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  1. #61
    CC Grandmaster Spiny Norman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    Not sure quite what you mean here, unless you're referring to the underlying framework of philosophy of science principles also necessary for a wider range of science. If it's that, I think that philosophy of science should also be taught, in basic form, at earlier stages than it is. It disappoints me that people can pick up a B.Sc without having to do any philosophy of science at any stage.
    Yes, that's part of what I mean. The "naturalism" aspect of science is not explained. This is what causes the conflict I think. When I watch TV shows, for example, I love the science of it, I love the wonderful examples of the world we live in, but I object to having the naturalist explanation of its origins shoved down my throat. To me that's a philosophical argument that is, well, "not science" (not as I see it anyway).
    “As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity.” -- C.S.Lewis

  2. #62
    CC Grandmaster Spiny Norman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty
    I think pax's analogy fails completely, but for a different reason ... evolution requires that sometimes, when you roll the dice, you get a seven or an eight or something else ... this is the 'gain of information' problem that I still don't see any way around within the timeframes of the proposed age of the earth, observable mutation rates, and the probability that mutations will be positive rather than negative (they are universally observed to be almost always negative are they not?).
    Further to that, I can see that as a result of rolling the dice one of the spots on one of the numbers might wear off gradually ... so you might get two fours, or a one might become a zero ... but how are you going to generate the extra spots needed for a seven or and eight?
    “As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity.” -- C.S.Lewis

  3. #63
    Reader in Slood Dynamics Rincewind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty
    I think pax's analogy fails completely, but for a different reason ... evolution requires that sometimes, when you roll the dice, you get a seven or an eight or something else ... this is the 'gain of information' problem that I still don't see any way around within the timeframes of the proposed age of the earth, observable mutation rates, and the probability that mutations will be positive rather than negative (they are universally observed to be almost always negative are they not?).
    Your analogy is mistaken. The dice all have 4 faces and don't require any more. The information (if you want to call it that) lies in their arrangement. If a particular arrangement can take advantage of some evironmental condition and that arrangement can occur randomally (especially if there is a genetic pathway to that arrangement which can take avantage of yahtze-effect) then it will eventually occur. Information is not being created. If you like, the information already existed in the environment. Over all the universe is disordered but there are pockets of apparent order here and there which is as you would expect from a distribution.
    So einfach wie möglich, aber nicht einfacher - Albert Einstein

  4. #64
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty
    Kevin, since its your specialty ... snails with residual shells (i.e. inside the body of the snail, or whatever form that takes) ... are any of these known to be a product of development (i.e. here's the same snail from NNN years ago, with no internal shell and here it is today with a shell, a gain of information)?
    In 886 I wrote: "Fossil evidence is pretty useless with these things because land slug fossils are extremely rare (for obvious reasons) and unless a slug appears extremely similar to something living today then it is impossible to place it taxonomically. There is very strong indirect evidence for shell gain and loss in different families from the number of cases in which very closely related species (as shown by DNA) will differ wildly in shell form."

    Are they cases where the shell is gradually disappearing, a loss of information)? Or do we "not know" what is happening to the shells?
    The shell gradually disappearing is not a loss of information but a change in the way information is used.

    Are there any known 'drivers' in terms of natural selection that are causing measurable change in one direction or another?
    I'm not aware of any experiments to demonstrate measurable change in the present day in any species.

    Natural selection drivers likely to operate on this issue include: for having a shell - protection from dessication, heat, predators and accidental injury; for discarding or reducing a shell - mobility, lower body mass (hence less energy needed), and ability to function in low-calcium areas.

  5. #65
    Reader in Slood Dynamics Rincewind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty
    Further to that, I can see that as a result of rolling the dice one of the spots on one of the numbers might wear off gradually ... so you might get two fours, or a one might become a zero ... but how are you going to generate the extra spots needed for a seven or and eight?
    You don;t need to, with one die you have 0-3 with two dice you have 0-15 with three die you get 0-63, etc. The dice don't need to change, just their number and Nature is good at replication.
    So einfach wie möglich, aber nicht einfacher - Albert Einstein

  6. #66
    CC Grandmaster Spiny Norman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    I'm not aware of any experiments to demonstrate measurable change in the present day in any species.
    Perhaps this would be a useful long-term project (very long term!). Sequencing DNA to build a map of, say, the genome of known things (relatively simple things such as a virus) and then tracking it over hundreds of years to see whether (1) increased complexity results; and (2) what kind of increased complexity.

    BTW, Barry, I still disagree with your assessment of the dice analogy. Replication/duplication of existing information is not new information. A dog with 5 legs might be a wonderous example of deformity or duplication of part of the existing genome ... but its not the same thing as observing a dog that sprouts wings and flys away.
    “As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity.” -- C.S.Lewis

  7. #67
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty
    I think pax's analogy fails completely, but for a different reason ...
    I don't have any problem with pax's analogy at all, because it's useful for something relevant: creationists and ID supporters often argue that it is staggeringly improbable for things to be as they are. But if you look at any sufficiently large series of stochastic events the probability of things being exactly as they are becomes close to zero. That's irrelevant, because the question is whether things being this way rather than any other individually improbable way is significant.

  8. #68
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty
    BTW, Barry, I still disagree with your assessment of the dice analogy. Replication/duplication of existing information is not new information. A dog with 5 legs might be a wonderous example of deformity or duplication of part of the existing genome ... but its not the same thing as observing a dog that sprouts wings and flys away.
    Curious about what you mean by "information" here.

    In the discussion about eyes in the DGE thread we covered how eyes can develop gradually from eyeless creatures (something that has happened in many different ways). At what point is "information" new and what information is new?

  9. #69
    CC Grandmaster Spiny Norman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    Curious about what you mean by "information" here.
    In the discussion about eyes in the DGE thread we covered how eyes can develop gradually from eyeless creatures (something that has happened in many different ways). At what point is "information" new and what information is new?
    If an organism swaps/recombines genetic material with another compatible (but different) organism (e.g. the grass example, where one type with "63" and another with "77" can cross-polinate and produce a "70" ... one example of evolution given elsewhere), then that seems to me to be a certain kind of evolution. Recombination/cross-breeding/etc. I don't have a problem with that.

    What I simply can not see is an example where an organism gains new and unique genetic material that makes it into quite a different kind of organism (e.g. wings developing on birds). I think evolution has real trouble explaining that sort of development.

    I note your comments re: eye development, but I cannot see evidence for development from 'simple' to 'complex'. The story sounds plausible, however I am interested in concrete examples. Most of the searching I have done on that topic turns up examples of organisms that are old from an evolutionary perspective (turn up early in the 'tree') yet have very complex systems of vision.

    EDIT: Ducking out for lunch ... then have to pick up Jono from the airport. I'll ask him about this stuff and see what he reckons.
    “As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity.” -- C.S.Lewis

  10. #70
    Reader in Slood Dynamics Rincewind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty
    BTW, Barry, I still disagree with your assessment of the dice analogy. Replication/duplication of existing information is not new information. A dog with 5 legs might be a wonderous example of deformity or duplication of part of the existing genome ... but its not the same thing as observing a dog that sprouts wings and flys away.
    It's all about genetic pathways. The fact that you have a the ability to store variety is what is important.

    Imagine you have a piece of computer memory initialised to zero and way of adding 1 to it. When ever you add one to it it holds a completely new number. So when it goes from 0 to 1, have you created information?
    So einfach wie möglich, aber nicht einfacher - Albert Einstein

  11. #71
    CC FIDE Master Southpaw Jim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty
    A dog with 5 legs might be a wonderous example of deformity or duplication of part of the existing genome ... but its not the same thing as observing a dog that sprouts wings and flys away.
    I may be misunderstanding what you're saying, but in terms of genetics its more or less the same thing.

    Wings on a dog would not 'sprout'. If dogs developed wings, then this would be a result of progressive mutation over generations - the survival of successive generations inheriting it and it becoming more pronounced.

    WRT to birds developing wings, well the theory is that they developed from reptiles which ran and jumped. The process of jumping meant that the development of wings was advantageous, and thus what were forelimbs became wings with feathers (nb, ever noticed that birds have scaly legs?). For more info on the theory as to the evolution of birds (if you're not already aware of it, apologies if you are), refer to the story of Achaeopteryx: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/diapsids/birds/archaeopteryx.html

  12. #72
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    Are therer any geological evidences of an species between dogs and birds? (or anything else in that class). Those changes would happen over the lifetime of many generations (taking at least hundreds thousand years, if not more), which would leave some fossils.

    We have plenty of evidences of a small changes within same classes. I haven't heard of any evidences about big changes from one class to another.

  13. #73
    CC FIDE Master Southpaw Jim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Igor_Goldenberg
    Are therer any geological evidences of an species between dogs and birds? (or anything else in that class). Those changes would happen over the lifetime of many generations (taking at least hundreds thousand years, if not more), which would leave some fossils.

    We have plenty of evidences of a small changes within same classes. I haven't heard of any evidences about big changes from one class to another.
    I guess it depends on what you're referring to by 'class'. Big changes are unlikely to occur and persist, because they're likely to be lethal in some way. Most such aberrations would result in embryonic failure (ie a miscarriage).

    Would it be enough to point out that all mammals, from whales to rats are very similar in their anatomy, from a homology point-of-view? Sure sizes and shapes of bones are wildly different, but the same basic structure/arrangement is there.

    In a way a lot of evolutionary change can be though of like a positional chess player - the slow accretion of small advantageous changes. Successful big changes would be rare, if they occur at all (I say this with the caveat that it's been 10 years since I studied any of this stuff).

  14. #74
    CC Grandmaster Spiny Norman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rincewind
    It's all about genetic pathways. The fact that you have a the ability to store variety is what is important.

    Imagine you have a piece of computer memory initialised to zero and way of adding 1 to it. When ever you add one to it it holds a completely new number. So when it goes from 0 to 1, have you created information?
    Now you're talking my language! Of course, yes, you can incrementally add all sorts of random/new data to a computer's memory. I would be interested in knowing whether there are good examples of such random additions improving the experience for the computer user. You can even add data outside of the bounds of the currently running program, provided you don't mind complete malfunctions (remember GPFs?). I would also be curious to know whether anyone here believes that computers evolved ... not in the sense that we can observe many gradations from the simple to the complex, but whether they achieved this without intelligent input from somewhere.

    I have spent much of my life managing the fallout from numerous "random changes" to information systems. People who enter data in without thinking, data that is corrupted through power failures, through failures of the storage mechanism. I can't recall ever having gotten a new CRM system through such accumulation of random mutations. Yes, I recognise that the application of natural selection to the process might over millions or billions of years yield an improved set of data ... but I can't prove that, and the more I think about it, the more unlikely that seems.

    But anyway, we're talking about a different kettle of fish, aren't we? We're talking about biological organisms, so the "rules" of information technology don't really apply. One of the most interesting aspects of I.D. (to me) is the idea that you can look at an arrowhead laying on the beach and immediately, intuitively, you just KNOW that it was manufactured. Yes, I can conceived of such things being created by natural processes, but nevertheless, that does not mean that on the balance of probabilities I should believe such a thing. So the process that goes on in the identification of design is where much thought should be applied (and, it seems, is being applied). Just what IS design? Are there different kinds of design? What tests can be reasonably applied to infer design. That's the part of I.D. that I find really interesting ... not the scientists bickering over some fact or other ... because if I.D. can establish some credible rules for this process then we might all end up in the situation where evolution can (finally) demonstrate the mechanism of creation, and yet it might be simultaneously possible to be an intellectually fulfilled theist (to misquote Dawkins) because of I.D.

    Thoughts?
    “As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity.” -- C.S.Lewis

  15. #75
    CC Grandmaster Spiny Norman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eurotrash
    Would it be enough to point out that all mammals, from whales to rats are very similar in their anatomy, from a homology point-of-view? Sure sizes and shapes of bones are wildly different, but the same basic structure/arrangement is there.
    The argument of homology cuts both ways ... it can also be reasonably interpreted as an argument for a common designer (e.g. Falcon and Fairmont, sedan and station wagon, all use a common chassis, but they didn't evolve from one another, a designer chose to use the common platform).
    “As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity.” -- C.S.Lewis

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