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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

What is information again? One more time...

Dictionary.com (that hangout for nasty old creationists)

in·for·ma·tion

[in-fer-mey-shuhn] Show IPA
–noun
1.
knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance; news: information concerning a crime.
2.
knowledge gained through study, communication, research, instruction, etc.; factual data: His wealth of general information is amazing.
3.
the act or fact of informing.
4.
an office, station, service, or employee whose function is to provide information to the public: The ticket seller said to ask information for a timetable.
6.
Law.
a.
an official criminal charge presented, usually by the prosecuting officers of the state, without the interposition of a grand jury.
b.
a criminal charge, made by a public official under oath before a magistrate, of an offense punishable summarily.
c.
the document containing the depositions of witnesses against one accused of a crime.
7.
(in information theory) an indication of the number of possible choices of messages, expressible as the value of some monotonic function of the number of choices, usually the logarithm to the base 2.
8.
Computers.
a.
important or useful facts obtained as output from a computer by means of processing input data with a program: Using the input data, we have come up with some significant new information.
b.
data at any stage of processing (input, output, storage, transmission, etc.).

Origin:
1350–1400; ME: instruction, teaching, a forming of the mind <>See inform1, -ation

I went into detail concerning this subject last year in association with Easter and it is reprinted below:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Information = IT


Thanks to P e r ∙ C r u c e m ∙ a d ∙ L u c e m for the visual above. My personal recommendation is to choose to drink and ignore the naysayers.
~~~~~~~
Information is one of the three topics this blog is currently discussing, along with the beginning of life and the process of evolution. Other issues may be addressed later on but let us deal with that which is at hand thoroughly rather than be all over the map.
I made the following statements in more than one way:

1) Naturalistic Materialists have no coherent explanation for the advent of information.

2) They also have no explanation for where life came from, and in fact science has "proven" that life only comes from life.

3) They have also failed to demonstrate evolution in action, despite long years with short-life/quick generating organisms like bacteria and fruit flies.

Today I am responding to commenters who were dissatisfied with dictionary definitions of information. Being an information technology professional, I am qualified to speak to this subject in detail.

First, let me say that information is NOT material and one must be careful not to confuse the container with what is contained. The human mind is used to dealing with and understanding the material world and it is harder to conceive of supernatural concepts.

If I hand you a glass of milk, you would recognize the glass as a container and the liquid within as the milk itself. You wish to receive and drink the milk, but milk requires some kind of container in order to transfer it to your possession. This is a simple example and hopefully everyone recognizes that both milk and glass are material, having mass and taking up space within the Universe.

In the world of IT, I might describe my computer in ways that are related to information. For instance, I have a Vista 64-bit OS running with a 1.8 gig AMD quad processor and 4 gigs of RAM and a 250 gig hard drive. I have described numbers relative to information but those numbers are qualitative. They represent rates or quantities of information represented materially as bits. Those bits, the smallest unit of information represented materially in the world of IT, are part of the material world.

You can discuss Shannon's law/theory concerning amounts of information and the speed of the transmission of information but, when you do, you are merely discussing the movement of tiny containers. The information itself is not actually addressed. I can have a hard drive stuffed full of old files left over from downloads and just a bunch of random junk. I could be opening Word documents and put a rock on one of my keyboard keys and fill up my harddrive with documents consisting of nothing more that long strings of the letter "a" or "n" and not actually be transmitting information itself.

You see, information is not the bits or bytes or kilobytes or gigabytes or terabytes. It is the message contained within.

MARSHALL MCLUHAN WAS WRONG


The guy who coined the phrase, "global village", McLuhan recognized that the rapid growth of new methods of communication would revolutionize the world. He sought to quantify and identify the growth, to analyze the effects of such growth and recognize patterns within the process. He came to several conclusions based upon the idea that information was part of the material world. He was wrong, even though many of his conclusions were pretty accurate. The medium is NOT the message. Information is intelligence transmitted. What we commonly call information is actually the translation of a message into a material form. One must not confuse the medium or the method for the message itself. A message is a transfer of intelligence and information is that intelligence which is being transmitted from one entity to another.




I will use an example I presented previously in greater detail. Suppose I have a notepad and a pen. I show you the items. Nothing has been written upon the notepad. I put them on a scale and weigh them. I put you on a scale and weigh you. I weigh myself.




Now I take the pen and draw a bunch of quick scribbles and lines on the pad in a random way. I show it to you. You do not perceive a message from me on the notepad. I weigh the pad and paper and the weight is unchanged. You stand on the scale and your weight is unchanged. I weigh myself and my weight is unchanged.




Now I take the pen and write "Jesus rose from the dead on Easter." You are able to read this message. I have transmitted information to you. I now weigh the notepad and paper and the weight remains the same. You get on the scale and you weigh the same. I get on the scale and I weigh the same. But now you and I both agree that something has passed between you and I. I have transmitted information to you without passing anything material to you. Maybe you already know that Jesus rose from the dead and when. Maybe you didn't know it, or maybe you don't believe it. But you know that I transmitted that message to you whether you agree with it or not.




Back to information technology. I can add items to my harddrive that are nonsensical and they will still take up space. The amount of space taken up by the bits and bytes will not tell me whether they represent actual information or just "white noise."




As you read this blog now, you are receiving information from me and you can do so because you can understand the code I am using and the method of code transmission. I am using the Engligh language and transmitting it using the alphabet typed into this website. Blogger is using bits and bytes organized in such a way that you read my words as if they had been printed upon a page. Do you understand that the bits and bytes, the letters themselves, they are not the message? They are simply the medium by which the message is transmitted. Even the code itself is not the message, it is simply a method I am using by which I can transmit intelligence and that you are able to translate into thoughts within your mind.




In our daily lives, we easily recognize information and differentiate the transmission of information from random noise.




Perhaps I see a utility pole, a metal one, and it has a small smudge of paint. I examine the paint and using logic and forensic reasoning I determine that the paint came from an automobile that scraped against the pole. Perhaps I can determine the make and model of automobile from the composition of the paint and perhaps I can sift through all the local examples of that particular auto and identify the specific auto with a scratch in the right place that actually collided with that pole. Now there is information being transmitted in the form of evidence. We can determine as best we can what event was represented by that smudge. However, the car itself was not attempting to communicate with us. We have reasoning powers that enable us to translate the language of evidence into an understanding of an event. But, again, understand that the automobile was not trying to pass us a message nor was the driver. We may be able to figure out where it came from but it was not an attempt to pass a message to me or anyone else. It is simply an accidental random mark left as a reminder of an event that was almost certainly unintended. It is not a transmission of an intelligent thought.




But if that same pole has a crown and a few letters and symbols painted upon it, that might well be a sign from a gang member that is telling all who understand that this is marked territory, that in the opinion of that gang member this area belongs to him and his gang and other gang members should stay away lest they be attacked. Hmmm. Both cases involve paint on a utility pole. One is just a smudge left over from an accident that we can study and perhaps even find a way to recreate in our mind's eye what that accident may have been. The other is an attempt to transmit a message using a code understood by the target audience/receivers.




Elsewhere on the pole is a message that appears to have been spray painted on using a template so that it appears to be neatly printed, "Post No Bills." We may not have any desire or ability to identify the smudge and it may be difficult to do so. We may not understand gang symbols and therefore can't really get the message the gang is sending. But we are able to read the message that was posted specifically for us that tells us not to put up any "bills", which is an archaic way of telling people not to put up posters and signs. If I happen to be a gang member of a rival gang, I am going to be able to understand the gang signage and now I can decide whether to be warned away by or to ignore it or whether it actually is some kind of welcome to me.




Paint on a utility pole. It could be meaningless, it could be evidence, it could be code intended for a limited audience or code intended for a general audience.




dklsaotguuslnhous is a series of letters of the English alphabet. It is meaningless, simply a bunch of letters I randomly typed. Even though it is using symbols commonly used to transmit information it does not convey any message. Green side up, on the other hand, is a message that has meaning. It might be an instruction for laying sod, for instance.




I conclude that the medium is not the message at all. Containers that commonly carry a message must be filled with intelligence before a message is actually conveyed. It takes an intelligent entity to input the message.




You see, a gang member designed and painted the symbols that made a territorial statement. A worker for the utility company painted the warning, almost certainly because he was directed to do so by a supervisor. The automobile did not purpose to strike the pole, nor did it have a message to transmit.




Now let us apply this to the Universe. There are many ways of transmitting information within this material universe and we find that we must use a material means to convey the message and yet the message is not the medium or the method itself. So when you consider DNA, you find that you have a medium (organic material) and a method (a code using combinations of adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine) used to convey intelligence. Wikipedia describes DNA thusly:




"Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and some viruses. The main role of DNA molecules is the long-term storage of information. DNA is often compared to a set of blueprints or a recipe, or a code, since it contains the instructions needed to construct other components of cells, such as proteins and RNA molecules. The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in regulating the use of this genetic information.



Chemically, DNA consists of two long polymers of simple units called nucleotides, with backbones made of sugars and phosphate groups joined by ester bonds. These two strands run in opposite directions to each other and are therefore anti-parallel. Attached to each sugar is one of four types of molecules called bases. It is the sequence of these four bases along the backbone that encodes information. This information is read using the genetic code, which specifies the sequence of the amino acids within proteins. The code is read by copying stretches of DNA into the related nucleic acid RNA, in a process called transcription."


Please note the language used above. "Instructions. Purposes." So now I will add to our definition. Information is intelligence transmitted for a specific purpose.


When I make a blog post, when you speak with your friends, when you write a letter, you are transmitting intelligence and you have a purpose in mind. You also have a recipient in mind and a specific result in response to your message. Dr. Werner Gitt identifies five basic levels of information concept as represented by the illustration.









RUBBER MEETS ROAD




I insist that it is great foolishness to suppose that intelligence has ever been transmitted accidently and with no purpose. Yet a naturalistic materialist will say that intelligence simple developed and that DNA evolved from a series of accidents and the working of natural selection. Have you not learned anything from your time here on Earth? Accidents break things, not fix things. If I drop the glass of milk I will break the glass and spill the milk. By the reasoning of the naturalistic materialist, one of these times I will drop the glass of milk and produce ice cream.




In our world heat transfers from hot things to cold things rather than the reverse. Energy is converted to entropy. Order becomes disorder. There is no place found in the Universe in which these operations are not observed unless an intelligent source brings energy and information into a system to alter the system. Futhermore, throughout the known Universe we have found that matter obeys certain laws that can be understood logically. Gravity operates under an apple tree and five million miles out in space. E=MC2 is true on Earth and on Mars.




The entire Universe is ordered and logically functioning by a set of laws and composed of building blocks that we are able to study and attempt to understand. Matter is composed of molecules which are composed of atoms which are composed of subatomic particles and we can study and predict the behavior of the molecules and the atoms and even, to an extent, the subatomic particles although at the moment mankind has come to the outer limits of his intellect in attempting to comprehend the behavior of subatomic particles.




~~~~~~~




It puzzles me that a man can see an automobile and recognize that said automobile had to have been designed and manufactured by intelligent beings and yet, upon discovering that a simple human cell is more complex than a Rolls Royce that same man will accept the idea that said cell came about by a series of accidents. It is not simply the ridiculous odds against the material composition of a cell having happened by a series of chance events, it is the magical appearance of the intelligence/instruction contained within the DNA. Naturalistic materialists must believe that instructions and codes and intelligence just came from nowhere and no one. It is absurdity in the extreme.




Some commenters laugh because I contend that God created the Universe and all contained within it. But my contention is logical and conceivable. If you do not believe in God, you believe in magic because intelligence transmitting instructions via coding for a purpose is simply not going to just happen. I dare you to even begin to explain this logically.




Today is Easter, the day that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He was seen after his death by over 500 witnesses in at least ten different locations and times. It would have greatly benefitted both the Romans and the unbelieving Jews to find a dead Jesus body or refute the witnesses to his reappearance on Earth but they were quite unable to do it.




Was Jesus raising from death a miracle? Yes, and so was His conversion of water into wine, His raising Lazarus from death and His healings of the lame and blind and demon-possessed. God created the Universe and has authority over it and its laws and systems. He is the owner and according to Colossians chapter one He actually sustains the Universe at every moment by His will.




You can continue to be a grasshopper on the rail, shaking your fist at the oncoming train while claiming to believe that said train does not exist. Or, you can have your free ticket, climb on board and ride the train with the rest of us. My naturalist materialistic friends, you have no logical explanation for the presence of information in the world other than by a creation by a higher entity. I say that the Creator God wants us to know and understand Him and what He has done and thus made sure the Bible was available for man to read and begin to comprehend God within the constraints of our limited abilities.




PS - I would recommend reading this chapter excerpt from Werner Gitt's book.


43 comments:

Jon Woolf said...

Your definition of information fails, radar.

You wrote: "Information is intelligence transmitted for a specific purpose."

When a giraffe eats too much from a single acacia tree, the tree responds by generating tannin, a chemical which makes the rest of its leaves taste bad. It also generates pheromones which are carried by the wind to other nearby acacia trees. In response, these trees also produce tannin in their leaves.

Clearly, the acacia trees are transmitting and receiving information. Yet there is no intelligence involved. It's a simple sequence of chemical reactions, entirely automatic, triggered by a single environmental stimulus.

Frankly, I'm surprised to find an IT guy with such an un-useful definition of "information." As an IT worker myself, whose primary background is in databases, I think my definition works much better: Information is data that is organized into a useful form.

radar said...

I gave the dictionary definition. How is it that mine fails? Your example is that of a system that was designed to work that way. You are stuck in a circular reasoning maze here. My definition is sound, it is your supposition that does not work.

radar said...

Going further here - data can be information. Who organized it? Who created it? You see, when information is around someone has to organize it in some way. It doesn't organize itself.

radar said...

Acacia trees were designed to do that. You know these things are not random. Information again. Awfully inconvenient, that...

Jon Woolf said...

I didn't say the dictionary definition fails ... although I don't believe any of the dictionary definitions you quoted are of much use in the context of biology. I said your definition that "Information is intelligence transmitted for a specific purpose" fails.

"Acacia trees were designed to do that."

Again you beg the question. Excellent theology, but rotten logic and rotten science.

Hawkeye® said...

Thanks for the info Radar. It was... very "informative".

(:D) Best regards...

P.S.-- I completely agree with your analysis

Hawkeye® said...

Jon Woolf,
You said, "Clearly, the acacia trees are transmitting and receiving information".

I disagree. The acacia trees in your example are simply "reacting" to external stimuli. If the leaves are exposed to flame, they will burn. If exposed to cryogenic temperatures, they will shatter like glass. As you yourself say, this is nothing more than a "chemical reaction".

I agree completely with Radar on this one. "Information is intelligence transmitted for a specific purpose." The acacia trees in your example are not passing "information", they are generating materials... chemicals.

I dare say you would agree that acacia trees are not "intelligent". Therefore, they cannot be "intentionally" transmitting information. Rather, they are simply "reacting" in a biological manner.

It may "appear" that the acacia trees are passing information, because the effects of the biological reaction tend to preserve the viability of the species. But that is hardly the case.

When a chameleon changes color, it is likewise reacting to external stimuli. The effect of that reaction likewise tends to preserve the viability of the species. But the surroundings of the chameleon are not in any way trying to send it "information".

Great chameleon video here...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SZnLbvVnKY

(:D)

Jon Woolf said...

Hawkeye,

The acacia trees in your example are not passing "information", they are generating materials... chemicals.

What's the difference?

Here is a string of symbols:

C A T

What does it mean? What information does it convey to you?

Here's another string of symbols:

11001001

What does it mean? What information does it convey to you?

And another:

B 422x33- R3.8

Again, what does it mean? What information does it convey to you?

I have many more examples. ℵ0 of them, in fact. But these three should make the point. You see, each of them can mean at least two different things, depending on the context. "Information" is a much more slippery concept than you want to believe it is.

radar said...

No Darwinist will answer the question because they cannot. So they dodge it and try to dance around it.

The acacia tree was designed to adjust and adapt. So was the giraffe. There is no Darwinist fairy tale that explains the remarkable system of blood pressurization in the vessels of the neck and brain of the giraffe, for instance. It could not have developed piece by piece it had to have been present all at once. Such examples abound in nature.

This is one reason why Darwinism is a failed hypothesis. It is flawed from the outset, thought up when we knew very little about organisms and had all sorts of misconceptions about the rock layers.

Just once I would love to hear an atheist admit that Darwinism is a failure but he just doesn't want to believe in God anyway. Honesty would be so refreshing...

Anonymous said...

Gaaa! You are such a ridiculous human being. You regurgitate the same tired creationist "arguments". No matter how many times you have been corrected. Its like you have some weird selective amnesia thing going on. Well, anyway, as usual, the internet is not impressed. From SkepticWiki, RE: Giraffe necks,
"The Creationist argument combines errors in understanding the theory of evolution, and errors in simple biological facts.

Their theoretical failure involves overlooking the fact that evolution occurs in small stages, each selected for the benefit of the organism.

It is perfectly true that the neck of the giraffe would be fatal if the giraffe had a small heart, or that the blood pressure produced by the heart of the giraffe would be fatal if the giraffe had thin arteries. However, evolutionary theory does not say that evolution does its work first on one feature of an animal, and then on another: it says the very opposite. Obviously random mutations do not form an orderly queue, with those extending the length of the neck going first, those increasing the blood pressure going second, and so forth. Instead, a slightly longer neck gives a selective advantage to a slightly stronger heart, which gives a selective advantage to slightly thicker arteries. So long as there is environmental pressure for slightly longer necks, there is also a selective pressure for these coadaptations, and mutations for them will be favored. It is rather depressing to think that nearly 150 years ago, Darwin gave the same answer to the same grotesque misunderstanding of his theory concerning the same animal, and that it is necessary to repeat it:

With animals such as the giraffe, of which the whole structure is admirably co-ordinated for certain purposes, it has been supposed that all the parts must have been simultaneously modified; and it has been argued that, on the principle of natural selection, this is scarcely possible. But in thus arguing, it has been tacitly assumed that the variations must have been abrupt and great.[2]

With this theoretical error, the Creationists compound a crass factual error: supposing that the particular features named are unique to the giraffe. Not one of them is.

* The giraffe has elasticated arteries? So do you, I trust. Hardening of the arteries is an undesirable medical condition: all arteries are by nature elastic.

* The giraffe’s cerebrospinal fluid produces a counter-pressure to prevent rupture or capillary leakage? This again is true of all mammals, and is a matter not of design nor of evolution, but basic physics.

* The giraffe has valves in the veins of its neck? So do all mammals. You too have a jugular valve.
* Giraffes have pressure sensors in their neck arteries? Again, so do all mammals.
* The giraffe has a rete mirable? So do most of its relatives:

The function of the rete mirabile is to regulate the flow of arterial blood towards the cerebrum as well as the thermal regulation of the brain preventing it from overheating; the arterial system of the cerebrum in ruminants […] is equipped with a safety system. [3]

* The giraffe has a shunt between the carotid and vertebral arteries? So do many of its relatives, including its closest relative, the okapi, which has a short neck.

In summary, the mechanisms which the giraffe uses to control its blood pressure are all either common to mammals in general, or common to the species most closely related to the giraffe."

Check out this link for the full post,
http://skepticwiki.org/index.php/Neck_of_the_Giraffe

So, you were saying that terrible "examples" like this "abound in nature". Do tell, Radar, do tell.

- Canucklehead

creeper said...

So much verbiage about nothing.

Radar, you made the claim that "speciation represents a loss of information", which is why, among other things, we asked you to provide a useful definition of information in this context. So you pull out a few dictionary definitions, sprinkle a few analogies on top, and then you insist on cramming agency into the picture, that information itself supposedly requires a designer... which it doesn't.

We derive information from all kinds of things that we don't assume have a designer who put them in place to send a message to us. Simple example: I want to go for a walk and look out the window to see what kind of weather I can expect. A few clouds, but I figure it'll be sunny enough. Did somebody put the clouds there to send me that message?

Other examples: we look at tree rings to figure out a tree's age. We derive information from radiation using radiometry. Did somebody consciously put these things there for that purpose? Not as far as we know.

To graft conscious intention onto the definition is, as Jon had already pointed out, simply disingenuous.

But be that as it may - does anyone see a definition of information here that is of any use to us to discuss how speciation leads to information loss?

"Have you not learned anything from your time here on Earth? Accidents break things, not fix things."

It seems you're not paying attention. For example, it was an accident that created nylon-eating bacteria - a transcription error that added information that wasn't there before. That would falsify your claims that (1) accidents only break things (they don't), (2) information is never gained because of the 2nd LOT (a claim we've taken apart in multiple ways on your blog as it is), (3) organisms never gain genetic information because God made them with all information already contained in them, and from that point on they only shed information.

"Some commenters laugh because I contend that God created the Universe and all contained within it."

No, we don't really laugh at that, you've got us wrong there - it's more about your insistence to treat Genesis as a science textbook and the ridiculous contortions you have to go through to make it all add up somehow: rays of light positioned in space with nothing originating them! An all-powerful and supposedly efficient creator who puts a vast stumbling block in his own way by not making the speed of light (supposedly his creation) instantaneous! Sorting mechanisms that we can't think of that somehow put fossils (all supposedly deposited during a global flood 4,000 years ago) in exactly the kind of arrangement we would expect to see according to an old Earth and the theory of evolution! Bacteria should become something other than bacteria in lab experiments!

That's the kind of silliness that has us spitting coffee over our keyboards and coming back for more.

"But my contention is logical and conceivable."

Conceivable - yes, obviously. Logical? Only if logical also means being wildly illogical at the same time, a bit like Douglas Adams' notion of having tea and no tea at the same time: everything must have had a cause, therefore God. Must God not have a cause? Nope, God's just different that way.

"If you do not believe in God, you believe in magic because intelligence transmitting instructions via coding for a purpose is simply not going to just happen."

Erm, no, that's not the claim.

But wait, this caricature that you present here.... that's exactly what you believe in as a creationist: God just happened. How is that not "magic"?

-- creeper

radar said...

creeper,

Philosophy 101 would get you past the idea of God being the same as blind chance.

Evidence is not equivalent to information. Information may be evidence but evidence is not always information and I made that very clear.

None of you can get past this but none of you have the chutzpah to admit it.

Anonymous said...

So we're redefining words again are we Radar? From your very own post "Information - knowledge communicated or received concerning a particular fact or circumstance; news: information concerning a crime." Hmmm... sounds kinda like "evidence" to me. And see where it says "communicated OR received"?!? This is precisely the "silliness that has us spitting coffee over our keyboards" that creeper refers to above. This entire blog is one big case study in psychological projection. Doesn't it feel like some of your own criticisms of us hit really close to home for you, Radar? A little too close maybe? Like when you talk about "magic" and "fairy tales"?

I mean, if you're as smart as you say you are Radar, why don't you actually answer our questions?

- Canucklehead

Jon Woolf said...

radar, I politely suggest that you fire up your Netflix account and order a few early episodes of NCIS. All aside from its entertainment value, it's a pretty good police procedural after you allow for dramatic license. As such, it will quickly educate you on the meanings of evidence and information and where the two concepts do (and don't) intersect.

(And consider also that sometimes a lack of information is itself evidence. I refer, of course, to the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.)

creeper said...

"creeper,

Philosophy 101 would get you past the idea of God being the same as blind chance.

Evidence is not equivalent to information. Information may be evidence but evidence is not always information and I made that very clear.

None of you can get past this but none of you have the chutzpah to admit it."


You're not even trying, are you?

"Radar, you made the claim that "speciation represents a loss of information", which is why, among other things, we asked you to provide a useful definition of information in this context.

...does anyone see a definition of information here that is of any use to us to discuss how speciation leads to information loss?


Come on, Mr. Information Specialist, let's have it.

Us long-term readers can already hear it coming: "I already answered your question." - "Oh really, where?" - "I did!" - "Where?!" - "I'm not going to do your homework for you! Nah nah nah."

-- creeper

Jon Woolf said...

Creeper: ...does anyone see a definition of information here that is of any use to us to discuss how speciation leads to information loss?

Well I don't, but then I'm an evilutionist. ;-)

This discussion, with all its semantic tap-dancing, has brought back a question that I used to ponder about when debating creationists on Compuserve: is this really all they've got? We evolution-defenders can call on millions of man-hours of work, stretching back three hundred years, including at least some parts of almost every field of science. Creationists? All they've got is a bunch of semantic quibbles and procedural nit-picks, plus one book that's a history of the Hebrew people crossed with a collection of Bronze Age fireside tales. If evolutionary theory is really as wrong as they claim it is, then we should be falling over evidence that it's false, every time we go out in the field.

Where are the fossils of centaurs and merfolk, two evolutionarily-impossible hybrids? Where are the blatantly out-of-sequence fossils -- flatfish in the Burgess Shale, a heron or hawk in the Solnhofen limestone, a velociraptor in the La Brea Tar Pits? We have a number of fossils of animals that include their gut contents -- where's the allosaur that ate a deer, or the mosasaur that ate a penguin, or the dicynodont that feasted on an oak tree? Where are the organisms that don't use the Krebs cycle, that have a unique internal physiology, that use a different DNA code for their genetic material?

So many simple ways evolution could be proven wrong. And yet, all radar can muster is doubletalk and semantic trickery. If evolution is so wrong, why is it so hard to disprove it?

creeper said...

Jon,

I've wondered (and asked) the same thing many times. Radar bleats on about "propaganda" and "brain-washing" while running away from numerous questions about the shortcomings and contradictions of his claims.

and Radar,

So... are you dropping this "speciation is information loss" claim, or are you going to defend it?

-- creeper

radar said...

Why should I have to "defend" the statement that speciation is loss of information when genetics is an established science and that statement stands as a statement of fact. I also have already answered this in an earlier post that walked readers through a simple mendelian genetics lesson anyway. But back on point.

You are avoiding the question, which is where did information come from in the first place, and no matter how you try to wiggle out of it that was the question. I will not allow you to try to squirm out of the question by asking another question. So by not answering that question your admission is that you have no idea and that Darwinism has no answer.

Jon Woolf said...

Why should I have to "defend" the statement that speciation is loss of information when genetics is an established science and that statement stands as a statement of fact.

Because it's not a statement of fact. It's a hypothesis at best, an assumption at worst. Creeper and I have both offered possible counterexamples, in this and other comment-threads. It's now up to you to refute our counterexamples, and merely repeating the original claim is not sufficient.

where did information come from in the first place,

OK, here's an answer: Eru Iluvatar created it through the mouths and instruments of his Ainur.

Can you prove me wrong?

scohen said...

"You are avoiding the question, which is where did information come from in the first place"

Where did the information that created the antennas come from?

creeper said...

"Why should I have to "defend" the statement that speciation is loss of information when genetics is an established science and that statement stands as a statement of fact. I also have already answered this in an earlier post that walked readers through a simple mendelian genetics lesson anyway. But back on point."

Thing is, genetics doesn't say that speciation is loss of information...

Hm, I thought you had once done a post about the evolution of bears, but I can't seem to find it. I did find this one, with a little "genetics lesson" (you'll have to scroll down a few screens) by noted geneticist Randall Niles. Is that the one you had in mind?

"You are avoiding the question, which is where did information come from in the first place, and no matter how you try to wiggle out of it that was the question. I will not allow you to try to squirm out of the question by asking another question."

I seem to recall that you claimed speciation was a loss of information, and somebody (I think Jon, but it might also have been me or somebody else) asked you to define information, so that we could rationally discuss this.

Now it seems you want to dismiss this train of thought and hammer on about the origin of information instead.

Fine, so perhaps you want to abandon the other claim...

... but guess what, Radar?

To have that discussion, you also have to DEFINE INFORMATION.

Yes, you've provided a bunch of dictionary definitions, a few analogies (some more adequate than others), a few misrepresentations, but as you can tell, it doesn't really advance the discussion when it comes to your claim that speciation represents a loss of information.

Naturally, the same goes for the discussion "where did information come from?" - again, you'll have to define information in a way that's germane to that topic.

Since you claim to "understand information" and even boast to be an expert, this should be no problem for you...

-- creeper

radar said...

http://radaractive.blogspot.com/2009/07/in-regards-to-canards-natural-selection.html

...is one example. For you readers who read these comments, I have given both the dictionary and the information scientist definition of information and given a few excellent illustrations and so creeper is without excuse. You will not likely ever see him try to answer this and be informed thereby. Let me say quite clearly that I never expected him to answer because I truly do not know what he can possibly say. The presence of information in organisms is evidence of Intelligent Design and not explicable in any other way.

scohen said...

"The presence of information in organisms is evidence of Intelligent Design and not explicable in any other way."

The presence of information in antennae is evidence of Intelligent Design and not explicable in any other way.

Except that's not true. Radar logic fail.

Jon Woolf said...

http://radaractive.blogspot.com/2009/07/in-regards-to-canards-natural-selection.html

Hey, nice link there, radar. Lots of fun to read. This line especially cracked me up:

By means of greater and richer sources of information at my disposal, there is no doubt that I know more about both science and theology than one Charles Darwin.

There is no doubt you have more and better information at your disposal than Darwin did, but to claim that you actually know more than he did about any scientific subject is risible.

The post wanders around for a while, but finally does get down to interesting discussion. In fact, I'm surprised how close you actually come to understanding the evolutionary process, before your knuckles turn white and you hastily back away from the precipice.

More than once it has been pointed out to commenters that there are no known violations of the 2LOT on Earth whether or not you wish to call it a closed or an open system.

Indeed. There are no known violations of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics anywhere in the Universe, nor does anyone ever seriously expect to find one. The key to understanding why evolution doesn't violate the 2nd Law is this: entropy may be reduced locally, even by undirected natural processes, if entropy somewhere else rises to a much greater degree and the two locales (lower-entropy and higher-entropy) are thermodynamically connected. By this loophole, a plant may organize chemicals into food via photosynthesis, and this represents a local reduction in entropy. But the plant only does this by using solar energy, and the process of generating that energy via fusion raises the Sun's entropy by a far greater amount.

Then there's this:

Natural Selection is not a force, it has no intelligence, it doesn't plan or design anything nor does it have a will. Indeed, Natural Selection is not a being nor is it a system, it is merely a description of microevolution, or variation in kind, happening.

Exactly correct. Natural selection is an algorithmic process. It's really no more than the laws of statistics as applied to populations of living organisms. It only reinforces useful traits and culls out useless ones. It can do nothing else. You've surfaced from an ocean of ignorance, and the Lifeguard's rope of True Understanding is within your grasp, ready to pull you to safety on the shores of science ...

... but you just won't reach out to grab it.

See, the point you miss is that natural selection is only half of the evolutionary process. The other half is what generates the traits that natural selection works on: genetic variation. Recombination. Mutation. Chromosome doubling. In every single act of reproduction lies the opportunity for hundreds, thousands, millions of new variations, which can then be selected for or against. Esterases that digest insecticides, enzymes that can digest nylon or citrase, cattle with or without horns, light vs. dark wing coloring in moths, a subtle change in hemoglobin that damages its oxygen-carrying ability but gives resistance to malaria, four digits instead of five, sweat glands modified to produce water-repellent oil ... They're all very simple genetic changes, easily achieved by random mutation. And they all provide new traits for selection to act on.

Now I'll grant you that it's difficult to imagine going from a monitor lizard to a snake in one generation, or even in the span of time represented by recorded human history. That's where the "geologic time" aspect comes in. What can't be accomplished in one leap can often be accomplished in many small steps. When every year is a new generation, and every generation introduces thousands of new variants, and that's been going on for literally millions of years, well, who are you to say what's impossible?

creeper said...

"I have given both the dictionary and the information scientist definition of information and given a few excellent illustrations and so creeper is without excuse."

Do you seriously not get that in the context of the discussion we were having about your claim that speciation is a loss of information, it was the quantification of genetic information we are trying to get to? You can talk about glasses of milk and containers and it doesn't advance that discussion one bit, it's just a distraction you're putting up.

"You will not likely ever see him try to answer this and be informed thereby. Let me say quite clearly that I never expected him to answer because I truly do not know what he can possibly say."

For starters, I can say the obvious: what did you think the question was?

And are you abandoning your "speciation is information loss" claim, or aren't you?

"The presence of information in organisms is evidence of Intelligent Design and not explicable in any other way."

Depends on what you mean by information. Going by the dictionary definitions and given some of the examples we've already given (information arising in nylon-eating bacteria due to copying error and natural selection (which does not indicate a designer), information that can be derived from observing the world around us, e.g. tree rings, radiation), it is certainly impossible to draw the conclusion you just did.

-- creeper

creeper said...

It seems to me that this "speciation is information loss" claim is based on this article by an evangelist by the name of Randall Niles. Not a scientist, but a former lawyer who now makes a living selling Christian propaganda.

You'd think if the point you're trying to make is part and parcel of the science of genetics, you could actually find a scientific source for your claim.

In any case, I'm not planning on making this just an ad hominem. Let's have a look at the point he's making. Is it just me, or is it as trivial as the observation that when you are just looking at two mates, certain genetic information is potentially not passed on in 1 out of 8 cases... which is utterly irrelevant when you're actually talking about a population that is not on the extreme verge of extinction? Is that really it, Radar?

Thing is, Radar, in a healthy population recessive genes are maintained without a problem. Not in every individual, but in the population as a whole - which means that, as far as the argument that you copied in that article from Randall Niles goes, no information is lost at all. The population as a whole maintains the information.

Did you have another argument for your claim?

Because even this limited argument only addresses a static situation and doesn't take into account mutations, or any of the examples that Jon and I had mentioned.

-- creeper

radar said...

I have not spent much time reading this Niles guy but did get a great deal of information from Werner Gitt. As to nylon-eating bacteria?

http://creation.com/the-adaptation-of-bacteria-to-feeding-on-nylon-waste

Bacteria of this kind have shown an unusual ability to change what they can eat but study has shown that the means by which they do so has not yet been understood by science but is not a result of mutation according to test results.

"t seems clear that plasmids are designed features of bacteria that enable adaptation to new food sources or the degradation of toxins. The details of just how they do this remains to be elucidated. The results so far clearly suggest that these adaptations did not come about by chance mutations, but by some designed mechanism. This mechanism might be analogous to the way that vertebrates rapidly generate novel effective antibodies with hypermutation in B-cell maturation, which does not lend credibility to the grand scheme of neo-Darwinian evolution."

creeper said...

Details about the frame shift mutation of nylon-eating bacteria can be found here. It's also an interesting read with regard to what "information" actually means in this context.

And the response to the link you put up in your comment can be found here.

-- creeper

radar said...

scohen: (quoting me)"The presence of information in organisms is evidence of Intelligent Design and not explicable in any other way."

The presence of information in antennae is evidence of Intelligent Design and not explicable in any other way.

(Now him) Except that's not true. Radar logic fail.

I am sorry for you all. You cannot see that if you write a program then you have intelligently designed it. You cannot concede that you have no explanation for the advent of information and not one of you has answered the question. So here you are stuck. Go ahead and self-congratulate yourselves and meanwhile do some research and come back with an actual answer someday...

Jon Woolf said...

You cannot see that if you write a program then you have intelligently designed it.

[snicker.wav]

You've obviously never been a programmer, Radar. Most of the problems with computers come from the fact that far too many programs were not intelligently designed. They were written piece by piece, over many years, with no overarching design or plan.

Proof? You know Internet security. Just think of how many of the holes in operating systems, browsers, and browser plug-ins are due to buffer overflow exploits. Buffer overflows are one of the oldest tricks in the hacker's bag. It's been almost 40 years since the concept of the buffer overflow was first described, along with how to guard against it. It's been 22 years since the Morris worm, which spread partly by a buffer-overflow exploit, nearly crippled the entire Internet. Yet to this day, ubiquitous programs like Flash Player, Quicktime, even the Windows and Mac operating systems themselves, are riddled with buffer-overflow holes.

Programs are intelligently designed? Please!

s said...

" You cannot concede that you have no explanation for the advent of information and not one of you has answered the question"

For the third time now, where did the information that created the antennas come from?

"You cannot see that if you write a program then you have intelligently designed it."

Perhaps I overestimated your knowledge regarding computers. You are failing to grasp how genetic algorithms work, the design of the program simulates natural selection, and the fitness function selects the best phenotypes in each generation. As I said before; the start of life is the writing of the program and evolution is the running of the program. I think you realize this and realize that once again you are in a corner. Or, perhaps you just don't get it. Whatever the case it's been made clear to you and despite claiming that you have answered the question you have not.

Nice to see that things remain constant.

If you want to actually engage, answer the question:

Where did the information that made the antennas come from?

scohen said...

That last post was me... sorry

scohen said...

"Programs are intelligently designed? Please!"

I think in this context Radar means to say that programs were designed by an intelligent agency.

Of course that's another flaw in creationist arguments. If a perfect creator god designed all life, then why are there so many mistakes in it? How could a perfect agency design rectal pads in insects, our eye with its blind spot, humans' ankles and testicles or any number of barely working hacked structures.

Oh yes, "the fall". I guess insects deserved to have less efficient digestive systems because humans disobeyed God.

Jon Woolf said...

scohen, I'm in a sort of nit-picky mood, so I'm going to pick a small nit here:

You are failing to grasp how genetic algorithms work, the design of the program simulates natural selection, and the fitness function selects the best phenotypes in each generation.

You can go further than this, I think: if I understand genetic algorithms right, they simulate both parts of the evolutionary process -- not only natural selection, but variation as well. If the program is written right, then the variations it generates are truly random within the limits of the problem, and no one can predict the final outcome. Not even the person who wrote it. Right?

I think in this context Radar means to say that programs were designed by an intelligent agency.

Oh, I know what he meant to say. I'm just funnin' with him, that's all. I love wordplay, and when I come across someone who is being unbearably pedantic at the same time as he's playing Humpty Dumpty style semantic games, it triggers my sense of the absurd.

scohen said...

"You can go further than this, I think: if I understand genetic algorithms right, they simulate both parts of the evolutionary process -- not only natural selection, but variation as well. If the program is written right, then the variations it generates are truly random within the limits of the problem, and no one can predict the final outcome. Not even the person who wrote it. Right?"

Yes, you are right there as well.
At least *you* understand genetic algorithms.

In fact, the antenna designs that came out of the algorithm so confounded the programmers that they were reluctant to even *try* them because they were so strange looking. Good thing they tried, because they were a clear improvement.

Jon Woolf said...

In fact, the antenna designs that came out of the algorithm so confounded the programmers that they were reluctant to even *try* them because they were so strange looking.

[ROFL]

Now that's a bit of lore I hadn't heard. Though it does remind me of a description I heard of GA's a long time ago, something along the lines of "the results look like the output of a drunk genius."

Which fits rather well with my view of the Universe, truth be told. I long ago figured out that Mama Gaea does love the uisgebagh, and sometimes imbibes rather more than she can handle.

radar said...

scohen,

I answered you the first time. You are talking about a program that was written, so the program is intelligently designed. That is continues to operate on its own is analogous to organisms that were designed by the Creator to both thrive in the original environment but also be able to adapt to wide varieties of climates and ecosystems.

What is interesting is that God both built in redundancies and contingencies within organisms and also by providing more than one kind of organism to fit the space in the circle of life. Some places there is a dog kind that is the primary carnivore, in some a cat kind, in some a bear kind and in some a lizard kind. Often carnivores are competing for the same food sources. The sources also can vary widely.

We also see this in the oceans. In fact I am surprised that more logical minds have not recognized the grandeur of creation and admired the architecture. Usually criticisms of individual designs in organisms come from a place of ignorance. The human eye comes to mind, being long critiqued as being "wired backwards" but now this design is better understood and admired.

When you criticize a specific system in a specific organism keep in mind this may be an organism that is now in its 60,000th generation and has lived through around 6,000 some years of climate cycling, predation, disease and disaster and continues to function. It is sad that you are in a worldview cage that keeps you from clearly seeing what I see. Design is all around you.

Jon Woolf said...

Radar quoth: When you criticize a specific system in a specific organism keep in mind this may be an organism that is now in its 60,000th generation and has lived through around 6,000 some years of climate cycling, predation, disease and disaster and continues to function. I

Just out of curiosity, do you know anything about the kakapo?

scohen said...

"I answered you the first time."

Then please point out where you answered me because my post is the last post on that topic. If you feel that you answered me, please provide a link to where you did so because I totally missed your answer to the following question:

Where did the information that created the antenna come from?

You brought up the origin of information, and in this instance we have a fantastic example of information *arising* from randomness, but you say that can't happen.

"You are talking about a program that was written, so the program is intelligently designed."

The program emulates a process, nothing more. If you want to weasel out of answering by saying the program is intelligently designed then fine, but what I'm asking is where does the design of the antenna come from?

scohen said...

"The human eye comes to mind, being long critiqued as being "wired backwards""

My criticism was with the blind spot, but how does requiring the brain to sharpen and flip images count as a net benefit? Who is saying that?

How is the blind spot *good*?

Do you have links?

scohen said...

"Design is all around you."

Like the antenna? Design seems to be in the beholder. How do you decide when something is designed? If you look at the antenna you might think you see design, but you don't.

"It is sad that you are in a worldview cage"

Pot, kettle. But we've shown you the pew poll about a thousand times but you still trot out that defeated argument. So, here it is again. Are those 58% of catholics held prisoner by their atheist worldview? How about those 77% of Jews? Do they not support your Judeo-Christian worldview?

creeper said...

Radar,

believe it or not, scohen's question is highly pertinent. You've said something in response to it, but you haven't answered it. It's either an evasion or you didn't understand the purpose of the question.

scohen is talking about an analogous process, and so far your only response has focused on the fact that it is an analogous process rather than dealing with the substance of it. It's as if we responded to your post above by exclaiming "but Radar, information is not a glass of milk, how can you say that?!".

The program is a simulation of real-life counterparts, but the essential point is the same: information is gained in that there is information now present (an antenna design) without a conscious design process having taken place as we know it.

If you can wrap your mind around where that information came from, then you have an answer to your question.

-- creeper

creeper said...

"What is interesting is that God both built in redundancies and contingencies within organisms and also by providing more than one kind of organism to fit the space in the circle of life."

That is not an observation but conjecture. If God built in redundancies and contingencies, and if, say, the evolution of a wolf into Dobermans, chihuahuas, poodles etc. represents a loss of information, then what would DNA look like? The wolf would have to have all the information of all the other kinds of dogs contained within it.

Now, is that something we see in DNA, or isn't it?

-- creeper