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For record: Questions on the logical and scientific status of design theory for objectors (and supporters)

Over the past several days, I have been highlighting poster children of illogic and want of civility that are too often found among critics to design theory – even, among those claiming to be standing on civility and to be posing unanswerable questions, challenges or counter-claims to design theory.

I have also noticed the strong (but patently ill-founded) feeling/assumption among objectors to design theory that they have adequately disposed of the issues it raises and are posing unanswerable challenges in exchanges

A capital example of this, was the suggestion by ID objector Toronto, that the inference to best current explanation used by design thinkers, is an example of question-begging circular argument. Here, again is his attempted rebuttal:

Kairosfocus [Cf. original Post, here]: “You are refusing to address the foundational issue of how we can reasonably infer about the past we cannot observe, by working back from what causes the sort of signs that we can observe. “

[Toronto:] Here’s KF with his own version of “A concludes B” THEREFORE “B concludes A”.

(Yes, as the links show, this is a real example of the type of “unanswerable” objections being touted by opponents of design theory. Several more like this are to be found here and here, in the recent poster-child series.)

But, it should be obvious that the abductive argument pioneered in science by Peirce addresses the question of how empirical evidence can support a hypothesis or explanatory model (EM) as a “best explanation” on an essentially inductive basis, where the model is shown to imply the already known observations, O1 . . . On, and may often be able to predict further observations P1 . . . Pn:

EM = > {O1, O2, . . . On}, {P1, P2, . . . Pm}

Now, the first problem here is that there is a counterflow between the direction of logical implication, from EM to O’s and P’s, and that of empirical support, from O’s and P’s to EM. It would indeed be question-begging to infer from the fact that EM – if true – would indeed entail the O’s and P’s, plus the observation of these O’s and P’s, that EM is true.

But, guess what: this is a general challenge faced by all explanatory models or theories in science

For, in general, to infer that “explained” O’s and P’s entail the truth of EM, would be to commit a fallacy, affirming the consequent; essentially, confusing that EM being so is sufficient for O’s and P’s to be so, with that the O’s and P’s also therefore entail that EM is so.

That is, implication is not equivalence.

(One rather suspects that, Toronto was previously unaware of this broad challenge to scientific reasoning. [That would be overwhelmingly likely, as the logical strengths and limitations of the methods and knowledge claims of science are seldom adequately taught in schools and colleges . . . and to call for this – as has happened in Louisiana etc, is too often treated by advocates of evolutionary materialism with talking points that this is “obviously” an attempt to inject the Creationism bogeyman into the hallowed halls of “science” education.] So, quite likely, Toronto has seen the problem for the first time in connexion with attempts to find objections to design theory and has assumed that this is a problem that is a peculiar challenge to that suspect notion. But, plainly, it is not.)

The answer to this challenge, from Newton forward, has been to acknowledge that scientific theories are to be empirically tested and shown to be reliable so far, but are subject to correction in light of new empirical evidence and/or gaps in logic. Provisional knowledge, in short. Yet another case where the life of reason must acknowledge that trust – the less politically correct but apt word is: faith – is an inextricable, deeply intertwined component of our systems of knowledge and our underlying worldviews.

But, a second challenge emerges.

For, explanatory models are often not unique. We may well have EM1, EM2, . . . EMk, which may actually be empirically equivalent, or may all face anomalies that none are able to explain so far. So, how does one pick a best model, EMi, without begging big questions?

It is simple to state – but far harder to practice: once one seriously compares uncensored major alternative explanatory models on strengths, limitations and difficulties regarding factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power, and draws conclusions on a provisional basis, this reasonably warrants the best of the candidates. That is, if there is a best candidate. (Sometimes, there is not. In that case, we live with alternatives, and in a surprising number of cases, it has turned out on further probing that the models are mathematically equivalent or are linked to a common underlying framework, or are connected to underlying worldview perspectives in ways that do not offer an easy choice.)

Such an approach is well within the region of inductive reasoning, where empirical evidence provides material support for confidence in – but not undeniable proof of – conclusions. Where, these limitations of inductive argument are the well known, common lot we face as finite, fallible, morally struggling, too often gullible, and sometimes angry and ill-willed human beings.

When it comes to explanatory models of the deep past of origins, we face a further challenge.

For, we cannot inspect the actual deep past, it is unobservable. (There is a surprisingly large number of unobserved entities in science, e.g. electrons, strings, the remote past and so forth. These, in the end are held on an inference to best explanation basis in light of connexions to things we can and do observe. That is, they offer elegantly simple unifying explanatory integration and coherence to our theories. But, we must never become so enamoured of these constructs that we confuse them for established fact beyond doubt or dispute. Indeed, we can be mistaken about even directly observable facts. [Looks like that just happened to me with the identity of a poster of one comment a few days ago, apologies again for the misidentification.])

So, applying Newton’s universality principle, what we do is to observe the evident traces of the remote past. We then set up and explore circumstances in the present, were we can see if there are known causal factors that reliably lead to characteristic effects that are directly comparable to the traces of the past. When that is so, we have a basis for inferring that we can treat the traces from the past as signs that the same causal factor is the best explanation.

Put in such terms, this is obviously reasonable.

Two problems crop up. First, too often, in origins science, there is a resort to a favoured explanation despite the evident unreliability of the signs involved, because of the dominance of a school of thought that suppresses serious alternatives. Second, there can be signs that are empirically reliable that cut across the claims of a dominant school of thought. Design theorists argue that both of these have happened with the currently dominant evolutionary materialist school of thought. Philip Johnson’s reply to Richard Lewontin on a priori materialism in science is a classic case in point – one that is often dismissed but (kindly note, Seversky et al) has never been cogently answered:

For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”  

. . . .   The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

This example (and the many others of like ilk) should suffice to show that the objectors to design theory do not have a monopoly on scientific or logical knowledge and rationality, and that they can and do often severely and mistakenly caricature the thought of design thinkers to the point of making outright blunders. Worse, they then too often take excuse of that to resort to ad hominem attacks that cloud issues and unjustly smear people, polarising and poisoning the atmosphere for discussion. For instance, it escapes me how some could ever have imagined – or imagined that others would take such a claim as truthful – that it is a “lighthearted” dig to suggest that I would post links to pornography.

Such a suggestion is an insult, one added to the injury of red herrings led away to strawmannish caricatures and dismissals.

In short, there is a significant problem among objectors to design theory that they resort to a habitual pattern of red herring distractors, led away to strawman caricatures soaked in poisonous ad hominem attacks, and then set alight through snide or incendiary rhetoric. Others who do not go that far, enable, tolerate or harbour such mischief. And, at minimum, even if there is not a resort to outright ad hominems, there is a persistent insistence on running after red herrings on tangents to strawman caricatures, and a refusal to accept cogent corrections of such misrepresentations.

That may be angrily brushed aside.

So, I point out that the further set of problems with basic logic, strawman caricatures and personal attacks outlined in the follow up post here. Let us pick up a particular example of the evasiveness and denial of well-established points, also from Toronto:

Physics both restricts and insists on different combinations of “information”.

Why is the word information in scare quotes?

Because, believe it or not, as has been repeatedly seen at UD, many objectors to design theory want to contend that there is no algorithmic, digitally – i.e. discrete-state — coded specifically functional (and complex) information in D/RNA. In reply, I again clip from Wikipedia, speaking against known ideological interest:

The genetic code is the set of rules by which information encoded in genetic material (DNA or mRNA sequences) is translated into proteins (amino acid sequences) by living cells.

The code defines how sequences of three nucleotides, called codons, specify which amino acid will be added next during protein synthesis.

Hopefully, these examples should suffice to begin to clear the air for a serious focus on substantial issues.

So, I think the atmosphere has now – for the moment – been sufficiently cleared of the confusing and polarising smoke of burning, ad hominem soaked strawman caricatures of design theory to pose the following questions. They are taken from a response to recent comments (with slight adjustments), and were – unsurprisingly, on track record – ignored by the objector to whom they were directed.

I now promote them to the level of a full, duly headlined UD post:

1: Is argument by inference to best current explanation a form of the fallacy of question-begging (as was recently asserted by design objector “Toronto”)? If you think so, why?

2: Is there such a thing as reasonable inductive generalisation that can identify reliable empirical signs of causal factors that may act on objects, systems, processes or phenomena etc., including (a) mechanical necessity leading to low contingency natural regularity, (b) chance contingency leading to stochastic distributions of outcomes and (c) choice contingency showing itself by certain commonly seen traces familiar from our routine experiences and observations of design? If not, why not?

3: Is it reasonable per sampling theory, that we should expect a chance based sample that stands to the population as one straw to a cubical hay bale 1,000 light years thick – rather roughly about as thick as our galaxy – more or less centred on Earth, to pick up anything but straw (the bulk of the population)? If you think so, why (in light of sampling theory – notice, NOT precise probability calculations)? [Cf. the underlying needle in a haystack discussion here on.]

4: Is it therefore reasonable to identify that functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information (FSCO/I, the relevant part of Complex Specified Information as identified by Orgel and Wicken et al. and as later quantified by Dembski et al) is – on a broad observational base – a reliable sign of design? Why or why not?

5: Is it reasonable to compare this general analysis to the grounding of the statistical form of the second law of thermodynamics, i.e. that under relevant conditions, spontaneous large fluctuations from the typical range of the bulk of [microstate] possibilities will be vanishingly rare for reasonably sized systems? If you think not, why not?

6: Is digital symbolic code found to be stored in the string-structure configuration of chained monomers in D/RNA molecules, and does such function in algorithmic ways in protein manufacture in the living cell? If, you think not, why not in light of the generally known scientific findings on transcription, translation and protein synthesis?

7: Is it reasonable to describe such stored sequences of codons as “information” in the relevant sense? Why or why not?

8: Is the metric, Chi_500 = Ip*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold and/or the comparable per aspect design inference filter as may be seen in flowcharts, a reasonable quantification or procedural application of the set of claims made by design thinkers? Or, any other related or similar metric, as has been posed by Durston et al, or Dembski, etc? Why, or why not – especially in light of modelling theory?

9: Is it reasonable to infer on this case that the origin of cell based life required the production of digitally coded FSCI — dFSCI — in string data structures, together with associated molecular processing machinery [cf. the vid here], joined to gated encapsulation, metabolism and a von Neumann kinematic self replicator [vNSR]? Why or why not?

10: Is it reasonable to infer that such a vNSR is an irreducibly complex entity and that it is required before there can be reproduction of the relevant encapsulated, gated, metabolising cell based life to allow for natural selection across competing sub populations in ecological niches? Why or why not? (And, if you think not, what is your empirical, observational basis for thinking that available physical/chemical forces and processes in a warm little pond or the modern equivalent, can get us, step by step, by empirically warranted stages, to the living cell?)

11: Is it therefore a reasonable view to infer – on FSCO/I, dFSCI and irreducible complexity as well as the known cause of algorithms, codes, symbol systems and execution machinery properly organised to effect such – that the original cell based life is on inference to best current explanation [IBCE], credibly designed? Why, or why not?

12: Further, as the increments of dFSCI to create dozens of major body plans is credibly 10 – 100+ mn bits each, dozens of times over across the past 600 MY or so, and much of it on the conventional timeline is in a 5 – 10 MY window on earth in the Cambrian era, is it reasonable to infer further on IBCE that major body plans show credible evidence of design? If not, why not, on what empirically, observationally warranted step by step grounds?

13: Is it fair or not fair to suggest that on what we have already done with digital technology and what we have done with molecular nanotech applied to the cell, it is credible that a molecular nanotech lab several generations beyond Venter etc would be a reasonable sufficient cause for what we see? If not, why not? [In short, the issue is: is inference to intelligent design specifically an inference to “supernatural” design? In this context, what does “supernatural” mean? “Natural”? Why do you offer these definitions and why should we accept them?]

14: Is or is it not reasonable to note that in contrast to the tendency to accuse design thinkers of being creationists in cheap tuxedos who want to inject “the supernatural” into science and so to produce a chaotic unpredictability:

a: From Plato in The Laws Bk X on, the issue has been explanation by nature (= chance + necessity) vs ART or techne, i.e. purposeful and skilled intelligence acting by design,

b: Historically, modern science was largely founded by people thinking in a theistic frame of thought and/or closely allied views, and who conceived of themselves as thinking God’s creative and sustaining thoughts — his laws of governing nature — after him,

c: Theologians point out that the orderliness of God and our moral accountability imply an orderly and predictable world as the overwhelming pattern of events,

d: Where also, the openness to Divine action beyond the usual course of nature for good purposes, implies that miracles are signs and as such need to stand out against the backdrop of such an orderly cosmos? [If you think not, why not?]

15: In light of all these and more, is the concept that we may legitimately, scientifically infer to design on inductively grounded signs such as FSCO/I a reasonable and scientific endeavour? Why or why not?

16: In that same light, is it the case that such a design theory proposal has been disestablished by actual observations contrary to its pivotal inductions and inferences to best explanations? (Or, has the debate mostly pivoted on latter-day attempted redefinition of science and its methods though so-called methodological naturalism that a priori undercuts the credibility of “undesirable” explanatory models of the past?) Why do you come to your conclusion?

17: Is it fair to hold – on grounds that inference to the best evolutionary materialism approved explanation of the past is not the same as inference to the best explanation of the past in light of all reasonably possible causal factors that could have been at work – that there is a problem of evolutionary materialist ideological dominance of relevant science, science education, and public policy institutions? Why or why not?

The final question for reflection raises issues regarding the ethical-cultural implications for views on the above for origins science in society:

18: In light of concerns raised since Plato in The Laws Bk X on and up to the significance of challenge posed by Anscombe and others, that a worldview must have a foundational IS that can objectively ground OUGHT, how does evolutionary materialism – a descriptive term for the materialistic, blind- chance- and- necessity- driven- molecules- to- Mozart view of the world – cogently address morality in society and resolve the challenge that it opens the door to the rise of ruthless nihilistic factions whose view is in effect that as a consequence of living in a materialistic world, knowledge and values are inherently only subjective and/or relative so that might and manipulation make ‘right’?

 (NB: Those wishing to see how a design theory based view of origins would address these and related questions, (i) cf. the 101 level survey here on. Similarly, (ii) you are invited to look at the UD Weak argument correctives here, (iii) at the UD Glossary here, at UD’s definition of ID here, (iv) at a general purpose ID FAQ here, (v) at the NWE survey article on ID here (the Wikipedia one being an inaccurate and unfair hit piece) and (vi) at the background note here on.)

So, objectors to design theory, the ball is in your court. (NB: Inputs are also welcome from design theory supporters.)

How, then, do you answer? On what grounds? With what likely consequences for science, society, and civilisation? END

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104 Responses to For record: Questions on the logical and scientific status of design theory for objectors (and supporters)

  1. What do you say to objectors to Intelligent Design on the grounds that they say necessity and chance are up to the task of designing and creating FCSI?

    IOW logic, schmlogic, they say they got the evidence (locked away somewhere and hidden from public view, of course).

  2. Joe:

    “Show us,” of course!

    After years of failed attempts — the last one was to suggest clocks evolving in a simulation from gears, pivots and levers, from someone who did not understand how hard it is to cut a functional gear and to set up stable precision backing plates that support them — it is obvious that there are no good counter examples.

    Dr Liddle has long promised a counter example but has yet to cross the border to gated encapsulated, metabolic automata with embedded self replicating systems based on a vNSR. The equivalent of a growing crystal does not answer the question, nor would a random string structure.

    BTW, that is one reason why the Shannon information metric of information carrying capacity is not adequate for design issues. For instance, a flat random distribution of symbols will have the maximum possible value, where all known codes have some degree of redundancy, i.e. there is a correlation between some characters and others in the strings where they occur that can be identified through covariance analysis. This is for instance a significant point in the analysis of Durston et al.

    KF

  3. Just look at Toronto’s confused equivocation:

    Weasel, as simple as it is, shows one aspect of evolution, i.e. selection, at work.

    Hellooooo- weasel is a targeted search, which makes it a design mechanism, not a blind and undirected mechanism.

    It is impossible to deal with someone who thinks as Toronto does. But it is possible to expose their fallacies, their many fallacies.

  4. Joe:

    Oh well, let’s see if Toronto has done the simple thing of checking what Seversky’s much despised longstanding presentations address. Let’s look:

    Weasel, as simple as it is, shows one aspect of evolution, i.e. selection, at work.

    Do you have anything like that?

    Obviously, T has failed to do basic homework and does not know that Dawkins has admitted that Weasel is a pre-loaded targetted search. Cf here.

    As in:

    [CRD:} [Weasel] begins by choosing a random sequence of 28 letters … it duplicates it repeatedly, but with a certain chance of random error – ‘mutation’ – in the copying. The computer examines the mutant nonsense phrases, the ‘progeny’ of the original phrase, and chooses the one which, however slightly, most resembles the target phrase, METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL . . .

    The and kin part addresses more modern GA’s.

    When you do this sort of thing, T, it does not help your case.

    Next, there is a demand of the design inference that it do what it does not set out to do, to be accepted for what it demonstrably does well, detect design on empirically reliable signs:

    [T:] do you have anything like a “design simulator” that would be able to target the specific functionality of an irreducibly complex biological entity that would function in a future environment that does not exist today.

    Nope, but we know all along that designers exist and that they target desirable future states and use knowledge and skill to use the forces and materials of nature, economically to develop objects, components, processes, systems and networks that will fulfill that. In short we know already on vast and easily accessible experience that designers of sufficient knowledge and skill can do what is desired. We cannot yet fully do that with molecular nanotech, but based on what Venter et al have already done, it is reasonable that we will do that before the century is out.

    One last thing. T, Joe is plainly on serious probation. All that would be required for a serious minded objector would be to register at UD and pass through the standard probationary period. S/he could even register a blogger blog or the like in five minutes and post a link.

    The notion that a serious and genuinely civil objector cannot post over an extended period at UD is patently false. I can even accept that one cannot publicly recant or the like given the atmosphere that is out there these days with people being hounded from jobs. A reasonable exchange of views would be enough, and the eighteen questions on the table give more than enough context for serious engagement.

    But given what I have experienced and what I am seeing at TSZ etc, I will not go to such sites, period.

    KF

  5. KF,

    On one point I beg to differ. I say a targeted search is a design mechanism that can target the specific functionality of an irreducibly complex biological entity that would function in a future environment that does not exist today
    _______
    To some extent. KF

  6. kairosfocus,

    The notion that a serious and genuinely civil objector cannot post over an extended period at UD is patently false.

    Please then demonstrate exactly why Elizabeth Liddle was so offensive, relative to the ID proponents here, that she deserved to be banned. As an observer, it looked to me like her only sin was to argue effectively against some of the regulars here.

    _________

    O/L, you have already been answered on the matter, and are resorting to one of the trollish tactics, drumbeat repetition of already adequately answered points in attempts to drag serious threads off track into endless crocodile death rolls. (Take this as a warning.) You know J is on probation pending outcome of his case which is in other hands. You also know that at the head of this thread is a context and a list of eighteen questions based on questions already made to you, which you have ignored. That you do not even try to make an attempt to answer now that the questions have been headlined, is all too revealing. Do, at least try. if you cannot do more, take on Q 1, or another of your choosing. KF

  7. onlooker, obviously you are not an objective observer as Liz Liddle has yet to argue effectively against ID nor for her position. All she did here, and still does, was post bald assertions, equivocations and misrepresentations.

    And she did post over an extended period until she wore out her welcome by not posting in good faith.
    __________

    Sadly, a fair summary. KF

  8. H’mm:

    Looks like Dr Who is trying for at least a bronze in the poster-child category:

    this is what Kairosfocus really does.

    A is known to be a source of B

    No other source of B is known

    Therefore, I infer that an unknown C which shares a property with A is the best explanation of any D which is similar or analogous to B, and could be given the same broad description.

    And he ends up with non-living intelligent designers, something not known to exist, as a best explanation for the origin of life.

    He apparently does not realise that the challenge he imagines is unique to design theory is faced by all forms of scientific investigation. As the OP above shows, the way we look at the issue in science is we examine causal factors that reliably produce as reliable signs, the traces we have from the unobse4rved past. On that we may make an inductive inference to best current, and provisional explanation. As, with all of science on the past of origins.

    But to avoid acknowledging that, DW plays a strawman tactic:

    I infer that an unknown C which shares a property with A is the best explanation of any D which is similar or analogous to B

    Simply wrong.

    FSCO/I is a very familiar entity and it is well known tha tit comes from design, and on the needle in the haystack analysis, it is not plausible that it should result from the other source of high contingency, chance, on its own or in concert with mechanical necessity [which is NOT a source of high contingency].

    All that is required is that a designer is POSSIBLE, not impossible.

    The next clip is a further strawman, one seemingly driven by DW’s own a priori commitment to materialism as a worldview:

    he ends up with non-living intelligent designers, something not known to exist, as a best explanation for the origin of life.

    First as has been pointed out already long since and again in recent days but artfully ignored, cell based life on earth could reasonably be designed by a molecular nanotech lab some generations beyond Venter et al. That has been openly acknowledged by the modern De3sign theorists since the first technical ID book, TMLO in 1984. So, there is no requirement to infer beyond that, on the evidence from the world of life.

    Such a nanotech lab would be a sufficient cause.

    To persistently refuse to acknowledge this point, even when it has been presented for 25 years and again in recent days, does not commend DW’s argumentation.

    Where there is a design theory inference beyond the world of atoms is the origin of the cosmos we experience. Which, credibly had a beginning so it has a cause on basic logic, here the principle of sufficient reason, per Schopenhauer.

    Nothing composed of atomic matter is a credible explanation of the origin of the cosmos that is the context for such atoms to have come into being at the singularity.

    One may suggest some sort of unobserved multiverse, but that just pushes the issue back one level once we see that the observed cosmos has dozens of different ways in which it is fine tuned for the existence of C-chemistry, aqueous medium, cell based life. You can start with the balances that set up H, He, O, C as the first four most abundant elements, with N close tot he top too. Multiply by the wonder of elegant design that is water.

    Then think about the nature of a cosmos bakery that will toss out such a cosmos as we experience, even in a multiverse. That means it is fine tuned too, given the local finetuning of the operating point of the cosmology for the observed universe.

    Dash in a bit of logic: a contingent cosmos, even though a multiverse, points to a necessary being — one with no dependence on external, switch on/off causal factors — sufficient to create one or more cosmi. Such a being has no beginning, has no end, i.e. is eternal. A simple case is a truth like that asserted int eh statement 3 + 2 = 5. The other candidate is a mind, sufficiently clever to set up a cosmos, and sufficiently powerful to make it.

    Such an entity sounds a lot like the sort of maker of heaven and earth that theists call God.

    And that also brings us back to the underlying view of life that Plato highlighted 2350 years ago: a self-moved, self-willed entity.

    As to the tendency to deride and dismiss such an entity as God, my comment is that there are millions who across time and space have reported meeting and being transformed by him, sufficiently many and including sufficiently significant persons that to dismiss them all as delusional, brings the human mind itself under suspicion of being utterly unreliable and untrustworthy.

    I suggest, therefor, that it is unwise to saw off the branch on which one must sit.

    This is of course now beyond science, but that is because DW raised a worldview level question. Having asked such, he will have to address the comaparative difficulties issue at that level.

    Which by the way brings to bear testimony.

    And my personal testimony starts with the day when I was given over as dying and was not able to get access to a leading medical centre to get help. By a miracle of guidance — “I open doors no man can shut” sort of stuff, with a literal open door as we turned away from the shut one — my life was saved and I am here forty years later to be typing this to you.

    So, DW, I would not be so sure as you imagine yourself to be, that non-biological life in a very significant meaning of life, has never been experienced or observed.

    KF

    PS: I see Petrushka — poster child no 1 — tries to play the fearful and intolerant card. This is little more than ill-founded personal attack, given the issues of abusive incivility that have been raised and discussed more than adequately, with J being plainly on probation pending final resolution of his case right now. P has a chance to answer to the eighteen questions above, so let us see what s/he can do. Evasions, personal attacks and strawman games will simply reveal to one and all that s/he has little or nothing to say on the merits that will stand serious scrutiny.

  9. Toronto:

    Why do you lie like this:

    KF is okay with the incivility of people who behave like Joe . . .

    You know or should know that I have publicly rebuked Joe for his behaviour, explaining why it is wrong and should be corrected. Joe is on probation and is subject to further action at UD. I do not control moderation at UD, as I have stated.

    It is sad to see you descend to lying in order to slander, and doing so so blatantly.

    THAT, FYI is the sort of reason why I will not come into your lair at TSZ or elsewhere.

    KF

  10. LoL! Neither Kairosfocus nor any UD regular are OK with my incivility. However I think they see it as retaliation rather than unprovoked attacks, so I have been tolerated.

    See unlike sports the moderaters can use play-back to see who started what and why. And more likely than not, they too have been the target of uncivil evos. However they are too decent to hit back. I have no such limitation.

    Take away the personal attacks on myself and other IDists and Creationists, take away the equivocations, lies and misrepresenations, and I can be as civil as anyone can be.

    But obviously you guys can’t do that so unfortunately we may never know how civil I can be…

  11. It is your decision to NOT come here because of the way we behave, but you have also decided that you WILL contribute to a site that houses the incivility of Joe.

    Because my incivility is directed at the incivil. Yours is directed at KF, Barry and all IDists. Who wants to post on a forum in which he just gets personally attacked?

  12. Bad behaviour on the part of subject A does not justify the same behaviour from subject B.

    If subject A is doing something wrong to subject B, subject B can use any means available to stop it.

    Attacks on one country by another have always justified retaliations.

    And no I would not have an affair with another woman. and if my wife had an affair it would justify my divorcing her.

  13. Alas, if only there was some technology that would allow direct communication. Maybe in the future.

    Joe
    If subject A is doing something wrong to subject B, subject B can use any means available to stop it.

    Any means?

  14. The technology isn’t the problem. The problem is that you and your ilk have nothing to say yet you bloviate as if you have all the cards when all you have is a house of cards.

    You people are not self-aware and your continued insipidity is tiring.

    Have a nice day.

  15. The equivocation never stops-

    petrushka’s empty challenge:

    The topic I suggest is whether ID or evolution is the best explanation for the diversity of life.

    What “evolution” is petrushka referring to seeing that Intelligent Design is NOT anti-evolution?

    Continued misrepresentations, lies, equivocations and insipidity are what gets evos banned. They are also a case of incivility.

    Unbelievable, you guys just don’t get it- sad but true

  16. petrushka just refuses to get it-

    petrushka, your “challenge” is EMPTY because you are an EQUIVOCATOR who delights in misrepresenting ID.

    You really need to grow up before you qualify for a debate.

    Just sayin’…

  17. kairosfocus wrote:

    1: Is argument by inference to best current explanation a form of the fallacy of question-begging (as was recently asserted by design objector “Toronto”)? If you think so, why?

    I think it is not question-begging. But it is also not an argument. It is, in my opinion, a form of hypothesis generation. Once an inquirer has posed an hypothesis, the hard work of testing that hypothesis commences.

  18. Daniel,

    Allegedly, if you have formed an inference, that would include hypothesis testing (or some reasonable fascimile thereof).

  19. KF and others, you may appreciate this article that just came up at ENV:

    Conservation of Information Made Simple – William A. Dembski August 28, 2012
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....63671.html

  20. DK: Inference to BEST current explanation implies a comparative process that is an argument. KF

  21. Joe: the difference between justice — which properly involves the community — and revenge is proportion of response on an objective and impartial test. That is why we need to hear ONLY an eye for an eye (where in fact compensation is in view). The civil peace of justice is not a war zone, but a zone of mutual respect, civility and rule of just law impartially enforced with a modicum of understanding and mercy. Which virtue is conspicuously absent as the civilisation spins out of control. KF

  22. Petrushka:

    It is obvious that the problem at stake starts from understanding the logic of inductive reasoning, and goes on to the usual scientific and linked issues then onwards to implications for society.

    Remember, it is your side that has pretended to the world for a long time that we are begging questions and distorting the nature of logic and science.

    If you cannot show that this is so, on a fair and open examination in light of the issues put in the OP above and others that may be linked to them, then your side needs to admit to a severe mischaracterisation and to boasting of a degree of warrant that it did not have. Just go back over thread after thread at your blogs and see if you have not falsely accused us and misrepresented us as being illogical and question begging on the basics of induction.

    And this false accusation was specifically cast in my teeth.

    Simple justice therefore demands that the record be laid out, the wrongful claims be acknowledged and retracted. By your side, which made false, accusatory and denigratory assertions on matters of inductive logic, with scarcely any correction. Indeed, it reached the point where this seems to have been the imagined conventional wisdom and consensus.

    Further to this, you need to think very hard about what you were doing to create such an aura of false invincibility and arrogantly smug presumption that you had cornered the market on rationality.

    In addition there are linked questions that go on across a wide range of linked issues, on each of which your side has made severe accusations and misrepresentations fully as loaded as the accusations of illogical circularity that I have headlined and publicly corrected.

    That is why there are eighteen questions that take us across that range and it is why trying to duck the full range of issues will only help to promote the all too common red herring and ad hominem soaked strawman tactics that we have seen year after year.

    As a concession to objectors who cannot address the full range, they may wish to take up individual questions, but the range still stands.

    Only when there is a clear understanding of why the two sides take different positions across the range will we be able to resolve the matter properly.

    So, no, your hope to divert down all too familiar ruts is refused.

    And, Joe is right, ID is not the antithesis of evolution, whether micro or body-plan level macro. That is why the No 2 ID scientist, Behe, accepts Universal Common Descent. So, the very phrasing of your rhetorically loaded counter-offer pivots on a strawman distortion. That is why there is need to address the questions, as there is a cloud of poisonous misunderstandings and outright smears that have to be cleared away.

    It is time to seriously, cogently answer the questions, or stand exposed as indulging in rhetorical smear jobs.

    Surely, you have more than enough manpower to do so.

    (And of course, the OP links to answers from our side that have been on the table long since, just ignored and caricatured in the haste to erect ad hominem soaked strawmen and burn them with snide rhetoric.)

    Enough is enough.

    KF

  23. BA: A real book-let, that! Good catch and useful reading. I note: Made simple –> For dummies –> For complete idiots. KF

  24. kairosfocus,

    “O/L, you have already been answered on the matter, and are resorting to one of the trollish tactics, drumbeat repetition of already adequately answered points in attempts to drag serious threads off track into endless crocodile death rolls. (Take this as a warning.)”

    warning equals possibility disappear of onlooker statements without explanation comparable of Barry arrington, o change into words of nonsense comparable of scordova? need do i should concern of statements of mine submitted improperly?

    sergio
    ___________

    S: You have very little to be concerned over. O/L has been using abusive tactics, and has been warned to get back in line. He is the actual person to whom the list of questions was first addressed. He ignored it to try to derail this thread through a piling- on game with someone else who has been publicly rebuked and warned that he is on probation, with an inch or less of leeway, under judgement that may well issue in suspension or permanent banning; though that final decision is in other hands. (I believe, BTW, in suspension as a first step in cases that are likely to be redeemable. But, it is an open question whether this one has gone too far and may be showing himself incorrigible.) That is an act of animosity, against a man who has the mitigating factor that Darwinist thugs tried to get him fired, interfering with the reputation of a company that person worked for. O/L has therefore been told to stop dumping garbage on my lawn, and if he continues — and I suspect he is a sock puppet of one of the more abusive objectors out there, quite possibly associated with publishing of defaced photographs used to mock and delineate targets for the lunatic fringe, as well as threats against my family — O/L will at first level be told to remove himself from threads I post for disruptive behaviour. Beyond that, insistent abuse of the privilege of commenting will lead to banning. You see that the situation is one of action for cause, not the arbitrary censorship in light of inability to handle issues on the merits that spiteful objectors to design theory — O/L being a specific exemplar — slanderously pretend and project. As for Mr Arrington’s removal of insistently distractive comments in recent threads, he has in fact served prior notice, having had long experience of the use of side-tracking to derail threads of commentary. I suspect Sal may be doing a convert to Lorem Ipsum or the equivalent to deal with much the same but have not been tracking. I do have a brewing multidimensional national crisis to deal with. In the meanwhile, do look at the larger picture of the pretence that design theory rests on basic logical fallacies that I have exposed in the OP, and the list of questions I have put as a challenge to objectors who are ever so fond of making ad hominem laced strawman attacks against design theory and thinkers. Look carefully at the sort of objector responses that are happening live while we speak, and see if now that I have decided enough is enough and am putting up poster children of irresponsible behaviour and am now putting the issues that seem pivotal in the form of a syllabus of pointed questions to substantiate assertions, there is a ready and responsible response from the other side. Let Petrushka’s distortion of the nature of design theory in a debate counter-offer help you understand what is really going on, and just how irresponsible and disruptive too many objectors to design theory are. KF

  25. 25

    Is commenter the sergio mendes the sock not?
    _________

    UB: Sergio is a young member of the LDS sent here to study the design theory by a leader. English is not his first language. KF

  26. Upright Biped,

    pardon? sock?

    sergio
    _________

    S, sometimes socks are made into puppets slipped over the hand and used to entertain children. The term has been extended to the setting up of a web identity used as a front for an agenda that is hidden from view, This is different from protective anonymity, or the use of a web name to diminish email and spamming problems. KF

  27. F/N: Folks, let us focus on the issue in the main. If we allow tangents to pull us off-track, they will achieve their purpose. KF

  28. 28
    critical rationalist

    Whether “design” is the best explanation is based on implicit assumptions about knowledge, such as if it is complex, whether it is genuinely created, etc.

    The evidence for the appearance of design is not only that its parts all serve a purpose, but if they were slightly altered they would serve that purpose less well, or not even at all. IOW, a good design, which is adapted for to serve a purpose, is hard to vary. So it’s these adaptations by which it serves that purpose need to be explained.

    You recognize the need to explain the knowledge (as found in the genome) of how to transform matter into adoptions that serve a purpose, but then attempt to explain these features using a designer which serves the purpose of designing organisms. If we varied this designer, would it serve the purpose of designing organisms just as well? Doesn’t this designer exhibit the signs of design, which you recognize as requiring an explanation?

    Specifically, the fundamental flaw in creationism (and its variants) is the same fundamental flaw in pre-enlightenment, authoritative conceptions of human knowledge: its account of how the knowledge in adaptations could be created is either missing, supernatural or illogical.

    In some cases, it’s the very same theory, in that specific types of knowledge, such as cosmology or moral knowledge, was dictated to early humans by supernatural beings. In other cases, parochial aspects of society, such as the rule of monarchs in governments or the existence of God, are protected by taboos or taken so uncritically for granted that they are not recognized as ideas.

    What explanation does ID present as to how the knowledge found in adaptations was created?

    For example, merely saying some designer “just was” complete with the knowledge of how to build biological adaptations serves no explanatory purpose. This is because one could more economically state organism’s “just appeared”, complete with the knowledge of how to build biological adaptations.

    In other words, the current crop of ID does not actually explain how the knowledge, as found in the genome, was created. It merely pushes the problem into some supposedly unexplainable realm.
    ______

    CR: Kindly, have the good manners to begin your response to an agenda of quite specific questions by actually addressing the questions on the table, say, starting with no 1 instead of pushing in a string of tangential talking points. Had you begun with Q 1 you would not have tangled up yourself in tangents and distortions as above. KF

  29. F/N: I don’t have time to bother with a point by point rebuttal to the sort of tangential discussions that are happening in TSZ. I will however headline a key case of willfully ignorant strawmannish distortions and deflections, this from JF in the same thread:

    KF misunderstands Dembski’s argument. It is not about islands of function, and it is intended to apply to evolution after the Origin Of Life.

    Evidently, JF has not even bothered to read the clip from WmAD in the linked intro page to the IOSE, where I cite from No Free Lunch, pp. 144 and 148:

    p. 148: “The great myth of contemporary evolutionary biology is that the information needed to explain complex biological structures can be purchased without intelligence. My aim throughout this book is to dispel that myth . . . . Eigen and his colleagues must have something else in mind besides information simpliciter when they describe the origin of information as the central problem of biology.

    I submit that what they have in mind is specified complexity [[cf. here below], or what equivalently we have been calling in this Chapter Complex Specified information or CSI . . . .

    Biological specification always refers to function . . . In virtue of their function [[a living organism's subsystems] embody patterns that are objectively given and can be identified independently of the systems that embody them. Hence these systems are specified in the sense required by the complexity-specificity criterion . . . the specification can be cashed out in any number of ways [[through observing the requisites of functional organisation within the cell, or in organs and tissues or at the level of the organism as a whole] . . .”

    p. 144: [[Specified complexity can be defined:] “. . . since a universal probability bound of 1 [[chance] in 10^150 corresponds to a universal complexity bound of 500 bits of information, [[the cluster] (T, E) constitutes CSI because T [[ effectively the target hot zone in the field of possibilities] subsumes E [[ effectively the observed event from that field], T is detachable from E, and and T measures at least 500 bits of information . . . ”

    T, being an independently specifiable, hot or target zone in the wider field of possibilities, W, of at least 2^500 elements. This is expanded in later writings on specification, especially the work he did in 2005.

    In short Wm AD is indeed speaking of target zones of complex and specific function in large config spaces, i.e. islands of function. And I believe I have run across that term or the near equivalent in an early paper from WmAD.

    Next, the OOL context allows us to focus the matter most specifically because at that stage the confusing issue often injected by objectors is off the table. The question there is, the ORIGIN of encapsulated, gated, metabolic automata with vNSR self-replication on coded symbol strings. Where until the vNSR is in place, there is no genetically based reproduction to have differential reproductive success with through chance variation and environmental culling.

    What JF does not want to discuss is that this then focusses the issue on where does FSCO/I come from, especially coded, complex, specifically functional algorithmic info and associated execution machinery. And surely the point here is that we have to have clusters of mutually matched parts comprising a specific and complex, functionally co-ordinated cluster in the wider space of possibilities. FSCO/I is definitely relevant, and Dembski’s wider CSI applies.

    That is the issue with questions 6 – 11 & 13 above.

    Then, we have resort to a further misrepresentation by snide almost implicit suggestion that I am not dealing with the onward issue of the rise of FSCO/I for the development of body-plan level biodiversity. But, of course, the very next question puts that in focus:

    12: Further, as the increments of dFSCI to create dozens of major body plans is credibly 10 – 100+ mn bits each, dozens of times over across the past 600 MY or so, and much of it on the conventional timeline is in a 5 – 10 MY window on earth in the Cambrian era, is it reasonable to infer further on IBCE [inference to best current explanation] that major body plans show credible evidence of design? If not, why not, on what empirically, observationally warranted step by step grounds?

    Notice, in each case the issue is not moving around within islands of function on an incremental basis, but the arrival at new shores of function on novel islands; i.e. the crossing of vast intervening seas of non-function by blind chance and mechanical necessity that cannot provide the sort of active information that cuts down such searches to manageable proportions. Which is what Weasel does by using a hotter colder oracle.

    And, observe the lack of responsible response to corrections to the root accusations, on the logic of induction.

    KF

    PS: This, from Patrick (the former Mathgrrl) is a classic of dismissive slander. I will markup within the comment:

    The fact is that there is no scientific theory, or even hypothesis, of intelligent design.

    [--> Big lie propaganda tactic refusal to acknowledge reality, probably driven by an a priori commitment to evolutionary materialism such that, by definition, if something does not kowtow to a priori materialism it is not to be accepted as science., That is, question-begging censorship.]

    It explains no observations and makes no predictions.

    [--> Another big lie false declaration. The observational base for the causal source of FSCO/I is all around us, with billions of instances. The crucial prediction is that there is a cluster of identified signs of design as cause, cf Q's 1 - 4 above, and that they will continue to be reliable signs of design as cause, per observation and needle int eh haystack analysis as to why. This last being similar tot he grounding of the statistical form of the 2nd law of thermodynamics as addressed in Q 5. There are also several subsidiary predictions that for instance bring up the debate over what was confidently and routinely dismissed as junk dna but is now increasingly seen to have function.]

    There is no reasonable doubt after this many years that ID is anything other than a fundamentalist Christian political movement.

    [ --> Another big lie, and the use of a term taken hostage and turned into a smear with implications of potentially violent terrorism etc. P knows or should know that the leading cluster of design thinkers come from a wide spectrum of beliefs and even diverse worldviews, and can by no means be equated with Young Earth Creationist, Bible-believing Christians or even Old Earth Creationist Christians of the Hugh Ross sort etc.]

    The only reason to pay any attention to the IDCists is because of the political power their base wields.

    [--> Yet another falsehood. The dozens of published peer-reviewed ID-supportive papers in the teeth of ruthless opposition say different to the above, and the exposure of ideological captivity of science and science education to a priori materialism associated with radical and unjustifiable attempted redefinitions of science and its methods is a significant issue, one that the wider public needs to consider. So are the sorts of threats to hold hostage children educated under the historically well established definition of science. Cf here on if you do not know what I am discussing. This rather reflects the recent agenda to tag those who stand for marriage as it has historically been understood for excellent and naturally obvious reasons, of "hate." In short we have slander here, associated with projection of "he hit back first."]

    It is important to prevent them from destroying science education.

    [--> The truth is that science and science education are -- as the linked just above shows -- being taken ideological captive to a priori evolutionary materialism, and that radical and unjustified redefinitions of science and its methods are being imposed by ideologues. Cf the declarations of NAS and NSTA here on, in context.]

    If they didn’t pose that threat, they’d be of no more intellectual interest than the flat earthers or Velikovskyites.

    [--> Dismissal by inapt invidious and unwarranted associations]

    So you’re [profanity deleted] right — our focus has to be on winning.

    [--> this is a sign of Plato's ruthless nihilistic might makes right nihilistic evolutionary materialism influenced factions pushing to have their way at any cost. We were warned about that 2350 years ago.]

  30. CR:

    I do not have time just now to go on with a point by point. I will snip instead your first point and show how you are going off the rails by refusing to answer the pivotal questions 1 – 5:

    Whether “design” is the best explanation is based on implicit assumptions about knowledge, such as if it is complex, whether it is genuinely created, etc.

    That boils down to dismissively saying that I am begging questions, without substantiating that rather loaded implication.

    Now, I have pointed out how this is a major problem with objectors to design theory, and have taken time to show how IBCE works in science as an inductive pattern of reasoning. Do you or do you agree with that analysis, why or why not.

    Next I have applied this to the pivotal OOL context as this is the one where the favourite side track on how natural selection can do wonders is off the table.

    You need to explain on demonstrated observed cause in the present how codes, code string structures, algorithms and functionally specific and complex data expressed in codes, execution machinery properly organised, and the associated gated, encapsulated, metabolic automaton with a vNSR originated by chance and necessity in some warm little pond or the like environment.

    Once you do that, you are entitled to infer that such could cause the same in the past and is what is showing up in the traces we see in the present.

    Absent that — and it is absent that — it is you who are begging big questions.

    We know where we routinely observe codes, algorithms, execution machinery and the like coming from. Design. We have serious analysis on needles in haystacks that show why it is maximally unlikely that such would happen by blind chance and mechanical necessity.

    Yes, we have not built a full vNSR yet, but the design studies have been done. We have rep rap in hand, a 3-d printer that is showing the general feasibility of self replication. This is also known to be designed.

    There are simply no good examples of FSCO/I based entities coming about in our observation by blind chance and blind necessity. If there were, we can be assured that this would be headlined far and wide and design theory would have been dead long since. If there were, this thread would have been inundated with definitive counter-examples.

    You have not got them.

    That is why we see the resort to a priorism of materialism in OOL and OO body plan discussions from your side. That is why we are seeing the gerrymandering of definitions of science and its methods. That is why we see the ruthless nihilist agit prop tactics.

    That is why, on the actual merits, we are taking FSCO/I as an empirically reliable sign of design. On that base, we can confidently infer that things which have it are designed and predict that per the needle in the haystack analysis, the hoped for counter examples will remain elusive, just like how perpetual motion machines seem to be ever so elusive.

    In that light, it is a reasonable inference that cell based life shows abundant signs of design.

    Going to a higher level, it is also a reasonable inference that he observed cosmos shows strong signs of being set up to provide a habitat for such life.

    If you are going to properly address these issues, take some time and clear the questions, especially the first cluster on methods and logic.

    Failing that, all that is likely to happen is embroiling yourselves in the usual ad hominem laced strawman caricature games that we are sick and tired of.

    KF

  31. This is TOO funny:

    dr who:

    Let’s do abductive reasoning.

    Life is a chemical phenomenon.

    What is the evidence that life is ONLY a chemical phenomenon? Oh, that’s right there isn’t any such evidence so your “reasoning” fails at the start.

    Toronto:

    Our side has a mechanism to offer, yours doesn’t.

    Yes, we do. Our mechanism is “design by an agency”. And your mechanism has never been observed to construct anything.

  32. And Alan Fox chimes in:

    3 Assume all members are posting in good faith!!!

    That is a bad assumption to make given the regular posters there. And it is obvious to see that the regulars do NOT follow that rule.

  33. kairosfocus,

    The notion that a serious and genuinely civil objector cannot post over an extended period at UD is patently false.

    Please then demonstrate exactly why Elizabeth Liddle was so offensive, relative to the ID proponents here, that she deserved to be banned. As an observer, it looked to me like her only sin was to argue effectively against some of the regulars here.

    O/L, you have already been answered on the matter, and are resorting to one of the trollish tactics, drumbeat repetition of already adequately answered points in attempts to drag serious threads off track into endless crocodile death rolls. (Take this as a warning.)

    Could you please respond in a seperate comment so that I can see it in the new comments listing? I just saw your interjection into my comment accidently. Such are easily missed.

    To the meat of your response: I have not seen any explanation from you as to why Elizabeth Liddle was so offensive that she deserved to be banned. Your claim that UD is a viable venue for civilized discussion of ID is therefore still unsupported. You have a duty of care to the truth that you are not upholding.

    You have also been repeatedly corrected on the double standard you demonstrate by refusing to comment on The Skeptical Zone while continuing to participate on UD. You cannot use one excuse to avoid substantive discussion there while ignoring exactly the same situation here. Either a forum is guilty by association with the other fora in which its participants post or it is not. I must warn you, as a courtesy, that ignoring these corrections opens you to charges of hypocrisy (or, equally regretably, lack of intellectual courage).

    I look forward to your references to Elizabeth Liddle’s uncivil behavior and to your participation at The Skeptical Zone.
    ________

    Onlooker, final warning. You have been given already, adequate information for any reasonable person to understand the matter you have chosen as a useful lever to try to pull this thread off topic. You have repeatedly chosen to ignore the focal issue here, and to try to drag the thread off track again and again; pointedly ignoring the focal issues that were specifically raised to you. You also know that there is a present investigation of someone else who is under probation with an inch of leeway or less. You further know or should know that the critical issue with EL was, and is, enabling behaviour for the uncivil; which is also the context in which — for cause — I refuse to participate in her blog, or other sites that are even worse. As can easily be seen above, there is opportunity for you and for other objectors here to raise substantial issues [even, by simply linking], but by and large they have not done so. That itself speaks volumes on the real balance on the merits. Your repeated, insistent attempts to derail this thread off into personalities show why. Nor will I dignify your repeated misbehaviour with a full comment response. Now, here is the final warning: either deal with the focal matter for this thread — which was to begin with specifically directed to you — or leave this thread and keep out of any other thread where I am thread owner. In short, for cause, you have now passed strike two. KF

  34. kairosfocus,

    You have been given already, adequate information for any reasonable person to understand the matter you have chosen as a useful lever to try to pull this thread off topic.

    I am not trying to pull this thread off topic [False], I am trying to get answers to questions raised in other threads which you have chosen to continue discussing here. [False] If you would like to start yet another thread specifically for those questions, I will be happy to continue there. [You have insisted on derailing in the teeth of specific warning, and have disregarded answers on your tangential point hat should be satisfactory for a reasonable person; and now blandly deny that this is what you are doing.]

    You have not, by any objective standard, provided adequate information. [False] If you disagree, I challenge you to link to exactly where you have done so. [You need no links, as you know the current remarks and can easily research the history, which will show just what the "enabling" by going along quietly with slander and worse in outright hate sites was.]

    There are two points under discussion. [No, you are being disruptive and have chosen to ignore both the topic for this thread where you are a guest, and have brushed aside TWO warnings to stop] The first is your claim that

    The notion that a serious and genuinely civil objector cannot post over an extended period at UD is patently false.

    I have repeatedly asked you to demonstrate exactly why Elizabeth Liddle was so offensive, relative to the ID proponents here, that she deserved to be banned. You have not directly addressed this question. In your interjection into my comment above you say that

    You further know or should know that the critical issue with EL was, and is, enabling behaviour for the uncivil….

    Are you asserting that starting The Skeptical Zone was the reason for her banning? [no and you know that] If so, do you have any evidence to support that?

    The second issue is your demonstrated double standard. [This is a turnabout false accusation, in the teeth of an ongoing demonstration that I am in fact not exerting a double standard] You claim that you are refusing to participate at The Skeptical Zone because one or more participants there behave in what you consider to be an uncivil manner at a site other than The Skeptical Zone. [False, there is more than enough incivility there and I have for good reason no confidence that there will be any discipline that will restrain the known denizens of hate sites who freely participate there] Yet, you continue to be active at Uncommon Descent despite having it repeatedly pointed out to you that at least one participant here behaves grossly uncivilly on both his own blog and The Skeptical Zone. [You KNOW that he person who has misbehaved has been publicly rebuked by me, and that he is under probation and investigation as we speak.]

    This has nothing to do with whether or not you criticized one of your allies. [On the contrary, you are trying here to deflect the evidence that you just made a willful false accusation] So long as he remains an active participant here, you cannot use one measure for Uncommon Descent and another for The Skeptical Zone without opening yourself to charges of hypocrisy. [You and your ilk will always try to drag those who are of a different standard down to your own level. You know someone is being investigated and has been publicly rebuked, and no that is not enough, you want to keep on going to distract from dealing with the substantial issues that you are ever so eager to avoid.]

    You have been repeatedly, clearly, and unambiguously corrected on these matters. [No, YOU have been corrected for insistent derailing] Your failure to respond to this correction [No, having already answered a question in enough detail that a serious person could follow up, and having asked to return to focus on a main issue in the entire debate, you wish to derail] demonstrates a clear abdication of your duty of care to honesty and intellectual integrity. For shame. [A classic turnabout false accusation]

    Good day, sir.

    _________

    Onlookers, I will leave this post up, to document the pattern of disruptive behaviour that has so often been used to try to distract, derail and poison discussion on substantial matters. (I add: Where, they knew that I do not hold responsibility for moderation at UD, and should have known that their questions, if they were genuine, could have easily been directed to the Blog Owner in any one of several active threads. They chose instead to try to derail this thread from a serious focus, poisoning the atmosphere for serious discussion. They should not be rewarded with success.) Let the record stand that when a serious set of responses to irresponsible commentary and distortions were on the table, the sock puppet known as “Onlooker” and others of like ilk chose to resort to derail attempts. Ask yourselves what they are so afraid of and/or are unable to respond to on the merits. KF

  35. Onlooker, please leave this thread and any other thread that I own. I have already laid out the reason you requested and you have chosen to try to derail discussion in spite of having adequate information — and current incidents further back it up, including a case of outright insult — to answer any reasonable query, and a repeated request to focus on topic. Your disruptive conduct has removed you from the circle of the civil. Good day. KF

  36. onlooker-

    You are obviously confused. YOU have been corrected on your nonsensical allegations time and again, yet you persist. KF does not employ double-standards. I am only uncivil to the uncivil, whereas you and your ilk are uncivil, period.

    That you keep refusing to acknowledge that exposes your agenda of deception and dishonesty.

    As for Elizabeth Liddle it is obvious to any objective observer that she was banned due to her continued lies, misrepresentations, equivocations and insipidity.

  37. Onlookers, the invitation to answer to the matters in the original post is still open. Let us see if any objector is able to address them on the merits instead of on derail attempts. KF

  38. Just think, if you posted your OP over on TSZ it would be ignored by your opponents in TWO places and your invitation would still be open!

    Face it TSZ, you can’t make a positive case for your position with or without IDists posting there. And seeing that you are unwilling and unable to do so do you really think Kairosfocus is going to waste his time on you?

    We know there isn’t anything we can say to convince you of the merits of ID. All we can do is keep pointing out the logic, reasoning and evidence that supports the design inference. Then sit back and watch you get your panties in a knot because you know your position doesn’t have any of that and it bothers you.

  39. Great stuff guys, keep up the great work! They certainly are seated at the edge of the fence, biting nails.

  40. Earth to dr who:

    Kairosfocus asks whether or not abductive reasoning can be valid in science in his first point. I’ve agreed that it can be, and shown him how it’s done to effect, and what the results would be in relation to the OOL. I know what I’m doing, and why. I’ll explain in detail sometime.

    What is the evidence that life is ONLY a chemical phenomenon? Oh, that’s right there isn’t any such evidence so your “reasoning” fails at the start.

    Also Christians are OK with humans authoring the Bible.

    But please keep ignoring that and pressing on anyway. You make my point for me-> that it is a waste of time trying to reason with you.

  41. Well dr who has responded to me but the response is totally evidence-free.

    Earth to dr who- “that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”- hitchens

    As for the authors of the books in the Bible, well the OT was authored by Moses and the NT was authored by various people.

    see torah

  42. 42
    critical rationalist

    CR: Whether “design” is the best explanation is based on implicit assumptions about knowledge, such as if it is complex, whether it is genuinely created, etc.

    KF: That boils down to dismissively saying that I am begging questions, without substantiating that rather loaded implication.

    I’m suggesting that the argument you presented in parochial. Specifically, it’s narrow in scope because that it fails to take into account our best, current explanations, including epistemology.

    KF: Now, I have pointed out how this is a major problem with objectors to design theory, and have taken time to show how IBCE works in science as an inductive pattern of reasoning. Do you or do you agree with that analysis, why or why not.

    Except, using empirical observations to test theories isn’t induction. What you described is more along the lines of Critical Rationalism, which is based on criticism and rejects Justificationism. Nor can we use observations to prove any theory is more probable because any piece of evidence is compatible with an infinite number of theories we have yet to propose. Some other theory could turn out more “probable”, which we have yet to conceive. As such, probability is simply invalid in the sense you’re trying to use it. The validity of probability is another aspect of human knowledge which people have difficult recognizing as an idea that would be subject to criticism.

    To reiterate: the fundamental flaw in creationism (and its variants) is the same fundamental flaw in pre-enlightenment, authoritative conceptions of human knowledge: its account of how the knowledge in adaptations could be created is either missing, supernatural or illogical.

    No one has managed to formulate a “principle of induction” that actually works in practice. Nor is inductivism a form of adductive reasoning. So, induction in the sense you’re appealing to exhibits the same flaw.

    The assumption in your argument is that knowledge, including observations from experimental testing, can be derived from experience or mechanically extracted from experience. However, progress doesn’t come to us in this form. For example, the evidence for Einstein’s GR isn’t a picture of space-time but a dot here on a screen, rather than somewhere else. The conjectured explanation came first. Einstein then tested his conjecture for internal consistency, before even bothering to test it experimentally. Previous conjectures were discarded before testing even occurs. It’s only then do empirical observations come into play. In other words, theories are tested by observations, not derived from them.

    That an abstract designer with no defined limitations “did it” is a bad explanation because…

    - It fails to actually solve the question at hand (see my previous comment)
    - It’s a bad explanation because it’s easily varied. What method did the designer use? How did the designer know which genes would result in which proteins, etc.?

    As such, we need not bother with experimental tests. We discard an infinite number of mere logical possibilities every day in every field of science. It’s unclear why your designer is any different.

    KF: Such an approach is well within the region of inductive reasoning, where empirical evidence provides material support for confidence in – but not undeniable proof of – conclusions. Where, these limitations of inductive argument are the well known, common lot we face as finite, fallible, morally struggling, too often gullible, and sometimes angry and ill-willed human beings.

    As Popper would say, you only think you’re using induction. Experimental testing is theory laden. Explanations use the unseen to explain the seen. So, they cannot be derived from observations.

    The idea that a microscope gives you an accurate view of a sample is based on an explanatory theory of how microscopes work; which itself is based on further explanatory theories. In addition, it’s a hard to vary explanation as it outlines specific ways by which you can get the wrong answer. Failure to setup the microscope or sample incorrectly and the observations are not accurate. This too is an explanation, which, as you pointed out, can be wrong and is accepted tentatively. So, not only is it a problem for all theories in science, but it’s a problem for all observations, including those we use to test theories.

    Nor do observations tell us where to look as means to criticize theories. Rather, we look for evidence that can be explained by one theory, but not another. This information simply isn’t present in experience nor can it be mechanically derived from it, either. Tests tell us where to look, which cannot be devised in the absence of theories. Theories do not come from observations.

    So, in the case of creationism, the account of how the knowledge in adaptations could be created is supernatural. In the case of the current crop of ID, the account is absent. And in the case of induction, the account is illogical.

    Note, that in the above paragraph, I specifically said the “current crop of ID” as there could be good explanations regarding how the biosphere was designed. However, an abstract designer with no defined limitations is not one of them.

  43. For the record, the translation of nucleotides into amino acids is not a chemical reaction and cannot be described by chemical reactions.

    Therefor what dr who sez about “that’s all we observe when we actually physically examine life” demonstrates either deception or ignorance on his part.

  44. Kairosfocus-

    It appears that dr who is falsely claiming that you claimed life was just a chemical phenomenon:

    Joe still seems to want to try and make the case that life isn’t a chemical phenomenon on two more U.D. posts. I wonder whether he’ll realise that he’s undermining something that Kairosfocus claimed earlier on the same thread.

    I don’t know of any IDist who thinks a living organism is reducible to chemical reactions, well because translation isn’t reducible to chemical reactions and neither is fCSI.

    However it is very telling that dr who didn’t produce your claim that he now sez I am undermining. And it is sweet that he didn’t respond to my exposiong his ignorance but rather tried another round of bait-n-switch.

    And now petrushka has chimed in with his usual misunderstanding…

  45. CR:

    Quick note.

    The old fashioned view of induction as in effect especially generalisation from particular cases to a general rule is passe.

    An inductive argument has been understood more recently as one where in effect empirical evidence provides support (hopefully substantial) but not demonstrative proof, of a conclusion; this includes the sort of generalisation with which we are familiar but is broader, because it was realised that there was an organic family resemblance. That is why IBCE is a form of inductive reasoning.

    Go look up the exchanges with Maus on this, and while you are at it, go look at SEP:

    An inductive logic is a system of evidential support that extends deductive logic to less-than-certain inferences. For valid deductive arguments the premises logically entail the conclusion, where the entailment means that the truth of the premises provides a guarantee of the truth of the conclusion. Similarly, in a good inductive argument the premises should provide some degree of support for the conclusion, where such support means that the truth of the premises indicates with some degree of strength that the conclusion is true. Presumably, if the logic of good inductive arguments is to be of any real value, the measure of support it articulates should meet the following condition:

    Criterion of Adequacy (CoA):

    As evidence accumulates, the degree to which the collection of true evidence statements comes to support a hypothesis, as measured by the logic, should tend to indicate that false hypotheses are probably false and that true hypotheses are probably true.

    Hope that helps as a quickie.

    Gotta go now

    KF

  46. Joe:

    the desperate strawman twists and turns at TSZ serve only to underscore just how much the bite does not measure up to the bark.

    What I laid out is the Darwin’s pond challenge that Evo mat advocates have by implication set for themselves, and the big gap they face is where do functionally specific complex organisation and associated information come from once their favourite out, natural selection, is off the table at OOL — you don’t have reproduction yet so no differential reproductive success.

    Naked lucky noise miracles won’t play in Peoria, I suppose.

    As for in Kingston or Bridgetown or St Johns . . .

    KF

  47. Thank you, Kairosfocus- now they have all just degenerated into a mob, babbling incoherently. And it is their own misconceptions that they have to blame for that.

    Life is good…

  48. CR:

    I am very familiar with the common over-reading of the theory-ladenness of observations.

    The key way out of it is the multiplication of lines of investigation that are sufficiently distinct that massive coincidence is ever more unlikely. Yes, the reason why some School men refused to look through Galileo’s scope is much the same, they had reasons and rhetoric to distrust it.

    But there was excellent reason to see that the telescope worked well. And the relevant explanatory theories are not controversial. We can for instance see light bent in a prism, and a lens is a stack of prisms. We can also see that lenses are accurate. Then there was the use of telescopes in terrestrial observations, the first commercial application.

    The best explanation of what we see in the lens is that it is a genuine magnification. (For instance I well recall when in a 4th form physics lab, we built a compound microscope and looked at a then J’can $ 0.50 note through it. Consistent with what we saw by eye, and giving more details.)

    And so forth.

    No real grounds for radical relativism and we-live-in Plato’s cave games there.

    KF

  49. Joe:

    Not only so, but the CCA- coupler is a universal joint in the tRNA. It is the “loading enzyme” — note the Chicken-egg loop — that determines which AA goes with which tRNA. In short, this is an INFORMATIONAL correspondence, not a chemical one.

    KF

  50. Kairosfocus-

    Seeing that you and CR have an on-topic dialog going could you please start an open thread in which posters here can use to correct the misconceptions of our opponents, where-ever they roam?
    _______
    Actually, Joe, this is one time where the evasiveness, strawman distortions and personalities played by evolutionary materialists and fellow travellers are very much a part of the issue. In response to a syllabus of eighteen specific questions, they are repeatedly unable to answer straight or cogently. That it self reveals a lot about their once proud — now tattered — boasts to have cornered the market on rationality and science. On a personal note, I am glad to see the improvements in tone post the judgements delivered. KF

  51. I see that Allan Miller has gone off of the edge- earth to Allan- there isn’t any physio-chemical connection between the nucleotide (codon) and the amino acid it represents- the codon does not become the amino acid via some chemical reaction.

    Yes there are chemical connections/ bonds between the nucleotides. Yes there are chemical connections/ bonds between the tRNA and its amino acid. Yes there are chemical connections/ bonds between the amino acids in the polypeptide. And all of that is irrelevant to what I said.

  52. OK Allan, just because there is a lionk-up between the tRNA and the codon (in the ribosome) does NOT mean there is a physio-chemical connection between the codon and the amino acid. As UD said the relationship is arbitrary which means there isn’t any law that determines it- the choice of amino acid to specific codon.
    _______
    Joe, AM needs to observe the discussion and diagram here at Wiki, and to understand that the CCA-coupler that carries the AA is a standard bloc. It is the loading enzyme that “recognises” a given tRNA and loads it with the correct AA. Indeed, this has been used to load tRNA’s with artificial AA’s and used onwards to create new, unnatural proteins. In short the connexion USES the standard chemistry, but the AA for a given tRNA with a given anticodon is assigned on an INFORMATIONAL basis not a chemical basis. The transcription-translation protein synthesis process USES chemistry but is not driven by blindly forced chemical interactions. Instead, the crucial step is plainly informational, i.e a given codon tells the tRNA entering the Ribosome and coupling to it, to couple the loaded AA as the next in the chain. Then the Ribosome ratchets the mRNA tape forward one slot, and the next tRNA is used to add, until the stop codon comes along. This is an informationally controlled, algorithmic, coded, step by step process. KF

  53. Folks:

    Dr Who is today’s poster-child no 1, for this parody — he CANNOT have meant this seriously — of abductive reasoning (with a healthy dash of strawman false statement after repeated correction on the side):

    Let’s do abductive reasoning.

    Life is a chemical phenomenon.

    [a --> Life USES Chemical phenomena, much like how engineered systems all around us use chemical and physical phenomena all the time. To say life IS a Chemical phenomenon begs huge questions and this is in the first line of the argument. The intended abduction fails to be logically credible at the outset.]

    Unintelligent chemical processes are known to create chemical phenomena.

    Humans can intelligently design chemical phenomena.

    [b --> Notice, the concedes the point but diverts from a repeated correction. In the case of engineering it is not merely being human that counts, intelligence crystallised and focussed in knowledge and skill are pivotal. So we know that "intelligence" in the relevant skilled design context is not equivalent to "human." But, never mind repeated correction, evo mat advocates routinely pretend that they can equate the two.]

    Humans were not present on the early earth when life first appeared.

    [c --> True but misdirected. The issue is, is there a characteristic and empirically reliable sign of intelligent cause by design, as opposed to blind chance and/or mechanical necessity? That is shown separately for FSCO/I, on direct induction and on the needle in haystack calculation that per sampling theory, makes the chance based arrival at shores of an island of function so maximally improbable as to be unobservable. Notice the artfully unanswered Q's on this.]

    No other intelligent beings are known to be able to intelligently design chemical phenomena, or to have been present on the early earth.

    [d --> More exactly, we have not directly observed such. Which is why we are in an inference to best explanation context, on identified signs, just as Geologists try to reconstruct past processes that account for a peculiarly shaped river valley, or meanders etc etc. That we have not seen a phenomenon or event directly does not imply that it is impossible for it to happen.]

    Therefore, I infer that unintelligent chemical processes are the best explanation for the origin of life.

    [e --> Strawman. The material issue of searching the config space to get to FSCO/I has been dodged, by using a red herring on human intelligence led out to the caricature of the design argument implied in the above. This is telling us a lot about evo mat advocates having no cogent answer on the merits to the issue of inference on reliable signs. When you duck the point of an exam question, you get an F.]

    I hypothesise that chemical reactions and chemical evolution led to the first life form(s).

    [f --> In a context where he has not shown that -- in the present, where we can observe, such unintelligent forces can and do give rise to FSCO/I involving inter alia digital codes, algorithms, execution machinery properly organised, etc etc. But these phenomena are central to the workings of cell based life, and we have one routinely observed cause of such, for good reason having to do with search space challenges: knowledgeable and skilled intelligence working by purposeful choice contingency.]

    Kairosfocus hypothesises that non-living intelligent designers created the first life forms.

    [g --> This is now so much of an insistent distortion in the teeth of repeated correction and duties of care to fairness and accuracy that it is a lie, a statement in willful disregard to the truth, hoping to profit by it being perceived as the truth.

    h --> To see an example of why that is so, let us go above to that ever so unlucky Q 13:

    13: Is it fair or not fair to suggest that on what we have already done with digital technology and what we have done with molecular nanotech applied to the cell, it is credible that a molecular nanotech lab several generations beyond Venter etc would be a reasonable sufficient cause for what we see? If not, why not? [In short, the issue is: is inference to intelligent design specifically an inference to “supernatural” design? In this context, what does “supernatural” mean? “Natural”? Why do you offer these definitions and why should we accept them?]

    i –> Why do I raise this? Because, ever since Thaxton et al in TMLO in 1984, design thinkers have acknowledged that design detection methods are detecting an action based on its characteristic signs, not whodunit. Thus, I have admitted that a molecular nanotech lab a few generations beyond Venter et al, would be a SUFFICIENT cause for the phenomena we see, in a context where we see in action a lot of first steps to complete design and building of a living cell or crucial components from scratch.

    j –> Of course, a sufficient cause is not the same as the actual cause acting as implication is not the same as equivalence. So, for the specific design of cell based LIFE ON EARTH and in immediate environs, we need not infer to any cause that goes beyond such a nanotech lab.

    k –> I have also pointed out repeatedly, that where a bigger issue comes up is at the next level, once we see that he cosmos we live in is on dozens of dimensions, fine tuned for C-chemistry cell based life, starting with the fact that per relevant fine tuned nuclear physics, the first four most abundant elements are H, He, C & O, with N coming up close. That gets us to stars, the rest of the atomic table of elements in stars, to water, to organic chemistry, to carbohydrates, to fats and to proteins. In short — follow up the link and onward linked more detailed and more advanced discussions — there is serious reason to infer to design of our observed cosmos, even through a multiverse speculation. (E.g. the “cosmos bakery” to get so fine tuned an operating point will most reasonably be just as much a fine tuned phenomenon. Similarly, if a lone fly on a wall is nailed by a bullet out of nowhere that points to tack driving rifle and first class marksman, never mind if down the wall a bit are stretched carpeted with those disgusting insects so that any bullet hitting there would have made fly paste. This is of course yet another case of the isolated islands of function issue on chance contingency by sampling at random, vs choice contingency by intelligence.)

    l –> In addition, the observed cosmos credibly had a beginning and shows other signs of being contingent. That points to some worldview level logical issues — DW has raised a worldview level issue (as I have had to already point out to him) — for a contingent being is not self-explanatory. There is a switch on/off factor that is external to it.

    m –> That is, it has a cause, and is dependent on something that must be “turned on” for it to be there and to continue to be there. Just as, a fire needs to have heat, fuel, a heat-evolving chain reaction, and oxidiser, knock out any and it either will not start or will go out.

    n –> But the beginning of the cosmos multiplied by its evident fine tuning points to something else at causal root, a kind of being that has no turn-on switch, i.e. no external causal dependencies, the necessary being. Such a being — very broad sense — is a necessary being, which has no beginning and cannot cease to be. As I often point out the truth expressed in 3 + 2 = 5 is an example.

    o –> But there is another candidate, one that is highly important in intellectual history and in the lives of millions: a mind, one that is immaterial and eternal. Where we are seeing another answer to the question, what is life: a self-moved (notice the reflexivity and implied looping) purposeful entity is living.

    p –> In this case [COSMOLOGICAL origins], an eternal mind, with the purpose, knowledge, skill and power to create one or more cosmi. Which sounds a lot like a very familiar figure, the architect, builder and maker of heaven and earth, aka God.

    q –> Yes, you ask a philosophically loaded question, you move into the province of philosophy, where the method is comparative difficulties and no serious alternative can honestly be locked out of the discussion.

    r –> And, the common dismissal of God as an irrational option runs into a major problem: millions across time and space including leading figures in the history of our civilisation and science (try Pascal’s night of fire Nov 23 1654 as just one instance) claim to have met and been transformed by God, so much so that if they are ALL delusional this implies the utter unreliability of the human mind, including that of those who deny God. So, it is not wise to saw off the branch on which one must sit to reason [which, of course, evolutionary materialists seem to do in several ways]. I suggest here on for more on that.

    s –> So, DW has begged major questions, and has misrepresented what he objects to in the teeth of correction. Grade F, again.]

    Chemical reactions and chemical evolution are both directly observed realities.

    [t --> AND of course is a logical operator that joins equals that must both be true for the composite to be true. That is why the joining of a first part which is trivial to a second part that is blatantly false is an example of a big lie tactic. DW knows or -- to be ignorant on this is just as culpable -- should know that we have precisely not observed the origin by spontaneous chemical reactions under reasonable initial conditions of the components and configurations of a gated, encapsulated, metabolic automaton with a von Neumann self replicator using digitally coded algorithmic control tapes. Not even close. So, he is falsely and willfully presenting a speculation that has no observational warrant to stand in the place of what we do observe, the intelligent cause of codes, algorithms, FSCO/I and the integration of functioning systems using same. The need to resort to blatant misrepresentation of facts speaks eloquently of failure to have present observations of blind chance and mechanical necessity in a warm pond or the equivalent, forming up life or its major and crucial information-rich components. But also, we know that codes, algorithms and the like represent purpose and knowledge, i.e. they are characteristic observations of intelligence in action. But DW is desperate to obscure this. Grade F, again.]

    Non-living intelligent designers have never been observed to scientific knowledge, and are not even known to be possible.

    [u --> Building on the strawman. Grade F again.]

    Therefore, there is virtually infinitely more evidence for my hypothesis than K’s. Therefore, it is clearly the best current general explanation for the OOL.

    [v --> Willfully false conclusion. Overall grade, F, for cause.]

    If those who so proudly boasted of their cornering the market on science and rationality have to resort to such tactics once confronted to address the key issues, what does that tell us about the underlying merit of their case?

    Volumes, and none of it good.

    The above commented excerpt also shows the pattern of insistent repetition of falsified claims, and the strawman caricature game that serve as enablers of the utterly uncivil.

    It will be no surprise at all to see the DW fallacies touted elsewhere as proofs positive of the overthrow of design thinkers, and their dishonesty or stupidity or insanity etc. That is why the sort of drumbeat repetition of the willfully false on this matter by evo mat advocates, is not at all innocent or excusable.

    KF

  54. Joe, looks like AM needs to read even Wiki a little more closely, paying attention to the universal coupler CCA end, here on. I have made a bit fuller note at 52. KF

  55. F/N: oh, yes those who are hot and bothered on how modern GA’s are not explicitly targetted searches need to read the rest of the story here in the much despised 101 corrective, e.g. points ix to xiv in succession. Starting in an island of function that comes from a much bigger space of possibilities overwhelmingly dominated by seas of non-function begs big questions. In short you have a mechanism for designed adaptation to fit niches, not a mechanism for the origin of body plans. KF

  56. KF, Yes that CCA is universal but the rest of the molecule is not. And allegedly, if I remeber correctly, that is what helps determine what amino acid goes with which tRNA.

    The Aminoacyl tRNA synthetase‘s are different- each has its own tRNA (for the most part)

  57. Joe, Yup. And that shape-recognition serves as a handshaking protocol to load the right tRNA with the right AA. There is no force of nature that makes any given AA couple to the particular CCA coupler, it is based on a handshaking and complex key-lock fitting protocol. All of which should sound rather familiar. And of course, you will see why I used “loading enzyme” in place of some chemical/biochemical gobbledygook. All those chemical prefixes and suffixes and terms have a meaning but one strictly for the initiated; a functional description is good enough for practical purposes. Also, I should note that in the ribosome, the tRNA acts as well as a position-arm device with a tool tip used as a pick-place delivery vehicle. KF

  58. PS: Any volcanic eruptions at TSZ and the outright hate sites yet?

  59. TSZ appears to riding high on R0bb’s failed destruction of LCSI- they don’t understand that it is a failed attempt.

    atbc- I went there a few days ago and I still feel slimey. But it is a given they are having fun in their swamp. TWT’s site- forget it, I won’t go there.

  60. 60
    critical rationalist

    KF,

    I’m short on time today, but noticed this from your previous comment.

    KF : You need to explain on demonstrated observed cause in the present how codes, code string structures, algorithms and functionally specific and complex data expressed in codes, execution machinery properly organised, and the associated gated, encapsulated, metabolic automaton with a vNSR originated by chance and necessity in some warm little pond or the like environment.

    You’re asking me for a demonstration to positively support the idea that a specific explanation is more probable. This is a form of justificationsm.

    We cannot observe causes. As such, all we can do is criticize theories with the intent of finding and correcting errors.

    From the following essay on Willam Bartley’s work….

    3. Responses to the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism

    In the light of the dilemma of the infinite regress versus dogmatism, we can discern three attitudes towards positions: relativism, “true belief” and critical rationalism [Note 3]

    Relativists tend to be disappointed justificationists who realise that positive justification cannot be achieved. From this premise they proceed to the conclusion that all positions are pretty much the same and none can really claim to be better than any other. There is no such thing as the truth, no way to get nearer to the truth and there is no such thing as a rational position.

    True believers embrace justificationism. They insist that some positions are better than others though they accept that there is no logical way to establish a positive justification for an belief. They accept that we make our choice regardless of reason: “Here I stand!”. Most forms of rationalism up to date have, at rock bottom, shared this attitude with the irrationalists and other dogmatists because they share the theory of justificationism.

    According to the critical rationalists, the exponents of critical preference, no position can be positively justified but it is quite likely that one (or more) will turn out to be better than others in the light of critical discussion and tests. This type of rationality holds all its positions and propositions open to criticism and a standard objection to this stance is that it is empty; just holding our positions open to criticism provides no guidance as to what position we should adopt in any particular situation. This criticism misses its mark for two reasons. First, critical rationalism is not a position. It is not directed at solving the kind of problems that are solved by fixing on a position. It is concerned with the way that such positions are adopted, criticised, defended and relinquished. Second, Bartley did provide guidance on adopting positions; we may adopt the position that to this moment has stood up to criticism most effectively. Of course this is no help for people who seek stronger reasons for belief, but that is a problem for them, and it does not undermine the logic of critical preference.

    So, despite not being a justificationst, I’m not a relativist. From the Critical Rationalism entry on Wikipedia….

    By dissolving justificationism itself, the critical rationalist regards knowledge and rationality, reason and science, as neither foundational nor infallible, but nevertheless does not think we must therefore all be relativists. Knowledge and truth still exist, just not in the way we thought.

    Induction is illogical in that we cannot justify theories or make them more probable via observations. Yet, you’re asking me to do just that.

  61. 61
    critical rationalist

    Until I have more time, see the following presentations on Critical Rationalism and Probablty.

  62. CR: Busy. A claimed cause of a effect must have empirical support that it is adequate. No observation, no empirical support. KF

  63. Toronto did give us this:

    Do you have empirical support that the designer, ID’s claimed cause of life, had adequate ability to cause the effect we call life?

    Hey Toronto- how do we know someone had the ability to build Stonehenge? Answer = Stonehenge!

    How do we know someone had teh ability to build the Antikythera mechanism? Answer = the Antikythera mechanism!

    As I told you before designers, successful designers anyway, have the ability to design what it is they designed.

    However if YOU could step forward and demonstrate your position’s proposed mechanism can account for what we say is designed, you win. But you will never do such a thing and that bothers you

  64. And the “reply”:

    Hey Joe, how do we know “no designer required evolution” would result in us? Answer = us!

    It didn’t result in us as we are not the result, just another link and we are not alone on this planet.

    How do we know “no designer required evolution” can do anything? Answer = we don’t as there isn’t any evidence that it can and it bothers you.

  65. Toronto- Gane’s over. You want to discuss how we know the abilities of designers and I told you. We know the abilities of your position’s proposed mecahnsims and they don’t appear to be capable of constructing anything useful.

    AGAIN:

    However if YOU could step forward and demonstrate your position’s proposed mechanism can account for what we say is designed, you win. But you will never do such a thing and that bothers you.

    Until then, bye-bye, nothing left to respond to. However I may choose to harpoon your predictable hissy-fit over on my blog.

  66. Gane?

  67. For the record- Design is a mechanism:

    If a mecahnism is a method or means of doing something and design is the way is which something is planned and made then it is obvious and undeniable that design is a mechanism.

    And in the context of ID vs the ToE mechanism pertains to a method or means of doing something- For example according to the ToE an accumulation of genetic accidents is the method or means (ie the way) by which the diversity of living organisms arose.

    And according to ID they evolved by design, as in a targeted search and/ or built-in responses to environmental cues.

    Our mechanism of a targeted search has been demonstrated to be very powerful. Your mechanism of accumulations of genetic accidents is good at breaking things.

    You lose by observation and testing.

  68. H’mm:

    Of course, we see from Venter et al that it is reasonable to expect that a sufficiently sophisticated molecular nanotech lab can do a living cell. As as been repeatedly pointed out and insistently ignored.

    But even that is too much.

    The basic thing is that we have good reason to see the only observed cause of FSCO/I, and to see why the lottery to get to it by chance and blind mechanism will not be winnable. So, what we do is we look at a key signature in cell based life and infer that the known and reliably observed cause of such, design is the best explanation.

    Not hard, but rather inconvenient for those who wish to insist that that which has never been seen doing such, and which runs into a major sampling theory challenge to look like a credible winner of a lottery, is what “must” have happened.

    KF

  69. CR:

    Let me pause and follow up after a rather long day:

    You’re asking me for a demonstration to positively support the idea that a specific explanation is more probable. This is a form of justificationsm.

    We cannot observe causes. As such, all we can do is criticize theories with the intent of finding and correcting errors.

    First, it is not true that we cannot observe causal factors at work, or trace them from their characteristic outcomes. That is how scientific laws are established after all.

    Similarly, it is not an unfair challenge to demand that a claimed causal factor held to be sufficient to cause an effect be demonstrated as actually doing so in our observation. That boils down to that in science — and common-sense day to day life — claims are subject to empirical observational tests.

    A classic is how Newton inferred to the Universal law of gravitation, cf here. Another, is how Einstein inferred on the threshold effect with the photo electric effect, to the reality of photons and the threshold equation that is in large part responsible for his Nobel Prize.

    Now, obviously, scientific knowledge is provisional in key respects. That’s fine, warrant — notice the distinction in terminology — comes in degrees, as has been known for millennia. Where there is sufficient warrant that something is a best explanation and is empirically reliable, it is reasonable to use it in responsible contexts. In some cases, one would be irresponsible to ignore its force.

    And yes it means that we TRUST beyond what we can prove.

    What’s new about that?

    Always been so.

    KF

  70. Folks:

    This morning, we are not dealing with a poster child of irresponsible and outrageous conduct, we are dealing with long time UD commenter and design critic [he has been around for years and years, I think at least as long as I have been and has IIRC, contributed valuable mathematical points used by WmAD etc], R0bb — note the zero, who has consistently been reasonable in behaviour and has tried to address issues on the merits.

    A few days ago, Dr Dembski posted at ENV (and notified here) a Made-Simple on the law of conservation of info [LCI], so-called. (I won’t get into debates on terminology, let us just say that his tends to be idiosyncratic.)

    Clipping a key summary, this is Dembski’s essential point:

    it’s possible to characterize search in a way that leaves the role of teleology and intelligence open without either presupposing them or deciding against them in advance. Mathematically speaking, search always occurs against a backdrop of possibilities (the search space), with the search being for a subset within this backdrop of possibilities (known as the target). Success and failure of search are then characterized in terms of a probability distribution over this backdrop of possibilities, the probability of success increasing to the degree that the probability of locating the target increases . . . .

    Take an Easter egg hunt in which there’s just one egg carefully hidden somewhere in a vast area. This is the target and blind search is highly unlikely to find it precisely because the search space is so vast. But there’s still a positive probability of finding the egg even with blind search, and if the egg is discovered, then that’s just how it is. It may be, because the egg’s discovery is so improbable, that we might question whether the search was truly blind and therefore reject this (null) hypothesis. Maybe it was a guided search in which someone, with knowledge of the egg’s whereabouts, told the seeker “warm, warmer, no colder, warmer, warmer, hot, hotter, you’re burning up.” Such guidance gives the seeker added information that, if the information is accurate, will help locate the egg with much higher probability than mere blind search — this added information changes the probability distribution . . . . The Easter egg hunt example provides a little preview of conservation of information. Blind search, if the search space is too large and the number of Easter eggs is too small, is highly unlikely to successfully locate the eggs. A guided search, in which the seeker is given feedback about his search by being told when he’s closer or farther from the egg, by contrast, promises to dramatically raise the probability of success of the search. The seeker is being given vital information bearing on the success of the search. But where did this information that gauges proximity of seeker to egg come from? Conservation of information claims that this information is itself as difficult to find as locating the egg by blind search, implying that the guided search is no better at finding the eggs than blind search once this information must be accounted for.

    Now, R0bb has challenged this, here at UD and over at TSZ. (I would welcome a collection of TSZ links to his threads there.)

    By comment 13 in the UD notice thread, he outlined (where, my initial comments are further indented):

    Some things to note about the LCI, independent of any ID claims:

    1) Contrary to Dembski’s claim, the LCI is not universal. Counterexamples are easy to find.

    [a --> In fact, let us note from Dembski at ENV:

    >> the important issue, from a scientific vantage, is not how the search ended but the probability distribution under which the search was conducted. You don't have to be a scientist to appreciate this point. Suppose you've got a serious medical condition that requires treatment. Let's say there are two treatment options. Which option will you go with? Leaving cost and discomfort aside, you'll want the treatment with the better chance of success. This is the more effective treatment. Now, in particular circumstances, it may happen that the less effective treatment leads to a good outcome and the more effective treatment leads to a bad outcome. But that's after the fact. In deciding which treatment to take, you'll be a good scientist and go with the one that has the higher probability of success.>>

    b --> That is, WmAD is speaking of the expected or "average" result, which tends to overwhelm fluctuations once systems have sufficient scale.]

    2) Active information is sensitive to the definitions of the lower- and higher-level search spaces, which are modeling choices. Any observed process can be modeled such that it violates the LCI, and any observed process can be modeled such that the LCI holds.

    [c --> see more detailed remarks below]

    3) Even with models for which the LCI holds, there is still no guarantee that active information won’t be generated by chance. In fact, it’s easy to come up with a scenario in which we expect this to occur.

    [d --> this is the issue of fluctuations, which becomes much less relevant for systems at significant scope, cf. below]

    Any of the above can be conclusively demonstrated, albeit not easily in a blog comment . . . .

    A) Given conditions under which the LCI holds, intelligent designers are no less constrained by the LCI than nature is, since the LCI is strictly mathematical. So the LCI can’t be employed to distinguish an intelligent cause from a natural cause.

    [e --> We can start with an empirical counter example. When they were looking for Atocha etc, treasure hunters spent time int eh Archive of the Indies, looking hard for clues as to the specific location to narrow down search to.

    f --> The way that an intelligent cause acts is by information, knowledge, skill, procedures and heuristics that lead to avoiding trial and error scanning of vast config spaces, starting with searching for the right answer to sums in grade school.

    g --> In so working, intelligence often leaves traces that are characteristic of intelligence at work, on simple inductive analysis, i.e we have identifiable signs such as FSCO/I. Even though it can be faked, the best explanation for deer tracks in a forest is deer.

    h --> this is backed up by the needle in haystack type challenge faced by blind trial and error. Engineers almost never seek solutions by blind trial and error, they narrow down the scope of search intelligently,a nd then may look at a reasonable number of alternatives.

    i --> And so, it is highly relevant to ask on an inference to best explanation basis, whether the signs of intelligence, chance and necessity are visible in an object or process. And, we can successfully use this in many many many cases that are not controversial

    j --> THE CONCLUSION SUGGESTED IN THE NAME OF MATHEMATICS IS FALLACIOUS. This is an improper use of authority.]

    B) Given #1 above, claims that the LCI applies to Darwinian evolution must be justified, which would involve mathematically modeling Darwinian evolution. This is something that no IDist has done, AFAIK.

    [k --> As long as such evo is a search, and as long as it depends on chance for variations to be culled out by differential reproductive success, it is amenable to examination on the credibility of chance based trial and error search, and analysis on signs.

    l --> We are of course, also neatly avoiding the OOL issue, which takes the differential reproductive success matter off the table, and shows the relevance of FSCO/I as a sign of intelligence.]

    C) The Principle of Indifference (also called the Principle of Insufficient Reason) is a heuristic for assigning prior epistemic probabilities in the face of ignorance. Assuming, without updating the prior, that the prior reflects reality is literally an argument from ignorance.

    m –> When we toss a coin or a die, we normally infer that there is an even chance of the possibilities coming up trumps, so we have 1/2 for H or T or 1/6 for each die possibility. This can be revised, in light of further considerations, so it is not unreasonable.

    n –> there is an interesting discussion of the issue of the principle of universality by Avi Sion, that I now clip, as it gives a salutory lesson on what is reasonable and what is unreasonable and selectively hyperskeptical:

    this “principle” may only be regarded as a heuristic idea, a rule of thumb, a broad but vague practical guideline to reasoning . . . .

    We might also ask – can there be a world without any ‘uniformities’? A world of universal difference, with no two things the same in any respect whatever is unthinkable. Why? Because to so characterize the world would itself be an appeal to uniformity. A uniformly non-uniform world is a contradiction in terms. Therefore, we must admit some uniformity to exist in the world. The world need not be uniform throughout, for the principle of uniformity to apply. It suffices that some uniformity occurs.

    Given this degree of uniformity, however small, we logically can and must talk about generalization and particularization. There happens to be some ‘uniformities’; therefore, we have to take them into consideration in our construction of knowledge. The principle of uniformity is thus not a wacky notion, as Hume seems to imply . . . .

    The uniformity principle is not a generalization of generalization; it is not a statement guilty of circularity, as some critics contend. So what is it? Simply this: when we come upon some uniformity in our experience or thought, we may readily assume that uniformity to continue onward until and unless we find some evidence or reason that sets a limit to it. Why? Because in such case the assumption of uniformity already has a basis, whereas the contrary assumption of difference has not or not yet been found to have any. The generalization has some justification; whereas the particularization has none at all, it is an arbitrary assertion.

    It cannot be argued that we may equally assume the contrary assumption (i.e. the proposed particularization) on the basis that in past events of induction other contrary assumptions have turned out to be true (i.e. for which experiences or reasons have indeed been adduced) – for the simple reason that such a generalization from diverse past inductions is formally excluded by the fact that we know of many cases that have not been found worthy of particularization to date.

    That is to say, if we have looked for something and not found it, it seems more reasonable to assume that it does not exist than to assume that it does nevertheless exist. Admittedly, in many cases, the facts later belie such assumption of continuity; but these cases are relatively few in comparison. The probability is on the side of caution.

    In any event, such caution is not inflexible, since we do say “until and unless” some evidence or argument to the contrary is adduced. This cautious phrase “until and unless” is of course essential to understanding induction. It means: until if ever – i.e. it does not imply that the contrary will necessarily occur, and it does not exclude that it may well eventually occur. It is an expression of open-mindedness, of wholesome receptiveness in the face of reality, of ever readiness to dynamically adapt one’s belief to facts.

    In this way, our beliefs may at all times be said to be as close to the facts as we can get them. If we follow such sober inductive logic, devoid of irrational acts, we can be confident to have the best available conclusions in the present context of knowledge. We generalize when the facts allow it, and particularize when the facts necessitate it. We do not particularize out of context, or generalize against the evidence or when this would give rise to contradictions . . .

    o –> So, we are back to the issue of genuinely understanding induction and in particular inference to best current explanation.

    p –> On the evidence in hand, it is reasonable and even responsible, to infer that if we have no good reason to presume a non-uniform distribution, a uniform one reasonably applies, then adjust in light of evidence. E.g. we speak of bent or two-Head coins, and of loaded dice. But, we normally treat coins and dice as fair till further evidence emerges.

    q –> And, again, in statistical thermodynamics, the principle of indifference applied to the set of microstates is a longstanding and highly successful practice, it is not a suspect innovation of design thinkers.

    r –> So, to simply raise a dismissive point is not going to be good enough.

    I suspect, that R0bb’s background does not include statistical thermodynamics, and so he tends to miss the significance of what happens when we deal — not with toy examples — with realistically complex systems that have very large sets of possible outcomes or states etc. That which is logically possible and mathematically demonstrable may well be physically irrelevant and unobservable on the gamut of a lab or a solar system of 10^57 atoms or a cosmos of 10^80 atoms. This is in fact the foundation of the second law of statistical thermodynamics, statistical form, as is raised in Q 5 above:

    5: Is it reasonable to compare this general analysis to the grounding of the statistical form of the second law of thermodynamics, i.e. that under relevant conditions, spontaneous large fluctuations from the typical range of the bulk of [microstate] possibilities will be vanishingly rare for reasonably sized systems? If you think not, why not?

    Boiled down, the abstract possibility that lotteries are winnable does not imply that such can practically be won on the gamut of available search resources.

    I replied to R0bb in the LCI thread overnight and just now, and will now clip from the two comments where that occurred:

    ___________

    LCI, 38: >> Wiki, on sampling frame vs. population:

    In statistics, a sampling frame is the source material or device from which a sample is drawn.[1] It is a list of all those within a population who can be sampled, and may include individuals, households or institutions . . . . In the most straightforward case, such as when dealing with a batch of material from a production run, or using a census, it is possible to identify and measure every single item in the population and to include any one of them in our sample; this is known as direct element sampling.[1] However, in many other cases this is not possible; either because it is cost-prohibitive (reaching every citizen of a country) or impossible (reaching all humans alive).

    In short, a population of possibilities is often sampled, and that sample may come from a defined subset that may or may not bias outcomes.

    In the case of a config space W [Omega will not print right], we may set up a frame F, that contains a zone of interest, T. If it does so, the odds of a sample of size s hitting T in F will be very different from that of s in W.

    That is simple to see.

    It may be harder to see that, say, a warmer/colder set of instructions, is such a framing. But obviously, this is telling whether one is trending right or wrong. That is, hill-climbing reframes a search task in ways that make it much easier to hit T.

    Now, multiply by three factors:

    a: s is constrained by accessible resources, in such a way that a blind, random search on W is maximally unlikely to hit T.

    b: by suitably reframing to a suitable F, s is now much more likely to hit T.

    c: But by reframing to G, s is now even more unlikely to hit T than a blind random search on W, as T is excluded from G.

    Now, obviously, moving from W to F is significant. In effect F maps a hot zone that drastically enhances the expected outcome of s. But, that implies that picking your F is itself a result of a higher order challenge. For if T is small and isolated in W, if we pick a frame at random, a type-G is far more likely than a type-F.

    So, the search for a frame is a highly challenging search task itself. Indeed, in the case of interest, comparable to the search for T in W itself.

    The easiest way to get a type-F is to use accurate information. For instance, those who search for sunken Spanish Treasure fleet ships often spend more time in the Archive of the Indies in Spain, than in the field; that is how significant finding the right frame can be.

    Where also, that information that gets us to a type-F search rather than the original type-W one. Indeed, the Dembski-Marks model boils down to measuring the typical improvement provided by advantageous framing. This, by in effect converting the jump in estimated probability in moving frame from W to F into an information metric. (Probabilities are related to information, as standard info theory results show.)

    That, contrary to dismissive remarks, is reasonable.

    The relevance of all this to the debates over FSCO/I is obvious.

    When we have a functional object that depends for functionality on the correct arrangement of well-matched parts, this object can be mapped in a field of possibilities W, in zones of interest T. One way to reduce this to information, is to set up a nodes-arcs specification that WLOG can be converted into a structured set of strings. (AutoCad is used for this all the time, and the DWG file size serves as a good rule of thumb metric of the degree of complexity.)

    Obviously not any config of components will work. Just think about trying to put a car engine back together and getting it to work at random, or turning a random configuration of alphanumeric characters back into a functioning computer program.

    That is where the concept of islands of function comes from.

    A simple solar system level threshold for enough complexity to make the isolation of T significant is 500 bits. At that level, the 10^57 atoms of our solar system, across its lifespan of about 10^17 s on the typical timeline, at the fastest rates of chemical reactions would be able to look at maybe the equivalent to a one straw sized sample to a cubical hay bale 1,000 light years thick. That is how the frame would be naturally constrained as to scope.

    Even if such a bale were superposed on the Galaxy, centred on Earth — about as thick — a sample at random would (per sampling theory) be overwlelmingly likely to reflect the bulk of the distribution, straw.

    That is the issue of FSCO/I, and it is why the most credible causal source for it is design. >>

    LCI, 46: >> Earlier, I pointed out that when one searches in a space or samples it, one faces the issue of sampling frame, with potential for bias.

    In the search context, if one’s sampling frame is a type-F, one may drastically improve the conditional probability of finding the target sub-set of space W, T, given sample frame F, on a search-sample of scope s. But also, if the frame is a type-G instead, then one has reduced the conditional probability of successful search given sample frame G, to zero, as T is not in G.

    I then raised the issue that searching for a sample frame is a major challenge.

    I should note on a reasonable estimate of that challenge.

    W is the population, the set of possible configs here. The possible F’s (obviously a frame is non-unique) and G’s are obviously sub-sets of W. So, we are looking at the set of possible subsets of W, perhaps less the empty set {} in practical terms, as if one is in fact taking on a search, one will have a frame of some scope. But, for completeness that empty set would be in, and takes in the cases of no-sample. The power set of a given set of n members, of course, has 2^n members.

    In the case of a set of the possible configs for 500 bits, we are looking at the power set for 2^500 ~ 3.27*10^150. Then, raise 2 to that power: 2^(3.27*10^150). The scope of such a set overwhelmingly, way beyond merely astronomically, dwarfs the original set.

    To estimate it, observe that log x^n = n* log x. 3.27*10^150 times log 2 ~ 9.85*10^149. That is the LOGARITHM of the number. Going to the actual number, we are talking here of essentially 10 followed by 10^150 zeros, which we could not write out with all the atoms of our observed cosmos, not by a long, long, long shot. Take away 1 for eliminating the empty set, and that is what we are looking at.

    So, first and foremost, we should not allow toy examples that do not have anywhere near the relevant threshold scope of challenge on complexity, mislead us into thinking that the search for a successful search strategy — remember that boils down to being a framing of the sampling process — is an easy task.

    So, absent special information, the blind search for a good frame will be much harder than the direct blind search for the hot zone T in W.

    So also, if searching blindly by trial and error on W is utterly unlikely to succeed, searching blindly in the power set less 1: (2^W) – 1, will be vastly more unlikely to succeed. And, since — by virtue of the applicable circumstances that sharply constrain configs to get them to function in relevant ways — T is small and isolated in W, by far and away most of the search frames in that set will be type-G not type-F.

    Consequently, if a framing “magically” transforms the likelihood of search success, the reasonable best explanation for that is that it is because the search framing was intelligently selected on key information. And it is not unreasonable to define a quantity for the impact of that information, on the gap between blind search on W and search on F.

    Hence the concept and metrics for active information are not unreasonable on the whole, never mind whatever particular defects may be found with specific models and proposed metrics.

    One last point.

    In thermodynamics, it is notorious that for small, toy samples, large fluctuations are quite feasible. But, as the number of particles in a thermodynamic system rises to more realistic levels, the fact that he overwhelming bulk of the distribution of possibilites tends to cluster on a peak, utterly dominates behaviour. So, yes, for toy examples, we can easily enough find large fluctuations from the “average” — more properly expected, outcome. But once we go up to realistic scale, spontaneous, stochastic behaviour will normally tightly cluster on the bulk of the distribution of possibilities.

    Or, put another way, not all lotteries are winnable, especially the naturally occurring ones. Those that are advertised all around are very carefully designed to be profitable and winnable as the announcement of a big winner will distract attention from the typical expectation: loss.

    So, to point to the abstract possibility of fluctuations, especially on toy examples is distractive and strawmannish relative to the real challenge: hitting a tiny target zone T in a huge config space W, usually well beyond 2^500 in scope. As we can easily see, on the scope of resources in our solar system, the possible sample size relative to the scope of possibilities is overwhelmingly unfavourable, leading to the problem of a chance based needle in a haystack blind search exercise on steroids. (Remember, mechanical necessity does not generate high contingency, it is chance or choice that do that.)

    The result of that challenge is obvious all around us: the successful creation of entities that are functional, complex and dependent on specific config or a cluster of similar configs to function is best explained on design by skilled and knowledgeable intelligence, not blind chance and mechanical necessity.

    The empirical evidence and the associated needle in haystack or monkeys at keyboards challenges are so overwhelmingly in favour of that point that the real reason for the refusal to accept this as even “obvious,” is prior commitment to and/or indoctrination in the ideology that blind chance and necessity moved us from molecules to Mozart.>>
    _____________

    We can see just how central the syllabus of questions in the OP is, and we can see that the objections keep running into conceptual difficulties that start with the nature of inductive reasoning. And, it is reasonable indeed to see that the blind search for a good search frame in the set 2^W -1 is often considerably more difficult than that for the space itself. So, if we have a good search frame that makes finding T in W through framing F much easier than blindly searching for T in W, that needs to be explained. And it is reasonable — whatever technical problems may arise in practice — to give as a metric an estimate of how much the framing improves the search, converted into information measures.

    KF

  71. F/N: Someone may wish to object on how hill-climbing in a zone of function incrementally searches a much smaller space and so achieves wonders. The problem as has been highlighted ever so many times, is that such starts within a zone of function. In the case of life forms, until we have an embryologically and ecologically feasible body plan, we are not within a zone of function, where that requires not 500 but more like 10 mn to 100+ million bits, on the scope of genomes involved in observable life forms. And, as the OOL challenge indicates, this begins with the very first, unicellular body plan, with 100,000 – 1 mn bits or so and no existing gated, encapsulated, metabolic automaton with a digital coded tape using von Neumann self replicator, for these are what have to be explained. Explained by blind chance and necessity step by step from a warm little pond or similar plausible initial environment. And the assertion of yesterday that such is an observed reality, is blatantly false. KF

  72. 72
    critical rationalist

    CR: We cannot observe causes. As such, all we can do is criticize theories with the intent of finding and correcting errors.

    KF: First, it is not true that we cannot observe causal factors at work….

    These are not equivalent statements as I said we cannot observe *causes*. Furthermore, observations are based on hard to vary explanations for how we acquired them. So, we cannot positively support any particular theory or conclude it’s more probable via observations. We’re left with rational criticism.

    KF: … or trace them from their characteristic outcomes. That is how scientific laws are established after all.

    No, it’s not. By using the word “trace” you appear to suggesting we can mechanically extrapolate theories from observations. But this isn’t possible as we get more out of a theory than its observations. This simply doesn’t add up.

    KF: Similarly, it is not an unfair challenge to demand that a claimed causal factor held to be sufficient to cause an effect be demonstrated as actually doing so in our observation. That boils down to that in science — and common-sense day to day life — claims are subject to empirical observational tests.

    Science is not primarily about “stuff you can see” as we use the unseen to explain the seen. Are you suggesting we can directly observe unseen things? How does that work, in detail? Or perhaps you’re suggesting we have some other infallible source regarding unseen things?

    Again, induction and criticism are not the same thing. Observations cannot not positively support a theory. As Popper pointed out, we solve the problem of induction by rational criticism.

    Furthermore, saying evolution is merely chance and necessity is like saying someone defeated by a chess program was defeated by electrons. While this is also true, you are appealing to a specific level of reductionism.

    Evolutionary processes create the knowledge of how to build adaptations, which is non-explanatory in nature. And I mean genuinely create knowledge, rather than having already existed in some form. Specifically, conjecture, in the form of genetic variation random to any specific problem to be solved, and refutation, in the form of natural selection. The result in non-explanatory knowledge.

    Does your account suggest this new knowledge existed at the outset? If so, it’s creationism. Does your account suggest this knowledge “just appeared”? If so, it represents spontaneous generation, as found in aspects of Lamarckism. Is an account for this knowledge absent? if so, it’s a bad explanation because it actually fails to solve the problem at hand. What is ID’s account for how this knowledge was created?

    I’d agree that only people can create explanatory knowledge. I’d also agree that there are explanations for useful non-explanatory knowledge, even if it isn’t explicitly presented. So, as people, we can be cognitive of explanations for non-explanatory knowledge whenever we discuss it. This, however, doesn’t mean that knowledge of how to build organisms, which is found in the genome in a non-explanatory form, cannot be created in the absence of people.

    KF: A classic is how Newton inferred to the Universal law of gravitation, cf here. Another, is how Einstein inferred on the threshold effect with the photo electric effect, to the reality of photons and the threshold equation that is in large part responsible for his Nobel Prize.

    That’s the myth that Popper was referring to. Inference is defined as “a conclusion is inferred from multiple observations”. This implies observations can make a theory more probable via observations. But it cannot. Again, you’ve got it backwards.

    To quote from an essay Einstein wrote in late 1919….

    A theory can thus be recognized as erroneous [unrichtig] if there is a logical error in its deductions, or as incorrect [unzutreffend] if a fact is not in agreement with its consequences. But the truth of a theory can never be proven. For one never knows that even in the future no experience will be encountered which contradicts its consequences; and still other systems of thought are always conceivable which are capable of joining together the same given facts.

    IOW, there are an infinite number of yet to be conceived explanations which are also compatable with the same observations. We cannot factor these un-conceived explanations into a calculus of probability, which makes it invalid as a means of deeming a theory more probable. It’s simply not applicable in the sense you’re implying.

    However, I’m a critical rationalist. As such, I’m open to you formulating a “principle of indiction” that actually works *in practice*. However, no one has as of yet.

    KF: Now, obviously, scientific knowledge is provisional in key respects. That’s fine, warrant — notice the distinction in terminology — comes in degrees, as has been known for millennia.

    Obviously? What about the empiricists, logical positivists and the like? Was it obvious to them?

    If you think it’s obvious that knowledge must be justified by some ultimate source or arbiter, then it would come as no surprise that you think Darwinism cannot create the non-explanatory knowledge of how to build adaptations. Any such argument is parochial in nature as indicates one cannot recognize their conception of human knowledge as an idea that itself would be subject to criticism.

    KF: Where there is sufficient warrant that something is a best explanation and is empirically reliable, it is reasonable to use it in responsible contexts. In some cases, one would be irresponsible to ignore its force.

    Which is where I started out. Epistemology is an explanation about how knowledge is created.

    Whether “design” is the best explanation is based on implicit assumptions about knowledge, such as if it is complex, whether it is genuinely created, etc.

    The best explanation doesn’t refer to a theory proven more likely by observations (which isn’t possible), it means an explanation that has withstood the most rational criticism. A theory that doesn’t stick it neck out, such as one based on an abstract designer that has no defined limitations, is a bad explanation because it cannot be significantly criticized.

    Why don’t you start out by explanaing how knowledge is created, then point out how evolutionary processes do not fit that explanation. Please be specific.

  73. CR:

    Let me note on some points in your 72:

    1: cannot observe *causes*. Furthermore, observations are based on hard to vary explanations for how we acquired them. So, we cannot positively support any particular theory or conclude it’s more probable via observations.

    You will notice that I have pointed out that science focuses on causal factors that are detectable in empirical situations. Similarly I already showed why the objection that observations are theory laden is hyperskeptical, with the school men who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope as capital example.

    Inductive reasoning does not provide demonstration, but does provide reasonable and often adequate support.

    And Hume’s objection spectacularly fails, as he himself could not live but by trusting patterns delivered by experience, patterns which he had good reason to see were empirically reliable, starting from the desirability and nutritiousness of given food and drink or the effectiveness of certain clothing against the cold. Had he ignored such, he would have starved and frozen. So, frankly, his life refutes his objections. (I doubt that you are prepared to hear this sort of thing simply because it is said a second time around, but I speak for record.)

    Avi Sion is balancing, let me clip again on the principle of universality:

    this “principle” may only be regarded as a heuristic idea, a rule of thumb, a broad but vague practical guideline to reasoning . . . .

    We might also ask – can there be a world without any ‘uniformities’? A world of universal difference, with no two things the same in any respect whatever is unthinkable. Why? Because to so characterize the world would itself be an appeal to uniformity. A uniformly non-uniform world is a contradiction in terms. Therefore, we must admit some uniformity to exist in the world. The world need not be uniform throughout, for the principle of uniformity to apply. It suffices that some uniformity occurs.

    Given this degree of uniformity, however small, we logically can and must talk about generalization and particularization. There happens to be some ‘uniformities’; therefore, we have to take them into consideration in our construction of knowledge. The principle of uniformity is thus not a wacky notion, as Hume seems to imply . . . .

    The uniformity principle is not a generalization of generalization; it is not a statement guilty of circularity, as some critics contend. So what is it? Simply this: when we come upon some uniformity in our experience or thought, we may readily assume that uniformity to continue onward until and unless we find some evidence or reason that sets a limit to it. Why? Because in such case the assumption of uniformity already has a basis, whereas the contrary assumption of difference has not or not yet been found to have any. The generalization has some justification; whereas the particularization has none at all, it is an arbitrary assertion.

    It cannot be argued that we may equally assume the contrary assumption (i.e. the proposed particularization) on the basis that in past events of induction other contrary assumptions have turned out to be true (i.e. for which experiences or reasons have indeed been adduced) – for the simple reason that such a generalization from diverse past inductions is formally excluded by the fact that we know of many cases that have not been found worthy of particularization to date.

    That is to say, if we have looked for something and not found it, it seems more reasonable to assume that it does not exist than to assume that it does nevertheless exist. Admittedly, in many cases, the facts later belie such assumption of continuity; but these cases are relatively few in comparison. The probability is on the side of caution.

    In any event, such caution is not inflexible, since we do say “until and unless” some evidence or argument to the contrary is adduced. This cautious phrase “until and unless” is of course essential to understanding induction. It means: until if ever – i.e. it does not imply that the contrary will necessarily occur, and it does not exclude that it may well eventually occur. It is an expression of open-mindedness, of wholesome receptiveness in the face of reality, of ever readiness to dynamically adapt one’s belief to facts.

    In this way, our beliefs may at all times be said to be as close to the facts as we can get them. If we follow such sober inductive logic, devoid of irrational acts, we can be confident to have the best available conclusions in the present context of knowledge. We generalize when the facts allow it, and particularize when the facts necessitate it. We do not particularize out of context, or generalize against the evidence or when this would give rise to contradictions . . .

    2: By using the word “trace” you appear to suggesting we can mechanically extrapolate theories from observations. But this isn’t possible as we get more out of a theory than its observations.

    Strawman, as I never suggested any simple algorithm, but have consistently discussed inference to best current explanation in a responsible context.

    And that explanations are not mere summaries of observations does not undermine that (a) they may be empirically reliable, (b) they may be candidates to be true.

    3: Science is not primarily about “stuff you can see” as we use the unseen to explain the seen. Are you suggesting we can directly observe unseen things? How does that work, in detail? Or perhaps you’re suggesting we have some other infallible source regarding unseen things?

    Strawman again.

    As was pointed out, when we look at situations we did not see, we are looking at the results of what happened in light of consequences and traces of causal factors at work. We can compare cases in the present or immediate vicinity, where we can test for causes and effects that are reliable and observable, serving as signs. Then it is reasonable and commonplace to infer that the best explanation for what was not directly observed or observable but which has left traces, is the same sort of factor.

    Let me use the familiar example of a checque. When the bank honours a checque deposited, it is because it trusts that the same sign comes from the same cause, or at any rate is best explained by it. Even, where fraud is possible. That is reasonable, responsible, and an everyday part of life.

    There is no good reason to then twist about and say, no if you cannot deliver absolute proof we can dismiss that which infers on the like logic of signs in science.

    For instance, no one has directly observed electrons, but from a pattern of effects [ a good example is Milikan's oil-drop experiment, which BTW is very hard to do practically], we have come to the conclusion — to moral certainty — that a common particle with a certain charge/mass ratio and a certain charge, is best explanation for a wide range of phenomena. Also, that as with other particles, it has wave properties.

    Likewise, no one has inspected distant stars directly. But again, traces we see and direct comparisons with spectra etc lead us to make inferences about chemical composition, temperature, even apparent formation, age, life stage etc.

    So, do we abandon this because we may not prove beyond dispute? Locke’s reply is biting (and goes to another explaining concept that many in our day are so quick to deride, but should rethink their views), in his opening introductory remarks in his essay on human understanding, section 5. I cite this because it is apt and anticipated Hume by decades in a work he should have taken more seriously:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 - 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 - 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 - 2 & 13, Ac 17, Jn 3:19 - 21, Eph 4:17 - 24, Isaiah 5:18 & 20 - 21, Jer. 2:13, Titus 2:11 - 14 etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 - 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. [Text references added to document the sources of Locke's allusions and citations.]

    When one cannot live consistent with a view, s/he needs to rethink it.

    3: induction and criticism are not the same thing. Observations cannot not positively support a theory. As Popper pointed out, we solve the problem of induction by rational criticism.

    Reiterating an error, as a drumbeat mantra, may hammer it home in our worldviews, but that hardly suffices to ground it. No-one has seriously argued that inductions deliver absolute certainty, but they often deliver such high confidence that we trust our lives to them. And, in a vast world of experience observations do exist, are sufficiently objective that we accept many deliverances as facts beyond reasonable doubt and demand — for good reason — that explanations account for them adequately.

    Yes, we must be open to correction on further analysis or experience, but for that Popper et al have nothing material to add to Newton in Opticks, Query 31, 1704:

    As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For [speculative] Hypotheses [not supported by empirical evidence] are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover’d, and establish’d as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomena proceeding from them, and proving the Explanations. [[Emphases added.]

    (Onlookers, sometimes we need to remind ourselves that our forebears were not naive dummies.)

    4: saying evolution is merely chance and necessity is like saying someone defeated by a chess program was defeated by electrons. While this is also true, you are appealing to a specific level of reductionism. Evolutionary processes create the knowledge of how to build adaptations, which is non-explanatory in nature. And I mean genuinely create knowledge, rather than having already existed in some form. Specifically, conjecture, in the form of genetic variation random to any specific problem to be solved, and refutation, in the form of natural selection. The result in non-explanatory knowledge.

    Here, first I have reported the general views of the evolutionary materialists, which you seem to be supporting. Of course, the alleged blind chance and necessity driven causal process was never observed to create body plans, but it seems convenient to try to reduce what we can and do directly observe to what we did not and cannot.

    in short, the above seems to work rhetorically by a version of: who you gonna believe, us — duly dressed in the holy lab coats — or yer lyin’ eyes.

    It further needs to be noted that functionally specific, complex organisation and information — contrary to confident manner declarations on what happened in the unobserved deep past — has but one observed causal factor sufficient to account for it. Design by skilled and knowledgeable intelligence. Similarly, on the needle in the haystack type analysis in light of the constraints on sampling — cf the just above to R0bb — this pattern of observation makes good sense analytically.

    So, we have every epistemic right to first conclude that it is a reliable inference to hold that FSCO/I is a reliable sign of design as material causal factor. Thus, objects embedding FSCO/I were credibly designed.

    And, trying to get rid of the reality of reliable observations as a decisive test in science, is a case of sawing off the branch on which we all must sit.

    Nor, am I impressed by label and dismiss tactics.

    5: I’d agree that only people can create explanatory knowledge. I’d also agree that there are explanations for useful non-explanatory knowledge, even if it isn’t explicitly presented. So, as people, we can be cognitive of explanations for non-explanatory knowledge whenever we discuss it. This, however, doesn’t mean that knowledge of how to build organisms, which is found in the genome in a non-explanatory form, cannot be created in the absence of people.

    We have no good reason to infer or conclude that people exhaust the set of those capable of explanation.

    Similarly, what we have evidence of is that design of FSCO/I rich things is rooted in knowledgeable and skilled intelligence, not humanity as such. Not all people can design and build and program a computer from scratch.

    And, specifically, design by skilled and knowledgeable intelligence is the ONLY empirically warranted explanation for algorithmic information and data structures (as well as content) loaded in string data structures and executed by properly arranged executing machinery.

    It is beginning to look like you are trying to duck the force of evidence by resort to convoluted and flawed philosophical speculation. That falls before Newton’s glorified common sense that speculative notions unsupported by relevant empirical findings should have no force in the face of such evidence.

    6: hat’s the myth that Popper was referring to. Inference is defined as “a conclusion is inferred from multiple observations”. This implies observations can make a theory more probable via observations. But it cannot. Again, you’ve got it backwards.

    Nope, YOU have it backwards, and are erecting strawman caricatures then knocking them down.

    Observations in an apparent pattern that is puzzling calls for unifying explanation. Alternative possibilities are put and are tested against observations, coherence and issues of simplicity vs ad hocness or simplisticness etc. The best is put forth as an empirically supported explanation and tested against predictive ability.

    In the case of the photo effect, the wavelength threshold where longer wavelength light of high intensity has no effect, but weak light of short enough wavelength does, and relationships with the kinetic energy of emitted photons, in the hands of the very Einstein you go on to cite inappropriately, in 1905, led to the pivotal breakthrough for quantum theory.

    There is nothing in Einstein here:

    theory can thus be recognized as erroneous [unrichtig] if there is a logical error in its deductions, or as incorrect [unzutreffend] if a fact is not in agreement with its consequences. But the truth of a theory can never be proven. For one never knows that even in the future no experience will be encountered which contradicts its consequences; and still other systems of thought are always conceivable which are capable of joining together the same given facts.

    . . . that is not already in principle in Newton. And, you somehow keep imagining that I am suggesting that theories are proved true beyond correction when I am using a specific modifier to say the opposite: inference to best CURRENT explanation.

    please stop knocking over strawmen. And notice that while many explanations have been later overturned, it is also true that many explanations have not. So, we must be willing to accept that we make mistakes but that sometimes we can get it right too, Indeed, the very conclusion that we make mistakes is an inductive conclusion that has not been overturned.

    KF

  74. Onlookers, see the importance of Q1 above? Confusion about inductive reasoning is a root challenge in the debates over design theory. KF

  75. F/N: it is worth scooping this out from Locke:

    It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 - 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. [Essay on Human Understanding, Intro, Sect 5, parenthesis and emphasis added.]

    Notice, the implication, that much of what we accept and live by as knowledge is reliable enough to live by but not certain beyond all doubts or correction. In short, we must live — including in the basic biological sense — by faith. So, our real goal should be, not certainty beyond all doubt [post Godel, not even Mathematics can meet that demand], but reasonable, well warranted belief that we may live by, here and hereafter. KF

  76. PS: CR, did you notice the links I gave in the OP above on my own and others’ answers to the syllabus of eighteen key questions? Why not start here. When you ignore this and suggest that I have not done substantially what you demand, that does not commend itself to me. KF

  77. 77
    critical rationalist

    CR: We cannot observe causes. As such, all we can do is criticize theories with the intent of finding and correcting errors.

    KF: First, it is not true that we cannot observe causal factors at work….

    These are not equivalent statements as I said we cannot observe *causes*. Furthermore, observations are based on hard to vary explanations for how we acquired them. So, we cannot positively support any particular theory or conclude it’s more probable via observations. We’re left with rational criticism.

    KF: … or trace them from their characteristic outcomes. That is how scientific laws are established after all.

    No, it’s not. By using the word “trace” you appear to suggesting we can mechanically extrapolate theories from observations. But this isn’t possible as we get more out of a theory than it’s observations. This simply doesn’t add up.

    KF: Similarly, it is not an unfair challenge to demand that a claimed causal factor held to be sufficient to cause an effect be demonstrated as actually doing so in our observation. That boils down to that in science — and common-sense day to day life — claims are subject to empirical observational tests.

    Science is not primarily about “stuff you can see” as we use the unseen to explain the seen. Are you suggesting we can directly observe unseen things? How does that work, in detail? Or perhaps you’re suggesting we have some other infallible source regarding unseen things?

    Again, induction and criticism are not the same thing. Observations cannot not positively support a theory. As Popper pointed out, we solve the problem of induction by rational criticism.

    Furthermore, saying evolution is merely chance and necessity is like saying someone defeated by a chess program was defeated by electrons. While this is also true, you are appealing to a specific level of reductionism.

    Evolutionary processes create the knowledge of how to build adaptations, which is non-explanatory in nature. And I mean genuinely create knowledge, rather than having already existed in some form. Specifically, conjecture, in the form of genetic variation random to any specific problem to be solved, and refutation, in the form of natural selection. The result in non-explanatory knowledge.

    Does your account suggest this new knowledge existed at the outset? If so, it’s creationism. Does your account suggest this knowledge “just appeared”? If so, it represents spontaneous generation, as found in aspects of Lamarckism. Is an account for this knowledge absent? if so, it’s a bad explanation because it actually fails to solve the problem at hand.

    What is ID’s account for how this knowledge was created?

    I’d agree that only people can create explanatory knowledge. I’d also agree that there are explanations for useful non-explanatory knowledge, even if it isn’t explicitly presented. So, as people, we can be cognitive of explanations for non-explanatory knowledge whenever we discuss it. This, however, doesn’t mean that knowledge of how to build organisms, which is found in the genome in a non-explanatory form, cannot be created in the absence of people.

    KF: A classic is how Newton inferred to the Universal law of gravitation, cf here. Another, is how Einstein inferred on the threshold effect with the photo electric effect, to the reality of photons and the threshold equation that is in large part responsible for his Nobel Prize.

    That’s the myth that Popper was referring to. Inference is defined as “a conclusion is inferred from multiple observations”. This implies observations can make a theory more probable via observations. But it cannot. Again, you’ve got it backwards.

    To quote from an essay Einstein wrote in late 1919….

    A theory can thus be recognized as erroneous [unrichtig] if there is a logical error in its deductions, or as incorrect [unzutreffend] if a fact is not in agreement with its consequences. But the truth of a theory can never be proven. For one never knows that even in the future no experience will be encountered which contradicts its consequences; and still other systems of thought are always conceivable which are capable of joining together the same given facts.

    IOW, there are an infinite number of yet to be conceived explanations which are also compatable with the same observations. We cannot factor these un-conceived explanations into a calculus of probability, which makes it invalid as a means of deeming a theory more probable. It’s simply not applicable in the sense you’re implying.

    However, I’m a critical rationalist. As such, I’m open to you formulating a “principle of indiction” that actually works *in practice*. However, no one has as of yet. In doing so, I recognize that my conception of human knowledge is an idea that is subject to criticism. Do you?

    KF: Now, obviously, scientific knowledge is provisional in key respects. That’s fine, warrant — notice the distinction in terminology — comes in degrees, as has been known for millennia.

    Obviously? What about the empiricists, logical positivists and the like? Was it “obvious” to them?

    If you think it’s obvious that knowledge must be justified by some ultimate source or arbiter, then it would come as no surprise that you think Darwinism cannot create the non-explanatory knowledge of how to build adaptations. So, your argument is parochial in nature as It appears that you cannot recognize your conception of human knowledge as an idea that itself would be subject to criticism.

    KF: Where there is sufficient warrant that something is a best explanation and is empirically reliable, it is reasonable to use it in responsible contexts. In some cases, one would be irresponsible to ignore its force.

    Which is where I started out. Epistemology is an explanation about how knowledge is created.

    Whether “design” is the best explanation is based on implicit assumptions about knowledge, such as if it is complex, whether it is genuinely created, etc.

    The best explanation doesn’t refer to a theory proven more likely by observations (which isn’t possible), it means an explanation that has withstood the most rational criticism. A theory that doesn’t stick it neck out, such as one based on an abstract designer that has no defined limitations, is a bad explanation because it cannot be significantly criticized.

    Why don’t you start out by explanaing how knowledge is created, then point out how evolutionary processes do not fit that explanation. Please be specific.
    ________
    CR: Much of the above is a simple repetition of what was already answered as though nothing of significance was said in response above. It does not appear that there is a dialogue at this point. I suggest you need to think about the nature of induction, and about its role in science. It may help for you to do a review of the rise of astrophysics, geology and even evolutionary biology and particle physics. ALL of these deal with issues of the unobservable, but warranted, and I have to point out that it is silly to say that we are not observing mechanical necessity as a causal factor when we reliably see a heavy object dropped and falling at 9.8 N/kg, and then if it is a fair die, tumbling and setting to a value across the set {1, 2, . . . 6} in accordance with a random distribution. Also, if the die is loaded, to see it settling reliably to say a 6 tells us something was done to it deliberately. I think it is fair to say that those count as observations of causal factors in action. And it is fair to say that seeing a die fall, tumble and come to a value is a fact of observation that is independent of and can be used to check any particular relevant theory. BTW, have you ever done the stack of prisms experiment to see how light is bent, and thence how a lens works? Mirrors? To then dismiss observations made using lenses and mirrors — as opposed to say a computer simulation of what could be seen in such an instrument — as though they are so embedded with debatable theoretical commitments that they do not count as observations of reality, is itself what is dubious. And so forth. KF

  78. 78
    critical rationalist

    gpuccio: Well, now I understand better you terminology. So, you call “non-explanatory knowledge” what I (and others) would call “unguided generation of useful information in a system by random variation”.

    You’re overlooking a key point: non-explanatory knowledge has significantly less reach that explanatory knowledge. If I lack an explanation as to why the coconut is opened when it accidentally fell on the rock, then its usefulness is limited to just that scenario. To open other coconuts from other trees without rocks beneath them, I’d cary them up a tree that did, then drop them. It’s a useful rule of thumb.

    However, there are always explanations for non-explanatory knowledge, even when they are not explicit. In the case of the coconut, these explanations include mass, inertia, etc., and has significantly more reach. Rather than dropping the coconuts from the tree to land on a rock, I can stay on the ground and strike any coconut with any rock. And I can substitute rocks and coconuts with other objects, such as anchors and shells, etc. This is significantly greater reach.

    This is a significant distinction which represents progress in our ability to, well, make progress as people. It also explains our recent, rapid increase in our ability to make progress.

    gpuccio: I wonder: do you believe that “non-explanatory knowledge” can explain (in the scientific sense) a system where digital coded, complex information is first stored, and then translated, by two completely different sets of code aware, complex procedures, like it happens in DNA protein genes? Just to know…

    I’m still not sure exactly what your asking or how it’s relevant.

    Translation mechanisms perform transformations of matter. Transformations occur with the necessary knowledge is present. In addition, cells build themselves based on the knowledge found in their genome. These transformations occur when the requisite knowledge is present as well. So, in both cases, the question is, “how was this knowledge created?”

    Knowledge is a high-level explanation for phenomena. For example if someone is defeated by a chess program, we do not say they were defected by electrons or sand. Yet, you seem to be asking me how electrons or sand can defeat a chess player.

    Are you suggesting that science should always explain everything reductively?

  79. 79
    critical rationalist

    The above comment was posted to the wrong thread. It’s a reply to what gpuccio wrote here

  80. CR:

    Just one quick point:

    Knowledge is a high-level explanation for phenomena.

    Nope, knowledge is well warranted, credibly true belief.

    KF

  81. 81
    critical rationalist

    I re-read my comment, forgetting I had already posted it, and revisited in an attempt to clarify, as there are many misconceptions about Popper. (I don’t expect you to respond to the second post unless I point out exactly where they differ.)

    For example if one thinks they are a Popperan but assume Popper thought observations could make theories more probably then they are confused about a key aspect of Popper’s epistemology. The difference is subtle, but critical. It can be difficult to grasp because it doesn’t match our intuition about how we operate. But Popper points out that when we actually criticize it, we do not use induction.

    For example, I’m *not* a hyper-skepticist as you’re implying. Nor do I think that bridges build by non-Popperans need to be rebuilt. So, it’s not that I object to induction, but that induction is impossible and that this same knowledge is created via some other means other than justification.

    From the Critical Rationalism entry on Wikipedia

    William Warren Bartley compared critical rationalism to the very general philosophical approach to knowledge which he called “justificationism”. Most justificationists do not know that they are justificationists. Justificationism is what Popper called a “subjectivist” view of truth, in which the question of whether some statement is true, is confused with the question of whether it can be justified (established, proven, verified, warranted, made well-founded, made reliable, grounded, supported, legitimated, based on evidence) in some way.

    According to Bartley, some justificationists are positive about this mistake. They are naïve rationalists, and thinking that their knowledge can indeed be founded, in principle, it may be deemed certain to some degree, and rational.

    Other justificationists are negative about these mistakes. They are epistemological relativists, and think (rightly, according to the critical rationalist) that you cannot find knowledge, that there is no source of epistemological absolutism. But they conclude (wrongly, according to the critical rationalist) that there is therefore no rationality, and no objective distinction to be made between the true and the false.

    By dissolving justificationism itself, the critical rationalist regards knowledge and rationality, reason and science, as neither foundational nor infallible, but nevertheless does not think we must therefore all be relativists. Knowledge and truth still exist, just not in the way we thought.

    (emphasis mine)

    Again, we should accept observations from microscopes because they represent good explanations for those observations. Good explanations are long chains of independent, hard to vary explanations. This is not the same as induction. I’m not a hyper-skepticist regarding microscopes.

  82. 82
    critical rationalist

    CR: Knowledge is a high-level explanation for phenomena.

    KF: Nope, knowledge is well warranted, credibly true belief.

    From the same entry on Wikipedia…

    Critical rationalism rejects the classical position that knowledge is justified true belief; it instead holds the exact opposite: That, in general, knowledge is unjustified untrue unbelief. It is unjustified because of the non-existence of good reasons. It is untrue, because it usually contains errors that sometimes remain unnoticed for hundreds of years. And it is not belief either, because scientific knowledge, or the knowledge needed to build a plane, is contained in no single person’s mind. It is only available as the content of books.

    But this does’t mean we must be relativists, as indicated above.

  83. CR:

    I know that my name is what it is, who my wife and children are, and what I ate for breakfast this morning.

    I know that a dropped heavy object near earth will fall at 9.8 N/kg.

    Similarly, that the Sun is a G2 main sequence star with blackbody surface temp about 5700 K, and absolute — 10 Parsecs — magnitude 4.8 or so (just under — brighter than — 5). That its spectrum is characterised by Fraunhoffer lines which indicate high metallicity, and much more. I know that on the dominant model of stellar origins, that suggests that it is at least a second generation star, and that its age is conventionally estimated at about 4 – 5 BY on the same models. Also, that our galaxy’s centre lies in the constellation Sagittarius, and that we are out “on” a spiral arm. Also that when I was younger, we discussed our Galaxy as a spiral one, now as a barred spiral.

    I know that the water molecule is H2O, in chemical composition.

    I know that scientific theories are provisional explanatory constructs that may need to be revised, but in some cases may well turn out to be true.

    I know — following Josiah Royce etc. — that error exists and that it is undeniably thus self evidently true. Similarly, and as I added to the IOSE intro page this morning, I know that the inductive generalisation that we sometimes err in such, is an example of an inductive generalisation that is in no danger of being overturned.

    And so forth.

    In these and many other cases, I have good warrant for the claims, in various forms, and these are credibly true, and I believe them. this is what I mean by claiming to know these things.

    Other things, I may suspect or even doubt. They may be possibly true, but I have no good warrant that gives me a basis for holding them credibly true.

    Please think again.

    KF

  84. CR:

    I wish to take up, from 81 above, your:

    we should accept observations from microscopes because they represent good explanations for those observations. Good explanations are long chains of independent, hard to vary explanations. This is not the same as induction. I’m not a hyper-skepticist regarding microscopes.

    I need to pause and say how important the exchange we are having is, as this is clarifying for record where the key issues lie. As such, I must express appreciation for your stating and defending your views.

    And, BTW, you have had another effect, on me as scientist-educator. You have caused me to revise my view on the significance of ray optics and linked prism, lens and mirror studies, in particular, their underestimated significance as a grounding physics and the key construct, an empirically grounded theory. Where of course, this is a major part of Newton’s early work. His Opticks [cf. the Project Gutenberg scan formats, here] may be read with profit to this day. I find this note from Advertisement 1, interesting for our concerns:

    o avoid being engaged in Disputes about these Matters, I have hitherto delayed the printing, and should still have delayed it, had not the Importunity of Friends prevailed upon me. If any other Papers writ on this Subject are got out of my Hands they are imperfect, and were perhaps written before I had tried all the Experiments here set down, and fully satisfied my self about the Laws of Refractions and Composition of Colours. I have here publish’d what I think proper to come abroad [--> out in public], wishing that it may not be translated into another Language without my Consent.

    I will comment in steps of thought:

    1 –> Newton (N) here shows how experimental investigations underpinned his work, and how inductively arrived at, empirically reliable laws of nature played a pivotal role in his work.

    2 –> This, he expands in his rather long Query 31 (which is the last of the list of queries at the end of the book); which presents what is in essence the simple, generic “scientific method” taught in schools that despite limitations and qualifiers, is highly useful as an heuristic:

    . . . To tell us that every Species of Things is endow’d with an occult specifick Quality by which it acts and produces manifest Effects, is to tell us nothing: But to derive two or three general Principles of Motion from Phaenomena, and afterwards to tell us how the Properties and Actions of all corporeal Things follow from those manifest Principles, would be a very great step in[Pg 402] Philosophy, though the Causes of those Principles were not yet discover’d: And therefore I scruple not to propose the Principles of Motion above-mention’d, they being of very general Extent, and leave their Causes to be found out.

    Now by the help of these Principles, all material Things seem to have been composed of the hard and solid Particles above-mention’d, variously associated in the first Creation by the Counsel of an intelligent Agent. For it became him who created them to set them in order. And if he did so, it’s unphilosophical to seek for any other Origin of the World, or to pretend that it might arise out of a Chaos by the mere Laws of Nature; though being once form’d, it may continue by those Laws for many Ages [--> notice the formulation, here of a pivotal aspect of the current debates over design] . . . .

    As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For [speculative] Hypotheses are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the[Pg 405] Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover’d, and establish’d as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomena proceeding from them, and proving the Explanations.

    In the two first Books of these Opticks, I proceeded by this Analysis to discover and prove the original Differences of the Rays of Light in respect of Refrangibility, Reflexibility, and Colour, and their alternate Fits of easy Reflexion and easy Transmission, and the Properties of Bodies, both opake and pellucid, on which their Reflexions and Colours depend. And these Discoveries being proved, may be assumed in the Method of Composition for explaining the Phaenomena arising from them: An Instance of which Method I gave in the End of the first Book.

    3 –> We see here Newton’s view of the world, which is not merely a design view but a Bible-based Creationist view, though of course he had certain doctrinal peculiarities. In particular he sees the world as an intelligently designed coherent system that is governed under laws that sum up the usual course of events. Where also, such may be inferred from observed patterns and then used in confident logical-mathematical deductions, subject to empirical correction and correction in light of errors of reasoning.

    4 –> In passing I must note that in the clip from you above, you spoke of observations made through a microscope, which is of course a key acknowledgement that we do make observations which are factual.

    5 –> Similarly, a microscope is a real world object and instrument constructed on in effect [in the simple case] principles inferred from ray optics investigations, not an explanation. It is to this that we now turn, as Ray Optics is a good example of a limited — it does not explain the underlying dynamics nor does it explain all phenomena — but empirically credible and reliable scientific theory.

    6 –> Start form a rectangular prism of glass or the like. Place it in a darkened room on a sheet of dark bristol board and pass a pencil of light through it from the side at various angles of incidence, so we can see the way the pencil of light that is visible through scattering from the board,is deflected within and as it passes back out of the prism.

    7 –> A more detailed investigation with the usual pins will show Snell’s law in action. The use of a ripple tank will suffice to show that an excellent way to account for this behaviour is on the varying wavelength of waves in diverse media, which naturally bends waves away from the normal when they speed up, and towards it as they slow down. Huygens’ construction is helpful. (Newton’s corpuscularianism failed him here, though of course it turns out that waves and particles at quantum level are joint properties under diverse circumstances.)

    8 –> Now, try the same with a triangular prism, and observe the refraction and dispersal of light, which bespeaks the dispersive medium involved. The reassembling of white light in a second prism was one of Newton’s triumphs. He demonstrated that white light is a separable mixture.

    9 –> Now, use a comb of fine, parallel pencils of light, and a stack of prisms, in the general shape of a convex then a concave lens. This will show the principal focus and how lenses refract light, forming real and virtual images.

    10 –> With some investigation, it will be apparent that as a pattern, thin lenses do not appreciably deviate light passing through the optical centre. A reflection on how the rectangular prism in net deviates a pencil parallel to itself will be enough to see that the thinner it is, the less the displacement.

    11 –> Likewise, paraxial rays come together at the principal focus.

    13 –> Thirdly, rays are reversible. That is for instance the that passes through the PF on its side of the lens will be refracted parallel to the axis of the lens.

    14 –> Further investigations on object distance from the optical centre, u and image distance v, with focal length f, will substantiate:

    1/f = 1/u + 1/v

    15 –> We have just arrived at some pretty effective laws of ray optics for thin lenses that suffice to make very useful graphical constructions that can be used to analyse and even design optical instruments. This will allow us to see how real and virtual images are formed, and to see why they are upright or inverted etc, as well as to measure magnification or diminution of the size of an image relative to the object.

    16 –> A useful and impressive further exercise is to set up a lens in a darkish room, along a scale and with a card behind it, opposite a window. (Edmund Scientific still has an excellent Optics Discovery Kit of the OSA.) Adjusting the location of the card will soon show a real, full-colour inverted moving image of the world beyond the window at the focal length of the lens.

    17 –> A similar real, inverted image forms on the screen of a pinhole camera, or inside the Camera Obscura — which seems to have played a significant but often overlooked role in the rise of realistic painting in the Renaissance era.

    18 –> These illustrate how a real image is formed: light from a point at source is brought together at a corresponding point at image. (With a virtual image — important for understanding the compound microscope — light from a point on an object appears to diverge from a corresponding point on the image.)

    19 –> A related experiment with a small plane mirror and pins will suffice to show that such a mirror forms a virtual half-universe behind it.

    20 –> Similar exercises can be done with curved mirrors, which also form images and are non-dispersive. This BTW is how and why Newton invented the reflecting telescope, having despaired of getting rid of chromatic aberrations due to dispersion.

    21 –> From this we can analyse the simple and compound microscopes and the astronomical and Galilean telescopes, as well as the basic reflector telescope and the camera. Prism binoculars as well, Porro and Roof-prism. More sophisticated work will require wave optics, but that does not make the above findings false, once it is appreciated that limited and admittedly approximate results and patterns, within their limits, are correct — accurate to reality as we may experience and observe it.(BTW, at a more sophisticated level, the same holds for classical thermodynamics and Newtonian Dynamics in a Quantum-Relativity world.)

    22 –> Where does this leave us? First, we see that we may indeed use abductive inference on sets of experiences to formulate explanatory models that are potential truth bearers and which may attract empirical support. Such models do gain credibility as empirically reliable based on being able to consistently accurately predict results. And, where limitations are found, acknowledging these retains the credibility of the limited theory as adjusted.

    23 –> Moreover, Avi Sion’s point on the need to keep a balanced view of inductive generalisations is still relevant:

    We might . . . ask – can there be a world without any ‘uniformities’? A world of universal difference, with no two things the same in any respect whatever is unthinkable. Why? Because to so characterize the world would itself be an appeal to uniformity. A uniformly non-uniform world is a contradiction in terms.

    Therefore, we must admit some uniformity to exist in the world.

    The world need not be uniform throughout, for the principle of uniformity to apply. It suffices that some uniformity occurs.
    Given this degree of uniformity, however small, we logically can and must talk about generalization and particularization. There happens to be some ‘uniformities’; therefore, we have to take them into consideration in our construction of knowledge. The principle of uniformity is thus not a wacky notion, as Hume seems to imply . . . .

    The uniformity principle is not a generalization of generalization; it is not a statement guilty of circularity, as some critics contend. So what is it? Simply this: when we come upon some uniformity in our experience or thought, we may readily assume that uniformity to continue onward until and unless we find some evidence or reason that sets a limit to it. Why? Because in such case the assumption of uniformity already has a basis, whereas the contrary assumption of difference has not or not yet been found to have any. The generalization has some justification; whereas the particularization has none at all, it is an arbitrary assertion.

    It cannot be argued that we may equally assume the contrary assumption (i.e. the proposed particularization) on the basis that in past events of induction other contrary assumptions have turned out to be true (i.e. for which experiences or reasons have indeed been adduced) – for the simple reason that such a generalization from diverse past inductions is formally excluded by the fact that we know of many cases [[of inferred generalisations; try: "we can make mistakes in inductive generalisation . . . "] that have not been found worthy of particularization to date . . . .

    If we follow such sober inductive logic, devoid of irrational acts, we can be confident to have the best available conclusions in the present context of knowledge. We generalize when the facts allow it, and particularize when the facts necessitate it. We do not particularize out of context, or generalize against the evidence or when this would give rise to contradictions . . .[[Logical and Spiritual Reflections, BK I Hume's Problems with Induction, Ch 2 The principle of induction.]

    24 –> So, it is reasonable to expect uniformities that are sufficiently intelligible and evident that we may make testable and potentially truth-bearing inductive generalisations, many of which are in no danger of being overthrown in their zones of broad confirmation.

    25 –> And in the context of accurately reporting empirically reliable provisional patterns, such claims may reasonably claim to be just that: accurate to reality as experienced. Thus they can properly be termed knowledge in the weak form sense: well warranted, credibly true beliefs.

    26 –> Some of these, are so strongly supported that we may be morally certain of them. That is, it would be irresponsible or downright foolish or destructive to act as though we could deem them false.

    27 –> So, we see where we can properly speak of scientific knowledge, and of observations — direct and instrumental — that are reliably accurate and in effect are facts. Against which theories, models and hypotheses must be tested. (Where accuracy to reality is what is meant by truth. In Aristotle’s terms: saying of what is that it is and of what is not that it is not.)

    28 –> And in this sense we may properly speak of empirical, observational support for the empirical reliability and accuracy of certain theories.

    29 –> And it is in that context that we may identify patterns of cause and effect, with key paradigm cases illustrating mechanical necessity leading to natural regularities, chance circumstances to stochastically distributed contingency, and intelligent and purposeful choice leading to highly contingent outcomes that show various empirically reliable signs of design.

    30 –> Where two of these tested and observed reliable signs are: (i) functionally specific complex organisation and associated information, and(ii) functionally specific, irreducible complexity. Where also on needle in the haystack analyses of configuration spaces and constraints on blind chance and necessity sampling such, we are maximally unlikely to hit on islands of function by trial and error alone. (Intelligent designers use knowledge and insight to put us in the near vicinity of such and development testing — which may use constrained trial and error and hill-climbing improvements and simulations etc — then gets us on target.)

    31 –> The problem with these being, not that they are unreliable, but that they cut across an entrenched evolutionary materialist school of thought.

    _________

    So, we see the significance of Q1 in the syllabus of 18 Q’s above in the OP.

    I trust this can now help us move on to Q’s 2 – 4:

    2: Is there such a thing as reasonable inductive generalisation that can identify reliable empirical signs of causal factors that may act on objects, systems, processes or phenomena etc., including (a) mechanical necessity leading to low contingency natural regularity, (b) chance contingency leading to stochastic distributions of outcomes and (c) choice contingency showing itself by certain commonly seen traces familiar from our routine experiences and observations of design? If not, why not?

    3: Is it reasonable per sampling theory, that we should expect a chance based sample that stands to the population as one straw to a cubical hay bale 1,000 light years thick – rather roughly about as thick as our galaxy – more or less centred on Earth, to pick up anything but straw (the bulk of the population)? If you think so, why (in light of sampling theory – notice, NOT precise probability calculations)? [Cf. the underlying needle in a haystack discussion here on.]

    4: Is it therefore reasonable to identify that functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information (FSCO/I, the relevant part of Complex Specified Information as identified by Orgel and Wicken et al. and as later quantified by Dembski et al) is – on a broad observational base – a reliable sign of design? Why or why not?

    KF

    PS: This survey on ray optics may be helpful

  85. PS: The OSA Optics Discovery Kit from Edmund Scientific. For exercises I use a plastic or wood metre stick stuck down using plasticine or the like and spring-loaded plastic clothes pins to hold up the lenses in the kit. A card can be put up with the same pins. This allows measurements. (The “riders” that hold round lenses in clips can also be used but the metre stick will need to be better supported.) And yes, I am advocating actually doing exercises, nothing teaches so well and nothing changes minds like actual experience. For the graphical exercises on lens theory, use good 1-cm grid graph paper on good smooth paper stock in non-repro blue, one of the most under-estimated of all scientific instruments. Get yourself a child’s geometry set and a good 1-ft rule, and supplement with a nice student’s bow compasses. Get a flexicurve for plotting curved graphs. For a good Sci Calc, xCalc is hard to beat for a free download, it is in effect a super HP=21 of old. If you don’t like RPN, look for free for download sci calcs.

  86. MathGrrl chimes in:

    I remain appalled that kairosfocus can continue to use the terms FSCO/I and “Complex Specified Information” as if they had referents in reality when he has never been able to define them rigorously or show how to calculate them. Until he can do so, using those terms simply emphasizes his intellectual dishonesty.

    And we are appalled that Patrick/ MathGrrl can still insist that FCSO/I has not been rigorously defined when in fact it is more rigorously defined and measured than anything his position has to offer.

    I take he is is still upset that his position has nothing.

  87. and it continues:

    Toronto:

    How do you know what “specific functionality” will be required in a yet unknown future?

    You write a GA to allow for “built-in responses to environmental cues”.

    Patrick:

    Did he actually post a rigorous mathematical definition of kairosfocus’ metric and some example calculations or did he just, as per usual, claim to have done so without providing any evidence?

    Yes, Patrick. I provided you with just that many moons ago. Others have also. As I said it is more rigorous than anything your position has to offer. However that doesn’t take much because your position still has nothing.

    And just because you can say “No, that is not a mathematically rigorous definition” that doesn’t mean anything because it is not supported by an example from your position. IOW no one cares what you have to say.

    Carry on with your evidence-free rhetoric…

  88. And a note to keiths:

    “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” Hitchens- IOW you have yet to post something to confront.

    You you still don’t have any evidence that nylonase was the result of blind and undircted processes. That is because you don’t have any evidence that living organisms are the result of blind and undirected processes. Ya see the OoL and its subsequent evolution are DIRECTLY linked. Designed at the OoL = designed to evolve.

    Not that that hasn’t been explained to you guys thousands of times.

    So confront that- confront your strawmen and equivocations.

  89. You write a GA to allow for “built-in responses to environmental cues”.

    Then your UPB is useless as a metric if you’re willing to accept that the environment can drive evolution to solve fitness problems as they arise.

    1- That doesn’t even follow, ie a non-sequitur

    2- Yes, the UPB is useless in a design scenario and your equivocation is duly noted.

  90. Joe:

    It seems Mathgrrl/Patrick — the latter having confessed to using the former [which properly belongs to a Calculus professor out there . . . ] as a sockpuppet — is forgetting that we at UD keep records.

    First, here is the collection of links on the sorry record of the MG you have not defined “rigorously” talking point. Notice, how Graham — an obvious confederate — never showed up to respond to the answer.

    Also note how I had to remark on the problem of design theory objectors resorting to “insistently repeated misrepresentation maintained by drumbeat repetition and unresponsiveness in the teeth of adequate correction.” This is more of the same from the same source, and it shows how, no matter how solidly a talking point has been answered, it will be recycled endlessly to those naive enough to take these advocates at face value.

    (That’s for anyone who wants to dig up the devastating details — for MG/P; including the point where he tried to dismiss a logarithmic reduction as a probability calculation, which was the point when I knew for absolute sure I was dealing with no mathematician. For those who simply want to see how a reasonable metric can be set up, cf. here for a summary thread, with here as an onward drawing together of the threads. Remember, once we work under the gamut of the solar system and at fastest chemical reaction rates as clock-tick, the fraction of states that a blind process based on chance + necessity could sample stands as ONE straw to a cubical haystack 1,000 light years on the side, about as thick as our galaxy. Per sampling theory — i,e. FYI MG/P there is no necessity to calculate a detailed probability estimate — and note the power set sampling frame challenge above — the only reasonable expectation is that we will pick up from the overwhelming bulk: straw, never mind if the haystack were superposed on the galaxy. That’s a needle in a haystack search problem on steroids.)

    For the rest of us, I clip from the IOSE introsummary page, on Dembski’s initial quantifying CSI (in the onward context of why islands of function make sense when we deal with function dependent on multiple, well matched, mutually interacting component parts) and going to the Chi_500 metric that is useful in concrete situations:

    WmAD, NFL p. 148: >>“The great myth of contemporary evolutionary biology is that the information needed to explain complex biological structures can be purchased without intelligence. My aim throughout this book is to dispel that myth . . . . Eigen and his colleagues must have something else in mind besides information simpliciter when they describe the origin of information as the central problem of biology.

    I submit that what they have in mind is specified complexity [[cf. here below], or what equivalently we have been calling in this Chapter Complex Specified information or CSI . . . .

    Biological specification always refers to function . . . In virtue of their function [[a living organism's subsystems] embody patterns that are objectively given and can be identified independently of the systems that embody them. Hence these systems are specified in the sense required by the complexity-specificity criterion . . . the specification can be cashed out in any number of ways [[through observing the requisites of functional organisation within the cell, or in organs and tissues or at the level of the organism as a whole] . . .”

    p. 144: [[Specified complexity can be defined:] “. . . since a universal probability bound of 1 [[chance] in 10^150 corresponds to a universal complexity bound of 500 bits of information, [[the cluster] (T, E) constitutes CSI because T [[ effectively the target hot zone in the field of possibilities] subsumes E [[ effectively the observed event from that field], T is detachable from E, and and T measures at least 500 bits of information . . . ”>>

    KF, IOSE I-S (onward links accessible at the IOSE site): >> xix: Later on (2005), Dembski provided a slightly more complex formula, that we can quote and simplify, showing that it boils down to a “bits from a one of interest [[in a wider field of possibilities] beyond a reasonable threshold of complexity” metric:

    [CHI] = – log2[10^120 ·[PHI]S(T)·P(T|H)]. [CHI] is “chi” and [PHI] is “phi”

    xx: To simplify and build a more “practical” mathematical model, we note that information theory researchers Shannon and Hartley showed us how to measure information by changing probability into a log measure that allows pieces of information to add up naturally:

    Ip = – log p, in bits if the base is 2. (That is where the now familiar unit, the bit, comes from. [--> NB: this is a standard metric for information])

    xxi: So, since 10^120 ~ 2^398, we may “boil down” the Dembski metric using some algebra — i.e. substituting and simplifying the three terms in order — as log(p*q*r) = log(p) + log(q ) + log(r) and log(1/p) = – log (p):

    Chi = – log2(2^398 * D2 * p), in bits, and where also D2 = [PHI]S(T)

    Chi = Ip – (398 + K2), where now: log2 (D2 ) = K2

    That is, chi is a metric of bits from a zone of interest, beyond a threshold of “sufficient complexity to not plausibly be the result of chance,” (398 + K2). So,

    (a) since (398 + K2) tends to at most 500 bits on the gamut of our solar system [[our practical universe, for chemical interactions! ( . . . if you want , 1,000 bits would be a limit for the observable cosmos)] and

    (b) as we can define and introduce a dummy variable for specificity, S, where

    (c) S = 1 or 0 according as the observed configuration, E, is on objective analysis specific to a narrow and independently describable zone of interest, T:

    Chi = Ip*S – 500, in bits beyond a “complex enough” threshold

    * NB: If S = 0, this locks us at Chi = – 500; and, if Ip is less than 500 bits, Chi will be negative even if S is positive.

    * E.g.: a string of 501 coins tossed at random will have S = 0, but if the coins are arranged to spell out a message in English using the ASCII code [[notice independent specification of a narrow zone of possible configurations, T], Chi will — unsurprisingly — be positive.

    * Following the logic of the per aspect necessity vs chance vs design causal factor explanatory filter, the default value of S is 0, i.e. it is assumed that blind chance and/or mechanical necessity are adequate to explain a phenomenon of interest.

    * S goes to 1 when we have objective grounds — to be explained case by case — to assign that value.

    * That is, we need to justify why we think the observed cases E come from a narrow zone of interest, T, that is independently describable, not just a list of members E1, E2, E3 . . . ; in short, we must have a reasonable criterion that allows us to build or recognise cases Ei from T, without resorting to an arbitrary list.

    * A string at random is a list with one member, but if we pick it as a password, it is now a zone with one member. (Where also, a lottery, is a sort of inverse password game where we pay for the privilege; and where the complexity has to be carefully managed to make it winnable. )

    * An obvious example of such a zone T, is code symbol strings of a given length that work in a programme or communicate meaningful statements in a language based on its grammar, vocabulary etc. This paragraph is a case in point, which can be contrasted with typical random strings ( . . . 68gsdesnmyw . . . ) or repetitive ones ( . . . ftftftft . . . ); where we can also see by this case how such a case can enfold random and repetitive sub-strings.

    * Arguably — and of course this is hotly disputed — DNA protein and regulatory codes are another. Design theorists argue that the only observed adequate cause for such is a process of intelligently directed configuration, i.e. of design, so we are justified in taking such a case as a reliable sign of such a cause having been at work. (Thus, the sign then counts as evidence pointing to a perhaps otherwise unknown designer having been at work.)

    * So also, to overthrow the design inference, a valid counter example would be needed, a case where blind mechanical necessity and/or blind chance produces such functionally specific, complex information. (Points xiv – xvi above outline why that will be hard indeed to come up with. There are literally billions of cases where FSCI is observed to come from design.)

    xxii: So, we have some reason to suggest that if something, E, is based on specific information describable in a way that does not just quote E and requires at least 500 specific bits to store the specific information, then the most reasonable explanation for the cause of E is that it was designed. The metric may be directly applied to biological cases:

    Using Durston’s Fits values — functionally specific bits — from his Table 1, to quantify I, so also accepting functionality on specific sequences as showing specificity giving S = 1, we may apply the simplified Chi_500 metric of bits beyond the threshold:

    RecA: 242 AA, 832 fits, Chi: 332 bits beyond
    SecY: 342 AA, 688 fits, Chi: 188 bits beyond
    Corona S2: 445 AA, 1285 fits, Chi: 785 bits beyond

    xxiii: And, this raises the controversial question that biological examples such as DNA — which in a living cell is much more complex than 500 bits — may be designed to carry out particular functions in the cell and the wider organism. >>

    So, long since, MG/P has been decisively answered, for any reasonable person interested in a fair conclusion. However, that is precisely what we are not dealing with in this case, on conclusive track record. We here see selective hyperskepticism leading to closed minded refusal to accept that there is another view that is legitimate and worth at least testing empirically. On this, you will see that there simply are no successful cases of FSCI emerging in a process that does not already start from built-in FSCI, i.e we are looking invariably at hill climbing within islands of function or the like. The recent case of a Youtube video of how a clock spontaneously evolves from gears and levers serving as pendulums and pointers is a classic, as the person obviously does not understand that getting precision gears to mesh and to be backed at precisely controlled points is a serious design and construction task. the first linked deals in details with Schneider’s EV, courtesy Mung;s deconstruction, this being MG/P’s main attempted example.

    And after all this time, it seems that MG/P has yet to seriously read the linked wiki article on modelling theory and quantification:

    A mathematical model is a description of a system using mathematical concepts and language. The process of developing a mathematical model is termed mathematical modelling. Mathematical models are used not only in the natural sciences (such as physics, biology, earth science, meteorology) and engineering disciplines (e.g. computer science, artificial intelligence), but also in the social sciences (such as economics, psychology, sociology and political science); physicists, engineers, statisticians, operations research analysts and economists use mathematical models most extensively. A model may help to explain a system and to study the effects of different components, and to make predictions about behaviour.

    Mathematical models can take many forms, including but not limited to dynamical systems, statistical models, differential equations, or game theoretic models. These and other types of models can overlap, with a given model involving a variety of abstract structures. In general, mathematical models may include logical models, as far as logic is taken as a part of mathematics. In many cases, the quality of a scientific field depends on how well the mathematical models developed on the theoretical side agree with results of repeatable experiments. Lack of agreement between theoretical mathematical models and experimental measurements often leads to important advances as better theories are developed . . . .

    There are six basic groups of variables namely: decision variables, input variables, state variables, exogenous variables, random variables, and output variables. Since there can be many variables of each type, the variables are generally represented by vectors.

    Decision variables are sometimes known as independent variables. Exogenous variables are sometimes known as parameters or constants. The variables are not independent of each other as the state variables are dependent on the decision, input, random, and exogenous variables. Furthermore, the output variables are dependent on the state of the system (represented by the state variables).

    Objectives and constraints of the system and its users can be represented as functions of the output variables or state variables. The objective functions will depend on the perspective of the model’s user. Depending on the context, an objective function is also known as an index of performance, as it is some measure of interest to the user. Although there is no limit to the number of objective functions and constraints a model can have, using or optimizing the model becomes more involved (computationally) as the number increases . . .

    The bottomline is that as long as a model is reasonable and effective, it is sufficiently useful. It should be noted that there are billions of cases where the Chi_500 metric will rule that design is cause, and as these are observed cases, it is confirmed empirically reliable. There are no valid counter-examples where we separately know the origin and FSCI fails, attempted counters all end up being loaded with intelligent design overtly or implicitly, with EV a capital case in point. We have a right to treat FSCI as a sign of design, per induction.

    And since one of the objections was to the use of a threshold metric, let us observe that Einstein’s Nobel Prize was largely based on the Photo effect, which is a threshold model. And, dummy variables taking binary states on observation of a relevant external factor that affects the issue materially are a commonplace.

    The serious onlooker will readily see why I have spoken of drumbeat repetition of long since adequately answered objections, demanding that that which has been shown adequately is not shown, and trotting out long since demonstrably specious objections as though they have merit; but in a poisonous atmosphere judgements will be clouded, which explains why the same objectors are ever so eager to unjustly smear design thinkers.

    Beyond a certain point, however, such becomes speaking with willful disregard to the truth, in hopes that what the objector knows or should know is false, will be taken as true.

    MG/P, sadly, has long since passed that point.

    KF

  91. F/N: Any iterative hill-climbing system that exploits peakiness of fitness functions operates inside islands of function. The design theory issue is to cross seas of non-function to find isolated islands of function by chance and necessity, which will be instantly understandable to someone who has had to find the just-right part for a car.

    a clip from IOSE:

    Before we even take up details, we need to pause to underscore the idea that when a set of matching components must be arranged so they can work together to carry out a task or function, this strongly constrains both the choice of individual parts and how they must be arranged to fit together.

    A jigsaw puzzle is a good case in point.

    So is a car engine — as anyone who has had to hunt down a specific, hard to find part will know.

    So are the statements in a computer program — there was once a NASA rocket that veered off course on launch and had to be destroyed by triggering the self-destruct because of — I think it was — a misplaced comma.

    The letters and words in this paragraph are like that too.

    That’s why (at first, simple level) we can usually quite easily tell the difference between:

    A: An orderly, periodic, meaninglessly repetitive sequence: FFFFFFFFFF . . .

    B: Aperiodic, evidently random, equally meaningless text: y8ivgdfdihgdftrs . . .

    C: Aperiodic, but recognisably meaningfully organised sequences of characters: such as this sequence of letters . . .

    In short, to be meaningful or functional, a correct set of core components have to match and must be properly arranged, and while there may be some room to vary, it is not true that just any part popped in in any number of ways can fit in . . .

    And of course, this has been pointed out over and over, only to meet willful refusal to seriously discuss.

    Guess what, this is not a game where the objector gets to shoot off endlessly repeated objections in the teeth of what is in the end a very simple issue of inference on reliable sign. Hence, the significance of Q1 in the OP above.

    We have an empirically reliable tested sign of design as material causal factor.

    We have life forms that from the simplest reasonable cell brim over with it, starting with metabolism, protein manufacture, direct coded digital information storage and von Neumann kinematic self-replication.

    Absent a priori ideological commitments — and those are OFFICIAL statements from the US NAS and NSTA Board, the no-brainer overwhelmingly warranted conclusion is that cell based life is designed. And, as was noted, we have reasonable confidence that a molecular nanotech lab some generations beyond Venter could do it.

    We also have a fine tuned cosmos to account for, and that too points to design as best explanation.

    Those who draw that conclusion are not going to go away and are not going to be impressed by the sort of power play dirty tactics being routinely used by objectors.

    And, sooner or later, the dirty objector tactics are going to backfire bigtime.

    KF

  92. 92
    critical rationalist

    What we do is conjecture explanatory theories about unseen causes which must have logical consequences for the present state of the system. These theories are then empirically criticized. However, a mere theory of an abstract designer that has no defined limitations there can be no necessary consequences for the present day system. It’s a bad explanation as shallow and easily varied.

    From What Did Karl Popper Really Say About Evolution?

    In an earlier work, Popper discussed the historical sciences in which the scientific method of theoretical sciences is used:

    This view is perfectly compatible with the analysis of scientific method, and especially of causal explanation given in the preceding section. The situation is simply this: while the theoretical sciences are mainly interested in finding and testing universal laws, the historical sciences take all kinds of universal laws for granted and are mainly interested in finding and testing singular statements. [Popper, 1957, p. 143ff]

    What Popper calls the historical sciences do not make predictions about long past unique events (postdictions), which obviously would not be testable. (Several recent authors—including Stephen Jay Gould in Discover, July 1982—make this mistake.) These sciences make hypotheses involving past events which must predict (that is, have logical consequences) for the present state of the system in question. Here the testing procedure takes for granted the general laws and theories and is testing the specific conditions (or initial conditions, as Popper usually calls them) that held for the system.

    A scientist, on the basis of much comparative anatomy and physiology, might hypothesize that, in the distant past, mammals evolved from reptiles. This would have testable consequences for the present state of the system (earth’s surface with the geological strata in it and the animal and plant species living on it) in the form of reptile-mammal transition fossils that should exist, in addition to other necessary features of the DNA, developmental systems, and so forth, of the present-day reptiles and mammals.

    However, this does not mean evolutionary theory is *positively* supported by these observations. Rather, it survives empirical criticism.

    The explanation behind Darwinism is that the knowledge of how to build biological adaptations was created via a form of conjecture and refutation. It’s part of a universal explanation for how knowledge grows. Specifically, conjecture, in the form of genetic variation random to a specific problem to solve, and conjecture, in the form of natural selection. This is a hard to vary explanation in that it would have necessary consequences for the current state of the system, which we should be able to empirically observe.

    One necessary consequence is that organisms should appear in the order of least to most complex. In addition, organisms should appear over time, rather than appearing all at once. If organisms appeared all at once or in the order of most complex to least complex, there is no way to vary Darwinism to explain it. Darwinists have no where to go. We can say the same regarding organisms born with new, complex adaptations for which there were no precursors in the parents or complex adaptation that has survival value today, but was not favored by selection pressure in it’s ancestry (such as bears with the ability to detect and use internet weather forecasts as a means to determine when to hibernate) In all of these cases, some completely different explanatory theory would be needed.

    On the other hand, intelligent design theory refers to an abstract designer with no defined limitations. If we assume only this is true, for the purpose of criticism, what would be the necessary consequences for the current state of the system?

    An abstract designer with no defined limitations could have created organisms in any order, all at once or over time. It could have also created features for which there were no precursors or has survival value today, but was not favored by selection in their ancestry.

    What else would refute Darwinism’s underlying explanation? Evidence that the knowledge of how to build organisms came into existence in a different way (which was also implied in the above). For example, if an organism was observed to undergo only, or mainly, favorable mutations, as predicted by Lamarckism or spontaneous generation, then a fundamentally new explanation for that knowledge would be required.

    KF: Locke’s reply is biting (and goes to another explaining concept that many in our day are so quick to deride, but should rethink their views), in his opening introductory remarks in his essay on human understanding, section 5. I cite this because it is apt and anticipated Hume by decades in a work he should have taken more seriously:

    Locke was an early empiricist and, as you pointed out, far from secular. From the Wikipedia entry on empiricism.

    The notion of tabula rasa (“clean slate” or “blank tablet”) connotes a view of mind as an originally blank or empty recorder (Locke used the words “white paper”) on which experience leaves marks. This denies that humans have innate ideas. The image dates back to Aristotle;

    What the mind (nous) thinks must be in it in the same sense as letters are on a tablet (grammateion) which bears no actual writing (grammenon); this is just what happens in the case of the mind. (Aristotle, On the Soul, 3.4.430a1).

    This is naive inductivism.

  93. 93
    critical rationalist

    KF,

    Thanks for your reply. I agree this is a productive discussion, which has been helpful for me to understand your position as well.

    In that spirit, I’ll attempt to further clarify the difference between these two forms of epistemology.

    Critical Rationalism

    - We notice a problem.
    - We propose solutions to the problem
    - Since proposed solutions are essentally guesses about what is out there in reality, we…
    - Criticize the theory for internal consistency. Solutions that are internally inconsistent are discarded.
    - Criticize the theory by taking it seriously, in that we assume it’s true in reality and that all (empirical) observations should conform to them, *for the purpose of rational criticism*. “All observations” reflects all of our current, best solutions to other problems, which are themselves conjecture that have survived criticism.
    - This process continues until only one proposed solution is left, rather than positively supporting one particular theory.

    - The process starts all over again we notice another problem, such as new observations that conflict with our remaining proposed solution.

    Observations are themselves based on theories. So, when a new observation conflicts with a deep, hard to vary explanation, one form of criticism is to criticize the theory behind the new observations by conjecturing a theory why those observations might be wrong, then criticizing that theory as well.

    An example of this is OPERA’s observations of faster than light neutrinos, which conflicted with Einstein’s special relativity (SR). These results didn’t tell us anything, one way or the other, as we had yet to devise a good explanation for the observations, such as we have for microscopes. In the absence of a good explanation, we had no way to criticize these observations. (For example, in the case of microscopes, the samples could have been prepared incorrectly or mislabeled. This is part of the hard to vary explanation as to why microscopes tell us something about reality.) So, observations are neutral (in the sense you’re referring to) without good explanations. As such, they could not falsify SR. Eventually OPERA did come up with an explanation for the observations: an improperly attached fiber optic cable and a clock oscillator ticking to fast. SR lives on to be criticized another day.

    If one assumes microscopes return accurate results merely because “some abstract designer with no defined limitations wants them to”, we have no way of criticizing the resulting observations, as the explanation for the results could be easily varied. For example, you might put the wrong sample under the lens or replace the lens with a penny, but an abstract designer with no limitations could still display the right sample because “thats what the designer wanted”.

    Nor is it clear how appending,”because some abstract designer with no defined limitations wanted them to play those roles” to our current, long chain of independently formed, hard to vary explanations as to why microscopes return accurate results, adds to the explanation or is even desirable in regards to actually solving the problem.

    For example, would you start discarding observations from microscopes if this addition was absent, but the long chain of independently formed, hard to vary explanations remained? Would this stop us from making progress.

    Inductivism

    - We start out with observations
    - We then use those observations to devise a theory
    - We then test those observations with additional observations to confirm the theory or make it more probable

    However, theories do not follow from evidence. At all. Scientific theories explain the seen using the seen. And the unseen doesn’t “resemble” the seen any more than falling apples and orbiting planets resemble the curvature of space-time.

    Are dinosaurs merely an interpretation of our best explanation of fossils? Or are they *the* explanation for fossils? After all, there are an infinite number of rival interpretations that accept the same empirical observations, yet suggest that dinosaurs never existed millions of years ago.

    For example, there is the rival interpretation that fossils only come into existence when they are consciously observed. Therefore, fossils are no older than human beings. As such, they are not evidence of dinosaurs, but evidence of acts of those particular observations. Another interpretation would be that dinosaurs are such weird animals that conventional logic simply doesn’t apply to them. One could suggests It’s meaningless to ask if dinosaurs were real or just a useful fiction to explain fossils – which is an example of instrumentalism. Not to mention the rival interpretation that an abstract designer with no limitations chose to create the world we observe 30 days ago. Therefore, dinosaurs couldn’t be the explanation for fossils because they didn’t exist at the time.

    Yet, we do not say that dinosaurs are merely an interpretation of our best explanation of fossils, they *are* the explanation for fossils. And this explanation is primarily about dinosaurs, not fossils. So, it’s in this sense that science isn’t primarily about “things you can see”.

    (I’d also note that the above “rival interpretations” represent general-purpose ways of denying anything, but I’ll save that for another comment.)

    We seem to agree observations cannot be used to conform theories. However, you do seem think that observations can make a theory more probable. But this assumption is highly parochial, as it doesn’t take into account the different kinds of unknowability.

    The first kind of unknowability are scenarios where the outcome is completely random and all possible outcomes are known. An example of this is Russian Roulette. As long as you know all of the possible outcomes, we can use probability to make choices about it. For example, if for some horrible reason, one had to choose between different versions of Russian Roulette with specific yet variable number of chambers, bullets and trigger pulls, one could use game theory to determine which variation would be most favorable.

    On the other hand, any piece of evidence is compatible with many theories (see above) This includes an infinite number of theories that have yet to be proposed. You cannot assign probabilities to un-conceived theories, because those probabilities would be based on the details of a yet to be conceived theory. In addition, scenarios that depend on the creation of knowledge represent a different kind of unknowability, despite being deterministic. For example, people in 1900 didn’t consider nuclear power or the internet unlikely. They didn’t conceive of them at all. As such, it’s unclear how they could have factored their impact into some sort of probability calculation about the future.

    As such, in the face of this kind of unknowability, probability is invalid as a means of criticizing explanations, despite what our intuition might tell us.

    Furthermore, inductivism doesn’t tell us what we should observe or why those observations are relevant because all we have are observations at the outset. Until we devise a test, we do not know what observations to make. And without at least one theory, we have no way to devise a test that might result in observations that conflict with that particular theory. If initial observations did tell us what test would actually conflict with a theory, there would be no need to devise a test in the first place.

    For example, the evidence that collaborated Newton’s laws of motion has been falling on the earth’s surface for billions of years, which is far longer than the entirety of human inhabitance. Yet, we only got around to testing them about 300 years ago after Newton conjectured his theory. As such, it’s not evidence that is scarce, but good explanations for that evidence. And we can say the same about all other phenomena.

    So, we should look for explanations, not justification. Good explanations solve problems and allow us to make progress. When criticizing theories, we look for observations that can be better explained by one theory, rather than another. And we take into account all of our other current, best explanations for the purpose of criticism. Arguments that do not take them into account are parochial – which is narrow in scope.

    Most relevant in our discussion here, the objection that “idea X is not justified” is a bad criticism because it applies to all ideas.

  94. 94
    critical rationalist

    This leads us to the question of what constitutes “the appearance of design”, which is a reflection of our acceptance of observations from microscopes (the existence of long chains of hard to vary explanations for those observations).

    It was William Paley who noted some objects not only can serve a purpose but there are objects which are *adapted* to a purpose. For example, if you slightly altered the design of a watch (or a microscope) it would serve the purpose of keeping time (or magnifying samples) less well, or not even at all. On the other hand, we can use the sun to keep time, even though it would serve that purpose equally well if its features were slightly or even massively modified. Just as we adapt the earth’s raw materials to serve a purpose, we also find uses for the sun it was never design or adapted to provided. So, merely being useful for a purpose, without being hard to vary and retaining that ability, does not reflect the appearance of design.

    IOW, good designs are hard to vary. This is a reflection of our long chain of independent, hard to vary explanations for how microscopes work.

    Adaptations represent transformations of matter. In the case of a microscope, raw materials are adapted into glass and metal, which are adapted into lenses, gears and frames. These components are adapted into a particular configuration in a particular order. If you varied these adaptations slightly the microscope would not serve the purpose of magnifying samples as well, or not even at all.

    These are two sides of the same coin, so to speak. Again, it’s unclear what adding “and some designer wanted it that way” brings to the explanation or how it is even desirable.

    Also, in the above examples, the knowledge of how to tell time via the sun is in us and our sundials, not the sun. But this knowledge is embedded in the watch, as it is in biological organisms. So, the question is, how did the knowledge end up embedded in either of these things?

    How does ID explain it?

  95. CR:

    Let’s boil her down:

    [Q] 2: Is there such a thing as reasonable inductive generalisation that can identify reliable empirical signs of causal factors that may act on objects, systems, processes or phenomena etc., including (a) mechanical necessity leading to low contingency natural regularity, (b) chance contingency leading to stochastic distributions of outcomes and (c) choice contingency showing itself by certain commonly seen traces familiar from our routine experiences and observations of design? If not, why not?

    KF

  96. CR:

    Being busy for the moment, let me take up your opening, as a slice of the cake that has in it the main ingredients (and yes, this is inductive):

    What we do

    [ a --> in dealing with scientific reconstructions of the unobserved past, which applies to forensics (as applied science), to geology, to astrophysics, and of course to evolutionary biology, etc. That is the question is not only faced by design thinkers, so one must be balanced rather than selectively hyperskeptical . . . ]

    is conjecture explanatory theories about unseen causes which must have logical consequences for the present state of the system.

    [b --> Strawman summary. The pivot is not conjectures on the past but first observation of traces of the past or of things too remote to be directly observed.

    c --> The challenge here being that we wish to have a credible understanding of the course of the past and how it led to the present marked by those traces [e.g. why oxbow lakes and m4eanders in a river valley and why a wide flood plain with walls beyond, or else of the behaviour of the remote object and how it gives rise to say a spectrum with Fraunhoffer lines red shifted by a certain amount. And many more like that. This is a real problem, and one that has real implications for the methods of science and underlying inductive reasoning, induction being that form of logical argumentation where evidence and reasoning provide support for conclusions that may be substantial, but not proof that is beyond all dispute rooted in axioms acceptable to all.

    d --> The logic applied being inference to best empirically supported explanation, in light of setting up and/or observing the course of relevant forces and factors in the present, that give rise to patterns of results that are comparable to the traces.

    e --> In cases where we have patterns of consequences that are shown to be characteristic of given causal forces, these are taken as credible signs of those forces at work. (I think you should at the very least work your way through the discussion here with us, on the deer track example, and also the signature on a checque example. Notice, in both cases fraud is possible, but there is a heuristic that allows us to accept that once the signs are there, and once there are no further evident signs of fraud or ambiguity, then it is reasonable to infer to the obvious conclusions. Of course there are sometimes problems with the actual reliability of signs, as may be seen in the discussion here that implicitly contrasts the cosmological case and the geodating case. ironically, there is a tendency to accept signs that are not particularly reliable on testing, because they support a given dominant school of thought.)

    f --> Thus, per inference to best explanation in such cases, we may identify most credible causes.]

    These theories are then empirically criticized.

    [g --> More correctly, inferences to best explanation in science are open to development and correction, on further evidence. This is consistent with how scientific knowledge is provisional.]

    However, a mere theory of an abstract designer that has no defined limitations there can be no necessary consequences for the present day system.

    [h --> Strawman caricature. Design theory is about detection of design on empirically warranted signs as material causal factor, it is not a theory about a designer or a cluster of designers. THAT TWEREDUN comes before WHO DUNIT.

    i --> Science, ostensibly, is meant to be accurate to the world and to provide warrant on observations that grounds confidence in that accuracy, so it matters a great deal whether a theory's claims are potentially truth bearing.

    j --> Thus, in a case where we have no credible observations that something like FSCO/I is in our knowledge produced by blind chance and mechanical necessity AND we also have a needle in the haystack/infinite monkeys analysis that on grounds similar to those of the statistical form of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, a proposed explanation of FSCO/I that insists that it MUST have come about by forces of chance and necessity is in serious trouble with versimilitude.

    k --> That proponents of such theories then set out to gerrymander definitions of science and its methods in the teeth of history, epistemology and logic alike, then points to a point where serious reform is needed in science.

    l --> That is why the evidence that the living cell is a gated, encapsulated, metabolic automaton involving a von Neumann kinematic self replication facility that uses digitally coded tapes and associated informational protocols in a context of a step by step algorithmic process, i.e. it is FSCO/I rich, is material to the identifying of the empirically credible cause of the living cell. And surely, that is a significant issue in science today.

    m --> Where we know the only and routinely empirically observed cause of algorithms, digital codes, implementing machines correctly arranged to work together, and the functionally specific complex information. Namely, design.

    n --> So it is both reasonable and momentous for our understandings of the origin of life and later on of major body plans that these are FSCO/I rich in a context where on evidence such FSCO/I is a strong sign of design as causal process.]

    It’s a bad explanation as shallow and easily varied.

    [o --> Mere harrumphing.]

    In short, despite repeated well warranted correction, you keep on going off the rails at the outset. You need to think about what it is that keeps you locked in a circle of basic errors, even when you have ample opportunity to correct same.

    KF

  97. The recent case of a Youtube video of how a clock spontaneously evolves from gears and levers serving as pendulums and pointers is a classic, as the person obviously does not understand that getting precision gears to mesh and to be backed at precisely controlled points is a serious design and construction task.

    I believe I also devoted some attention to this purported example of “darwinian evolution” in posts here at UD.

  98. CR:

    I have a national sci edu crisis to deal with, so I have to be selective.

    I see:

    in the above examples, the knowledge of how to tell time via the sun is in us and our sundials, not the sun. But this knowledge is embedded in the watch, as it is in biological organisms. So, the question is, how did the knowledge end up embedded in either of these things?

    How does ID explain it?

    Designs are not about “adaptations” — they are about matched components integrated to form a functional whole in accordance with a “wiring diagram.” This well known pattern — how you strain to avoid talking in the terms of functionally specific, complex organisation and associated information — is such that components are maximally unlikely to arrive at effective configs in the space of possibilities by blind chance, mechanical necessity or specific cases of that such as exaptation.

    DESIGN, as is abundantly exemplified in the world around us, easily explains that pattern. The specification of components, orientations, magnitudes, adjustments etc to function in intended ways in given environments. Followed by skilled assembly and adjustment, often with debugging to eliminate the almost inevitable bugs.

    This is a commonplace, and it is the only empirically observed cause of systems with FSCO/I, where we actually see the origin. (Self replication in the relevant sense is not an origin, it is an additional, highly complex function to be explained..)

    All of this is well known.

    KF

  99. CR:

    Re Locke, why did you go off on a red herring tangent to a strawman on tabula rasa when what I cited with approval from Locke was in front of you. This, from Intro to essay on human understanding:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 - 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 - 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 - 2 & 13, Ac 17, Jn 3:19 - 21, Eph 4:17 - 24, Isaiah 5:18 & 20 - 21, Jer. 2:13, Titus 2:11 - 14 etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 - 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. [Essay on Hum U/stdg, Intro sect 5; Text references added to document the sources of Locke's allusions and citations.]

    That sounds like some common good sense to me, and well worth heeding still.

    Gotta go.

    KF

  100. 100
    critical rationalist

    KF: [Q] 2: Is there such a thing as reasonable inductive generalisation that can identify reliable empirical signs of causal factors that may act on objects, systems, processes or phenomena etc., including (a) mechanical necessity leading to low contingency natural regularity, (b) chance contingency leading to stochastic distributions of outcomes and (c) choice contingency showing itself by certain commonly seen traces familiar from our routine experiences and observations of design? If not, why not?

    No, I’ve I’ve outlined objections to inductivism above. I’m assuming you’re still busy and have yet to respond to them.

    KF: Being busy for the moment, let me take up your opening, as a slice of the cake that has in it the main ingredients (and yes, this is inductive):

    I’d suggest you apply that to my above comment that specially contrasts Critical Rationalism and inductivism.

    For example…

    [b --> Strawman summary. The pivot is not conjectures on the past but first observation of traces of the past or of things too remote to be directly observed.

    Again we cannot observe causes. As such, how do you know where to look without first conjecturing a theory? From my above comment…

    … inductivism doesn’t tell us what we should observe or why those observations are relevant because all we have are observations at the outset. Until we devise a test, we do not know what observations to make. And without at least one theory, we have no way to devise a test that might result in observations that conflict with that particular theory. If initial observations did tell us what test would actually conflict with a theory, there would be no need to devise a test in the first place.

    CR: It’s a bad explanation as shallow and easily varied.

    KF: [o --> Mere harrumphing.]

    If microscopes return accurate results because they represent hard to vary adaptations of matter, why would we expect a shallow and easily varied explanation to be closer to the truth? Why couldn’t we get closer? Can you easily vary the design of a microscope (the explantation as to how it works) and expect it to give accurate results?

    For example, can your designer be easily varied and still perform the purpose of designing objects just as well? If not, then why would you think the shallow and easily varied explanation of “an abstract designer with no defined limitations” is a good explanation that actually brings us closer to truth?

    Why is your designer an exception?

    KF: Re Locke, why did you go off on a red herring tangent to a strawman on tabula rasa when what I cited with approval from Locke was in front of you. This, from Intro to essay on human understanding:

    Because locke’s conception of human knowledge was justiicationist in nature.

    In addition, Lock’s views are represent a pre-scientific perspective of human knowledge….

    From a quote on another thread….

    All logically conceivable transformations of matter can be classified in the following three ways: transformations that are prohibited by the laws of physics, spontaneous transformations (such as the formation of stars) or transformations which are possible when the requisite knowledge of how to perform them are present.

    Every conceivable transformation of matter is either impossible because of the laws of physics or achievable if the right knowledge is present. This dichotomy is entailed in the scientific world view.

    If there was some transformation of matter that was not possible regardless of how much knowledge was brought to bare, this would be a testable regularity in nature. That is, we would predict whenever that transformation was attempted, it would fail to occur. This itself would be a law of physics, which would be a contradiction.

    Furthermore, if we really do reside in a finite bubble of explicably, which exists in an island in a sea of of inexplicability, the inside of this bubble cannot be explicable either. This is because the inside is supposedly dependent what occurs in this inexplicable realm. Any assumption that the world is inexplicable leads to bad explanations. That is, no theory about what exists beyond this bubble can be any better than “Zeus rules” there. And, given the dependency above (this realm supposedly effects us), this also means there can be no better expiation that “Zeus rules” inside this bubble as well.

    In other words, our everyday experience in this bubble would only appear explicable if we carefully refrain from asking specific questions. Note this bares a strong resemblance to a pre-scientific perspective with its distinction between an Earth designed for human beings and a heaven that is beyond human comprehension.

    Again, it’s unclear how a “abstract designer with no defined limitation” is a good explanation unless you assume we cannot get closer to truth.

  101. Onlookers:

    Coming back after some days. CR tried to carry forth the same basic scheme of objections elsewhere, I have answered here.

    Let me clip:

    ___________

    >> Let me speak to points from 328 to show what I mean:

    1: CR, 328: FSCIO/I isn’t well defined.

    Here, first, you don’t even seem to bother to get the abbreviation right: Functionally Specific Complex organisation and associated Information, FSCO/I. You also fail to address the way that it is developed, e.g. here on in context, and seem to want to take for granted the objections as though they are well founded. They are not, for reasons the context of the linked will make plain.

    Namely:

    a: functional specificity of configurations is objectively real and routinely observable, just think about finding a spare part of of what happened when that comma sent a NASA rocket veering off path and forced a self destruct.

    b: Complex, functionally specific organisation with associated information is equally real and observable, as we can see from how AutoCAD etc in effect create node and arc meshes to describe objects and functional networks through sets of bit strings.

    c: As the AutoCAD file size number also shows, such are measurable in bits.

    d: In addition, we can show that on the gamut of the solar system, the maximum sample that can be taken with atomic resources using the fastest ionic chemical reaction rates as clock tick, is as one straw to a cubical haystack 1,000 LY across, i.e about as thick as our galaxy.

    e: So, sampling theory tells us that — even if such were superposed on our galaxy — we have no right to expect anything from such a sample but straw. This is the needle in the haystack, on steroids.

    f: In addition, we may quantify this threshold, once we can observe functional specificity being present (and using S = 1/0 as a dummy variable, default 0 but 1 if FS is objectively present) and produce a Chi_500 metric, as the linked shows, where measured info content is I:

    Chi_500 = I*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold of sufficient complexity to be FSCO/I

    I therefore must say to you that beyond a certain point, sustaining a dismissive distortion in the face of plainly adequate correction becomes willful distortion of truth.

    2: Nor can we observe causes

    This is at best nearly meaningless pedantry.

    Consider a dropped heavy object, where reliably we see that it falls at 9.8 N/kg. This is mechanical necessity in action.

    Similarly, if the object is a fair die, it will reliably then tumble and come to rest with uppermost sides from the set {1, 2, . . . 6} at probability 1/6 per face. Much the same would obtain for a 2-sided die, i.e a coin, where the H/T would be with probability 1/2 apiece. This is chance based high contingency.

    Now, if we had a string of 504 such coins in a slotted tray, we could find the coins in states from TT . . . T to HH . . . H by chance and/or by choice. And as a simple case, if we were to see the coins arranged so as to show the first 72 letters of this post, in order, we would with all but certainty, have excellent reason to infer that the best and empirically warranted explanation of such was intelligently directed organising work (IDOW), AKA design.

    It is quite reasonable to say of such that we may see the relevant causes in action, and that we can trace them from empirically testable, reliable signs. For instance, due to the binomial distribution for 500 coins [~ 5.24*10^151 possibilities], the at random tosses would be overwhelmingly near 50:50 H/T in no particular order. The bare possibility of getting a special arrangement as above, would be so remote on the gamut of our solar system’s atomic and temporal resources that we can dismiss the possibility of this by chance as all but impossible. Such is, reliably, empirically unobservable. An unwinnable lottery.

    It is thus reasonable to say that we observe causes in action, mechanical necessity leading to natural regularities, chance contingency to stochastic distributions, and choice contingency often leading to things such as FSCO/I.

    3: you’re ignoring what we do know about designers: namely our best current explanation for how all knowledge is created.

    Strawman.

    4: I’m pointing out the ambiguity of the terms “relationship” and arbitrary” in the first premise of UB’s argument.

    Strawman.

    Context makes the meaning abundantly clear.

    5: Entirely new cells are constructed when they divide. This includes all of the components of the system you are referring to. Unless a designer is intervening to build tRNA when a cell divides, the knowledge of how to construct all of them is found in the genome.

    Strawman, off a red herring.

    What you are distorting is the reported, easily shown fact:

    KF: the AA’s loaded on the tRNA’s that key to the mRNA codons, are loaded on a standard CCA end. They are INFORMATIONALLY loaded based on the config of the particular tRNA, by special loading enzymes. That is the connexion between the codon triplet and the AA added to the protein chain is informational not driven by deterministic chemical forces.

    You are ducking the established fact of INFORMATION ENCODED IN MATERIAL MEDIA AND ALSO USED TO DECIDE WHICH aa GOES ON WHAT tRNA, TO MATCH TO CODON IN THE RIBOSOME, SO CORRECTLY CHAINING A PROTEIN THROUGH TRANSLATION FROM THE RNA CODE.

    And, since that process has in it oodles of FSCO/I, e.g. the genome starts at about 100 – 1,000 bits of digitally stored info, we know the best explanation for such FSCO/I per reliable sign, IDOW, or design. Life’s origin is on design, the onward replication and reproduction from generation to generation carries forward what was built in.

    6: Unless a designer is intervening to build tRNA when a cell divides, the knowledge of how to construct all of them is found in the genome. So, the question is, how was this knowledge created?

    Strawman, again.

    Cf just above.

    7: where did I imply this? [inability to provide a counter instance to FSCO/I reliably being produced in our observation by IDOW]

    This is evident from your tactics, as was pointed out in 306, above but neatly omitted:

    CR, 299: it is also parochial in that it implicitly includes the idea that knowledge / information must be justified by some ultimate source. How do you justify whatever arbiter defines this relationship? And how do you justify that, etc? Will you respond with a serious question this time?

    KF (pardon typo): In effect5 you grudgingly imply that you cannot provide an actual case of coded, functionally specific information of 500 + bits coming about by known forces of chance and necessity without intelligent direction. That is obvious for if you had a case you would not be going into such convolutions but would triumphantly trot it out. But the Canali on mars failed, Weasel failed, GA’s failed, and the Youtube vid on how a clock could evolve from gears and pendulums failed too, etc. So you cannot bring forth an actual case to make your point.

    To brazen it out, you want to demand the right to suggest without evidence that chance and necessity can and do on the gamut of accessible resources, create FSCO/I. Sorry, a demonstrated source — design — is an obviously superior explanation to something that has no such base.

    FYI, there is no question-begging circle on what “must” be the source of knowledge, codes, intelligent messages etc, WE HAVE OBSERVATIONS, abundant and unexceptioned observations, that show that FSCO/I comes from design.

    So, you ate going up against an empirically abundantly justified induction. And your trick is to assert question-begging.

    The strawman tactic is evident.

    8: Pointing out that justification is impossible is not “going into such convolutions”. It’s a criticism of one’s form of epistemology and the impact it would have on their conclusions.

    Of course, warrant per observation, consistent pattern seen in such observations and reasonable inference to best explanation, is sufficient for all practical and responsible purposes. But to the hyperskeptic such as CR, such can be simply swept away by using dismissive words. When it is suitable.

    “Justification [--> more accurately, warrant] is impossible” of course cannot be consistently lived by. It refutes itself.

    Let me give a case of warrant to undeniably certain truth. Statement E: Error exists. This is obviously so per general observation and experience, but it is also an undeniably true claim. To try to deny E at once instantiates it, as either E or else its denial NOT-E must be false. So, even to deny E ends up supporting it.

    Similarly, it is a reliable induction that a dropped heavy object near earth falls more or less towards the centre thereof, with initial acceleration 9.8 N/kg. Likewise it can be warranted that reasonably pure water at sea level boils at about 100 degrees C, under standard atmosphere conditions. Similarly, there is a certain body of Pt alloy near Paris that is the standard of mass, the kilogram. One metre is the distance light travels in about 3 ns.

    (There is a more exact time, used in the current formal definition of the metre. It is also demonstrable that this definition is a successor to one in terms of a certain number of wavelengths of light, thence onwards the distance between two scratch-marks on a certain bar of Pt alloy, and thence onward per the original definition, a fraction of the distance from the Earth’s pole to the equator through Paris. That is an example of historical warrant that produces morally certain knowledge.)

    9: Where does your conception of human knowledge differ from the conception I outlined? Please be specific. Here’s your chance to show that my assessment is wrong, by pointing out how your view differs, in detail.

    Strawman, that pretends that there was no answer to the assertions, at length previously. The above list of cases that can be fairly easily fleshed out, should suffice to show, again, why CR’s claims are utterly wrong-headed.

    10: justification is impossible. Of course, being open to criticism, please feel free to point out how it’s possible, in practice . . . . How is it an error to point out your argument is parodical, in that it completely ignores other forms of epistemology? What sort of acknowledgment would “correct” or “amend” this? Should I deny they are well formed or that they exist as alternatives? What actually seems to be going on is that you cannot recognize your specific conception of human knowledge as an idea that would be subject to criticism. Specifically, your response so far seem to be that “everyone knows we use induction”, as if you accept it uncritically and that it’s a taboo to even question it. Yet, you haven’t actually presented a “principle of induction” that works in practice.

    The strawman tactics continue, again and again. Onlookers who wish to see more of why this is completely a caricature, may wish to follow the original post and exchanges in this thread [--> i.e. here in this thread above]. (CR is trying to rebut the force of Q 1 of 18. He manifestly fails but is unwilling to acknowledge adequate and repeated correction.) >>
    ____________

    I trust this should suffice to show what is going on.

    It seems that objectors to design thought cannot seriously and cogently answer the 18 Q’s.

    KF

  102. F/N For those puzzled by the debate over verification, falsification, corroboration and induction, this little introductory note on Popper’s challenges with corroboration should suffice to show that tested empirical support for a claim is still important and provides a degree of warrant for accepting (provisionally of course) those which have a good track record of testing and prediction. In short, inference to best current explanation backed up by empirical testing and support, is a serious view and induction is not dead. KF

  103. 103
    critical rationalist

    @KF

    Still waiting for you to address #93.

    Also, from a comment on another thread…

    @KF#337

    See here and here.

    To summarize, Salman is a justificationist, yet he has not formulated a principle of induction that actually works, in practice. Popper presents a straight forward logical argument as to why justification is impossible, which Salman did not refute.

    The same of criticism addressed here in this very thread where Salman exhibits the second of three attitudes.

    IOW, these criticisms reflect confusion about Popper’s attitude. And they stem from the fact that, as justificationists, they simply cannot see it any other way. As such, they assume justification must be true.

    And there are plenty more misrepresentations of Popper. A few of which can be found here.

    Again, to reiterate…

    Specifically, the fundamental flaw in creationism (and its variants) is the same fundamental flaw in pre-enlightenment, authoritative conceptions of human knowledge: its account of how the knowledge in adaptations could be created is either missing, supernatural or illogical. In some cases, it’s the very same theory, in that specific types of knowledge, such as cosmology or moral knowledge, was dictated to early humans by supernatural beings. In other cases, parochial aspects of society, such as the rule of monarchs in governments or the existence of God, are protected by taboos or taken so uncritically for granted that they are not recognized as ideas.

    Inductivism is suffers from the same fundamental flaw.

  104. CR: Your strawman caricatures have been addressed several times over. KF

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