probability that a mind could produce such a signal against the probability that mindless natural processes could do it and draw a conclusion as to which option was more likely. We know that a mind can generate the first 50 prime numbers, so the probability that a mind could produce that information is 1. If the probability that natural processes could generate the first 50 prime numbers is less than 1, then one can compare the two probabilities to decide how much more likely intelligent design is than mindless natural processes. If it turns out that intelligent design is ten times more likely, or a thousand more times more likely, then it becomes increasingly irrational to invoke mindless natural processes, and increasingly rational to invoke intelligent design.

    3. You ask for examples of something with 500, 1000 or 1,000,000 bits of FSCI, because you are interested in identifying what you call the “edge of evolution.” No problem. I’d be happy to oblige.

    I should state at the outset that the formula used by Kalinsky for what he calls “functional information” is somewhat different from William Dembski’s formula for CSI. It’s not exactly the same as FSCI, either. However, it comes from a peer-reviewed source (PNAS), so you can hardly object. Anyway, here it is (I’m quoting Kalinsky):

    A method to measure functional information has recently been published by Hazen et al.

    whereby functional information is defined as:

    I(E_x) = -log(to base 2) [M(E_x)/N] (1)

    where E_x is the degree of function x, M(E_x) is the number of different configurations that achieves or exceeds the specified degree of function x, >= E_x, and N is the total number of possible configurations. (Ref: Hazen, R.M., Griffen, P.L., Carothers, J.M. & Szostak, J.W. (2007) ‘Functional
    information and the emergence of biocomplexity’, PNAS 104, 8574-8581.)

    Kalinsky goes on to calculate a significant level of information to be 185 bits, with reference to the evolution of life on Earth. Beyond this point, he considers that an intelligent design explanation is more likely, although a natural explanation cannot be positively ruled out.

    Kalinsky then gives some concrete illustrations.

    1. Case One: the Venter Institute’s synthetic genome for M. genitalium.

    The five ‘watermarks’ in the synthetic Venter genome are formed by choosing base pairs that, when translated into amino acids and using the amino acid single letter symbols, spell out the following five words:

    VENTERINSTITVTE
    CRAIGVENTER
    HAMSMITH
    CINDIANDCLYDE
    GLASSANDCLYDE.

    In this case, Kalinsky calculates that the number of bits of functional information is 259. However, he has already calculated that the significant level of information in the biological realm is 185 bits. He concludes:

    These results indicate that it is about 10^22 times more probable that the watermarks required ID than that they could be produced by mindless natural processes.

    Case 2. Case Two: a folded, functional protein domain.

    Kalinsky quotes an estimate that the frequency of occurrence of stable, folded functional protein domains, a structurally independent component of a protein, is somewhere between 10^-64 to 10^-77. He calculates that “[t]he functional information required, therefore, to code for a stable, folded protein domain is 213 to 256 bits,” which exceeds his significant level of 185 bits, so he concludes that “ID is highly likely to be required to produce folded, functional protein domains.”

    3. Case Three: an average 300 amino acid protein.

    Kalinsky calculates that the functional information required for the average 300 amino acid protein to be around 700 bits of information, so ID is 10^155 times more probable than mindless natural processes to produce the average protein.

    4. Case Four: the simplest life form.

    To quote Kalinsky:

    It is estimated that the simplest life form would require at least 382 protein-coding genes. Using our estimate in Case Four of 700 bits of functional information required for the average protein, we obtain an estimate of about 267,000 bits for the simplest life form… [I]t is about 10^80,000 times more likely that ID could produce the minimal genome than mindless natural processes.

    You also asked me on another thread:

    What value of FSCI does the flagellum have, do you happen to know?

    I believe the flagellum has about 30 proteins. 700 x 30 = 21,000 bits.
    Does that answer your question?

    I’d like to finish with a quote from Kalinsky:

    Actual mutations, insertions, deletions, and genetic drift may be chance events, but natural selection essentially guides the search and, hence, the search is not blind. On the one hand, it is assumed that natural selection explains how life could appear and diversify without requiring any intelligence, but on the other hand, terms that that are usually applied to intelligence, such as ‘design’ and ’selecting’ are commonly applied to natural selection. It is very common to read articles where the author marvels at what natural selection is capable of. Of course, this raises the question, does natural selection, itself, require intelligent design? The fatal mistake made by many who appeal to natural selection is the assumption that natural selection, itself, does not require intelligent design. It is bad science that does not test its assumptions, so we must apply intelligent design detection to natural selection itself.

  52. 53

    VJ

    The study concluded that the simplest form of life known to have existed requires around 382 “essential” genes.

    Again, the word “known” appears. As nobody knows what the first replicatior consisted of we can’t say that 382 genes were required for it.

    You ask for a cutoff point that would unambiguously indicate the presence of an intelligent designer.

    That is not what the FSCI FAQ indicates, nor what most of the other posters on this board think.

    These results indicate that it is about 10^22 times more probable that the watermarks required ID than that they could be produced by mindless natural processes.

    What watermark have you found in DNA that the designer put in then?

    I believe the flagellum has about 30 proteins. 700 x 30 = 21,000 bits.

    One of them. Now show me something with 499, 500 bits of FSCI please.

    Also which specific flagellum are your figures for, there are many different types.

    He calculates that “[t]he functional information required, therefore, to code for a stable, folded protein domain is 213 to 256 bits,” which exceeds his significant level of 185 bits, so he concludes that “ID is highly likely to be required to produce folded, functional protein domains.”

    Could you convert those figures into FSCI please? Is his “significant level” of 185 bits exactly equal to FSCI’s “significant level” of 500 bits ?

  53. Gage,

    For just one example, take a look at the Letters section (p 5-6) of the July 6th issue of Chemical and Engineering News. Of six letters published in response to the Editor’s heavy-handed dismissal of ID, five acknowledged flaws in evolutionary theory and, it seems to me, all five were supportive of ID too.

    I agree with you, that is an impressive record. But is it a typical example? I may be wrong but that is not quite the impression I am left with from my many years of lurking various forums.

    Maybe it would be a good idea to have something like the Project Steve, let’s say “Project IDProp”, listing Design Proponents instead of scientists named Steve?

    (It would have been nice with a name like “Project Bill” or “Project Mike”, but it might perhaps be difficult to find a thousand of them?)

    Or an alternate clergy project?

    Just some stray thoughts of mine, I suppose facts eventually will settle the controversy.

  54. Mr Cabal,

    I agree, if we want to dismiss Pinker’s letter, we have to dismiss the pro-ID ones also. Letters mean nothing compared to peer-reviewed articles.

  55. 56

    Mr. Charrington,

    If ever the question was begged, you have begged it, by using DNA and all existing life as evidence that DNA and all existing life occurred naturally.
    Neither logic nor debate will penetrate that.
    I could do that same: Show you evidence that life was designed? Look – life! There it is! Us! Here were are! But such reasoning is as substantial as dust.

  56. 90degree:

    Instead one goes about forming hypothesis’, performing experiments, and collecting data.

    Tell us what is the hypothesis pertaining to non-telic processes?

    I have been asking but have never seen one.

  57. Mr Charrington,

    1- Behe does not assume the mutations have to occur simultaneously.

    2- How many individuals in the same population will get the same mutation?

    Isn’t the premise behind DNA matching is the fact that the same mutations do not occur in different individuals?

    What the authors of the paper don’t take into account and Behe has told them of is the fact that the original mutation doesn’t have to stay in that state plus the fact that other sites in that region could also change while awaiting for that second mutation.

    But I am sure you have been told this and just refuse to acknowledge it.

  58. With gene dupication the new gene requires a new binding site just to be able to be activated.

    Hoki:

    Unless, of course, the binding site is copied as well. Or if the gene gets spliced in near an already existing binding site.

    Can you provide any evidence for either of those scenarios?

    And in the end all that either of your scenarios will do is make more of an already existing protein.

    And that can be accomplished via enhancers.

  59. Khan,

    There are 4 possible nucleotides for DNA or RNA.

    2^2 = 4

    Therefor 2 bits per nucleotide.

  60. Joseph,
    so what happens when a nucleotide can be substituted with no effect on the protein? it seems like you should account for that when calculating FCSI.

  61. Khan:

    so what happens when a nucleotide can be substituted with no effect on the protein?

    Sometimes nothing happens and sometimes even allegedly “silent” mutations have some effect.

    it seems like you should account for that when calculating FCSI.

    As I have stated thousands of times- if you don’t like the design inference then just start substantiating the claims of your position.

    However it has become obvious that your “positive” evidence amounts to a refusal to accept design.

  62. Mr Carrington:

    As nobody knows what the first replicatior consisted of we can’t say that 382 genes were required for it.

    Living organisms are much more than replicators.

    And to think that simple replicators can give rise to living organisms is nothing but wishful thinking.

  63. Joeph,
    all I’m doing is trying to work through your arguments.I still don’t understand why a nucelotide is 2 bits of data, but I’ll ignore that now. it just seems like if a nucelotide can be replaced with no effect, it shouldn’t count the same in calculating FCSI as one that can not be replaced. same thing w amino acids that can be substituted with no effect on the protein. even more, many proteins with completely different sequences can perform the same function. does that impact their FCSI?

  64. Khan, you are absolutely correct that in a protein-coding gene there are multiple nucleotide triplets that correspond to a single amino. In addition, there are some amino substitutions that make little or no difference to the function of a protein (substituting aminos that are in the same grouping relative to the function the amino is playing in the particular protein). Certainly these factors contribute to a rigorous calculation of the FCSI which is lower than the simple calculation.

    You will notice that in post 43 I said,

    We may be able to argue, rightly, that we can make some count deduction due to mutatability of the aminos. However, we would be hard pressed to argue the count down lower than about 2^200,000 bits of FCSI data.

    In this statement I gave a factor of 2^100,000 fudge factor to reference your concerns (in simplest known life) This should be well adequate to address your concerns.

  65. A nucleotide is 2 bits of information just because there are 4 possibilities for any one site.

    That is how one calculates the number of bits- how many characters can be used in any one position.

    It is pretty elementary actually.

    26 lower case letters in the alphabet translates to 5 bits per character, which also allows for 6 other characters.

    But what does matter is how many possible sequences do not allow for a functional protein.

    Some proteins can’t handle any change.

    even more, many proteins with completely different sequences can perform the same function. does that impact their FCSI?

    1- Whether or not CSI is present depends on the size of the protein.

    2- All proteins require a specific sequence as not every sequence gives a protein

  66. bFast,
    not really. in 43 you calculate the FCSI of an entire organism. can you calculate the FCSI of a simple protein taking these factors into account? the 3rd position in a codon typically has a lot of “wobble”, and the 2nd position a bit less. together, these should cut the FCSI value of a protein by 1/3. then the aa wobble of the protein itself should cut it down by more. how about the fact that multiple proteins perform the same function? how does this affect FCSI? and why are you taking your calculated FCSI values and using them as exponents of 2?

  67. Mr Charrington:

    If 500 bits of FSCI indicates “design” then 499 bits must indicate “not design”.

    That is false.

    The premise behind 500 bits of specified information is that it translates to a probability of 10^150.

    But anyways how many bits of specified information has anyone observed nature, operating freely cobbling together?

    That is all you need to do- show that nature, operating freely can readily account for what IDists call CSI.

    IOW stop whining about ID and start substantiating the claims of your position.

  68. Nakashima-san:

    I agree, if we want to dismiss Pinker’s letter, we have to dismiss the pro-ID ones also. Letters mean nothing compared to peer-reviewed articles.

    And there aren’t any peer-reviewed papers that support the non-telic position for the OoL nor the theory of evolution.

  69. Mr bFast,

    500 * 100 * 3 * 2 = 300,000. There is 2^300,000 bits of data which represent this organism.

    No. 300,000 bits represent the organism. You could claim that there is a search space of 2^300,000 possible different genomes.

  70. Mr Joseph,

    Hoki:

    Unless, of course, the binding site is copied as well. Or if the gene gets spliced in near an already existing binding site.

    Can you provide any evidence for either of those scenarios?

    And in the end all that either of your scenarios will do is make more of an already existing protein.

    Opsins in the vision system.

  71. Mr Joseph,

    And there aren’t any peer-reviewed papers that support the non-telic position for the OoL nor the theory of evolution.

    Don’t tell these guys, they’ll be crushed.

  72. Nakashima-san-

    Your link didn’t work.

    Also what is the scientific data that demonstrates opsins are a result of gene duplication, complete with binding sites, as opposed to being designed that way?

  73. Nakashimi:

    You could claim that there is a search space of 2^300,000 possible different genomes.

    Cool, take a cell, and remove its existing dna, then take 300,000 random nucleotides, and stick ‘em into a cell. Think it will work? If you do, I bet you also buy lottery tickets.

    Many of the genes in archae are ultra-conserved in all living organisms. If neo-darinian theory is correct, then these genes have no mutational flexibility. Rhetoric does not dispose of IDs position quite that easily.

  74. Folks, we are talking to software engineers here. We software engineers have an intricate understanding of what 2^n means. 2^32 is considered in the software developer as an integer. It can hold values between -1,000,000,000,000 and 1,000,000,000,000. 2^33 can hold twice that amount!

    By time we get to 2^1000, we have a number used in the highes security encription. It is considered that if one randomly chose number within that field, and set all of the computers in the world to the challenge of guessing the number, it would take them 10 years to get there. 2^1001 is twice that size. 2^500 is about the number of atoms in the universe, 2^501 is twice that size.

    Now, when we are talking about numbers in the order of 2^300,000, or fudge factors of 2^100,000 these numbers are so large that even the programmer’s brain gets boggled.

    I have proposed that to consider permutations, substituions, the fact that aminos can be represented by two or three nucleotide combinations etc we use a factor of 2^100,000. This number is actually vastly larger than is called for to account for variants. We still have an astounding 2^200,000 worth of data to contend with.

    Please, folks, study a bit about what archae life looks like so you quit sounding like idiots.

  75. Weird, Evolution try that one.

    Don’t move the goalposts, you asked for duplication of binding sites and proteins, you got it.

  76. bFast,
    that’s great and everything, but you still didn’t explain the biological reason why you put the calculated # of bits as an exponent of 2.

  77. Mr bFast,

    Cool, take a cell, and remove its existing dna, then take 300,000 random nucleotides, and stick ‘em into a cell. Think it will work? If you do, I bet you also buy lottery tickets.

    I don’t think it will work, but then again I don’t know anyone who thinks that is how either abiogenesis or evolution works.

    Many of the genes in archae are ultra-conserved in all living organisms. If neo-darinian theory is correct, then these genes have no mutational flexibility.

    Well, if they mutate they die before reproducing. Conservation of itself doesn’t tell you that genes are immune from mutation.

    Rhetoric does not dispose of IDs position quite that easily.

    I don’t think I was engaging in anything rhetorical. There is a big difference between 300,000 and 2^300,000.

  78. Khan,

    bFast,
    that’s great and everything, but you still didn’t explain the biological reason why you put the calculated # of bits as an exponent of 2.

    I am not a software engineer but I think the answer is self explanatory if you consider what a bit is and the number of different types of nucleotides in DNA.

  79. jehu,
    no, it’s not. please explain.

  80. Nakashima, I reread your post #70 more carefully. You accurately corrected me.

    There are about 300,000 bits of data in a minimal genome. There are therefore 2^300,000 possible different genomes.

    Kahn, if you have two bits of data, you have 2^2 (4) possibilities. 00, 01, 10, and 11. If you have 3 bits of data, you have 2^3(8) possibilities, 000,001,010,011,100,101,110,and 111.
    It so holds that n bits produces 2^n possibilities. 300,000 bits = 2^300,000 possibilities.

  81. so why are you talking about “possibilities” when FCSI is supposedly calculated in bits? are you really calculating the possibility of a bunch of nucelotides spontaneously joining together to form a genome? to echo Nakashima, please cite a valid reference where anyone has claimed that this is how evolution or abiogenesis works.

  82. 83

    bFast

    It so holds that n bits produces 2^n possibilities. 300,000 bits = 2^300,000 possibilities.

    When you do what?

    As Kahn notes, what are you calculating here? The probability of a genome coming into existence all at once?

    What is it that you are “trying” here? What possibility are you measuring?

    The fact is that no actual biologist who knows what they are talking about talks about the probability of a cell or other biological strucure forming complete and by chance.

    It’s Hoyle’s fallacy all over.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoyle%27s_fallacy

    These people, including Fred, have committed one or more of the following errors.

    1. They calculate the probability of the formation of a “modern” protein, or even a complete bacterium with all “modern” proteins, by random events. This is not the abiogenesis theory at all.
    2. They assume that there is a fixed number of proteins, with fixed sequences for each protein, that are required for life.
    3. They calculate the probability of sequential trials, rather than simultaneous trials.
    4. They misunderstand what is meant by a probability calculation.
    5. They seriously underestimate the number of functional enzymes/ribozymes present in a group of random sequences.[1]

  83. Complexity (the C) is measured in possibilities.

    Honest, Khan, the scientific view that something must have preceeded the archae is not lost to the sophisticated IDer. It is also recognized that the neo-darwinian model can be a more effective search algorithm than random search. Somehow, however, the evolutionary crowd says, “hey, neo-darwinian search is more effective than random search therefore 500 bits of data, (a 2^500) search, is suddenly easy.

    Even if there is a boolean pathway from simple replicator to archae (by boolean pathway I mean a sequence of single mutational events such as a point mutation an insertion, deletion, transposition gene transfer etc.) precisely aligning 500 bits of data, testing out each boolean event in the crucible of life, is alot to ask. Precisely aligning 300,000 bits is not just 300,000/500 times as hard, but is closer to 2^300,000/2^500 times as hard.

    In addition, another thing that the darwinists have been unwilling to voice is that though the darwinian search can be better than random search, it can be worse also. What Behe shows in “Edge…” is that if an advance requires two boolean events, if the first offers no advantage, then the neodarwinian search is worse than a random search. If an advance requires two boolean events, but each event is slightly deleterious on its own, then darwinian search is much worse.

    When we study the archae and find ultra-conserved genes, suspicions should be raised that the only path to get there from here is to align the entire packet in one zap — ie, we end up with the strong implication that the only way to get there from here is with a truly random search.

  84. 85

    bFast

    Cool, take a cell, and remove its existing dna, then take 300,000 random nucleotides, and stick ‘em into a cell. Think it will work? If you do, I bet you also buy lottery tickets.

    And yet, despite the odds, somebody wins the lottery every week!

    What are the chances of that eh? I hear some people have even won twice! Wow, that must be because of the multiverse!

  85. 86

    bFast

    Somehow, however, the evolutionary crowd says, “hey, neo-darwinian search is more effective than random search therefore 500 bits of data, (a 2^500) search, is suddenly easy

    Please support that statement with a reference from a published biologist please.

    Precisely aligning 300,000 bits is not just 300,000/500 times as hard, but is closer to 2^300,000/2^500 times as hard.

    Taking your numbers as given, are these trials happening in parallel or serial?

    And do the “bits” have to be “precisely” alligned? Does that not assume only a single configuration that “works”? Do you think that is in fact the case, that only a single arrangement of the parts is viable?

  86. 87

    Mr Charrington:

    And yet, despite the odds, somebody wins the lottery every week!

    What are the chances of that eh? I hear some people have even won twice! Wow, that must be because of the multiverse!

    This sort of nonsense suggests that you are only amusing yourself to provoke a reaction.
    The odds of a single ticket winning the Powerball are roughly 1 in 146,000,000. When millions of tickets are purchased, the odds of a winner increase, and with enough tickets the event becomes inevitable.
    If you don’t see how that’s different from the subject at hand, then the other folks are being quite generous by even playing along with you.

  87. Mr. Charington, “Please support that statement with a reference from a published biologist please.”
    I support it by the repeated report (shout) that neo-Darwinism is not random, and by an abject lack of recognition that it remains challenging. I support it by the fact that the scientif community doesn’t publish reasonable analysis of how many organisms mutating at what rate over how many years could reasonably have produced the data that is there — especially how it produced ultra-conserved datasets.

    “Taking your numbers as given, are these trials happening in parallel or serial?”

    There is some parallelity (there’s a word) to the trials, but not that much. Consider first that 2^40 represents all life-forms that have ever existed. Consider that 2^300,000 – 2^40 is 2^299,960. Consider also that in asexually reproducing organisms (subtracting the hgt effect) each mutation must happen in the same lineage as each other mutation. Organism A getting a mutation and organism B getting the other doesn’t help either out to the extent of mutation A + B. Not now, not in the future (barring hgt).

    “do the “bits” have to be “precisely” alligned? Does that not assume only a single configuration that “works”?”

    Ultra-conserved genes make the strong implication of “only one design that works”. Even if there are lots, say 2^100 designs that would work, it doesn’t reduce the potency of a 2^300,000 challenge by much — 2^299,900 isn’t that easy to achieve. IE there’s a heck of a lot of ways of doing it wrong, and relatively few ways of doing it right.

  88. Scott,

    The odds of a single ticket winning the Powerball are roughly 1 in 146,000,000. When millions of tickets are purchased, the odds of a winner increase, and with enough tickets the event becomes inevitable.

    kind of like when millions of organisms are born over time? thank you for making the point even clearer, Jim Marshall.

  89. 90

    Khan:
    Each Powerball ticket is a random combination of numbers. Are you suggesting that each living thing is a random combination of genes? And that given a few million, billion, or trillion chances, one of those combinations will successfully specify a successful organism? Just like that winning ticket?
    Mr. Charrington wrote nonsense. You should distance yourself from it.

  90. Scott,
    Keep running, Jim Marshall.

    actually, that is precisely what the ID people on this board are arguing with their FCSI calculations.

    if you want to make the analogy (slightly) more biologically realistic, then think of the ticket purchaser already knowing 5 of the 6 winning numbers because they have been locked in by previous selection. makes the odds a lot better, huh?

    (please, I know, those #s aren’t actually locked.. from the bottom of my heart I plead that this not turn into another Weasel thread)

  91. Lets consider the powerball, the chances of winning are 1 in 146,000,000. That’s about 1 in 2^31. What if we have a lottery whose chances are 1 in 2^300,000. Now, the world has had about 2^40 organisms in it. The chance of any of those organisms finding a particular number in 2^300,000 numbers is, well 2^299,960. Anyone wanna play? I, for one would much rather count on my one powerball ticket winning than all of the organisms that have ever lived winning. Much, much so.

    BTW, I don’t do lotteries.

  92. bFast,
    according to Scott, the scenario you have just described is nonsense. perhaps you two would like to discuss your differences? I happen to agree with Scott, for the reasons he provided (90), and many others.

  93. 94

    Khan:
    I’m not even going to argue this ridiculous point. Charrington compared evolution to winning the lottery, and you are standing by it. I figured you were just taking a cheap shot, but now I see that you’re going to stand by it. It’s nonsense and it doesn’t deserve a response.
    I’ll let you off the hook for your childish name-calling. I learned to ignore that in elementary school.

  94. Nakashima-san,

    Which article or articles in your link support the non-telic position?

    Also how do you know the opsin genes are duplicates?

    That is as opposed to being designed?

  95. Khan:

    if you want to make the analogy (slightly) more biologically realistic, then think of the ticket purchaser already knowing 5 of the 6 winning numbers because they have been locked in by previous selection. makes the odds a lot better, huh?

    Lets see, if we consider the binary search — an algorithm that is much tighter than a darwinian search even in an environment that has a booloean pathway, it still takes an enormous amount of time to search for a specific 300,000 bit number. Even with 2^40 searchers, the amount of searching required is enormous.

  96. 97

    Khan:

    according to Scott, the scenario you have just described is nonsense.

    BFast is explaining the math.
    Nonsense is Charrington’s assertion, backed by you, that a 1 in 2^300,000 lottery is comparable to a 1 in 2^31 lottery.
    While we’re at it, good is bad, war is peace, etc.

  97. Khan,

    If it takes 6 of 6 to get some functionaliy then what selection, other than artificial, would keep 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 of 6?

    That is what you guys keep ignoring-that and the fact that all sequences have the same probability of aligning along the sugar backbone.

  98. Scott,
    if that is your real problem with the analogy, why didn’t you say that in your first post, where you talked about the odds of winning the lottery? in any case, Charrington was responding to bFast, so your beef is with him. I happen to agree with your subsequent point about random numbers, but bFast probably doesn’t.

  99. Scott,

    Nonsense is Charrington’s assertion, backed by you, that a 1 in 2^300,000 lottery is comparable to a 1 in 2^31 lottery.

    oh, so now this is your problem with the analogy? i thought it was that genetic inheritance doesnt work like a random lottery. just let me know when you reach a consistent position.

  100. bFast,

    still takes an enormous amount of time to search for a specific 300,000 bit number

    once again you are are thinkibng about all 300,000 bits coming together at once. that is completely irrelevant.

  101. Khan, please check out my post in #88:

    I support it by the repeated report (shout) that neo-Darwinism is not random, and by an abject lack of recognition that it remains challenging. I support it by the fact that the scientific community doesn’t publish reasonable analysis of how many organisms mutating at what rate over how many years could reasonably have produced the data that is there — especially how it produced ultra-conserved datasets.

    It seems that there are teams of biologists that have not chosen to do the math. The general answer from the darwinian camp seems to be “darwinian search is better than random.” When I bring out binary search as a “best case” that darwinian search is clearly poorer than, it is ignored.

    Darwinian search is better than random (I don’t think it is by all that much) at least in an ideal environment. (It may be pointed out that if darwinianism did produce life, the pattern that was found is that ideal environment despite the fact that ultra-conserved genes imply otherwise.) However, numbers like 300,000 bits of data are huge. The challenge of getting all of those bits aligned perfectly is a huge challenge. I suggest that it is not surmountable with reasonable statistical probability — ie, without miraculous luck.

    Bottom line, quit telling me, “darwinian search is better” show me the math that demonstrates that darwinian search is in any way realistic given the time/organism count/reproduction rate constraints.

  102. bFast,
    actually, it is up to you to explain why the probability of 300,000 bits joining together at once to form a functioning genome is at all relevant to, well, anything. you can’t just say “well no one has shown me Darwinian mechanisms are any better.” you need to provide positive evidence for your own position.

    if you want some examples from the evolutionary literature, i suggest you start with FIsher’s “The genetical theory of natural selection.”

  103. 104

    bFast

    When I bring out binary search as a “best case” that darwinian search is clearly poorer than, it is ignored.

    Where have you published this work? Can you provide a citation? Who is “ignoring” your work?

    However, numbers like 300,000 bits of data are huge. The challenge of getting all of those bits aligned perfectly is a huge challenge. I suggest that it is not surmountable with reasonable statistical probability — ie, without miraculous luck.

    you can suggest it all you want, unless you back it up with some work you’ll continue to be ignored. Except by me, I’m a fan! :)

    Bottom line, quit telling me, “darwinian search is better” show me the math that demonstrates that darwinian search is in any way realistic given the time/organism count/reproduction rate constraints.

    http://www.amazon.com/Populati.....rhf_shvl_1

    What have you read so far that was unconvincing?

  104. 105

    Hi bfast,

    What exactly is the practical, biological relevance for the fact that 300,000 bits of data/genome represent 2^300,000 possible states? If each state were equally probable, you might have a point , but we know from basic biology that this is not true: the number of possible states that can be generated in a generation is constrained by the states that existed in the previous generation. This is because organisms do not completely shuffle all of their their gene positions every meiotic cycle. The fact that the previous generation’s sequences are copied (albeit imperfectly) and recombination does not completely shuffle the genome means the state of the previous generation’s genome influences the number of possible states of the next generation.

  105. Khan & Mr. Charrington:

    I will try to explain this as simply as possible.

    With a lottery, the number of tickets purchased is very fairly close to the odds of the winning combination being selected. Therefore, the overall odds of a winning combination being amongst the purchased ticket is very good, although the odds for any given ticket is very low.

    With evolution, the odds of any given mutation in a single reproductive event is very low but with a large number of reproductive events the odds are much better. As the number of reproductive events approaches the odds of any given mutation occurring improves. The problem with Darwinism is that there are not enough reproductive events to make macro evolution probable.

    This is a key point because Darwinists like to hide behind “deep time” as a way to overcome the low probabilities of evolution. However, “deep time” is not the issue. The number of reproductive events is the issue. And we don’t need “deep time” to observe large numbers of reproductive events. For example, the organism P. falciparum has more reproductive events every year than mammals have had in their entire alleged evolutionary history. Yet while mammals have managed to diversify into giant ocean going whales, nimble flying bats, and spaceship building humans, P. falciparum cannot even reproduce below 68ºF.

    In every instance where we can observe large numbers of reproductive events that supposedly yielded tremendous diversity and innovation in the past, we observe pitifully few innovations.

  106. Mr bFast,

    A binary search for a 300,000 bit number should take 150,000 search queries, on average. But that is taking advantage of knowledge of the ‘landscape’ of ordered binary integers. An evolutionary algorithm would not have that advantage.

  107. Jehu,
    what, exactly, were you expecting malaria to do? sprout legs and wings and fly off while dancing the charleston? it is constrained in what it can do, esp. given its parasitic lifestyle in which it is dependent on two different hosts. do you really think extrapolating from one odd organism up to every living organism is a reasonable thing to do? and you argue that extrapolating from micro- to macroevolution is a stretch..

  108. Dave Wisker

    If each state were equally probable, you might have a point , but we know from basic biology that this is not true: the number of possible states that can be generated in a generation is constrained by the states that existed in the previous generation.

    Consider the moment the first reproducing DNA based single cell organism mutates into existence. What are the odds of that event?

  109. Khan

    what, exactly, were you expecting malaria to do? sprout legs and wings and fly off while dancing the charleston?

    Malaria is a disease, not an organism.

    It is constrained in what it can do, esp. given its parasitic lifestyle in which it is dependent on two different hosts. do you really think extrapolating from one odd organism up to every living organism is a reasonable thing to do?

    There are lots of areas adjacent to the P. falciparum where it could innovate and gain a selective advantage. For example, it could evolve the ability to reproduce over 68ºF, yet it has not, in spite of the fact that it has had exponentially more reproductive events than it allegedly took mammals to evolve hair, mammary glands, vaginas, the neocortex, the three bone inner ear etc.

    And it isn’t just P. falciparum the same is true in any observable high reproducing organism, pitifully few innovations.

    and you argue that extrapolating from micro- to macroevolution is a stretch.

    Yes. Arguing that because the probable event of micro evolution has been observed that therefore the improbable event macro evolution has occurred is illogical.

  110. Correction to last post. Should be “below 68ºF” instead of “over 68ºF”.

  111. Mr Jehu,

    Yet while mammals have managed to diversify into giant ocean going whales, nimble flying bats, and spaceship building humans, P. falciparum cannot even reproduce below 68ºF.

    It is difficult for a parasite to reproduce if its host is dead. It is difficult for a parasite to reproduce if there are too few vectors to complete its life cycle.

    P. falciparum has show strong abilities to mutate in response to anti-malarial drugs. But mutation is not the only requirement for the establishment of a new phenotype.

  112. 113

    Hi jehu,

    Consider the moment the first reproducing DNA based single cell organism mutates into existence. What are the odds of that event?

    Sorry, but you don’t seem to be referencing any theory of evolution I’m familiar with. Can you suggest a reference in which this scenario is discussed as a plausible possibility?

  113. Mr Joseph,

    Which article or articles in your link support the non-telic position?

    Gosh, in a journal named Evolution… :)

    Also how do you know the opsin genes are duplicates?

    That is as opposed to being designed?

    Color blindness. Think of it as a molecular fossil, in this case not of an ancestor but a process.

  114. Jehu,

    There are lots of areas adjacent to the P. falciparum where it could innovate and gain a selective advantage

    perhaps it doesn’t because it is outcompeted by P. vivax, which can reproduce down to 57 F?

  115. Dave Wisker

    Sorry, but you don’t seem to be referencing any theory of evolution I’m familiar with. Can you suggest a reference in which this scenario is discussed as a plausible possibility?

    I am not aware of one but then I am not the guy claiming the life evolved without intelligent assistance. But what I think bFast is trying to do is just put a number on the odds of the information in the most simple life form even coming together, he is not even including the absurdly tiny probabilities of the structure that holds and translates information also coming into place in order to house that information.

  116. 117

    Jehu,
    Just in case you missed it
    Any comment?

  117. Khan,

    perhaps it doesn’t because it is outcompeted by P. vivax, which can reproduce down to 57 F?

    That is not why. If anything p. falciparum out competes p vivax, since p. falciparum is responsible for 80% of malaria infections. If Darwinism is true, it is difficult to reconcile why in so many reproductive events, p. falciparum has not lowered its reproductive temperature to at least enable it to exploit all of the geographical niches occupied by its host mosquito. It would be a very small thing in light of the claims that Darwinism makes about much greater innovations occurring in far fewer reproductive events.

  118. Mr. Charrington,

    Your link does not work.

  119. Jehu,

    If anything p. falciparum out competes p vivax, since p. falciparum is responsible for 80% of malaria infections

    not in those areas where the temp is below 68.

  120. 121
  121. 122

    Jehu

    It would be a very small thing in light of the claims that Darwinism makes about much greater innovations occurring in far fewer reproductive events.

    All swans are white.

  122. Khan

    not in those areas where the temp is below 68.

    Assuming that is accurate, so what? There is still not logical nexus to the idea that p. falciparum would not benefit from a lower minimal reproductive temperature.

    BTW, do you have any citations for your assertion? Not saying that it is not true, because it makes sense, I would just like to see the numbers myself.

  123. Mr Jehu,

    There is still not logical nexus to the idea that p. falciparum would not benefit from a lower minimal reproductive temperature.

    Nothing comes for free. Develpoing faster as it gets colder is extremely challenging. Energy and resources spent doing it have to come from somewhere else.

    I agreed (above) with your point that there is nothing logically stopping P. falciparum from mutating towards faster development in lower temperatures, just a lot of operational barriers. If a scientist could raise the parasite in the lab free of the constraints of its natural environment, maybe it could happen. As it is, we have to look elsewhere for innovation in the parasite’s genome. That’s randomness for you!

  124. Nakashima

    I agreed (above) with your point that there is nothing logically stopping P. falciparum from mutating towards faster development in lower temperatures, just a lot of operational barriers. If a scientist could raise the parasite in the lab free of the constraints of its natural environment, maybe it could happen. As it is, we have to look elsewhere for innovation in the parasite’s genome. That’s randomness for you!

    Well how hard is it? Is it harder than evolving from a dog like animal into a giant whale? Because that is what mammals did in fewer reproductive events. Mammals also sprouted wings and learned to fly. Mammals also invented hair, mammary glands, the freaking neocortex, the inner ear, and sweat glands. In exponentially fewer reproductive events! Furthermore, p. vivax travels through similar vectors and can reproduce all the way down to 57ºF, so we know it is not impossible.

    The bottom line is, when we can’t observe it, Darwinism lays claim to an ocean of miracles and innovation, but where we can observe an even greater number of reproductive events we get squat.

  125. 126

    Khan:

    oh, so now this is your problem with the analogy? i thought it was that genetic inheritance doesnt work like a random lottery. just let me know when you reach a consistent position.

    Charrington argued that if mutations can’t hit a 1 in 2^300000 target, how do people win the lottery? The analogy fails both on the odds and the way it relates to evolution. You should be backing me up, not him. No one believes that evolution works like drawing lottery numbers. (Except Charrington.) Each generation must closely resemble the one before. None are new random combinations. Are you required by law to support everything he says, no matter how absurd?

  126. Nakashima-san,

    “Evolution” is not being debated.

    See biological evolution- what is being debated

    See also equivocation and evolution

    Also color blindness could be due to a deletion of an opsin rather than color vision being an addition of an opsin gene.

  127. One more time-

    If you guys don’t like the probability calculations then all you have to do is to actually start supporting your position by presenting the data which demonstrates that in question can be reduced to matter, energy, chance and necessity.

    However it is obvious that you can’t so all you have is to continue whining about the design inference.

    So thank you for continuing to prove that point.

  128. I think that the argumant from improbability is a red herring.
    For one thing,as far as I can see, no evolutionary biologist of sound mind thinks that the the whole shebang started on the prebiotic earth with some huge molecule which had to be searched for against vast odds. Smal molecules, which came to be the foundations of larger ones, yes.

    For another thing, everyone sems to be running around with the idea that, in order to be functional, a protein or polypeptide has to be both large and have a very specific aminoacid sequence, any change to which “de-functionalises” the molecule.

    This is not true. Quite small random libraries can produce a number of polypetides with the function being searched for inthe particular experiment, one report of a search for ATP-binding polypetides amongst a random library of sequences of 80 aas yielded 5 in 10^12 such. Long odds, but not as long as 1 in 10^150; and who knows what other functions were embodied in the rest of those molecules.

    Furthermore, there is a wealth of papers showing that random mutations, even in highly conserved regions of critical enzymes such as polymerases, are not nearly as deleterious as some would have us believe. Many are exactly neutral; some even increase enzyme activity, or fidelity, or even both. Why, some positions could be substituted with a whole variety of different aas without apparent effect on function of the whole.

    If one could take into account the possible variations in structure or sequence which still allow a particular function (and I’m sure it is mathematically possible just not – alas!- for me!) the odds against assembling a functional polypeptide from randomly available resources shorten very considerably indeed.

  129. damitall,

    Again if you don’t like the improbability PoV all you have to do is start substantiating the claims of the non-telic position.

    Ya see those small molecules you mentioned are very fragile and open to any number of possible reactions with any number of possible reactants.

  130. Ya got me there Joseph: Ya see, ya’ll have to tell me what ya mean, and the evidence ya have, before I can give ya post the thought it probably deserves.

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