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dahduh
9th November 2007, 02:59 PM
I've just finished listening to Point of Inquiry's intelligent design interview with Michael Behe, one of the founding father's of that ironically named movement. As usual, the phrase "Intelligent design makes no predictions" cropped up, together with the idea that god must be the designer.

Does everyone go along with these positions??

This is what bugs me. Firstly, the hypothesis that some or all aspect of our biology were designed by some intelligent agent is not, on the face of it, unreasonable. And subject to reasonable assumptions, this hypothesis certainly does make some predictions. Well designed artifacts are designed for a specific purpose: so we should expect to be able to divine purpose from design. Designs are usually 'cleaned up', so for example while an engineering drawing might need a whole lot of construction lines to aid in drawing it, those construction lines are removed in the final blueprint. If designs do evolve, designers usually re-factor, so for example if a programmer extends a piece of software and finds the original architecture was inadequate, he will (if he is a good programmer) re-design and strip out any old code that is no longer needed. Designs often require configuration management and attribution, so you might expect to find something like version numbers or signatures or copyright notices on them. Designs often evolve in quantum leaps, in which some change or improvement is accompanied by a radical departure from a previous architecture. Designs are usually modular and attempt to create minimal interfaces between components in order to manage complexity. And so on and so on.

These are all things we might reasonably expect to find in designed artifacts, and are things I would expect to follow from the intelligent design hypothesis. While not strictly speaking 'predictions' in a rigorous sense, identification of any one of these features would be taken as support for the intelligent design hypothesis. The absence of any one of these features can of course be explained away in any variety of ways, usually by special pleading, so absence does not absolutely disprove intelligent design. But absence certainly makes the ID hypothesis less tenable.

With the exception of quantum leaps in architecture for which Behe coined the term "Irreducible complexity", the ID'ers seem to have entirely ignored these other expected features of intelligently designed artifacts. Needless to say, this is because there is a total absence of such features to be found anywhere in biology, and irreducible complexity currently amounts to little more than argument from ignorance or personal incredulity. But why is the ID hypothesis simply being dismissed as 'unscientific'? It's a reasonable hypothesis, it does make predictions of a sort, so why aren't the bastards being called out and made to explain why their designer designs with all the smarts of a drunken coot?

Then the second point: the presumption that the designer must be god. No, this doesn't follow, maybe the Raelians are right and some space-alien did it. We know of at least one (semi) intelligent natural agent in this universe, and the most reasonable assumption is that if there has been intelligent designing going on, then it was done by some other intelligent natural agent; which may, for all we know, have evolved naturally. But again, god gets introduced and makes himself at home every time ID is discussed, whereas god is a complete non-sequitur. Why are the ID'ers allowed to run away over the hill with god every time?

I realise this has turned into a rant; but don't you think that ID'ers should rather be challenged on the absense of evidence for reasonably predictions made by ID, rather than just dismissing ID with the claim that it makes no predictions?

Charlie Monoxide
9th November 2007, 03:36 PM
Dang, that sounds interesting. I'm downloading the podcast as I write this.

Perhaps this should be posted in the podcast forum? http://forums.randi.org/forumdisplay.php?f=79

Charlie (TGIF POI and Radiolab) Monoxide

cyborg
9th November 2007, 04:38 PM
Designs are usually 'cleaned up'

So those that have not been are 'evolved'?

CaptainManacles
10th November 2007, 02:50 AM
Intelligent design, in the form that they present it, makes no predictions. Yeah, eraser lines are fine and dandy for architecture drawings, but GOD doesn't need such limitations, man. If you want to specify a designer and his motivations and limitations and such, then yeah, you have a theory going on, and you could even find evidence for such a thing in like, a blueprint for the human that existed before the earth was created. Irreduceable complexity doesn't even imply design, it only excludes evolution. The possibility of spontanous emergence of complexity or degredation from a more complex source still exist.

Charlie Monoxide
10th November 2007, 12:35 PM
OK, I listened to the podcast. Behe sounded very nervous and seemed to be waiting for BJ (interviewer IIRC) to be the attack dog. BJ wasn't and tried to be respectful of Behe, but still pushed Behe's catholic belief.

Behe just presented the tired old arguments that ID seems to think that proves their cause. (ie since evolution doesn't explain and provide proof for everything it should be tossed out for this wonderful theory that needs a supernatural being). Ho hum ....

Charlie (enjoy the dialogue, know the BS artists) mOnOxide

ChristineR
10th November 2007, 12:56 PM
As was said, ID in its current form is unconcerned with anything except complexity. There are a ridiculous number of features that are not consistent with design as we know it, but as there is nothing to stop a designer from designing us to work exactly as if we evolved through random mutation and natural selection, there is no place to go with that.

As for the identity of the designer, that gets interesting. ID is actually only taken seriously by a small number of Christian scientists who will go out of their way to tell you it doesn't preclude Rael and company from being the designer. But the overwhelming majority of ID advocates are actually creationists, who are only bothering with ID at all because they don't understand the math and think they can get it taught in science classes.

I also heard the Behe interview, and he out and out said that the people who say the world is six thousand years old are wrong. But really, even if Behe did prove that the world has design elements, that wouldn't resolve creationism vs. evolution. It's likely that a young, created universe would show elements of design, although it is not absolutely required. The overwhelming majority of Behe's friends think he's another deluded heathen, which must be a pretty depressing position for him.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
10th November 2007, 01:50 PM
The IDers need a new tack. This "gosh, that's pretty durn complicated to have evolved by random mutations" shtick is getting tired. I suggest they pick one designed biological mechanism and point out the part where god poked the genome to hack the mechanism into existence.

~~Paul

Unalienable
10th November 2007, 02:11 PM
From the podcast:

"Intelligent Design is the contention that some things in Nature are better explained as the result of an intelligent agent than by laws, chance, and so on." -- Behe

If that's really all that ID is, then I agree with ID; I think we all do. The real debate comes later, when we ask ourselves, which things fit into which category?

ID most definitely makes predictions. If I show Michael Behe a stone in the approximate shape of an arrowhead, I would hope he could make a prediction as to whether it was the result of an intelligent agent shaping it, or just a chance formation. Of course he could never be 100% certain--this is, after all, a probabilistic exercise--but I would hope that he could make a prediction. If he can't, then ID theory is worthless.

Wowbagger
10th November 2007, 02:27 PM
ID makes no testable predictions, because we can not seem to be able to test for the existence, none-the-less attributes, of the Designer.

ID makes no predictions that can advance science, because claiming something has "characteristics of design" does not really explain how that design came about. It merely tries to end the inquiry. Whereas evolution has a knack for advancing science, by actually finding explanations for things.

So, although ID can, in layman's terms, "make predictions", it does not do so in a scientific sense.

T'ai Chi
10th November 2007, 02:32 PM
The IDers need a new tack. This "gosh, that's pretty durn complicated to have evolved by random mutations" shtick is getting tired. I suggest they pick one designed biological mechanism and point out the part where god poked the genome to hack the mechanism into existence.

Better to prove stuff using simulations.

Wowbagger
10th November 2007, 03:28 PM
Evolution is a stochastic process. Stochastic means random. That's not any type of 'misleading', that's a scientific fact.
Actually, stochastic more accurately means "non-deterministic". There is a subtle difference: "Random", in the everyday sense, is similar to "unpredicatable". Where as something "non-deterministic" could be predicted, if we could take all the variables into consideration, but realistically, we can not. Chaos theory, and all that.

At any rate, evolution is not really "random", in the everyday sense. That is scientific fact. To say otherwise is to be misleading.

cyborg
10th November 2007, 03:34 PM
UGH. It's a continuum people - not a strict random/non-random divide. You describe each system using the other - they completely overlap.

mijopaalmc
10th November 2007, 04:11 PM
UGH. It's a continuum people - not a strict random/non-random divide. You describe each system using the other - they completely overlap.

Actually, there is no continuum when discussing the mathematical formalism of randomness in probability theory. If a function is defined on a probability measure, it is a random variable and its value can be said to be random. If a function is not defined on a probability measure, it is not a random variable and its value can be said to be non-random. Chaotic systems are not defined on probability measures and are therefore not random. However, they do display apparently random behavior because they are sensitively dependent on initial conditions.

cyborg
10th November 2007, 04:22 PM
If X is indistinguishable from Y saying X was caused by P and Y was caused by Q and P is not Q doesn't really mean a hell of a lot from where I'm sitting.

Wowbagger
10th November 2007, 04:22 PM
UGH. It's a continuum people - not a strict random/non-random divide. You describe each system using the other - they completely overlap. Evolution is continuous, but it is not some purely random continuous process. It is a difficult-to-predict continuous process, but only because the astronomical number of variables involved. Ramdomness (in the everyday sense) and chance have nothing to do with it.

If a function is defined on a probability measure, it is a random variable and its value can be said to be random. If a function is not defined on a probability measure, it is not a random variable and its value can be said to be non-random. Chaotic systems are not defined on probability measures and are therefore not random. However, they do display apparently random behavior because they are sensitively dependent on initial conditions. That is another way of saying it. (Although, I doubt the average Joe would understand it.)

cyborg
10th November 2007, 04:28 PM
[quote]It is a difficult-to-predict continuous process, but only because the astronomical number of variables involved. Ramdomness (in the everyday sense) and chance have nothing to do with it.

That is, I feel, rather presuming there is a meaningful distinction to make using "randomness" in this way.

It is, after all, a purely abstract concept.

And if one purely abstract concept is indistinguishable in expression from another purely abstract concept we say that these abstract concepts are the same.

The point I am trying to get across here that it doesn't really give any insight into a thing to say it is, "random" or it is "not random" since the sets of behaviours that this encompasses is infinite (and overlapping). It's just not meaningfully summarizable in that way.

Wowbagger
10th November 2007, 04:36 PM
That is, I feel, rather presuming there is a meaningful distinction to make using "randomness" in this way.

It is, after all, a purely abstract concept.

And if one purely abstract concept is indistinguishable in expression from another purely abstract concept we say that these abstract concepts are the same.

The point I am trying to get across here that it doesn't really give any insight into a thing to say it is, "random" or it is "not random" since the sets of behaviours that this encompasses is infinite (and overlapping). It's just not meaningfully summarizable in that way. It's the application that matters.
I brought this up because some people think evolution is "impossible", simply because the chances of a "random" process coming up with life forms are astronomical. Just like, say, a tornado hitting a junk yard, making a perfectly flyable 747 out of the pieces of rubbish.

My point is that such "randomness" has nothing really to do with evolution. The 747 example is a fallacy. A persistent one, perhaps, but silly when one understands the actual process.

cyborg
10th November 2007, 04:44 PM
Yes Wowbagger, I am quite familiar with this.

The fact that people don't think through the implications of the alternative scenario (namely the fact that the building of the 747 has taken several thousand years of civilisation to achieve with numerous developments in a wide range of scientific fields to make it possible - uh, hardly the 'goddidit' alternative to 'randomness') means that simply stating "it's not random," isn't really much more meaningful either.

If it's not "random" then how is it not so is the more important point - i.e. if we're going to distinguish the process of evolution from the process of frying an egg we'd better be a little more specific than simply saying the processes are "not random."

mijopaalmc
10th November 2007, 04:58 PM
My point is that such "randomness" has nothing really to do with evolution. The 747 example is a fallacy. A persistent one, perhaps, but silly when one understands the actual process.

Actually, that's where you're wrong. Each phenotype confers a probability of survival upon its possessor and that makes natural selection random by definition. However, this does not mean that evolution by natural selection impossible or even improbable, because random process tend to converge on their expected values if the selection criteria remain constant, which they more or less do for long periods of time in evolution by natural selection. In other words, T'ai Chi is not wrong when he say the evolution is random because it is a stochastic process; he is wrong when he says that evolution by natural selection cannot happen because it is random.

articulett
10th November 2007, 05:01 PM
Yes... all ID is about the silly notion that scientists think this all came about randomly... because if people focus on random, maybe they won't understand the power of natural selection over time. Darwins theory was all about natural selection--not randomness... randomness is easy to understand. How natural selection works is a little more difficult to intuit, but it allows us to readily see how complex systems evolve over time based on replication of "information that is good at getting itself copied". A designer isn't needed... just information that is good at getting itself copied into the future, an environment that selects, and time.

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/tooby.html

Heads up to wowbagger, mijo is a creationist... he's really NOT saying anything just like it sounds like... just like Behe... he cannot convey a comprehensive understanding of natural selection so he aims to obfuscate and pretend you can't understand him do to your own lack of knowledge on the subject. The more he says, the less you'll understand him.

mijopaalmc
10th November 2007, 05:16 PM
Heads up to wowbagger, mijo is a creationist

Heads up Wowbagger, articulett is lying.

Believeing that evolution is a stochastic process does not make me a creationist.

Believing that evolution cannot occur because it is a stochastic process would make me a creationist or at least and evolution denier.

I do the former and not the later.

articulett
10th November 2007, 05:25 PM
To reiterate Dawkins review of Behe's book:

First Dawkins quotes a passage of the tome:

The crucial passage in “The Edge of Evolution” is this: “By far the most critical aspect of Darwin’s multifaceted theory is the role of random mutation. Almost all of what is novel and important in Darwinian thought is concentrated in this third concept.”

And then he goes in for the kill.

What a bizarre thing to say! Leave aside the history: unacquainted with genetics, Darwin set no store by randomness. New variants might arise at random, or they might be acquired characteristics induced by food, for all Darwin knew. Far more important for Darwin was the nonrandom process whereby some survived but others perished. Natural selection is arguably the most momentous idea ever to occur to a human mind, because it — alone as far as we know — explains the elegant illusion of design that pervades the living kingdoms and explains, in passing, us. Whatever else it is, natural selection is not a “modest” idea, nor is descent with modification.

Dawkins is someone whom many conveys understanding of evolution to many.... Behe is one who confuses understanding of evolution for many.

When you see someone trying to equate evolution with randomness-- you've got someone who does not understand nor can they convey natural selection to anyone. You've got Behe, T'ai, and Mijo.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/01/books/review/Dawkins-t.html
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/dawkins.html
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/selfish06/selfish06_indexx.html#ridley

Here is Behe's amazon blog for those interested in how the creationist mind spins reality: http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/A3DGRQ0IO7KYQ2

cyborg
10th November 2007, 05:30 PM
Look mijo you bring this **** up every time and you have been shown every time that your view is basically pointless. Why are you attached to labels so?

articulett
10th November 2007, 05:30 PM
The IDers need a new tack. This "gosh, that's pretty durn complicated to have evolved by random mutations" shtick is getting tired. I suggest they pick one designed biological mechanism and point out the part where god poked the genome to hack the mechanism into existence.

~~Paul
Well, doesn't his new book suggest that god made malaria or something?

For a divine entity, he sure is a slow, bumbling, wasteful, cruel, inefficient and unnecessary tinkerer.

Wowbagger
10th November 2007, 05:34 PM
If it's not "random" then how is it not so is the more important point - i.e. if we're going to distinguish the process of evolution from the process of frying an egg we'd better be a little more specific than simply saying the processes are "not random." Okay, good enough point!

Evolution is a process by which cumulative adaptations take place, that are driven by the fitness landscape. Each "step" of the adaptation could yield several varieties of small mutations that lead to the next "step" in the adaption. Each possible mutation has a very likely probability of occurring. Which one actually gets selected is driven by the environment (or "fitness landscape") the life form happens to be in.

The end result could look like a complex, improbable structure, to the layman. But, only until that person investigates the history of the environment and the life form's genome, to uncover the cumulative steps that lead to it.

I could go on, if anyone needs it. Any further questions?

Actually, that's where you're wrong. Each phenotype confers a probability of survival upon its possessor and that makes natural selection random by definition. Depends on your definition of random. It's the multiple meanings of that word that make be abhor it, when discussing evolution.

By using the word in a different context, I could legitimately say that natural selection is NOT random, by definition, because each gene's survival is dependent on the how the fitness landscape treats the collective phenotypic effects of all the genes in the life form. (generally speaking)

T'ai Chi is not wrong when he say the evolution is random because it is a stochastic process; he is wrong when he says that evolution by natural selection cannot happen because it is random. Again, it depends on the definition of "random". But, in the context of T'ai Chi's signature, he seems to think evolution is worthy of contempt, because it is "random".

T'ai Chi can correct me if I am wrong about the contemptuous nature of his sig, though.

Heads up to wowbagger, mijo is a creationist. You seem to accuse a lot of people of being "creationists". I don't think that word means what you think it does.

Where does mijopaalmc indicate that he is a creationist?

articulett
10th November 2007, 05:52 PM
Where does mijopaalmc indicate that he is a creationist?

It's the code words... you'll see. Behe will say he isn't a creationist either. It's the insistence than evolution really is random... that Dawkins is wrong and unclear when he says that natural selection is not random and that whatever it is they are saying is somehow more clear. It's mostly the inability to convey natural selection ... the way they confuse more than clarify... ask questions they don't want the answer to... dis Dawkins at every turn. I could give you links if you want--check out the threads he's started with smarmy loaded questions of the creationist type. I'm just trying to keep you from getting into digression land regarding whether evolution is random-- but pay no heed to me.

There are some people who sound an awfully lot like Behe... and I've just been around it so much that it jumps out at me-- Mijo is one of those people. But maybe someone somewhere will tell me something that Mijo has helped clarify for them.

Some people explain things and converse so that both of you seem to be learning more and some people seem to use a lot of words but never quite say anything. Behe, for example.

(And calling someone a creationist isn't nearly as bad as calling them a liar. I promise you I've never called anyone a creationist who hasn't called me something worse first.) What do you make of people who insist on using randomness to describe evolution... and what do you think of Dawkins commentary on this bizarre insistence? To me, another clue is when they use Behe terminology such as continually referring to the cell as the replicator rather than the DNA... they confuse the ability for a beneficial mutation to get itself copied with an organisms ability to copy it's genetic information. There is just this funny way they have of implying certain things without actually saying anything... like the way Behe' infers there is something wrong with evolution without offering an iota of anything for any alternative theory.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
10th November 2007, 06:08 PM
Better to prove stuff using simulations.
I agree. Finding the place where god poked the genome is going to end up looking like this:

http://www.hnabooks.com/product/show/3071

Do you honestly believe that biologists use Ev as proof that information can arise from evolution?

~~Paul

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
10th November 2007, 06:15 PM
Look mijo you bring this **** up every time and you have been shown every time that your view is basically pointless. Why are you attached to labels so?
Evolution shall be random.

~~Paul

T'ai Chi
10th November 2007, 06:17 PM
Do you honestly believe that biologists use Ev as proof that information can arise from evolution?

A better question is do you honestly believe that IDers hold that "god poked the genome".

(Aside to others: Note Paul's use of "god" and "biologists". Not so subtly suggesting that people who believe in ID hold a designer to be god, and also cannot be biologists.)

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
10th November 2007, 06:29 PM
A better question is do you honestly believe that IDers hold that "god poked the genome".
Either that, or they believe that god set it all up at the beginning so that it would progress naturalistically in the exact way it has progressed. But the trouble with this scenario is succinctly specified in my second sig line.

By all means, tell us what you think happened.

(Aside to others: Note Paul's use of "god" and "biologists". Not so subtly suggesting that people who believe in ID hold a designer to be god, and also cannot be biologists.)
Can you find me a rational IDer who holds that the designer is something other than god? It doesn't count to find an IDer who won't take a stand at all. My statement about biologists was completely separate and I made no implication about IDers as biologists.

~~Paul

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
10th November 2007, 06:37 PM
Nope, no one would be so silly as to suggest any sort of poking.

http://www.islamic-world.net/intldes.php

When God decides the time is right to create biological life He commands that His Will be done and sends messengers of Light from the spiritual existence to the physical universe instructing the necessary molecular forms He had already created to join together in the new, more complex relationship of simple biological life.

~~Paul

mijopaalmc
10th November 2007, 06:40 PM
Evolution shall be random.

~~Paul

So you found that all-elusive piece of evidence that demonstrates all individuals of given phenotypes survive while all individuals of other phenotypes perish?

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
10th November 2007, 06:48 PM
So you found that all-elusive piece of evidence that demonstrates all individuals of given phenotypes survive while all individuals of other phenotypes perish?
Mijo, we've had this conversation before. You know what I mean when I say that some people insist "evolution shall be random." I mean that they insist on calling it random without additional clarifying explanation for the newbies. And that is precisely what T'ai's sig line says.

Why do you suppose some people insist on starkly terse statements that mislead people?

By the way, it could be the case that some individuals survive and some perish for entirely deterministic reasons.

~~Paul

mijopaalmc
10th November 2007, 06:53 PM
Mijo, we've had this conversation before. You know what I mean when I say that some people insist "evolution shall be random." I mean that they insist on calling it random without additional clarifying explanation for the newbies. And that is precisely what T'ai's sig line says.

Why do you suppose some people insist on starkly terse statements that mislead people?

By the way, it could be the case that some individuals survive and some perish for entirely deterministic reasons.

~~Paul

I was mislead by your starkly terse comment

I apologize.

joobz
10th November 2007, 06:54 PM
There is just this funny way they have of imply certain things without actually saying anything... like the way Behe' infers there is something wrong with evolution without offering an iota of anything for any alternative theory.

And that seems to be the single most powerful part of their strategy. It allows others, who are even less informed, to make statements such as
"I'm just not convinced by the evolutionary hypothesis."
"There are just too many holes in the theory of evolution..."

The funny part is that they masquerade with a skeptic's aire, knowing that incredulity is a typical position a scientist will take. But it's like watching a 1 year old pound on the keyboard. He's pretending to be daddy and may convince other 1 year olds that he is, but he isn't actually writing anything.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
10th November 2007, 06:56 PM
I was mislead by your starkly terse comment.
Touche.

~~Paul

Wowbagger
10th November 2007, 07:12 PM
It's the code words... you'll see. Behe will say he isn't a creationist either. His actions speak louder than his own words, though. There is plenty of evidence demonstrating he is a Creationist, if he admits it or not. Intelligent Design, after all, implies the basic gist of creationism.

It's the insistence than evolution really is random... that Dawkins is wrong and unclear when he says that natural selection is not random and that whatever it is they are saying is somehow more clear. It's mostly the inability to convey natural selection ... the way they confuse more than clarify... ask questions they don't want the answer to... dis Dawkins at every turn. I could give you links if you want--check out the threads he's started with smarmy loaded questions of the creationist type. I'm just trying to keep you from getting into digression land regarding whether evolution is random-- but pay no heed to me. I think this is more of a semantics battle, than a creation vs. evolution battle. Just because we are arguing what is "random" or not, does not necessarily mean one of the parties must be a creationist!

It seems Mijo thinks evolution is valid, he just disagrees on what constitutes randomness in it.

Some people explain things and converse so that both of you seem to be learning more and some people seem to use a lot of words but never quite say anything. Behe, for example. Just because someone uses a lot of words, without "saying anything", does not automatically mean the person is a Creationist. I think you are jumping the gun.

A creationist is one who thinks life could not have emerged naturally, but had to be created by some pre-existing outside entity of some sort. Behe is searching for one, true. But, near as I can tell, Mijo is not, (based on his posts here, anyway).

(And calling someone a creationist isn't nearly as bad as calling them a liar. I promise you I've never called anyone a creationist who hasn't called me something worse first.) You should call people what they are. If you find evidence that someone knowingly told a mistruth, you can call them a liar. Not all liars are creationists. Not all creationists are really liars: some are delusional.

What do you make of people who insist on using randomness to describe evolution... and what do you think of Dawkins commentary on this bizarre insistence? It depends on what you mean by Random. Dawkins, himself, used the word, when he says evolution is "Non-random adaptation from random mutations". But, he then goes on to explain those mutations are only "random" as to whether or not they will benefit the life form.
For this reason, I prefer to use "indifferent", instead of "random". But, whatever.

To me, another clue is when they use Behe terminology such as continually referring to the cell as the replicator rather than the DNA... they confuse the ability for a beneficial mutation to get itself copied with an organisms ability to copy it's genetic information. There is just this funny way they have of imply certain things without actually saying anything... like the way Behe' infers there is something wrong with evolution without offering an iota of anything for any alternative theory. Just because someone erroneously thinks the cell is the ultimate replicator in contemporary life forms, instead of the gene; does not automatically make one a Creationist.
Until I read The Selfish Gene, and other material about genetics, I thought the cell was the ultimte replicator, as well. And, I was never a Creationist.

Evolution shall be random. Well, if Paul declares it so, then that means it must be true!! :rolleyes:

A better question is do you honestly believe that IDers hold that "god poked the genome". IDers hold that something must have been poked at. They just cannot seem to figure out what it could possibly be. (All their examples keep getting explained by evolutionary biologists, all the time. Kinda annoying, don't you think?)

(Aside to others: Note Paul's use of "god" and "biologists". Not so subtly suggesting that people who believe in ID hold a designer to be god, and also cannot be biologists.) Until you can identify what the nature of the Intelligent Designer is, we might as well use the shorthand "god" in the meantime. I am sure the Designer would be honored, no matter what its true nature actually is. :rolleyes:

articulett
10th November 2007, 07:14 PM
A better question is do you honestly believe that IDers hold that "god poked the genome".

(Aside to others: Note Paul's use of "god" and "biologists". Not so subtly suggesting that people who believe in ID hold a designer to be god, and also cannot be biologists.)

What? Actually the only people who believe in ID are people who have religious or religious type reasons for doing so-- they're people who don't understand natural selection and why it renders a god unnecessary. Sure, you can add all the invisible entities to the equation that you want to-- gods, demons, engrams... but in order for that to be science, you have to prove such entities exist. Otherwise, occams razor disposes of the riff raff, obfuscations, irrelevencies, and word games-- we aim for the facts that are the same for everybody so we can understand more and take that knowledge further. Belief that "magic" is responsible doesn't exactly encourage further exploration. Imagining that something is beyond human understanding, assures that it will be... at least for the humans who subscribe to such notions. Religion has never discovered any great truth before science... and tends to get in the way of further discovery. Science clarifies. Religions obfuscates and pretends that the mystery is something magical.

articulett
10th November 2007, 07:35 PM
And that seems to be the single most powerful part of their strategy. It allows others, who are even less informed, to make statements such as
"I'm just not convinced by the evolutionary hypothesis."
"There are just too many holes in the theory of evolution..."

The funny part is that they masquerade with a skeptic's aire, knowing that incredulity is a typical position a scientist will take. But it's like watching a 1 year old pound on the keyboard. He's pretending to be daddy and may convince other 1 year olds that he is, but he isn't actually writing anything.

Yes... and it's all about making people think they can't understand... which pisses me off. I like Dawkins and Randi because they show you that there is no "magic understanding"-- no higher truths... they give you the tools you need to help you understand-- I have no patience for the smarmy dishonesty disguised as "academic rigor" or "technical correctness" etc. I like how Sagan gives you a way of understanding the stuff he knows. And I chafe at those who purposefully obfuscate understanding because they imagine themselves teachers while being impervious to what they have yet to learn. Behe could understand evolution--but he bends over backwards to make sure he doesn't understand it and others don't either so that he can use his pedantry to pretend like he's saying something of value while saying nothing at all. He never really says what exactly he believes...never proffers a claim you can test--he just casts aspersions on evolution and hopes that people see that as merit for a designer. He won't let you pin him down on what he is saying... and the most successful obfuscaters do the same.

Such techniques do work to keep people from understanding, and thus, they evolve. What else do creationists have other than obfuscation and pedantry and inferences that the other side is wrong? They certainly don't have facts in favor of their viewpoint. And I think Judge Jones nailed it. I look forward to the Nova Special on November 13 on the topic. I would imagine that anyone who actually wanted to convey understanding to others on the topic would use the words and terminology and analogies of those who actually HAVE conveyed understanding to others on the topic instead of speaking in a manner indistinguishable from known woo. (Beware of folks who speak as though they are experts on a subject that no one else seems to recognize their expertise in.)

T'ai Chi
11th November 2007, 02:30 AM
By all means, tell us what you think happened.

Like you, I think time+chance+magic.

Can you find me a rational IDer who holds that the designer is something other than god?

The ones who just say 'designer' and not 'god'? By logic that allows for non-god designers. What they personally feel about it is irrelevant to the theory.

Now can you find me an atheist who doesn't believe Darwin didn't make it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist?

I guess it is shocking news that alll 'grand' theories have some implication for other parts of life.

T'ai Chi
11th November 2007, 02:39 AM
Nope, no one would be so silly as to suggest any sort of poking.

http://www.islamic-world.net/intldes.php

Well gee, let's find some scientist (n=1) with wacko beliefs, then graft that belief on to apply to all scientists (n = many).

Shouldn't be too hard: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_D._Watson#Opinion_concerning_the_possible_li nks_between_race_and_intelligence

Ok. According to your argument, scientists believe some people are less than others based on race.

FireGarden
11th November 2007, 03:40 AM
On evolution being random.

Try this: http://math.hws.edu/xJava/GA/
Go to the world design menu, select for "plants" to grow in rows or along the bottom or whatever. Run the program. It involves random choices, but is the outcome random? Or do the "animals" evolve strategies to take advantage of the way the plants grow? I'm not saying I can predict which strategy will come about. Just that a strategy will come about. If you want to consider it random, then I give odds of almost 1

In the same way,
Evolution does not favour a particular outcome. A lot of people confuse Natural History (a specific example of life evolving) with evolution itself. The particular history of life on Earth is one history of many that were possible. There is nothing in the theory of evolution that predicts humanity -- in many possible natural histories, we would not exist.

So I would agree that the word "random" is not sufficient to describe evolution. At most, it is our natural history that was random. History could certianly have gone other ways. But evolution itself predicts that selection pressures will favour changes in the population that lead to greater success.

That is not random.
In the example above, you will see the "animals" get better (up to a point) generation after generation. Occasionally, there is a crash in the success of the population. You can change the chances of that by changing the odds of mutation. It's a small example, of course, with only one criteria for selection and only room for one population. but still a good illustration.

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 04:41 AM
What I believe:

Evolution is a fact.

While there are many scientists who will say that evolution is non-random, I find that statement less than convincing when they go on to say that adaptation increases an organisms probability of survival, because the only self-consistent definition of "random" (i.e., the only definition that explain how a random variable can be conditional, non-uniformly distributed, exist on a bounded interval and still be called "random") is "[o]f or relating to a type of circumstance or event that is described by a probability distribution". In other words, saying that evolution is non-random and then going on to describe it terms of probability is inherently contradictory. However, this by far does not mean that evolution cannot happen, because a large number of stochastic processes (are defined roughly as indexed sets of random variables) converge of expected values if the selection criteria remain relatively constant.

T'ai Chi
11th November 2007, 04:42 AM
Try this: http://math.hws.edu/xJava/GA/
Go to the world design menu, select for "plants" to grow in rows or along the bottom or whatever. Run the program. It involves random choices, but is the outcome random?

Yes, it is random in every sense of the scientific meaning of the word (stochastic).

That's why words like

random
mutation
average
prediction
chance
probability
statistics
sometimes
tend to

etc.

are used in the description and the actual code.

No one is saying it is random in the sense that 'everything is random' or 'all inputs are random' or 'nothing deterministic goes on'. But when you have a non-trivial function (ie. one that must be capable of producing change/novelty we observe in real life) that is a function of random variables, the whole thing is technically a random variable.

Of course, one could argue we ultimately we see behavior rules designed into the program, or the actual code itself being designed. ;)

JoeEllison
11th November 2007, 04:53 AM
Ahh... one again, the ID camp proves that they and their positions are intellectually and ethically bankrupt. WONDERFUL!

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 05:04 AM
Ahh... one again, the ID camp proves that they and their positions are intellectually and ethically bankrupt. WONDERFUL!

Would you care to explain how describing evolution as random is dishonest using examples from probability theory?

You seem to have missed the part where the dishonest thing is to claim that evolution cannot occur if it is random.

cyborg
11th November 2007, 05:07 AM
I wish the people here who have no real clue about what it means for things to be non/deterministic would just stop talking about "random" and "stochastic" processes as if they really knew the relationships between these things.

FireGarden
11th November 2007, 06:32 AM
Yes, it is random in every sense of the scientific meaning of the word (stochastic).

A particular outcome is random. Yes.
But you miss the distinction: Evolution isn't a particular outcome.

Evolution is a change in the frequency of traits within a population. The theory of evolution tells us how we expect things to change: selection pressures will tend to increase the frequency of traits that aid in competition.

No one is saying it is random in the sense that 'everything is random' or 'all inputs are random' or 'nothing deterministic goes on'. But when you have a non-trivial function (ie. one that must be capable of producing change/novelty we observe in real life) that is a function of random variables, the whole thing is technically a random variable.

What is the process by which things fall through a sieve? Whether a particular item falls through depends on: Being put in the sieve; meeting a hole as it moves randomly around the sieve; the size of the hole and the object. These you can choose from a random distribution.

But is the result of sieving random? No. We all know what is going to happen in the broad sense.

Evolution is like the result of sieving. It's not random in that sense. Because it is bringing order to the system.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
11th November 2007, 06:35 AM
The ones who just say 'designer' and not 'god'? By logic that allows for non-god designers. What they personally feel about it is irrelevant to the theory.
But we weren't talking about the theory, were we? We were talking about people who believe in ID. Find me a rational one who thinks the IDer is something other than god.

Also, how is it irrelevant to the theory, unless you agree that the theory is stagnant and no attempt shall be made to determine the source of the intelligent design? This is like Mendel determining that there is some mechanism for inheritance, and then everyone refusing to go any further to discover genes. I guess you'd say genes are irrelevant to the theory of evolution.

~~Paul

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
11th November 2007, 06:56 AM
Well gee, let's find some scientist (n=1) with wacko beliefs, then graft that belief on to apply to all scientists (n = many).
Who's talking about scientists, and who is talking about everyone holding the same belief? You said:

A better question is do you honestly believe that IDers hold that "god poked the genome".
Yes, some IDers do hold that god poked the genome. I gave you an example.

Oh look, a philosophical discussion of this very question:

And another, using a special word to name the situation where god chooses not to intervene:

~~Paul

T'ai Chi
11th November 2007, 07:24 AM
A particular outcome is random. Yes.
But you miss the distinction: Evolution isn't a particular outcome.

So you're saying a function of random outcomes is not itself random. Aren't you trying to redefine what a stochastic process is.

What is the process by which things fall through a sieve? Whether a particular item falls through depends on: Being put in the sieve; meeting a hole as it moves randomly around the sieve; the size of the hole and the object. These you can choose from a random distribution.

But is the result of sieving random? No. We all know what is going to happen in the broad sense.

Well, again, you're just talking about selection. Of course, evolution is more than just selection. So evolution is random. Selection is not. Didn't we already cover this? :)

T'ai Chi
11th November 2007, 07:27 AM
Who's talking about scientists, and who is talking about everyone holding the same belief?

Well, just an example of you extrapolating wildly, that's all.

cyborg
11th November 2007, 07:28 AM
I wish the people here who have no real clue about what it means for things to be non/deterministic would just stop talking about "random" and "stochastic" processes as if they really knew the relationships between these things.

Because it needs to be repeated.

So you're saying a function of random outcomes is not itself random. Aren't you trying to redefine what a stochastic process is.

T'ai Chi
11th November 2007, 07:47 AM
Find me a rational one who thinks the IDer is something other than god.

Antony Flew and David Berlinski come to mind as people who consider a designer can be something other than 'god'. Of course many explicitly say they allow for any designer to be something other than 'god'. But apparently by asking for examples of specific people, I can tell you don't get that a person's beliefs are irrelevant to what a theory says. Much like Watson's racist views on race and intelligence are irrelevant to the science.

Also, how is it irrelevant to the theory, unless you agree that the theory is stagnant and no attempt shall be made to determine the source of the intelligent design?

Well that's obvious enough, since science asks questions like 'if' design occured, not 'does the designer like long walks on the beach?'. If you personally equate ignoring things outside a theory to the theory being stagnant, well, that's your choice, but I dont see much good logic in it.

Maybe an identity other than 'higher intelligence' is somewhat unobtainable to know, kind of like knowing how everything started given a naturalistic worldview, eh?

articulett
11th November 2007, 09:05 AM
Because it needs to be repeated.

I feel your pain. The least competent on a subject continually imagine themselves the most competent confusing those who might actually be capable of learning something from the many fine minds who can convey information well.

I am quite certain that I could develop an algorithm where you could not tell if you were talking to an actual "intelligent design proponent" or a chatterbot. The loops and digressions are always the same. They leave the conversation at the same point to digress on the same topics and ignore exactly the same things. They all sound like they kind of know what they are talking about (to an untrained ear), but the more you read, the more you realize that they are as full of crap as Behe and Dembski. They just aren't saying anything.

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 09:14 AM
I feel your pain. The least competent on a subject continually imagine themselves the most competent confusing those who might actually be capable of learning something from the many fine minds who can convey information well.

I am quite certain that I could develop an algorithm where you could not tell if you were talking to an actual "intelligent design proponent" or a chatterbot. The loops and digressions are always the same. They leave the conversation at the same point to digress on the same topics and ignore exactly the same things. They all sound like they kind of know what they are talking about (to an untrained ear), but the more you read, the more you realize that they are as full of crap as Behe and Dembski. They just aren't saying anything.

You know, it's really interesting how articulett automatically assumes that people who disagree with her have nothing useful to say.

articulett
11th November 2007, 09:33 AM
Would you care to explain how describing evolution as random is dishonest using examples from probability theory?

You seem to have missed the part where the dishonest thing is to claim that evolution cannot occur if it is random.

Say... why did you assume he was talking to you? Oopsy, did you give yourself away, here.

And who says I was talking about you? I assume that those who don't engage in actual conversation like T'ai have nothing useful to say... interesting that you see yourself in that category. You give yourself away by the stuff that you respond to that wasn't said to you.

Of course, I understand why you might think people are talking about you. As you can observe with T'ai-- when skeptics can't engage people, they lessen their frustration by talking about them. Those who are sure they have much to teach but are clueless about what they have to learn tend to invite this sort of reaction. They abuse the good will of people who might actually teach them something while elevating their own pompous ignorance with every oozing word of nothingness they blather.

Out of curiosity, how do you see your conversational skills and points being different than T'ai? How do you imagine this order and seeming design comes from this randomness you are so fond of focusing on? And what do you think of Dawkins review of Behe's book, and how is your position different than Behe's? http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/01/books/review/Dawkins-t.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

You've been shown this multiple times... so what is your reason again for continuing to insist that it's informative to sum up evolution in regards to randomness while completely ignoring or failing to convey natural selection?

Wowbagger
11th November 2007, 09:58 AM
You know, it's really interesting how articulett automatically assumes that people who disagree with her have nothing useful to say.
Well, in the cases of Behe and Dembski, she is right: Neither have anything useful to say.

However, does she seem to be a bit too quick with the accusations of "uselessness" and "creationist", lately.

I would encourage her to read entire posts, not just the first sentance or two, before jumping to such conclusions. (She might have originally accused you of being a "creationist", simply because you began one of your replies to me with "that's where you're wrong", and didn't read until the part where you state evolution is still viable.)

FireGarden
11th November 2007, 10:33 AM
So you're saying a function of random outcomes is not itself random. Aren't you trying to redefine what a stochastic process is.

f(x)=(2+x)/(x+1)

Here's a process:
1) Let x be a random real number between 0 and 1
2) calculate f(x)
3) x := f(x)
4) goto 2

Is this process random?
Try it a few times.

I don't think the process is random. It involves a randomly chosen number. But the output is determined in the sense that it tends to something.

I'm sure a more complicated example could be given in which many random numbers were chosen, and which could lead to the output of a variety of things (rather than just a single number). In fact, I'm sure the evolution example I linked to does just that.

There is set of strategies that the animals can find to increase the number of plants they eat. Which of these strategies they find isn't determined. But I predict that if you run the program, then you will get one.

The program is more like a search algorithm than a random number generator. It's searching the space of possible "animals" and is programmed to find those that fit the selection criteria. That is why I don't regard it as random.

Similarly,
increase the range of x in step one above.
You will sometimes get -root(2) and sometimes +root(2)
Sometimes you will get a divide by zero error.

Which outcome? I agree that is random.
But the process by which you get to that outcome is not.

eta: except for the input, of course, which I included as part of the process -- steps 2,3,4 are not random.

eta2: search algorithm comparison.

articulett
11th November 2007, 11:12 AM
Well, in the cases of Behe and Dembski, she is right: Neither have anything useful to say.

However, does she seem to be a bit too quick with the accusations of "uselessness" and "creationist", lately.

I would encourage her to read entire posts, not just the first sentance or two, before jumping to such conclusions. (She might have originally accused you of being a "creationist", simply because you began one of your replies to me with "that's where you're wrong", and didn't read until the part where you state evolution is still viable.)

I assure you-- I've read much more than you seem to have. I welcome anyone who has actually engaged him to the extent that I have-- such as Cyborg... to offer up their conclusions. By the way... Behe says evolution is viable too. I suggest you find the difference between what Mijo is saying and what Behe is saying... I've been looking and asking for some time. I suggest you ask yourself why Mijo has concluded that his mealy mouthed way of describing evolution is more correct and explanatory than Dawkins. Or not.

I have wrongly presumed people were NOT intelligent design proponents when they were-- but so far, I have not been wrong to the best of my knowledge in presuming people to be ID proponents when they are not. I will predict that Mijo's explanation of evolution and his focus on randomness will always be on par with Behes and always be far from Dawkins... and the closer you get to pinning him down, the more he'll digress and fling ad homs. He will always make subtle jabs towards Dawkins while doing a round about defense of Behe and other known ID supporters (like T'ai.) He isn't saying anything. You just think he is. Behe does the exact same thing. Really.

You are hearing what you want to hear from what he says. His goal is to sum up evolution as random just as Behe's is. His goal is to obfuscate understanding of natural selection-- this is THE KEY to understanding evolution and Behe and Mijo know it. So why do they obfuscate that understanding instead of conveying it eloquently like those who actually do explain evolution to others?

If anyone has found Mijo's input useful, please be sure to show me where. If anyone has found Mijo explanatory in explaining natural selection, please show me where. If Mijo has every asked a sincere question and been grateful and interested in the answer, please cut and paste. If Mijo's point is different than Behe's, show me where.

Wowbagger, you are telling me what you are concluding from what Behe says and what Mijo says. You are giving your interpretations. But just look at the words. And tell me how they differ. Tell me how T'ai differs. To say "it could all come about randomly" does not convey HOW it comes about. Mijo is arguing Behe's point that scientists think this all came about randomly. He has a whole thread where he does so. Even though he has repeatedly been show quotes where peer reviewed scientists most emphatically say "Natural Selection is NOT random"-- it is the de-randomizer-- the opposite of random. He has had many very smart people on this forum explain exactly why the way he says things is confusing in the SAME WAY as Behe... and yet he insists on summing up evolution exactly like Behe-- all the while pretending that he is saying something informative... something of value. To whom does this have value? The only value it has is to obscure how natural selection actually brings about order from entropy.

If you're fooled and desire to defend him... be by guest. I'm always open to evidence. But there are some people on this forum whom you can discuss things with forever and you aways think they are about to understand something-- but they never do... it's the Behe loop... soon you'll recognize it readily too... and maybe you'll want to warn others before they waste their time on the impervious. If there is anyone I have wrongly called an apologist or creationist (and by creationist, I mean "intelligent design" proponent) I am more than eager to see the evidence. What you call "evidence" that Mijo is not a proponent of "intelligent design" is on par with what Behe uses to try to pass himself off as scientifically knowledgeable. The printed words of both are readily available for comparison.

Once again-- if you have evidence that my terminology doesn't apply or that I am wrong-- here's a great forum for you display such evidence.

articulett
11th November 2007, 11:22 AM
As long as Intelligent Design proponents get people to think that scientists think this all happened randomly-- then god seems to make sense. But once they understand natural selection... what it really is... then any god is unnecessary.... even cruel, inefficient, and wasteful. He performs on par with a blind algorithm.

articulett
11th November 2007, 11:29 AM
To Tai et. al-- having random components does not a random process make. Although stochastic processes are often called random processes-- it's not the processes themselves that are random-- just the inputs. Just as algebraic equations can have random variables.

Firegarden, those who need to define evolution as random cannot understand the information you are giving them. They need to define evolution as random just as Behe does-- because it makes it seem murky -- unlikely. Once you actually understand natural selection-- ala "the selfish gene"-- evolution becomes obvious... clear... and god is superflous...

When you have someone focusing on the randomness of evolution, you have someone who doesn't understand evolution as well as he imagines he does. And as far as I've seen, you are unlikely to clue him in to his own ignorance. Such people have a need to believe that scientists think this all happened "randomly"-- and a need to make others think this is what scientists are saying as well (See Behe-- see Dawkins review of Behe's book.)

FireGarden
11th November 2007, 11:55 AM
To Tai et. al-- having random components does not a random process make. Although stochastic processes are often called random processes-- it's not the processes themselves that are random-- just the inputs. Just as algebraic equations can have random variables.

That says it well.
We don't know what the output will be because we don't know the input. The process of changing one to the other is itself not random.

Firegarden, those who need to define evolution as random cannot understand the information you are giving them.

I try not to make conclusions like that.

To be fair to Tai,
There is a sense in which the programme I linked to could be used as a random number generator -- just use the stats it gives. But it would be silly to do so because the programme itself uses a better random number generator as input.

If I could quantify 'better', then the argument might be easier to write down.

Ichneumonwasp
11th November 2007, 11:57 AM
Oh Christ, this discussion again?

articulett
11th November 2007, 12:13 PM
Oh Christ, this discussion again?
But of course. What else does Intelligent design have except to pretend that scientists think this all came about randomly...

So Behe was on POI spouting this usual obfuscation... and Tai' has some similar notion in his sig-- and Mijo has to say that it really is random... same ol'; same ol'

The best strategy ID has is to make sure that people don't understand natural selection. So long as people think that scientists think that life came about randomly-- they can imagine that sounds as impossible as the proverbial tornado in a junkyard assembling a 747... and so it seems like there must be a designer. But when you understand the basic algorithm of evolution...really understand it... it makes so much sense... it seems obvious, right? So I think all their energies have to go into making sure that they and others don't understand natural selection while pretending they understand it just fine.

Do you know of any intelligent design argument that doesn't rely on this notion that "scientists think this all came about randomly"? That is the only think that ID can claim to address. If it wasn't randomly-- then it was by design they infer. Scientists say, it wasn't randomly-- it was by natural selection over time-- the very opposite of random-- This is a much better explanation than top down design... but as long as nobody understands it, then top down design sounds like a viable alternative.

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 01:31 PM
The problem is that articulett hasn't actually read anything I have written since about, oh say, June. Had she actually bothered to read what I had written she would understand that saying that evolution is a random process is not a denial of the occurrence of evolution. It is merely a more accurate description of what happens during evolution.

As I have mentioned before, not every individual of a given phenotype survives and reproduces. This means that their survival is not fully determined by their phenotype and is therefore based on a probability and not a certainty. There are, however, examples where almost all individuals of a given phenotype do survive while individuals of all other phenotypes perish, but these instance are far from universal and only represent situations where the probability of survival for a given phenotype is almost 1, but not counterexamples to the premise of the evolution's randomness.

I would like to know what exactly articulett doesn't understand about this explanation and thinks is characteristic of creationist argumentation.

articulett
11th November 2007, 02:14 PM
So lets compare that with what Behe is saying about his insistence on describing evolution as random as he reacts in ire over a review of his book:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/A3DGRQ0IO7KYQ2

At the end of his essay our reviewer suddenly reveals his skill at mind reading: “It is clear that Behe is driven not by a truly scientific investigation, but instead metaphysics.” And this: “He is obsessed with ‘randomness,’ which he incorrigibly associates with ‘Darwinism’ and cosmic purposelessness.” Now, wait a darn second. Wasn’t it Darwin himself, we are constantly assured, who based his theory on “random” variation? So it’s “incorrigible” to associate with Darwin’s theory something which Darwin himself associated with it? And isn’t there a rather well-known evolutionary biologist with the initials Richard Dawkins currently traveling the world to tell us exactly that Darwinism means purposelessness?

Let's see... does Behe aim to use clearer language or does he argue a tangential reason for describing it in a way that is referred to in the wedge document? Is his goal to explain evolution or to make it sound like scientists think that evolution is random? If scientists think evolution is random-- why do they go overboard repeatedly to show how natural selection is the OPPOSITE of random. And why would someone who actually wants to convey understanding of a topic continue to insist that it's somehow clear and useful to describe things in a way that Behe does?? Especially after being shown repeatedly that this over emphasis on randomness leads to the tornado/747 strawman and doesn't convey a single thing about how natural selection over time is really responsible for complexity and the perceived design!?

I'm just curious why Behe, T'ai, and Mijo are insistent on the focusing on the random aspects of evolution while being totally unable to convey what natural selection is and how it's responsible for the incremental building of information over time. If you don't understand and can't convey natural selection-- you haven't got a means offering useful information about evolution... because you clearly don't understand what it is.

I've read it all Mijo. It's just that you never say anything. Yes, I understand that anything having to do with probability is rightfully described as random to you. I understand that you think you are being clear and that Dawkins isn't although nobody else agrees. I think everybody would find Dawkins description of why natural selection is not "random" and why it's misleading to describe it that way much clearer and easier to understand that whatever it is you and Behe are jibbering on about regarding why you are beholden to using that word.

You know that word leads to the tornado/747 analogy. You've done nothing ever to ameliorate your explanations to distinguish it from that and you insult those who convey information on the topic much better than you (like Dawkins). In fact, like Behe and T'ai you actually imagine yourself as more knowledgeable and more explanatory than him.

So, how is your understanding of evolution different than Behe's again, Mijo? And why is Dawkins less clear than you?

FireGarden
11th November 2007, 02:37 PM
As I have mentioned before, not every individual of a given phenotype survives and reproduces. This means that their survival is not fully determined by their phenotype and is therefore based on a probability and not a certainty.

But survival is still driven by cause and effect.

More importantly, it doesn't matter from the stand point of evolution. Suppose the programme I linked earlier didn't use a random number generator, but instead used 1,2,3,... as the input. ie: a non-random input. The programme would still produce the effect of searching the data space for something fitting the selection criteria.

Dawkins says it well:
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/chance/chance.html

Darwinism is widely misunderstood as a theory of pure chance. Mustn't it have done something to provoke this canard? Well, yes, there is something behind the misunderstood rumour, a feeble basis to the distortion. one stage in the Darwinian process is indeed a chance process -- mutation. Mutation is the process by which fresh genetic variation is offered up for selection and it is usually described as random. But Darwinians make the fuss they do about the 'randomness' of mutation only in order to contrast it to the non-randomness of selection.

It is not necessary that mutation should be random for natural selection to work. Selection can still do its work whether mutation is directed or not. Emphasizing that mutation can be random is our way of calling attention to the crucial fact that, by contrast, selection is sublimely and quintessentially non-random. It is ironic that this emphasis on the contrast between mutation and the non-randomness of selection has led people to think that the whole theory is a theory of chance.

Even mutations are, as a matter of fact, non-random in various senses, although these senses aren't relevant to our discussion because they don't contribute constructively to the improbable perfection of organisms. For example, mutations have well-understood physical causes, and to this extent they are non-random. ... the great majority of mutations, however caused, are random with respect to quality, and that means they are usually bad because there are more ways of getting worse than of getting better. [Dawkins 1996:70-71]

btw,
That article also mentions some evolutionists who talk of chance. So such talk doesn't always imply creationism.

Perhaps it would be clearer to say that natural selection is not random. It makes a clearer break between process and outcome. Perhaps the word "evolution" doesn't do that so well.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
11th November 2007, 02:44 PM
Well, just an example of you extrapolating wildly, that's all.
What the hell? You're the one extrapolating, T'ai:

Well gee, let's find some scientist (n=1) with wacko beliefs, then graft that belief on to apply to all scientists (n = many).
I never said that I thought all IDers believe that god pokes genomes. I did, however, ask what the alternatives are, other than god setting it all up at the beginning and then bowing out of the program. I've yet to hear a third suggestion, even though I'm sure I've set up a false dichotomy. Is there a third possibility?

Antony Flew and David Berlinski come to mind as people who consider a designer can be something other than 'god'. Of course many explicitly say they allow for any designer to be something other than 'god'. But apparently by asking for examples of specific people, I can tell you don't get that a person's beliefs are irrelevant to what a theory says.
I certainly understand that a person's beliefs are irrelevant to the theory. What isn't irrelevant, however, are the actual proposals for what the designer is. That would be part of any real theory of intelligent design, wouldn't it?

Well that's obvious enough, since science asks questions like 'if' design occured, not 'does the designer like long walks on the beach?'. If you personally equate ignoring things outside a theory to the theory being stagnant, well, that's your choice, but I dont see much good logic in it.
Dude, it's a theory of intelligent design, for God's sake! It's all about intelligent design and, by only the tiniest of extension, about who the intelligent designer is, where he is, and how he works. In fact, one could argue that if you can't identify the intelligent designer, the proposal that things are intelligently designed is vapid, stagnant, and effectively worthless.

Maybe an identity other than 'higher intelligence' is somewhat unobtainable to know, kind of like knowing how everything started given a naturalistic worldview, eh?
Maybe then you've got nothing. Because surely you'll agree that "Gee, you know, I find it really hard to believe that this thing evolved all by its naturalistic self" is not a compelling theory. It's a god of the gaps argument, literally.

~~ Paul

articulett
11th November 2007, 02:54 PM
Mijo had a whole thread related to this topic. His conclusion at the beginning of the thread was that natural selection is random because it is probabilistic and, therefore, evolution is random. His view never altered after hundreds of pages. Most people speaking of evolution will use random or chance to refer to mutations... and then describe how natural selection picks from that pool of randomness. It's natural selection that is the key for understanding that which seems impossible to understand. But Mijo does not understand natural selection. Nor does Behe... hence the continual focus on random.

I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone so beholden to describing evolution as "random" every explain natural selection well nor convey evolution in a way that could not be an argument for the tornado/747. I don't think Mijo can stop focusing on the randomness of evolution anymore than Behe can or will. I think all conversations towards Mijo on the subject will result in the exact same nothingness exhibited by Behe in the amazon quote. And, like the reviewers of Behe's book and Dawkins, I am well aware of what this focus on randomness is obscuring. The web document pretty much delineates this strategy... because clearly it works. Those who think that scientist think that this all came about randomly-- can't or don't understand natural selection... the process that makes an intelligent designer superfluous.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
11th November 2007, 02:55 PM
As I have mentioned before, not every individual of a given phenotype survives and reproduces. This means that their survival is not fully determined by their phenotype and is therefore based on a probability and not a certainty. There are, however, examples where almost all individuals of a given phenotype do survive while individuals of all other phenotypes perish, but these instance are far from universal and only represent situations where the probability of survival for a given phenotype is almost 1, but not counterexamples to the premise of the evolution's randomness.
The fact that only some individuals of a given phenotype survive could be entirely deterministic.

~~ Paul

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
11th November 2007, 02:56 PM
I'm just curious why Behe, T'ai, and Mijo are insistent on the focusing on the random aspects of evolution ...
I think I understand Behe and T'ai, but I have to agree that Mijo has me confused.

T'ai says "That's not any type of 'misleading' ..." and yet clearly many people are mislead and confused about how evolution works. From this I gather than T'ai thinks either that these people are stupid, or that evolution is in fact totally random and therefore irrelevant to the origin of species.

~~ Paul

articulett
11th November 2007, 03:08 PM
I think I understand Behe and T'ai, but I have to agree that Mijo has me confused.

T'ai says "That's not any type of 'misleading' ..." and yet clearly many people are mislead and confused about how evolution works. From this I gather than T'ai thinks either that these people are stupid, or that evolution is in fact totally random and therefore irrelevant to the origin of species.

~~ Paul

You understand Behe?!? I mean I understand his motives, but is he actually saying anything?

Ichneumonwasp
11th November 2007, 03:18 PM
Mijo, I'm sorry, man, but in all those previous conversations did you honestly think that people were arguing that phenotype is entirely deterministic for outcome? Is that what this is all about? I don't know anyone who actually thinks that.

We all know there are contingencies that enter into the picture at almost every level. How many times has Gould's name risen in these discussions?

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
11th November 2007, 03:20 PM
You understand Behe?!? I mean I understand his motives, but is he actually saying anything?
Oh no, I was just talking about his motives.

~~ Paul

articulett
11th November 2007, 03:35 PM
Mijo, I'm sorry, man, but in all those previous conversations did you honestly think that people were arguing that phenotype is entirely deterministic for outcome? Is that what this is all about? I don't know anyone who actually thinks that.

We all know there are contingencies that enter into the picture at almost every level. How many times has Gould's name risen in these discussions?

We just don't have a need to refer to these contingencies as random...rather they are part of the environment... the selection process. We don't confuse it with randomness of mutation which is not truly random either... in that there are physical reasons for mutations... but they are random in they occur without concern to whether they benefit their potential replicator or not. And the environment decides which of these mutations gets to live on and replicate.

That is why things look designed... that is, it looks like the butterflies knew to evolve parasite resistance... http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19733274/ But what happened is that the mutation referring resistance got passed on preferentially because it allowed it's replicators to survive. THAT is what natural selection does. It seems "amazing" to a mind that notices patterns and meaning... until you understand the process. And then it just seems obvious. Although the mutation was random... the fact that it is now incorporated in the butterfly genome and in all subsequent generations is most decidedly NOT random. But by Mijo's, Tai's, and Behes obfuscation, it IS. If you don't understand selection, then you might think that the butterflies had a guardian angel... (or maybe the parasite had a guardian devil--though I'm sure it's genome will evolve it's own tricks.)

Their misperception or poor explanation of the process is exactly the kind of murkiness that allows magicians to fool people. And Darwin and Dawkins are experts at revealing this trick utilized by clergymen. The smoke and mirrors is the word "random"-- understanding "natural selection" blows the cover off the "mystery" and "amazingness" and "seeming miracle" of "how it all fits together"--that is why the faithful and dishonest shun the term and explanations of such.

You can still insert god where ever you want... it's just that he's no longer necessary as an explanation... plus he's complex and all complexity evolves over time via natural selection-- so he becomes the proverbial unfathomable tornado creating a 747... or something that lies outside of measurement and understanding... like Francis Collins god.

Gettin back to the OP-- does ID predict anything? I think it's a dead end. Doesn't it just say "this is beyond your understanding... don't look further"... To me, it's like Uri Geller claiming he doesn't know how his powers work...

Ichneumonwasp
11th November 2007, 04:07 PM
We just don't have a need to refer to these contingencies as random...

Hey, I agree, which is why Gould always used to the term "contingent". He was forever engaged, as you know, in similar types of debates over terminology, largely in the arena of evolutionary psychology (where similar discussions continue to rage).

I just can't believe this garbage has surfaced yet again. I guess Michael Myers really never dies.

And as to the OP, yes, intelligent design can make predictions. But as the OP points out, it fails miserably with the types of predictions it makes. So they change the rules, which is why we all share the opinion that it cannot make predictions. It really can make a few predictions. But it is forever stuck in the ad hoc explanation game afterwards trying limn out the reasons why light must pass through multiple cells layers before reaching photoreceptors. I would really like the intelligent design argument for why eukaryote cells contain at least one (mitochondria) and probably two (peroxisomes) foreign invaders as part of the "design".

Wowbagger
11th November 2007, 04:23 PM
Evolution is a fact.Let me ask a question that might help clarify things, around here:

Mijo, do you accept that evoution is not only a fact, but a fact powerful enough to explain all of the wide variety of life around us, with no pre-existing entity or intelligence necessary?

I image that Michael Behe might also accept evolution as "fact", but he would also be inclined to think that it not powerful enough to explain everything, and therefore would also try to claim that something else must help in the designs.

Anwering my question should help clarify if you really are a creationist, or not. Not that your answer is really terribly relevant to the overall discussion of ID's "predictions". But, at least it will shut some of us up about it.

articulett
11th November 2007, 04:25 PM
Hey, I agree, which is why Gould always used to the term "contingent". He was forever engaged, as you know, in similar types of debates over terminology, largely in the arena of evolutionary psychology (where similar discussions continue to rage).

I just can't believe this garbage has surfaced yet again. I guess Michael Myers really never dies.

And as to the OP, yes, intelligent design can make predictions. But as the OP points out, it fails miserably with the types of predictions it makes. So they change the rules, which is why we all share the opinion that it cannot make predictions. It really can make a few predictions. But it is forever stuck in the ad hoc explanation game afterwards trying limn out the reasons why light must pass through multiple cells layers before reaching photoreceptors. I would really like the intelligent design argument for why eukaryote cells contain at least one (mitochondria) and probably two (peroxisomes) foreign invaders as part of the "design".

Yes... and the explanation for that non-working vitamin C gene we share with ape kin. What kind of design is that? That's not intelligent... that's just lazy. And it's not random either... there's a reason why we and our closest kin share the same broken gene... it's natural selection... the bad gene went along for a ride in an otherwise very successful genome... and stuck around, because it's harmless-- and even unnecessary if you eat lots of fruit. It's just a remnant of ancestors long ago...

Not only does intelligent design not explain anything... the randomness just explains a piece of the puzzle (vitamin C gene mutated)-- it doesn't explain what follows (great apes have a broken vitamin C gene in the same place with the same mistake that renders it useless.)

Nothing in biology makes sense unless you understand natural selection... and then everything makes sense... and it's a useful understanding that can be applied to the evolution of everything-- language, technology, the internet, computer viruses, species, languages, science, ecosystems. It's the same basic algorithm.... information that is good at getting itself copied coding for better information/better information processors/ better information replicators/ and better information storage over time. http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/tooby.html

I resent that ID proponents keep people from having this great tool for dissecting all kinds of complexity and understanding all kinds of seeming impossibilities (so they can pretend to have special knowledge that is beyond the understanding of the masses.) In my mind it's like telling kids, "you're too stupid to read... reading is too hard... you have to sound out each letter and then put it together to make a word ... etc." The obfuscation has sinister intent and promotes ignorance.

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 04:42 PM
Mijo, I'm sorry, man, but in all those previous conversations did you honestly think that people were arguing that phenotype is entirely deterministic for outcome? Is that what this is all about? I don't know anyone who actually thinks that.

We all know there are contingencies that enter into the picture at almost every level. How many times has Gould's name risen in these discussions?

Therein lies the inconsistency you can't argue that survival is non-deterministic and then say that it is non-random. "Random" and "deterministic" in their mathematical senses, which is how I have always used them (a courtesy which has not been returned by those who disagree with me), are antonyms and the only two possibilities for describing a particular aspect of a system. In other words, if a system is non-deterministic (in the mathematical sense), it is random (in the mathematical sense), and if a system is non-random (in the mathematical sense), it is deterministic (in the mathematical sense).

By the way, I have mentioned many times in previous discussion that I am not inextricably bound to "random" as the word that one must use to describe evolution. I do however think that it is important that emphasize the idea of randomness/stochasticity/probability/contingency when discussing evolution rather than insisting that evolution is non-random but somehow based probability.

articulett
11th November 2007, 04:46 PM
Let me ask a question that might help clarify things, around here:

Mijo, do you accept that evoution is not only a fact, but a fact powerful enough to explain all of the wide variety of life around us, with no pre-existing entity or intelligence necessary?

I image that Michael Behe might also accept evolution as "fact", but he would also be inclined to think that it not powerful enough to explain everything, and therefore would also try to claim that something else must help in the designs.

Anwering my question should help clarify if you really are a creationist, or not. Not that your answer is really terribly relevant to the overall discussion of ID's "predictions". But, at least it will shut some of us up about it.

Ask him why he keeps on insisting on calling evolution random when he knows that is Behe's obfuscating trick and he has repeatedly been shown that Dawkins et. al. say that "natural selection" is NOT random... it is the opposite of random. Why is he beholden to creationist terminology and arguing for it being explanatory when the evidence is that it confuses more than it clarifies? Why does he think he is being more explanatory than Dawkins.

Ask him to explain how the order comes from the randomness in evolution and how he'd explain the falsity of the tornado/747 analogy using his "evolution is random" stance? Listen, I'd shut up the moment he stops sounding like Behe bleating that evolution is random... Or even if he spent one second thanking all the people on this forum and links provided showing him why it was misleading and uninformative and useless to describe evolution in the manner he does. Or anyone can show me evidence that he can convey understanding of natural selection or doesn't have Behe's obsession with evolutions randomness. His quotes are all over this board. Behe's quotes are everywhere. Heck, if Mijo said one thing that sounded more like something those who understand evolution would say and less like something Behe would say... I'd take it under consideration. But like Behe... he just never says anything. The more he says the less you understand. The only understanding you get is the same you have with Behe-- they both feel like it makes sense to focus on the randomness of evolution while sweeping natural selection under the rug. Darwin's critique of Behe's book sums up my critique with everything Mijo says.... http://richarddawkins.net/article,1360,Inferior-Design-Richard-Dawkins-reviews-Behes-lastest-book,Richard-Dawkins

Darwin set no store by randomness. New variants might arise at random, or they might be acquired characteristics induced by food, for all Darwin knew. Far more important for Darwin was the nonrandom process whereby some survived but others perished. Natural selection is arguably the most momentous idea ever to occur to a human mind, because it — alone as far as we know — explains the elegant illusion of design that pervades the living kingdoms and explains, in passing, us. Whatever else it is, natural selection is not a "modest" idea, nor is descent with modification.

I'm begging you, mijo or anyone to show me the difference between what Mijo is saying and what Behe is saying.... or even to sum up what Mijo's point is... or Behe's. What do you think Behe's obsession with randomness means and why do you think Mijo's insistence on using the term is motivated by something different? Is Tai's? What person who is good at communicating the process of evolution to anyone sounds like they do? Why would they insist on referring to evolution as random after repeatedly being provided with quotes like the above showing that natural selection is NOT RANDOM and is the KEY for understanding how the appearance of design comes about.

If it quacks like Behe--

Notice the queries he avoids and answer obliquely... observe Behe's similarly cagey responses in the Dover transcript.

If I didn't want to be confused with a creationist, I'd be damn sure I didn't sound as muddled as they did and as obsessed with randomness and similar strawmen that they are. Either Mijo is an intelligent design proponent, or he has done nothing to distinguish himself one despite multiple opportunities to do so and multiple supposed requests for members of this forum to explain things to him (discontinuity in the fossil record... how evolution is not random, etc.)

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 04:48 PM
Mijo, do you accept that evoution is not only a fact, but a fact powerful enough to explain all of the wide variety of life around us, with no pre-existing entity or intelligence necessary?

Yes, I think that evolution is powerful enough to explain the diversity of living organisms today and how such diversity came to be without invoking the supernatural. I just think that probability theory is also powerful enough to explain evolution and that it may be more fruitful to try to explain evolution in terms of probability theory, because, while the processes that govern natural selection may in fact and in principle be deterministic, it may be impossible in practice to obtain the level of accuracy in measurement to reveal such determinism. Thus these processes will always appear random. Additionally, it is to the benefit of evolutionary biology to try to explain how evolution can occur even if it is random. It just seems extremely dishonest to me to say that evolution by natural selection non-random but then describe it as operating on probabilities.

articulett
11th November 2007, 04:54 PM
Let me ask a question that might help clarify things, around here:

Mijo, do you accept that evoution is not only a fact, but a fact powerful enough to explain all of the wide variety of life around us, with no pre-existing entity or intelligence necessary?

I image that Michael Behe might also accept evolution as "fact", but he would also be inclined to think that it not powerful enough to explain everything, and therefore would also try to claim that something else must help in the designs.

Anwering my question should help clarify if you really are a creationist, or not. Not that your answer is really terribly relevant to the overall discussion of ID's "predictions". But, at least it will shut some of us up about it.

BTW, I think Behe would dodge that question by inferring that it's possible... that he's not saying it's impossible... but he's concerned that it's highly unlikely that everything could be explained by randomness.

And this is true. But scientists don't use randomness to describe evolution. Creationists do. So Mijo, like Behe, will do something similar or ignore the question... he won't really say anything while inferring an answer that sounds like he's saying what you hope to hear. You can't pin a creationist down... they always have to have that wiggle room.

You can't address their claims because they never quite say anything. Really. Behe infers more than he says, but he seldom says anything that can be challenged.

You want him not to be a creationist... but what if he is? How would you know? Do you think you could pin Behe down on anything? He claims not to be a creationist either.
Are you worried about your ego... that you might have to apologize to me for seeing bad intentions on my part rather on the one with dishonest intent? Even you can be fooled.
I'm willing to examine all evidence to the contrary. I have been reading Mijo for some time. I'm not the only one who has reached this conclusion. His posts are all over this forum, and if the best you can come up with is what you've cut and pasted, then my opinion remains as is.

articulett
11th November 2007, 05:05 PM
Additionally, it is to the benefit of evolutionary biology to try to explain how evolution can occur even if it is random. It just seems extremely dishonest to me to say that evolution by natural selection non-random but then describe it as operating on probabilities.

So, Dawkins is dishonest, and you, Mijo, are more honest-- correct? And, therefore Behe is more honest than Dawkins by focusing on the random aspects of evolution, right?-- because that explains things so much better. Or am I misperceiving your words? You have repeatedly stated that all those who refer to natural selection as nonrandom (including Dawkins) are being unclear while asserting that your way (which is very similar to Behe's) is more clear-- right? And since it's so fruitful to explain evolution in terms of probability theory- please do so...

And why the hell aren't any other current biologists describing things the way you are? Other than Behe, I mean.

Oh, and wowbagger... go ahead... sum up what it is you think he's saying (if anything) and how do you think Behe would answer that question differently. Dishonesty has many shades of obfuscation, you know. And how would you answer it. Compare. Contrast. Conclude.

Ichneumonwasp
11th November 2007, 05:17 PM
Therein lies the inconsistency you can't argue that survival is non-deterministic and then say that it is non-random. "Random" and "deterministic" in their mathematical senses, which is how I have always used them (a courtesy which has not been returned by those who disagree with me), are antonyms and the only two possibilities for describing a particular aspect of a system. In other words, if a system is non-deterministic (in the mathematical sense), it is random (in the mathematical sense), and if a system is non-random (in the mathematical sense), it is deterministic (in the mathematical sense).

By the way, I have mentioned many times in previous discussion that I am not inextricably bound to "random" as the word that one must use to describe evolution. I do however think that it is important that emphasize the idea of randomness/stochasticity/probability/contingency when discussing evolution rather than insisting that evolution is non-random but somehow based probability.

Yes, yes, but that wasn't really the point. The point I asked was whether or not you thought we were arguing from the vantage of supposing phenotypic determinism as THE answer. At times that seems to be what you presuppose of those with whom you have argued.

As we have discussed before, everything is either indeterministic/acausal (uncertainty principle) or deterministic (at the level of discussion concerning evolution), or possibly some combination of the above.

It makes more sense at the level of discussion where evolution takes place to speak of it all as deterministic when considering the grand parade. Our ignorance being what it is, though, we speak of probabilities. But this makes all mention of 'randomness' merely a description of our ignorance and not a fundamental feature of the process.

Now that I have repeated myself for the nth time, I'm pulling out of this discussion before it circles out of control.

articulett
11th November 2007, 05:30 PM
Y
Now that I have repeated myself for the nth time, I'm pulling out of this discussion before it circles out of control.

Me too... been there; done that. I really don't like this "evolution is random" obfuscation-- like Dawkins, I feel like slapping it down wherever I see it-- because it is a good technique for brainwashing the faithful... and I see it again and again. (Clearly T'ai is evidence of the brain damage it can induce...) It's the very best technique the ID crowd has for keeping people ignorant and thus in need of their god for an explanation.

But I'm sure the best explanations will evolve alongside the best creationist obfuscation techniques with or without my input.

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 05:42 PM
So, Dawkins is dishonest, and you, Mijo, are more honest-- correct? And, therefore Behe is more honest than Dawkins by focusing on the random aspects of evolution, right?-- because that explains things so much better. Or am I misperceiving your words? You have repeatedly stated that all those who refer to natural selection as nonrandom (including Dawkins) are being unclear while asserting that your way (which is very similar to Behe's) is more clear-- right? And since it's so fruitful to explain evolution in terms of probability theory- please do so...

And why the hell aren't any other current biologists describing things the way you are? Other than Behe, I mean.

Oh, and wowbagger... go ahead... sum up what it is you think he's saying (if anything.)

You are most definitely "misperceiving" my words, articulett (and I dare say trying to discredit me by doing so). I do believe that it is dishonest to insist the evolution is non-random and then describe it in terms of probabilities of survival, but I don't believe I have said that Behe explains evolution any better. In fact I have said that insisting that evolution cannot occur because it is random is equally, if not more dishonest, that than the hand-wavy non-random description.

If you want a description of evolution in terms of probability, you might try this (http://www.math.rutgers.edu/courses/338/338-s07/07lecture7.pdf).

articulett
11th November 2007, 06:12 PM
That isn't a description of evolution in terms of probability... that is a model where natural selection is included in the variable. I worked as a genetic counselor for many years... I am well aware of how probability is used in evolution. But no scientist I know equates the word random with "anything having to do with probability". That's because it's a useless definition for conveying understanding. Only you do that. And you do that so you can conclude that evolution is "random"... your word of obsession... just like Behe's. You cannot convey or explain how the randomness leads to the appearance of design-- because you are stuck on the word random.

But I've seen you run around this semantic circle a hundred times... just like Behe... let wowbagger chase you... he's one of the few that hasn't caught on yet... so you have yourself a fun little audience to bleat your behe-esque nothingness. I am sure someone will inform me via e-mail if you say anything useful that clarifies understanding for them.

I find it much more fruitful to talk about creationists than to try and talk to them. Your dialogues sound as muddled as Behe and Kleinman and Tai' dialogues. They go nowhere... they say nothing... they digress while you guys avoid being pinned down to anything. You have no point. You talk so that you can keep boosting up this notion in your head that you are right about something. Just like Behe. But damned if any of the rest of us know what it is.

(So how is that formula you linked more "fruitful" than Dawkins description again? And for what exactly?)

qayak
11th November 2007, 06:19 PM
I do believe that it is dishonest to insist the evolution is non-random and then describe it in terms of probabilities of survival . . .

Why? Probability of survival does not = Random.

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 06:23 PM
That isn't a description of evolution in terms of probability... that is a model where natural selection is included in the variable. I worked as a genetic counselor for many years... I am well aware of how probability is used in evolution. But no scientist I know equates the word random with "anything having to do with probability". That's because it's a useless definition for conveying understanding. Only you do that. And you do that so you can conclude that evolution is "random"... your word of obsession... just like Behe's. You cannot convey or explain how the randomness leads to the appearance of design-- because you are stuck on the word random.

What can I say?

This is the same old crap that I have been getting from you for months now. You dismiss my sources without explanation, which implies you haven't even read them. You also insist on dismissing my definition because you claim they don't convey meaning, which implies that you don't have any idea what you are talking about.

articulett
11th November 2007, 06:24 PM
BTW, Behe doesn't insist that evolution can't occur... he does what you do... he focuses on random and bluster so that natural selection is not understood. This way the amazing design seems "unlikely" to have occurred without a purpose... He concedes a lot of things about evolution... including common descent... it's the part he glosses over that infers that scientists think this all happened randomly-- a misstaement at best. And that is what you are doing. Even if others haven't quite caught on yet.

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 06:26 PM
Why? Probability of survival does not = Random.

The probability may not be random but the probability distribution of individuals' survivals is what makes natural selection a stochastic process.

articulett
11th November 2007, 06:32 PM
What can I say?

This is the same old crap that I have been getting from you for months now. You dismiss my sources without explanation, which implies you haven't even read them. You also insist on dismissing my definition because you claim they don't convey meaning, which implies that you don't have any idea what you are talking about.

articulett
11th November 2007, 06:36 PM
The probability may not be random but the probability distribution of individuals' survivals is what makes natural selection a stochastic process.

Yes... but, though a stochastic process is sometimes called a random process-- no one but mijo thinks the process itself is random. It has random inputs. The process is not random. But to Mijo-- if he can tie any part of the process to probabilities or the word random and thus conclude that it's random-- he will. As will Behe. Q. E. D. Why? Not because "it's more fruitful"-- but because it's more obfuscating. It makes evolution sound confusing and impossible-- Natural selection... a most decidedly nonrandom process unlocks the key to understanding evolution. And those who describe it well are the people who convey that understanding. That sure as hell aren't those running about to describe evolution in terms of randomness or probability or whatever blustery nothingness Mijo is pretending. Really. Behe can and does make similar arguments for his attachment to the term. Q. E. D.

articulett
11th November 2007, 06:39 PM
No, Mijo... I'm not going to address your arguments... for the same reason I'm loathe to listen to Behe. You haven't said anything. You have no ability to learn or engage in dialogue on the topic. You imagine yourself more knowledgeable than you are. You use the attention to make yourself feel like Behe-- worthy of an audience. Find someone else who thinks you are as clear and explanatory as you imagine yourself to be. I find you and your techniques indestinguishible from Behe. And I consider Behe a very dishonest man.

Wowbagger
11th November 2007, 06:44 PM
There are a couple of ways we can look at this issue. On one hand, there is The Heisenburg Uncertainty Principal. Since we can not know everything in exact detail, beyond a specific level of precision, you could try to argue that everything is ultimately dependant on probablility.

However, above that level of detail, all the probabilities "smear out", so that science is able to make exacting predictions, afterall. For things that matter in our everyday lives, it is usually quite safe to "ignore" the Uncertainty Principal.

The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is one such thing. Its study does NOT ultimately rely on probability, in reality. However, since we can never know the values of every single variable that goes into it, (it is, in other words, an application of "chaos theory"), we have to make comprimises in our assessments.

We use probabilty when studying evolution, as one such comprimise. It is a tool we have to resort to using, since the math would be too difficult for even our greatest computers, otherwise.

For example, mutations do not really occur randomly. They all have causes: perhaps a photon from the sun bumped into an atom, in a certain way, to cause a molecule to form a different protein than it would otherwise, etc.
But, it is clearly beyond reason to track all those different things. Therefore, opting for probability is just something we gotta do to at least make some progress in this endeavor.

I choose to describe evolution without any sense of "random" as much as possible, in a futile attempt to try to make all this clear. Others use "random" in different ways, to describe different parts of evolution - most likely because it is just easier to say it that way, than to get into the whole "photon from the sun" rigamarole. But, I hope everyone now realizes that "random" is just not really part of the process Evolution takes, in reality.

My responses to Articulett, in particular, are coming next.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
11th November 2007, 06:47 PM
In other words, if a system is non-deterministic (in the mathematical sense), it is random (in the mathematical sense), and if a system is non-random (in the mathematical sense), it is deterministic (in the mathematical sense).
And the mathematical sense is just about as confusing as it could possibly be to the layman. The layman is obliged to come to the conclusion either that absolutely everything is random, or that scientists are wrong in their current belief that there are random quantum events and it will eventually come to light that nothing whatsoever is random. Since it is quite unlikely that we will determine the cause of every event in the universe, that leaves the poor layman with a random universe.

We would do these folks a service by explaining what it is that appears to be random, what is deterministic, and what it means for something to be nonrandom with respect to something else. It would also help to explain that an event with two outcomes labeled as random does not mean the probabilities are necessarily 50/50.

I despair of ever understanding why this hair splitting is so important to you.

~~ Paul

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 06:50 PM
Like you dismissed the peer reviewed paper you insincerely asked for in an OP which said Natural selection is NONRANDOM?

Hmmm...I remember that very same article saying:

This is how natural selection works: Individuals that have beneficial variations, that is, variations that improve their probability of survival and reproduction, leave more descendants than individuals of the same species that have less beneficial variations. The beneficial variations will consequently increase in frequency over the generations; less beneficial or harmful variations will be eliminated from the species. Eventually, all individuals of the species will have the beneficial features; new features will arise over eons of time.

Natural selection accounts for the ‘‘design’’ of organisms because adaptive variations tend to increase the probability of survival and reproduction of their carriers at the expense of maladaptive, or less adaptive, variations.

The fossil record shows that life has evolved in a haphazard fashion.

Seems that Ayala is a bit confused about what he means when he says evolution is non-random.

qayak
11th November 2007, 07:10 PM
Seems that Ayala is a bit confused about what he means when he says evolution is non-random.

Haphazard does not = random.

quixotecoyote
11th November 2007, 07:11 PM
Haphazard does not = random.

What about the first two quotes?

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 07:19 PM
Haphazard does not = random.

Really?

You might want to check a thesaurus (http://thesaurus.reference.com/browse/random).

joobz
11th November 2007, 07:31 PM
Ugh.

I still don't understand the whole point to this line of argument.
Evolution is random. So is diffusion, chemical reactions, radioactive decay,... who cares. that doesn't make it on any of them any less observable and real.

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 07:35 PM
Ugh.

I still don't understand the whole point to this line of argument.
Evolution is random. So is diffusion, chemical reactions, radioactive decay,... who cares. that doesn't make it on any of them any less observable and real.

That was sorta my point. The fact that evolution is random doesn't effect the fact that all life is descended from a universal common ancestor and that the immense adaptive radiation observed today occurred without the intervention a supernatural being.

Still think I'm a creationist or intelligent design proponent, articulett?

Wowbagger
11th November 2007, 07:44 PM
It just seems extremely dishonest to me to say that evolution by natural selection non-random but then describe it as operating on probabilities. The process is really non-random, but we can not assess the whole process. We have to resort to using probability to study it. That is not dishonesty. That is admiting our limitations.

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 07:45 PM
The process is really non-random, but we can not assess the whole process. We have to resort to using probability to study it. That is not dishonesty. That is admiting our limitations.

How can you be so sure that it is non-random?

Wowbagger
11th November 2007, 07:47 PM
I am not here to defend mijopaalmc's statements. But, I still think it is unfair to label him* as a "creationist". He might me some sort of other "woo", or maybe his understanding of the issues are limited at the moment; but there is nothing in his writings, here, that indicate he is a creationist.

(*apologies if I got her gender wrong.)

This was mijo's response to my question:
Yes, I think that evolution is powerful enough to explain the diversity of living organisms today and how such diversity came to be without invoking the supernatural. I just think that probability theory is also powerful enough to explain evolution and that it may be more fruitful to try to explain evolution in terms of probability theory, because, while the processes that govern natural selection may in fact and in principle be deterministic, it may be impossible in practice to obtain the level of accuracy in measurement to reveal such determinism. Thus these processes will always appear random. Additionally, it is to the benefit of evolutionary biology to try to explain how evolution can occur even if it is random. It just seems extremely dishonest to me to say that evolution by natural selection non-random but then describe it as operating on probabilities.
His understanding of evolution might be flawed or incomplete or whatever. But, he does not seem to be resorting to any of the cheaper ideas that Behe would. He agrees that "evolution is powerful enough to explain the diversity of living organisms today and how such diversity came to be without invoking the supernatural." (Emphasis mine.)

BTW, I think Behe would dodge that question by inferring that it's possible... that he's not saying it's impossible... but he's concerned that it's highly unlikely that everything could be explained by randomness. I'll bet Behe would do just that.

So Mijo, like Behe, will do something similar or ignore the question... he won't really say anything while inferring an answer that sounds like he's saying what you hope to hear. You can't pin a creationist down... they always have to have that wiggle room. Ah, but that is not what Mijo did. He answered the question as I might have, several years ago, before I was able to float above all this "confusion". And, I was never a creationist.

You want him not to be a creationist... but what if he is? How would you know? Do you think you could pin Behe down on anything? He claims not to be a creationist either. We could pin Behe down for insisting that the very idea of an "Intelligent Designer" has a basis in science, when we know it could not possibly be tested by science.
I find no such way to "pin" mijo the same way.

Are you worried about your ego... that you might have to apologize to me for seeing bad intentions on my part rather on the one with dishonest intent? Even you can be fooled.
I'm willing to examine all evidence to the contrary. I have been reading Mijo for some time. I'm not the only one who has reached this conclusion. His posts are all over this forum, and if the best you can come up with is what you've cut and pasted, then my opinion remains as is. Honestly, mijo's identity is not important enough to me to waste time reading his other posts, in other threads. So, I could very well be wrong. If I am, and if it is not too much trouble, perhaps you can paste in a paragraph or two, of his, that makes it clear that he is, in fact, a creationist, and not someone who is merely limited in his full knowledge of evolution.

My ego and I parted ways years ago. I am perfectly willing to apologize to you, arti, if you can show me such a statement from him.

Ask him why he keeps on insisting on calling evolution random when he knows that is Behe's obfuscating trick

[snipped for space]

Ask him to explain how the order comes from the randomness in evolution and how he'd explain the falsity of the tornado/747 analogy using his "evolution is random" stance? I don't think he's using the word "random" the same way as Behe's trick.

Listen, I'd shut up the moment he stops sounding like Behe bleating that evolution is random...
[snipped for space]
Maybe mijo is not perfect in his communication skills. He might be "bleating", perhaps, but nothing on this thread indicates he thinks there is the possability of a super-natural designer. His bleating seems to indicate that he does not understand why we study evolution using probability, and sometimes use the word "random", when we also claim there is no probability or randomness.

He has spotted what he thinks in a dishonest disconnect. I am trying to demonstrate how it is not so.

You do not have to address mijo's arguments, if you don't like him. But,
It is wasting people's time when you choose to spit accusations, instead of offering explanations.

I'm begging you, mijo or anyone to show me the difference between what Mijo is saying and what Behe is saying.... or even to sum up what Mijo's point is... or Behe's.
My attempt to summarize Mijo: "Evolution is a fact, and no supernatural stuff is required. But, if evolution is not random, why do you guys keep using probability and stuff to study it?! That sounds dishonest to me!"

My attempt to summarize Behe: "Evolution has helped us understand life for a long time. But, I think it is time we put aside that old idea, for something more powerful. Since no one can ever figure out how all complex-looking life forms could have emerged from evolution, we should seriously consider the idea that there was an Intelligent Designer."

My attempt to summarize T'ai (just for kicks): "I have no opinions of my own. I'm just gonna parrot what other people say, that I find interesting." ;)

If it quacks like Behe-- Hence, mijo does not quite quack like Behe.

Superficially, the sounds might be similar, but that is merely the convergent behavior of one who might not be the best at getting their ideas across. In other words: Different evolutionary paths, but similar shaped results. Like a lagomorph and a mouse.

Now, I still love ya, arti. Don't get me wrong. But, this would not be the first time you called someone a "creationist", who wasn't:

Wowbagger
11th November 2007, 07:54 PM
How can you be so sure that it is non-random?
I try to explain that in post #96 of this thread, the one with the title "In Response to mijopaalmc and Others, regarding "Random" in Evolution".

As far as we can tell, within the limits of our current understanding of physics, "randomness" in reality, could only reasonably apply to sub-atomic ("quantum") levels, where the Uncertainty Principal comes into play.

Beyond that level, the probabilities "smear out", meaning they become unimportant, because the behavior of the whole will take on what is most probable in its collective of atoms, etc.

We can be reasonably sure Evolution is not random, because the process is irrelevant to the uncertainties that take place at the quantum level.

qayak
11th November 2007, 07:56 PM
Really?

You might want to check a thesaurus (http://thesaurus.reference.com/browse/random).

Haphazard also means careless.

Random means that something lacks any definitive plan or prearranged order. Evolution does not fit the description. It has both a definative plan and a prearranged order, we just have difficulty seeing it. However, our inability to see doesn't make the process random.

As far as probability goes, that is just the easiest way for us to understand it. Chaos theory has pretty much become a part of all these types of processes because they are so complex and because, in some instances, we will never be able to know exatly what the prearranged conditions are/were or what the definitive plan is.

Weather is much the same. You can't tell me that weather is random. Well . . . you could but it wouldn't be true either.

Wowbagger
11th November 2007, 08:08 PM
You know, it's like trying to predict the weather. No one ever says the weather is "random". We understand that every aspect of it has a cause. But, since there are just so many inputs we could possibly stuff into our computers, meteorologists must resort to probability, when trying to predict the weather, in a reasonable manner.

joobz
11th November 2007, 08:11 PM
Haphazard also means careless.

Random means that something lacks any definitive plan or prearranged order. Evolution does not fit the description. It has both a definative plan and a prearranged order, we just have difficulty seeing it.
Oooo, I would not describe it as such. There is no "plan" to it. A plan assumes a planner, much like design assumes designer.

Although you are correct to say our inability to predict everything doesn't mean that there aren't (at some level) simple steps that can be described deterministically. But this is true about everything we label as "random" a dice roll, a coin flip, or anything. As such, to minimize what random means in the sense of evolution, minimizes all "random" processes.

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 08:25 PM
You know, it's like trying to predict the weather. No one ever says the weather is "random". We understand that every aspect of it has a cause. But, since there are just so many inputs we could possibly stuff into our computers, meteorologists must resort to probability, when trying to predict the weather, in a reasonable manner.

Except the initial conditions (i.e., the phenotype) don't fully determine the outcome in evolution. In the case of the weather, if we were able to measure the initial conditions to an arbitrary degree of precision and the calculations be performed with arbitrary precision, we would be able to predict the weather with arbitrary accuracy.

quixotecoyote
11th November 2007, 08:31 PM
Except the initial conditions (i.e., the phenotype) don't fully determine the outcome in evolution. In the case of the weather, if we were able to measure the initial conditions to an arbitrary degree of precision and the calculations be performed with arbitrary precision, we would be able to predict the weather with arbitrary accuracy.

Leaving aside sub-atomic weirdness, why can't the same be said of evolution?

Wowbagger
11th November 2007, 08:33 PM
Except the initial conditions (i.e., the phenotype) don't fully determine the outcome in evolution. In the case of the weather, if we were able to measure the initial conditions to an arbitrary degree of precision and the calculations be performed with arbitrary precision, we would be able to predict the weather with arbitrary accuracy. The phenotypes are not the only set of initial conditions. The fitness landscape is also another source of initial conditions.

If we were able to measure all of the initial conditions (phenotypes, landscapes, possibly others) with arbitrary degree of precision, we would be able to predict evolution with arbitrary accuracy.

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 08:35 PM
Wowbagger-

Probably the most "damning" evidence of my supposed creationism is the first thread I authored on these boards: Fossil and Evolution. The question in the OP was about representations of evolution in the popular media and how they portray evolution as a continuous "morph" from one form to another. My confusion lay in the fact that if time were linearly scaled so that the entire life time of the Earth fit into one day, the time between two fossil forms (roughly 2 seconds) would make any animation look choppy. I wasn't questioning the basis of evolution, but articulett insisted that I was. I retracted my OP (http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?postid=2503070#post2503070), explained that I wasn't an intelligent design propoent (http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?postid=2518450#post2518450) (which articulett apologized for calling me (http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?postid=2518642#post2518642)), and elaborated on my original confusion (http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?postid=2518450#post2518450).

qayak
11th November 2007, 08:43 PM
Oooo, I would not describe it as such. There is no "plan" to it. A plan assumes a planner, much like design assumes designer.

No, a plan does not assume a planner. A plan is a detailed scheme, method, etc. for obtaining an objective. There is nothing that says consciousness must be involved and there is nothing that says it is ruled out.

joobz
11th November 2007, 08:46 PM
No, a plan does not assume a planner. A plan is a detailed scheme, method, etc. for obtaining an objective. There is nothing that says consciousness must be involved and there is nothing that says it is ruled out.
Feel free to use the word however you wish. It's just a sloppy.

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 08:50 PM
Leaving aside sub-atomic weirdness, why can't the same be said of evolution?

The phenotypes are not the only set of initial conditions. The fitness landscape is also another source of initial conditions.

If we were able to measure all of the initial conditions (phenotypes, landscapes, possibly others) with arbitrary degree of precision, we would be able to predict evolution with arbitrary accuracy.

I guess it has to do with how I understand (or don't understand) the gene as the unit of selection.

Also, fitness is most often defined as the mean over a class of individual, giving inherently statistical properties.

Wowbagger
11th November 2007, 09:06 PM
I guess it has to do with how I understand (or don't understand) the gene as the unit of selection. Possibly. You might want to read The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins, if you have not done so, already.

Also, fitness is most often defined as the mean over a class of individual, giving inherently statistical properties.
The "mean" is merely a shortcut we must resort to using, simply because placing all of the individual values is usually not possible with our limits of computation. (although sometimes it is possible, depending on what you're doing)

So, don't feel bad. This stuff is rather non-intuitive. It is often difficult to separate the "model" of science from the "reality" that it tries to describe.
I'm sure most of the posters here, including me, have had the same problem.

articulett
11th November 2007, 09:11 PM
The way most biologists explain evolution is random (more or less) mutation coupled with non-random selection over time.

No one who teaches or conveys understanding about evolution to others emphasizes the randomness over the way natural selection over time selects from the randomness to achieve what seems to be design. No biologist refers to natural selection as random--because its not... and it's misleading to say it is. A biologist would say the mutation was random... but the fact that it was incorporated widely in the genome was not. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19733274/ Even the non-experts at MSNBC describe natural selection and how evolution works better than Behe or Mijo or Tai'. All of them sound like they think they know more than those they might actually learn from.

As Dawkins reiterates --the powerful explanatory of Darwins theory was natural selection-- not randomness.

Yes, Mijo-- I am certain of what you are. You are one of those people who puts down others who might teach you something about evolution while pretending to understand more than you do. You are one of those people like Behe who is obsessed with characterizing evolution as random no matter how unclear that might be or how many peer reviewed papers say that natural selection is NOT random. Any one who thinks that evolutionary biologists think life came about randomly, most certainly do not understand evolution nor what biologists actually think nor natural selection nor have they read and understood the Selfish Gene. The process of evolution contains randomness... the results are most certainly NOT random. They are the result of preferentially selected mutations and the replicators they code for.

You are one of those people who never actually says anything... who pretends to be curious about a topic, but never actually shows any interest in having the questions you ask answered. They are all smarmy rhetorical questions designed to infer some knowledge on your part or to dis evolution or dawkins or someone else who is critical of religion. It's all you ever do or say in every post. You pretend to be curious or knowledgeable or insightful-- But you never ever say anything. You are just like Behe-- you criticize those who know more than you while pretending to be an expert on something you cannot convey coherently. Your blather is indistinguishable from Behe's-- as is your obsessional need to declare evolution random.

Feel free to have simulating discussions with those who want to play your game. Until you can convey how complexity and design comes from the randomness you have an explanation exactly as "fruitful" as Behe's-- and indistinguishable from the creationists canard.

articulett
11th November 2007, 09:30 PM
Why? Probability of survival does not = Random.

Mijo defines random as "anything having to do with probabilities" he determines that a process is random if it contains anything random in it. Therefore, per his self selected definition and semantic vagaries evolution IS random however vague and misleading that may be. And nothing can and will change that fact. In his head this is an academically rigorous and "fruitful" definition despite the fact that no peer reviewed papers are refer to natural selection as random and none are as vague as him and most don't even say what he imagines they are saying. And if his definition is so fruitful and Dawkins so dishonest, you'd think they'd be using his definition (which is indistinguishable from Behe's) rather than Dawkins and Darwin to convey understanding. But, you know, Mijo knows better than everyone else-- so he keeps telling us.

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 09:31 PM
articulett-

So how do you incorporate the fact that all the people you cite make explicit reference to probability in their description of natural selection and that there is a large body of research that models evolution as a stochastic process and originates with the "fathers" of the Modern Synthesis?

articulett
11th November 2007, 09:34 PM
I despair of ever understanding why this hair splitting is so important to you.

~~ Paul

I suggest that it's for the same reason Behe hyperfocuses on randomness.

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 09:40 PM
Here are two reputable scientists who emphasize the influence of randomness (chance or stochasticity) in their descriptions of evolution:

Stochastic Processes and the Distribution of Gene Frequencies under Natural Selection (http://books.google.com/books?id=MIa2m0fi0F0C&pg=PA11&dq=evolution-is-a-stochastic-process&ei=LyPfRsOJCJ2cowKsx7T3AQ&sig=Kbd4NjxsaHCkDPM5ETN4f20pq1g)

Evolution is a stochastic process of change in gene frequencies in natural populations. Since the populations making up a species consist of many individuals and since evolution extends over enormous periods of time, laws which govern the process of change are inevitably "statistical". In this sense the genetical theory of evolution, as R. A. Fisher (1922) suggests, is comparable to the theory of gases. This analogy can be pushed further: Instead of considering populations as aggregates of genes, we find it more convenient to consider populations as aggregates of gene frequencies (or ratios). This is similar to the situation in physics where the specification of theory population of velocities is more useful than that of the population of particles (Fisher, 1953). As far as I know, this fruitful idea was first incorporated into the theory of population genetics by Fisher in his 1922 paper, which lead to a later elaboration (Fisher 1930a).

Selection: The Mechanism of Evolution (http://books.google.com/books?id=sdllt_xU-cYC&pg=PA93&dq=evolution-is-a-stochastic-process&ei=LyPfRsOJCJ2cowKsx7T3AQ&sig=2NXeEFJfAzpgiDOVDoFKXy_uSmg)

In every generation better-adapted individuals will bee more likely to survive and reproduce. This is only a tendency, however, not a deterministic rule. A snail living in an English hedgerow is less likely to be eaten of its shell is striped rather than plain.But it is not very likely to survive in any case; it may be eaten by a shrew, or die of heatstroke or starvation; it may even be eaten by a bird after all. Selection is a process of sampling. The variation of characters among individuals ensures that the sample that reproduces is a biased sample of the population as a whole, but its composition cannot be precisely specified in advance. But there is nobody responsible for selecting snail at the bottom of hedgerow, and no individuals, no matter how well-endowed has any guarantee of success, only a greater or lesser chance. Richard Lewontin once prefaced a lecture on this topic with a quote from Ecclesiastes: the race is not alway to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but time and chance happen to both.

The nature of evolution as sampling implies that evolution is a stochastic process that is subject to sampling error. The composition of a population at any point in time will be determined by three factors. One is historical, the composition of the generation from which it descends. The second is selection, which tends to increase some kinds of individual and decrease others. The third is chance. The actual composition of the population will inevitably differ from what we expected based on descent and selection, because the life of each individual is a historically unique succession of events who eventual outcome is influenced by a multitude of factors. The next generation is formed in a stochastic, or probabilistic, fashion from the success and failure of many such lives. We may be able to predict its average properties with some assurance, but its composition will fluctuate to a greater or lesser extent in ways we cannot predict or account for.

articulett
11th November 2007, 09:41 PM
articulett-

So how do you incorporate the fact that all the people you cite make explicit reference to probability in their description of natural selection and that there is a large body of research that models evolution as a stochastic process and originates with the "fathers" of the Modern Synthesis?

How do you continually manage to use words to say nothing at all? How do you continually extrapolate any mention of probabilities with "proof" that it makes some sort of sense to call evolution random? Nobody but you is calling a stochastic process itself random. It contains random variables... only you are calling the process random. A markov process is a stochastic process it contains random variable and thus some people might call it a random process. Nobody but you calls a markov process random. In mijo head where evolution must be described as random-- all semantics must lead to randomness. So you do a search for stochastic and probability and random and then quote the links and pretend that they are saying that evolution is random... like you are. And you pretend that this is fruitful-- despite the fact that nobody but you uses an explanation of evolution as murky as yours. There is not a single peer reviewed paper that defines random as loosely as you do. And yet it's the word you and Behe must use at all costs.... because you need scientists to be saying that evolution is random. They're not. But, damn if you don't keep saying they are.... just like Behe.

Everything you say like everything Behe says in regards to evolution-- hyperfocuses on randomness and completely ignores natural selection and how exactly it makes for the appearance of design. Moreover, like Behe, you insult those who could disabuse you of your ignorance-- you pretend to know more than them to be more right to have some advanced knowledge while having a complete lack of curiosity on new developments or writings on the topic.

You have an obsession for speaking on evolution related threads as though you were an expert while showing a complete lack of knowledge regarding what the experts are actually saying. You speak on these threads as though you have something to teach... something valuable to say on the topic-- and those who actually understand the topic keep telling you that you sound muddled-- non-explanatory... you are not conveying information... you are obsessed with describing evolution as random in the exact same way Behe is obsessed.

qayak
11th November 2007, 09:51 PM
Mijo defines random as "anything having to do with probabilities" he determines that a process is random if it contains anything random in it. Therefore, per his self selected definition and semantic vagaries evolution IS random however vague and misleading that may be. And nothing can and will change that fact. In his head this is an academically rigorous and "fruitful" definition despite the fact that no peer reviewed papers are refer to natural selection as random and none are as vague as him and most don't even say what he imagines they are saying. And if his definition is so fruitful and Dawkins so dishonest, you'd think they'd be using his definition (which is indistinguishable from Behe's) rather than Dawkins and Darwin to convey understanding. But, you know, Mijo knows better than everyone else-- so he keeps telling us.

I think he needs to read pages 60 - 62 of Dennett's Breaking the Spell.

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 09:51 PM
Nobody but you is calling a stochastic process itself random. It contains random variables... only you are calling the process random.

Here is where you show you're complete and utter ignorance of probability theory. All a stochastic process is is a family of random variables that have been indexed to another (sometimes linearly ordered) set. It doesn't just contain random variables; it is random variables and nothing else.

See the definitions at MathWorld (http://mathworld.wolfram.com/StochasticProcess.html), PlanetMath (http://planetmath.org/encyclopedia/StochasticProcess.html), and Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stochastic_process#Definition) to start you off.

articulett
11th November 2007, 09:52 PM
Biased is generally considered the opposite of random mijo. Give it up. You aren't fooling me. I know you google assorted words that you think are saying what you are saying. No one but you is calling evolution random. Other people are not using words as loosely as you. Just because you extrapolate the word stochastic to mean random and anything having to do with probabilities as random-- doesn't mean anyone else of any integrity is.

Yes... I know-- to you, as to Behe-- you will always over emphasize the randomness of evolution... even if you have to play semantic games and twist articles into sort of saying what you are saying-- You will never ever be able to convey natural selection and how it brings order and the appearance of design-- just like Behe.... and you like Behe you will act affronted and like you are being honest and academically rigorous and providing a "fruitful" explanation while all those dishonest lying scientists are misleading everyone.

articulett
11th November 2007, 09:56 PM
Here is where you show you're complete and utter ignorance of probability theory. All a stochastic process is is a family of random variables that have been indexed to another (sometimes linearly ordered) set. It doesn't just contain random variables; it is random variables and nothing else.

See the definitions at MathWorld (http://mathworld.wolfram.com/StochasticProcess.html), PlanetMath (http://planetmath.org/encyclopedia/StochasticProcess.html), and Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stochastic_process#Definition) to start you off.

Nope still your ignorance... nobody is saying stochastic processes are random... no-one is using stochastic as a synonym for random... except you. And this is the same pedantic but wrong language you used to assert (wrongly) that an atom of carbon in a life form was somehow different than an atom of carbon in a car. Maybe you can fool others with your hubris and pedantic language, but you can't fool the people who actually understand evolution, stochastic processes, or the nature of atoms. It's all bluster, no content. Just like behe. Nobody but Mijo is saying that if something can be described via a stochastic process then that something itself is random. But THAT, in essence is what you are saying.

articulett
11th November 2007, 10:00 PM
I think he needs to read pages 60 - 62 of Dennett's Breaking the Spell.

Mijo only reads that which supports his preformed conclusions. Unless he can twist Dennetts words into saying that evolution is random, it won't compute. Plus, Dennett is a known atheist, and Mijo finds everything those types say wrong wrong wrong while dashing to the defense of every creationist-abuse someone mentions. Why, didn't he stalk you for daring to point out that it was abusive for the creationist tour guides to teach little kids that scientists are liars? That's right-- he thought your commentary was much worse than the lying creationist tour guides...! And he followed you from thread to thread to derail to discuss your terrible attack on religion.

articulett
11th November 2007, 10:04 PM
I don't know mijo.... somehow your scurry to find articles that you think are saying what you are saying reminds me of Behe's apopolectic reaction to noting his obsession with randomness

http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/A3DGRQ0IO7KYQ2

Now, wait a darn second. Wasn’t it Darwin himself, we are constantly assured, who based his theory on “random” variation? So it’s “incorrigible” to associate with Darwin’s theory something which Darwin himself associated with it? And isn’t there a rather well-known evolutionary biologist with the initials Richard Dawkins currently traveling the world to tell us exactly that Darwinism means purposelessness? --behe

It sounds like you are saying-- "evolution is so random... look even the experts are saying it..."

They aren't. You just keep managing to find and twist evidence so that you can conclude they are.

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 10:04 PM
Mijo only reads that which supports his preformed conclusions.

Sounds much like you.

six7s
11th November 2007, 10:23 PM
How do you continually manage to use words to say nothing at all?
http://forums.randi.org/imagehosting/thum_176024737f0f5a631c.png (http://forums.randi.org/vbimghost.php?do=displayimg&imgid=9176)

quixotecoyote
11th November 2007, 10:24 PM
I've heard, "Mijo is a creationist"
I've heard, "Mijo talks like Behe"
I've heard, "Mijo is ignorant"
I've heard, "Mijo is an internet stalker"
I've heard, "Mijo is dishonest"

You know what I haven't heard? I haven't heard why it's wrong to use the mathematical definition of randomness to describe evolution. I've heard that it makes it inaccessible to layman, but not why it is incorrect.

So enlighten me, because the last time I checked, the academic use of random was a system where variables can take on values within a domain according to a set of probabilities, which to the best of my knowledge is both descriptive of evolution and equivalent to mijo's statements. Just to make sure I understood it correctly, I looked up the formal definition of random and found it was what I thought in this paper on electrical engineering which gave

Grimmett and D. Strirzaker. Probability and Random Processes. Oxford Science Publications,1992

as the citation for the definition.

http://deposit.ddb.de/cgi-bin/dokserv?idn=967514649&dok_var=d1&dok_ext=pdf&filename=967514649.pdf

It's possible that using terms held with the utmost precision is not the best way to educate people, but that's a long way from being wrong.

articulett
11th November 2007, 10:27 PM
Sounds much like you.

I read your links--they just are never saying what you are saying..

... it's you who never comment on anyone else's links... even when those links are exactly the kind of evidence you supposedly were interested in. -- peer reviewed papers where natural selection is described as "nonrandom"-- APA reports regarding abuse of children by religion, studies showing that societies with lesser religiosity show greater societal health, experts using analogies to show that the evolution of information in genomes is analogous to the evolution of information that codes for the technological advancements...

It was you who ignored all the links explaining the discontinuous fossil record while concluding that scientists really can't explain the discontinuity...

I don't ignore your links-- I'm just pointing out that you are the only person who is concluding that they are saying evolution is random or that it makes sense or is meaningful to describe it that way. They aren't. You have imposed your meaning over papers you google using words that you've decided are synonymous for random.

But like every woo- it's easy to see the sawdust in another's eye while ignoring the branch sticking out of your own.

I exchange quite a lot of information with people on this forum. I learn a lot, and I have many people thanking me for teaching them something. The only person accusing me of not reading their links is you. And you know what I think of you and your "opinions". I find them useless, wrong, dishonest, obfuscating, and self -aggrandizing... like everything you post. Even the people who support you at first don't stick around once your unyielding hubris and endless nothingness becomes all too obvious--as it always does.

articulett
11th November 2007, 10:37 PM
I've heard, "Mijo is a creationist"
I've heard, "Mijo talks like Behe"
I've heard, "Mijo is ignorant"
I've heard, "Mijo is an internet stalker"
I've heard, "Mijo is dishonest"

You know what I haven't heard? I haven't heard why it's wrong to use the mathematical definition of randomness to describe evolution. I've heard that it makes it inaccessible to layman, but not why it is incorrect.

So enlighten me, because the last time I checked, the academic use of random was a system where variables can take on values within a domain according to a set of probabilities, which to the best of my knowledge is both descriptive of evolution and equivalent to mijo's statements. Just to make sure I understood it correctly, I looked up the formal definition of random and found it was what I thought in this paper on electrical engineering which gave

Grimmett and D. Strirzaker. Probability and Random Processes. Oxford Science Publications,1992

as the citation for the definition.

http://deposit.ddb.de/cgi-bin/dokserv?idn=967514649&dok_var=d1&dok_ext=pdf&filename=967514649.pdf

It's possible that using terms held with the utmost precision is not the best way to educate people, but that's a long way from being wrong.

Everyone's pretty much said that. You'll have to ask him why he thinks it's more fruitful to call evolution random... and why he thinks Dawkins is dishonest and unclear when he says that natural selection is the opposite of random.

The OP was about what Intelligent Designs predicts... it can't predict anything. But Natural selection can guarantee increasing complexity and the appearance of seemingly miraculous design.

articulett
11th November 2007, 10:48 PM
http://forums.randi.org/imagehosting/thum_176024737f0f5a631c.png (http://forums.randi.org/vbimghost.php?do=displayimg&imgid=9176)

:)

quixotecoyote
11th November 2007, 10:48 PM
Everyone's pretty much said that. You'll have to ask him why he thinks it's more fruitful to call evolution random... and why he thinks Dawkins is dishonest and unclear when he says that natural selection is the opposite of random.

The OP was about what Intelligent Designs predicts... it can't predict anything. But Natural selection can guarantee increasing complexity and the appearance of miraculous design.

Well, calling natural selection the opposite of random is misleading. The opposite of random is deterministic, where outcomes can be spoken of in terms of pure causality rather than probabilities. Even granting that determinism may actually act more as a limit than as a reachable position, natural selection certainly has a large deal of probabilistic effects.

As for Dawkins, I thought the quote was that natural selection is the opposite of random selection, which would still be misleading but less so. There are still a lot of probabilities involved with natural selection, but they are identifiable not arbitrary, which is what I think his meaning was.

I understand that ID'ers like to misuse randomness to access the '747 in a junkyard' argument. But you're not seriously suggesting that we let that impact how we use things correctly? Are you?

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 10:56 PM
Everyone's pretty much said that. You'll have to ask him why he thinks it's more fruitful to call evolution random... and why he thinks Dawkins is dishonest and unclear when he says that natural selection is the opposite of random.

It's quite simple: because calling evolution by natural selection a stochastic process is correct.

The OP was about what Intelligent Designs predicts... it can't predict anything. But Natural selection can guarantee increasing complexity and the appearance of seemingly miraculous design.

I'm sorry, for someone who is so concerned with the correct description of evolution, you couldn't be more wrong. Natural selection does not guarantee increased complexity; it guarantees increased adaptation to an ecological niche. If the niche requires less complexity (another one of your hand-wavy terms) then the organism will be less complex; if the niche requires more complexity, the organism will be more complex.

articulett
11th November 2007, 11:00 PM
Well, calling natural selection the opposite of random is misleading. The opposite of random is deterministic, where outcomes can be spoken of in terms of pure causality rather than probabilities. Even granting that determinism may actually act more as a limit than as a reachable position, natural selection certainly has a large deal of probabilistic effects.

As for Dawkins, I thought the quote was that natural selection is the opposite of random selection, which would still be misleading but less so. There are still a lot of probabilities involved with natural selection, but they are identifiable not arbitrary, which is what I think his meaning was.

I understand that ID'ers like to misuse randomness to access the '747 in a junkyard' argument. But you're not seriously suggesting that we let that impact how we use things correctly? Are you?

I'm saying if you want to be understood than use the words of those who convey understanding to many... not the words of those who obfuscate understanding for many.
http://richarddawkins.net/article,1360,Inferior-Design-Richard-Dawkins-reviews-Behes-lastest-book,Richard-Dawkins

There are those who think they understand evolution better than they actually do... and they tend to think they have valid ways of explaining evolution-- but those who actually understand the process disagree... and there is no evidence that their explanations are useful in any way to anyone. (I consider you one of those people who thinks he understands natural selection better than he actually does... I don't think you could convey it well because I don't think you understand it well.)

In any case... here is what Dawkins said regarding Behe's hyperfocus on calling evolution random:

What a bizarre thing to say! Leave aside the history: unacquainted with genetics, Darwin set no store by randomness. New variants might arise at random, or they might be acquired characteristics induced by food, for all Darwin knew. Far more important for Darwin was the nonrandom process whereby some survived but others perished. Natural selection is arguably the most momentous idea ever to occur to a human mind, because it — alone as far as we know — explains the elegant illusion of design that pervades the living kingdoms and explains, in passing, us. Whatever else it is, natural selection is not a "modest" idea, nor is descent with modification.

Most biologists will say and have said... that natural selection is "not random"-- the opposite of random... the de-randomizer-- and that it confuses the issue to refer to it as random. Having random components, does not a random process make. The randomness is the easy part to understand about evolution (and even mutations are not truly random... they are determined by environmental inputs-- but they occur whether or not the benefit the replicator containing them.) But it's natural selection that is the real miracle worker. And until and unless you understand how it brings about the appearance of design-- you ought to read more and pontificate less... you aren't qualified as an expert on the topic. Those who think otherwise, will be as illuminating as Behe-- a guy who hasn't conveyed an iota of understanding about evolution to anyone.

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 11:01 PM
http://forums.randi.org/imagehosting/thum_176024737f0f5a631c.png (http://forums.randi.org/vbimghost.php?do=displayimg&imgid=9176)

Why don't you actually answer the question and address the content of the quotes instead of being childish?

articulett
11th November 2007, 11:03 PM
Dawkins from the Blind Watchmaker:

Nowadays theologians aren't quite so straightforward as Paley. They don't point to complex living mechanisms and say that they are self-evidently designed by a creator, just like a watch. But there is a tendency to point to them and say 'It is impossible to believe' that such complexity, or such perfection, could have evolved by natural selection. Whenever I read such a remark, I always feel like writing 'Speak for yourself' in the margin.

...There are two things wrong with the argument put by Raven. First, there is the familiar, and I have to say rather irritating, confusion of natural selection with 'randomness'. Mutation is random; natural selection is the very opposite of random. Second, it just isn't true that 'each by itself is useless'. It isn't true that the whole perfect work must have been achieved simultaneously. It isn't true that each part is essential for the success of the whole.

articulett
11th November 2007, 11:04 PM
Why don't you actually answer the question and address the content of the quotes instead of being childish?

Ah yes... because you have shown yourself to be so capable of mature conversation and back and forth dialogue. It's hard to discuss things when someone never really actually makes a point, you know.

Some people are much more fun to talk about than talk to.

quixotecoyote
11th November 2007, 11:09 PM
Dawkins from the Blind Watchmaker:

Congratulations, you got the quote right.

My point stands, arrogant content-free verbosity notwithstanding. .

mijopaalmc
11th November 2007, 11:16 PM
Ah yes... because you have shown yourself to be so capable of mature conversation and back and forth dialogue. It's hard to discuss things when someone never really actually makes a point, you know.

Some people are much more fun to talk about than talk to.

Hmmmm...I don't ever call names unless it is true, which is the case with your persistent lie about my being a creationist. You have never made any effort to explain why you don't understand what I'm saying. You just assume because I say evolution is random/a stochastic process that I am a creationist

quixotecoyote
11th November 2007, 11:22 PM
Expanding on what I said before, the definition captures exactly what is wrong with the 747 analogy, captures the essence of evolution (random happenings according to set probabilities) and is understandable by many.

The essence of evolution is probabilistic interactions in the environment to determine what information is replicated and passed on. Agreed?

articulett
11th November 2007, 11:30 PM
It's quite simple: because calling evolution by natural selection a stochastic process is correct.

I'm sorry, for someone who is so concerned with the correct description of evolution, you couldn't be more wrong. Natural selection does not guarantee increased complexity; it guarantees increased adaptation to an ecological niche. If the niche requires less complexity (another one of your hand-wavy terms) then the organism will be less complex; if the niche requires more complexity, the organism will be more complex.

Wrong again... but of course there is no unit for measuring complexity... but natural selection guarantees incremental evolution or the info. dies out.... technology continues to go "forward" and information systems including genomes become increasingly complex... of course this is the basis of the selfish gene... and memes and other other info codes that can get themselves replicated. It's your lack of understanding which makes it so that you cannot compute this. When it come to information-- it's forward (towards better information storers, assimilaters, recombiners, and replicators) or it dies out... http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/lloyd06/lloyd06_index.html
(a clue for you :) )

And you are not sorry... you are just wrong... yet again. Once again you put down those who might educate you. What do you suppose these guys are saying? And why do you think you are so much more informative when nobody else thinks so?
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/serpentine07/Pagel.html
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/serpentine07/Tooby.html

You know how the internet must grow in complexity... it can branch out and evolve, but the only path is forward. Successful links beget a plethora of increasingly efficient links--information assimilators, copiers, storers, etc. It's your failure to understand natural selection and your hyperfocus on randomness that keeps you clueless about this very amazing tidbit.

quixotecoyote
11th November 2007, 11:32 PM
Of course evolution will lead to greater complexity. If you define complexity as what evolution leads to :rolleyes:.

T'ai Chi
11th November 2007, 11:40 PM
It's quite simple: because calling evolution by natural selection a stochastic process is correct.

My thoughts exactly. Mijo, I wish more people would stick to math instead of endless articullations. ;)

If others haven't seen it yet, check out http://www.statisticool.com/evolution.htm

RE: the iteration that was presented that had a random seed then converged to sqrt(2). I thought I covered examples like these nicely with talking about 'trivial functions', for example f(rand) = 1+rand^0. I mean, at least the iteration presented was random at first, but then it apparently is sqrt(2) forever and after a certain time t fails to 'evolve' at all. Sorry, that's not how evolution works, even for these toy models we are discussing. A model would have to be capable of producing change between any time t and t+1. And this especially applies when we are talking about change over billions of years.

My note at the bottom of my page covers the reason why a constant function (which the iteration example essentially is after a very few steps) cannot work, cannot even be considered, for a model of evolution.

articulett
11th November 2007, 11:41 PM
Expanding on what I said before, the definition captures exactly what is wrong with the 747 analogy, captures the essence of evolution (random happenings according to set probabilities) and is understandable by many.

The essence of evolution is probabilistic interactions in the environment to determine what information is replicated and passed on. Agreed?

No, I don't agree. I think you sound muddled. I think that like Mijo you think you understand evolution although no one else would agree. I don't think you could convey how the design comes from evolution any better than Mijo, Jimbob, or Behe. I think this is because you don't understand the process, but you are certain you do. But I'm sure you and Mijo can have a scintillating conversation about how you are so much clearer than Dawkins and the many biologists who most emphatically state that natural selection is not random... and it's absolutely confusing and misleading to focus on the randomness rather than natural selection when trying to convey the simple elegance of evolution.

I'd say that evolution is driven by information that gets itself copied-- and this information is honed over time by environmental inputs of multiple sorts-- including things mijo wants to call random like meteors-- meteors and everything in an environment are selectors... randomness only refers to the changes which may or may not be selected.

How does your garbled explanation apply to this? http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19733274/ Creationist would see it as if somebody purposely tweaked the butterfly genome. But Dawkins and others would point out that the mutation had a trick for getting itself copied. It gave it's replicator a survival advantage and so the mutation got itself copied widely. It look miraculous-- but only if you don't understand natural selection. And your garbled probability blather doesn't convey that understanding. Neither does anything Behe or Mijo says. If you can't be as clear as an MSNBC article, then you ought to shut up and learn more before insulting others and assuming you have something to teach.

If you think Dawkins is being misleading... you might want to consider the fact that maybe it's your lack of understanding that is making you assume as much. That's what it looks like to the rest of us.

quixotecoyote
11th November 2007, 11:46 PM
Actually I agree that this isn't the clearest way to educate someone completely ignorant on the topic, which may be the reason I'm not getting through to you, I don't know.

It is interesting that you'd make that claim and still post:

The analogy captures exactly what is wrong with the 747 analogy, captures the essence of evolution (bottom up seeming "design") and is understandable by many.

The essence of evolution is information creating objects (life forms or otherwise) that interact in the environment to determine what information is replicated and passed on. Agreed?In order to defend using intelligent design to explain evolution. Not like that might lead to some confusion or anything.

articulett
11th November 2007, 11:48 PM
Of course evolution will lead to greater complexity. If you define complexity as what evolution leads to :rolleyes:.
I have no problem understanding the experts and those who teach many. I provided links which said is much. I'm not the one claiming Dawkins is misleading while pretending to have expertise in something no one else seems to think I have expertise in.

Let's see... Dawkins has conveyed an understanding of evolution to many. You have conveyed it to no one... and yet you think you are informative and that Dawkins is misleading. Interesting bit of hubris. But-- Tai' agrees with you-- and Behe. And Mijo. So you are in excellent company. In fact I bet all of you think you understand more about evolution than Dawkins-- and can explain it better. I bet you all think you can explain it better than each other too. I haven't said anything about evolution or complexity that isn't backed up by strong resources... and you guys have... well ... behe... and a couple of old articles that aren't really describing evolution nor are they saying what you are saying-- but hey, when you have so much faith in your own knowledge-- who needs facts.

(You can't learn anything when you think you are smarter than the experts, ya' know...)

Maybe it's not Dawkins that is unclear... maybe it's not me you should be rolling your eyes at... maybe it's time to examine your own education on the subject. Maybe you just don't know quite as much as you think.

quixotecoyote
11th November 2007, 11:53 PM
Apparently you have a problem understand the role in randomness in evolution, as you refuse to admit it plays a part. You've staked your position and will defend it to the death with a Larenesque tenacity. Amusing, but not particularly inspiring.

You misrepresent Dawkins as saying that there is no probability in evolution.
You misrepresent Mijo as a creationist.
You continually deny sources that disagree with you without saying why they are wrong, you just say 'That doesn't say what you think it says'.
You equivocate about whether evolution is random or not, sometimes agreeing that it technically is, other times vehemently denying it.

Perhaps you should reconsider debating from that high horse of yours and actually consider the arguments presented.

articulett
11th November 2007, 11:56 PM
Actually I agree that this isn't the clearest way to educate someone completely ignorant on the topic, which may be the reason I'm not getting through to you, I don't know.

It is interesting that you'd make that claim and still post:

In order to defend using intelligent design to explain evolution. Not like that might lead to some confusion or anything.

wrong... I defended the analogy of airplane design information evolving incrementally just like genomic information-- I am more than explanatory on that thread. And the majority of the people understood me just fine. Moreover, I provided multiple links. The confusion is yours. And the confusion, once again, comes from your thinking you understand natural selection-- when you do not. At least not any better than Mijo.

In fact, I pointed out that 747 did not evolve randomly-- they evolved much like species evolve over time based on replication of information that worked. Eohippus did not turn into zebras and horses-- the information that made zebras and horses evolved from the information that made their common ancestor--and that information was refined and honed via the organisms it coded for over time. The first airplaine did not evolve into the airplanes of today... but the information in it's blueprint was widely copied and modified and selected by the environment of humans via the airplanes built over time.

If you can't understand the analogy... it's because you don't understand natural selection. It's not me. It's not Dawkins. It's not everyone else. When the only people on your side are people known not to be particularly informed on the topic-- then maybe, just maybe, it's time to wonder if the lack of understanding is YOU.

(Maybe the people you insult are the people who could give you a clue if you weren't so damn sure you knew it all already.)

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 12:01 AM
wrong... I defended the analogy of airplane design information evolving incrementally just like genomic information-- I am more than explanatory on that thread. And the majority of the people understood me just fine. Moreover, I provided multiple links. The confusion is yours. And the confusion, once again, comes from your thinking you understand natural selection-- when you do not. At least not any better than Mijo.

In fact, I pointed out that 747 did not evolve randomly-- they evolved much like species evolve over time based on replication of information that worked. Eohippus did not turn into zebras and horses-- the information that made zebras and horses evolved from the information that made their common ancestor--and that information was refined and honed via the organisms it coded for over time. The first airplaine did not evolve into the airplanes of today... but the information in it's blueprint was widely copied and modified and selected by the environment of humans via the airplanes built over time.

Yes I am aware you promote similar misunderstanding on both threads, that isn't the point. The point was that you're unwilling to accept technically correct but possibly confusing formulations in this thread, but are happy to promote a formulation on the other thread that is almost exactly the actual argument creationists use.

If you can't understand the analogy... it's because you don't understand natural selection. It's not me. It's not Dawkins. It's not everyone else. When the only people on your side are people known not to be particularly informed on the topic-- then maybe, just maybe, it's time to wonder if the lack of understanding is YOU.

(Maybe the people you insult are the people who could give you a clue if you weren't so damn sure you knew it all already.)

:i:

articulett
12th November 2007, 12:07 AM
Apparently you have a problem understand the role in randomness in evolution, as you refuse to admit it plays a part. You've staked your position and will defend it to the death with a Larenesque tenacity. Amusing, but not particularly inspiring.

You misrepresent Dawkins as saying that there is no probability in evolution.
You misrepresent Mijo as a creationist.
You continually deny sources that disagree with you without saying why they are wrong, you just say 'That doesn't say what you think it says'.
You equivocate about whether evolution is random or not, sometimes agreeing that it technically is, other times vehemently denying it.

Perhaps you should reconsider debating from that high horse of yours and actually consider the arguments presented.

Who doesn't understand the randomness? And I suppose Dawkins doesn't understand it either while you do. I don't equivocate, you nutter. The term is misleading . I'd use it to refer to mutation but not to selection-- like all the intelligent people do. I wouldn't sum up evolution as random or be obsessed with describing it that way because that's what Behe, Tai' and others of that ilk do.

What arguments presented. You guys never say anything. You don't understand the very basics of that which you imagine yourself experts in. If you think you are experts... go find someone who actually thinks you are conveying evolution in a "fruitful" useful way. That isn't me. That sure wouldn't be Dawkins. So far you have Tai' and Behe on your side. I would think that if it was so fruitful and explanatory then those who described it so muddled would be selling books like Dawkins, et. al. And respected on this forum like those whom others actually seek for explanation on the subject.

What's there to debate? You have to say something and make a point to debate it. You have to understand the subject you are pretending to have expertise in. Find someone respectable that can translate what you say--someone who thinks you actually understand natural selection and are conveying it better than Behe-- anyone...

Otherwise, it's just like woo. You believe you understand natural selection and that you have some expertise and that what you have to say on the subject is useful or illuminating... but no one else does. And you aren't saying the same thing as each other. You are, however, saying stuff indistinguishible from the stuff that Behe says or Tai' says. And the point of debating Behe and Tai would be what exactly? What are you saying that is more worth "debating" than them.

articulett
12th November 2007, 12:13 AM
Yes I am aware you promote similar misunderstanding on both threads, that isn't the point. The point was that you're unwilling to accept technically correct but possibly confusing formulations in this thread, but are happy to promote a formulation on the other thread that is almost exactly the actual argument creationists use.

:i:

Excellent. I do consider my sources. So that's you, Mijo, and Tai'. And you know how fabulous and important I think your conclusions are. (About as important as everyone else thinks they are. :) )

What's your point exactly. Ah... so you think you do understand natural selection. Based on what exactly? Your inability to understand Southwind's analogy? Or was it your conclusion that Dawkins is being misleading while Behe's calling evolution random is not? Was it your failure to read and understand any current writings on the subject... any expert... was it the fact that you considered yourself more knowledgeable than all the various people who have stopped by threads to correct you... or let you know that they weren't on the same page as you... Have you read the Selfish Gene? Darwin? Matt Ridley? Anyone current? Talk origins? Or is it just something about your ego which makes you certain that you know everything there is to know on the topic?

articulett
12th November 2007, 12:20 AM
Yes I am aware you promote similar misunderstanding on both threads, that isn't the point. The point was that you're unwilling to accept technically correct but possibly confusing formulations in this thread, but are happy to promote a formulation on the other thread that is almost exactly the actual argument creationists use.

:i:

Wrong. Another supposed expert on what creationists use who hasn't a clue as to what creationist use. Furthermore, Mijo is not even "technically correct". There is no peer reviewed paper defining random quite as loosely as he is... moreover, there is no papers that call natural selection random-- though he does everything in his power like Behe to pretend that they are. Who cares if I accept it. I'm just pointing out that it's not useful and it's confusing. So why would anyone insist on using it. It conveys no information. And it misleads people about the most important aspect of evolution... the part that you don't understand-- natural selection. It doesn't convey what natural selection is...how it leads to the appearance of design.

Almost everything about creationist obfuscation is contained in that Dawkins quote-- and it's all about the randomness... because randomness can be extrapolated to the torando/747. But that is a strawman-- and that strawman is undone... because even the 747 didn't poof into being... it was the result of a lot of trial and error and replications of designs that worked tweaked through time.

I mean, your point of view might be worth considering if the only people making the same argument weren't a smattering of nutters like Mijo, Behe, and Tai. Right? Have you got anyone respectable on your side. We haver a whole forum of people educated about evolution. None of them sound quite like you. But Tai does.

And I find your insults of me flattering... because you have also insulted Dawkins... and many other people I find informative while acting as a cheerleader for a view espoused by Tai', Mijo, and Behe.

articulett
12th November 2007, 12:29 AM
Apparently you have a problem understand the role in randomness in evolution, as you refuse to admit it plays a part. You've staked your position and will defend it to the death with a Larenesque tenacity. Amusing, but not particularly inspiring.

You misrepresent Dawkins as saying that there is no probability in evolution.
You misrepresent Mijo as a creationist.
You continually deny sources that disagree with you without saying why they are wrong, you just say 'That doesn't say what you think it says'.
You equivocate about whether evolution is random or not, sometimes agreeing that it technically is, other times vehemently denying it.

Perhaps you should reconsider debating from that high horse of yours and actually consider the arguments presented.

Now that's irony. I think it's clear who is on a high horse.

I do not misrepresent Dawkins. Mijo is indistinguishible from Behe in his banter (QED) and if someone else can translate you it would help... because it's like the gish gallop-- you throw out thing after thing and keep changing the points and attacking me and challenging me. Or maybe you can find someone reputable who agrees with you. Someone who finds you a good debater or knowledgeable on this topic. Because I feel like I'm having a conversation with Tai'-- and really, what's the point in that? If you can't distinguish yourself and your claims from known woo-- well then--

to me you ARE woo... or maybe just immature... until the evidence shows otherwise. I mean it's kinda fun to get you all riled up. But it's pointless. Woo don't learn and they can't see where they are lacking. Plus there's a whole forum of smart people I can learn from and teach and engage and enjoy. When I talk about my passion and area of training and expertise... I kind of like to have someone who has read the basics and understand a little and actually wants to know more-- just like I want to know more. And fortunately, I know the places to go for that information. And it sure and the heck isn't T'ai, Behe, Mijo, or you.

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 12:29 AM
<reading #155> Insults, arrogance, pretension..... There has to be content in here somewhere, darn it!

:dig:

Wait, I think I found some!

Otherwise, it's just like woo. You believe you understand natural selection and that you have some expertise and that what you have to say on the subject is useful or illuminating... but no one else does. And you aren't saying the same thing as each other. You are, however, saying stuff indistinguishible from the stuff that Behe says or Tai' says. And the point of debating Behe and Tai would be what exactly? What are you saying that is more worth "debating" than them.

Nope, more insults and an appeal to popularity.

Let's look closer, there must be SOME redeeming value in here somewhere, right? :magnifygl

No that was the end of the post.

Oh well <sigh>

There's 30 seconds and a few dozen words I'll never get back.

Anyway, given the lack of actual content to argue against, I'll expand my own point.

Dawkins once said that it's hard for people to imagine how random mutations can give rise to speciation. He likened to a gibberish string of characters, changing at random turning into the Shakespearian phrase "Methinks it is like a weasel" from. Now I doubt even Articulett would deny that the changing of letters is a random process (as it is stated by definition) and so probabilistic.

Where I believe her misunderstanding comes in (not meaning to misrepresent, it's just hard to separate the actual arguments from the condescending diatribes) is that she thinks that having a selection criteria is ground for calling the process non-random.

There's two main problems with this.

First, consider an argument by analogy. If you play roulette, it is a game of chance. It is a random effect where the ball lands even if it landing on Red may double your money. Just like Dawkin's weasel program, nothing about that contradicts or doesn't fit with the definition of random I gave earlier.

Second, consider where the selection process came from. Is it the result of probabilities? Of course. Of all the sentences in Shakespeare, how likely was it that Dawkins chose that sentence? The variables are unknown of course, but of all the insults that Shakespeare wrote, how likely was that to stick in Dawkins' mind? Impossible to know, of course, but an unknown probability is still a probability and thus random. Similarly, unless Articulett is trying to present an argument to help ID (unintentionally as she usually does), she can't deny that natural selection processes don't proceed from probabilistic roots. Unless you're going to say that everything was completely pre-determined (by who I wonder) you have to admit to a range of probabilities that selection pressures can fall into to; therefore probabilistic, therefore random.

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 12:33 AM
#156-pure insults and ad hom, no content

#157-sheer denial without explication or content combined with poison well fallacies

Frankly that's what I thought you were doing. No one can produce that much text and say so little of substance if they actually are trying to argue a position.

Please PM me when you are done trolling. I wouldn't mind having a legitimate discussion about this.

articulett
12th November 2007, 12:38 AM
#156-pure insults and ad hom, no content

#157-sheer denial without explication or content combined with poison well fallacies

Frankly that's what I thought you were doing. No one can produce that much text and say so little of substance if they actually are trying to argue a position.

Please PM me when you are done trolling. I wouldn't mind having a legitimate discussion about this.

Until you distinguish your methods from Tai's-- I think it would be pointless. I have many excellent sources here. I prefer information exchange with the more knowledgeable. And your assessment of my posts might better if used on yourself. I shall put you on ignore. I'm sure the smart people will quote you should you say anything of value. I shall trust those same people to let me know if Mijo says something informative or useful as well.

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 12:44 AM
Until you distinguish your methods from CFLarsen's I will feel the same.

Fortunately for me, while I may share an opinion or two with Tai Chi, I've never shared his methods and there are dozens of threads which attest to that. Unfortunately, in the only two threads I've ever dealt with you, pretension, and ill-conceived attempts at browbeating are the main tools you seem to use. Combined with a fondness for large word-counts consisting of fallacious appeals to popularity, authority, and ad homs, it leads me to at least agree with you that discussion is pointless here.

articulett
12th November 2007, 12:46 AM
Of course evolution will lead to greater complexity. If you define complexity as what evolution leads to :rolleyes:.

Or if you're intelligent. http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/lloyd06/lloyd06_index.html

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 12:48 AM
Or if you're intelligent. http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/lloyd06/lloyd06_index.html

Yes, randomness can lead to ordered structures. That wasn't a point in dispute.

FireGarden
12th November 2007, 01:46 AM
Although you are correct to say our inability to predict everything doesn't mean that there aren't (at some level) simple steps that can be described deterministically. But this is true about everything we label as "random" a dice roll, a coin flip, or anything. As such, to minimize what random means in the sense of evolution, minimizes all "random" processes.

Would you compare evolution to a dice roll? Or would you compare it to a sieve?

I think the latter is better because evolution contains an element of sorting. The environment sorts out which mutations are most successful.

Whether the mutations are random or not is neither here nor there as far as the sorting "algorithm" is concerned. It will manage to sort just as long as there is variation.

FireGarden
12th November 2007, 01:55 AM
Additionally, it is to the benefit of evolutionary biology to try to explain how evolution can occur even if it is random. It just seems extremely dishonest to me to say that evolution by natural selection non-random but then describe it as operating on probabilities.

The program I linked to does that. The input is random. The process of evolution is not. It sorts out the variation according to a simulated environment. The process as a whole ends up working.

It would do so no matter the input. As long as there is meaningful variation, there is something to sort.

The only way to throw a spanner in the works is to remove the variation. I don't see how that can be done with a random input. The input would have an aim, a goal. Thus could not be random.

articulett
12th November 2007, 02:09 AM
I

Now, I still love ya, arti. Don't get me wrong. But, this would not be the first time you called someone a "creationist", who wasn't:

I was not wrong about Rodney. He IS a creationist. He may not be a young earth creationist... so I may have mislabeled him on that extreme and what he said was I'm not a "young earth creationist."... quotes in the original. He was using being oblique... he is probably not a young earth creationist... just a standard kind. And I'd be glad to look up links that prove it even to you, my trusting friend.

Rodney is definitely a creationist... moreover, he was definitely implying that there was meaning behind the levitating man in front of the white house. Now, I love you too, wowbagger, but you are amazingly naive. "intelligent Design" proponents are very wary about seeming to have ulterior motives-- so they hedge and play with words. Behe will even say he is not a creationist. But he is. You just haven't been around it enough where you recognize the lingo-- and what is NOT being said-- the way words are used so multiple people can hear what they want to hear. You trust people to be honest... but intelligent design proponents are not. Behe isn't. Some people think that he's not being dishonest-- but I think he is. I think it's very nice of you to come to the defense of some members... and I promise not to warn you any more. But your conclusions point to naivete' on your part.

Mark my words. The more Mijo says, the less you'll understand what he's trying to say. And it won't be because it's you.

ETA-- Here's a linky showing Rodney's creationist leanings... and it's from Mijo's OP with a loaded question in which all this was discussed before

If you think you can make a dent, be my guest. But there were people posting there who were much clearer than you or I-- and no one managed to give him a clue. His position never changed... and the the OP question was weird-- designed not to be answered... and very similar to his other weird thread... that was also a reflection of a common creationist canard.

FireGarden
12th November 2007, 02:14 AM
Well, calling natural selection the opposite of random is misleading. The opposite of random is deterministic, where outcomes can be spoken of in terms of pure causality rather than probabilities.

Is the outcome of a game of chess random? We can't determine the outcome before hand. There is even a non-zero probability that I will beat the world champion in a 10 game match. Do you want to call such a match random?

By the precise definition of random, the answer would be "yes". But that is somewhat extreme. Especially when the topic isn't maths but public debate, where less precise defintions of the word "random" are used.

And even if the outcome of a chess game is random, the process of playing the game is not. Very few players make random moves.

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 02:18 AM
The program I linked to does that. The input is random. The process of evolution is not. It sorts out the variation according to a simulated environment. The process as a whole ends up working.

It would do so no matter the input. As long as there is meaningful variation, there is something to sort.

The only way to throw a spanner in the works is to remove the variation. I don't see how that can be done with a random input. The input would have an aim, a goal. Thus could not be random.

I missed where you linked to the program. Could you relink?

My take on it is that in evolution, you don't know what the next viable formulation will be. Moreover, you can't know. Too many variables. But it is possible to put some possibilities within a range of probabilities. Thus even in a system with selected or designed components, the end result can be random. I don't see why you'd call a program with random (not arbitrary, mind you) results non-random.

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 02:21 AM
Is the outcome of a game of chess random? We can't determine the outcome before hand. There is even a non-zero probability that I will beat the world champion in a 10 game match. Do you want to call such a match random?

By the precise definition of random, the answer would be "yes". But that is somewhat extreme. Especially when the topic isn't maths but public debate, where less precise defintions of the word "random" are used.

And even if the outcome of a chess game is random, the process of playing the game is not. Very few players make random moves.

I think it could be important to make the distinction. If you are speaking to an audience capable of understanding, "technically, the outcome will be random" then you should do so, as it is most accurate.

Otherwise you could say "yes for the common usage of random".

But if someone is trying to use the chess match as an analogy for something else, you should clearly explain the terms used, even if they may be counter-intuitive.

I'm not willing to make an argument on random moves within chess. There's a player in the local chess club who resorts to 'chaos chess' tactics against clearly superior players wherein he does exactly that, making random moves in an attempt to cause his opponent to overthink the game and make a mistake. Additionally, when I play sometimes there are several moves which would seem equally worthy. How do I pick? I might call it random. Then again determining which opening I play or how the midgame plays out could be determined probabilistically as well.

eta:
In the end, most if not all things end up being random. As you implied earlier, there may be situations in which the causality or probabilities are so obvious there's no need to treat the situation as random, though it may in fact be. In such cases you might say, "For all intents and purposes, this is deterministic." Even if that is the case I would not put evolution in that category.

FireGarden
12th November 2007, 02:36 AM
I missed where you linked to the program. Could you relink?

No problem:
http://math.hws.edu/xJava/GA/

My take on it is that in evolution, you don't know what the next viable formulation will be. Moreover, you can't know. Too many variables. But it is possible to put some possibilities within a range of probabilities. Thus even in a system with selected or designed components, the end result can be random. I don't see why you'd call a program with random (not arbitrary, mind you) results non-random.

I've already said that the program could be used as a random number generator -- just use the stats output. But what would be the point? The program itself uses a better random number generator. The stats seem less random to me. Especially at the beginning when they rise and rise -- that's something of a pattern even if not entirely determined.

More importantly: The program would continue to work without the random input. Just as long as the input wasn't designed to lead to a lack of variation, it doesn't matter how regular the input is. 101010101010..... would probably work fine.

The evolution aspect of the program merely sorts the variation into successful/not so successful. That aspect of the program is not random. No more than a sieve is random. Yes, some flower gets stuck to the side of a sieve rather than falling through. So at the extreme end... A sieve is non-deterministic. But seriously.... Who calls a sieving a random process?

articulett
12th November 2007, 02:37 AM
Is the outcome of a game of chess random? We can't determine the outcome before hand. There is even a non-zero probability that I will beat the world champion in a 10 game match. Do you want to call such a match random?

By the precise definition of random, the answer would be "yes". But that is somewhat extreme. Especially when the topic isn't maths but public debate, where less precise defintions of the word "random" are used.

And even if the outcome of a chess game is random, the process of playing the game is not. Very few players make random moves.

I know it doesn't make sense... but those bent on calling natural selection random will also insist that Poker is as random as roulette. Why anyone would use such poor descriptors is beyond me-- but labeling things random seems to be more important to such folks than conveying information. I know you think that a little explanation will do the trick-- but it just won't work. It never does. It's a tenacious mind lock.

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 02:39 AM
I know it doesn't make sense... but those bent on calling natural selection random will also insist that Poker is as random as roulette. Why anyone would use such poor descriptors is beyond me-- but labeling things random seems to be more important to such folks than conveying information. I know you think that a little explanation will do the trick-- but it just won't work. It never does. It's a mind meld or something.

I have been quite clear that randomness involves degrees of probabilities, meaning your 'roulette as random as poker' jibe is a blatant strawman.

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 02:44 AM
No problem:
http://math.hws.edu/xJava/GA/

I've already said that the program could be used as a random number generator -- just use the stats output. But what would be the point? The program itself uses a better random number generator. The stats seem less random to me. Especially at the beginning when they rise and rise -- that's something of a pattern even if not entirely determined.

More importantly: The program would continue to work without the random input. Just as long as the input wasn't designed to lead to a lack of variation, it doesn't matter how regular the input is. 101010101010..... would probably work fine.

The evolution aspect of the program merely sorts the variation into successful/not so successful. That aspect of the program is not random. No more than a sieve is random. Yes, some flower gets stuck to the side of a sieve rather than falling through. So at the extreme end... A sieve is non-deterministic. But seriously.... Who calls a sieving a random process?

May I restrict my comment in terms of your program?

In any given year there will be an average score, a high score, and a general pattern of plantgrowth and eater behavior.

In the simulation being run, for any given year you will not be able to absolutely predict any of those things. However with enough time and familiarity with the program, you will be able to predict the probabilities of them. Is there anything in this analysis you don't agree with?

My next step would be to say that if you cannot evaluate the system deterministically, you have to treat it as random. Random doesn't mean arbitrary selection, which we agree this isn't. It means not-deterministic or probabilistic.

eta:
And I agree that the stats here are more random than the random number its based on. I feel there may be something wrong with saying some things are less random than others, but as I can't articulate a argument against it, for now I'm agreeing.

FireGarden
12th November 2007, 02:54 AM
I think it could be important to make the distinction. If you are speaking to an audience capable of understanding, "technically, the outcome will be random" then you should do so, as it is most accurate.

Otherwise you could say "yes for the common usage of random".

I've nothing against that.

I'm not willing to make an argument on random moves within chess. There's a player in the local chess club who resorts to 'chaos chess' tactics against clearly superior players wherein he does exactly that, making random moves in an attempt to cause his opponent to overthink the game and make a mistake. Additionally, when I play sometimes there are several moves which would seem equally worthy. How do I pick? I might call it random. Then again determining which opening I play or how the midgame plays out could be determined probabilistically as well.

Games at our level have been described as "an unending exchange of blunders." :D

Precisely why the outcome of a match between myself and Anand would be so predictable.

eta:
In the end, most if not all things end up being random. As you implied earlier, there may be situations in which the causality or probabilities are so obvious there's no need to treat the situation as random, though it may in fact be. In such cases you might say, "For all intents and purposes, this is deterministic." Even if that is the case I would not put evolution in that category.

The outcome of evolution, maybe. Because there are many possible outcomes.

But the process is different.
There are many possible outcomes to sieving. Which grains of flour will get stuck to the sieve? But a process which bring order to random data is not itself random.

Putting words into alphabetical order is not a random process. If the words are chosen at random, then the output will be random -- in the sense of not pre-determined. But the act of sorting them is clearly not random.

Evolution is more like a sorting algorithm than a random number generator. As I said before, such a sorting algorithm works with non-random input. It is not intrinsically random even though you could use it as a random number generator by inputing random numbers which are then sorted. The randomness would not come from the sorting algorithm. Would it?

FireGarden
12th November 2007, 02:59 AM
My next step would be to say that if you cannot evaluate the system deterministically, you have to treat it as random. Random doesn't mean arbitrary selection, which we agree this isn't. It means not-deterministic or probabilistic.

I cannot determine the output of the whole system, because the whole system uses a random number generator.

But such a program would still illustrate evolution even if you replaced the random numbers with a regular input. Then it becomes entirely deterministic. If you run the programme twice with the same input, you get the same output.

The process of evolution requires variation in order to work. Whether that variation is random or not is neither here nor there.

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 03:09 AM
I've nothing against that.
The outcome of evolution, maybe. Because there are many possible outcomes.

But the process is different.
There are many possible outcomes to sieving. Which grains of flour will get stuck to the sieve? But a process which bring order to random data is not itself random.

Putting words into alphabetical order is not a random process. If the words are chosen at random, then the output will be random -- in the sense of not pre-determined. But the act of sorting them is clearly not random.

Allow me a stream of rhetorical questions.

What if you make a mistake while sorting?

What do you sort them by? Which alphabet? English? Why? Why do you speak it? What if you'd been raised speaking Chinese?

Evolution is more like a sorting algorithm than a random number generator. As I said before, such a sorting algorithm works with non-random input. It is not intrinsically random even though you could use it as a random number generator by inputing random numbers which are then sorted. The randomness would not come from the sorting algorithm. Would it?

I agree that evolution is partially a sorting mechanism; variation + natural selection. Both have random elements though. The variation can be treated as completely random for all intents and purposes as we agree on that.

But the selection doesn't remove the randomness. Not every variation adding to fitness is selected for and not every variation detracting from fitness is selected against. It probably will. Through that probability the randomness is maintained.

Also, why are the selection pressures the selection pressures? Why are you sorting words in the Roman/American alphabet instead of the Chinese? There's randomness here too.

Finally, even if neither of those were the case, I thought you agreed that the results were random, albeit less random than a pure dice roller would be? I still don't see how a process with a random result can be called non-random.

cyborg
12th November 2007, 03:11 AM
I suppose I could point out the false dichotomy of random/non-random again.

I suppose I could but since no-one really got it last time I doubt they'll get it this time.

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 03:13 AM
I cannot determine the output of the whole system, because the whole system uses a random number generator.

But such a program would still illustrate evolution even if you replaced the random numbers with a regular input. Then it becomes entirely deterministic. If you run the programme twice with the same input, you get the same output.

The process of evolution requires variation in order to work. Whether that variation is random or not is neither here nor there.

I'm unconvinced. What would the program be illustrating without the random chances of increasing fitness, the random chances of copying, the random sharing of choice/situation requirements, etc? It doesn't seem like it could still model evolution as a process. You could do a post hoc modeling the path of one instance of evolution that you already knew all the variables for, but you couldn't extrapolate that into anything or make comments about the course of evolution in general.

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 03:14 AM
I suppose I could point out the false dichotomy of random/non-random again.

I suppose I could but since no-one really got it last time I doubt they'll get it this time.

Thank you for posting to inform us you won't be posting anything, especially as you apparently missed the discussion of degrees of randomness, determinism as a limit, and comparative randomness throughout processes.

cyborg
12th November 2007, 03:17 AM
It's not like I haven't seen it before but whilst everyone is too attached to their words no progress will occur.

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 03:22 AM
It's not like I haven't seen it before but whilst everyone is too attached to their words no progress will occur.

The technical definition is the technical definition. That should be acknowledged in any serious discussion about it. If a process can pragmatically be handled in a purely causal/deterministic manner, then fine. But that's a 'for all intents and purposes' arrangement and I have no idea why some people foster such an adamant rejection of that.

cyborg
12th November 2007, 03:57 AM
The technical definition is the technical definition. That should be acknowledged in any serious discussion about it.

Technical defintions are not written in stone for one - they are constructed to enable clarity of communication, precision of defintion and easy of manipulation. If a new way of constructing such a definition can increase any of these it can replace an old way.

For another technical definitions in different domains can often conflict - and they tend to do so all the time.

That should definitely be acknowledged in any serious discussion.

If a process can pragmatically be handled in a purely causal/deterministic manner, then fine. But that's a 'for all intents and purposes' arrangement

As if there were any other. The problem is with being unable to be flexible to construct models appropriately - there is too much emphasis on what is "true".

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 04:01 AM
I see nothing to disagree with in that post. I may disagree with how you choose to apply those points.

JoeEllison
12th November 2007, 04:28 AM
The technical definition is the technical definition. That should be acknowledged in any serious discussion about it.
Just as soon as we start firing research papers at each other, we should stick to the sole use of technical definitions. :D

In this specific situation(the ID propaganda machine, not necessarily this thread), the word "random" is used in a generally deceptive way, which explains why some people would prefer to use terms that carry the technical meaning forward, while not carrying the same informal connotations that "random" contains.

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 04:52 AM
Just as soon as we start firing research papers at each other, we should stick to the sole use of technical definitions. :D

In this specific situation(the ID propaganda machine, not necessarily this thread), the word "random" is used in a generally deceptive way, which explains why some people would prefer to use terms that carry the technical meaning forward, while not carrying the same informal connotations that "random" contains.

I can get behind that. I joined this thread because I was a bit peeved at the abuse mijo was taking for suggesting that random was correct. Apparently for the specific definition of random that is correct, yet those on the pro-random side still got smeared as creationist Behes despite endorsing evolution.

Yes there may be better words to use, but they will carry the meaning of the same definition; probabilistic processes. How probabilistic is another matter entirely, but it's a necessary framework to have in place for the understanding.

Ichneumonwasp
12th November 2007, 05:12 AM
I'm sorry Articulett, but I must comment on one point. Mijo is quite correct that evolution by means of natural selection does not equal increase in complexity. It equals adaptation to environment. While that often translates into increased complexity (though we haven't really defined what that word means), it may also result from an apparent decrease in complexity from the phenotyoic perspective by simply turning off sets of genes. Some parasites appear phenotypically less complex though they may have the same genetic heritage as their "more complex" brethren.

As for the rest I'll ask in this thread what I did in the others. Can't you guys try to see the middle ground? You are so stuck on the use of a particular word that you are missing the real teaching points.

JoeEllison
12th November 2007, 05:13 AM
I can get behind that. I joined this thread because I was a bit peeved at the abuse mijo was taking for suggesting that random was correct. Apparently for the specific definition of random that is correct, yet those on the pro-random side still got smeared as creationist Behes despite endorsing evolution.

Yes there may be better words to use, but they will carry the meaning of the same definition; probabilistic processes. How probabilistic is another matter entirely, but it's a necessary framework to have in place for the understanding.
I think it was the insistence on the word "random" that created the suspicions and accusations... because, on some level, it seems that only a creationist like Behe would insist on using the word, for ideological reasons. Those without an axe to grind would seem more willing to use a different word to express the same information.

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 05:30 AM
I think it was the insistence on the word "random" that created the suspicions and accusations... because, on some level, it seems that only a creationist like Behe would insist on using the word, for ideological reasons. Those without an axe to grind would seem more willing to use a different word to express the same information.

I can understand that, except I aborted a similar battle in the other thread when the people here claiming random=behe were cheerfully promoting intelligent design as a way to teach evolution in the other thread and mocking people who suggested the analogy was too close to IDiocy.

<sigh>

You can't win 'em all I guess.

Ichneumonwasp
12th November 2007, 05:38 AM
I think it was the insistence on the word "random" that created the suspicions and accusations... because, on some level, it seems that only a creationist like Behe would insist on using the word, for ideological reasons. Those without an axe to grind would seem more willing to use a different word to express the same information.

I think that is only partially true. I, for one, entered one of the early arguments over using the term, but when it was clear that the mathematicians were simply trying to use one of their mathematical terms in biology I let it go because they weren't saying anything new, only using an unfamiliar term in a new way (for biology). What raised my hackles was the insistence that evolution is fundamentally random. There is nothing fundamental about the random aspects of evolution aside from the very real possibility that everything is essentially non-deterministic.

Random is merely a code word for "we are ignorant", so we have to speak in terms of probabilities. That is not a fundamental aspect of reality. As cyborg said, there has always been too much emphasis on what is "true" in these discussions. The whole exercise is a muddled confusion over differing levels of explanation.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
12th November 2007, 05:42 AM
If a mutation is caused by a cosmic ray, it is, for all intents and purposes, random. And it is truly random if the cosmic ray was caused by a quantum event that is truly random (assuming quantum events really are truly random). I think it is fair to say that evolution has a truly random component and so is a stochastic process.

I just think it's misleading to say "evolution is random full stop." Someone who insists on saying so would appear to me to have some kind of agenda. At the very least, they should agree to say "absolutely everything is random."

~~ Paul

Ichneumonwasp
12th November 2007, 05:52 AM
If a mutation is caused by a cosmic ray, it is, for all intents and purposes, random. And it is truly random if the cosmic ray was caused by a quantum event that is truly random (assuming quantum events really are truly random). I think it is fair to say that evolution has a truly random component and so is a stochastic process.

I just think it's misleading to say "evolution is random full stop." Someone who insists on saying so would appear to me to have some kind of agenda. At the very least, they should agree to say:

$\forall x \, x \mathrm{is\,random}$

~~ Paul

Yes, but that is not a major part of the process, especially when sex is involved. I think we all agree that random processes are involved, though it is entirely possible as well that our view of the cosmic ray is simply one aspect of our ignorance rather than being truly random. Yes, we can't predict it. But, there may be some deeper explanation that a future Einstein or Heisenberg has not yet conceived to explain this as a local expression of some deeper 'determined' system. There are instances what we would all probably agree are random in the full explanation, but that does not make evolution a fundmanetally random process -- just one that may have random elements at times.

I think most of us agree that it is misleading to call evolution 'random full stop'. We've been through the various levels of explanation over and over again, so I don't think we need repeat them here.

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 05:56 AM
I'm not entirely sure that anyone ever called it random full-stop. Even mijo qualified it from the beginning with a very specific definition that took into account convergences upon expected values. I think Joe hit it head on with random just being too provocative a label for some people.

Ichneumonwasp
12th November 2007, 06:02 AM
I'm not entirely sure that anyone ever called it random full-stop. Even mijo qualified it from the beginning with a very specific definition that took into account convergences upon expected values. I think Joe hit it head on with random just being too provocative a label for some people.

You may or may not be aware that this discussion has a long history.

It has been called fundamentally random, entirely random, etc, etc. at various times.

It always centers on the mathematical use of the term, but Mijo has been put into such a defensive position that I think he occasionally oversteps the line. When he uses the term as he has in this thread I don't think most people disagree.

Articulett is approaching this from the perspective of being a biology teacher, so she enters defensive mode whenever she hears the word "random" in relation to evolution.

We have discussed using other terms than random, but that actually doesn't get very far. Mijo has often substituted 'stochastic' himself.

Largely this is about different cultures clashing.

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 06:13 AM
I've seen snippets of it before, but this is the first thread length one I've been involved in.

I didn't realize you were referring to references beyond scope of this thread. What you just said makes sense to me.

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
12th November 2007, 06:52 AM
I'm not entirely sure that anyone ever called it random full-stop.
Seems to me that T'ai does. These folks who like to refer to it as random without any clarification: Do they refer to everything else as random, too?

Hey kids, did you know that computation is random?

~~ Paul

Wowbagger
12th November 2007, 06:56 AM
Here are two reputable scientists who emphasize the influence of randomness (chance or stochasticity) in their descriptions of evolution: Well, of course they would. But, I hope you now recognize that they are only doing so for their own models and convenience:

From your first citation:
Instead of considering populations as aggregates of genes, we find it more convenient to consider populations as aggregates of gene frequencies (or ratios). (emphasis mine)
See, more convenient for his models. He is not claiming reality really works this way. There is no reason to assume nature calculates aggregate frequencies. Nature is able to work with all the data, as inputs, at once.

From your second citation:
A snail living in an English hedgerow is less likely to be eaten of its shell is striped rather than plain.But it is not very likely to survive in any case; it may be eaten by a shrew, or die of heatstroke or starvation; it may even be eaten by a bird after all. Selection is a process of sampling.
This example illustrates what I said before: If all the variables were known to an arbitrary degree, we could predict these things to an arbitrary accuracy. But, it is not possible for us to determine all of these inputs: which birds are poised to eat which snails, etc.
Chaos theory, and weather prediction, and all that.

Selection could be thought of as a "process of sampling", but that sampling is not as random in reality as our models make it out to be.

I suppose I could point out the false dichotomy of random/non-random again.

I suppose I could but since no-one really got it last time I doubt they'll get it this time. It depends on the definitions. In one usage of the words, you are right: Evolution does not necessarily need to be random or non-random. But, in others, there is clear enough evidence on one case or the other.

It's not like I haven't seen it before but whilst everyone is too attached to their words no progress will occur. But, semantics wars are fun!

As for the rest I'll ask in this thread what I did in the others. Can't you guys try to see the middle ground? You are so stuck on the use of a particular word that you are missing the real teaching points. What do you think I'm trying to do?!

I am trying to demonstrate how and why randomness is used in the study of evolution, which makes the "random fans" happy, so they know they are not wasting their time.

At the same time, I am also trying to demonstrate that our study models do not necessarily reflect reality which could well be non-random. So, this keeps the purist "non-rand fans" agreeable.

Is there anything wrong with that?

If a mutation is caused by a cosmic ray, it is, for all intents and purposes, random. And it is truly random if the cosmic ray was caused by a quantum event that is truly random (assuming quantum events really are truly random). I think it is fair to say that evolution has a truly random component and so is a stochastic process. (emphasis mine). Exactly re-iterating my points. We call it random, for all intents and purposes, because we can not possibly enter all those billions of cosmic rays into our equations.

And, yes, you could say everything is truly random, at the quantum level. But, for our purposes, we can safely ignore the quantum level when we study evolution. (otherwise, there would be even more impossible numbers of inputs in our equations, and we would never make any progress!)

I just think it's misleading to say "evolution is random full stop." Someone who insists on saying so would appear to me to have some kind of agenda. At the very least, they should agree to say "absolutely everything is random." They could have an agenda. Or, they could simply have a too-basic understanding. Before you accuse one of an agenda, though, it is best to have evidence. Otherwise, it might be better assume innocent ignorance. (this is general advice, not specific to any posters here.)

No one is born with the ability to understand evolution, and no one should be punished for not getting it right, as long as they accept what they learned, as they learn it.

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 06:56 AM
Seems to me that T'ai does. These folks who like to refer to it as random without any clarification: Do they refer to everything else as random, too?

Hey kids, did you know that computation is random?

~~ Paul

I have T'ai on ignore, so I wouldn't know. He may very well have.

rocketdodger
12th November 2007, 07:04 AM
I'm sorry Articulett, but I must comment on one point. Mijo is quite correct that evolution by means of natural selection does not equal increase in complexity. It equals adaptation to environment. While that often translates into increased complexity (though we haven't really defined what that word means), it may also result from an apparent decrease in complexity from the phenotyoic perspective by simply turning off sets of genes. Some parasites appear phenotypically less complex though they may have the same genetic heritage as their "more complex" brethren.

This brings up an important point -- shouldn't complexity be somehow measured by what went into a thing, as opposed to what it is?

Suppose you start with a huge genome, of random stuff, and then start deactivating to get a functional genome that actually does something. By what measurement, other than what I suggested above, could the refined one be considered "more complex?"

This approach seems like it would run into trouble, though, in all the cases where we don't know the process that led a thing to be.

Ichneumonwasp
12th November 2007, 07:21 AM
What do you think I'm trying to do?!

I am trying to demonstrate how and why randomness is used in the study of evolution, which makes the "random fans" happy, so they know they are not wasting their time.

At the same time, I am also trying to demonstrate that our study models do not necessarily reflect reality which could well be non-random. So, this keeps the purist "non-rand fans" agreeable.

Is there anything wrong with that?

Of course not. I wasn't referring to you, though, since you obviously already see the middle ground, but to Mijo and Articulett. This feud has festered far too long.

Ichneumonwasp
12th November 2007, 07:22 AM
This brings up an important point -- shouldn't complexity be somehow measured by what went into a thing, as opposed to what it is?

Suppose you start with a huge genome, of random stuff, and then start deactivating to get a functional genome that actually does something. By what measurement, other than what I suggested above, could the refined one be considered "more complex?"

This approach seems like it would run into trouble, though, in all the cases where we don't know the process that led a thing to be.

I don't know. It seems to me that 'complexity' is one of those ambiguous descriptors dangerously designed to create complete confusion.:)

FireGarden
12th November 2007, 07:51 AM
Allow me a stream of rhetorical questions.

What if you make a mistake while sorting?

What do you sort them by? Which alphabet? English? Why? Why do you speak it? What if you'd been raised speaking Chinese?

Questions such as you ask can be asked of sieving. How big should the holes be? What should go in it? How long should it be shaken?

Nobody refers to sieving as random because of questions like that. Nobody refers to sieving as random because some of the flour goes through the holes and some of the flour sticks to the sieve.

If you can call sieving flour a random process, then feel free to call evolution random.

If you can call the formation of a crystal random because, after all, every crystal has imperfections, then feel free to call evolution random.

I don't regard it as useful.

I agree that evolution is partially a sorting mechanism; variation + natural selection. Both have random elements though. The variation can be treated as completely random for all intents and purposes as we agree on that.

The point about treating the variation as random is to assume that the variation isn't itself designed to bring about a particular change. Mutations don't occur with an aim. They are aimless. Random in that sense.

Evolution works even then. It does not require purpose in the variation.

But the selection doesn't remove the randomness.

So if you put random objects in a sieve, some small enough to go through... That selection isn't removing any randomness?

Not every variation adding to fitness is selected for and not every variation detracting from fitness is selected against.

Not every grain of flour will go through a sieve.

Also, why are the selection pressures the selection pressures? Why are you sorting words in the Roman/American alphabet instead of the Chinese? There's randomness here too.

The environment is part of the input to the process. You can't seriously think that sorting is random because the favoured order is arbitrary?

Finally, even if neither of those were the case, I thought you agreed that the results were random, albeit less random than a pure dice roller would be? I still don't see how a process with a random result can be called non-random.

The result is random because the input is random. Not because of the process.

Here's a function:
f(x) = x

Does f produce a random result? Depends where you get x from.

FireGarden
12th November 2007, 07:57 AM
I'm unconvinced. What would the program be illustrating without the random chances of increasing fitness, the random chances of copying, the random sharing of choice/situation requirements, etc? It doesn't seem like it could still model evolution as a process. You could do a post hoc modeling the path of one instance of evolution that you already knew all the variables for, but you couldn't extrapolate that into anything or make comments about the course of evolution in general.

I think it would work.
Instead of a random bitstream, use 10101010101010101......
The input would no longer be random in the sense you're thinking of. It would be random in the sense of aimless. You will still get variation in the population, the variation will be sorted -- even imperfectly, but still sorted.

The only thing that could go wrong is if someone found an input which produced very little or no variation; or variation specifically lacking anything useful.

That doesn't happen in real life.
There is no mechanism that ensures every mutation is harmful. If there were -- evolution wouldn't work.

There is no mechanism that ensures every difference makes no difference. If there were -- evolution wouldn't work.

T'ai Chi
12th November 2007, 08:01 AM
Seems to me that T'ai does.

Well let's see Paul. I like to use precise definitions. If a process is stochastic, calling it stochastic is fine. If you don't feel comfortable calling it that for teaching purposes like it can be misleading to newbies, that's an issue you'll have to deal with, but not feeling comfortable doesn't make the correct label of 'stochastic process' inaccurate.

These folks who like to refer to it as random without any clarification: Do they refer to everything else as random, too?

Well let's see Paul. Since from the beginning I've said natural selection is non-random, the answer to your question is obviously not.

articulett
12th November 2007, 08:32 AM
I'm sorry Articulett, but I must comment on one point. Mijo is quite correct that evolution by means of natural selection does not equal increase in complexity. It equals adaptation to environment. While that often translates into increased complexity (though we haven't really defined what that word means), it may also result from an apparent decrease in complexity from the phenotyoic perspective by simply turning off sets of genes. Some parasites appear phenotypically less complex though they may have the same genetic heritage as their "more complex" brethren.

As for the rest I'll ask in this thread what I did in the others. Can't you guys try to see the middle ground? You are so stuck on the use of a particular word that you are missing the real teaching points.

It actually does... but it's irrelevant... especially since it's hard to define complexity units... but it's a pretty simple algorithm... more here--
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/lloyd06/lloyd06_index.html
http://www.skeptics.com.au/articles/dawkins.htm
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/serpentine07/Pagel.html

In the way that technology or the internet must move forward... that is true for genomes... the information drives itself forward, branches off, or dies out. But because complexity has more to with the regulation of information--how it's assembled and not measurable bits and pieces, the notion causes confusion. And you first have to understand what is being "selected" and why (selfish gene) and how it drives "complexity" and the appearance of design over time. The rest follows. When we say a recipe is complex...we don't mean that it necessarily has more ingredients... but people-- sometimes associate complexity with the amount of matter... rather than how it's assembled over time...

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
12th November 2007, 08:36 AM
Well let's see Paul. Since from the beginning I've said natural selection is non-random, the answer to your question is obviously not.
That's good. But then why does your sig line say:

Evolution is a stochastic process. Stochastic means random. That's not any type of 'misleading', that's a scientific fact.
Either you should agree that "evolution is a stochastic process" is misleading, or you should agree that "everything is a stochastic process" is also not misleading.

~~ Paul

T'ai Chi
12th November 2007, 08:40 AM
Either you should agree that "evolution is a stochastic process" is misleading, or you should agree that "everything is a stochastic process" is also not misleading.

Not at all. Simply because there are many things (natural selection for one) that are not stochastic. But since evolution is more than just natural selection, it is proper to call evolution stochastic, despite if you're uncomfortable with the term.

Wowbagger
12th November 2007, 08:40 AM
Creationists say evolution is flawed.
Person X says evolution is flawed.
Therefore, Person X must be a creationist!

What is the name of that fallacy?

I think one of the problems on this Forum is that people get awfully reactionary, when someone tries to dispute evolution in some way. Most of us are passionate in our acceptance of evolution as fact. So, anyone who even remotely tries to argue that there could be something wrong with some part of it, gets labeled a "Creationist!", even if they are not purporting any supernatural causes in its place.

But, not all who challenge some aspect of evolution are creationists. They might be woos of another sort, or perhaps their understanding of the theory is flawed or incomplete, or (on rare occasion) they might even have a valid point.

For example: I was reading some of Stuart Kauffman's old materials, lately, and he argues natural selection, as it is often described, is not powerful enough on its own, to explain all this stuff; so he introduces concepts of self-organization to the equations. You can agree or disagree with that, but you can not call Kauffman a creationist. He is NOT indicating there is any creation or ID element involved!
(My own opinion, for what it is worth, is that all this self-organization stuff could be valid, but just becomes part of the fitness landscape, and is not really a completely new element. But, I would rather not discuss Kauffman here. I was merely using him as a clear example of someone who challenges some aspects of evolution, yet who is not a creationist.)

articulett
12th November 2007, 08:49 AM
Of course not. I wasn't referring to you, though, since you obviously already see the middle ground, but to Mijo and Articulett. This feud has festered far too long.

My feud has more to do with people like Behe who act like they are knowledgeable on a subject by making others feel ignorant-- when if fact it's their own ignorance and hubris that keeps them from conveying information usefully. It's those who talk as though they are experts, when they are clearly full of BS that I will interject upon. A million people have explained why it's misleading to use language the way Behe does-- why it's dishonest even... so if someone wants to continue using it, while pretending to be knowledgeable on a subject he's not really knowledgeable on-- I'll speak out just as I would if Behe were here obfuscating. Because I think evolution is worth understanding. And I think there are some people who imagine themselves as having expertise they do not have. Moreover, these same people often dis Dawkins... though they haven't read him or anything recent on the topic and might actually offer something useful if they did-- or referred their audience to such.

(If their goal is to communicate rather than to obfuscate or declare themselves experts, that is.) I can and have agreed that per their definition of evolution, evolution is random-- but so is everything... hence it's a useless definition... moreover it's THE definition that ID uses because, as Dawkins repeatedly notes, it's to obscure the real point and key to Darwins theory-- Natural selection--exponential increase of winning information over time.

If you don't understand this when you're young... and you grow up thinking that you do understand evolution-- then you end up growing up sounding like Tai and Behe and Mijo-- and I find it impervious and a sad shame. Read the links I provided. If you can understand them... it's because of what you understand about evolution--and I think you can see the power of what is being conveyed. But Mijo and Behe and Ta'i can't compute. They haven't even got the basic tools to understand and they have an exaggerated sense of self importance-- their own, humanity in general, intelligence, plus they have way over estimated their expertise in regards to evolution.

What I am saying is backed up by the people who teach and utilize this information-- experts-- Dawkins, Ridley, Steve Jones, Pinker, Venter, Eugenie Scott-- I'm not pulling any of my information out of my ass-- I don't imagine myself an expert... but I know where to get good information. And I sure know the subject well enough to tell when someone is talking out of their ass.

Ichneumonwasp
12th November 2007, 08:57 AM
It actually does... but it's irrelevant... especially since it's hard to define complexity units... but it's a pretty simple algorithm... more here--
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/lloyd06/lloyd06_index.html
http://www.skeptics.com.au/articles/dawkins.htm
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/serpentine07/Pagel.html

In the way that technology or the internet must move forward... that is true for genomes... the information drives itself forward, branches off, or dies out. But because complexity has more to with the regulation of information--how it's assembled and not measurable bits and pieces, the notion causes confusion. And you first have to understand what is being "selected" and why (selfish gene) and how it drives "complexity" and the appearance of design over time. The rest follows. When we say a recipe is complex...we don't mean that it necessarily has more ingredients... but people-- sometimes associate complexity with the amount of matter... whether than how it's assembled over time...

I wasn't referring to the general trend, which I think we all agree shows an increase in complexity (however we define that slippery term), but to specific instances that Gould highlighted in a few essays. Now, I'm going to have to go look 'em up, but I seem to recall a long discussion on lampreys and hagfish that suggested a decrease in complexity (phenotypically) to fit particular adaptations. The exceptions are pretty darn exceptional, but they do appear to exist.

articulett
12th November 2007, 09:01 AM
They could have an agenda. Or, they could simply have a too-basic understanding. Before you accuse one of an agenda, though, it is best to have evidence. Otherwise, it might be better assume innocent ignorance. (this is general advice, not specific to any posters here.)

No one is born with the ability to understand evolution, and no one should be punished for not getting it right, as long as they accept what they learned, as they learn it.

People who are eager to know about evolution are thankful for new information and links and such in the field-- we learn from each other. We are thankful for the knowledge. We are thankful to those who taught us. But those who imagine themselves experts but seem blind to their lack of understanding while insulting or ignoring all those who try to give them the information they pretend to want-- those are people with some sort of agenda. Maybe they are just the incompetents in my sig. But ask yourself what their goal is? What is Mijo's goal. To convey understanding-- to whom? Do you think he understand natural selection any better than Behe? Do you think he's as much of an expert as he seems to think he is? What is his goal-- to get everybody else to sound like Behe-- "evolution is all about randomness!"
And that would be beneficial to whom... and how?

Those who understand evolution on this forum aim to nip the creationist strawman in the bud when it appears-- but there's mijo assuring us (along with Tai) that Behe is correct and evolution is all about randomness...

Sure Mijo infers that science can explain how this randomness results in the appearance of design. But he sure as hell can't.

Ichneumonwasp
12th November 2007, 09:02 AM
My feud has more to do with people like Behe who act like they are knowledgeable on a subject by making others feel ignorant-- when if fact it's their own ignorance and hubris that keeps them from conveying information usefully. It's those who talk as though they are experts, when they are clearly full of BS that I will interject upon. A million people have explained why it's misleading to use language the way Behe does-- why it's dishonest even... so if someone wants to continue using it, while pretending to be knowledgeable on a subject he's not really knowledgeable on-- I'll speak out just as I would if Behe were here obfuscating. Because I think evolution is worth understanding. And I think there are some people who imagine themselves as having expertise they do not have. Moreover, these same people often dis Dawkins... though they haven't read him or anything recent on the topic and might actually offer something useful if they did-- or referred their audience to such.

(If their goal is to communicate rather than to obfuscate or declare themselves experts, that is.) I can and have agreed that per their definition of evolution, evolution is random-- but so is everything... hence it's a useless definition... moreover it's THE definition that ID uses because, as Dawkins repeatedly notes, it's to obscure the real point and key to Darwins theory-- Natural selection--exponential increase of winning information over time.

If you don't understand this when you're young... and you grow up thinking that you do understand evolution-- then you end up growing up sounding like Tai and Behe and Mijo-- and I find it impervious and a sad shame. Read the links I provided. If you can understand them... it's because of what you understand how essential this information is. But Mijo and Behe and Ta'i can't compute. They haven't even got the basic tools to understand and they have an exaggerated sense of self importance-- their own, humanity in general, intelligence, and they have way over estimated their expertise in regards to evolution. What I am saying is backed up by the people who teach and utilize this information-- experts-- Dawkins, Ridley, Steve Jones, Pinker, Venter, Eugenie Scott-- I'm not pulling any of my information out of my ass-- I don't imagine myself an expert... but I know where to get good information. And I sure know the subject well enough to tell when someone is talking out of their ass.

I understand your perspective as a biology teacher. But you could try to reach a middle ground with Mijo. He isn't the devil in disguise, you know. But I must say the same to him, though you're probably going to tell me that you are the devil in disguise, which is going to start a whole new round of people asking to see the disguise and then see you without the disguise and you never know where that is going to lead and I'm not really sure if I can even end this sentence now that it's gone on for so long.........:)

articulett
12th November 2007, 09:05 AM
I wasn't referring to the general trend, which I think we all agree shows an increase in complexity (however we define that slippery term), but to specific instances that Gould highlighted in a few essays. Now, I'm going to have to go look 'em up, but I seem to recall a long discussion on lampreys and hagfish that suggested a decrease in complexity (phenotypically) to fit particular adaptations. The exceptions are pretty darn exceptional, but they do appear to exist.

Yes... phenotypically our computers of today are much more simple than the behemoths of yesteryear... but as far as efficiency-- it's forward.

People often confuse the information for what it codes for. In evolution we see snapshots of changes in species over time. But an animal is born the same species it dies... it's the information in it's genome that has the opportunity to live on and evolve-- and its those units of information in that genome that are best at getting themselves copied that drive evolution... and by default better information processors (replicators, storage, recombiners, tweakers, etc.)

articulett
12th November 2007, 09:07 AM
Seems to me that T'ai does. These folks who like to refer to it as random without any clarification: Do they refer to everything else as random, too?

Hey kids, did you know that computation is random?

~~ Paul

So are you! You're made of atoms... electrons have random spin... any thing with any randomness IS random per Mijo's definition-- therefore-- you, Paul, are random. QED

(But don't feel bad... we all are... liberal definitions allow us all to fit under the same blanket.)

Ichneumonwasp
12th November 2007, 09:13 AM
Yes... phenotypically our computers of today are much more simple than the behemoths of yesteryear... but as far as efficiency-- it's forward.

Yes, if you use the word efficiency instead of complexity, I agree completely. It is adaptation to the environment that drives the process, in conjuction with the available genetic material.

joobz
12th November 2007, 09:19 AM
Would you compare evolution to a dice roll? Or would you compare it to a sieve?

I think the latter is better because evolution contains an element of sorting. The environment sorts out which mutations are most successful.

Whether the mutations are random or not is neither here nor there as far as the sorting "algorithm" is concerned. It will manage to sort just as long as there is variation.
I was referring to the random part of evolution, the mutation point.

My argument was that if you could perfectly describe the series of events that go into a mutation (the photons hitting the DNA, the molecular fluctuations that determine if a DNA sequence is translated properly...) it may be possible to indeed remove the random element from that. Same with the dice roll. If you could perfectly describe the initial conditions involved in the roll (molecular gas of air motions, the frictional factors of the table, the angle, velocity and trajectory of the dice upon throughing) is should be possible to predict each dice roll.

This was qayak's point. Random is what we call a chaotic process that we can't predict yet. We may know the set of outcomes, but not enough of the details of the event itself. Wowbanger went one step further to say that we can't know ALL information becuase at the basest level we are limited by heisenberg's uncertainty principle.

articulett
12th November 2007, 09:21 AM
I understand your perspective as a biology teacher. But you could try to reach a middle ground with Mijo. He isn't the devil in disguise, you know. But I must say the same to him, though you're probably going to tell me that you are the devil in disguise, which is going to start a whole new round of people asking to see the disguise and then see you without the disguise and you never know where that is going to lead and I'm not really sure if I can even end this sentence now that it's gone on for so long.........:)

Look, I'm enjoying my role of "goad the pedant".--it's my only form of stress release. Besides, I've already been chastised by a few friends, haven't I earned the right to bear my talons-- I don't mind being called the devil in disguise. He's got quixote and T'ai as cheerleaders. And you and wowbagger are still propping him up.

Don't make me kiss and make up. It's just words. I'm a little woman and this is my arena. I have to do the meek and mild stuff in real life. I promise not to call him a "creationist" anymore, okay? But, damn, I wish he's stop pretending to be an expert in an area where the experts are telling him he hasn't got a clue. I think you are unaware of just how much he does this. And he truly has said much worse stuff about me. Can I help it if my ability to use language is more powerful?

I know my genetics. I understand evolution. I am very well educated on the subject--both self educated and via classes. I am more than willing to learn more. I don't really take well to those imagined experts dropping by to insult me, others who actually have a clue, Dawkins, or anyone else as they pontificate on a subject no one but themselves seems to recognize their expertise in. Mijo does not even understand the papers he quotes and uses as sources. I do. And I understand why he thinks they sort of lend credence to his "evolution is random" claim... but they don't. He's full of crap... but I promise to let others discover this little tidbit for themselves. :)

articulett
12th November 2007, 09:35 AM
Yes, if you use the word efficiency instead of complexity, I agree completely. It is adaptation to the environment that drives the process, in conjuction with the available genetic material.

Because all matter is affected by entropy-- you need to have an energy source and a code to "organize" matter-- "directions" for assembling the atoms into things-- cells, animals, languages, ecosystems, computers... It's the directions that evolve-- the information codes-- and these codes produce "organized matter" by getting themselves replicated based on how what they code for works in the environment it finds itself in.

I'm sure efficiency is problematic too... but it probably is better than complexity.

articulett
12th November 2007, 09:42 AM
Yes, if you use the word efficiency instead of complexity, I agree completely. It is adaptation to the environment that drives the process, in conjuction with the available genetic material.

Because all matter is affected by entropy-- you need to have an energy source and a code to "organize" matter-- "directions" for assembling the atoms into things-- cells, animals, languages, ecosystems, computers... It's the directions that evolve-- the information codes-- and these codes produce "organized matter" by getting themselves replicated based on how what they code for works in the environment it finds itself in.

I'm sure efficiency is problematic too... but it probably is better than complexity.

I don't think I'd say that adaptation drives the process. I'd probably say that it's the adaptations that get copied that drive the process--the adaptations selected by the environment. Evolutionary changes happen on the level of the information-- we see the results in the "product" the information codes for... which then interacts with the environment to determine which bits of that information will live into the future via replication (often long after it's replicator dies.) (Information in code is not subject to entropy in the same way as the product it codes for.)

Aack... but this is well beyond the scope of this thread. I just wanted to clarify the thinking behind my complexity claim since it wasn't clear.

(Gee, I wonder if the person who attacked me regarding this will apologize AND--get a clue-- nah... too certain of their rightness.)

ETA (In any case, it was Mijo's interjection that "evolution is random" that derailed this thread in this manner. Why he sought to interject that is beyond me... but I leave the reader to their own conclusions.)

FireGarden
12th November 2007, 09:59 AM
My argument was that if you could perfectly describe the series of events that go into a mutation (the photons hitting the DNA, the molecular fluctuations that determine if a DNA sequence is translated properly...) it may be possible to indeed remove the random element from that. Same with the dice roll. If you could perfectly describe the initial conditions involved in the roll (molecular gas of air motions, the frictional factors of the table, the angle, velocity and trajectory of the dice upon throughing) is should be possible to predict each dice roll.

I appreciate that. But my point was that, while many processes have aspects which are treated as random variables, the word "random" is reserved for only some of them.

Have you ever heard someone describe crystalisation as random? Why not? There are many ways for imperfections to arise in the process. Nobody can predict where the imperfections will be.

This was qayak's point. Random is what we call a chaotic process that we can't predict yet. We may know the set of outcomes, but not enough of the details of the event itself.

Again, we don't know the exact outcome of crystallisation. There is randomness in it. But the process brings along so much order that it seems silly to focus on the random parts.

Anyway, I'm not a die hard.
I can accept that some people want to call a thing random if there is less than 100% accurate prediction of the outcome. I just wonder what they would consider to be non-random.

joobz
12th November 2007, 10:09 AM
Have you ever heard someone describe crystalisation as random? Why not?
You assume I haven't??? :p

Acutally, I have heard crystalization as a random event. It requires the presence of seed sites which may or may not be present and can form randomly as a function of random fluctuations. Indeed, much of the system's molecular configuration will determine which crystalline structure will form (if the molecule in question has crystalline polymorphs).

I always like diffusion as a description/analogy to evolution. Each molecule moves independantly and could care less about the system as a whole. It is the random fluctuations of these molecules which results in the sum effect of high concentration moving to lower concentration. Indeed, we can describe perfectly the expected concentration vs. time profile for any set of initial conditions. Yet, there is a stochastic process that underies the entire system. Being predictable doesn't prevent it from having a random component. Much in the same way as with evolution.

JoeEllison
12th November 2007, 10:09 AM
I don't know. It seems to me that 'complexity' is one of those ambiguous descriptors dangerously designed to create complete confusion.:)

It sure can be used that way... so can "information", when used in the way people like Behe present them.

When you see someone use "complexity", "information", AND "random" in a way that matches the nonsense coming out of the Discovery Institute, you begin to get a little suspicious. :D

quixotecoyote
12th November 2007, 10:12 AM
Although since they were being used by people on opposite sides on an issue, your head should have exploded at least a little.

JoeEllison
12th November 2007, 10:17 AM
Although since they were being used by people on opposite sides on an issue, your head should have exploded at least a little.

Not really... although it came close when I tried to have a conversation with a ID supporter about complexity being a sign of design, except when it wasn't.:cool:

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
12th November 2007, 10:36 AM
Not at all. Simply because there are many things (natural selection for one) that are not stochastic. But since evolution is more than just natural selection, it is proper to call evolution stochastic, despite if you're uncomfortable with the term.
But of course natural selection is stochastic. Everything is stochastic! Computing on a computer is stochastic, since the occasional random error occurs.

Notice how you are qualifying your terse statement that "evolution is a stochastic process." That's all I was asking for.

~~ Paul

FireGarden
12th November 2007, 10:45 AM
You assume I haven't??? :p

Acutally, I have heard crystalization as a random event. It requires the presence of seed sites which may or may not be present and can form randomly as a function of random fluctuations. Indeed, much of the system's molecular configuration will determine which crystalline structure will form (if the molecule in question has crystalline polymorphs).

OK,
I guess that settles it.

In that context, I have no trouble calling evolution random. It's just not the context I first had in mind.

six7s
12th November 2007, 11:27 AM
So if you put random objects in a sieve, some small enough to go through... That selection isn't removing any randomness?

Thank you FireGarden,

A while ago, I read something by articulett that made perfect sense re why evolution is non-random and how the use of such terminology was misleading... but...

Over the last few days, I have been - thanks to ad-nauseum input from (random) apologists - become increasingly befuddled by all their waffle and apparently intentional use of inappropriate jargon from other fields, to the point where they had succeeded in obfuscating the issue so much that I couldn't remember exactly why I knew they were lying

For me, your seive analogy has sorted the complicated woo of IDiocy from the simple truth of science

Thank you

articulett
12th November 2007, 11:57 AM
Thank you FireGarden,

A while ago, I read something by articulett that made perfect sense re why evolution is non-random and how the use of such terminology was misleading... but...

Over the last few days, I have been - thanks to ad-nauseum input from (random) apologists - become increasingly befuddled by all their waffle and apparently intentional use of inappropriate jargon from other fields, to the point where they had succeeded in obfuscating the issue so much that I couldn't remember exactly why I knew they were lying

For me, your seive analogy has sorted the complicated woo of IDiocy from the simple truth of science

Thank you

Hey... wait a second... I used the sieve analogy way back on Mijo's thread asking how evolution is not random... I want some credit! Ah, nevermind, Firegarden probably said it better (but I bet it still won't work for those sure they know everything already.)

I think evolution is like math or computing... if you get a good base for understanding, then the details can be built and corrected on top of that base and the new information can be assimilated. And for me, what we are discovering is some of the coolest stuff humans have ever figured out... and we can share this useful and utterly true and amazing information with each other--here on this forum-- with people all over the world-- and links. Those who think they understand the process and who really don't-- just make the whole thing sound impossible for anyone to understand. But to me it's like reading... you plant a little understanding while they're young and curious and you fill in the details as they go and as we uncover them. I hate when the blowhards make the curious feel like the lack of understanding is due to lack of knowledge. The best science teachers like Sagan, Feynman, Dawkins, etc. are able to convey understanding without the pedantry. Randi does that too. He shows people that even they can be fooled... he lets them "teach themselves".

I sometimes feel like the obfuscators will make evolution sound so complex or boring that people avoid learning one of the very coolest things humans can know. We figured out how we got here... why it appears designed... why we have it sort of backwards... why our perspective leads to misperceptions... Darwin was right-- and molecular genetics affirms it in stunning detail. And Darwins theory has applications out side of biology as many scientists are now realizing. (Astrophysicis, Neil Tyson Degrasse gave an excellent speech on the topic at last years Beyond Belief conference--available for download. The new Beyond Belief should be out soon.)

Isn't this story of our origins way more breathtaking than anything offered by any obfuscator or any religion? Once you have a sieving process-- a selector-- then you have a way of amassing the benefits that accrue in the pool of randomness. We are a result of that process!

And to get a little preachy-- We process information (replicate it, refine it, hone it, store it, recombine it, send it to the future, assimilate it, etc.) that will live on after we die just as we evolved to do. Not just in our genes--but in our memes... in our understanding and furthering of scientific knowledge... in our teaching of others... and finding new ways to make current information do new things. When life forms do what they are programmed to do--they cannot help but be replicators of information... AND "environmental inputs" refining and honing other evolving information systems in their environment. Information evolves as it passes through replicators. We are the product of natural selection but so is everything we build-- our languages, our cities, our technology. There is no top- down tornado/747 assembly process. It's ALL bottom up. That is the only way to get organization of matter... the opposite of entropy... the only way to get what we perceive of as complexity or design. All the matter that makes up your computer existed on this earth a thousand years ago. What was missing? Information selected and assimilated over time.

THAT is the power of natural selection.

That is why Dawkins et. al. would be up in arms for someone to toss this understanding under the blanket of "random" to make it all sound like it was just a tornado in a junkyard.

And that is what creationists are afraid of. Because ultimately that means god was built from the bottom up too-- from the minds of men.

six7s
12th November 2007, 12:24 PM
Hey... wait a second... I used the sieve analogy way back on Mijo's thread asking how evolution is not random... I want some credit! Ah, nevermind, Firegarden probably said it better (but I bet it still won't work for those sure they know everything already.)

Internet Truism: No-one has read all of the backlog

;)

articulett, you know you are credited - by me and probably many, many others - as being a shining light of sane, credible, consistent and - most importantly - coherent sense in an otherwise murky, sordid web of deceptive and nonsensical woo

:)

mijopaalmc
12th November 2007, 12:41 PM
Hey... wait a second... I used the sieve analogy way back on Mijo's thread asking how evolution is not random... I want some credit!

Hey, wait a minute, the sieve analogy doesn't actually works because it is an example of a deterministic filter. A sieve only lets particles below a certain size through. Therefore, you can be certain that a particle will pass through or remain in the sieve, given a particle's size and the size of the mesh in the sieve.

On the other hand, every single source that you have cited describing that process of natural selection in general says that adaptation increases an individual's probability of survival, meaning that each individual can either survive or perish and that, with respect to their individual phenotypes, a greater number of the better adapted individuals survive. However, the possession of a particular phenotype, even if it is the best adapted phenotype, does not guarantee survival.

Ichneumonwasp
12th November 2007, 12:49 PM
Hey, wait a minute, the sieve analogy doesn't actually works because it is an example of a deterministic filter. A sieve only lets particles below a certain size through. Therefore, you can be certain that a particle will pass through or remain in the sieve, given a particle's size and the size of the mesh in the sieve.

Yes, the sieve analogy works just fine. Any individual particle may be hung up on the side or be blocked by a clump of larger particles that won't let it through, etc.

The sieve analogy is quite good, actually. I think you need to spend more time thinking about it.

cyborg
12th November 2007, 12:50 PM
Non-deterministic filters don't filter mijo.

articulett
12th November 2007, 01:09 PM
Internet Truism: No-one has read all of the backlog

;)

articulett, you know you are credited - by me and probably many, many others - as being a shining light of sane, credible, consistent and - most importantly - coherent sense in an otherwise murky, sordid web of deceptive and nonsensical woo

:)

I am a total sucker for the flattery-- (but you are ruining my carefully crafted reputation as the JREF Evolution Harpie Strident Evil Atheist Demon from Hell that I've worked so hard to achieve. :) )

joobz
12th November 2007, 01:10 PM
Allow me to explain why I think you are incorrect by agumenting your statement.

note all edits in bold are mine

On the other hand, every single source that you have cited describing that process of natural selection in general says that adaptation increases an individual's probability of survival, meaning that each individual can either survive (be retained by the filter) or perish (fall through the filter) and that, with respect to their individual phenotypes (Size of the particle), a greater number of the better adapted individuals survive (particles be fruitful and multiply, only the big will be retained). However, the possession of a particular phenotype, even if it is the best adapted phenotype, does not guarantee survival.(The filter is made of rubber and pore sizes may vary from microlocation to microlocation)
[/

Also, remember that other things (unexpected) could occur and improve survival. In the particle example, If the particle phenotype changed to cohesive, small particles can be retained by sticking together into a larger aggregate.

So, indeed, the seive analogy is quite good and holds true. The random part comes in the form of
1.) random distribution of seive sizes
2.) mechanical motion which dictates where particles are/arenot
3.) mutations in particle offspring. (Remember that evolution requires replication)

six7s
12th November 2007, 01:17 PM
Hey... wait a second... I used the sieve analogy way back on Mijo's thread asking how evolution is not random... I want some credit!
Hey, wait a minute, the sieve analogy doesn't actually works because it is an example of a deterministic filter
Hey... wait a millenia... and the mijobot might learn that its hard-coded to reject anything that threatens to undermine IDiotic apologistic woo

The seive analogy DOES work... for me...

Please, anyone (other than wooists - and that specifically excludes you, mijo) do explain any significant errors in my interpretation:

The size of the holes is 'determined' by the immediate environment, with the offspring of small, adept species/organisms slipping through whilst big, clumsy species/organisms get trapped (e.g. as prey or by disease or by famine etc) in sufficiently large numbers that their reproduction rates drop exponentially and they die out - i.e. 'their dna-type information is not passed on' whilst 'fitter' species/organisms fill the otherwise empty niche

I'm not sure about the distiction between species and organisms... is it significant?

Wowbagger
12th November 2007, 01:34 PM
Those who understand evolution on this forum aim to nip the creationist strawman in the bud when it appears-- but there's mijo assuring us (along with Tai) that Behe is correct and evolution is all about randomness... I don't remember mijo saying the Behe was right about anything. Can someone point to where he said anything like that?
I do remember plenty of cases where Tai did that. But, not mijo for some reason.

It seems to me that mijo's questions regarding randomness are rooted in a different source than Behe. For example: Behe would be prone to bring up the "747" argument as valid. As near as I can tell, mijo would not.

I took some time to read a few posts in the "Fossil and Evolution" thread, to see if I can spot any creationist behavior from mijo, there. Although I did not read every single thing he placed in there, I conclude that he is expressing the sort of standard concern one might have, if their knowledge of biology was very basic. In other words, it is a legitimate question, not necessarily one that only a creationist would bring up.

Here is a sample, from early in the thread:
The basic conceptual problem I have with evolution and the fossil record can probably be subsumed under the bigger question of how we perceive reality to be continuous even though we know that we receive information from our senses in discrete increments.

My point with the day-scaling analogy is that intermediate forms don't seem to appear close enough together even trick our senses into believing that the change is continuous (much as projecting film at ~48 frames a second tricks us into believing the motion on a movie screen is continuous). In fact for us to believe that the day-long movie of evolution is one of continuous change intermediate forms would have to occur every 1085 years (i.e., 1/48th of a second in the day-scaled world) and be morphologically close enough to one another to make the "morph" seem smooth.

I am not saying this as a refutation of evolution as I believe that there are other strong independent pieces of evidence that demonstrate evolution. Rather, I am simply asking whether the evidence we claim is provided by fossils is really as strong as we would like to think it is.

A lot of people, including Dr. A and others, gave some very helpful answers to this issue. But, perhaps in the profusion of confusion that followed, things got lost and murky.

Maybe my own responses would help:

First Paragraph: Remember: The goal of science is not necessarily to find ultimate truth, but to build provisional models. Our models tend to use discrete values, because we humans can only perceive the world in discrete values. But, it would be an arrogant fallacy to assume that reality works the way humans perceive. We have measured various aspects of the Universe to such a fine degree, that the safest bet is to assume that pretty much everything in nature is continuous.
Historically, those who have assumed there must be discrete behavior in nature, have found themselves at a severe disadvantage, whenever someone finds gray-areas, they did not take into consideration. There are always new gray areas yet to be discovered!

Second Paragraph: The fossil record is not as complete as we would like it to be. That is the biggest reason for its jumping. The conditions to preserve parts of the life form have to be right.
However, evolution tends to "progress" in a saw-blade like manner: There are small ups and downs, but still an overall trend can be seen in the bigger picture. And, sometimes (though rarely) there are almost-saltation-like, large jumps in the changes in a species, anyway.

Third Paragraph: Okay, nice to see you are NOT refuting evolution, you simply want answers to something that puzzles you.
On one hand, the fossil record, alone, is not enough to demonstrate evolution is a fact. Evolution is considered a fact because of a convergence of evidence that includes, but is not limited to, the fossil record.
On the other hand, the ordering of morphology in the fossil record could not be explained better, by any other theory. You would NOT predict such an "order" from ID, (although you could post-dict and call it "God's R&D Lab" or something). However, you would predict such an order from evolution.

Yes, but some people start a thread asking about the non random aspects of evolution and then ignore every single answer to conclude as they always have that the scientists are really saying that "evolution is random". Even after pages and pages of apologetics and careful explanations such as yours. This could be a valid point. Mijo might have a problem accepting our arguments. Though, I still doubt he is doing so with Creationist intentions. But, let's see if he is starting to catch on...

Mijo, have you learned anything from this thread yet?

Wowbagger
12th November 2007, 01:36 PM
articulett, you know you are credited - by me and probably many, many others - as being a shining light of sane, credible, consistent and - most importantly - coherent sense in an otherwise murky, sordid web of deceptive and nonsensical woo

:)I second the motion! :)
(despite the recent bout of "accusation fingers")

qayak
12th November 2007, 02:25 PM
I second the motion! :)
(despite the recent bout of "accusation fingers")

I third it! :)

mijopaalmc
12th November 2007, 02:36 PM
Mijo, have you learned anything from this thread yet?

I am not going to answer your question directly, because I feel that the people who have posted most prolifically in this thread in opposition to me haven't significantly changed their arguments since they first put them forward months ago.

However, the constant discussion of randomness (or lack thereof) has at least led me to consider that I may need to justify the assumptions about initial that I make and how that effects my designation of evolution by natural selection as random. I will elaborate on this further later.

Wowbagger
12th November 2007, 03:00 PM
However, the possession of a particular phenotype, even if it is the best adapted phenotype, does not guarantee survival.This is true. But, I wanted to gently remind you that the other factors that determine survival are not random. They all have causes. But, those causes are unpredictable, like the weather.

(It is usually easier, and still instructive, for some to call it "random", anyway. But, don't let such simplifications fool you.)

I am not going to answer your question directly, because I feel that the people who have posted most prolifically in this thread in opposition to me haven't significantly changed their arguments since they first put them forward months ago. If you are talking about the science, then why should they? What better arguments has anyone presented?
If you are talking about yourself, I would argue that you have not exactly been quick to pick up the knowledge given to you. That might be ticking people off. Though, I do think much of the reaction has been over the top. I still think the "creationist" accusation is inaccurate, for example.

However, the constant discussion of randomness (or lack thereof) has at least led me to consider that I may need to justify the assumptions about initial that I make and how that effects my designation of evolution by natural selection as random. I will elaborate on this further later. I assume you meant "initial conditions"? Well, that's good. Take your time to think it over, and get back to us.

T'ai Chi
12th November 2007, 04:14 PM
Notice how you are qualifying your terse statement that "evolution is a stochastic process." That's all I was asking for.

Considering I've had a webpage article up since 9/05 on this very topic, I'm underwhelmed by your pretending that you have just noticed this or that I am supposedly just now qualifying something. :)

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
13th November 2007, 04:25 AM
Considering I've had a webpage article up since 9/05 on this very topic, I'm underwhelmed by your pretending that you have just noticed this or that I am supposedly just now qualifying something.
I've never looked at your web page and it's the first time in my memory of conversations with you that you've done much in the way of qualifying. But I still don't understand why you want your sig line to look as if you're a hardcase on this issue.

~~ Paul

mijopaalmc
13th November 2007, 05:38 PM
The basic problem with the argument for those who insist that evolution is non-random so far is not a scientific argument; it is a philosophical one.

articulett
13th November 2007, 05:56 PM
The basic problem with those who insist that evolution IS random, is that they sound like Behe. On planet reality, we generally describe evolution as a two part process-- mutation (which is more or less random) and selection which selects from that randomness. Biologists don't consider that random... nor do they consider the results random. It's not philosophy-- it's clarity. Evolution is a fact. And those who wish others to understand those facts, use words that convey information. Those who don't understand evolution (but think they do) and those that don't want others to understand evolution (like Behe) seem to need to focus on the word random to obsessive extremes-- and they never change... never get a clue... and attack others when it's pointed out (per Behe's Amazon blog.)

BTW, here is a letter to the obfuscating Michael Behe posted at the Panda's thumb that those interested in evolution might find illuminating.

http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2007/11/an-open-letter-4.html

six7s
13th November 2007, 05:56 PM
Those who understand that evolution is non-random aren't the ones with the problem

You mijo, and your cronies do have a problem

either insufficient skills with regard to language and research

and/or a woo infested head

articulett
13th November 2007, 06:04 PM
Those who understand that evolution is non-random aren't the ones with the problem

You mijo, and your cronies do have a problem

either insufficient skills with regard to language and research

and/or a woo infested head

And an egotistical belief that they have expertise on the subject. Mijo came to this forum less than a year ago not understanding the "discontinuity in the fossil record"-- and I'm not sure he could explain it now despite pages of careful explanations by some very smart forum members. And somehow, between now and then, he's declared himself an expert on the subject. Will wonders never cease? High esteem and unshakable ideology is a bad mix, and not subject to ready remedy.

I wonder what makes him think his opinion on this subject has any value and why he keeps inserting himself as a self appointed expert whenever the subject turns to evolution. Does anyone think Mijo understands natural selection or that he can convey it better than Behe? Because I cannot fathom where his confidence is coming from-- unless it's "faith".

mijopaalmc
13th November 2007, 06:28 PM
The basic problem with those that argue that evolution is non-random is that they (excluding Paul and Wowbagger) lack sufficient finesse to distinguish a scientific argument from a philosophical one and science from woo. aritculett, cyborg, and Ichneumonwasp all have their magic phrase that excuse them from presenting any evidence that evolution is non-random: "nothing is truly random (http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?postid=2732560#post2732560)", "infinite machine (http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?postid=2749817#post2749817)", and "deterministic scheme (http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?p=2870122#post2870122)", respectively. Each one of the phrases and the posts from which they came demonstrates a distinct a priori philosophical aversion to the existence of "true" randomness. The fact is that the empirical evidence points to the fact that the genetic make-up of an individual (which can be established with certainty) does not fully determine its survival and reproduction and the interactions that cause the individual's survival and reproduction cannot be established with absolute certainty and a probably can never be.

Ichneumonwasp
13th November 2007, 08:35 PM
The basic problem with those that argue that evolution is non-random is that they (excluding Paul and Wowbagger) lack sufficient finesse to distinguish a scientific argument from a philosophical one and science from woo. aritculett, cyborg, and Ichneumonwasp all have their magic phrase that excuse them from presenting any evidence that evolution is non-random: "nothing is truly random (http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?postid=2732560#post2732560)", "infinite machine (http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?postid=2749817#post2749817)", and "deterministic scheme (http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?p=2870122#post2870122)", respectively. Each one of the phrases and the posts from which they came demonstrates a distinct a priori philosophical aversion to the existence of "true" randomness. The fact is that the empirical evidence points to the fact that the genetic make-up of an individual (which can be established with certainty) does not fully determine its survival and reproduction and the interactions that cause the individual's survival and reproduction cannot be established with absolute certainty and a probably can never be.

Could you possily try to get my position more wrong? I would really like to know what you have been reading since you obviously haven't read anything that I have written. What in the world possessed you to link to a previous discussion of how words are used colloquially if you are determined to show my supposedly inflexible attitude toward this issue?

Is this a joke? You can't possibly be serious with such a reply.

ETA:
Let me just add this: I specifically asked you earlier if you honestly thought that anyone was structuring an argument based on phenotypic determinism (a question that you did not answer; instead you decided to plunge off into another tangent, so I asked again, and again you did not answer) so as to disabuse you of that notion. Yet that is precisely the argument that you are putting into our mouths. Just how stupid do you think we are?

articulett
13th November 2007, 08:46 PM
I told you so.

Look at the Behe link above... it's just bob and weave and do everything you can so that he can end up describing evolution as "random"--no matter how unclear, misleading, and inane that is. None of the experts do it. No peer reviewed journal defines "random" as loosely as he does... and just like Kleinman he ducks and changes the subject and comes back with the same tired "evolution is random"-- just like Behe.

He imagines himself an expert... just like Behe. Although he has not successfully conveyed understanding of evolution to anyone... just like Behe. And he gets it topsy turvy. No amount of explanation--even peer reviewed sources from the experts will get him to change... just like Behe. Read Behe's amazon blog... it's the same dodge, ad homs, self aggrandizement, and dishonesty. Moreover, he calls the truth tellers liars.

You'd think that he'd come back after so many people have vouched for his integrity and thank them for their insight and concede that maybe he really doesn't know what the hell he's talking about... and maybe he really doesn't understand natural selection... and maybe he shouldn't imagine himself an expert. But like Behe... and T'ai... it's an endless loop.

Remember, creationists are NEVER honest about what they are. Never. Don't mistake your honesty for his. And don't imagine he's about to make a breakthrough. He won't.

He believes himself more of an expert than Dawkins and everyone here... although he cannot tell you anything about natural selection or the "discontinuity" in the fossil record. And just like Behe... he ISN'T saying anything. He's never said anything useful.

Mutations must work in whatever environment they find themselves in and whatever random events happen in that environment, or they die out. Pretending that is random is just dishonest and nutso.

mijopaalmc
13th November 2007, 08:50 PM
What exactly is your argument, Ichneumonwasp?

Mine has always been that because phenotype does not full determine survival and reproduction, evolution is a stochastic process taking the phenotype as the initial conditions for selection. This is the argument which articulett and cyborg have been so vehemently rejecting. There is always some vague causal and deterministic structure of the individual's interactions with the environment and how that effect survival and reproduction, but that misses the central point of my argument which is that, regardless of the causes, effect is that individuals of the same phenotype do not necessarily share the same fate.