Jun 19 2011

Bachmann Promotes Creationism

The Republican primary season is already starting, and we are in for another round of candidates saying embarrassing things about science. To be fair (this is not a political blog so I want to make sure I don’t come off as partisan) bad science is not limited to the Republican party. But there are some issues where they definitely take the lead – and evolution/creationism is one. In some states creationism is on the Republican party platform. Last election cycle 4 of 10 Republican primary candidates endorsed creationism over evolution when asked directly in a debate.

This cycle we have Michele Bachmann, congresswoman from Minnesota, who is already on record as supporting creationism. In 2006 she stated:

“there is a controversy among scientists about whether evolution is a fact… hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel prizes, believe in intelligent design.”

Now, following a speech to Republicans in New Orleans, she said to reporters:

“I support intelligent design. What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide. I don’t think it’s a good idea for government to come down on one side of scientific issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides.”

She is dead wrong, of course. There is no scientific controversy about the fact of evolution. The overwhelming majority of scientists support evolution – because the evidence for it is overwhelming. The controversy is entirely a political/religious one. This is embarrassing for Bachmann. I don’t expect every presidential candidate to be a scientist, or have any level of expertise in science. But I think in the 21st century we should expect a basic level of scientific literacy from our leaders. There are simply too many issues that require an understanding of science.

This also demonstrates a weakness for any candidate. It indicates that they are willing to cater to a special interest. Even worse, if is a failure of process. Even if a candidate is not well-informed on an issue, they should know how to consult the proper experts to quickly get a working knowledge of an important issue. Before Bachmann makes public statements about such a hot-button political question she should talk to a few experts – find out what the real issues are.

So her statements represent a gross failure of due diligence – not something I want in a president. Or, if she did consult experts and was still able to make these statements, that is a profound failure to understand the issue, or of intellectual honesty. All of these possibilities are bad news – there is really no interpretation that can save her.

Her more recent statements indicate that she is steeped in pro-creationist propaganda, however. She has certainly listened to that side. She is giving the “academic” freedom line – the current approach of the creationists. This approach seems superficially fair – but it is a demonstrable ruse. She makes it seem as if there is equivalent doubt on either side of the evolution question, but there isn’t. This question has been decided – as much as it has been decided that DNA is the molecule of inheritance, and that plate tectonics play an important role in understanding the geology of the Earth – even as much as the sun-centered solar system.

We don’t need to teach geocentrism, growing earth nonsense, the ether, or alchemy to students and then let them decide. Such notions are only useful in teaching the history of scientfiic thought – how we currently know that these discredited ideas are wrong, and why we currently accept other theories.

Of course, not all Republicans, or even Republican candidates are creationists. In a way it’s a very useful issue – it gives a very quick window into a candidate. I feel I can infer quite a bit about Bachmann from those two comments (none of it good). But for the Republican party, this issue is a disaster. The leaders of the Republican party should lead – just say it like it is. The scientific community has spoken – we should listen to them. Teach whatever you want at home and at church – but science classrooms are for teaching accepted science.

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344 responses so far

344 Responses to “Bachmann Promotes Creationism”

  1. Grahamon 19 Jun 2011 at 1:45 pm

    I hate the say it, but this is just the nature of the Republican constituency. No Republican who expects to win a national election can ever come out against intelligent design.

  2. shawmutton 19 Jun 2011 at 2:18 pm

    …and the Republicans love Michelle Bachmann. The whole ID/creationism argument is just one of many fronts on the “war against intellectualism”.

  3. Belgarathon 19 Jun 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Be careful, Shawmutt. ‘Republicans’ do not love Michelle Bachmann. Some do, others do not. I’m one who does not and based on her recent anti-science comments, I cannot and will not vote for her if she is the nominee.

  4. Ben Johnsonon 19 Jun 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Before Bachmann makes public statements about such a hot-button political question she should talk to a few experts – find out what the real issues are.

    You’re giving her too much credit, she is not a reasonable person There is no question who her “expert” witness is (god if you didn’t already know). This is just the latest example:

    http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2011/04/12/177344/bachmann-god-gay-marriage/

  5. mcbon 19 Jun 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Steven, You are being far too generous. Michelle Bachmann is an unmitigated disaster in the making. She’s loonier than the former governor of Alaska, a fundamentalist evangelical, a global warming denier, author of the “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act,” and a Tea Party mouthpiece. If we really do get the government we deserve, we Minnesotans must have done something very bad.

  6. Maynard_242on 19 Jun 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Sadly Bachmann has a long record of talking first and not asking questions later.

  7. neverknowon 19 Jun 2011 at 8:20 pm

    There is nothing unscientific or ridiculous about believing that evolution may have been guided by some kind of higher order intelligence. The current theory of evolution says random genetic changes are weeded out by natural selection, and that this is adequate to explain the evolution of life on earth. But it is a theory that can’t be verified, and is accepted on faith by the materialist mainstream.

    The “stupid ignorant creationist” Republicans are really just questioning the materialists’ faith in an unproven theory.

    Intelligent Design is merely a criticism of the unquestioning acceptance of the current theory. Intelligent Design has nothing to do with the Christian creation myth. Do you really think they believe God created Adam out of mud and made Eve out of his rib?

    We don’t have to choose between Christian literalism and extreme materialism. There are other ways to look at the question of how and why life began and species evolved.

    Some of us believe the universe is alive and intelligent, in ways that we can’t possibly imagine. If it is, then we could expect life to evolve in creative ways. We don’t have to resort to blind chance as the only possible explanation.

    Natural selection is an obvious fact, but that doesn’t mean it explains evolution. The current theory of evolution is rooted in a very over-simplified view of nature. It is human-centric and completely ignores the immense complexity of life.

    The Intelligent Design theorists try to demonstrate that this kind of complexity just does not happen by chance. It is not scientific or rational to dismiss them just because you don’t like the implications of their ideas.

  8. steve12on 19 Jun 2011 at 8:58 pm

    There’s a lot wrong with what your saying, neverknow, but I think it can all be traced back to a single error.

    Ontological naturalism (i.e, true materialism) IS an assumption of science, and only people who want to ‘make nice’ with religious types deny this. People strive for the middle ground (God made the laws of nature which would inevitably lead to life on Earth through evo processes), but there is no science w/o materialistic assumptions. You at LEAST need methodological naturalism, but I actually find the distinction meaningless.

    Without materialism, there are no experiments. How can I interpret data if I can’t rule out capricious supernatural causation in my data? I can’t – it’s simply not possible. It’s the ultimate confound. That’s why science by definition assumes materialism. And that assumption has thus far worked out – a couple of centuries of science have taught us more about the universe than thousands of years of assuming supernatural causation.

    If the assumption is wrong (and I’m not even sure logically what that would mean), then science will be useless in finding out how the universe works. Science isn’t a catch all phrase that means ‘looking for knowledge’ or some such. Science is a specific set of assumptions and methods that are either employed or not. There are no opinions as to what science is or isn’t, despite public debate about the definition of science.

    And one of the assumptions is indeed materialism. It’s cool if you don’t like that assumption – you’re just no longer engaged in science ipso facto of not accepting it. You’re doing something else.

  9. spliceron 19 Jun 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Lets get all the MN candidates covered.

    From a Newsweek interview with Tim Pawlenty Dec 2009:
    Newsweek:
    Let me ask you about social issues your party has been dealing with. In her book, Palin claims that McCain’s handlers wanted her to be silent about her belief in creationism. How would you describe your view?

    Pawlenty:
    I can tell you how we handle it in Minnesota. We leave it to the local school districts. We don’t mandate a curriculum or an approach. We allow for something called “intelligent design” to be discussed as a comparative theory. It doesn’t have to be in science class.

    N:
    Where are you personally?

    TP:
    Well, you know I’m an evangelical Christian. I believe that God created everything and that he is who he says he was. The Bible says that he created man and woman; it doesn’t say that he created an amoeba and then they evolved into man and woman. But there are a lot of theologians who say that the ideas of evolution and creationism aren’t necessarily inconsistent; that he could have “created” human beings over time.

  10. steve12on 19 Jun 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Thought this was best in a separate post.

    “Intelligent Design has nothing to do with the Christian creation myth.”

    Absolutely untrue:

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

    Read the decision from the Dover trial. They literally screwed up replacing “creationism” with “intelligent design” in documents, further evidence showing that the transition from creationism to ID was nothing but a political strategy because the SCOTUS ruled teaching creationism unconstitutional. The Republican judge was none-too-pleased with being lied to.

    It makes sense that this is not a real scientific theory and was instead the by-product of a political strategy. Saying “God did it” is not an explanation of anything. Who made God then? It’s ridiculous. Imagine if every time scientists came to a difficult problem they threw up their hands and said “God did it”. Imagine further if they tried to pass that off as an explanation! Silliness.

  11. 2_wordson 19 Jun 2011 at 9:16 pm

    “Some of us believe the universe is alive and intelligent, in ways that we can’t possibly imagine. If it is, then we could expect life to evolve in creative ways.”

    So if it is “alive and intelligent, in ways that aren’t possible to imagine” then how do you imagine it is alive and intelligent.

    What is a “way” something is alive and intelligent in a way that is impossible to be imagined but in the next sentence imagined and understood?

  12. steve12on 19 Jun 2011 at 9:25 pm

    “We leave it to the local school districts.”

    This is the problem I alluded to earlier. I think the general population is confused about what science is, and so they want it to be democratic and egalitarian somehow – we all get a say. But that’s insane.

    One of the biggest services we could do in general science education is to explain what science is and why it must be that way to work.

    Unfortunately, I think very, very few people understand this.

  13. robmon 19 Jun 2011 at 9:44 pm

    neverknow,

    republicans aren’t “just questioning” materialism, they only don’t like evolution because it contradicts genesis 1. They don’t have a general ant-materialist vendetta against the rest of science with the exception of the big bang. Those who believe that the universe is “alive and intelligent” don’t include Bachmann or most of her supporters, it’s hard to find both those traits at her rallies anyway.

  14. Jeremiahon 19 Jun 2011 at 9:56 pm

    >Science is a specific set of assumptions and methods that are either employed or not.<

    That's pretty much a meaningless phrase, since assumptions by their nature receive their "specifics" from a philosophically speculative hypothesis. You're doing something else than science if you don't know that.

    And as to evolution, it's not directed as the creationists would have it, nor is it random as the materialists would have it. The universe is by our own standards lawful and logical, and in a constant state of change. We see that change as consistent with evolving forms of matter. And evolution is at any time the present consequence of that series of ongoing change. By that measure everything in existence has been engineered by the logical process of sequential change.

    This is what methodological naturalism or materialism comes down to – a logical sequence of how things in the physical universe change, and why. And biological systems in ghat universe are the present end result of methodological change.

    And neverknow is right in everything he says.

  15. steve12on 19 Jun 2011 at 10:59 pm

    “That’s pretty much a meaningless phrase, since assumptions by their nature receive their “specifics” from a philosophically speculative hypothesis. You’re doing something else than science if you don’t know that.”

    Not at all. I went into detail about why materialism is necessary to science, which you ignored. I wasn’t going to go into all of the philosophical assumptions of science as it wasn’t required to make my point. You just don’t know what science is definitionally as evinced by later comments.

    “And as to evolution, it’s not directed as the creationists would have it, nor is it random as the materialists would have it.”

    According to what evidence?

    “The universe is by our own standards lawful and logical, and in a constant state of change. We see that change as consistent with evolving forms of matter. And evolution is at any time the present consequence of that series of ongoing change. By that measure everything in existence has been engineered by the logical process of sequential change.”

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here.

    “This is what methodological naturalism or materialism comes down to – a logical sequence of how things in the physical universe change, and why. And biological systems in ghat universe are the present end result of methodological change.”

    methodological change? I’m not sure what any of this means. And I don’t think you know what methodological naturalism is.

    “And neverknow is right in everything he says.”

    Sorry, but this is the best evidence that you don’t know what science is. You should read up on the philosophy of science so that you better understand some of the core ideas.

  16. Jeremiahon 19 Jun 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Of course materialism is necessary to science, but then of course an understanding of what the entirety of material consists of will also be necessary, which is assumed by some as including a form of information, and by others as some form of conscious realism.

    All you can come up with at this point as to that area of understanding is:
    >According to what evidence?I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here.methodological change? I’m not sure what any of this means. And I don’t think you know what methodological naturalism is.<

    But if you really had that understanding of the philosophy of science that you claim to, you'd at least be familiar with the proffered evidence, and with the role that change plays in all methodological systems.
    And I can always spot an amateur when they advise me to "read up" on things. As if that's all it took for them to understand them, since that's all it takes to regurgitate the stuff as evidence.

  17. sonicon 20 Jun 2011 at 12:01 am

    Perhaps Bachmann thinks that intelligent design isn’t creationism and doesn’t disagree with any known fact of evolution.

    Maybe she read about it in an encyclopedia–
    http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Intelligent_design

    Maybe she thought like Fred Hoyle–
    unless a person is “deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure of order must be the outcome of intelligent design.”
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/067145031X?tag=encyclopediap-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=067145031X&adid=0NQQZXQ96PDAJGB1J8XS

    She apparently isn’t deflected by such fear- as I am sure she is aware that she will receive much wrath for her statement.

    I don’t know past presidents opinions about evolution- is the any reason to believe their opinions on this matter make any difference to how they preform in office? I’ve never seen any study on that.

    Full disclosure- I pretty much vote for the person who claims they will reduce the amount of government at the federal level. If you ask ‘how’s that working?’ I’d have to say “Not well.”

  18. steve12on 20 Jun 2011 at 12:39 am

    “Of course materialism is necessary to science, but then of course an understanding of what the entirety of material consists of will also be necessary, which is assumed by some as including a form of information, and by others as some form of conscious realism.”

    I don’t need to come up with a TOE to show that the scientific method is not robust to supernatural causation. In a universe with supernatural causation, science is useless and would need to be replaced by some other epist system. This is the core of my point, which you attacked, and I just don’t see you addressing it in any way.

    “All you can come up with at this point as to that area of understanding is:
>According to what evidence?I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here.methodological change? I’m not sure what any of this means. And I don’t think you know what methodological naturalism is.”

    It’s all I can come up with because, I beg your pardon, but you’re attacking me and then either not making any sense or not communicating clearly. I’m not sure how to respond but to ask for evidence and clarification.

    “But if you really had that understanding of the philosophy of science that you claim to, you’d at least be familiar with the proffered evidence, and with the role that change plays in all methodological systems.”

    Proffered evidence of what? Role of what change on what methodological systems? Everything is vague and undefined.

    
”And I can always spot an amateur when they advise me to “read up” on things. As if that’s all it took for them to understand them, since that’s all it takes to regurgitate the stuff as evidence.”

    Reading up on the basics is always good advice. I do it all the time. Your profs never told you to read up on anything? And I’m not an amateur – I’m a cog neuro Ph.D. who’s taught methods and philos of science more than a few times. Not that it really matters, but since you asked….

    As you’re obviously not an “amateur”, what is your field of research Jeremiah?

  19. Danon 20 Jun 2011 at 1:36 am

    Jeremiah,

    I’d like to challenge your claim that “materialists” say evolution is random. Can you provide me a quote, in context, were a “materialist” biologist says that evolution is only random? Every evolutionary biologist I’ve read (Coyne, Dawkins, Gould, PZ Myers, Mayr, Wilson, Carroll, and others, as well as lots of primary literature for my undergrad science degree) say that modern evolutionary theory depends on random mutation and non-random natural selection. That was the genius of Darwin, he showed how complexity could arise naturally with non-random natural selection, without the need for an intelligent designer. Even Christians like Ken Miller and Francis Collins write that “materialistic” evolution is not claimed to be random.

    I really do encourage you to “read up” on evolution; yours is an elementary mistake which shows you do not understand this issue. I’m not trying to be mean, I was a creationists myself until I was 23 and really studied this issue for myself, but even high school biology should have explained to you that natural selection is not random.

  20. Jeremiahon 20 Jun 2011 at 1:55 am

    Hah, you teach cognition but you know nothing of things such as Davies talks of in this paper for example:
    http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0703041
    The Implications of a Cosmological Information Bound for Complexity, Quantum Information and the Nature of Physical Law

    And of course we’ve gone into Hoffman’s paper, Conscious Realism and the Mind-Body Problem, at some depth here, but apparently you don’t go deep enough to recognize that subject either.

    So that on just that evidence alone, regardless of what you claim to know and teach, I will lay claim to the teaching of the versions of these things that reach much deeper than your lessons do.

    And further, what I was attacking was not you originally, but your attacks on neverknow – until you came up with that lame “sorry, but you need to read up on” snipe.

    And anyone that claims to speak with authority yet uses a pseudonymous moniker has no business claiming he’s right because he’s an authority. On the other hand if you do hold the position claimed, you’d do well, as Mike12 has done before you, to keep on with the moniker.

    .

  21. Jeremiahon 20 Jun 2011 at 2:30 am

    Dan, you are correct to point out that no-one who is anyone argues that evolution is “only random.” Except that’s not what I said.

    The neoDarwinist position is that evolution by natural selection is a two-step process, and only the first step is random: mutations are chance events, etc.

    But the first step is the crucial one and it’s simply wrong to say it’s random. Darwin didn’t hold that to be true and neither do the more modern evolutionary biologists who teach that the first step is much more of an adaptive than a random one. And all those neoDs you named are wrong about the second step as well, since selection doesn’t wait around for random input when it doesn’t have to.

    And neither your high school biology or mine was right when teaching adaption was not directly related to experience of the organism. And you’re still in high school as far as I can tell.
    You think I’m a creationist when I see that life can create its own designs? I suppose then I am except that life as far as I can tell is not made in God’s image.

  22. steve12on 20 Jun 2011 at 3:07 am

    Jermiah:

    Still no response of my initial point about interpretation of supernatural causation within the framework of the scientific method….

    “Hah, you teach cognition but you know nothing of things such as Davies talks of in this paper for example:
    http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0703041
    The Implications of a Cosmological Information Bound for Complexity, Quantum Information and the Nature of Physical Law”

    1. Dumping a seemingly interesting paper without explaining how it helps your argument (whatever that is) is insufficient. YOu know of a paper I don’t. Congrats. Why is it important to what we’re discussing?
    2. How do you know what I’ve read? I actually haven’t read this paper, but I’m familiar with information bound ideas from SciAm. I am not a physicist – I don’t think you are either. Anyway…..
    3. How does this refute my point about naturalism?

    “And of course we’ve gone into Hoffman’s paper, Conscious Realism and the Mind-Body Problem, at some depth here, but apparently you don’t go deep enough to recognize that subject either.”

    Someone actually brought this to my attention a few years back. I’m sure it was a fun side project, and people should take chances. But it’s filled with quantum-woo and no data. To say this is not s seminal text in cog sci would be an understatement. The idea that consciousness is mysterious and QM is mysterious ergo they’re related is what I file this under. Peter Woit says it better than me:

    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=342

    “So that on just that evidence alone, regardless of what you claim to know and teach, I will lay claim to the teaching of the versions of these things that reach much deeper than your lessons do.”

    Except that at least one of those cites (Hoffman) is more or less horseshit. But it’s deep horseshit. I’ll give you that. The other one, nearest I can tell, is irrelevant to the current discussion.

    “And anyone that claims to speak with authority yet uses a pseudonymous moniker has no business claiming he’s right because he’s an authority. On the other hand if you do hold the position claimed, you’d do well, as Mike12 has done before you, to keep on with the moniker.”

    Uhhh – you called me an amateur, and I responded (you, on the other hand, did not tell me what your field is.). I’m not here to be an authority, I’m here to speak frankly, something anonymity affords.

    And I’m right because I’m making sense, not because I claim to be an authority.

    And aren’t you also using a moniker? Hello?

    Anywhoo – you need to explain exactly why the scientific method is robust to supernatural causation. You have not done so and you;ve been vague and tangential. Sew this puppy together and present a clear argument.

  23. sonicon 20 Jun 2011 at 3:13 am

    Jeremiah-
    I think there is a theory which states that mutations could be random. And perhaps that is logically correct.
    But I think you are correct in that not all the observed instances are well described that way. If the observed instances of mutation are not well described as random, then the theory that purports they are isn’t fully scientific. (I’m not sure, but I think PZ disagrees with the ‘random only’ postulate.)
    One problem is how to describe events that can’t be predicted but are not well described as random. One could put in the notion of purpose at this point, but that is not the only gambit. Chaos works too, ya know. But then someone wants to point to the SOS response and we are back to seeing what appears purposeful.
    And so the Rorschach test that is the universe continues…

  24. sonicon 20 Jun 2011 at 3:37 am

    steve12-
    If nature is all there is, what could possibly happen that would be super-natural?
    If what science discovers is natural, then what could be discovered that would be super-natural?

  25. eiskrystalon 20 Jun 2011 at 4:05 am

    Jeremiah,

    Random in the materialist sense usually just means “too complicated to calculate”.

    If i throw a dice its fall is random to me. Even though I could possibly calculate it’s end value given the angles, spin and effect of the wood grain on the table onto which it landed. All can be calculated with our current knowledge of physics, but the throw of the die is still considered “random”.

    It is a handy word, easily abused. It also doesn’t change the fact that neverknow doesn’t understaned evolution, or that Michelle Bachman should be thrown out of her office for being an embarrassing joke to politics… and frankly, thats quite a feat!

  26. Jeremiahon 20 Jun 2011 at 4:19 am

    >you need to explain exactly why the scientific method is robust to supernatural causation.<

    I don't see where I ever said it was. And I don't see where neverknow has said so either. To hold that the universe has information and uses it to maintain consistency and order is not to hold that the source of that information is by necessity supernatural.
    On the contrary the assumption would or should be that since we can observe the phenomena in action, its the opposite.

    Perhaps to you all mysteries that are invoked as causative are by that measure supernatural, since there's no mystery to causation in your vision of the natural world.

    And it's quite telling that you find the two papers (representative of many more) I cited as either irrelevant woo or just plain horseshit. Telling things about the level of your understanding to me and many others anyway.

    And yes, I use a moniker for probably some of the same reasons you do.

  27. Jeremiahon 20 Jun 2011 at 4:34 am

    Random in the material sense usually means accidental or unexpected. It doesn’t mean improbable, but it does mean undependable. And yet the neoD’s expect and depend on it for proximate and intelligent causation of things as complex as an array of potentially selectable behaviors. Go figure.

    But Bachman is a study in the most deliberate form of ignorance that an otherwise intelligent person can hold onto. Good looking woman though, which might explain why she used to be a Democrat.

  28. Danon 20 Jun 2011 at 5:37 am

    Jermimiah,

    Sorry, you certainly did say that materialists believe evolution was only random. Here is your quote: “And as to evolution, it’s not directed as the creationists would have it, nor is it random as the materialists would have it.” So you did claim that materialist think evolution (not some of evolution, but evolution) is random. That is wrong, and it is disingenuous of you to pretend all the sudden you didn’t claim that is what materialists believe.

    Again, you need to read material on evolution, because you are extremely confused about biology (Like I said, I’m not trying to be mean, I was just as ignorant of biology, and made even more illogical arguments, than you are back before I read up on evolution). I’m pretty amused that you think you can correct Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, SJ Gould, Sean Carroll, Ernst Mary, and EO Wilson on the basics of evolution. Also, none of those people say that selection just “waits around for random input”, as you claim they do. If that is what you think any mainstream biologist says than you have almost no understanding of evolutionary theory (the Hardy–Weinberg principle is a basic measurement in population genetics, and is not based on new mutations, but allele frequencies).

    You are right to say that Darwin didn’t claim that genetic mutations were random. Of course not, Darwin didn’t know anything about DNA! For you to imply that Darwin knew anything about mutations being random or non-random at all shows you aren’t even familiar with evolutionary science from the 1860s, much less the modern science. And your misunderstanding of the difference between a random mutation and a non-random adaptation is puzzling, and only makes a little sense is you hold to some discredited form of Lamarckism. This post is already too long to disprove Lamarckism, so please just look it up on your own and see where you are going wrong.

    I do find this quote of yours puzzling: “neither your high school biology or mine was right when teaching adaption was not directly related to experience of the organism. And you’re still in high school as far as I can tell.” I’ll mostly ignore your last ad hominem (I’m actually starting medical school, not high school), but if your high school teacher taught you that adaptations don’t relate to an organism’s experience than your teacher was completely ignorant of evolution. No mainstream biologist I have read says that. If that is what your teacher taught you I am sorry you had such a poor science education, and that would explain many of your puzzling statements about fundamental evolutionary principles.

    Please tell us what you background is, instead of just talking down to people and telling us how much of an expert you are. Do you have a PhD in Evolutionary Biology or the Philosophy of Science? Do you have links to abstracts to some of your published work or maybe a faculty page? I’m pretty dubious that you even have taken many undergrad classes on biology (if any), but if you can link to your research or CV that shows you are knowledgeable enough to “correct” Ernest Mayr and Richard Dawkins about basic evolutionary principles I will gladly apologize (you haven’t given any evidence yet about why you know better than the experts, just an argument from your own authority, which hasn’t even been established).

  29. Danon 20 Jun 2011 at 6:28 am

    Jeremiah, Sorry for misspelling your name; I didn’t mean it as a slight. I’m up late and terrible at typing, and for some reason my spellchecker didn’t highlight my mistake.

  30. Jeremiahon 20 Jun 2011 at 6:32 am

    Did I use the word ‘only.’ No. Am I in some sense closer to Lamarck than the Dawkins crowd. You betcha. (I like E.O. Wilson quite a bit however.)
    That’s a crowd, by the way, who not only think mutations are for the most part random, but that they are blind to the experience of the organism.
    And yes high school teachers still teach that random mutations are not caused by their relation to experience – otherwise they wouldn’t be seen as random. Duh. The ‘after the fact’ selection process is recognized as related to experience, although even that position is new since Weissmann put the kibosh on any possibility that organisms could choose to in any way direct their mutations.

    What is my background? I have degrees from one of the best Universities in the world in the evolutionary sciences, and have been employed as a researcher, practitioner, teacher and writer for years. That may not be all you need to know, but all I feel the need to tell you. If you think you need to see authority to believe, that just tells me you can’t think much for yourself.

    And of course I know enough to correct the Dawkins of the world.
    All I’d have to do is listen to most of my colleagues, if I wasn’t smart enough to figure these things out for myself, or read all the books that make Dawkins their new patsy.
    You really gave yourself away with that question kid. Not that your earlier questions showed me that much either. You can judge a scholar pretty much by not just the nature or extent of his curiosity, but by its quality. Yours hasn’t got it. Not yet anyway.
    Say what you wish in reply, but it’s very late and I’m not going to be inclined to answer.

  31. BillyJoe7on 20 Jun 2011 at 6:49 am

    Steve12,

    I experienced a sense of deja vu reading your posts…
    …because I’ve had exactly the same sort of problems in relation to this particular poster as you are having now.
    These bits especially:

    “This is the core of my point, which you attacked, and I just don’t see you addressing it in any way.”

    ” I beg your pardon, but you’re attacking me”

    “[you are] either not making any sense or not communicating clearly.”

    “Everything is vague and undefined.”

    “I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. ”

    “Still no response of my initial point”

    “Dumping a seemingly interesting paper without explaining how it helps your argument (whatever that is) is insufficient. ”

    “your argument (whatever that is)”

    “Someone actually brought this [Hoffman] to my attention a few years back. I’m sure it was a fun side project, and people should take chances. But it’s filled with quantum-woo and no data. To say this is not s seminal text in cog sci would be an understatement.”

    “The idea that consciousness is mysterious and QM is mysterious ergo they’re related is what I file this under.”

    “Except that at least one of those cites (Hoffman) is more or less horseshit. But it’s deep horseshit. I’ll give you that. ”

    “I’m here to speak frankly, something anonymity affords. And aren’t you also using a moniker? Hello?”

    (I was particularly interested that you see Hoffman’s paper as horseshit quantum woo, exactly as I had it characterised when it came up recently on this blog).

    But I caution you to remain completely anonymous. I made the mistake of opening the door a little and was repaid by a torrent of personal abuse and veiled threats of personal injury. I no longer respond to this poster, even indirectly. I only mention him indirectly so as to issue a warning to you to take care.

    regards,
    BillyJoe

  32. nybgruson 20 Jun 2011 at 9:25 am

    Normally I love to write about evolutionary biology since I am reasonably well versed in it (not an expert, but a very strong background). However, I am a bit spent on the topic and it seems that there are others doing a fine job in my stead.

    On that note, Dan – congratulations on following evidence instead of dogma. I truly mean that deeply and genuinely. It is extremely difficult to do what you have done and I hope you continue to take some time to spread that around, especially now that you are going to start med school. I suggest you read up on CAM and get ready to combat that once you get there. I have been having to do the same since starting med school. Not that it means much from a random stranger online but you seem to be off to an excellent start (you can look up my comments here and on SBM if you like – you are in good company here).

    @steve12: I couldn’t have said it better myself. I will also heartily second BillyJoe’s admonition.

    @sonic: in brief, I agree – “random only” is not correct. However, random is the basic foundation and building block. Non-random (as per our previous discussions) came up as a result – an emergent phenomenon if you will.

    @neverknow: you are utterly wrong. I’ll leave it to robm, dan, and steve12 to continue explaining why.

  33. steve12on 20 Jun 2011 at 10:55 am

    nybgrus & BillyJoe – thanks!

    I was beginning to think I was crazy – especially after working late and then having that conversation….

  34. steve12on 20 Jun 2011 at 11:05 am

    Sonic:

    “If nature is all there is, what could possibly happen that would be super-natural?
    If what science discovers is natural, then what could be discovered that would be super-natural?”

    I agree that the distinction is meaningless – I’m using it merely to show why we need naturalistic assumptions.

    If somehow there were a God, and he/she/it was unknowable and illogically capricious of action, that would mean that science would be a bad tool for understanding how that universe worked because naturalism wasn’t so.

    My bigger point – which seems hopelessly lost – is that science isn’t some generic search for knowledge. It’s a particular epist approach that has rules (like naturalism), and not following those rules means you’re no longer engaging in science. I don’t think the general public understands this, and it leads to a lot of bad public policy debates.

  35. blotzphotoon 20 Jun 2011 at 11:16 am

    Interestingly, this discussion has been derailed, not by partisan politics but evolution/Intelligent design debate.

    Bachmann, despite her sometimes inane behavior, is not stupid. She knows the way the Republican Primary electorate has shifted rightward over the last decade and she knows that in order to succeed in today’s GOP you have to know the dog whistles that signal to the Religious Right that you are one of them, or can at least fake it effectively.

    While I would like to share Steven’s sentiment that coming out in favor of ID or creationism should be embarrassing to Ms. Bachmann, I’m afraid the opposite is true, she knows where her primary votes are coming from and she caters to them shamelessly.

    This is part of a long slouch for the GOP from the party of Eisenhower (who would look like a flaming liberal today) to a party dominated by Christian Reconstructionists and Dominionists. This is all part of the “Southern Strategy” that gave us Ronald Reagan (and Willie Horton). The GOP has spent so long catering to racists and know-nothings that racists and know-nothings are now their main electoral constituency.

    There, now we can get really sidetracked.

  36. mufion 20 Jun 2011 at 11:39 am

    steve12: That Hoffman paper seems to make its rounds here. (See this recent thread for its last appearance here.)

    My reaction to it was similar to yours, but I’m no “cog neuro Ph.D” (rather, just a software developer who happens to focus on user interfaces – the source of Hoffman’s metaphor), so thanks for the validation. :-)

  37. Jeremiahon 20 Jun 2011 at 12:52 pm

    >My bigger point – which seems hopelessly lost – is that science isn’t some generic search for knowledge. It’s a particular epist approach that has rules (like naturalism), and not following those rules means you’re no longer engaging in science. I don’t think the general public understands this, and it leads to a lot of bad public policy debates.<

    An absolutely pointless statement, as I said before.

    science |ˈsīəns|
    noun
    the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment

    steve12, science is a search for knowledge as generic (comprehensive, all-encompassing) as we can get. Anything in the universe is fair game.

    And neverknow is completely correct, regardless of the fact that such correctness is anathema to the devotees of the lesser realms of 'scientific' inquiry.

  38. Jeremiahon 20 Jun 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Here’s a link sent me from from the Mooroolbark Lions Club in reference to their little friend there, BillyJoe7:
    http://www.hark.com/clips/mzxhkzjtql-im-a-master-debater

  39. uncle_steveon 20 Jun 2011 at 1:10 pm

    “Even if a candidate is not well-informed on an issue, they should know how to consult the proper experts to quickly get a working knowledge of an important issue. Before Bachmann makes public statements about such a hot-button political question she should talk to a few experts – find out what the real issues are.”

    Steve, this has to be one of the more naive things you’ve said in a long time. I almost always agree with you and support everything you do, but you seem to be under the impression that if only Bachmann had talked with a few experts, she wouldn’t express such appallingly ignorant views concerning evolution.

    The truth is that neither Bachmann or her followers care what the experts say about evolution. Winning the approval of the scientific community is not a priority for Bachmann or other Republican presidential candidates. Winning the approval of the Republican base, which unfortunately includes far too many scientific illiterates, is their priority.

    Granted, her stance alienates her from Republicans who do believe in evolution, as well as independents who are considering voting Republican. At this early stage, she is not all that concerned with the moderates and independents, but she will have a hard time winning them over if she keeps supporting creationism or other right-wing Christian craziness.

  40. steve12on 20 Jun 2011 at 1:15 pm

    “steve12, science is a search for knowledge as generic (comprehensive, all-encompassing) as we can get. Anything in the universe is fair game.”

    To investigate, yes.

    YOu can’t rely on Webster for a definition of science. It’s funny, because this actually came up in the Dover trial with Behe

    By your definition, comparitive literature, astrology, and bretharianism are science. But they are not science.

    New agers, religious types, etc. want to relax all that annoying rigor and make science an anything-goes kind of deal, mostly because it makes things easier for them. But it doesn’t really matter – this colloquial definition of science is wrong.

    You should spend some time learning the rigorous and annoyingly tedious parts of science. It’s not always fun, but life isn’t all smiles and sunshine. Sometimes ya gotta work.

  41. 2_wordson 20 Jun 2011 at 1:19 pm

    “Some of us believe the universe is alive and intelligent, in ways that we can’t possibly imagine. If it is, then we could expect life to evolve in creative ways. ”

    What are the ways we cannot possibly imagine the universe being alive and intelligent?

    I am amazed that anyone is able to use “ways impossible to imagine” to “expect” something.

  42. robmon 20 Jun 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Jeremiah,

    other than the notion that people view the world any way they want, how is neverknow correct? And for that matter how is it that all science doesn’t fall into the category of “lesser realms of ‘scientific’ inquiry”? It seems all of them fit that bill by not allowing woo.

  43. Danon 20 Jun 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Jeremiah,

    You originally said that materialists say evolution is random; they do not. You are wrong. Trying to go back and pretend you didn’t claim materialists say evolution is random, but only mutations, is disingenuous.

    I asked about your credentials because you are claiming you know enough about the subject to correct just about every single well-respected biologist about the basics of evolution. I wouldn’t have asked for credentials if you had used any evidence, instead you were just denigrating others and using arguments from your own authority, so I was wondering what your ‘authority’ is (in my experience anonymous internet posters claiming to be able to correct all the experts in a field might be exaggerating the state of their knowledge a bit).

    If I was claiming that I was qualified to correct Einstein, Hawking, Penrose, Feynman, and Weinberg on the basics of relativity, yet was making mistakes that even someone who understood high-school physics shouldn’t make, I think you might be curious what my training was as well. That’s exactly what you are doing. You are criticizing the experts, yet making mistakes about high-school level biology.

    If you really have degrees (plural!) in evolutionary biology from one of the the best universities in the world and have really published research in the field than you should be happy to link to it (I know I would). Based on the depth of your comments I’m skeptical that you have even taken an upper-level undergrad class on evolution. Especially since you said that high-school teachers think adaptations have nothing to do with an organism’s experience (now you are just saying mutations, the fact that you don’t know the difference between a mutation and an adaptation, and have repeatedly used them interchangeably, shows you do not understand even the basics of evolutionary theory).

  44. Jeremiahon 20 Jun 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Science that is concerned with the why and how of everything offers us the best defense against the woo that bamboozles those who are content to observe the what, when and where. Observation is the prelude to scientific assessment, not the postlude. Otherwise your science is merely a confirming and conforming operation.

    And the better question for any of you is how and why is neverknow not correct. Crying horseshit is not exactly a scientific assessment, annoying and tedious as that effort to discern the similarities might be. Walks like a duck science some might call it.

  45. Bronze Dogon 20 Jun 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Fair warning: Minor pedantry about “supernatural” and materialism to follow.

    Usually, I prefer to view “supernatural” as a nonsense word: If it doesn’t have observable effects that can be tested by science (in other words, if it doesn’t do anything), how is its existence meaningful at all?

    Of course, I should note that the context is more for ‘smaller’ powers like psychics and so-called ‘alternative medicine’ that like to label themselves as supernatural, and thus allegedly beyond science, despite making claims that are inherently testable by science.

    An amusing thing I do: I’ve roleplayed a sorcerer with a materialist mindset: He (and every curious arcanist) looks at a spellbook the way an engineer would look at a schematic: Everything involves knowable, predictable forces. Everything called “supernatural” by the average person in this world is just another branch of materialism in that fictional world. A divination spell is tested the same way we’d test a bomb sniffing device or a remote sensing satellite. If it can’t get accurate information in a double-blind test, how can you expect it to work in the field?

    Of course, since the “supernatural” thing in this particular thread is an unknowable, unpredictable, all-powerful god and/or universe, steve12′s description of it as ‘the ultimate confound’ is accurate:

    If anything could happen at any time for unknown reasons, how could anyone be confident flipping a switch turns on the lights by the laws of electricity? Throw in an unknowable god, and any cause-effect relationship we perceive could actually just be Loki trolling us, waiting for the right moment to suddenly not make things go as expected.

  46. Jeremiahon 20 Jun 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Sorry Dan, but your uninformed opinions in that little essay are lacking in both substance and quality. Not even by the standards for a high school composition. You have a reading comprehension problem that doesn’t bode well for any patients in your doubtful future.

  47. Danon 20 Jun 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Jeremiah,

    Message received: debating a self described researcher who refuses to even link to his/her research or CV is worthless. I’m not sure why I’m trying to debate an anonymous ‘expert’ who is so confused as to use the term mutation and adaptation interchangeably, and who remains anonymous while simultaneously relying on arguments from his own authority and ad hominems.

    I genuinely do feel sorry for you; I know how hard it can be to escape misinformation about evolution, especially if your high school teachers were really as misinformed as you say. Please at least consider reading some introductory material on evolution. If you ask for recommendations I know many of us here would be happy to help.

  48. sonicon 20 Jun 2011 at 3:44 pm

    steve12-
    I agree- the distinction is meaningless.
    What is found is what is found. It seems that much of nature follows rules that aren’t in keeping with our intuition or logic (I’m thinking physics of all things) and, because the scientists haven’t given up on understanding, these difficulties can be overcome.
    An example is Bell’s theorem- Bell invented a means of testing Einstein’s challenge to quantum mechanics- and he more or less invented an experimental strategy that has continued to be useful.
    In physics today, there are discussions of universes that we can’t possibly see.
    I often wonder- is this science?
    Oh, and there are still those who hold that consciousness is irreducible and an integral part of the universe we live in.
    I’m sure that none of the answers to those questions is going to hinge on what I think is plausible.
    But I’ll bet the science (knowledge, equipment and experimental technique) that uncovers the truth of the matter doesn’t exist today.

    Here is a recent finding that has them asking questions like- Is general relativity true? Are our observations faulty?…
    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/06/clumpy-universe/

    My point is this- I don’t know what natural is (10 to the 500th power universes anyone?) and neither does anyone else.
    Science is a path to discovery more than a list of results or techniques.

    My two cents….

  49. Jeremiahon 20 Jun 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Dan, you make asinine assumptions as to what I must have meant to say that have no relation to what I’ve actually said, and then ask me to deny that what you’ve assumed to be the facts are not.

    It’s the old and tired debate ploy of the denialists. It’s like asking Mufi for example if he’s stopped beating his wife, or asking BillyJoe7 if he’s stopped beating his meat.

  50. sonicon 20 Jun 2011 at 3:47 pm

    nybrus-

    I think that the idea that the evolution of life forms could be explained by random mutation only (and selection of course) comes from the philosophy of non-essentialism. To say something is logically possible is grand, but science usually goes with observation (mutations are not random) over a philosophical musing–
    What is found is much messier than that.
    (Oddly- the idea that ‘consciousness causes collapse’ is often thought of as being a philosophical position– but having studied the experiments I think it is a desperate attempt to explain the results. As it was my intention to show that consciousness has nothing to do with it, you can imagine my surprise to discover the idea is more pragmatic than I could have imagined.
    War stories…)

    PS-Thanks for the update re- medicine and CAM. Things really are stranger than I imagined.

  51. Danon 20 Jun 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Jeremiah, Sorry, but I quoted you directly so you really shouldn’t claim I was making assumption. I can respond with one post condensing down all your scientific errors in this exchange, complete with direct quotes, if you would find that helpful.

    I am curious though, why are you afraid to give us your CV? Since you claim to be an educator and researcher in the field of evolutionary biology, and understand evolution better than Mayr, EO Wilson, and Coyne, I really can’t understand why you won’t at least provide a link to some of your research.

  52. mufion 20 Jun 2011 at 4:47 pm

    sonic said: the idea that ‘consciousness causes collapse’ is often thought of as being a philosophical position– but having studied the experiments I think it is a desperate attempt to explain the results

    More so than the other interpretations? I don’t think so – although I do think it is perhaps the weirdest and most counter-intuitive option (at least to those of us accustomed to the belief that an objective, mind-independent reality exists).

  53. Meryemon 20 Jun 2011 at 4:51 pm

    (I must admit I did not read all the comments and I’m sorry if I just repeat something that was already said)

    But how should a discussion (or any kind of communication) work when both sides speak in ‘different languages’? What I mean is: Isn’t Creationism a way to think and a believe, while science is another way to think and to live your life. It’s ok to believe in creationism, or anything else (of course only as long as you do not harm anyone). And it’s also ok to think scientifically!
    You can believe, be christian for example, AND be a scientist. What you can’t do is doing the one and trying to let it look like the other or mix it both up. It’s like speaking English by using Japanese grammar! Because believe is not based on evidence, it doesn’t require evidence (by definition), so why search for it? And science is based on evidence (by definition). You can’t argue for the one side by using the other side’s argument.

    What’s wrong here, in my opinion, is that creationists try to look scientific. What’s the point by doing that?

    And if the discussion actually is about the definition of science, then there is no point either, is there? Because in the discussion both sides agree that their definitions are different. They agree upon their own difference, so why should one side try to tell the other they belonged to them, by saying they (the other side) were wrong?

    That’s kind of what I think every time I hear something about this issue. It’s a never ending, failed ‘discussion’.

    I hope I could express myself clearly enough.

  54. Jeremiahon 20 Jun 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Hey Dan, why don’t you give us your full name and email address first, and see how many of us here will do the same in return?

  55. BillyJoe7on 20 Jun 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Dan,

    Everyone has a “comprehension failure” when they read that particular posters rantings. Believe it or not, he actually doesn’t believe the things you assumed he believes from reading his posts in this thread. It’s not your fault though. I know because I’ve had to bang my head against a wall for months to find out just a little bit of what he actually believes. But what his beliefs are at their base is still anyones guess. I’m not sure that it is worth it for anyone to bother to find out. Believe me, you will be subject to no end of abuse for “failing to understand” his rantings and ravings.

  56. nybgruson 20 Jun 2011 at 5:42 pm

    @sonic:

    Random mutations are not only observable they are quantified in terms of likelihood and rates so well they have been empirically shown to accurately demonstrate when species diverged. It is the observed and well known and accepted basis of evolution through natural selection. Everything else came later and a claim that it was non-random from the get-go is simply untenable.

  57. Synoecaon 20 Jun 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Discovery Institute hatin on Steve. Seattle represent! ug.

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/06/steven_novella_bachmann_promot047551.html

  58. robmon 20 Jun 2011 at 8:07 pm

    well what do you expect, blogging about evolution, no big deal throw republican politicians in the mix and they take it as a double insult. not surprisingly egnor is guilty of the same definition game he accuses steve of.

  59. nybgruson 20 Jun 2011 at 9:17 pm

    wow. egnor’s article is a steaming pile of garbage. but yes, what would you expect?

  60. robmon 20 Jun 2011 at 9:20 pm

    I think egnor’s mind is too separated from his brain to make sense.

  61. Jared Jammeron 20 Jun 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Michael Egnor: 1
    Steven Novella: 0

    Anyone who denies that the living organism is a brilliantly designed artifact containing technology that blows anything homo sapiens have ever designed out of the water has an archaic mindset that has no place in science. You might as well claim that the Earth is flat, as both views are equally idiotic and outdated.

    The idea that life’s evolution was caused by random (read: accidental) variation directed by natural selection was a product of 19th and early 20th century ignorance that unfortunately caught on as an atheist religion that they refuse to surrender. It has no place in the classroom and I, and many other defenders of scientific integrity, will be sure to fight tooth-and-nail to make sure that skepticism of Darwin’s argument-from-ignorance is brought into the classroom.

    Darwinists will never kill skepticism and the Intelligent Design revolution has shown that they’ll never kill biology, either.

  62. nybgruson 20 Jun 2011 at 9:38 pm

    robm: i think you have stumbled across the only form of mind/brain duality that i would support ;-)

  63. neverknowon 20 Jun 2011 at 10:32 pm

    The current mainstream theory of evolution says that the genetic mutations that make evolution possible are random. In other words, they are in no way related to the needs or desires of organisms or species. A mutation happens and is passed on to descendants if by chance it happens to help them survive and reproduce. That is the current theory, and it does say that the driving force of evolution is blind chance.

    Mainstream believers insist their theory does not say evolution is random. The trick is that natural selection is not random. But natural selection is just something that has to happen, that cannot not happen, no matter what the driving force might be.

    The current mainstream theory is loved by materialists, such as Dawkins, because it insists that evolution is not guided. It insists that a very simple mindless process, over extremely long periods of time, can result in complex life forms.

    The current mainstream theory is the foundation of materialism and atheism today. It says that the universe is mindless and that intelligence is only found in the physical organ we call the brain.

    I wonder why they think intelligence can occur in only one particular type of physical system. We know that a computer can be made out of anything. Why can’t information processing be everywhere, in everything?

    Actually materialists think computers are similar to brains, and that computers will some day be intelligent. That was the original point of the post. So they think intelligence can be, or will be, found in brains and in human-made computers. But not anywhere else.

    Why?

    An intelligent creative universe makes sense, and does not conflict with anything known to science. The problem you have with it is that it also does not conflict with the essential ideas of religion. And you like to make fun of religion and blame it for whatever is wrong with the world. It’s nice to have a scapegoat for everything.

    Intelligent Design theory is a serious challenge to the smug certainty of materialism and atheism. Instead of trying to understand it, you try to beat it down with anger and ridicule.

  64. nybgruson 20 Jun 2011 at 10:44 pm

    @neverknow: I don’t know where to laugh the most at your comment.

    That is the current theory, and it does say that the driving force of evolution is blind chance.

    Nope. You even say it yourself in the next para

    The trick is that natural selection is not random

    It is not a trick. It is a fact. And the fact that you cannot grasp how it can undirected by an intelligent agency whilst still imposing non-random influence on random mutations is not an argument against it. It simply shows your ignorance.

    The current mainstream theory is the foundation of materialism and atheism today

    Wrong once again. Atheism does not equate with evolutionary theory or materialism. The conflation is a rhetorical ploy of theists and creationists but, just like intelligent design has no basis in reality.

    An intelligent creative universe makes sense, and does not conflict with anything known to science.

    It does not make sense because it conflicts with a simple and basic tenet of science: parsimony. Science has found no need for intelligent agency in any process described to date. To add one onto it, while not inherently directly contradictory to empirical data adds an extra layer of complexity that is unwarranted and thus is at odds with science. This has nothing to do with materialism or atheism – it is simply a powerful and useful tool of science. Your personal incredulity is not a valid argument.

    And you like to make fun of religion and blame it for whatever is wrong with the world. It’s nice to have a scapegoat for everything.

    Funny. That is pretty much the extent of all the theistic arguments against atheism. However those that argue agains theism actually have varied, well thought out, and empirically demonstrable arguments. It isn’t paranoia if someone is actually following you, and religion is a scapegoat if it actually is the main driving force for what is wrong in the world. Ergo, no scapegoating here.

    Intelligent Design theory is a serious challenge to the smug certainty of materialism and atheism.

    Now that is absolutely hilarious. ID is not serious in any way shape or form and has been absolutely proven to be a Trojan horse for biblical creation myths. There is absolutely no science to it. The reason there is mostly derision instead of understanding is because there is nothing to understand. It has all been very handily and thoroughly destroyed. Restating your anti-scientific piffle doesn’t make that different or your ideology any more true.

    Sorry, but you are just inherently, fundamentally, and utterly wrong. And so is Bachmann.

  65. 2_wordson 20 Jun 2011 at 10:46 pm

    @neverknow

    “Some of us believe the universe is alive and intelligent, in ways that we can’t possibly imagine. If it is, then we could expect life to evolve in creative ways. ”

    What are the ways we cannot possibly imagine the universe being alive and intelligent?

    If you “cannot possible imagine the ways” then how can you describe it as being such?

    An intelligent creative universe is only true in that you are in and a part of the universe. If you want to call yourself intelligent and creative that is fine. Must do wonders for your self esteem. It adds nothing to the understanding of anything else though.

  66. bachfiendon 20 Jun 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Never know,

    No, an intelligent universe makes no sense at all.

    An intelligent brain or computer makes sense, because we can see them, we can investigate them, we have an idea why they are intelligent or how they can be made.

    An intelligent universe? What part is intelligent? What is the mechanism?

    And intelligent design isn’t a serious contender, because it isn’t a scientific theory. There’s no indication as to the agent or mechanism. It doesn’t make predictions. It doesn’t set out ways in which it could be disproved.

  67. steve12on 20 Jun 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Sonic:

    “I often wonder- is this science?”

    There is certainly a place for good (i.e., not most of what’s taken place here, unfortunately) demarcation debate . Physics pushes the envelope and begs the question of what is or isn’t science. M theory, with ideas like landscape, may start to become something else. If it can’t be (practically) falsified is it still science? Maybe someone will figure out a way in the future? I’m not sure what the answers is to that, I’m not qualified, but some of the stuff I’ve read worries me.

  68. BillyJoe7on 20 Jun 2011 at 11:56 pm

    Whenever anyone proclaims that the universe is intelligent, I always respond: what do mean “the universe is intelligent”?
    But I never get an answer, let alone an intelligent one.

  69. steve12on 21 Jun 2011 at 12:30 am

    Billy Joe:

    “Everyone has a ‘comprehension failure’ when they read that particular posters rantings. ”

    Yeah, I’m taking your earlier advice – I’m done with this guy. I don’t know what possesses some people to proclaim themselves experts on everything without knowing much, but I don’t care any more. It’s boring. Same goes for neverknow, Mike12 et al. They clearly have a political agenda, and what’s more boring than a fake science debate that’s really about politics?

    I think that scientists have a responsibility to try and popularize science for the betterment of society and all that, but you also need to recognize those who are beyond hope and are boring the life out of you.

    To his great credit, people like Nybgrus aren’t so cynical!

  70. nybgruson 21 Jun 2011 at 12:57 am

    @steve12:

    Thanks for the compliment but I am very cynical. I just see no better way than to keep trying. Change is painful and slow, especially when faced with political and ideological barriers. I don’t think I’ll see my efforts come to real fruition in my lifetime, but I also know that if I don’t do as much as I can there is zero chance of anything happening. Getting people motivated and contributing is just as important as letting those on the sidelines see exchanges between the likes of you, SloFox, Dr. Hall, etc etc and the likes of Jeremiah, Mike12, and neverknow. Many people like the latter think and act the way they do because they have never been exposed to an actual debate that uses logic, evidence, and intellectual honesty and are simply used to the dogmatic rhetoric and self-satisfying pseudo-intellectualism. Seeing the contrast between the two is another way of letting people see there actually is a difference and a wrong and right way to do things. It is by concerted efforts effecting small changes and opening more minds that anything can be achieved.

    I don’t know. Maybe that makes me not a cynic, but I sure feel that way sometimes.

  71. Jeremiahon 21 Jun 2011 at 2:54 am

    >Intelligent Design theory is a serious challenge to the smug certainty of materialism and atheism.<

    Quite true, unless you deniers can explain how the universe has allowed for intelligence to evolve without some lawful guidance or example.
    The neoDarwinists have not been allowed to openly investigate the ways in which life has clearly done its own mechanics. The alternative was/is to look for something else that's done it, and if not God, it's mother nature. Yet for mother nature not to be another name for God, she had to do the job without a smidgen of perception, intention, or intelligence involved.
    Which requires the more hardened atheistic view that there is no God simply because there is no intelligence in the universe, and that's simply because there's no need for it.
    Except that by some accidental process which can mimic intelligence, we came up with the real thing. Stochastically, as we called it, randomly determined; having a random probability distribution or pattern that may be analyzed statistically but may not be predicted precisely.
    The Russells and the Whiteheads knew better. If atheism had to rule out any computative processes in the universe, and yet make that one exception for mankind, agnoticism didn't.
    Agnoticism can allow for intelligence in the universe outside of gods. Atheism can't. And can't allow our own intelligence to shape us unless perhaps the spirits of the Weismann's would lift their barrier and let us at least play gods.
    So that, in this agnostic's view of evolution, designs can't be god directed as the creationists would have it, nor can they be randomly directed as the materialists would have it. And yet we've clearly been a product of some intelligence at work.
    A pity that we can't somehow admit it's ours.

  72. nybgruson 21 Jun 2011 at 3:22 am

    Swing and a miss by Jeremiah. At least he is letting his true colors show more.

    The burden of proof to demonstrate some sort of intelligence in the universe (whether you call it god, allah, mother nature, cthulu, or glork) is on those proferring it exists. Mechanisms for observing what we see without intelligent guidance abound, both theoretical and empirical. Nothing yet demonstrates a presence or a need for intelligence to guide the process, and in fact everything we do know so far dictates that adding intelligence to the mix only makes the problems harder to solve, not easier.

    Personal incredulity that intelligence can arise from stochastic processes does not disprove that they can. It only shows that you can’t grasp the notion of how big the universe is or how long it has been around.

    Furthermore, the only difference between an agnostic and an atheist is one of degree and comfort with the evidence (probably based on differential amounts of knowledge). The agnostic says “I don’t know.” The atheist says, “I also don’t know, but based upon what I do, the odds of a god existing are small enough to be a rounding error.” Just like I can say I am certain I won’t suddenly teleport to the moon even though quantum dynamics allows for the infinitesimal possibility that may indeed happen. I’m not really 100% certain… but close enough.

  73. robmon 21 Jun 2011 at 3:43 am

    “Quite true, unless you deniers can explain how the universe has allowed for intelligence to evolve without some lawful guidance or example.”

    Natural selection for abstract thinking and problem solving, tool making and use. This didn’t need permission to happen, so ‘allowing’ is not an issue.

    “The neoDarwinists have not been allowed to openly investigate the ways in which life has clearly done its own mechanics.”

    Not been allowed by who? The so called neoDarwinists? Biologists have investigated the ways life as ‘done’ its own mechanisms, and they have come to the conclusion that it is natural selection of traits produced by mutation.

    “Which requires the more hardened atheistic view that there is no God simply because there is no intelligence in the universe, and that’s simply because there’s no need for it.”

    That’s right, there is no need for invoking intelligence as necessary to any explanation of workings of the material world. Right now it is unfalsifiabe and unparsimonious, and thus not scientific. Were there to be any evidence making that kind of intelligence falsifiable and parsimonious then it would be scientific. This has nothing to do with atheism and everything to do with science.

    “If atheism had to rule out any computative processes in the universe, and yet make that one exception for mankind, agnoticism didn’t.

    Agnoticism can allow for intelligence in the universe outside of gods. Atheism can’t.”

    Actually there are lots of intelligences, they vary by sophistication and degree (ants, cuttlefish, apes), and they are surprisingly flawed, even human intelligence.

    “So that, in this agnostic’s view of evolution, designs can’t be god directed as the creationists would have it, nor can they be randomly directed as the materialists would have it.”

    Actually agnostics can believe in evolution by natural selection, and an atheist doesn’t have to be a materialist. Both of those are categories strictly refer to beliefs regarding god, and even the religious can choose to do good science without their belief dictating their conclusion.

    “And yet we’ve clearly been a product of some intelligence at work.”

    No, actually, that’s not at all clear. It’s an assumption people defend by saying they know it when they see it, of course they said the same thing about all kinds things, the giants causeway, solar eclipses, etc.

  74. Jeremiahon 21 Jun 2011 at 3:49 am

    The fact that we exist is proof that intelligence exists. Burden’s then on those who say it doesn’t to prove it doesn’t. Unlike yourselves, I don’t need to make up a name for some godlike possessor of it, if it’s always been the calculative and anticipatory function of the universe that we’ve come to put that label to. The universe is neither god nor godlike.
    It’s too intelligent for that.

  75. robmon 21 Jun 2011 at 3:58 am

    I don’t need to make up a name for a godlike anything to explain my intelligence, its called a brain, and it’s too gooey to be godlike.

    As for the universe it’s a whole lot of space time matter and energy, a minute portion of which goes into brains that make an imperfect intelligence that allows at least one species to be very full of itself and believe in the immaterial superior nature of its intelligence, consciousness, etc.

  76. eiskrystalon 21 Jun 2011 at 4:12 am

    intelligent Design theory is a serious challenge to the smug certainty of materialism and atheism.

    Excuse me while i laugh my little athiest socks off.

    ok….finished…..

    The fact that we exist is proof that intelligence exists. Burden’s then on those who say it doesn’t to prove it doesn’t.

    Our existence does not prove the existence of an intelligent godlike entity (which was the point). Given Michele Bachmann…quite the opposite.

    While we are on the subject, you might like to think about where the definition of “intelligence” came from…and how we just happen to be the most “intelligent” species by our own definition. Funny that.

  77. Jeremiahon 21 Jun 2011 at 4:18 am

    >Biologists have investigated the ways life as ‘done’ its own mechanisms, and they have come to the conclusion that it is natural selection of traits produced by mutation.<

    No they haven't. Only those with an a priori belief in a stochastic process have. Virtually none that once though otherwise have reverted to a neoDarwinist stance.

    And Google adaptive mutation for biologists that have seen the light.

    And "in this agnostic's view" not all agnostics have to share mine, Russell's or Whitehead's. Point being that those views have long been out there which are anathema to atheists and creationists alike. (Just as nybgrus has inadvertently channeled that we have to give intelligence a persona and a name before we can imagine and then unmagine its existence.)

    And as to "an imperfect intelligence that allows at least one species to be very full of itself and believe in the immaterial superior nature of its intelligence, consciousness, etc.,"
    I believe in the material nature of intelligence – without which there would be no nature to material. (Yeah, some of you won't get that, but that's my point as well.)

  78. nybgruson 21 Jun 2011 at 4:40 am

    Yeah, some of you won’t get that, but that’s my point as well

    Because you are rambling gibberish. I don’t speak idiotic gibberish, so of course I wouldn’t get it.

    The fact that we exist is proof that intelligence exists.

    So that means our intelligence is what directed evolution and made it a non-stochastic process leading to…. our own intelligence?

    You and Gish should get together and swap stories. You could teach him a few things about adding shifting goalposts and changing definitions to his gallop.

  79. robmon 21 Jun 2011 at 4:51 am

    So wait only those who believe in evolution have been allowed to investigate, but there are alot of biologists have “seen the light”? How did they do any research?

    “Point being that those views have long been out there which are anathema to atheists and creationists alike.”

    Ok, so you have a opinion that is unpopular with two groups, that is relevant how? I have a opinion that’s unpopular with two groups its called ‘Darwinian natural selection is science, please challenge it with evidence not belief’, its very unpopular with the creationists and woo woos. Both groups try to declare scientific theories based on evidence, as mere opinions so their non-evidence based ideas can be considered just as good, without evidence.

  80. Jeremiahon 21 Jun 2011 at 5:34 am

    Google adaptive mutation and read the research papers, books, etc.

    And then here’s little Nybgrus verging on the throwing of another boring tantrum:
    “So that means our intelligence is what directed evolution and made it a non-stochastic process leading to…. our own intelligence?”

    It means that biological systems are intelligent, and they didn’t invent the process. But they did learn by use of it, and by consequence evolved it.
    Not necessarily equally but that’s not your fault, little Nybgrus man.

    And by the way you speak self congratulatory gibberish for, as far as anyone can tell, just managing to be in the picture. The odd kid in the back row out of focus. Holding up a sign that says I’m smart because the BillyJoes of the web dote on my every and interminable utterance. No new ideas, but nobody said I had to really think before I shot my mouth off.

    So have at it little man, pump out a shitload of childish reminiscence, and the lessons learned for all to notice and wonder at the uncanny prescience of the childlike. Not science, but then it’s all about your certainty that you deserve to be one.

  81. 2_wordson 21 Jun 2011 at 8:58 am

    “The fact that we exist is proof that intelligence exists”

    The fact that we exist is proof that blue exists.
    The fact that we exist is proof that happy exists.
    The fact that we exist is proof that ATP exists.

    The fact that pronouns exists is proof that adjective exists.

    We exist is proof that we exist. That is all it is proof for.

  82. steve12on 21 Jun 2011 at 9:45 am

    Nybgrus:

    “I don’t know. Maybe that makes me not a cynic, but I sure feel that way sometimes.”

    Actually what could make you feel more cynical than these types of discussions?

    I think it’s worth it to have these debates with those arguing in good faith. People arguing in good faith can be testy, but it’s clear that they’re at least listening. People who are really arguing for politicoreligious (usually there’s no distinction) reasons and who’ve actually spent time confirmation-biasing through the literature+nonsense are not worth my time, frankly.

    That said, I may be quite wrong – maybe even those who’ve dug in their heels the most should be confronted. I think of Michael Schermer talking about how ignoring Holocaust denial actually allowed it to spread faster (don’t remember his evidence). It’s always a tough call – I can see going in either direction. Clearly, though, engagement by the scientific community is necessary – but who to target?

    Maybe for me, it’s personal satisfaction that make me feel this way. It’s so much fun (and instructive to me in thinking more broadly) to see an eager student put a bunch of pieces together and start to “get” it. If those students came in telling me that all of the scientific community had it wrong, and What The Bleep Do We Know anyway, or you’re an atheist and Stalin was an atheist, I think the fun of sharing what I see as humanity’s crown jewel would significantly diminish.

  83. WilliamLawrenceUtridgeon 21 Jun 2011 at 10:41 am

    “Quite true, unless you deniers can explain how the universe has allowed for intelligence to evolve without some lawful guidance or example.”
    Intelligence is a powerful problem-solving tool that gets us more food. Smart people can figure out new ways of finding food, water and shelter better than dumb people and in particular animals. In addition, learning and society are Lamarckian; it requires no genetic change, just observation and verbal instruction. The universe didn’t “allow” intelligence to evolve, the ability to react to the environment allows tremendous survival advantage. Intelligence is just an extension and elaboration of that principle.

    “The neoDarwinists have not been allowed to openly investigate the ways in which life has clearly done its own mechanics.”
    What does “ways in which life has clearly done its own mechanics” mean? The only species we are aware of to date that can react through conscious thought and choice rather than instinct and Skinnerian/Pavlovian learning is humans (maybe chimps and great apes, but nowhere near so successfully). So far as we are aware it’s not until humans that there was a species capable of controlling its own reproduction consciously. We haven’t to date done much eugenics and selective breeding, but we could given appropriate motivation. Whether that would be a good thing or not is a serious question (and under-rated movie, I liked Gattaca).

    “Which requires the more hardened atheistic view that there is no God simply because there is no intelligence in the universe, and that’s simply because there’s no need for it.”
    I’m an atheist simply because I am aware of many parts of the world where people believe in different gods, and there’s no real way if any are actually right about it. If you were born in India, chances are you would be a Hindu, possibly a Muslim. If you were born in Egypt 4,000 years ago, you’d believe in whatever deity was in charge of the city (plus the Pharaoh unless it was one of the intermediate periods). There’s no hardening, just an acknowledgement that there’s no real reason to believe except for other people telling you that you should. Saying “I know, I have the right answer” when everyone else says the same thing and none have anything to substantiate is little more than in-group arrogance with a dash of historical accident in where and when you were brought up. I believe that these are indeed accidents, and thus there’s no reason to preference one accident over the other.

    As for everything else in your post, it’s fairly incomprehensible but looks to include large amounts of wishful thinking. That’s great, wish away, but that doesn’t make it true. It would be nice if I lived forever in the sky with a bearded old man who loved me (72 virgins wouldn’t be bad, but I’d rather have my wife, thanks) but I can’t see any reason to believe it’s true.

    “The fact that we exist is proof that intelligence exists.”
    Yup, and that’s it. It’s like Descartes’ cogito – yes, you know you exist, but everything else is guesswork and assumptions.

    “Burden’s then on those who say it doesn’t to prove it doesn’t.”
    Nope, burden is on the positive claim. You claim there is a universal intelligence, it’s up to you to prove it.

    “Unlike yourselves, I don’t need to make up a name for some godlike possessor of it, if it’s always been the calculative and anticipatory function of the universe that we’ve come to put that label to. The universe is neither god nor godlike. It’s too intelligent for that.”
    I don’t name the anticipative function of the universe, because I don’t think there is one. Certainly there’s no reason to see one interested in humans. The planet looks vast to us, but I doubt the entire universe, including billions of galaxies containing billions of stars, exists solely to create the flesh-coloured specks that walk about the thin green rind on one planet in one solar system on the edge of one galaxy. If God did create us and everything else in the universe, he’s wasted a lot of space and materials.

    “I believe in the material nature of intelligence – without which there would be no nature to material. (Yeah, some of you won’t get that, but that’s my point as well.)”
    If you can’t explain a point well enough for anyone in your audience to understand it, the failing might be in your explanation. You should start off with a coherent, understandable definition of terms so we can understand what your words are meant to mean. Right now they don’t make sense. For example, “material” isn’t a verb, but you’re using it as if it were one.

    “It means that biological systems are intelligent, and they didn’t invent the process.”
    Biological processes involve complex feedback mechanisms, both in the short term and long term. Evolution allows living things with a genetic process (in the broad sense of “genealogies that transmit traits over time” but exemplified through DNA and its connection to protein synthesis) to adapt to and take advantage of its environment to maximize reproductive success. It’s unthinking material processes feeding into, and feeding from, other unthinking material processes until you get to something with an extremely complex neural network (or something equivalent). Biological systems are just words we use to describe a certain level of atoms recombining over time. It’s meaningful because it’s pattern-based, but there’s no intelligence. Just interlocking feedback loops.

    Unless we step in.

    Doesn’t make us gods, just means we’ve got a limted understanding of our environment.

    Intelligence is one extremely successful strategy for reproductive success over a scale of hundreds of years. Over thousands, it might kill us. Predation (or herbivorism, parasitism, scavenging) on the other hand, is also quite successful and has been so for far, far longer. Again, if the purpose of the universe is “humans”, it wasted a lot of time and space because over the 15 billion year history of the incredibly empty universe we really do appear pretty insignificant.

  84. sonicon 21 Jun 2011 at 12:19 pm

    nybrus-
    Evolution = mutation plus selection.
    That is more accurate than saying
    evolution = random mutation + natural selection.

    Don’t need the word random – it doesn’t describe all the mutations and it is questionable that anything is truly random- and we don’t need the word natural, because nothing isn’t. What selection could possibly occur that wouldn’t be natural? Some say human intervention (like animal husbandry or plant cross breeding) isn’t natural selection, but why put that into the heart of the subject if your point is to say that everything is natural? Aren’t my actions natural?

    Why include concepts that are unneeded?
    Where is that razor everyone talks about?

    We can’t observe something as random- that is a conclusion-not an observation.
    That said, it is true that there seems to be errors and breaks and duplication in DNA that seem to occur randomly.
    Of course if biology is supposed to reconcile with physics, then we have to ask if such behavior is possible.
    A common interpretation of physics is the ‘many-worlds’ (one Dawkins likes I think).
    But the many-worlds denies that anything is random.
    I’m not suggesting that ‘many-worlds’ is correct, but if a large portion of the physics community (and biologists too) support an interpretation that says nothing is random, how does the concept show-up in a theory of biology.
    Time for it to go.

  85. leoneton 21 Jun 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I don’t want to re-hijack this thread, but as a computer scientist with a background in biology, it drives me crazy when people like Jeremiah link to information theory papers that don’t support their assertions. It’s a common mistake to assume that because the universe is a quantum information system [a 'computer'], it follows that it is a mind analogous to our own or a deity’s. That’s a non-sequitur.

    Astonishingly, the paper in question actually spends time arguing against the notion, articulated by Laplace, that an intelligence with infinite computational resources is even possible.

  86. Jeremiahon 21 Jun 2011 at 1:20 pm

    @leonet
    >It’s a common mistake to assume that because the universe is a quantum information system [a 'computer'], it follows that it is a mind analogous to our own or a deity’s.<

    It's a common mistake here to assume that such an analogy was being made. Our mind uses information that the universe consists of. If an intelligence with infinite computational resources were possible, it wouldn't need to use our minds to use its information.

    But I suppose that if even Hawking hasn't thought about that angle, one shouldn't be surprised that you haven't.

  87. leoneton 21 Jun 2011 at 2:13 pm

    I think Jeremiah et al. on this thread may be illustrating a danger of good scientists [who are bad educators] popularizing advanced, speculative ideas in the absence of education about the origin and scope of those ideas. He seems intelligent and interested in science but appears utterly unconcerned with the mechanistic details and definitions within his ideas. To me, that’s the hallmark of an ungrounded science education.

  88. robmon 21 Jun 2011 at 2:22 pm

    leonet,

    You overlook the fact that there are people out there how look through scientific research to find things they can fit or distort to fit their preconceived notions of the world. While I agree that science education and news suffers too much from popularizing science as a bunch of neat factoids, the blame really rests on people with agendas cherry picking and misrepresenting science.

  89. kittenevilon 21 Jun 2011 at 2:32 pm

    @steve12

    I’d call M-Theory mathematics rather than science. The science part is devising hypotheses and employing experiments to test the theory (which, I don’t think we can do yet).

  90. leoneton 21 Jun 2011 at 2:47 pm

    You’re right; I don’t mean to say that we should stop popularizing the interesting, “wondrous” aspects of science. But, you know,maybe a little more emphasis on the context and process of discovery would help.

  91. sonicon 21 Jun 2011 at 3:13 pm

    steve12-
    I think you are misusing the term ‘beg the question’.

    Clearly what scientists do isn’t always science (Einstein and Planck used to play music together- for example)

    But since Newton said in his Principia-
    “The most beautiful system of the sun, planet and comets could only proceed from the counsel and domination of an intelligent and powerful Being.”
    we can be amazed at how much what is considered science has changed.

    Perhaps it will continue to change.

    BTW- I’m pretty sure intelligent design does not contradict any known fact about evolution. This is not to say it is correct or even scientific- but I’m not sure string theory is either.
    Am I wrong to say that intelligent design doesn’t contradict any known fact about evolution?

  92. robmon 21 Jun 2011 at 3:30 pm

    sonic,

    Its a common misconception to assume intelligent design simply means there is some intelligent designer somewhere who did something to direct evolution in a way indistinguishable from evolution. The ID movement throws around terms like irreducible complexity, which states certain features of life are too complex and interdependent to have arisen by evolution, and that an intelligent designer is the only explanation. This contradicts evolution, not only that an example ID people use is the eye for which there was a theory of its evolution before the objection was raised.

    Whats more the term ID was popularized by a group of creationists after the supreme court struck down creation science in the 1980′s. There was a book called Of Pandas and People where creationist changed all the references to creator, creation etc. to intelligent design, designer etc.

  93. robmon 21 Jun 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Btw this is the intelligent design creationist politicians throw around, trying to conflate it with other meanings is incorrect.

  94. Jeremiahon 21 Jun 2011 at 3:33 pm

    @leonet
    Actually I am quite concerned with the mechanistic details, as the misconceptions I and others have observed as to the currently proposed natures of those mechanisms have been the foundations for the formation of our speculative hypotheses. Without such as us (not necessarily myself included but I try to help) there would be no new science.
    Yet this is not the type of forum that would allow us to go into sufficient detail to describe the mechanisms. We do point to the literature that does, and then those that don’t understand the literature inevitably challenge us to do the understanding for them.

    Unfortunately all we can do here is point the those horses to the water. They have to want to drink it, as otherwise we have no way to make them, or any duty here to try.

  95. Jeremiahon 21 Jun 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Lamarck and others popularized intelligent design in opposition to the creation myths extant at the time. Which had a great influence on the speculative thought of Darwin. The present highjacking of the concept by theistic fundamentalists doesn’t negate the fact that the original bases for that concept can or should no longer be pursued.

  96. Jeremiahon 21 Jun 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Boy did I mangle that last sentence.

  97. mufion 21 Jun 2011 at 3:50 pm

    robm:

    Its a common misconception to assume intelligent design simply means there is some intelligent designer somewhere who did something to direct evolution in a way indistinguishable from evolution.

    Good point – and one that helps to clarify why ID does not belong in a science curriculum.

    On the philosophical front, however, it’s a different ballgame, and I would expect well-reputed biologists, who are personally theists like Kenneth Miller and Francis Collins, to hold to some non-scientific version of ID.

  98. Jeremiahon 21 Jun 2011 at 3:54 pm

    The present highjacking of the concept by theistic fundamentalists doesn’t mandate that the original bases for that concept must no longer be pursued.

    (Better but not by much.)

  99. steve12on 21 Jun 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Sonic,

    I would agree exactly with what robm said. ID is untenable nonsense, and not science by any reasonable definition.

    Throw in that it’s nothing but a political strategy, as robm also points out, and there ya go. Even they never honestly intended it as a scientific theory – it all came out at the Dover trial.

    Just more political bullshit….

  100. sonicon 21 Jun 2011 at 4:26 pm

    robm-
    I’m sure that scientist hold various views about God.
    What Max Planck thought about God doesn’t mean that quantum mechanics is false. We use experiment- not ad homiem about one’s religious beliefs- to determine what is good science or bad.

    Darwin said that if something couldn’t be approached gradually- his theory would be false- but not the fact of evolution.

    Irreducible complexity is an attempt (I’m not saying successful) to define what is meant by ‘not approachable gradually’.
    Behe gave some examples of things he thought were irreducibly complex. Some have argued and even attempted to show experimentally that his examples are false (I’m not sure successfully). Clearly the idea is testable. Clearly the idea is relevant.
    What’s all the bluster?

    Gould said that the fossil record did not support the gradualistic approach. Koonin has recently written on that as well.
    Neither are questioning any known fact of evolution- just the history and possible mechanisms- they are trying to explain the facts.

    I would be happy to find that the intelligent design hypothesis denies some known fact of evolution. But I can’t seem to find one.
    So, which fact is it?

  101. steve12on 21 Jun 2011 at 4:31 pm

    One more point, Sonic –

    There are people who subscribe to methodological but not ontological naturalism who may believe in a more colloquial definition of ID. That is, that God set off the big bang and created all of the rules of the universe, which inevitably, deterministically ended up with evolution and then us and all the other good stuff we see. Or some variant of that idea.

    BUT, that God does not now interfere. He set it in motion, science is decoding his laws, and therefore there’s no capricious meddling form above, or god rolling plato into snakes 6000 years ago or whatever.

    THis notion of a “designer” doesn’t necessarily conflict with evo (but IMO it just philosophically kicks the can down the road.).

    When people say ID, they usually don’t mean this, however. THey mean that god went PRESTO, BLAMMO! (I’m, paraphrasing), and made a dude. Which is obviously stupid.

  102. sonicon 21 Jun 2011 at 4:33 pm

    steve12-
    I don’t get my science from courtroom dramas.
    Call me silly—

  103. nybgruson 21 Jun 2011 at 4:37 pm

    @sonic: robm nailed it about ID, I don’t think I need to say more.

    as for your “mutation and selection” vs “random mutation and natural selection”

    I will agree that in most cases the “natural” doesn’t need to be stated since it is implied, but it is an important concept and one that delineates it from other directed forces. Natural selection is the force of direction that is omnipresent. It is used to distinguish it from non-natural selection, some of which is a bit arbitrary in designation and some of which is a bit more clear. Things like man-made disasters or habitat encroachment or pollution would be considered not a part of natural selection. Obviously animal husbandry as well (and in fact that is referred to as artificial selection – that distinction further nails down the point that it is not an intelligent direction).

    As for the random bit – no, it is not equivalent to say just selection and omit the random. It is established that the basis has been random mutation. It exists, it is documented, and simply because there also exists non-random mutation does not mean random is somehow moot. If you go on to try and assign some deeper meaning to random – i.e. is it truly a random process or does it follow some non-stochastic pattern – that is also pointless. There are only two implications to that line of thinking: 1) that the laws of the universe dictate the interactions and thus there is non-randomness imposed and 2) that an intelligent agency is making the entire process non-stochastic

    1) is essentially the same as random – in a universe governed by laws, there is a limit to how truly random something can be. So when we say random it is implicit that the laws of the universe are still being followed and the mutation is as random as can be within those boundaries

    2) now you are trying to proffer intelligent design or creationist thoughts and that is simply not supported by the evidence. As Dawkins has said, if god is directing evolution he is doing it so subtly as to be undetectable by humans.

    So, no, random mutation and natural selection is a correct and accurate way of describing a basic fundamental of evolution. There is no need to hedge words

  104. nybgruson 21 Jun 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I really have to run and will be gone for 2 days again but…

    @sonic: the courtroom showed that ID wasn’t science. That is valuable to know. So no need to worry that you are getting science from the courtroom – there wasn’t any there.

    As for irreducible complexity – there has yet been a system that is actually IC. Behe has offered up a number of examples and each and every single one has been shot down.

    ID is untenable. It is not science. It is religious creationism repackaged for political reasons. Period.

  105. steve12on 21 Jun 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Sonic:

    http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/design2/article.html

  106. steve12on 21 Jun 2011 at 4:46 pm

    steve12-
    I don’t get my science from courtroom dramas.
    Call me silly—

    Read the transcript from the trial, or the Discovery Institute doc themselves.

    If you had a secret document from the proponents of the theory in question that says “I know this theory is just BS I made up, but we can sell it as an alternative to creationism”, you can indeed draw conclusions from that.

    There’s no need to read on when someone admits to you that they’re lying and they’re “theory” is really a political strategy.

  107. sonicon 21 Jun 2011 at 5:02 pm

    steve12-
    You are talking deism vs. theism- and the way you describe it is similar to how I would. So we can agree about that.
    What people mean when they say ID is not something I know well. I have read about it in the encyclopedia article I linked to earlier, and it isn’t about what you describe. I don’t think they have a hard rule as to how life begins.
    Personally, I don’t know how life could come from non-life. Many seem to think they know how it couldn’t. But that’s not evolution, that’s abiogenesis.
    And the only thing I know about that is nothing.

  108. 2_wordson 21 Jun 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Nothing is irreducible complex.

  109. Jeremiahon 21 Jun 2011 at 5:42 pm

    >As Dawkins has said, if god is directing evolution he is doing it so subtly as to be undetectable by humans.<

    Through that great sieve in the sky as Dawkins has further apprised us of. Which is also so undetectable by humans that the more insightful ones have long come to recognize there's no designer in the universe at work outside or independently of their biological selves.

  110. BillyJoe7on 21 Jun 2011 at 5:43 pm

    “I don’t know how life could come from non-life.”

    Nobody knows how because it hasn’t been done yet, but that doesn’t stop you from imagining how it could happen.
    Also we have the fact that it is not possible to classify everything in the universe into two neat groups: life and non-life. There is a third group into which we have to place, arguably viruses or prions. Isn’t that a clue that life from non-life is possible? That there is a gradation from non-life to life amongst the things that exist?

  111. Jeremiahon 21 Jun 2011 at 6:05 pm

    @2_words

    >Nothing is irreducible complex.<

    Of course not. We've just seen life reduced to non-life before our very eyes. By some creationistic mooroolbarkian magic no doubt.

  112. 2_wordson 21 Jun 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Your grammar is poor. Your sentences are muddled.

    Am I giving myself away with that statement, kid?

    Has the quality of my curiosity got it?

    Hmm, maybe not yet..

  113. sonicon 21 Jun 2011 at 6:51 pm

    2-words
    You better let the physicists know that nothing is irreducible.
    They seem not to know that.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quark

    BillyJoe7-
    I agree prions and viruses might be hints.
    I would highlight the might in that last- and note how often what seem like good hints turn out not to be.

    steve12-
    I am aware of the wedge document.
    But irreducible complexity is a testable and relevant hypothesis and I don’t decide the merit of such things based on the motivations or beliefs of the person bringing them.
    I’d have to throw out most of physics and biology if I did that.

    It seems that ID doesn’t really disagree with any known fact of evolution. That certainly doesn’t make it true or scientific (even if some parts are).
    So if we are to dislike it, it shouldn’t be on the basis that it disagrees with some known fact about evolution.
    Besides- there are other reasons not to like it.

  114. robmon 21 Jun 2011 at 7:17 pm

    “It seems that ID doesn’t really disagree with any known fact of evolution.

    ID does disagree with evolution, that’s been pointed out by myself and others.

    “That certainly doesn’t make it true or scientific (even if some parts are).”

    It’s not scientific, and there is no evidence that it is true and plenty of evidence that it is not.

    “So if we are to dislike it, it shouldn’t be on the basis that it disagrees with some known fact about evolution.”

    Again it disagrees with facts and provides no new facts or understanding.

  115. neverknowon 21 Jun 2011 at 7:29 pm

    “It’s a common mistake to assume that because the universe is a quantum information system [a 'computer'], it follows that it is a mind analogous to our own or a deity’s. That’s a non-sequitur.”

    I am not assuming anything like that. Our individual intelligence is miniscule compared to the intelligence of the entire universe. We are not capable of understanding or defining it. But the idea that it is a quantum information system, that our world is made out of information rather than little bits of “matter,” can give us a different and more open-minded perspective.

    We are limited by our sensory experience. It is natural to be unable to imagine anything beyond our experience and that’s why there are fundamentalists on both the religious and materialist ends of the spectrum.

    The most honest and realistic approach, I think, is to admit that our scientific understanding is very limited.

    If I say the universe seems to be an intelligent information system, that doesn’t mean I should be able to tell you how it works or why it exists.

  116. Heinleineron 21 Jun 2011 at 8:34 pm

    # artfulD on 02 Sep 2009 at 1:09 pm
    Hypothetical or not, the “study” produces the clearest of inferences that the mice themselves had a role in the change of their coloring to match the surroundings. And if pressed, I could reference a number of actual studies that demonstrate the same phenomena.
    But I’m persuaded that the farmer who lead the horse to the water, only to discover it couldn’t be made to drink, decided that it would have done just as well to point out where the water was and dispense with the leading.

    # bindle on 03 Jul 2010 at 2:18 pm
    Steven wrote: “The simplest explanation for evolutionary change is that individual organisms are simply trying to survive and reproduce. Sure, they make decisions, but only at that level.”
    Exactly. And where would we be now if they hadn’t, didn’t, or couldn’t?
    In fact, in my view, you can stop with “trying to survive,” as the reproductive mechanisms were likely the first example of a crucially important unintended consequence.
    Consequence of what? Why, purposefully trying, and learning from the inevitable mistakes.
    Someone said we should stop using the term experiment? But that’s the rightest thing that Steven has said about the process.
    Experiments need some entity with the simplest of purposes to attempt them. They need an entity with some element of insight to design the strategy that needs to be involved. They need some form of elementary memory to learn from the mistakes. (Mistakes that couldn’t happen in a deterministic world, by the way, but that’s getting a bit too abstract for this
    elementary discourse.)
    They need an expectation forming calculator.
    They need to be aware of the essential elements of their world that will affect the nature of their calculations. The input that will be crucial to the output. Crucial to the formation of alternative behaviors, of options, of assessment of which option fits best when and where. And how. And from that why.
    Complicated as all hell, you say. Yet there we seem to have it. The powers necessary for any meaningful selection. Biological. Biologic. Logic that forms its own structures if you will. Structures that don’t otherwise exist in nature. That we know of.
    Does all this happen, or any of this happen, only at the bottom level, somehow fading out when life’s initial tasks are done? Steven suggest it does. I suggest it only gets more complicated and those complications are found within and by the organisms themselves.
    Much or all the complicated rationalizing done by neo-Darwinians to find life’s evolutionary mechanisms elsewhere will need to be thrown out if I am anywhere near correct. But these are not just my ideas, so
    to raise the rant against them gets you noplace in the end.
    Rant against the new biology from whence my conceptions come.
    Open up the blog to a discussion that includes them and their workable hypotheses if you feel you can stand up to the job.

    # Jeremiahon 21 Jun 2011 at 2:54 am
    >Intelligent Design theory is a serious challenge to the smug certainty of materialism and atheism.<
    Quite true, unless you deniers can explain how the universe has allowed for intelligence to evolve without some lawful guidance or example.
    The neoDarwinists have not been allowed to openly investigate the ways in which life has clearly done its own mechanics. The alternative was/is to look for something else that's done it, and if not God, it's mother nature. Yet for mother nature not to be another name for God, she had to do the job without a smidgen of perception, intention, or intelligence involved.
    Which requires the more hardened atheistic view that there is no God simply because there is no intelligence in the universe, and that's simply because there's no need for it.
    Except that by some accidental process which can mimic intelligence, we came up with the real thing. Stochastically, as we called it, randomly determined; having a random probability distribution or pattern that may be analyzed statistically but may not be predicted precisely.
    The Russells and the Whiteheads knew better. If atheism had to rule out any computative processes in the universe, and yet make that one exception for mankind, agnoticism didn't.
    Agnoticism can allow for intelligence in the universe outside of gods. Atheism can't. And can't allow our own intelligence to shape us unless perhaps the spirits of the Weismann's would lift their barrier and let us at least play gods.
    So that, in this agnostic's view of evolution, designs can't be god directed as the creationists would have it, nor can they be randomly directed as the materialists would have it. And yet we've clearly been a product of some intelligence at work.
    A pity that we can't somehow admit it's ours.

    # Jeremiahon 21 Jun 2011 at 3:33 pm
    @leonet
    Actually I am quite concerned with the mechanistic details, as the misconceptions I and others have observed as to the currently proposed natures of those mechanisms have been the foundations for the formation of our speculative hypotheses. Without such as us (not necessarily myself included but I try to help) there would be no new science.
    Yet this is not the type of forum that would allow us to go into sufficient detail to describe the mechanisms. We do point to the literature that does, and then those that don’t understand the literature inevitably challenge us to do the understanding for them.
    Unfortunately all we can do here is point the those horses to the water. They have to want to drink it, as otherwise we have no way to make them, or any duty here to try.

  117. 2_wordson 21 Jun 2011 at 9:23 pm

    @neverknow
    “We are not capable of understanding or defining it.”

    If this a part of a description of something then it is the only part of the description worth any note.

    If “it” is undefinable and if “it” cannot be understood then you cannot define it or understand it. You cannot name it, you cannot know it, you cannot say what is or that it is at all. If “it” is as you say then you do not understand it enough to say anything at all about it.

    @sonic
    Yes, nothing is irreducible complex. You just mentioned something. Are you saying somethings are irreducible complex? How do you know this? Is all science done? Have you the answer? You should probably give the physicists a call. Let them in on how you are so certain, maybe you should write a paper or two. I’m sure there is a Nobel in it for you.

  118. Jeremiahon 21 Jun 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Thanks. Present company such as neverknow and sonic excepted, it’s nice to know I haven’t been all that alone here historically in noting that intelligence is an evolving product of the universe, and life is a product of evolved intelligence that continues to evolve its own.

  119. sonicon 21 Jun 2011 at 9:45 pm

    robm-
    I failed to find the fact of evolution that ID disagrees with.
    I would love a restatement please.
    Which fact? (I really would like to know)

    2_words
    Did you look at the article about quarks?
    Of course someday someone might find a reduction for an electron and the other quarks, perhaps they are strings.
    And that would leave strings as irreducibly complex.
    And so on.
    I did not say nothing is irreducibly complex, or that something is.
    As to if anything really is- I’d say it’s an open question.
    You do know what is meant by an open question- a situation in which some doubt is appropriate- right?

  120. Heinleineron 21 Jun 2011 at 9:46 pm

    You’re welcome.

  121. 2_wordson 21 Jun 2011 at 10:03 pm

    “But irreducible complexity is a testable and relevant hypothesis.”

    What would that test be then? How can you test for “it is just too hard to understand?” Is there an amount of “we don’t know” that proves it is irreducible complex?

  122. leoneton 21 Jun 2011 at 11:37 pm

    @Jeremiah

    “. . . and life is a product of evolved intelligence that continues to evolve its own.”

    Do you have any evidence that this evolved universal intelligence is intelligent?

    If you define it broadly enough, you can stick the label “intelligence” on anything. Even a rock is [really] a complex, quantum information system, comprised of innumerable subatomic particles interacting with each other and the universe. It even has “information content” and changes [evolves!] within space-time.

    But . . . it’s still a rock.

  123. BillyJoe7on 22 Jun 2011 at 12:35 am

    sonic,

    “I agree prions and viruses might be hints.
    I would highlight the might in that last- and note how often what seem like good hints turn out not to be.”

    I would put life from non-life before the conscious universe

    ——————————————-

    heinleiner,

    “You’re welcome.”

    I thought you were pointing out that they are one and the same.

  124. sonicon 22 Jun 2011 at 12:59 am

    2_words
    The notion that any organ (eyes for example) can be produced by a step by step process (each step having some survival advantage) is key to the hypothesis of Darwin. This is not an obviously true thing (seems reasonable, but so does a ladder to the sun until you understand the situation more fully)
    If an organ needs a number of genes to perform at all, then it would be necessary to show that these genes could come into being in a step by step manner- each step showing some survival advantage (or at least no change too disadvantageous.)

    With DNA sequencing advances this sort of analysis can actually be done. Up to now, this sort of analysis couldn’t be done as well.

    So an old question gets retested. This time based on more full knowledge. And often surprising things get discovered in these situations.

    I would expect when and if some other new piece of knowledge or technological ability allows for a retest of the hypothesis- then a retest will be done. And the next time and…

  125. Jeremiahon 22 Jun 2011 at 1:10 am

    The rock, as a ‘naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids,’ has information arranged in the molecules of the various compounds that compose it, that then react in a predictable fashion based in turn on the information in the forces behind the stimuli (from wind rain, lightning, John Henry or whatever) that these elements in combination were made by force to be “aware” of. The reactions will vary in consistent and expected ways according to the final “nature” of the rock, be it igneous, metamorphic or sedimentary. There is a calculated and lawfully regulated aspect to these effectively pre-programmed behaviors which in that sense depends and must depend on a universally evolved intelligence.
    The rock is still a rock and no more intelligent than your computer which is still a computer, or indeed your brain that’s still a brain, but all of them use intelligence in ways that have changed over eons as represented by the varieties and complexities of their energetic forms.
    (And I didn’t even need to use Hoffman and his conscious agent theories to rattle that off, although it might have been more accurate had I done so.)

  126. Jeremiahon 22 Jun 2011 at 1:19 am

    Current Members of the Mooroolbark Lions Club are:

    Tom Blackburn
    Tony Clarke (Membership Chairman)
    Michael Coyne
    Peter Deakin
    Bob Gatherum
    Peter Giddins
    Chris Gough (President)
    Peter Higgins (Treasurer)
    Allan Jarrett
    Rob Law
    Howard Leaf
    Rocco Mammoliti
    David Mills
    George Nantes (Secretary)
    Ken Nightingale
    Anthony Smyth
    Rob Wyatt

    They all seek to use intelligence in a variety of ways.

  127. Jeremiahon 22 Jun 2011 at 1:21 am

    Did I neglect to mention that some of them are master debaters?

  128. stephinsdon 22 Jun 2011 at 1:57 am

    Jeremiah and Heinleiner (I bet you they are one and the same person) seem to forget that for it to be science, it needs to have a hypothesis that can be falsified. A scientific theory is not some random idea that someone happened to think about. There is no doubt in my mind that they are trolls.

  129. Heinleineron 22 Jun 2011 at 2:40 am

    Heh, yes, BillyJoe, that was the implication.

  130. Jeremiahon 22 Jun 2011 at 3:20 am

    @Heinleiner
    Aha, so that’s what’s up with all these BJ insults that I had thought were mere attempts to shoot the messenger out of some urge to somehow kill the message. I don’t have any connection with these other posters nor do I share, as far as I can tell, their personal philosophies. Except it appears we share the level of intelligence that is apparently a burden to your attempts to understand the world around you.

    You haven’t done any favors to BillyJoe if it was your intent to egg him on here. His latest negatively inspired efforts to interfere with my attempts to make a positive contribution here are going to have to be dealt with by my own.

    I’m sure in time I’ll find a similar way to deal with yours as well.

  131. Jeremiahon 22 Jun 2011 at 3:22 am

    For further information, please contact:
    George Nantes (Secretary)
    Telephone (03) 9726 5998
    Email :   georgetn@optusnet.com.au
    Postal Address: P.O.Box 58. Mooroolbark.Vic.3138. Australia

  132. Heinleineron 22 Jun 2011 at 4:21 am

    You aren’t fooling anyone, sociopath.

  133. eiskrystalon 22 Jun 2011 at 4:51 am

    There is a calculated and lawfully regulated aspect to these effectively pre-programmed behaviors which in that sense depends and must depend on a universally evolved intelligence.

    I have no idea why you would think you need a “universal intelligence” in order to make rocks be rocks. You also don’t program rocks.

    I have the distinct impression that you have taken your metaphors far further than you should have.

  134. Jeremiahon 22 Jun 2011 at 5:32 am

    So a rock is a solid object with no molecular structures, no forces within it that maintain its form, no way to melt it, extract minerals from it, magnetize it, find radioactivity, etc.? Who knew.

  135. Jeremiahon 22 Jun 2011 at 5:55 am

    So Heinleiner, I googled you and find you’re another one that hates the messenger here:

    Here’s you from: http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/a-darwin-day-celebration-2/

    “If you want to say that bacteria have sentience or cognition, you might as well say that Fickian diffusion is the result of solute molecules willfully moving toward areas of lower concentration. You might say that objects intelligently desire to lower their gravitational potential energy, so they fall to the earth! You might say that electrons in excited atomic energy levels step down a notch in order to impress us with fluorescence.
    Okay, so you probably wont say that. You’ll probably agree that the processes mentioned above are merely physical and chemical processes. So are bacteria, although they’re a combination of many simultaneous chemical processes.”

    Really great science there. And here:

    “Bacteria do not make choices or rank consequences. Ascribing choice to simple responses is the anthropomorphic fallacy. There is no intelligence or choice if the same stimulus always elicits the same response.”

    Who knew that as well.

    I’ll see what else I can find that appears to show the abyss of your ignorance, but only to add perspective to anything you might have to say of substance – which so far has been nothing.

  136. SteveAon 22 Jun 2011 at 7:43 am

    Jeremiah: “You think I’m a creationist when I see that life can create its own designs?”

    This sounds familiar…

    Hey, Jeremiah. Got any strong views on bacteria you’d like to share?

  137. BillyJoe7on 22 Jun 2011 at 8:08 am

    The Seven Ages of the Scientist

    1 As student, listens to advisor give talk on student’s own work

    2 As postdoc, gives talks about his/her own work

    3 As professor, gives talks about his/her students’ work

    4 Talks and writes about “the state of the field”

    5 Talks and writes about “the state of the field” eccentrically and incorrectly—always in a self-aggrandizing way.

    6 Gives after-dinner speeches and writes about society and the history of the field

    7 Writes articles about science and religion

    That’s assuming we actually have a scientist here.

  138. SteveAon 22 Jun 2011 at 8:48 am

    sonic: “I failed to find the fact of evolution that ID disagrees with. I would love a restatement please. Which fact? (I really would like to know).”

    Perhaps the fact that many natural ‘designs’ show no intelligence whatsoever. Many structures, systems, organs etc are lash-ups dictated by whatever happened to work (ie be favoured by natural selection) at the time.

    Some changes aren’t a result of natural selection of course; genetic drift can do the same in a more random way. A good example is the human inability to manufacture Vitamin C, an ability that we had, but lost.

    The human eye is a good example of a poorly ‘designed’ organ: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=evolution-of-the-eye

  139. steve12on 22 Jun 2011 at 10:49 am

    # sonicon 22 Jun 2011 at 12:59 am

    The genetics is all there

    Sonic, you’re really questioning common ancestry here! Look at how genes and morphology move as a function of each other, and how composite structures change along the way. We’re filled with vestigal genes that also confirm common ancestry. I haven’t taken these course in a while and I’m not a geneticist. Surely someone else can do a better job of explaining this, but this is all settled, settled science and even I could go on for w while – though maybe with a few mis-rememberings!. There’s no need to “debate” this w/o some seriously provacative new evidence.

    Here’s some links that explain some of these issues so I’m not going on and on. They’re pop science, but from them you can find links to the original work should you want to follow up.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phylogenetics
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence_of_common_descent
    http://www.theallineed.com/videos/modern-genetics-confirms-evolution/CexojNPz2cU&feature=youtube_gdata/

  140. steve12on 22 Jun 2011 at 10:57 am

    # Jeremiahon 22 Jun 2011 at 3:22 am

    Are you trying to identify people who would prefer anonymity, or is this you?

  141. Jeremiahon 22 Jun 2011 at 1:16 pm

    # BillyJoe7on 18 May 2011 at 7:08 am

    I have a crush on one of my employees who works only one four-hour session per week. She charges my fantasy life and, through her, I can once again masturbate to orgasm. But I’m not so silly as to think I can make reality happen here. She is considerably younger and her other job brings her into contact with my wife – who got her this job. The pleasure she gives me by just being there once a week is enough. Anything more could end badly.

    # Jeremiahon 21 May 2011 at 12:57 pm
    So BillyJoe7, you are singling me out to insult personally again?
    Poo in a toilet bowl? From a jerkoff down there in Mooroolbark talking out of his ass more likely. (Or where do you sit while looking at that young woman’s picture?)

    # BillyJoe7on 22 May 2011 at 5:18 am
    “Or where do you sit while looking at that young woman’s picture?”
    Now you are just assuming things.
She is not a young woman. And nowhere did I state that she was. In fact she has two teenage children. In case you have made any more assumptions, she is not a buxom beauty, that is not why I am attracted to her. I love the way she smiles. I love the way she talks. I love the way she interacts with me. We are both married. We have some innocent fun and we leave it at that. And she doesn’t know about my fantasies about her and she never will.


  142. steve12on 22 Jun 2011 at 2:06 pm

    # Jeremiah on 22 Jun 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I’m sorry, but this is unacceptable behavior. To try and identify someone who would prefer to remain anonymous, and then re-post (supposedly) embarrassing comments to link with that identity – that’s beyond the pale.

    I’m not one for banning for little insults or such, but you should be banned for this behavior, IMO.

    What does this have to do with science or the discussion?

    Jeremiah, you are an insulting know-it-all know-nothing. I would bet my very life that you have no training in science yet pretend to be a scientist. This is not an insult, but a statement of fact.

    Now we also know that you are a person of very low character as well.

  143. sonicon 22 Jun 2011 at 2:30 pm

    steve12-
    No automobile is perfect.
    You are thinking intelligent design is the same as perfect design.
    You can put that strawman away.

    As to the science being ‘settled’-

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091210111148.htm

    “Remarkably, we have found many cases of parallel intron gains at essentially the same sites in independent genotypes,” Lynch said. “This strongly argues against the common assumption that when two species share introns at the same site, it is always due to inheritance from a common ancestor.”

    So what was seen as proof of common ancestry need not be proof after all. (Note the word assumption in that last)
    Is that provocative enough for you?

    How about this one– sorry for the funky reference here, it is a place where you can read most the article for free though :-)

    http://www.vetscite.org/publish/items/005004/index.html

    “For much of the past 150 years, biology has largely concerned itself with filling in the details of the tree. “For a long time the holy grail was to build a tree of life,” says Eric Bapteste, an evolutionary biologist at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, France. A few years ago it looked as though the grail was within reach. But today the project lies in tatters, torn to pieces by an onslaught of negative evidence. Many biologists now argue that the tree concept is obsolete and needs to be discarded. “We have no evidence at all that the tree of life is a reality,” says Bapteste. That bombshell has even persuaded some that our fundamental view of biology needs to change.”

    No tree of life. That’s provocative. Got to be.

    “If you thought that science was certain – well, that is just an error on your part.” Richard Feynman

    PS- thank-you for the links–

  144. steve12on 22 Jun 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Sonic…

    “steve12-
    No automobile is perfect.
    You are thinking intelligent design is the same as perfect design.
    You can put that strawman away.”

    I think you’re referring to someone else’s post here.

    “As to the science being ‘settled’-“
    I said common decent (CD) is settled – at least as much as anything can be in science. This is not the same as saying every detail is known.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091210111148.htm

    “Remarkably, we have found many cases of parallel intron gains at essentially the same sites in independent genotypes,” Lynch said. “This strongly argues against the common assumption that when two species share introns at the same site, it is always due to inheritance from a common ancestor.”

    That it may not be as reliable a marker as once thought doesn’t mean that CD is wrong. This is another detail. You have a LOT of other evidence to refute, and no other model that accounts for any of it. IOW, still pretty settled, details to come.

    Which article has this quote from? I couldn’t find it.
    “So what was seen as proof of common ancestry need not be proof after all. (Note the word assumption in that last)
    Is that provocative enough for you?”

    “How about this one– sorry for the funky reference here, it is a place where you can read most the article for free though
    http://www.vetscite.org/publish/items/005004/index.html

    From that article:
    “But what if species also routinely swapped genetic material with other species, or hybridised with them? Then that neat branching pattern would quickly degenerate into an impenetrable thicket of interrelatedness, with species being closely related in some respects but not others.”

    While interesting, this does not refute CD, it shows that it proceeded in a more complicated manner than was once thought – that there is verticality that cannot be conceived of in a simple branching model. That is, that it might be a “tree” where branches can connect directly. Again, a detail to be filled in that is not a threat to the theory in general. The analogy to a literal tree is hurt more than CD, though another mechanism other than CD is very interesting.

    “For much of the past 150 years, biology has largely concerned itself with filling in the details of the tree. “For a long time the holy grail was to build a tree of life,” says Eric Bapteste, an evolutionary biologist at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, France. A few years ago it looked as though the grail was within reach. But today the project lies in tatters, torn to pieces by an onslaught of negative evidence. Many biologists now argue that the tree concept is obsolete and needs to be discarded. “We have no evidence at all that the tree of life is a reality,” says Bapteste. That bombshell has even persuaded some that our fundamental view of biology needs to change.”

    No tree of life. That’s provocative. Got to be.”

    See last comment.

    “If you thought that science was certain – well, that is just an error on your part.” Richard Feynman

    This is an admonition to be skeptical, not a knee jerk invalidation of hard-won knowledge (sorry – Feynman is my idol!)

  145. Jeremiahon 22 Jun 2011 at 4:25 pm

    steve12, There are good “scientists” and bad ones, and for some reason the bad ones such as you and Heinleiner have migrated here where the self appointed gatekeeper of poor science had already set up procedures to have the messengers of good science shot. He was then warned that some of these messengers shot back, but he has paid no heed.

    So now the protective tactic is to go back and repost things that I in some other guise have supposedly said. Not bad stuff actually, but that’s not the point, since he and the rest have clearly stated that they haven’t understood the messages to begin with. But that’s clearly been a lie from the beginning, since if it were true, there’d be nothing to so vehemently defend against.

    And of course you in particular can’t handle my messages from good science either, as from the beginning you could only try to question my credentials in lieu of having no defense against mydeeper knowledge of the science that lies behind the technical aspects relative to your alleged practice of it.
    You and these others are in short, scientists perhaps on paper, but frauds in reality.

    And so if reposting messages you think somehow will discredit my authority and get rid of the messages with the messenger, I give you tit for tat by reposting things your gatekeeper has said that will in turn discredit his ‘authority’ to take pot shots at me personally, in lieu of his being unable to discredit the messages (and give us a break that it’s only because he can’t understand them).

    And everything I’ve reposted here is publicly posted on the internet, and everything that reflects against his own character was posted on the internet by him. If he wasn’t proud of those thoughts and their accompanying behaviors, you’d think he would have kept them private. But no, he not only tells us what he does, he tells us where he lives, what kind of business and employees he has, what he does and where he goes on his time off, etc. (And I’ve held back on reposting some of what could be the most damaging.)
    Guilt wanting to get caught? Crying out for me to help? Glad to oblige.

  146. mufion 22 Jun 2011 at 4:34 pm

    steve12 said to sonic: This is an admonition to be skeptical, not a knee jerk invalidation of hard-won knowledge…

    I think it’s fair to say that sonic has been pretty consistent in presenting skepticism (or at least towards those scientific views that interest him).

    I’ll do him one better: not only is all science (in varying degrees) uncertain, but it’s best measured by its ability to produce useful predictions, relative to human values. Why those particular predictions work and not others, however, is only a matter of speculation (however amenable they are to mathematical models and legal metaphors).

    Of course, even if we agree on this pragmatic view, that still leaves plenty of room for debate (e.g. which human values? and which predictions actually succeed? and which fail?). But, inasmuch as it’s shared, I think it at least helps us to dull some of the ideological bluster that we commonly find in everyday rhetoric by focusing our questions on “what works” rather than on “what’s true.”

  147. stephinsdon 22 Jun 2011 at 5:26 pm

    @Sonic
    “Remarkably, we have found many cases of parallel intron gains at essentially the same sites in independent genotypes,” Lynch said. “This strongly argues against the common assumption that when two species share introns at the same site, it is always due to inheritance from a common ancestor.”

    This can easily be explained by the fact that mutations are not all created equal. Mutations at most spots will result in completely non working phenotypes. This bias mutations towards specific spots hence increasing the odds that 2 unrelated specie share the same mutation. Some remotely related organisms have also been shown to share genetic materials. Plants come to mind. Bacteria and viruses have been known to insert their genetic material in their host. Not common, but given enough time, it would not be surprising if say a virus leaves in genetic material in one or more unrelated specie.

    One thing is clear, evolution is messy. However, in no way does it invalidate CD. CD still by far explains our genetic make-up best.

    Also, Eric Bapteste does not claim there is no tree of life(it makes for a great head line though), but rather is insufficient to explain some of the evolution of prokaryotes:

    “This is not to say that similarities and differences between organisms are not to be accounted for by evolutionary mechanisms, but descent with modification is only one of these mechanisms, and a single tree-like pattern is not the necessary (or expected) result of their collective operation. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1892968/)”

    Also studying prokariotes and other simple organism is not the same as studying other higher order organisms. Although even with higher order organism, there can be exchange of genes significantly after two species branched off. It can produced strange results. For example, it is possible that some humans share a genetic mutations with some chimpanzees but not with other humans. It is unlikely given what we know of the human population but not impossible. However, in no way does it invalidate the tree of life. If there was no tree of life, it would mean that humans could for example give birth to banana trees.

    Granted, evolution is not solely vertical and there is also a horizontal component to it. However, its effect is small and gets smaller as we go to higher order organisms, as would be expected.

  148. Jeremiahon 22 Jun 2011 at 5:31 pm

    So there’s no future danger in untruthfulness, as long as the “science” of creationists works to great pragmatic success in the body politic? And when the central point of this post involved the long term harm anticipated from the short term use of superstition as pragmatic?

  149. BillyJoe7on 22 Jun 2011 at 5:45 pm

    mufi,

    “I think it’s fair to say that sonic has been pretty consistent in presenting skepticism ”

    I don’t think so.
    There’s scepticism and then there’s denialism.
    He’s just passing off fringe science as mainstream.
    Evolution is complicated? Who knew?
    It’s just easy to cherry pick outliers in support of an ideology than to get a good sense of the whole picture.

  150. SteveAon 22 Jun 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Sonic: “steve12-
    No automobile is perfect.
    You are thinking intelligent design is the same as perfect design.
    You can put that strawman away.”

    Is this a reference to my post? I think you might have your Steves confused.

    Ever seen an automobile where the exhaust pipe pokes out through the front grill up, bends back 180 degrees up over the hood, then penetrates the front and back windshields to stick out the back? That is the level of ‘design’ we’re talking out. Take a look at the laryngeal nerve of a giraffe for an equally bizarre solution to what should be a simple, straightforward routing issue. No intelligence required.

  151. SteveAon 22 Jun 2011 at 6:42 pm

    “having no defense against mydeeper knowledge of the science”

    ?!?!

    It’s back. New and improved, now with added pretension…

  152. Jeremiahon 22 Jun 2011 at 6:57 pm

    How is cutting edge science a product of denialism?

    An ignorant denialist goes after a scientifically astute skeptic, and tries to tar him with very brush he doesn’t seem to realize has permanently tarred his cherry pecker. Who knew that would happen here?
    Oops, that should be cherry picker.

  153. mufion 22 Jun 2011 at 7:09 pm

    BillyJoe: I was trying avoid a personal accusation, but you are not alone in perceiving a certain pattern of selection bias (only vaguely alluded to in my previous parenthetical remark).

    Anyway, preaching pragmatism was my main goal.

  154. robmon 22 Jun 2011 at 7:11 pm

    @SteveA

    probably shouldn’t engage Jeremiah at this point, either he has scientific expertise, or he doesn’t. Likewise his recent posts reflect his though processes or they don’t. If he is not the researcher he claims or his posts are designed to piss us off, he is acting like a troll and we probably should not feed him.

    If on the other hand he is a researcher and believes his deeper knowledge is being kept down by materialists and atheists and:

    “There are good “scientists” and bad ones, and for some reason the bad ones such as you and Heinleiner have migrated here where the self appointed gatekeeper of poor science had already set up procedures to have the messengers of good science shot.”

    Then he’s probably crank, and if he isn’t its better that we let him get back to his work, which lesser scientists can’t process with a normal brain, we picked a fight with a warlock.

  155. Jeremiahon 22 Jun 2011 at 7:12 pm

    SteveA,
    This is a test, say something knowledgeable about science. Any science.

  156. Jeremiahon 22 Jun 2011 at 7:20 pm

    robm, excuse me for not including you in the bad scientist category.
    Hell, we can all agree that mike12 was a bad scientist and yet you couldn’t even come close to dealing with him on his level.

  157. Jeremiahon 22 Jun 2011 at 7:33 pm

    And who was that masked poster who thinks a rock is a thing that is somehow unrelated to the sum of its categorically different parts.

  158. Lothar of the Hill Peopleon 22 Jun 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Jeremiah,

    Having read through this entire chain of comments, I have to say I am truly concerned for your mental health. I say that not as a pop psychologist or with any implied authority – just someone who actually gives a shit about his fellow human beings.

    Your posts are erratic, nonsensical, arrogant, condescending, spiteful, mean-spirited, and utterly contemptible. It is clear you revel in “trolling”, but with such a lack of finesse I have to conclude that this is really the outcome of a damaged mind, not the playful combativeness of a provocateur.

    Veiled threats? “His latest negatively inspired efforts to interfere with my attempts to make a positive contribution here are going to have to be dealt with by my own. I’m sure in time I’ll find a similar way to deal with yours as well.”

    Then you go about posting what looks like a private conversation to a public thread in an attempt to ridicule and embarrass. To what end? Tit for tat? Did it make you feel good to do that? If so, why? Is that the kind of person you want to be?

    Anyways, it looks like you had your fun. Please run along now. I’d prefer to come here for intelligent debate, not to read hatefulness and spitefulness.

    And get some help. Seriously.

  159. Niche Geekon 22 Jun 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Jeremiah,

    After reading the entire thread, I am convinced that you must be defining your terms differently than most of the other posters. Would it be possible for you to define choice and intelligence as you understand those terms? It seems to me that your definition must not jibe with the conventional meaning of the word:


    capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.

  160. Niche Geekon 22 Jun 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Jeremiah,

    Put another way, I fail to see how stating that a rock:
    -is solid
    -has molecular structures
    -has forces within it that maintain its form
    -can be radioactive
    -will melt or become magnetized when external forces affect it.

    is evidence of intelligence in any way.

  161. steve12on 22 Jun 2011 at 11:38 pm

    “It’s just easy to cherry pick outliers in support of an ideology than to get a good sense of the whole picture.”

    I think Sonic has ernest interest, questions & skepticism, and generally seems like a nice person, in my few dealings anyway.

    But I’ve noticed a problem in the skeptic community, and it’s related to the above quote from BillyJoe7. It’s the evaluation of details. Skeptically minded people and scientists are tuned to details – which is great, especially since most of society seems allergic to detail. But many have an issue evaluating those details vis a vis the larger picture. In it’s extreme form this leads to conspiracy theorists, who find one unexplained or seemingly contradictory detail, and perseverate on it without understanding it’s value to the larger picture, which leads to false conclusions.

    The problem is that the larger picture, with understanding and good evaluation of relevant detail, is probably the hardest thing to attain for complex endeavors.

  162. sonicon 22 Jun 2011 at 11:47 pm

    steve12- (Sorry- I mixed you up with SteveA, I see it now…)
    There is no way to test common descent experimentally.
    For that reason, common descent does not hold a candle to general relativity in terms of being settled or as a scientific ‘truth’.

    I thought Feynman made that clear–
    The principle of science, the definition, almost, is the following: The test of all knowledge is experiment. Experiment is the sole judge of scientific “truth.”

    Yet GR -the theory of gravity- is being questioned now because of new observations from space.. (See the article about the new findings in astronomy.)

    I think the new observations about the genome and introns and the lack of a tree of life warrant some questioning.
    I would certainly agree that nothing I have seen or referenced could be said to disprove the hypothesis, but I do say that if the observation of how something got that way is different that the current explanation- it is the explanation that must be questioned.
    And the observation doesn’t match the explanation.
    So, since I have no problem with someone questioning GR based on new observation- you can see why I don’t have a problem with questioning something else- like CD.

    But I’m not sure you should question it, I’m only trying to explain why I think it is reasonable to do so. But some think it reasonable to bungee jump. While I can agree that it is OK for those who like it, I’m not going to do it. ;-)

  163. sonicon 23 Jun 2011 at 12:01 am

    mufi-
    Thank-you for the compliment.
    Your comment about ‘what works’ vs. ‘what is true’ is very interesting.
    Allow me to think on that a bit. :-)

    SteveA-
    Sorry for the mix-up.
    Of course I’ve always thought that the federal reserve and airplanes that crash and computers that crash are proof that there is no intelligence in humanity. But then I realize that I’m human and I get all self-refuting about it.
    I’m not sure poor design is proof of ‘no intelligence’- although I would agree that it is a reason to question.
    And yours would be a question for those promoting the theory- especially as it goes to the heart of what is meant by intelligent.
    That really is a good point.

    BillyJoe7-
    I’m not objective.
    I don’t know what denialism is.
    I don’t determine what to believe by consensus.
    If you think I’m passing off something fringe as mainstream, I’m very sorry about that- it is not my intention to pass anything off as mainstream that isn’t.
    It seems I have a habit of questioning things- particularly those things I’m told not to.
    You have no idea how many times I’ve been told that habit is a bad habit. :-)

  164. BillyJoe7on 23 Jun 2011 at 12:23 am

    sonic,

    If you don’t have an underlying ideology/philosophy through which you filter all you read about science, I apologise. But, let me just say that I suspect this is not the case and is unlikely to be the case for someone who has obviously read so widely. Surely you must have a view on what you read.
    Otherwise I think you’re in need of a good bullshit meter.

    You seem to inordinately concentrate on outliers that seem to question the consensus view and to unquestioningly accept research/studies that seem to promote what can only be described as fringe science.

    I wil give you an example from a recent climate change thread:
    You pounced on a commentary by a known climate denier (McIntyre) posted on a known climate denier site (WattsUp WithThat) to suggest that Mike12 may be right about the IPCC.

  165. Jeremiahon 23 Jun 2011 at 1:00 am

    Niche Geek,
    When leonet first brought up the rock question, he gave a good part of the answer with it:
    “Even a rock is [really] a complex, quantum information system, comprised of innumerable subatomic particles interacting with each other and the universe. It even has “information content” and changes [evolves!] within space-time.”

    To use the dictionary definition, intelligence is, in short, the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.

    And thus I’ve argued that the way that information is “arranged in the molecules of the various compounds that compose it” is a form of universally acquired knowledge. And the quote from leonet above that there’s a “complex quantum information system” that sustains the rock would seem to agree.

    And I haven’t said that the rock itself is intelligent, because it isn’t.
    But it’s parts are held together by the application of their “knowledge” when needed, reacting in a predictable fashion based on instructions that are the equivalent of pre-programmed skill sets – “based in turn on the information in the forces behind the stimuli (from wind, rain, lightning, –) that these elements in combination were made by force to be ‘aware’ of.

    Most of them here will have a problem with the awareness part, but that’s their problem, as I don’t know how else the reactive aspects of nature can be accounted for.

    “There is a calculated and lawfully regulated aspect to these effectively pre-programmed behaviors which in that sense depends and must depend on a universally evolved intelligence.”
    If one doesn’t accept that a “complex, quantum information system” requires calculation and lawful regulation as its evolutionary environment, then they won’t accept that intelligence as I’ve described it exists outside of “life.”
    So be it.

  166. Jeremiahon 23 Jun 2011 at 1:36 am

    >The problem is that the larger picture, with understanding and good evaluation of relevant detail, is probably the hardest thing to attain for complex endeavors.<

    So from your references, it seems you would agree with me that Columbia philosopher of science David Albert has such understanding, and that Dean Radin, from the “Institute of Noetic Sciences” hasn't got a clue. And nobody who is anybody thinks otherwise.

    And yet when a legitimate research scientist such as Hoffman comes along with something fairly new, and the respectable denizens of deep places such as Edge applaud, you holler horseshit out of hand.

    So much for the effort of understanding and good evaluation of relevant detail. Using some baffoon's proffered bullshit meter doesn't cut it.

  167. nybgruson 23 Jun 2011 at 5:22 am

    wow. as usual, with Jeremiah around, the thread devolves into nonsense, gibberish, and thinly veiled threats. I agree that the latter is completely unacceptable and would second a motion for banning if it continues.

    jeremiah: His latest negatively inspired efforts to interfere with my attempts to make a positive contribution here are going to have to be dealt with by my own.

    No need to interfere. You have yet to make a positive contribution here.

    Now go ahead and wine about how I’m about to have a nervous breakdown or something to make yourself feel better.

    @sonic:

    I think the new observations about the genome and introns and the lack of a tree of life warrant some questioning.

    Yes, but what you are questioning is vital here. You can question the interactions of introns, you can question the level of veracity of using them as markers, but that knowledge does not call into question CD or evolutionary theory. It is very easy to focus on the details and pick apart seemingly contradictory science, as BillyJoe accurately said. But it is not a valid way of doing things and must be taken in with the big picture of the field, which is why people spends years of the life dedicated to understanding the basics and the general picture before they can contribute anything of significance. And of course, Steve12 said it quite nicely:

    The problem is that the larger picture, with understanding and good evaluation of relevant detail, is probably the hardest thing to attain for complex endeavors.

    As for IC:

    The notion that any organ (eyes for example) can be produced by a step by step process (each step having some survival advantage) is key to the hypothesis of Darwin. This is not an obviously true thing

    It is key and it is not obviously true. That is why there is the illusion of design. But, as I and other have said repeatedly, there has been discovered no system that is actually IC. Every attempt has been shot down, bar none. You can keep picking new and harder challenges to demonstrate. You can keep hacking away at it and getting batted down. But what is the point? There is no evidence demonstrating or predicting and IC system and every IC system proposed has been shown not to be IC. So the default assumption at this point is that there is no IC system and since the basis of ID rests in IC, we can safely say the ID is kaput. You don’t even need to get into the courtroom stuff, that is just icing on the cake.

  168. SteveAon 23 Jun 2011 at 6:59 am

    robm: “he is acting like a troll and we probably should not feed him”

    Good advice. I’ll take it.

  169. mufion 23 Jun 2011 at 11:06 am

    sonic: Another way to look at science is to borrow from that Einstein quote that you shared a while back (“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”). In this version: Science is merely a game, albeit a very effective one.

    One may very well argue that the methods of, say, astrology, magic, and prayer are also games, and I don’t disagree. But are they equally effective as the methods of science (or modern science, if one chooses to describe astrology etc. as “pre-modern science”)? I suppose that depends on the kinds of effects that one seeks (after all, even a placebo treatment has an effect), but I tend to be more impressed by the effects of science – particularly when applied (thanks to engineering) to new technologies, which can significantly (and, one hopes, positively) alter how we interact with our environments. And, for the most part, this kind of scientific efficacy seems generally accepted by the public.

    But, when it comes to using science as a basis for making truth claims, look out, because there are armies of truth claimants out there just waiting to pounce on any hint of competition.

    Don’t get me wrong – if forced to choose between truth claims, I will almost surely side with the one that has the most scientific-empirical support (drawing on whatever I’ve learned about the relevant fields of expertise), which tends to get me into trouble with all sorts of people (mostly religious ones, but some secular, as well). But this, too, is a sort of game – a derivative version, I suppose, of that other, more pragmatic version (i.e. the one that produced our current means of communication). Both versions are effective, in their own ways, but both are ultimately grounded in – and thereby limited by – human experience (i.e. the persistent illusions to which Einstein alluded), such that any claim to possession of the “truth” (in an objective, transcendent sense) – even by respected scientists (let alone by philosophers, politicians, business & religious leaders, etc.) – deserves, I think, to be taken with a grain of salt.

  170. Niche Geekon 23 Jun 2011 at 11:25 am

    Jeremiah,

    You are redefining several terms to the point that they become meaningless. The fact that you chose to put knowledge in quotes indicates that you recognize that you are using these terms in ways that stretch their meaning significantly. Saying that the properties of a substance are acquired knowledge is, quite frankly, bizarre. You did not acquire the knowledge of how to produce white blood cells at birth… it is a property of your biology. You *can* acquire the knowledge of how it works at a later point in life, and then *use* that knowledge to treat leukemia. You seem to be saying that what an object *is* is synonymous with what it *does*, or possibly that the properties of a description of an object are also the properties of the object itself. It seems that you are anthropomorphizing the world around you in a fairly fundamental way. It’s like saying that the moon wants to revolve around the earth. Saying that the universe may be a quantum information system does not mean that it is intelligent any more than the pile of plastic and assorted minerals in front of me is intelligent. I am not so egotistical that I believe that intelligence is a purely human behavior/ability… but I am also unwilling to say that “calculation and lawful regulation” are sufficient to say that something is intelligent.

  171. Jeremiahon 23 Jun 2011 at 1:55 pm

    @Niche Geek on 23 Jun 2011 at 11:25 am

    Jeremiah, You are redefining several terms to the point that they become meaningless. The fact that you chose to put knowledge in quotes indicates that you recognize that you are using these terms in ways that stretch their meaning significantly.

    >Yes, that’s what I’m doing.Yes before I studied informational biology, I thought so too.Yes, except that now you’ve stopped talking about a structure but an intelligent strategy that evolved from the more basic intelligent strategies already universal.Yes, because our biologically strategic systems are choice making rather then choice reacting.Yes an object is nothing without the functional and actively functioning properties that formed it – and of course I’ve used formed deliberately.Yes, because we have no properties or functions that came from anyplace except the physical systems in the world around us. That the moon wants to move is as metaphorical a term for what we want, as our wants are a metaphor for nature’s.And now you’ve come to where you’re exactly wrong. The minerals survive because they are composed through using the intelligence that the universe has systemically evolved.Again it’s necessary to point out that the somethings in the universe are users of intelligence, and if we then have come to see our biological selves as intelligent because we use it best, then we have not used it as well as we might eventually come to. Because if you want to define our forms as intelligent outside of or in some way separate from our functions, you probably should recognize that, relatively speaking, all forms in the universe must be, to a greater or lesser extent, intelligent. Unless you also contend that life is the only thing that functions in the universe.<

  172. Jeremiahon 23 Jun 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Well, I tried to simplify the format and it didn’t work. My error.

  173. Jeremiahon 23 Jun 2011 at 2:15 pm

    The overuse of > and < instead of " and " seems to have left in the responses but wiped out the referenced texts. Sorry about that, Niche Geek, because you ask good questions – the same ones I asked myself for many years. And am just beginning to understand the answers.

  174. Niche Geekon 23 Jun 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Jeremiah,

    I’m sorry, but you are again either introducing new terms without defining them or stretching existing terms to cover new concepts. Both of those lead to poor communication. For example:

    “Because if you want to define our forms as intelligent outside of or in some way separate from our functions, you probably should recognize that, relatively speaking, all forms in the universe must be, to a greater or lesser extent, intelligent. Unless you also contend that life is the only thing that functions in the universe.”

    You seem to be saying that intelligence = function. This is not true. Intelligence is one of many many functions, not all functions are intelligence.

  175. Jeremiahon 23 Jun 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I disagree. All functions use some formulation of intelligence that accords with the dictionary definition given earlier. But I wouldn’t call and haven’t called any of their forms intelligent in the sense of having the biological version of that function. But you and the rest of us have thus been taught to use the word intelligent to apply to forms which use biological intelligence only. And then gone on to assume that we’re the only forms in the universe that have it, and that our version somehow has not evolved from more elemental versions in the universe.

    Intelligence per se is NOT a function any more than energy is a function.
    In fact intelligence equates more to energy than anything else we have equated to a universal version of what enervates us as biological forms.
    If you don’t agree, you don’t agree.
    But since I did not say that intelligence is function, it’s of course not true that I did.
    But then you say that “Intelligence is one of many many functions” and for me that’s also not true, because intelligence is the thing that functions need to use to “function.” Which are in turn the things that forms must have and metaphorically need to exist at all.
    Ask yourself as well if there are forms that have no functions in support of their continued capacity to exist. And perhaps also find you can’t even ask the question without using some term as a metaphor for things that need their functions to continue to exist.
    Also try to come up with a function bereft of intelligence in its operation and then try to tell yourself where it has any potential at all of being successfully used.

  176. sonicon 23 Jun 2011 at 5:01 pm

    BillyJoe7
    I am not objective. I do have an ideology that I filter things through. I have changed the ideology overtime- as new data comes in- but of course there are basic beliefs that get questioned less often than others.
    Is it possible to do it some other way?

    Your example is a good one–
    The link I supplied was to an article that pointed out that a recent press release from the IPCC indicated a willingness to spread PR under the umbrella of science– perhaps if you read the same from a non-denialist.

    http://www.marklynas.org/2011/06/questions-the-ipcc-must-now-urgently-answer/

    I would agree that the source of information is an important aspect of the evaluation of the information. However the truth of a statement is not dependent on the source– that is why ad hominem (use of terms like ‘denier’) is considered a logical fallacy.

    If I have a BS meter, then it almost always goes off when I’m told I must not question something.
    But sometimes my BS meter is just BS. Darn thing.

  177. sonicon 23 Jun 2011 at 5:03 pm

    mufi-
    You are getting ahead of me here.

    When Feynman said, “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts,” I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean to exclude himself from the statement.
    In fact, he also said,
    “We are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible, because only in that way can we find progress.”

    Of course there are challenges (that’s not what it says in the bible) and there are challenges (this experiment indicates something about the current model might be in error).
    I don’t know the bible well enough to make the first kind, so I try to stick to the second.

    Your analogy to the game is interesting.
    I love playing games. My current #1 is golf. I play a lot.
    It seems much of my life fits the analogy- some of it very literally, some of it less so.

    nybrus-
    I’m not sure that Behe’s challenges have been met. I have seen some back and forth on it recently.
    But I would expect more challenges to come.

    “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” Albert Einstein

    If the theory of gravity is under question because of new observation (and it is), then I don’t see why any other theory would be immune from such questioning.

    Can we agree on that?

  178. mufion 23 Jun 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Niche Geek: Good luck at maintaining a civil and coherent dialogue with your correspondent. :-)

    I’ll just toss out some comments & questions for your consumption, for whatever they’re worth…

    What meaning does “intelligent” have except as a description of an agent, particularly, one that is successful in directing “its activity towards achieving goals”, who “may also learn or use knowledge to achieve their goals”?

    One can certainly try to extend the category further – to the entire world, even, thereby suggesting that reality is fundamentally goal-seeking. Words are flexible that way.

    But why would we do that?

    Better yet: Why would we believe that proposition is true?

    My guess is that there are hidden motives at work here. But I’m as agnostic about those as I am about the metaphysics that they employ.

  179. Niche Geekon 23 Jun 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Jeremiah,

    The function = intelligence came from your own paragraph. It seems that i did misread you, however that doesn’t clear things up:

    “Because if you want to define our forms as intelligent outside of or in some way separate from our functions, you probably should recognize that, relatively speaking, all forms in the universe must be, to a greater or lesser extent, intelligent.”

    This is an assertion, one you haven’t backed up with any evidence or chain of reasoning. Furthermore, you state that all matter is to a greater or lesser extent intelligent. I suppose that this is trivially true in the sense that 0 is less than 1 and therefore the absence of intelligence falls on that continuum.

    My misunderstanding stemmed from the sentence that followed the above quote: “Unless you also contend that life is the only thing that functions in the universe.” This now appears to be a non sequitur. If you are saying that intelligence is not a function, then why did you make this statement?

    You get even further away from recognizable definitions in your later post when you say that “…intelligence is the thing that functions need to use to ‘function.’”.

    I note that you again use quotation marks to indicate that you are using a word in a non-standard way. I think you would help yourself greatly if you offered a glossary or link to your preferred definitions. Using the conventional definitions, this statement is either incorrect, or circular. If intelligence means “ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills” then it is clearly a function (an ability) and there there are many many functions that do not require intelligence. Using my previous example, you do not need intelligence to make white blood cells or breath. There is no acquisition of knowledge or skill involved. The only way your sentence makes sense is if you redefine both words to signify much broader concepts (for one thing, you are describing intelligence as a thing, a form rather than a function)… in which case you aren’t actually communicating in English anymore.

    To answer your last two questions:

    “Ask yourself as well if there are forms that have no functions in support of their continued capacity to exist.”
    This question is irrelevant if the functions do not require the acquisition of skills or knowledge. The moons orbit is as it is due to the curvature of space time. No intelligence is required to acquire the property of mass.

    “…try to come up with a function bereft of intelligence in its operation and then try to tell yourself where it has any potential at all of being successfully used.”
    I can come up with many… of course the generally accepted definition of intelligence does not relate to mass, volume, and the basic forces. Yours apparently does, at least in part.

  180. stephinsdon 23 Jun 2011 at 5:34 pm

    @Sonic
    If the theory of gravity is under question because of new observation (and it is), then I don’t see why any other theory would be immune from such questioning.

    There is a difference between a theory being totally and a theory being incomplete. The law of Gravity is an incomplete theory, it is not wrong. The same goes for the tree of life. It is incomplete but not wrong. For it to be wrong, then you would need things like the ancestors of wales not giving birth to wales but rather tomato trees.

  181. Niche Geekon 23 Jun 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Mufi,

    I appreciate your comment. When I was in university (so long ago), I engaged in a discussion of abortion rights in the cafeteria. I was pro choice, my friend a staunch Catholic. We agreed that we would not discuss who was right or wrong, but we did agree to explore the origin of the debate. The discussion of language alone was intriguing to me because absent the framing and emotion that goes into most discussions of the topic, it was possible to have an reasonable discussion… something my friend had been unable to do with the rest of our circle. I get very frustrated when I read fora and see people talking at cross purposes because they continually use their own definitions of terms. In fact, that’s why I decided to de-lurk and get a WordPress ID after reading Dr. Novella’s blog for 2 years.

    Sorry for the rambling reply.

  182. mufion 23 Jun 2011 at 6:01 pm

    sonic: By all means, go ahead and question the experts.

    But forgive me if I take Feynman’s questions – as they pertained to his area of expertise – more seriously than I do yours; i.e. an anonymous guy on the Web with no known expertise in any of the fields whose dominant views he challenges.

    Not that I claim such expertise for myself – mind you. I’m here because I enjoy some of the topics of conversation. But then I’m not so inclined to challenge experts if I’m not one myself…unless perhaps I find one straying outside of his/her field, and I happen to know that the experts in that field say differently.

    Then again, if I find a genuine controversy among experts within a field (as opposed to one that’s manufactured by non-experts for political purposes), I might reveal a preference for one view over another, if I feel that I can follow the arguments on both sides. But then I also try to disclaim any authority in the matter.

    If the experts are wrong – then so be it. After all, it’s not like I expect eternal truths to issue from them (as I once did – back when I still deemed clergy and certain kinds of philosophers to be experts).

  183. nybgruson 23 Jun 2011 at 6:12 pm

    @Niche geek:

    That is exactly the problem with Jeremiah – he just makes up whatever definitions he wants whenever he wants and makes them so expansive as to be meaningless. It is an utter waste of time to try and flesh that out. The bigger problem is his sinister threats and attempts to flesh out identities IRL with those that may disagree with him (or with whom he disagrees or finds inappropriate, as the case may be).

    @ sonic:

    I’m not sure that Behe’s challenges have been met. I have seen some back and forth on it recently.
    But I would expect more challenges to come.
    “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” Albert Einstein
    If the theory of gravity is under question because of new observation (and it is), then I don’t see why any other theory would be immune from such questioning.
    Can we agree on that?

    All of Behe’s challenges have been met, I can assure you of that. More challenges will probably come (though they haven’t in a while – the DI has essentially given up since their previous challenges have been handily dismissed) but it matters not, as I described. More challenges are simply a waste of time.

    And yes, Wales said it quite well – there is a distinct difference to a theory being incorrect and in question vs being incomplete and in question. All of these questions you raise demonstrate that evolution is incomplete – everyone knows that it is – but does not question the veracity of its fundamentals. It is the central organizing theory of biology, one that has been tested and offered predictions born out empirically time and time again. That is why we say it is a settled fact – but refining it will always go on. As I said before – questions are important, sometimes (oftentimes) moreso than the answers. But you must make sure you are asking the right questions and questioning the right things.

    Even moreso, even if a fundamental challenge to evolutionary theory came up (which would have to be a few very specific things and pretty immense – for example we could suddenly learn that DNA is not the material of heredity and that still would not challenge evolutionary theory) it would not validate any other theory at all – especially ID/creationism. There must be internal validation – the proposed theory must both explain what we see (which ID is only marginally good at and fails consistently) and it must be able to make predictions – something ID cannot and has not done.

  184. nybgruson 23 Jun 2011 at 6:50 pm

    @sonic:

    A recent article showing empirically that multicellularity can happen rather easily – yet another piece of the puzzle in line with evolutionary theory.

    As you see it is easy enough to pick articles that support your questioning and support my confidence in the theory. It is the bigger picture that is key.

    Still an interesting read though

  185. Jeremiahon 23 Jun 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Nybgrus, you’re simply lying in addition to being astonishingly ignorant. I made up no definition since I deliberately gave the dictionary version to start with. You want of course to make this into a liars debate where you seem to think you excel. But if your dealings with Mike12 are to be an example, he beat you on the intellectual level completely and all you could do, when your lying didn’t work, is swear at him.

    And Niche Geek, I’ve been trying to answer your questions as to how I’ve come to see things. Please don’t twist what I said to win some debate points with those that are clearly adversaries here.

    I’ll deal with this part of what you wrote as an example:
    “My misunderstanding stemmed from the sentence that followed the above quote: “Unless you also contend that life is the only thing that functions in the universe.” This now appears to be a non sequitur. If you are saying that intelligence is not a function, then why did you make this statement?”

    Intelligence is made use of, repeat use of, by a function. Life uses intelligence in evolved ways – the use of it by its evolving functional apparatus is how life functions more intelligently than non-life. If your twist on that was meant to be a question my motives, then ask that question openly and honestly without the juvenile pretext.

    And it’s disingenuous to say the least that to claim the single use of quote marks around function means I intend to misuse its meaning. The intent should be clear from the context that i intended only to differentiate the passive from the active use of the same word.
    (Unless I’ve also used the wrong grammatical terminology which surely you can find numerous “useful” examples of in what I’ve written.)

    If you really want to understand what I’m saying, even if only to disagree with the way I understand it, it might be more effective to disagree with the content itself rather than to hint that I’ve tried somehow to deceive you with the way I’ve formed the argument.
    I simply do not try or want to do that. I am not an advocate of any ideology, and if anything a disadvocate of all ideology. Unlike the self-precocious Nybgruses of the net, I don’t do most of my thinking by using the labeling of concepts as evidence that I understand how they apply, even if my opponents say they can’t possibly do so, because everyone but a fool knows that their labels outweigh yours or mine.

    I’ll add this rather specious statement of yours as definitely unclear in any language:
    “If intelligence means “ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills” then it is clearly a function (an ability).”
    No, the ability to acquire is not the function that exercises that ability. Or you are the one that isn’t using English anymore.

    And yes it’s proper to call intelligence a thing. They do on Jeopardy in any case – or was that Wheel of Fortune.

    “Using my previous example, you do not need intelligence to make white blood cells or breath.” Right, they were selected randomly as ready made forms from nature to use at our unintelligent discretion.

    And lastly there was this Q&A:
    ““Ask yourself as well if there are forms that have no functions in support of their continued capacity to exist.”
    This question is irrelevant if the functions do not require the acquisition of skills or knowledge. The moons orbit is as it is due to the curvature of space time. No intelligence is required to acquire the property of mass.”

    So the functions referenced do not respond to any other forces in the universe? Let alone be those rather rare functions such as those referenced in the biological realm that came from the thinnest of some universal “air.”
    Although we have received instructions here that mass is a property that once came from nothing so you got me there.

  186. 2_wordson 23 Jun 2011 at 9:20 pm

    ↑ incoherent condescension ↑

  187. mufion 23 Jun 2011 at 9:24 pm

    What else is new?

    Everybody has to learn for him/herself the limits of reason – particularly in wild-west forums, such as these.

  188. Jeremiahon 23 Jun 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Ooh, did I make you two feel dumb? Nothing to add to the discussion that’s knowledgeable about science. Any science?

  189. Jeremiahon 23 Jun 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Next we’ll hear from the master debater from Australia. Oh, I forgot, there’s two of them.

  190. Jeremiahon 23 Jun 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Re: Jeremiahon 23 Jun 2011 at 1:55 pm
    @Niche Geek on 23 Jun 2011 at 11:25 am

    That post of mine was indeed incoherent. I screwed up the html beyond repair, and the questions that were supposed to precede my answers disappeared. I didn’t save a copy of the original, so to anyone that was seriously interested in following the argument, I’m sorry. To the rest, it would have been incomprehensible regardless..

  191. Niche Geekon 23 Jun 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Jeremiah,

    I am not attacking you or trying to score points and I am trying to determine what you actually mean. I have only your written words and you are not terribly clear. For example, in response to my example of white blood cells you said:

    “Right, they were selected randomly as ready made forms from nature to use at our unintelligent discretion.”

    This is puzzling because use of white blood cells is in no way discretionary. Without offering any commentary on your ideas, pro or con, I strongly recommend that you find a more appropriate word than intelligence.

    On a similar note, saying “So the functions referenced do not respond to any other forces in the universe?” does not support intelligence unless you define and intelligent entity as an entity that is affected or influenced by external forces. If that is your definition then wonderful! I agree that the universe is intelligent… but you can’t then claim that the implications of the original definition apply.

  192. Jeremiahon 23 Jun 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Niche Geek,
    I suppose I should refer you to the work now being done on the subject of anticipation as a functional aspect of material.
    http://www.anticipation.info/

    They are precisely defining an aspect of intelligence that they propose is found in any physical entity that is affected or influenced by external forces.

    My thing about the blood cells was meant to be on the caustic side of the ironic. Of course the functions that make use of blood cells do so with appropriate caution and wariness. Words which you may now object to as also inappropriate, but find a biologist who doesn’t use those metaphors, and ask him/her what they call these tactics inherent to all biological systems.

  193. Niche Geekon 23 Jun 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Jeremiah,

    Thank you for the link, I will read through it shortly. You are correct that I object to your choice of terms, but only because you do not appear to be using them metaphorically. Any scientist describing the natural world to a layperson (like myself) will make use of metaphor. The trick is to understand that the metaphor is limited, that it applies only within a narrow scope and any inferences drawn from a metaphor are suspect. We inevitably draw incorrect conclusions when we take the metaphor beyond its original intent.

  194. Niche Geekon 23 Jun 2011 at 11:11 pm

    Jeremiah,

    Ok… I just looked through the Anticipation.info site. So far I see definitions that attempt to describe what an anticipatory biological or computational system must be; several papers related to human biological systems and software; and descriptions of the application of this research to branding and games. There is even a particularly poor flash animation illustrating how the immune system “anticipates” disease that seems to be factually incorrect and a Director animation of stem cells that isn’t incorrect… but doesn’t seem to make any point related to anticipation at all.

    There is nothing here that illuminates your previous posts, particularly your use of the terms intelligence and function.

  195. Jeremiahon 23 Jun 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Try this:
    http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=juan_ferret&sei-redir=1#search=%22anticipation+in+quantum+mechanics%22

  196. Jeremiahon 23 Jun 2011 at 11:41 pm

    But how did you miss this (and much more) at the first site:

    Research into anticipation revealed various aspects that suggested a number of definitions.

    Robert Rosen, Mihai Nadin, Daniel Dennett and others who approached particular aspects of anticipation contributed to some of these definitions. Mihai Nadin (cf. Anticipation – A Spooky Computation) attempted an overview of the various angles from which anticipation can be approached if the focus is on computation. This overview is continued and expanded in the integrated publication (book+dvd+website) to which this website belongs. The following 12 definitions, or descriptions, of anticipation should be understood as working hypotheses. It is hoped and expected that the knowledge community of those interested in anticipation will eventually refine these definitions and suggest new ones in order to facilitate a better understanding of what anticipation is and its importance for the survival of living systems.

    An anticipatory system is a system whose current state is determined by a future state. “The cause lies in the future,”.
    (cf. Robert Rosen, Heinz von Foerster)
    Anticipation is the generation of a multitude of dynamic models of human actions and the resolution of their conflict.
    (cf. Mihai Nadin)
    An anticipatory system is a system containing a predictive model of itself and/or of its environment that allows it to change state at an instant in accord with the model’s predictions pertaining to a later instant.
    (cf. Robert Rosen)
    Anticipation is a process of co-relation among factors pertaining to the present, past and future of a system.
    (cf. Mihai Nadin)
    Anticipation is an expression of the connectedness of the world, in particular of quantum non-locality.
    (cf. Mihai Nadin)
    Anticipation is the expression of natural entailment.
    (cf. Robert Rosen)
    Anticipation is a mechanism of synchronization and integration.
    (cf. Mihai Nadin)
    Anticipation is an attractor within dynamic systems.
    (cf. Mihai Nadin)
    Anticipation is a recursive process described through the functioning of a mechanism whose past, present, and future states allow it to evolve from an initial to a final state that is implicitly embedded in the mechanism.
    (cf. Mihai Nadin)
    Anticipation is a realization within the domain of possibilities.
    (cf. Mihai Nadin)
    Anticipatory mechanisms can be reinforced through feedback. Feedforward and inverse kinetics are part of the integrated mechanism of anticipation.
    (cf. Daniel Dennett, Daniel Wolpert, Nadin)
    Anticipation is a power law-based long-range interaction.
    (cf. Mihai Nadin)

  197. Enzoon 24 Jun 2011 at 12:18 am

    Well, I would like to thank everyone for making this thread an entertaining read.

    I would like to politely summarize what I find to be wrong, in my opinion and understanding:

    1. “Intelligent design” as a term is granted the benefit of rationalization.
    - Where someone (perhaps logically) assumes that it can be taken to mean evolution as set into motion by a god-figure. I’d agree that this could have been true five years ago, but since then it has been hijacked and “irreducible complexity” has been associated so heavily with ID that it really must be taken as anti-evolution.

    2. The term intelligence has been warped so much that any meaningful usage of the word is lost.
    - The outcome of a system under the effects of physical laws can not be said to be due to applied intelligence. What’s the point of doing so? No matter how big the system is, it’s still just physics. Fundamental forces acting over billions of years. The system didn’t learn anything or acquire abilities, it was the natural conclusion of the laws of physics that were set at the time of pre-big bang/big bang/multiverse origin (pick your poison). And, before someone attacks this by saying “then intelligence even in humans cannot be said to exist,” I would say intelligence is just a word for conveniently describing a phenomenon we do not fully understand. The universe MUST follow physical laws, many of which have randomness at their very core. Randomness cannot be said to contribute to intelligent choices by any sense of the word. Again, extrapolation from quantum randomness to human intelligence does not serve as a meaningful counterpoint in my opinion. It’s all very interesting to think about alternative definitions of intelligence on a universal scale, but it’s just a mental exercise — not science.

    3. The old irreducible complexity argument.
    - Well defined counter examples for everything mentioned here as IC. The IC idea is just non-willingness to accept that we do not yet understand evolution of every system completely and/or failure to grasp the time scale involved. And IC extended to particles and strings is too much of a stretch. IC was not a term invented to describe things outside of biological context. Beside, strings are for understanding simplicity on which things are built, IC denies deeper simplicity to complex systems.

    4. Non-scientific and personal attacks. Ugly.

    5. Use of minority, under-represented counter examples to call into question the larger picture.
    - This is always frustrating. The whole of the science is not invalidated by quoting a single, partially refuting study. Many of the examples given here are really just to build a case for greater complexity than was initially understood (duh!), that doesn’t mean we throw out the tree of life because the pattern is more complex. Things like hot-spots and convergent evolution are being investigated and just show there is more to be done to understanding the system — they don’t suggest a new system is needed. Oh..And relativity is not some unshakeable monolith of understanding — we don’t even know what time is.

    Can I just mention Hitler now and end this thread?

  198. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 12:29 am

    End it with this: http://www.nadin.ws/archives/39#
    and this: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1003.1090v1

  199. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 12:30 am

    And this:

    http://www.micab.umn.edu/courses/8002/Rosenberg.pdf

  200. Niche Geekon 24 Jun 2011 at 12:42 am

    Jeremiah,

    I didn’t miss it… however you have not used the term anticipation thus far in the discussion so I didn’t think it relevant. In what way do you feel these definitions support your position?

    Thank you for the link to Dr. Ferret’s paper. I’ll need to read it in greater detail, but at first read I don’t see how he’s made your case in the least. Yes it relates to anticipation, but you need to relate anticipation to intelligence (and ultimately to intelligent design if you are going to link all this back to Dr. N’s post). I defer to others with greater knowledge of quantum mechanics, but he seems to rely on the idea that because an interaction causes the quantum wave to collapse, that therefore the interaction changed the past state of the system. That is not my understanding (Though I am very open to correction by a knowledgeable physicist). My understanding is that the past state can still only be described in terms of probabilities. If that is the case then we do not have an example of a particle anticipating its future and Dr. Ferret’s philosophical hypothesis fails a test of nature.

  201. Niche Geekon 24 Jun 2011 at 12:58 am

    After reading through the last of Jeremiah’s links, I’m afraid I have to concur with Enzo. His definitions are stretched beyond use (particularly the latest apparent attempt to use intelligence and anticipation as synonyms) and the references are either in tangential fields, or independent publications outside the mainstream. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong…but it means that they haven’t been confirmed or validated.

  202. Niche Geekon 24 Jun 2011 at 1:08 am

    I should be clear… Jeremiah, you may have a point, but your use of language is imprecise and you offer no context when you post your links. If you are trying to educate then I strongly recommend that you use clear and consistent terminology and offer an explanation for why you are posting a link.

  203. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 1:19 am

    If Dr. Ferret’s hypothesis fails the test of your understanding of nature, then you won’t understand my explanation of why anticipation is the hallmark of any system of intelligence, including the biological, and especially ours. It represents perhaps the most essential element of all predictive systems, and predictive functions are all dependent on the use of intelligence.
    How does it relate to intelligent design? It tells those of us who do the testing that the universe does not need a creator – it has acquired ways akin to the intelligent strategies of trial and error to incrementally create itself.

  204. nybgruson 24 Jun 2011 at 1:49 am

    But if your dealings with Mike12 are to be an example, he beat you on the intellectual level completely and all you could do, when your lying didn’t work, is swear at him.

    Ah yes, the two of you are clearly my intellectual superiors. So much so that no one else can see it, you are so far advanced beyond me and the rest of the readership. I humbly bow to your great and wise science-y stuffs that I could never hope to understand. I’ve been caught red handed, lying through me teeth this whole time. Damn. And I thought I could get away with it too. If it only weren’t for you and mike12!

    end sarcasm and end participation in this thread

  205. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 2:27 am

    I don’t know about the rest of the readership, but yes, little nybgrus, I’m so far advanced beyond the likes of you, that chances are you’ll never catch up. You couldn’t even see that at the heart of the debate with Behe was his obsession with the divine nature of good and evil. Such a simple and obvious thing to overlook. You had no opinions either on the Hoffman paper and its implications, and you’ve likely never heard of the anticipation systems in nature that we’ve just discussed. And certainly have no understanding at all of the adaptive mutation functions now under intense study by evolutionary biologists. In short you’re an egotistical fountain of misinformation and a deliberately ignorant pain in the ass.

  206. nybgruson 24 Jun 2011 at 3:22 am

    that actually made me laugh out loud. thanks for that jeremiah.

  207. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 3:40 am

    Probably a fit of girlish hysterics from losing all those friends due to sticking to the courage of your misconvictions.

  208. eiskrystalon 24 Jun 2011 at 4:02 am

    So a rock is a solid object with no molecular structures, no forces within it that maintain its form,

    and i am almost instantly proved right… you are a “Humpty Dumpty”.

  209. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 4:29 am

    Nice misquote by leaving of the question mark. Still can’t get over you got whupped by using one of the lamest analogies ever?

  210. BillyJoe7on 24 Jun 2011 at 6:06 am

    sonic,

    I would be interested to hear what your ideology is.
    It would put your posts easier to understand.

    ———————————————–

    The only thing a agree with regarding the press release on the IPCC Report on Renewable Energy is the headline. It was misleading. The rest of the criticism was a complete beatup. A manufactured controversy (after all, Steve McIntyre was responsible). There was no justification at all for your conclusion that maybe Mike had a point about the IPCC.

    I have listed a few references to more considered views on that press release on the other thread. I won’t list them again here because listing multiple links in that post resulted in ti being help up in moderation for nearly two days.

    What it comes down to is this:
    On the basis that 1 of the 9 lead authors of chapter 10 of the report works for Greenpeace, McIntyre was of the opinion that “Everyone in IPCC WG3 should be terminated and, if the institution is to continue, it should be re-structured from scratch.”. There are over 270 contributors to the report. Granted this person was also the lead author of the paper that suggested that “77% of global energy demand can be met by renewables by 2050″. Granted this was the most optimistic estimate in the report and it did not justify the heading of the press release, but to suggest that the IPCC should be terminated as a result is totally unjustifiable

    “If I have a BS meter, then it almost always goes off when I’m told I must not question something.”

    The point is that you seem to delight in finding fault with consensus views in science but are happy to give fringe views a free pass. Your jumping on McIntyre’s band-wagon was just one example of this tendency.

  211. BillyJoe7on 24 Jun 2011 at 6:20 am

    Enzo,

    Nice summary of the tactics employed here.

    “The whole of the science is not invalidated by quoting a single, partially refuting study”

  212. BillyJoe7on 24 Jun 2011 at 8:10 am

    nybgrus,

    “that actually made me laugh out loud.”

    Pity I don’t read his posts anymore.
    I could have used a good laugh. :(

  213. mufion 24 Jun 2011 at 9:25 am

    I don’t read his posts so much as scan them on my way down to more coherent and less abusive comments.

    I didn’t laugh, but I did do a double-take, from which a modicum of sadness followed.

  214. 2_wordson 24 Jun 2011 at 9:58 am

    Reading the incoherence is fine, interesting even. Deciphering incoherence turns the posts in question, into strange Rorschach tests.

    But the condescension and insults are baffling. Not that anyone can “win” a comments section on a blog but when the only readable meaning of a post is a clumsy insult. I believe that is losing.

    Apparently someone in Australia is an adversary or something.

  215. Niche Geekon 24 Jun 2011 at 11:23 am

    Jeremiah,

    I’m disappointed. I feel that I have treated you with respect throughout our exchange, and yet you decide that rather than explain to me where I may have misunderstood Dr. Ferret you simply say “..then you won’t understand my explanation of why anticipation is the hallmark of any system of intelligence”. I’m afraid that doesn’t follow. I can agree that anticipation is an indication of intelligence, where I disagree is:

    1. I have not seen evidence that quantum mechanics provides evidence of anticipation and

    2. That the definitions employed by Dr Nadin have universal relevance. Note that the more limited definition employed by Dr. Rosen is certainly less controversial, but not particularly pertinent to your claim.

    In fact I have provided specific reasons why I disagree with that paper which you have made no effort to refute.

    I’ll go further, I’ll be specific as to why I dismissed one of the videos at Anticipation.info: The video of the immune system shows a body reacting BEFORE an pathogen enters the system, which is in contrast to the evidence provided by immunologists whereby the pathogen enters the body and then is cleared only after being recognized. In other words, a reactive system not an anticipatory one.

    Lastly, it is a risky choice to describe strategies akin to trial and error as an explicitly “intelligent strategy”. It is undoubtedly true that trial and error can be a strategy employed by an intelligence, but only in cases that presuppose a purpose or intended outcome.

  216. mufion 24 Jun 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Heh. As I write, a colleague and I are engaged in a trial and error process, aimed at getting his latest delivery of code changes to build on my machine. It’s a strategy that (in the long run) is proven to work, and it does indeed have “a purpose or intended outcome.”

    But somehow it doesn’t seem all that intelligent. :-)

  217. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Niche Geek

    I’ve given you some things to think about, but it’s you of course who has to do the thinking. It’s your duty to supply the inference that fits with your personal curiosity. And you should at least congratulate yourself for getting further in your understanding of the subject here than those snide sisters that pop up and boo at the prospect of tackling anything at all that might disturb their self-satisfactory states of ignorance. You’ll note that they’re always the same ones, and they give circle jerks a whole new meaning.

    So if you “can agree that anticipation is an indication of intelligence” you might agree that one should retool their manner of forming expectations so that the means justify the ends to re-coin a phrase.

    The means of asking me to provide further evidence that quantum mechanics provides evidence of anticipation could have been expected to be a non-starter. If the paper cited on that subject couldn’t do that, your expectations that my understanding will exceed its authors are vain hopes. Since basically I provided that citation as evidence to back up what I’ve come to learn about the subject by the other lines of research.

    And it comes down to your telling me that you disagree with things I find agreeable and chiding me for expecting you to see what I’ve seen.
    You say you gave “specific reasons why I disagree with that paper which you have made no effort to refute,” and I say again your specific reasons were on their face unreasonable, period. No fute there to refute. Or, refute is futile.

    But to be seriously serious, this is where your problem with the evidence lies: “In other words, a reactive system not an anticipatory one.”
    Exactly wrong. All reactive systems are anticipatory, and that was the point that the video demonstration was intended to make. Why else would you think they made the video, and further, do you think again that you’ve spotted some logical problems with such evidentiary efforts that these highly professional people have been incapable en masse of spotting?

    If you have, you win.

    But look last at this of yours: “It is undoubtedly true that trial and error can be a strategy employed by an intelligence, but only in cases that presuppose a purpose or intended outcome.”

    Anticipation in all cases presupposes that natures forces have what we might call their reasons for existing. The outcomes have that spooky consistency of regularity that would seem to any function that feels their effects as being meant for them to feel.

  218. sonicon 24 Jun 2011 at 2:58 pm

    nybrus-
    First off-
    Thank-you for the interesting article. It will be interesting if the researchers can meet the challenges given to them by Kerr. I hope to see more on this.
    I love experimental results…

    As to predictions–

    http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2009/04/does-intelligent-design-creationism.html

    The current theory with ‘random’ mutations gave us the hypothesis that there would be lots off ‘junk DNA’.
    The design hypothesis anticipates little ‘junk DNA’.
    It turns out that the hypothesis based on the idea of random mutations (lots of junk) gave us the worst hypothesis in the history of molecular biology.
    Had they gone with the design hypothesis (in this case) they would have saved many years of following the wrong path.
    (This does not mean ID is correct or that ‘everything’ about evolution is wrong.)

    Thank-you for that assurance that all challenges of IC have been met.
    Unfortunately I am reading things from March of this year that indicate that this is not the case. I have read some of the stuff about the flagellum in particular- it gets very technical (too much so for me). It does seem clear that there are issues still, however.
    Perhaps you have something more recent? (When I say issues, I mean nobody has demonstrated a step-by-step means of producing the organ in question. I guess how well you think an argument is made is dependent on your priors.)

    stephinsd
    Yes, and anyone who says the theory of evolution is wrong doesn’t know what the theory is.
    I am suggesting that certain aspects might need changing– like I don’t think random is a good description of all the mutations that have been observed. And a theory should match all the observations as best as possible- right?

    Mufi-
    Take Feynman’s challenges more seriously than mine- good idea.
    I think we agree on how to deal with experts- find out what they are saying- find out what -if any- real controversy there is. Study the issues well enough to have some judgement.
    Did I mention I am profoundly ignorant- and my judgements are often wrong?
    I keep trying…

    Good luck with your project :-)

  219. sonicon 24 Jun 2011 at 3:40 pm

    BillyJoe7-
    I’m not sure I’m fully consciously aware of my ideology- but I know I’ve got some basic ideas that I run off. These have changed over time.
    It seems the most consistent ideas that I hold dear-
    Freedom is good- love is gooder. (See my sub-conscious doesn’t know grammar).
    Anyway- I do habitually doubt, question and disagree with assertions and generally accepted conclusions.
    But I really do try to understand why people believe what they do and I do try to look at as much evidence as I can. I don’t claim to know everything- I do claim that I understand some things well enough to have good questions.
    I’m not claiming to know the answers.

    Was there some fringe view that you feel needs questioning?
    I’d be more than happy to make a list of questions about some fringe idea-(assuming I know enough about the area.) Is there one you are interested in in particular?

    BTW- I don’t know McIntyre, If you google – scientists urge head of IPCC to step down- I think you will find that it is not a group of one who thinks that way.

  220. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 4:05 pm

    sonic, do you anticipate that BillyJoe will want in any way to reconsider his reasons for calling any area of science fringe, when his excuse for crying fringe has always been that they’re not worthy of consideration on the face of things? Do you anticipate that he will summon up some hope of fathoming what he has previously decried as the unfathomable?

  221. mufion 24 Jun 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Niche Geek:

    Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
    The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
    Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
    The frumious Bandersnatch!”

    *

    I hope that gives you something more to think about. (You really ought to think harder you know.) :-)

    * excerpted from Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

  222. 2_wordson 24 Jun 2011 at 5:08 pm

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”

  223. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Another insightful comment from mufi who has no idea what the anticipation research is all about and doesn’t anticipate that he will ever have.
    At least Niche Geek was curious enough to ask some insightful questions, and I do expect that he will think about the subject and gain something positive from the experience.

    All mufi gains is some affirmation of his personal experience with trial and error strategies that they take more intelligence than he has been able to provide to ensure that the trier learns something from the errors.
    Or does he even know that’s how the system was designed by nature to work?

  224. mufion 24 Jun 2011 at 5:15 pm

    2_words: a most apt choice of Carroll

  225. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Ooh, 2_words, still feeling humped and dumped on?

  226. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 5:21 pm

    BillyJoe will join your circle as soon as he stops beating his “wife.”

  227. 2_wordson 24 Jun 2011 at 5:30 pm

    obvious insecurity

  228. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 6:00 pm

    obvious

  229. mufion 24 Jun 2011 at 6:37 pm

    and so obviously misunderstood, too

  230. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Ooh mufi, boohoo much? I’m not the one complaining that they can’t see through the understanding filter.

  231. sonicon 24 Jun 2011 at 7:33 pm

    I am realizing that ‘incomplete’ is a beautiful description of the state of affairs. I seen that here with Enzo- thank-you.
    Incomplete is way more accurate than wrong.
    Thank-you again- this description helps me think more clearly. :-)

  232. nybgruson 24 Jun 2011 at 7:46 pm

    @ sonic:

    The link you provided makes an interesting but wholly superficial claim about ID. I’d suggest you read through the comments of the article. One in particular jumped out at me:

    Just because an IDiot makes a predition does not mean that it is one that necessarily flows from the ID theory; any more than a prediction of the utility (or lack of utility) of “junk DNA” by a real biologist means it’s a prediction of the MToE.

    And that is the crux. I could make a prediction that say, the moon is made of cheese. If a whole bunch of scientists scoff and say that is stupid, our theories predict that can’t be the case and then later on we find that indeed the moon is made of cheese that doesn’t inherently validate my “theory” and invalidate the competing theory. As another commenter in that same thread said:

    The real issue is how the discipline responds to failed predictions. A good discipline uses the failure to become narrower, to make new predictions that are even more specific, rooting as deeply as is necessary to make more specific predictions. A poor discipline responds to failures by becoming broader, by making less specific predictions.

    The prediction that there is no junk DNA does not stem from an organized system of thought – it is literally just a guess based on the religious dogma behind ID. As I have tried to explain to a different commenter over at SBM, simply because something turns out to be correct doesn’t mean anything – anyone can get lucky with a guess. ID got lucky with that one – plain and simple. Evolutionary theorists made a mistake (it would seem). But how has each reacted to this? Has the validation of an ID trope changed or enhanced the theory? Has it grown and made more and more accurate predictions? No. The “theory” is exactly the same now as it was before. Hence it is not a theory, but merely a statement of dogma making guesses – not predictions – some of which can and have been validated by actual science.

    How did evolutionary theory react and change? It incorporated the new data, used it to make new predictions, and then set out to test them. That is the hallmark of a theory – making predictions, not guesses, and changing and adapting when empirical data comes back with results.

    You also comment on IC:

    When I say issues, I mean nobody has demonstrated a step-by-step means of producing the organ in question.

    Nobody will ever be able to outline every single step of every single organ or system – certainly not with absolute accuracy. But that is not necessary. For a system to be deemed IC there must not exist a proposed mechanism that fits to the majority of empirical data. Behe still clings to his flagellum. It is correct to say that not every step has been empirically demonstrated. But enough of it has that it is safe to say the flagellum is not IC. Moving the goalposts is a hallmark of dogma and IDiotic theory – not science. First Behe said none of the flagellelum could be evolutionarily achieved – it is totally IC. Now he is saying that this specific detail, or this, or that when met with evidence that refutes his original claim. More to the point, Behe has actually admitted that IC systems can evolve (meaning that something that is currently IC could have evolved in a stepwise fashion). I suggest you watch this video on the evolution of the flagellum as well as the rest of CDK007′s videos on the topic of ID and IC for a good overview.

    The concept of “every step” not being described is a common theistic trope – Ken Ham’s “Were you there?” question about age of the earth applied more broadly. We needn’t have been there and we needn’t describe every step of every process to be confident in our conclusion based on the evidence we do have. If that were the case, we could never convict someone of murder unless we have video evidence or at least a credible eye witness.

  233. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Incomplete anticipates completion.
    Wrong reminisces.

  234. nybgruson 24 Jun 2011 at 7:55 pm

    @BillyJoe/mufi:

    Yeah, I skim through most of his garbage since it is completely incoherent. What makes me laugh is when he goes full ad hominem and calls me “little nybgrus” and says I must go into “a fit of girlish hysterics” and that “[he is] so far advanced beyond the likes of you, that chances are you’ll never catch up” and that my “dealings with Mike12 are to be an example, he beat [me] on the intellectual level completely and all you could do, when [my] lying didn’t work, is swear at him.” I mean, what other response to that is appropriate except laughter?

    Although he does like to dig up old comments and try and throw them back at people, so perhaps I could do that:

    nygbrus

    Don’t worry about it. Thought of joining in but you were doing such a fine job that I just sat back and enjoyed the take down. You did a fine job.

    HC

    ybgrus

    “My apologies to everyone else on this thread for completely hijacking it as such,”

    you don’t have to apologize for anything, mike hijacked this thread because he’s a troll. Insulting atheists was his last resort when “academic freedom” didn’t fly, philosophy didn’t fly, and feathers and flapping didn’t fly.

    I want to thank Mike12 for giving us such a great primer on creationist tactics. False equivalencies, misrepresentations, insults, god of the gaps, etc, etc, etc. It’s heartening to know that they are just as weak as the first time they were used. If there were any evidence for creationism it would then be scientific and discussions like this would never even take place. Let’s stop trying to shoehorn religion into education and try to reverse the slide down the ranks of the worlds educational systems.

    So clearly, Jeremiah, you and mike12 are absolutely my intellectual betters. (I can’t help but crack a smile and laugh every time I write that)

  235. nybgruson 24 Jun 2011 at 7:57 pm

    ack, sorry bad formatting and editing… should still be intelligible though, which is more than I can say for anything Jeremiah writes (yeah, I can go ad hominem too :-)

  236. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 8:26 pm

    By the way that flagellum video was a perfect example of how the evolutionary process is one of change based on the anticipatory nature of life’s trial and error strategies.

    A good paper on this is here:
    http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1864160&show=html

  237. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 8:38 pm

    nybgrus,
    My turn to laugh my ass off at that self-congratulatory nonsense. You left out the details of parts where you were forced to apologize for resorting to swearing, and hysterics, etc., as a debating tactic.

    Behe is a far better thinker, scientist, philosopher than you. Unfortunately he has been emotionally drawn to his version of Catholicism, and all that knowledge has been rendered useless.

    But hey, with your great skills, you should go to the Vatican and swear loudly at the Pope. Talk about expecting miracles.

  238. nybgruson 24 Jun 2011 at 9:10 pm

    cherry picking is a bitch, ain’t it jeremiah?

    I didn’t apologize for resorting to swearing or hysterics as a debating tactic since I didn’t. I apologized for hijacking the thread while standing by everything I said.

    And you are seriously bent if you think the flagellum video demonstrated that the proteins assembled because they anticipated the need of a flagellum. But of course, we already knew you are seriously bent anyways.

  239. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 9:35 pm

    “proteins assembled because they anticipated the need of a flagellum”?

    That isn’t how the anticipatory system works, and it just goes to prove your abject ignorance of both logic and biology. I’d explain it in detail, but Rosen and the others in the game have explained it better. I deal with predictive strategies that traditionally involve trial and error as an expectation forming process. The anticipation angle allows these expectations to take on additional duties – they not only result from the assessment process but drive the intelligence behind it. (That last was for the segment of the reading audience that will know what I’m talking about of course.)

    And no apologies then were for hijacking the thread by swearing and recording the longest recorded hissyfit in history? My mistake.

  240. nybgruson 24 Jun 2011 at 10:29 pm

    My mistake.

    Finally you said something intelligible and accurate!

  241. Jeremiahon 24 Jun 2011 at 10:35 pm

    About flagellum adapting form to strategy? Thanks.

  242. Niche Geekon 24 Jun 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Jeremiah,

    I find your reply to me @ 2:09pm to be less than helpful. You say that you cannot express your position better than those you link to, yet those you link to express a variety of positions, often on topics unrelated (At best tangentially related) to the topic at hand. You also defer to what I believe to be inappropriate authority and make several assertions of belief as if they are statements of fact. To be specific:

    “It’s your duty to supply the inference that fits with your personal curiosity.” What I infer is irrelevant. I am concerned with the facts from which you expect me to infer. You stated that the paper you referenced should be sufficient to explain how quantum mechanics demonstrates anticipation in nature (Note that he does not draw the conclusion that relativistic or classical physics demonstrates anticipation). Unfortunately the author is a philosopher and not a physicist and bases his hypothosis upon a brief summary of physics that makes an assertion about QM (that observation influences the historic state of a quantum system) and then draws a conclusion from that assertion. If his un-sourced premise is false then his conclusion must be illogical. I am not dismissing him, however I’d like some evidence that his premise isn’t false. You clearly feel it isn’t… but balk at actually explaining your own reasoning. Instead you say that my objections are “unreasonable”. In what way is it unreasonable? You then brush this off by saying you have other lines of research that back this up… wonderful! How does that help me understand your position?

    You go on to assert that “all reactive systems are anticipatory” with no evidence whatsoever and follow that up with “do you think again that you’ve spotted some logical problems with such evidentiary efforts that these highly professional people have been incapable en masse of spotting?” Which would be a perfectly reasonable thing to say if:
    A) they represented a broadly held scientific view
    B) were a large group or mass
    C) were all talking about the same thing

    I content that none of these statements is true. This is, by your own references, a new field which lacks, by your own references, a coherent definition or hypothesis and in which the prominent areas of research seem to be focused on computer science and not evolutionary biology. In fact, it is ironic that you make this accusation when your own position on the immune system contradicts the entire field that is devoted to its study.

  243. Jeremiahon 25 Jun 2011 at 1:16 am

    So Niche, you weren’t all that sincere then about wanting to learn about this and related subjects? You just wanted more solid ground from which to refute my “theses?”
    You don’t think you have to use your personal stores of inferential data (heuristics, &c) to form your own conclusions? How do you learn to think without it? Perhaps you’d better look deeper into the subject of inferential logic – you can’t do much science without it. And certainly can’t handle complex problems by memorizing someone else’s solutions of near examples. People do that here all the time, but it’s not learning at the scientific level.

    And as to the objection to my use of a philosopher as reference, the philosophy of science is the source of its hypotheses, no?
    You write: “If his un-sourced premise is false then his conclusion must be illogical. I am not dismissing him, however I’d like some evidence that his premise isn’t false.”
    I don’t find his premises to be un-sourced, but in any case all scientific premises are less than certainties, so it’s not my duty as a relayer of what others with scientific credentials believe credible to make certain sure that all such premises are factually pristine.

    This is not a school where I’m being paid to be your teacher, after all. Researching the factual nature of any premises that you find suspect is your job. The only duty I’ve imposed upon myself is not to knowingly lead anyone astray. Hwa is thet mei thet hors wettrien the him self nule drinken, and all that jazz.

    Further, my goal is not, as you seem to want it, to help you understand my position on something that is in essence derivative (as all science is) of the ideas that originated that line of scientific inquiry.
    And when I say all reactive systems are anticipatory, I make that as a statement of the factual premise that I’ve argued from since God knows when this thread began. You want a 30 page essay to that effect, go to the ones already published and referenced here.

    “Which would be a perfectly reasonable thing to say if:
    A) they represented a broadly held scientific view
    B) were a large group or mass
    C) were all talking about the same thing”

    You want reasonable to meet all those qualifications, go get a lantern and start searching Greece.

    You want more focus on evolutionary biology, go here:
    http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1864160&show=html

    You don’t think this field of study is old enough to warrant your exceptionally pedantic interest, so be it.

    But then this statement is the puzzler: “In fact, it is ironic that you make this accusation when your own position on the immune system contradicts the entire field that is devoted to its study.”

    I have no idea what the accusation must have been that you refer to. Was it something I said here:
    “All reactive systems are anticipatory, and that was the point that the video demonstration was intended to make. Why else would you think they made the video, and further, do you think again that you’ve spotted some logical problems with such evidentiary efforts that these highly professional people have been incapable en masse of spotting? If you have, you win.”
    What was my position on the immune system that contradicts the entire field that this study comes from?
    Reactive systems which are predominately instinctive are wired to react in anticipation of the particular events they’ve evolved to deal with proactively. That’s an assertion that in no way contradicts the thrust of the study or the field that it comes from.
    But again, if you’re otherwise convinced, you win.

  244. Enzoon 25 Jun 2011 at 1:19 am

    To add to other shortcomings and pitfalls I’ve seen…

    Just because you can observe something and formulate an explanation that makes sense, that does not necessarily mean that (a) the explanation is correct and (b) that the explanation is supported by data that exists for other theories. All explanations have to be tested physically, not just in terms of their ability to make sense or be logical.

    Some theories are not yet testable, so we keep them in mind while advancing our abilities to make observations. Physics bumps into this problem a lot, but in general, I feel the science is not held back. I have to admit that certain explanations raised to combat irreducible complexity claims are not hard science, but more hypothetical in nature. Still, there is more data that suggest evolution of complex parts from simpler than there is “data” for IC, which is really just an argument from ignorance as a whole. The more well established a current theory is, the more the logical leaps can be used reliably, but always with the goal of testing them.

    Mental exercises to explain things are useful and healthy for science, they are even published (*cough*) to bring the entire field in on it, but we mustn’t get carried away with confusing plausible speculation for data.

  245. Jeremiahon 25 Jun 2011 at 1:58 am

    datum |ˈdātəm; ˈdatəm|
    noun ( pl. data |ˈdātə; ˈdatə|)
    1 See also data . a piece of information.
    • an assumption or premise from which inferences may be drawn. See sense datum .
    2 a fixed starting point of a scale or operation.
    ORIGIN mid 18th cent.: from Latin, literally ‘something given,’ neuter past participle of dare ‘give.’

    Plausible speculation in other words is plausible data.

  246. Niche Geekon 25 Jun 2011 at 2:54 am

    Jeremiah,

    You stated that thee immune system was anticipatory and not reactive. That contradicts the field of immunology as I understand it.

    I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed you, but as you don’t seem interested in teaching, discourse or debate I don’t see why I should choose to continue this… or indeed what “this” is from your perspective.

  247. Jeremiahon 25 Jun 2011 at 3:15 am

    Diurnally Entrained Anticipatory Behavior in Archaea
    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0005485

  248. Jeremiahon 25 Jun 2011 at 3:43 am

    “In other words, a reactive system not an anticipatory one.”

    That’s what YOU said Niche, not what I said, which was:

    “Exactly wrong. All reactive systems are anticipatory, and that was the point that the video demonstration was intended to make.”

    And no, I’m not interesting in teaching in the multiple choice environment that you seem to be most comfortable in.
    And not in a debate on a subject that you admittedly know nothing about and the goal thus is to prove that I don’t know it either.

    So even though it seems that you’ve learned nothing, I’ve introduced at least some other readers to the subject, even though I’ll likely never know who they are.

    But dealing with the stubborn here is a learning process for me if not for them. I get to practice on simulated versions of actual people, and you’re as close to a computer simulated version of a real person as I’ve seen here. So come on, admit it. You’re really an experimental computer program, right?

  249. Niche Geekon 25 Jun 2011 at 4:24 am

    Have you never been to a scientific meeting? Never seen an idea challenged? You act like anyone who disagrees with you must be deficient in some way and you seem very quick to jump to insults. Is this just intellectual masturbation for you?

  250. Jeremiahon 25 Jun 2011 at 4:44 am

    You’re not a scientist and you deliberately misquote me to provoke what you consider a debate. Honest disagreement is one thing, dishonest tactics are another.
    Masturbation? Funny you should mention that, as there seems to be a lot if that master debating going round here. You don’t happen to live near Mooroolsbark do you?

  251. BillyJoe7on 25 Jun 2011 at 6:55 am

    Mental Masturbation.

    If someone cannot explain a concept in words that an intelligent layperson can understand, I am forced to conclude that they either do not understand that concept or that they have misunderstood the concept.

    I’m quite comfortable with the real thing.

  252. Oracon 25 Jun 2011 at 9:11 am

    Speaking of our science-challenged creationist neurosurgeon, he now has his own blog:

    http://egnorance.blogspot.com

    Peruse it for yucks. I had a bit of fun with his take on “Darwinian medicine”:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/06/dr_egnor_has_his_own_blog_now_hilarity_e.php

  253. Jeremiahon 25 Jun 2011 at 12:45 pm

    BillyJoe7, I hear you’ve told your wife about the buxom employee fantasy, and she made you use a different employee picture which you’re now quite comfortable to do your business with.

  254. Jeremiahon 25 Jun 2011 at 1:12 pm

    BillyJoe7 knows how to explain a concept and will do as soon as he finds one that he’s capable of explaining. His explanation here as to how and why he masturbates to his employee’s mental picture does not qualify as a concept, unfortunately.

  255. Mlemaon 25 Jun 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Niche Geek:
    the immune system evolved and exists in ANTICIPATION of non-self entities. It REACTS when those entities appear within its domain.

    If there were no anticipation of imminent “invasion”, from whence the evolution of the immune system? It’s appearance on the scene would have been selected out if it weren’t repeatedly helpful, because it can cause problems for its owner when it effs up. It evolved in REACTION to past encounters with non-self. It is intelligent enough to know self from non-self, and to change and develop to build resistance to new, unfamiliar pathogens. This anticipation came from prior, necessary (for the survival of the larger self) reaction to non-self.
    The immune system functions physically, of course, and the steps of its evolution need not be imbued with something supernatural. Nonetheless, it is an intelligent, anticipatory biological system.

    people get hung up because words like anticipation or intelligence imply thinking beings. But maybe there is a better word?

  256. mufion 25 Jun 2011 at 8:38 pm

    teleonomic (e.g. see this recent conversation between me and Mike12)?

  257. Mlemaon 25 Jun 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Thanks mufi! The link didn’t take me to the conversation you mentioned, but the definition of teleonomic on Wikipedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleonomy
    describes the anticipatory system.

    It is contrasted with teleology, which applies to ends that are planned by an agent which can internally model/imagine various alternative futures, which enables intention, purpose and foresight.

    Wikipedia :-) says that evolution IS a teleonomic process, meaning:
    “it produces complex products without the benefit of such a guiding foresight. Evolution largely hoards hindsight, as variations unwittingly make “predictions” about structures and functions which could successfully cope with the future, and participate in an audition which culls the also-rans, leaving winners for the next generation. Information accumulates about functions and structures that are successful, exploiting feedback from the environment via the selection of fitter coalitions of structures and functions.”

    viola! an anticipatory system at work! It’s amazing how intelligence can be without intention, purpose and foresight, but there you have it!
    (thanks)

  258. Jeremiahon 25 Jun 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Miema,
    You’re speaking of a teleonomic process that uses intelligence, as described by Robert Rosen, in two of the references I cited, as an anticipatory system which builds an internal model based on past and possible futures states. But if more than thinking beings use intelligence, there’s no scientific reason to change the word, when we already differentiate human intelligence from that of other animals, fish, bacteria, etc. And if it’s denied that intelligence is made use of by other elements of the natural world, then to keep the definition and change the word for its universal use would still attract the same denials.

  259. Jeremiahon 25 Jun 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Sorry, Miema, our postings overlapped a bit and you didn’t need the suggestion that we not change the word intelligence if we retain the meaning.

  260. Jeremiahon 25 Jun 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Your initial post had also led me to the same Wikipedia site and then to this about the concept of curiosity:

    “From Anticipation to Curiosity
    Jürgen Schmidhuber modifies error back propagation algorithm to change neural network weights in order to decrease the mismatch between anticipated states and states actually experienced in the future (Schmidhuber – Adaptive curiosity and adaptive confidence, 1991). He introduces the concept of curiosity for agents as a measure of the mismatch between expectations and future experienced reality. Agents able to monitor and control their own curiosity explore situations where they expect to engage with novel experiences and are generally able to deal with complex environments more than the others.”

  261. Mlemaon 25 Jun 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Ok Jeremiah! I’m not sure exactly that means, but I am curious to figure it out! :-)

  262. Jeremiahon 25 Jun 2011 at 10:10 pm

    It may mean that Schmidhuber could get together with Hoffman and Rosen and possibly come up with universally conscious agents of curious anticipation.

  263. Mlemaon 25 Jun 2011 at 10:16 pm

    ….things that make ya go “hmm”

  264. Niche Geekon 26 Jun 2011 at 12:13 am

    Jeremiah,

    Had you used teleonomic instead of intelligence I’d likely have agreed with more of what you proposed. You dismissed my criticisms on this point, but the language you choose is all we have to go on.

    Unless you’ve cited more than one Rosen, it is unlikely that Robert Rosen will collaborate as you’ve suggested. He died in 1998.

  265. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 12:47 am

    That Rosen thing was meant to be a joke. And you can’t use teleonomic instead of intelligence as they are totally different concepts.

    Wikipedia:
    “Teleonomy is the quality of apparent purposefulness and of goal-directedness of structures and functions in living organisms that derive from their evolutionary history, adaptation for reproductive success, or generally, due to the operation of a program.”

    “Intelligence has been defined in different ways, including the abilities for abstract thought, understanding, communication, reasoning, learning, planning, emotional intelligence and problem solving.”

    And as I stated at the start, I used the most basic definition:
    “1 the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.”

  266. Niche Geekon 26 Jun 2011 at 12:59 am

    Jeremiah,

    In that case I would continue to disagree. The anticipatory systems described in your cites could easily be called teleonomic, but not necessarily intelligent. Your citations have not demonstrated that intelligence is anywhere near as pervasive as you speculate.

  267. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 1:29 am

    Without intelligence there would be no teleonomy, so you in particular apparently can’t call the systems anything.

  268. Niche Geekon 26 Jun 2011 at 1:35 am

    Jeremiah,

    Anything other than bald assertion to back that up? It certainly isn’t in the definition or in the works that reference it.

  269. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 2:05 am

    The statement is backed up by the description above of teleonomy as applied to living organisms. Which my guess is you will now argue are not all intelligent or something.

  270. Niche Geekon 26 Jun 2011 at 2:23 am

    Jeremiah,

    YES! That’s the whole crux of the matter. You assume lichens, bacteria, fungi and wheat are intelligent. I don’t think that’s a widely held view. Why wouldn’t I argue that?

  271. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 2:47 am

    You wouldn’t if you accepted teleonomy as purposive and the organisms in question as not. But then you’re back to teleonomy at work without intelligence or purpose which makes the concept meaningless.

  272. Niche Geekon 26 Jun 2011 at 2:55 am

    Jeremiah,

    So… I wouldn’t if I redefined teleonomy as teleology?

  273. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 3:22 am

    You can’t redefine a definition last I heard.

    In any case to go back to your premise that: “Had you used teleonomic instead of intelligence I’d likely have agreed with more of what you proposed.”
    I find from your own admissions that your premise is false and thus your conclusion, as you’ve asserted earlier, must be illogical.

  274. Niche Geekon 26 Jun 2011 at 3:32 am

    Jeremiah,

    You’ve missed my point. By definition, teleonomy excludes purpose. That’s the key difference between teleology and teleonomy. You are using the two terms interchangeably when they are in fact different.

  275. nybgruson 26 Jun 2011 at 3:35 am

    Hey Niche, having fun yet?

    Don’t worry, it’s not your fault your too dull to understand Jeremiah. He is, after all, a super-genius who can kill goats by staring at them.

  276. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 3:44 am

    And by the way, Niche, you wrote that, “the whole crux of the matter” is that I assume “lichens, bacteria, fungi and wheat are intelligent.” Which you “don’t think that’s a widely held view.”

    Yet if by definition intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills, all those forms of life are to one degree or another intelligent.

  277. robmon 26 Jun 2011 at 3:51 am

    nybgrus,

    don’t forget he slew the giant mike12 by saying his name 3 times, banishing him to the underworld with his debate skillz

  278. Niche Geekon 26 Jun 2011 at 3:53 am

    Jeremiah,

    Really? It is very late here and I’m off to bed, but I look forward to reading your justification of that assertion. What skills or knowledge does a particular, distinct stalk of wheat gain in the course of its life?

  279. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 3:57 am

    Ooh, little nybgrus is envious about the goats. There in Australia he kills them in a very peculiar way that involves wearing boots. The goats anticipate his purposes and all those about die laughing.

  280. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 4:08 am

    The wheat stalk as you put it learns where the sun is each day and turns to it just for starters. It’s root system operates like a form of brain, sensing and assessing it’s environment and directing it’s activities and growth accordingly. It learns where it is in relation to adjoining plants, has symbiotic and cooperative relationships with insects, etc.

  281. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 4:13 am

    But Niche, I’ll be off as well as the circle jerks are forming up to master bait.

  282. nybgruson 26 Jun 2011 at 4:43 am

    oh no robm. mike12 slew me with his mighty debatez. Jeremiah was too high and mighty and simply laughed his all-knowing chuckle, watching the puny likes of me attempt to engage such an imposing foe as mike12, all the while knowing who was king of the intellectuals.

    I must bow down to such intellect. After all, I never would have envisioned that a stalk of wheat can learn where the sun is nor that its roots can act like a brain. My own brain is, after all, puny in comparison.

    Well, I am off for the evening – time to get my boots and entertain the troops with my comedic goat killing tour.

  283. mufion 26 Jun 2011 at 10:07 am

    Mlema: Sorry about the bad link (here it is in full: http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/creationist-politicians/comment-page-2/#comment-33327). Glad that the “teleonomic” reference was helpful, though.

    Here’s a more recent treatment of “Teleological Explanations in Biology”, from another blog that I subscribe to:

    http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2011/06/teleological-explanations-in-biology.html

  284. mufion 26 Jun 2011 at 10:53 am

    PS: If you follow that thread (which draws on this essay, also by evolutionary biologist/psychologist, Allen MacNeill), you’ll notice that there’s a third “teleo-” used, which is “teleomatic.” This was Ernst Mayr’s term for:

    Processes that simply follow natural laws, i.e. lead to a result consequential to concomitant physical forces, and the reaching of their end state is not controlled by a built-in program. The law of gravity and the second law of thermodynamics are among the natural laws which most frequently govern teleomatic processes. Examples include the cooling to ambient temperature of a red hot bar of iron and the falling of a rock to the ground.

    To us, these processes (i.e. both teleonomic and teleomatic) may appear to be goal-directed. But Mayr (via MacNeill) distinguished them from “the kinds of unambiguously goal-directed behavior exhibited by humans (and our artifacts, such as heat-seeking missiles).”

  285. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 1:08 pm

    To those who think I made all that stuff up about plants, what I wrote above ‘top o’ the head’ is confirmed in more detail by this NY Times Science article.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/22/science/22angi.html

    From which I quote this brief paragraph:
    “When plant biologists speak of their subjects, they use active verbs and vivid images. Plants “forage” for resources like light and soil nutrients and “anticipate” rough spots and opportunities. By analyzing the ratio of red light and far red light falling on their leaves, for example, they can sense the presence of other chlorophyllated competitors nearby and try to grow the other way. Their roots ride the underground “rhizosphere” and engage in cross-cultural and microbial trade.”

    And here’s a nice paper about “Root apices as plant command centres: the unique ‘brain-like’ status of the root apex transition zone.”
    http://ds9.botanik.uni-bonn.de/zellbio/AG-Baluska-Volkmann/plantneuro/pdf/NeuroPlantTZ-Biologia.pdf

    Subject headings:
    Plant intelligence: information acquisition, learning and memory for adaptation and more
    Plant telecommunication: action potentials in long-distance plant communication
    Plant synapses: the case of plant root apices
    Auxin is plant neurotransmitter-like sig- nalling molecule
    Root apices act as plant command centres
    Vascular bundles as assemblies of plant nerves?
    Diffuse nervous system in plants?
    Nervous molecules in plants

    I couldn’t find where wheat was an exception, or had been domesticated, as Niche Geek, Nybgrus, and Mufi might suggest, to the point of plant stupidity.

  286. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Nybgrus and his boots joke – now using goats when he ran out of sheep:
    http://jokes.federal.ro/joke/868.htm

  287. tmac57on 26 Jun 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Niche-

    What skills or knowledge does a particular, distinct stalk of wheat gain in the course of its life?

    Well,it can learn to do the ‘wave’.

    Is it just me,or does a head of cauliflower look suspiciously like a brain? Kinda makes you wonder…

  288. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 3:28 pm

    tmac57. Another “scientist” whose name can be added to the list of the stupid plant lovers.

  289. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Miema,
    Here’s a link to a branch of philosophy that, unless I miss my guess, will be right down your alley.
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/process-philosophy/

  290. tmac57on 26 Jun 2011 at 4:21 pm

    I love the stupid plants and the intelligent ones alike.No discrimination here.

  291. Niche Geekon 26 Jun 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Jeremiah,

    Excellent! You’ve provided a citation and even given an explanation for why you think it is applicable. I am not taking the piss here, I believe that this is the only way you will successfully express your views.

    Having said that, I would caution against taking the NY Times piece too literally. While it reads as plausible to me there is plenty of evidence that non-specialist science journalism is often less than accurate (Dr. N has provided examples of this in the podcast and in his writings on many occasions) and our language is inherently anthropomorphic making identification of the distinction that you seek inherently difficult.

    Secondarily, you weaken your argument when you make what I can only assume to be a joke about domestication. Domesticated dogs may or may not be less intelligent than wild canines, but they are definitely smarter than plants of any kind. Humour in this kind of discussion is challenging. My own attempt at sarcastic delivery backfired (“redefined teleonomy as teleology”) when you didn’t recognize that I was pointing out that you had made this exact error.

    Now to your actual point. You have provided me enough reason to accept that it is plausible that human intelligence exists on a continuum that stretches further than I at first appreciated. This fits with my preconceptions about evolution as we consistently find both advanced and simplistic examples of almost any attribute in nature (See the eye, as referenced above). I would suggest that this continuum stretches from the teleonomic to the teleological.

    What you have not done is addressed my original objection (way back up thread). I am not convinced by your evidence that there is intelligent design or intelligence in the universe at large. You may remember that my original objection was to your argument that the universe was intelligent, or as you put it in your first reply to me:

    “And I haven’t said that the rock itself is intelligent, because it isn’t. But it’s parts are held together by the application of their “knowledge” when needed, reacting in a predictable fashion based on instructions that are the equivalent of pre-programmed skill sets – “based in turn on the information in the forces behind the stimuli (from wind, rain, lightning, –) that these elements in combination were made by force to be ‘aware’ of.”

    I would like to thank mufi for introducing me to the teleonomic and teleomatic concepts. It is so much easier to express a point when you have the right word.

  292. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Niche Geek
    I’ve addressed your original objection, but if it wasn’t sufficient to convince you, so be it. And where again did I say, either in that first reply or later, that the universe was intelligent?
    It contains information that can be intelligently used. Whether the universe has a singular function that has that use as its purpose is quite another matter, and for that you might look into such areas as I’ve already pointed to, such as process philosophy.

    The joke about domestication was in reference to plants, not animals. You need to take your own advice about using words in ways that accord their meanings to their context. Or were you unaware that wheat is a domesticated plant?
    http://www.spelt.com/origins.html

    And this line from you is very puzzling: “I would suggest that this continuum stretches from the teleonomic to the teleological.”
    Care to elucidate?

  293. Niche Geekon 26 Jun 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Jeremiah,

    Re domestication: You provided evidence that plants exhibit something that can be described as intelligence. You then said “I couldn’t find where wheat was an exception, or had been domesticated… to the point of plant stupidity.” Thus suggesting that domestication can lead to stupidity and that stupidity is synonymous with the absence of intelligence. Given your use of the term, I don’t think that is an advisable choice of phrase.

    Re “where again did I say, either in that first reply or later, that the universe was intelligent”:

    # neverknowon 19 Jun 2011 at 8:20 pm
    “Some of us believe the universe is alive and intelligent, in ways that we can’t possibly imagine.”

    # Jeremiahon 19 Jun 2011 at 9:56 pm
    “And neverknow is right in everything he says.”

  294. Niche Geekon 26 Jun 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Jeremiah,

    Sorry, forgot to respond to your last question:

    -I take it as a given that some (not all) human human actions are teleological (Some argue that free will is an illusion generated by complexity, but let’s leave that aside).

    -I think there is solid evidence that this is not unique to humans. I am aware of considerable evidence in Orca, dogs, and birds.

    -I think there is plenty of evidence for teleonomic behavior in microorganisms and that the anticipatory systems hypothesis may lead towards a way to link those simpler, rule-driven responses to the more complex behaviors of the microorganism’s more complex cousins. I need to spend more time reading up on this work as I still see some big gaps that will need to be bridged for this link to be more than speculative.

  295. Niche Geekon 26 Jun 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Jeremiah,

    I should also note that while I might be willing to accept a definition of data that includes plausible speculation (Jeremiahon 25 Jun 2011 at 1:58 am), I certainly wouldn’t the sort of speculation I referenced above as being good quality or compelling data.

  296. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 6:12 pm

    “alive and intelligent, in ways that we can’t possibly imagine.”
    Yes, because we don’t know where the ability of anything to use intelligence comes from i the end. I don’t think there was a first or final cause, but I’m agnostic as to the possibilities of finding out.

    The remark about stupidity is in ironic reference to your and your pals’ clear statements that wheat is intrinsically stupid to begin with. (But then you have no sense of the ironic, do you.)

    So why not just accept your mistakes there and move on. (You don’t need the others to accept them first since even with the evidence submitted from plant biologists, they’re sticking to their stupid stories.)

    Comment on teleology to follow God willing.

  297. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 6:25 pm

    When you say “I take it as a given that some (not all) human human actions are teleological” you need again to follow your own advice about words to be used in context. Otherwise the first assumption could be that you’re referring to the common teleological argument:

    teleological argument |ˌtelēəˈläjikəl; ˌtēlē- |
    noun Philosophy
    the argument for the existence of God from the evidence of order, and hence design, in nature.

    But even with the common definitions of teleology, you need to coned with that possible misunderstanding:
    teleology |ˌtelēˈäləjē; ˌtēlē-|
    noun ( pl. -gies) Philosophy
    the explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes.
    • Theology the doctrine of design and purpose in the material world.

  298. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Even typos serve a purpose.

  299. Niche Geekon 26 Jun 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Jeremiah,

    I did admit that your evidence had changed my mind. You seem very quick to throw insults and have yet to admit your own mistakes, including confusing teleology and teleonomy. Something I pointed out repeatedly. Do you feel I’ve insulted you at any point in time?

    As for using language in context, you may be right about that. I considered it vanishingly unlikely that anyone who favored or even understood the theological argument from teleology would be confused because that argument effectively requires that everything have a final cause… something I explicitly precluded. For the record I am not using teleology in the theological sense. I see evidence that some organisms are able to form abstract goals and engage in complex behaviors to achieve those goals.

    Now to your previous comment:

    “Yes, because we don’t know where the ability of anything to use intelligence comes from i the end. I don’t think there was a first or final cause, but I’m agnostic as to the possibilities of finding out.”

    There is a difference between saying you are agnostic (we don’t know) and agreeing with an affirmative statement like “the universe is alive and intelligent”. I would say we have precisely no evidence for this proposition unless you significantly redefine Alive and Intelligent… or redefine “neverknow is right in everything he says” to actually mean “neverknow [might be] right [about some of the things] he says”

  300. mufion 26 Jun 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Niche:

    I take it as a given that some (not all) human human actions are teleological (Some argue that free will is an illusion generated by complexity, but let’s leave that aside).

    Indeed, free will is a topic that BillyJoe and I have already beaten to death here, and I don’t care to revisit it now.

    So, suffice it to say that we at least like to believe that we pursue goals of our own choosing, such that the prototype for an intelligent agent is (in all likelihood) none other than ourselves (which does not prevent us from extending the category radially, based on “family resemblances”).

    By the way, I tend to think of teleonomy in one of two ways: (a) goal achievement without the intelligent agent, or (b) goal achievement as judged after-the-fact by an intelligent agent.

  301. Niche Geekon 26 Jun 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Mufi,

    I’ve read many if not all of your discussions (been a lurker for a while). I found them entertaining and, often, informative. I admit to being less certain on the topic than I once would have been.

    I like your personal definitions of teleology vs teleonomy. They help to identify an idea that is maddeningly hard to get across in other ways because our language is strongly anthropomorphic and our brains hard-wired to assign agency.

  302. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Niche, what I have found insulting are doing things like you’ve just done again:
    First of all, “alive and intelligent, in ways that we can’t possibly imagine.” is not what I wrote, but what I agreed with. And the operative phrase is the non-affirmative modifier that you removed. This tactic, used intentionally or otherwise, is dishonest.

    And these tactics started about when you wrote, not to me but about me: “His definitions are stretched beyond use (particularly the latest apparent attempt to use intelligence and anticipation as synonyms)”
    No such attempt was made and to claim otherwise is tantamount to lying. Because you didn’t say it to me but about me. Insulting.

    So I’ve been a bit soured on you ever since.

    Also with this claim that I’m “confusing teleology and teleonomy. Something I pointed out repeatedly.” And I pointed out repeatedly that you were wrong, since the differences are in use and context, and just now you’ve conceded to your new pal, Mufi, that he’s helped you see that. (Maybe you can help him in their application to plants in turn.)

    And this pedantic to the max suggestion is ludicrous (also insulting): “redefine “neverknow is right in everything he says” to actually mean “neverknow [might be] right [about some of the things] he says”

    The “might be” is implicit in the modifier. Why I would I want to repeat it to affirm it? My intention was to express my confidence in his thoughts and processes in contrast to my lack of confidence in anything the naysayers will offer. Where does some pusillanimous “might be” right in future fit in here? Back handed compliment? Insulting.

  303. Jeremiahon 26 Jun 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Back to my post to Miama, where I gave a link to the article on process philosophy. The part that might be most interesting (for her anyway) would be the early contributions from Whitehead and Teilhard de Chardin.
    The article runs off the tracks a bit when they get to this:
    “Where human intelligence is concerned, biological evolution is undoubtedly Darwinian, with teleologically blind natural selection operating with respect to teleologically blind random mutations.”

    Undoubtedly I’m not endorsing that part. But nobody’s perfect.

  304. Mlemaon 26 Jun 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Jeremiah: …still reading! (thanks)

  305. Niche Geekon 26 Jun 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Jeremiah,

    So you object to the “might be” part, but not the “some things” part? Given that neverknow expressed this as a statement of believe and then provided a conditional consequence of that belief then “might be” is redundant and I withdraw that part of my post. That doesn’t address the fact that neverknow’s original statement assigns intelligence to the universe as a whole and not merely a small portion of it. You reaffirmed your agreement with neverknow’s position several posts later.

    You say that you made no attempt to conflate intelligence with anticipation but when asked to provide evidence of intelligence in the broader world you offered up links related to anticipation and wrote “anticipation is the hallmark of any system of intelligence”. You were clearly saying that if anticipation is the distinctive feature of intelligence then where there is anticipation there must be intelligence. You even cited a philosophical paper that claimed quantum mechanics demonstrate that anticipation is part of the fundamental physics of our universe. That anticipation may be necessary but not sufficient for intelligence was never part of your argument.

    Lastly, on teleology and teleonomy you say “the differences are in use and context”. Actually no. The difference is semantic. Teleonomy was explicitly defined as being distinct from teleology.

  306. Mlemaon 26 Jun 2011 at 11:53 pm

    a country can have military personnel and equipment waiting in readiness to mount a defense from attackers. This military did not and does not form its own purpose. It was instituted in response to the experience of past attacks, and is then activated by and in response to current attacks. When it is inactive, it continues to exist in anticipation of future attacks. And when it is activated, it is intelligent enough to kill only that which is unlike itself. It is also intelligence enough to improve its defenses in response to its interactive experiences with the enemy. If it had failed to develop this intelligence, it would not have continued to exist.

    so there it is. Existing with its anticipatory intelligence. Serving the purpose of the one who gives it purpose (the country, in this case, in response to attack)

    same as the human immune system. it doesn’t make up it’s own purpose, but it has to be intelligent and anticipatory to serve the purpose that it has. It did not evolve on purpose, so nobody has to be offended that saying that an immune system is intelligent, anticipatory, and serves a purpose means the same thing as saying that the immune system evolved itself on purpose because it was smart enough to know it would be needed.

  307. sonicon 27 Jun 2011 at 12:29 am

    nybgrus-
    I agree with what you are saying. One prediction is just that- one prediction.
    I don’t think intelligent design is a scientific theory at this point because-
    there isn’t a definition of intelligent that leads to being able to say definitively ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to “Is that intelligent?”
    And I don’t think that there is a test for design.
    I’m not sure there ever will be- although I do think IC is a good attempt at a start.
    But this is a problem– we know things exist that are designed, but the only argument for that is historical (Here are the drawings that were made…)
    This means that any argument that something isn’t designed is an argument from ignorance. (We don’t have any real test, therefore any statement that it isn’t is safe because we are ignorant of how to show something is designed).

    Anyway, I’m going with ‘incomplete’ over ‘wrong’ because that really is the better description. And you helped me see that- so thank-you.

  308. Jeremiahon 27 Jun 2011 at 1:33 am

    Niche Geek writes:
    “Lastly, on teleology and teleonomy you say “the differences are in use and context”. Actually no. The difference is semantic. Teleonomy was explicitly defined as being distinct from teleology.”

    Semantics is about meaning and meaning differs wih use and context. And “actually no” is the typical response of a cocksure geek.

    Earlier you quote me as saying, “where there is anticipation there must be intelligence.”
    Correct. And where there’s thunder there must be lightning. Where there’s a fool there must be foolishness. All things that must come together are conjunctional perhaps, but synonymous?

    synonym |ˈsinəˌnim|
    noun
    a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language,

    What’s boggles the mind a bit is not that you took that as my contention, but that you’d take that to be anyone-at-all’s contention.

    “You say that you made no attempt to conflate intelligence with anticipation”
    Stop right there as that’s another lie. Conflate does not mean equate, now does it. Of course anticipation requires intelligence, so does fear, suspicion, happiness, ad infinitum.
    Semantics is also about sequential use of words and concepts to gain meaning. All of the qualities above require intelligence afore hand, but they are not synonymous with it, no more than happiness that also requires anticipation is synonymous with it. Reverse the order and anticipation does not require happiness to be fearful.

    More seriously bad (or worse deceptive) logic here:
    Geek writes to me: “You even cited a philosophical paper that claimed quantum mechanics demonstrate that anticipation is part of the fundamental physics of our universe. That anticipation may be necessary but not sufficient for intelligence was never part of your argument.”
    That last part makes no sense at all since anticipation is a function of intelligence, not the reverse. And more precisely, problem solving is a function of intelligence, and anticipation is a function of problem solving. No intelligence, no perception of a problem. No problem, no perception of its anticipated consequences.

    Presumably there’s intelligence somewhere that’s not sufficient for the requisite anticipation, but never the reverse. So yeah, that would never be part of my argument.

  309. nybgruson 27 Jun 2011 at 3:40 am

    @Mlema:

    same as the human immune system. it doesn’t make up it’s own purpose, but it has to be intelligent and anticipatory to serve the purpose that it has.

    I disagree. The immune system is not intelligent. If you wish to define anticipatory as you and Jeremiah seem to be trying to I’ll grant that, but that is no more anticipatory than a rock on a ledge “anticipating” to fall should a sufficient gust of wind arise.

    The immune system does not anticipate who is foreign or not and does not intelligently “decide” that. Autoimmune disease and rheumatic fever are perfect examples of why that is not the case.

    All this garbage spewing forth from Jeremiah is intentionally obfuscatory because otherwise it would sound pretty retarded. By the definitions he is trying to put forth a rock is intelligent because its atoms know how to hang together and anticipates the ability to fall because of gravity. That is all bullshit and simply more Chopra-esque anthropomorphising of simple physical attributes and using obfuscatory language to make it sound intellectual.

    @ sonic:

    I agree. Incomplete is a much more accurate description – of course, that refers to every theory in existence, such is the nature of science. I am glad you managed to get something from our exchanges. I did learn some things as well, so thank you.

    As for knowing that existing things are designed – I’ll leave you with what I found to be an interesting perspective on that. The only reason we know that a watch is designed is because we have seen watches and seen people make them. The lines get blurred, however: take for example the devils postpile or the Giant’s causeway and compare those to the Soumaya Museum or a simple wall in Australia and you can see that if you were an alien who had never seen anything remotely like these things it could become tough to decide which were definitely man-made (i.e. designed) vs completely natural (i.e. not designed). This is why it has been tough to discern that all life on this planet wasn’t designed – we don’t have any other form of life to compare it to, nor do we have any actually designed life to compare either. That is why we rely on so many converging lines of evidence to come to the conclusion that life evolved with design or guidance.

  310. eiskrystalon 27 Jun 2011 at 3:58 am

    Nice misquote by leaving of the question mark. Still can’t get over you got whupped by using one of the lamest analogies ever?

    It was lack of care because frankly I was bored and you weren’t getting it. I’m a pharyngulite so fire and brimstone… even apologetics can be fun to challenge. But vague notions that you don’t really understand yourself and that change at your convenience are too wishy washy to really get my interest.

  311. Jeremiahon 27 Jun 2011 at 4:04 am

    Niche Geek,
    Your moniker gives me a clue as to what otherwise was not that obvious, at first. And so you’re not being intentionally dishonest after all. But I recognize in your approach here a certain pattern of problems with communication – i.e., difficulty understanding subtleties of language such as irony and humor, perseveration, confusion with things like pronouns, and thus with synonyms and sequential word order.
    But nevertheless you persevere, and I wish you well.

  312. Jeremiahon 27 Jun 2011 at 4:50 am

    eiskrystal,
    Pharyngulite. That ‘splains it. You guys are recognizable by that limited collection of lame Dawkinsian analogies. Myers runs a tight ship, deviations from the text are blasphemous, and heretics will be dealt with accordingly.

  313. mufion 27 Jun 2011 at 9:26 am

    Mlema:

    …nobody has to be offended that saying that an immune system is intelligent, anticipatory, and serves a purpose means the same thing as saying that the immune system evolved itself on purpose because it was smart enough to know it would be needed.

    I think it boils down to the difference between goals/purposes/ends achieved by foresight vs. those achieved by hindsight.

    That said, I’m quite sure that we can (if we are so inclined to) broaden the meaning of “intelligent” to apply to teleonomic processes (e.g. those which, according to Mayr/MacNeill, run according to a built-in program – after all, they do apparently achieve goals/purposes/ends – but, then, so do teleomatic processes, like falling rocks).

    But should we? or should we reserve that word for clear cases of goal pursuit following from known foresight (e.g. where the achieved end was planned by an agent who can “internally model/imagine various alternative futures” *)?

    I personally vote for a more reserved usage of “intelligent”, which extends from our everyday experience with ourselves (and especially with those individuals whom we respect as such). But, if a broader usage proves useful in research (e.g. in biology and AI), then I don’t mind, so long as we’re clear on what we mean by it.

  314. mufion 27 Jun 2011 at 9:57 am

    PS: Another gem from Allen Macneill.

  315. Jeremiahon 27 Jun 2011 at 12:40 pm

    I see that little nybgrus slipped in some stuff overnight that must have been in limbo for awhile until the universal system of intelligence decided what the hell, let’s mutate something to no purpose.
    What’s really dumb is that he thinks I invented the anticipatory systems concept, just by the fact that I introduced it here and he’s at a loss to understand and deal with it.
    And he actually does think that a thing that receives the benefits of intelligence actually has to be intelligently aware of all its sources and have retained some executive powers of direction over any of its formative uses.
    And that if a rock had been formed somehow to rely on some intelligent internal synthesis of its constituent elements, it would be smart enough externally to resist the natural forces that were capriciously inclined to push it off the ledge.
    And if the evolution of immune systems had been in any sense an intelligent process, why would they be stupid enough to occasionally let some dumb shit happen.
    Oops, need to check in here now and see how my inventive operation is holding up: http://www.anteinstitute.org/

  316. 2_wordson 27 Jun 2011 at 12:49 pm

    So you are mocking what you think someone else thinks by describing what they think is dumb?

    Is this dealing with them?

  317. Jeremiahon 27 Jun 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Not a page from your book then?

  318. Mlemaon 27 Jun 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Mufi, thanks for the references. I haven’t read your most recent link yet.
    Here’s a quote from the link Jeremiah just provided:
    “In living systems, the current state is determined not only by past and present, but also by their possible future states. Scientists are discovering more and more the significance of anticipatory characteristics (from the molecular level to the level of complex systems). As scientists try to endow matter and various mechanisms with intelligence, anticipation becomes more important, involving new forms of computation. Anticipation can be seen as a ‘second Cartesian revolution.’”
    Now I’m not going to even pretend to begin to be able to understand how “future states” come into this. And of course people can argue about whether scientists should be trying to “endow matter and various mechanisms with intelligence”. But they’re doing it, and i know it’s important to you to stay on top of current expert opinions in science.
    If we don’t call the immune system, which is able to learn from hindsight (even if you leave off that this learning is applied to future assaults) intelligent….then what word do we use to describe this capability? One of the definitions of intelligence is a capability to learn.

  319. steve12on 27 Jun 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Jeremiah:

    as best I can tell from the anticipation links you provided, the theory is this:

    QM (or something else?) allows for information about future conditions to be accessible in the present, and this information is merged with information form the past to guide complex systems. Therefore, it is only with this information form the future that complex systems can be truly understood.

    Is this basically right? If not, correct it in specific ways please.

  320. j0non 27 Jun 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Hi all,

    I’m new here… stumbled across this post from a link on the Skeptic Blog. After reading through all these comments, I have a few of my own to make:

    First, thank you all for giving me something to do while waiting for a very lengthy bit of SAS code to run. There are obviously a lot of very bright minds in this forum. Which brings me to my other points:

    While the inclination to “feed the trolls” is, I think, pretty obviously human nature and no one, not even clever, highly educated people are immune to it, I am rather intrigued by the tenacity with which many of you continued to argue with this Jeremiah person. After the first few of these posts, I thought it was fairly clear that there wasn’t anything of substance actually being debated. While I found many of these posts entertaining, and many forum members described the scientific method and related concepts in highly articulate ways (though seemingly to little avail), I found the length at which many of these arguments continued something approaching astounding.

    “Intelligence”, which seemed to be the focal point of most these arguments, is such a vague term that, unless specifically operationalized (e.g. mathematical intelligence, verbal intelligence, etc.) is essentially meaningless.

    So to declare that the universe is intelligent (or a rock, a plant, a dolphin, or a human for that matter) is a meaningless statement, unless you define the specific domain of “intelligence” that you’re ascribing to it. Which, incidentally, is part of the problem I have with the notion of “Intelligent Design”. Apart from it not being science (as several of you argued quite eloquently), it just plain doesn’t mean anything.

    Anyhow, my main reason for commenting is curiousity. I hope this doesn’t come off as condescending (as I don’t mean it to be, and I’ve certainly been guilty of similar behavior with people similar to Jeremiah on other forums), but I’m deeply and genuinely curious about this: for people like Niche Geek, Nybgrus, et al., if you sit and reflect about it for a minute, why do you think you went on arguing with this clearly disordered and hostile mind?

  321. Jeremiahon 27 Jun 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Cute. The system is predictive, not omniscient. Otherwise it wouldn’t make mistakes. The system experiences change, not time.

  322. steve12on 27 Jun 2011 at 2:32 pm

    “Cute. The system is predictive, not omniscient. Otherwise it wouldn’t make mistakes. The system experiences change, not time.”

    1. As usual, you are vague, vague vague.

    2. Everyone knows that cog systems et al. are trying to predict what comes next based on what’s come before. What’s new and different about anticipation? You cannot summarize in a manner that isn’t coy and vague.

    3. Many of the sources form your links seem to say what I summarized above. Of course, the best you can do is call me cute and make some vague reference.

    4. This is the final piece of evidence that you are not arguing in anything approaching good faith. What kind of “scientist” would obtusely refer to a theory, and then at the END of a 300+ post thread drop links to websites about the theory! Of course the cherry on top is the dismissive response to a direct question. Clearly this is how scientists communicate.

    All I’ve done is affirm that you’re a crank looking for attention who gets off on the perceived feeling of smug superiorit

  323. mufion 27 Jun 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Mlema:

    If we adopt a broad enough definition of “intelligence”, such as “a system that perceives its environment and takes actions which maximize its chances of success” (*) – then I think the immune system qualifies as “intelligent” – not so much as a (whole) human, who meets a narrower (and more familiar) definition of “intelligent” (e.g. “guided or directed by intellect : rational”, which I associate more closely with the human nervous system). But I would agree that such systems exist as points somewhere along a line of continuum (analogous to simplicity => complexity).

    Perhaps there is a better (as in: nearly as just as brief, yet more precise) description of immune system function than “intelligence” (“teleonomy” was an earlier attempt at a generalization, although “protection” is more specific here). But, like I said, so long as we’re clear as to what we mean (which, unfortunately, implies cluttering up our simple, elegant description with more words and concepts), then I don’t have a problem with that choice.

    The hard part, then, is to keep the word in context – which is not always so easy to do, given the ideological battles surrounding it.

  324. Jeremiahon 27 Jun 2011 at 3:34 pm

    steve12,
    Your question was either cute or stupid. I gave you the benefit of the doubt.
    No source, nada, zip, that I’ve referenced says that the system perceives the actual events before they happen.
    The thrust of this new program has been to show that anticipation is pervasive in both the living and non-living world, and to look at how and why. The prospects involved in learning how anticipation may drive not only biological but non-biological evolution are enormous.

    And that last link I dropped was extracted from a site that I had linked to at the beginning of my attempts to answer a good faith poster’s questions.
    And there’s nothing of good faith involved in yours, so cut the crap.

    “What’s new and different about anticipation?” That some systems and their systemizers are better at it than others.

  325. Jeremiahon 27 Jun 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Lots of good stuff here if you can get past the paywall.

    http://iospress.metapress.com/content/j15221658528/?p=a670aa3ad4f4499580e9a39856d47c7f&pi=1

  326. nybgruson 27 Jun 2011 at 4:57 pm

    What’s really dumb is that he thinks I invented the anticipatory systems concept, just by the fact that I introduced it here and he’s at a loss to understand and deal with it.

    I don’t think you invented it. I think you are too stupid to apply it correctly. Maybe the scientists you are following in it are too stupid as well. But as has been pointed out by more than just me here (individuals who have actually had the patience to deal with your bullshit, not just my snarks) you use the language of the ideas so loosely as to be completely and utterly useless. I know quite well how to deal with it – narrowly and specifically. You are the one that doesn’t have a clue and decides to change meanings and context whilst throwing in sarcasm and snark that are indistinguishable from your argument just so you can claim whatever the hell pleases you later on. So broad and loose do you play that when a statement of yours is interpreted as indicating that a stalk of wheat is more intelligent that yourself (which isn’t that hard to imagine, really) you come right back with a snark and say you didn’t uset the word in that way that particular time and besides, it was a joke. Cut the crap Jeremiah. If you are trying to explain a theory you actually understand you don’t throw in random jokes and snarks as part of your explanation. That has been pointed out to you before.

    Now go ahead and call me “little nybgrus” again, make up some othe random reason why I am too unintelligent to understand you, toss in another snark or jab, and then continue being self satisfied that you are some sort of intellectual powerhouse. Go ahead, it’s OK. Everyone needs a little something in their lives and being the idiot troll on a forum can be yours.

    @mlema:

    If we don’t call the immune system, which is able to learn from hindsight (even if you leave off that this learning is applied to future assaults) intelligent….then what word do we use to describe this capability? One of the definitions of intelligence is a capability to learn.

    Learning used in context to describe intelligence is not applicable in the context of the immune system. The immune system does not “learn” about antigens and foreign invaders. It does not use foresight to “anticipate” foreign invasion. You even admit this yourself. If it did, once it grabbed hold of, say, LPS antigen it would create permutations of the antibodies created to account for more O-antigens instead of just waiting around for the next serovar to come around. If you describe the immune system as “intelligent” you must change the definition of “intelligent” as to include essentially everything, which is what Jeremiah is attempting to do. By that token, rocks on the beach are intelligent because they break down into sand because they anticipate they will get beaten on by wave action.

    No the immune system is not intelligent – just like a computer is not intelligent. I can open up a bunch of programs on my laptop, set them in a specific state, create a script to run an animation, and then close my laptop. When I open it again, all that will be there and the script will run from exactly where I left off. That is not intelligence and neither is forming memory cells in response to an antigen.

  327. Jeremiahon 27 Jun 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Hey little nygbrus, go talk to your Wheaties. They know more about anticipatory systems than you do. It’s in their roots.

    “No the immune system is not intelligent – just like a computer is not intelligent.”
    Last I heard the immune system was alive and the computers are all still dead. And I overheard my wheat plants talking about the ignominy of suggesting theirs are less intelligent than ours.

  328. Mlemaon 27 Jun 2011 at 5:16 pm

    thanks nygbrus.
    I think I will continue to call my immune system intelligent. My experience is that things have a way of living up to my expectations. I guess I have special powers.
    I do worry a little bit that I might offend God though, since calling various things intelligent smacks a bit of pantheism, a blasphemy.

  329. nybgruson 27 Jun 2011 at 5:25 pm

    And so is that rock you claimed was intelligent as well. I guess that is the only reason we can consider you intelligent, because normally when I say “You have rocks in your head” it connotes that you are un-intelligent. But you’ve explained to us now why that isn’t the case.

  330. Mlemaon 27 Jun 2011 at 5:31 pm

    thanks man! I was afraid you wouldn’t respect my viewpoint.

  331. mufion 27 Jun 2011 at 5:32 pm

    nybgrus: Of course I would agree with you that the immune system is not intelligent, if by “intelligent” we have in mind a strong notion of human intelligence, as in: a description of how a whole, normal human functions,, including all of the abilities afforded to him/her by the brain and the rest of the nervous system (e.g. planning, understanding, and intention). But it seems to me that the word is used more broadly than that nowadays in biology and AI (e.g. here) – albeit, not nearly as broadly as some might like.

  332. mufion 27 Jun 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Mlema: Speaking as someone who’s flirted with pantheism over the years (in the tradition of Spinoza and Einstein), I’m sorry to learn that I might be deemed a blasphemer in your eyes. (I’m significantly less worried about a personal god’s doing likewise.)

  333. Mlemaon 27 Jun 2011 at 5:43 pm

    mufi- I judge no one. :-)

  334. vezelay 1146on 27 Jun 2011 at 5:44 pm

    This Jeremiah sure seems familiar to me. I believe we have met before. Sir,why are you bothering these good people?

  335. Mlemaon 27 Jun 2011 at 5:52 pm

    perhaps if we focus more on how this “intelligence” we’re talking about has to do with utilizing information, we will develop a terminology that everybody can conceptualize. Maybe it’s time for somebody to make up a new word.

  336. Jeremiahon 27 Jun 2011 at 6:05 pm

    It seems, little nybgrus, that the only things you can take and run with are lies. I specifically noted every time that lie was told that rocks are not intelligent. Not enough to be even minimally stupid.

    I will however posit that rocks have been assisted by their constituency of intelligently reactive elements to maintain a state of hardness in their anticipation of destructive forces. But hardly as you seem to think it works, to anticipate the destruction as somehow a satisfactory solution to the problem of continuing their existence.

    So “too stupid” right back at you in spades.

  337. Jeremiahon 27 Jun 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Miema, to make up a new word to accommodate the ignorant is a bit elitist, no? It’s basically a way of dumbing down the concept, and we already do that with children

  338. Mlemaon 27 Jun 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Jeremiah, I’m looking for a distinction because all of the definitions of intelligence I’ve read include “reason” (as in “the skilled use of reason”)
    Maybe I’m understanding that word wrong, but I don’t know that a rock can reason. I’m just thinking that stressing the information aspect of this: intelligence as the ability to utilize information, then we don’t get into this deliberation about anthropomorphization.
    PS – I know this is all hypothetical, since none of the professors I’ve known to refer to “the intelligence of living systems” are going to change their terminology – but I do enjoy making up new words.

  339. Jeremiahon 27 Jun 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Miema, a rock can’t reason. It’s not intelligent. It’s held together by internal forces in what has to be an intelligently structured molecular arrangement to work. This “dead rock” scenario is a typical red herring that the neo-Darwinists throw out to blow smoke up you know where.
    The anticipatory system theories, rightly or wrongly, make that distinction clear. Material formations are systemically and systematically constructed to serve their particular energetic purposes. The systems in all such constructions must be anticipatory to maintain and defend their forms.
    Speaking of rocks, one can’t deny that a rock reacts as we anticipate it will when force is applied. Different forces will be consistent with differently anticipated results, and shale rock will react differently than granite, etc.. So our anticipation is based on the reality that the rock’s construction is anticipatory.

    But I’ve gone over this before, made references to the scientific research and the philosophy that supports it. So if you still feel that the arguments fail when it comes to solid objects, then that’s fine. I like you anyway. You have an intelligent immune system where most other things are concerned.

  340. Jeremiahon 27 Jun 2011 at 8:24 pm

    vezelay 1146, welcome back.

  341. vezelay 1146on 27 Jun 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Hello Jeremiah.

    Down dusky trails by old, slow creeks,
    the one who wanders is the one who seeks.
    Here life is cool and neat and clean,
    here is one sixty serpentine.

  342. Mlemaon 27 Jun 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Jeremiah, thanks for your last post. It reminded me of where my thinking was before all the accusations about what I was thinking regarding rocks got inside my brain!
    Sometimes my mind is defenseless.

    I’m glad you approve of me. i would hate to be on your bad side.

  343. eiskrystalon 28 Jun 2011 at 4:27 am

    Myers runs a tight ship, deviations from the text are blasphemous, and heretics will be dealt with accordingly.

    Given the size of Myers audience, he couldn’t run a tight ship if he wanted to. Actually he has one of the most open policies on posting out there.

    …and we love heretics. So by “deal with them” I assume you mean that we tell them why they are wrong in excrutiating technical detail backed up with all necessary facts and links to the evidence.

  344. BillyJoe7on 28 Jun 2011 at 7:10 am

    I have a feeling that, once we get past the quirky definitions and semantic tricks, there will be nothing left but the logical fallacy we might call Argumentum ad Jereminsignificantiam

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