Blog powered by Typepad

« Hope this doesn't ruin your breakfast! | Main | When politicians go mad - watch out! »

Tuesday, 06 December 2016

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Duffers. Very profound stuff. I have not read either book so from a position of even greater ignorance than your own I would say the following.

Taking the example of the eye - and Dawkins' light sensitive pigments - it is easy to see that if you are a fish looking for prey, even a rudimentary ability to tell light from dark confers a significant advantage in finding food and a suitable location to leave eggs, etc etc and each incremental improvement in that will do more.

Creatures like these very primitive forms most likely had breeding cycles measured in weeks and evolution has been going on for a good billion years or so.

That is many many generations. Let's say a billion or so. Taking an actuarial approach if each generation achieves a 0.001% improvement in any given parameter on average over its parents, after 10 million generations the improvement to our given parameter will be to have multiplied it by 26867 followed by 13 zeroes - fairly significant I would say and we still have 990 million generations to go. In other words incremental improvement over such a massive time span is an extraordinarily powerful item.

I share your distaste for Dawkins, but I have no time for intelligent design.

David,

Dawkins didn't fool you, but his arrogance has put you off. It should be obvious that sight is better than blindness as a survival mechanism. There are hundreds of sites that explain. This is from the University of Utah, which is not known as a bastion of liberalism. I recommend you visit the page:

"The overwhelming majority of life on our planet depends on the sun for energy. Because life is so tightly linked to the sun, it is no surprise that many organisms (excluding those that live in total darkness) have evolved the ability to detect and respond to light. Plants turn their leaves toward the sun. Single-celled algae, protists, and other microbes swim toward or away from light. But it is the animals, with our image-forming eyes, that have taken light detection to the next level.

96% of animal species have eyes. The first animal eyes did little but detect light—they helped to establish day/night cycles and coordinate behavior—but more-complex eyes soon evolved. A predator who can see its prey from a distance, or a prey animal that can see the shadow of a predator approaching, has a clear survival advantage over those who can't. Even a slight improvement in image quality provides a significant survival advantage, allowing for the step-by-step evolution of increasingly complex eyes."

http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/selection/eye/

Oh dear, Cuffers, you've introduced the dreaded mathematics which instantly puts me, an O-level maths failure, at a disadvantage. However, I would remind both you and Bob that not all biochemical changes are useful, indeed, some are positively harmful and they need to be taken into account when doing your sums! Equally, I would add that being blind when you inhabit total darkness is not a disadvantage!

I cannot remember now where I read the reference but two Israeli mathematics swots worked out that the length of time needed to evolve the eye in tiny incremental steps would actually take longer than the formation of the earth. Remember, the eye is made up of a whole gamut of different 'working parts' and like the constituent parts of Behe's mousetrap many of them are totally useless in and of themselves and therefor they do not comply with the Darwinian theory of increased usefulness.

However, let me make quite clear that I am NOT, repeat NOT, denying the evolution of living things. What I will be saying is that I am unconvinced by the Darwin/Dawkins theory of change by myriad tiny incremental changes. Later on I will put forward a theory that I think is a better explanation of how evolution works.


David,

Keep in mind that the mathematicians who worked out the eye evolution time started with a set of assumptions that might have been wrong, or their math could have been wrong and other mathematicians might have worked out other solutions. Technically, no knowledge in science is considered truth. It is theory. That doesn't mean it's completely uncertain, only that more can be known. Example: We really don't understand much about gravity and have a vastly incomplete theory. However, if you step off the roof of a tall building you will find the current theory is accurate enough. The theory of evolution is similar.

Your point about organisms that live in darkness is correct. That is mentioned above along with the estimation that 96% of animals have eyes. There are eyes that have developed along different evolutionary paths and animals that use hybrid strategies. For example, bats have eyes but also navigate and find food via echolocation. Other predators have a keen sense of smell and so on. The point is, it's impossible to answer all challenges, but the general theory holds.

Dawkins also deserves some defense. He has been repeatedly attacked by every god botherer everywhere and impugned in every way possible. He is a threat to those who are emotionally invested in religion or profit by it professionally or politically. It has made him rather strident, but it's hard to imagine it wouldn't.

"Technically, no knowledge in science is considered truth."

Precisely so, and that includes Darwin's theory of evolution!

And Dawkins deserves no defence at all, if he can dish it out he must learn to take it.

You're right, except that enough is known to invalidate Behe's argument. Do you really think you're the guy to accuse others of being excessively grumpy, pal?

David,

What Is a Scientific Theory?
By Alina Bradford

A scientific theory is a specific type of theory used in the scientific method. The term "theory" can mean something different, depending on whom you ask.

"The way that scientists use the word 'theory' is a little different than how it is commonly used in the lay public," said Jaime Tanner, a professor of biology at Marlboro College. "Most people use the word 'theory' to mean an idea or hunch that someone has, but in science the word 'theory' refers to the way that we interpret facts."

The process of becoming a scientific theory

Every scientific theory starts as a hypothesis. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a hypothesis is an idea that hasn't been proven yet. If enough evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, it moves to the next step — known as a theory — in the scientific method and becomes accepted as a valid explanation of a phenomenon.

Tanner further explained that a scientific theory is the framework for observations and facts. Theories may change, or the way that they are interpreted may change, but the facts themselves don’t change. Tanner likens theories to a basket in which scientists keep facts and observations that they find. The shape of that basket may change as the scientists learn more and include more facts. "For example, we have ample evidence of traits in populations becoming more or less common over time (evolution), so evolution is a fact but the overarching theories about evolution, the way that we think all of the facts go together might change as new observations of evolution are made," Tanner told Live Science.

[Scientific] Theory basics

The University of California, Berkley defines a theory as "a broad, natural explanation for a wide range of phenomena. Theories are concise, coherent, systematic, predictive, and broadly applicable, often integrating and generalizing many hypotheses."

Any scientific theory must be based on a careful and rational examination of the facts. Facts and theories are two different things. In the scientific method, there is a clear distinction between facts, which can be observed and/or measured, and theories, which are scientists’ explanations and interpretations of the facts.

An important part of scientific theory includes statements that have observational consequences. A good theory, like Newton’s theory of gravity, has unity, which means it consists of a limited number of problem-solving strategies that can be applied to a wide range of scientific circumstances. Another feature of a good theory is that it formed from a number of hypotheses that can be tested independently.

The evolution of a scientific theory

A scientific theory is not the end result of the scientific method; theories can be proven or rejected, just like hypotheses. Theories can be improved or modified as more information is gathered so that the accuracy of the prediction becomes greater over time.

Theories are foundations for furthering scientific knowledge and for putting the information gathered to practical use. Scientists use theories to develop inventions or find a cure for a disease.

Some believe that theories become laws, but theories and laws have separate and distinct roles in the scientific method. A law is a description of an observed phenomenon that hold true every time it is tested. It doesn't explain why something is true; it just states that it is true. A theory, on the other hand, explains observations that are gathered during the scientific process. So, while law and theory are part of the scientific process, they are two very different aspects, according to the National Science Teachers Association.

I'm afraid you are pissing into the wind, David. Bob is "right", for a change.

Lengthy, ignore if not interested, as much a note to self …

When we examine an eye, dissect it materially, formulate it conceptually, it appears very complex to us.

That's because the perception and conception granted to us is only a fraction of the story. There is material and form beyond our observational and analytical powers, respectively. This was proved by Godel and fleshed out by his peers and successors using pure logical systems.

The "rest of you" (or your eye) beyond that which can be observed or analysed by you (or me) in the systems we are able to utilize for perception and conceptualization, might actually be quite a simple material and formula in the more fully featured systems in which they were fashioned beyond our power to access.

See this twit, Noam Chomsky, and his "Chomsky Hierarchy" ...

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=noam+chomsky+hierarchy&rls=com.microsoft:en-GB:IE-Address&biw=1536&bih=831&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiziMHbvuDQAhVFK8AKHZQGCDQQ_AUIBigB

He observed that we are able to formulate using four levels of complexity - see images in the link - each level getting more powerful as you move outward.

Being a lefty, materialist, "I could make you out of beer cans if I had enough of them" - Stoppard, type of scumbag, and rather fearful of the inductive thoughts that might be going through your mind (come back to that in a sec) on seeing that expanding hierarchy, he erected a "Move along, nothing to see here" sign, by labelling the hierarchy layers 0 to 3 from the outer (most complex) to the inner (least complex). Check out some of the images which show the Chomshy Hierarchy number labelling scheme.

This bum steer distracted everyone from applying Gödel's logical findings and drawing a rather obvious conclusion.

Godel discovered that when you use the most powerful of Chomsky's formulating levels - level 0, the recursively enumerable - and define numbers to it - input the axioms of number theory - and twist the logical handle, you get the logically proved statement: -

“Either, there exists truth and form beyond the power of me - the 0th recursively enumerable system, and the most powerful knowable by mankind - to be able to prove or formulate. I am just about powerful to prove that these truths and forms do exist, it's just I'm not able to prove any of the truths or formulate any of the forms individually.

Or, there is a contradiction in the axioms of number theory, such that numbers become a concept with a contradiction in them. That would make a Marxist 5 year plan rather a tricky concept, and likewise the rest of materialism, science, and engineering!”

So, we're better off with the first of the two: Truths and forms exist that cannot be proven or formulated in any of Chomsky's Hierarchy of computational schemes knowable to mankind. In other words, matter is going to be around us that defies any Newtonian, Einsteinian, Quantum or other equation you could define in any of Chomsky's levels.

Well we already kinda knew that with Heisenberg, Scrodinger, et al and their throwing the cloth of randomness over the movement and / or location of those itty-bity particles (and don't even mention "dark matter"), right? What a bunch of bullshitters these materialists are: Some put "nothing to see here" signs up when there's plenty to gawp at, and the others say "it's all random" and claim to be scientists!

Anyway, look at Chomsky's Hierarchy again.

If you are a system - beer cans, transistors, meat machine, whatever - and you're analysing Chomsky's Hierarchy, consider this: What level in Chomsky's Hierarchy are you, you beer can, tranny, meat machine? Well it turns out - Turing got this one - that whichever level you go for, you cannot formulate or analyse yourself and all other formulas in your level in a finite timespan. However, you can formulate and analyse all systems built out of the level below your level and lower.

Remember Chomsky numbered the levels the wrong way, so when I say lower I mean "inside" in the picture of the hierarchy, or "higher" in Chomsky's number labelling scheme.

So, for example, there is no "level 0, recursively enumerable" formula that can formulate or analyse all other "level 0, recursively enumerable" formulas in a finite timespan. That's the halting problem, and Turing proved that no such formula exists in any level to formulate or analyse all other formulas in that level in a finite timespan.

In a more general sense, no contraption built out of a level can fully know the level it's in. But Godel, Chomsky knew - and you or I could know if we read up enough about it - completely what a "level 0, recursively enumerable" system is.

So, we see that Godel, Chomsky, and you or I (with a bit of coaching), have to be made out of a system more powerful than level 0, because we fully understand level 0. Level 0 fully understands level 1, but not its own level. Level 1 fully understands level 2, but not its own level, etc.

In other words, there's another level which should be drawn outside level 0 in the picture, or "level -1" to use Chomsky's numbering (now you see why he's such a twit).

So here it is, forever to be known as: "SoD's Hierarchy": -

The numbering is reversed, the new level 4 introduced, and lo and behold - a great leap forward for ontology and mankind!

Now to the complexity theory.

When any contraption "A" built in a particular level tries to examine another contraption "B" that's built in the level above - a more powerful, more complex level - it maxes the observing, analysing, formulating, contraption "A" out somewhat. "Fuck, B looks complicated", says A, "It's really difficult to see how that could have evolved without a creator". The same goes when “A” tries to observe itself or other contraptions built in A’s level.

Meanwhile, a contraption "C" that's built out of a level one higher than the contraption "B" being observed by “A” says "Rubbish, it's a piece of piss that B thingy, could easily have evolved, and you too A".

But hey - just look what you admitted to in allowing C into your inductive appreciation of "Sod's Hierarchy"!: C is a contraption that could have created B, and A. In fact, there are a myriad of them in D, E, F, ... It doesn't matter that they might not have created you or your flippin' eye, the fact is that they could have, because they're powerful enough to, and that’s enough isn't it! They might shrug their shoulders and say "I didn't create it, it must have evolved", in which case you just go up a level and keep going until the creator says "Yes, it was I".

So, look what that looks like, and Who you’ve just discovered: -

That top level, where the level number is infinity, that's the biggest infinity you can have. In maths, there are different sized infinities. But none of them can be bigger than that one, because otherwise it means there would have to be more "God's Gods" to make up the difference.

And that top level is all matter and concepts that exist, in all computational levels. There's nothing a contraption fashioned in the others, right the way down to "0 Regular", knows that the top level doesn't know. And, there's something that the top level knows that all the others don't and can't know, compute, conceive of, or perceive; a truth, a form, that only the top level can know.

The Left Footers might have hit the bull's eye with their instinctive description of that hierarchy: "The Father, the Son, (a well-used metaphor for an iterative hierarchy), and the Holy Spirit (the whole thing).

So finally, with all those creators around, for whom a mouse trap or an eye is a triviality to creation, I come out in favour of rather more than “intelligent design”, towards full-on “creationism”! And that’s from reason – per the above, not faith.

SoD

"The Father, the Son, (a well-used metaphor for an iterative hierarchy), and the Holy Spirit (the whole thing).

A rather irreverent Naval Chaplain I once knew was wont to refer to said trilogy as "Daddy-O, Junior and the Spook". He was one of the best raconteurs around a mess table I have ever met. Now gone to check out if his belief system is genuine. I hope it is because at the time of his departure he owed me a beer which I will be able to collect.

Perhaps that is why in the Senior Service we used to pipe "Up Spirits" before the bloody Puritans got their way and said custom was done away with.

SoD,

I think you meant Schrödinger not "Scrodinger". As for the rest of it, I think Big Bill the Bard's evil twin, Ignatz Spearchucker, had the right response:

"To die: to sleep; to sleep of death what dreams may come when we have, the question: whether 'tis nobler in the whips and by opposing end thus the question: whether bear those bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the law's delay, the heart-ache and thus the dream: ay, there's the proud man's consummation devoutly to others that makes us rather bear, to grunt and by opposing end the whips and arrows of great pith and lose the proud man's contumely, the heart-ache and the whips and lose the unworthy take."
TBH

Spot on, BigHen!

Suicide ain't an option to dodge the Bodkins. Because even if you collapse your system running at level 4, you're still running inside level 5 (and 6 up to and including infinity) - where there might bigger Bodkins be!

So, stiff upper lip, dose of Prozac, Rebel Yell, or all three, and Be!

SoD

Thank you SoD for the view from the planet Zog.

I see what you mean, but I wpould turn it around and say you are correct that there is a high creator, but what the logical proof of it's existence doesn't provide is an explanation of how its creation process takes place. If that happens to be an evolutionary process guided by the laws of mathematics, and quantum physics then that would coincide with our observed reality, and so we agree, again.

This is becoming a habit!!

Bear in mind that creating anything (engineering) is an evolutionary process. You try something; it works or it doesn't work, you see a way to make it work better or cost less; and after 50 or a humndred or a billion iterations you have an i-phone or concorde, or an elephant or a human brain.

Oh God, I'm going back to bed!

SoD,

Since there are multiple theories of epistemology it is arguable they all disappear up their own self-referential backsides:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oa0bCzwSNA0

The comments to this entry are closed.