Two Mosquitoes in a Mud Hole

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That expression could describe South Carolina state Senator Mike Fair and Governor Mark Sanford. It is somehow more fitting than “peas in a pod”. As I reported previously (here and here), the curriculum standards dealing with evolution are under assault in SC by Sen. Fair, who is being coached behind the scenes by the Discovery Institute. But now Gov. Sanford has thrown his hat in the ring for the side of ID, and in the process, has managed to demonstrate exactly why politicians should quit trying to second-guess scientists: He has no clue what he’s talking about.

The newly formed South Carolinians for Science Education has transcripts up of an interview Sanford did for a local TV station. They even have the audio, if you’re one of those who likes to have a voice to associate with crazy statements. (If you’re a SC resident, please register and/or get on the mailing list while you’re at the site; official means of joining will be available in the near future.) Below the fold I’ve reproduced the relevant portion of Sanford’s interview, and included some discussion.

Newswatch – WIS – TV – January 29, 2006

Host: David Stanton Guest: Gov. Mark Sanford

DS: What do you think about the idea of teaching alternatives to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in public schools… for instance Intelligent Design.

MS: I have no problem with it.

DS: Do you think it should be done that way? Rather than just teaching Evolution?

MS: Well I think that it’s just, and science is more and more documenting this, is that there are real “chinks” in the armor of evolution being the only way we came about. The idea of their being a, you know, a little mud hole and two mosquitoes get together and the next thing you know you have a human being… is completely at odds with, you know, one of the laws of thermodynamics which is the law of, of.. in essence, destruction.

Whether you think about you bedroom and how messy it gets over time or you think about the decay in the building itself over time. Things don’t naturally order themselves towards progression.… Uuummm.. in the natural order of things. So, it’s in fact, it’s against fairly basic laws of physics… and so I would not have a problem in teaching both… Uh, you saying this is one theory and here’s another theory.

It’s sad to even have to say it, but let’s set the record straight. First of all, if you follow the human lineage all the way back to a single celled organism, at no point along the line will you see anything resembling a mosquitoe. Mosquitoes are insects, and insects didn’t evolve until the Devonian, long after the arthropods (the phylum to which insects belong) and chordates (our own phylum) went their separate ways.

Now that we’ve gotten Sanford’s rotten understanding of phylogenetics out of the way, we get to the best part, which is his claim concerning the 2nd law of thermodynamics. This argument is so bad that only the most die-hard creationists still use it; even the ID people have had enough sense to drop it completely. The 2nd law doesn’t say that order never comes from disorder. If it did, pretty much all instances of, you know, order would be hard to explain. That would include, among other things, life itself. How does Sanford think a single-celled zygote becomes a human being; or an acorn becomes a mighty oak tree; or a single bacterium, placed in a sugar solution, becomes billions of bacteria? These are all examples of order coming from disorder. And the 2nd law of thermodynamics doesn’t preclude them unless you have a closed system, which the Earth manifestly is not.

Today’s Charleston Post and Courier carried a front page article about this embarrassing episode. Among other things, the author pulled the journalistically brilliant move of, well, asking a physics professor:

But intelligent design isn’t provable by experimentation and thus doesn’t meet a definition for a teachable science topic, according to College of Charleston physics professor Bob Dukes and biology associate professor Robert Dillon Jr.

Dillon is a founding member of South Carolinians for Science Education, which a group of scientists and educators formed after state legislators made statements similar to Sanford’s and in an effort to address contention over the final approval of state biology teaching standards.

The pair took the governor to task for his televised statements. They argued that there aren’t “chinks” in the armor of evolution, and said a later citation of the second law of thermodynamics was taken out of context.

In his Sunday statement, for example, the governor said, “The idea of there being a, you know, a little mud hole and two mosquitoes get together and the next thing you know you have a human being is completely at odds with, you know, one of the laws of thermodynamics.”

“That’s what the governor is confused about,” Dukes said. “The earth is not a closed system and we can get order from disorder.”

It’s great to have some push-back against this nonsense. If you are from SC, feel free to notify your local op-ed page that you really don’t want Sanford making your children as scientifically illiterate as he is. And don’t forget to check the SCSE page for more info.

146 Comments

Format snafu?

one of the laws of thermodynamics which is the law of, of.. in essence, destruction.

The Law of Destruction!

I wish I’d learned about that in thermodynamics class. It sounds exciting.

The law of destruction? Does that have anything to do with the fact that whenever a creationist talks about science, they will always destroy their own credibility?

What a day for I.D. news. First I read that the I.D. movement is suddenly embracing common descent, and now I read that they believe it all started with two mosquitoes getting it on in mud hole. They’ll come up with anything to attack the law of destruction.

I think the Law of Destruction involves the fall of Adam and Eve.

Ah, you don’t believe it’s about the Eve of Destruction?

Ooooh, ok, Gov. Sanford used Senator Fair’s Biology standard, indicator B-5.7 revised:

Critically analyze the methods and assumptions used to construct phylogenetic trees and identify evolutionary relationships.

It’s weird. It seems Fair is being tutored by DI, while Sanford is studying under Kent Hovind. Nice combo.

If a person really thinks that a major biological theory contravenes a basic physical law, he ought to be wondering how come the physics research community hasn’t pointed it out. Physicists have no particular need to defend evolution from attack.

Unless the EAC is a lot more widespread than just biologists, of course. The entire scientific community must be part of it. No wonder creationists feel so embattled.

And I wonder if the good governor knows that common descent is actually OK with the IDsts. At this rate the major effect of Kitzmiller will be to give a shot in the arm to the good old young-Earth creationists when people start being afraid that ID is making them jettison too much of what really matters to them.

Hmmmm.

I recommend South Carolinians for Science Education should invite the governor and Sen. Fair to visit a local library: This one: The C. Warren Irvin Collection, at the University of South Carolina. http://www.sc.edu/library/spcoll/na[…]/darwin.html I know for a fact that they do not know what is going on in their state, and as elected officials it is their job to learn.

Hmmm. Then: Somebody ought to alert these guys to the South Carolina Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (go see here: http://www.scidea.org/default.asp). It’s laced with research projects based on evolution, and with researchers advancing evolution. Last November the group got a $17 million grant from NIH – this is big stuff for the state. And when alerting them, somebody should ask them why they want to kill such research by being stupid about high school curricula.

Both of these guys should be invited to answer questions at graduate school seminars. I recommend they start locally, at the University of South Carolina, here: http://cricket.biol.sc.edu/evolution.html.

It looks to me that, as with other states in the Bible Belt, evolution is big business in South Carolina. I’ll bet there is a billion dollars of research on South Carolina agriculture alone, every year, that is related to evolution and grounded in evolution theory. Farmers need to know that their governor and senator are out for them. Teachers need to know that these guys are out to frustrate their teaching the best information to kids. Parents and seniors should know that these guys are taking basic stands opposing key medical research done in South Carolina, for South Carolinians.

They’re politicians – I’m sure they’d love the opportunity to meet South Carolinians and explain themselves on this issue.

Before all of you get involved in arguing about this post, please fill me in on some of the abbreviations and insider terminology that you use: e.g. IMHO, below the fold, on the bathroom wall(or something)!?

For Karl

ID=Intelligent Design DI=Discovery Institute YEC= Young Earth Creationism OEC= Old Earth Creationism IC= Irreducible Complexity CSI= Complex Specified Information FSM= Flying Spaghetti Monster GotG= God of the Gaps SLOT= Second Law of Thermodynamics EAC= Evil Atheist Conspiracy RM= Random Mutation NS= Natural Selection

There are plenty more.

Or were you asking for the specifics you mentioned? IMHO (also IMO or IMNSHO)= In my humble opinion (and variants thereof) Below the fold= the stuff in the article that doesn’t appear on the main page, which you have to click on “continue reading” to read. The Bathroom Wall= Home of Carol Clouser and John A Davison, and off-topic comments that annoy the moderator.

There really is a lot of abuse of the second law of thermodynamics, so much so in the colloquial use of “disorder”.

There are a couple of interesting sites dedicated to a discussion of the second law and entropy. This one is a pretty good “conversational” discussion of all aspects of the law.

There’s also this site, and in particular the [somewhat jargon-laden but good] article, Disorder - A Cracked Crutch talking about how “disorder” is not a synonym for entropy, and numerous cases of increased entropy with decreased “disorder”.

Sounds like the same old battle for minds and hearts, between those who consider the evidence decisive, and those who consider it irrelevant. Wherein we once again illustrate the near-impossibility of communication between those who want to be right with respect to reality, and those who want to be right in the eyes of God (their version). The former requires that you know a great deal, and the more the better. The latter requires that you know as little as possible and misunderstand even that. (The latter is MUCH easier. Your ‘arguments’ needn’t be informed, accurate or even coherent. All that’s required is that you avoid stumbling on the actual merits. But if you do, that’s OK, you can pretend you didn’t see them.)

Thank you Argy.

I thought about updating the original post to include this tidbit, but decided that it’s probably best included as a comment.

It turns out that scientific illiteracy is not new to Sanford; he managed to display plenty of it back when he was a US Congressman. This is funny:

In a discussion on the House floor this month over another piece of N.S.F.-related legislation, Rep. Marshall (Mark) Sanford, a South Carolina Republican, warned foundation officials that he would push an amendment to the spending bill that would seek to punish the agency for studies of “questionable scientific value.” He specifically cited one study that he said was about automatic-teller machines. The next day, Mr. Sanford outlined his concerns in a letter to his colleagues titled “Poker and Pool at the NSF? Stop Playing Games with Taxpayers’ Money,” which zeroed in on two foundation-sponsored studies about billiards.

N.S.F. officials quickly pointed out, however, that Mr. Sanford had many of his facts wrong. The study that he thought was about automatic-teller machines – it had “A.T.M.” in its title – was, in fact, about asynchronous transfer modes, a principle of high-speed networks that is crucial for transferring large amounts of data between laboratories.

The studies about “billiards” were not about the parlor game, the N.S.F. said, but about the term in physics and atomic theory that conceptualizes how atomic particles carom off one another when energized. The research is now used to study how air flows around aircraft, or how water flows around ships.

And the $193,554 study that Mr. Sanford’s letter describes as being about “social organization through poker,” N.S.F. officials said, was meant to develop a theory about how individuals determine which of their resources they will risk to gain the benefits of joining a group.

Fool.

“That’s what the governor is confused about,” Dukes said. “The earth is not a closed system and we can get order from disorder.”

YES! Say it loud, Bob Dukes! Remind them about the Sun! Yeah, it really, really annoys me when people bring up the 2nd-law argument.

By the sound of things, if anyone did come from two mosquitoes in a mudhole, it was Governor Sanford, and you wouldn’t have to trace his lineage back too far to find them.

If the SLoT works the way the creationists claim it does … well, doesn’t that put God out of business, too?

I was going to write that it’s just not possible that Gov. Sanford is that much of an idiot (and IDiot); that he must be playing to his constituency. But then I read comment #76611 by Steve Reuland.

Wow.

What a moron. How did he manage to get elected? I wonder what the educated Republicans who voted for him think now. Truly a sad commentary on South Carolina.

I also, at times, do not understand how people this ignorant get elected to public office.

Then I remember that all you have to do these days is MAKE ignorant statements like this to convince a majority of voters to vote for you.

It isn’t a matter of the ignorant being elected, it is a matter of the ignorant doing the electing.

While the Hon. Governor clearly has a lot to learn about evolution and thermodynamics, the second law of thermodynamics does legitimately enter into areas with religious overtones, as was amply demonstrated on another thread recently.

The argument goes as follows: The universe as a whole must be a closed system. Thus the second law is applicable to it. That implies that the entropy of the universe is expected to continue to increase with the passage of time (time’s arrow). So rolling the tape backward, to ever earlier points in time, should reveal a universe with ever decreasing entropy. Since entropy cannot be negative, the process must come to an end at some point. Since we cannot reasonably propose an inert universe in which no significant physical processes take place, this can only mean that the universe had a true beginning, with no physical processes of any type prior to its appearance.

This begs the question of what was the “cause” whose “effect” was the appearance of the universe. Whatever that entity was, if the laws of physics hold, its entropy remained constant, most likely at or near zero, going back infinitely in time, without the second law being violated. Some folks see “God” in this entity.

Carol’s argument has two flaws, both fatal:

1. Nobody knows whether or not the universe is a closed system.

2. If you simply roll the tape backwards, i.e. use the ordinary physics equations to retrodict the entropy of earlier stages of the universe, you’ll wind up figuring that the entropy of the past was greater than the present. Entropy should increase in both temporal directions.

Mechanics doesn’t know anything about the arrow of time. Of course, we know that the entropy was once greatly less than it is now; and we use that knowledge to guide the application of the laws. It doesn’t follow from ‘em, however. I recommend that Carol read a serious treatise or even a reliable popularization on thermo some time. Acually knowing something would be a delightful change for her. And after she figures out how it works, she can inform us where in the Book of Psalms (correctly translated) we can find these important facts along with an acrostic version of Maxwell’s equations. Selah.

While I don’t want to drag this too far off-topic, it is my understanding (and someone with more expertise either back me up or contradict me as the case may warrant) that the laws of the universe as we know them don’t really apply as you get really really close to the singularity going back in time, so entropy may not have had to be decreasing in the very young universe.

In any case, this potential discussion has no particular relevance to what the governer is saying here, nor is it relevant to any debate on evolution.

and so I would not have a problem in teaching both… Uh, you saying this is one theory and here’s another theory.

And next we’re going to make paper snowmen class. Won’t that be fun. Markie, please stop eating the glue.

Gov.Sanford’s comments about mosquitoes and presumably the second law of thermodynamics (in the interview he doesn’t know which law he is referring to since he states that it is “One of the laws of thermodynamics”) just shows how little he knows about science in general. But unfortunately he is not alone. I reckon there are a lot of people who think as he does and it just shows how much influence creationists like Ken Ham or Kent Hovind are having on people’s understanding of science. It doesn’t matter how many court cases,like Dover for example, end in victory for science, it is not going to change the mindset of people like Gov. Sanford.

When someone who is highly qualified postulates arguments like those the Gov. has just used most people don’t have the scientific knowledge to question them. I heard similar view on evolution a while back from professor Kevin Farmer of Oklahoma University. “You take a rock,water it for millions of years, and after a while it becomes a person.Better be careful which rock you sit on” (hoots of laughter from the congregation). It just shows that scientists have not got their message across to the general public when nonsense like Prof Farmer’s comments and Gov. Sanford’s are so well received. Creationists seem to be winning the battle !

Wait is this the Kevin Farmer of the Oklahoma College of Pharmacy? Do you have a more detailed reference of that quote?

Kevin Farmer from his teaching and publications isn’t someone who would have any real knowledge of science. His courses are about marketing pharmaceuticals and managing a pharmacy. Sure stuff people should know but it doesn’t make him qualified to speak on biology.

Jim Harrison,

Thanks for your sarcastic recommendations. But you are ridiculously wrong on both “fatal” counts, as is usual for most big mouths.

First, the “universe” by definition is a closed system. There is not a shred of evidence for multi-verses.

Second, entropy does provide an arrow for time and increases only in one direction. Your statimg otherwise just shows that your understanding of entropy is exceeded by that of the Governor.

Idioteraser: Professor Farmer was a guest on the Victory in Jesus programme, which is hosted by tele-evangelist Billy Jo Daugherty and the quote was from one of their shows a couple of months back which I came across while I was channel hopping.

The guy was introduced as someone who was an authority on pharmacy. OK, so maybe he isn’t an expert on other sciences, but in order to do pharmacy he surely must have taken some reasonably advanced courses on Biology. I was really taken aback at what he said especially coming from someone so well educated. I’ve heard Hovind coming off with the same nonsense i.e. evolutionists say that people evolved from rocks etc.

The statement by Gov. Santon about mosquitoes in my view was in a similar vein. I’m surprised he didn’t say “better not step on any mosquitoes in case they might eventually end up as people”

Carol;Re entropy. Someone correct me if I’m wrong but here are some of my recollections about the second law of thermodynamics: The example given was water. When ice turns into water there is an increase in disorderliness and therefore an increase in entropy. The same thing happens when water turns into steam. Surely this means that the process of increasing entropy can be reversed since steam can condense and water can freeze ? My memory of these lectures was nearly thirty years ago so I could be wrong but this is what I remember.

Posted by Greg H on February 2, 2006 10:56 AM (e)

Carol,

If reading your original post with due care was all that was required to understand, why did no fewer than three people argue against it?

Could it be that - quite possibly - it was erroneous?

Your original point was that running time backwards would yield less entropy in the universe until it reached some zero point, because entropy responds to time. While this has been empirically observed, the equations and the math do not support your assumption. While entropy imparts a direction to time, it exists outside of it, and should, according to the math, increase in either temporal direction. The equation you used is right in front of you:

S = (K)logOmega. This equation cannot - repeat CANNOT - yield a negative number - EVER. Why? Because K is a positive constant, and logOmega cannot be less than 0. Why is that hard for you to grasp?

Empirically, we can say, yes the Entropy of Universe was less than it is now, but simply reversing time would not necessarily return us to the same state, contrary to statements.

I have no problem understanding what you’re trying to say. What I fail to understand is why you keep saying it when no fewer than three people have illustrated the error of your message.

As Dr Lenny would say (shrug).

But look

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 1, 2006 01:07 AM (e)

While the Hon. Governor clearly has a lot to learn about evolution and thermodynamics, the second law of thermodynamics does legitimately enter into areas with religious overtones, as was amply demonstrated on another thread recently.

The argument goes as follows: The universe as a whole must be a closed system. Thus the second law is applicable to it. That implies that the entropy of the universe is expected to continue to increase with the passage of time (time’s arrow). So rolling the tape backward, to ever earlier points in time, should reveal a universe with ever decreasing entropy. Since entropy cannot be negative, the process must come to an end at some point. Since we cannot reasonably propose an inert universe in which no significant physical processes take place, this can only mean that the universe had a true beginning, with no physical processes of any type prior to its appearance.

This begs the question of what was the “cause” whose “effect” was the appearance of the universe. Whatever that entity was, if the laws of physics hold, its entropy remained constant, most likely at or near zero, going back infinitely in time, without the second law being violated. Some folks see “God” in this entity.

Again

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 2, 2006 08:36 AM (e)

Andy H wrote:

“As for the idea of a negative entropy, there is no absolute value of entropy because entropy values are based on changes in entropy, so it is possible to have negative values of entropy, depending on what entropy state is chosen as the zero datum.”

As I was reading your post I kept thinking what a clear and organized presentation you were making, until I got to the above quote, which is wrong and false. Entropy is a well defined quantity not based on changes in itself, and no arbitrary constant is permitted that would render it negative EVER. The defining equation is S = k log Omega. There is a certain arbitrariness to S based on your chosen size for each cell in the phase space. But it cannot be negative.

As far as I am aware, running time backwards would decrease the entropy. The maths are against low entropy and they are not time dependent. But (as I understand it) either entropy in the universe would decrease if time was run backwards or the universe has only just now popped into existence.

Ok, this is the right thread to post this in.

Here’s my take on the situation, ID lost in Dover, California became a joke, Kansas, well, it’s full of Kansans, (No offense) and ID is pushing common descent. That means this whole3 forum is just a place for funny antectodes and anteaters until ID or the whackos throw up some more idiocy that needs to be put down like a game of whack a mole using an 8 pound sledge. We’re in a holding pattern. Like a cat waiting outside a mouse hole. So go ahead Carol, delight us with your comedic genius. We need entertainment while we wait.

I am very much taking you seriously by the way and that is in no way intended to be an insult. I really love the SLoT. I mean, it isn’t relevant but I do love it. I think alot about how energy is added to systems to keep them from falling apart. Have you seen a tidepool in the pacific Northwest? Entropy is often 1 degree away from winning. I like to look at it as a war between the biotic and the abiotic, with energy being the weapon of the biotic and entropy being the weapon of the abiotic. Like a chinese soldier with a halberd fighting a mongol with a broadsword. (I just like chinese soldiers and Mongol warriors, who knows? )

Greg H wrote:

“This equation cannot - repeat CANNOT - yield a negative number - EVER. Why? Because K is a positive constant, and log Omega cannot be less than 0. Why is that hard for you to grasp?”

How many times have I said exactly that in this thread?

Either you cannot read or you are just a dense liar who refuses to read.

In either case, it is an utter waste of my time talking to you.

Stephen,

Thanks!

Stephen,

First, let me say, in case anyone is confused, I am not a scientist.

That said, there’s only one problem with your premise:

But (as I understand it) either entropy in the universe would decrease if time was run backwards or the universe has only just now popped into existence.

Empirically, I would agree with you - this matches what we have observed in the Universe at large. However, the equations that we use to study entropy disagree, so there is no real evidence to support the idea that entropy should necessarily decrease just because time runs backwards. The math says that entropy increases regardless of the flow of time, and I think it’s dangerous to assume that backing things up would necessarily lead us to a lower entropy value.

The original equation that I positied, which Carol then dismissed out of hand, was the equation that determines the change in entropy, deltaS. That equation was:

deltaS = deltaQ/T

If we expand all of this out what we end up with is:

(S0-S1/t) = ((Q0-Q1)/t)/T

Where S is the entropy, and t is the elapsed time. Even if we assume that we can have a negative elapsed time (which is a philosophical debate I choose not to start at this time), it doesn’t really matter as the values for t will cancel each other out when you do the math, thus indicating that the time doesn’t matter to the equation.

Following from that, we can’t really posit the notion that entropy must necessarily decrease just because time starts running backwards. As far as all of the equations that we posses tell us, it should increase, no matter which way time runs.

Carol,

Then please explain for the group where you get the mathematical support for the idea that moving time backwards would yield a reduction in entropy?

Carol you have hit the nail on the head for once. God is negative entropy in imaginary time(which as we all know is real) before matter existed ? One other point, that would be in the original unexpurgated Hebrew bible (The one without the penguins) right? OK we’ve got it, can we move on.

Posted by Greg H on February 2, 2006 02:07 PM (e)

Stephen,

First, let me say, in case anyone is confused, I am not a scientist.

… Following from that, we can’t really posit the notion that entropy must necessarily decrease just because time starts running backwards. As far as all of the equations that we posses tell us, it should increase, no matter which way time runs.

I am not a scientist either. I admit that in a way I am arguing from authority. I am only using a couple of popular science books here. A Brief History of Time and The Fabric of the Cosmos.

From the latter, Brian Greene concurs with your maths and actually states that, the universe is far more likely to have just popped into existence right now than to have developed over time from an even lower entropic state (by maths alone). However he goes on to say, that if that was the case, everything we know about the universe from memory and records did not happen so could not be relied upon.

Where he disagrees with you though is that if the big bang did happen approx 16 Bill years ago, then reversing time would lead to lower entropy.

I’ve read some of Greene’s work (although not the one you reference - perhaps a library trip is in order), and BHoT at least three times, and I too find myself arguing from authority based on these books.

But again, I think it’s dangerous to ignore the math, but that’s just me.

CJ Obrien,

Your point about systems needing to dump heat as they do work is true but actually strengthens my argument (which I never said was a “proof” for anything). The systems that does the dumping is never considered by itself to be a closed system, and its entropy may actually decrease. It is the combination of the dumper and dumpee (and the source of any heat taken in)that constitue the closed system and it is for this combination that the SLOT kicks in and states that the entropy of the whole system must increase. Clearly the absence of a dumping ground renders the universe even more strongly a closed system.

Well, for the sake of this discussion, I’ve been granting the closed status of the universe. And, to be honest, I don’t really have a horse in the race. Call it incredulity, but I just don’t see how it’s useful to speak of “total entropy” on a universal scale. The laws of thermodynamics are properties of collections of stuff in a universe with certain kinds of physical laws, not properties of universes themselves. It seems like a category error to me.

But the discussion has been somewhat enlightening for me, and clarified my own perhaps muddy view of what I have long considered a fascinating subject. Thanks, to everbody, for your patient responses.

Posted by Greg H on February 2, 2006 03:19 PM (e)

I’ve read some of Greene’s work (although not the one you reference - perhaps a library trip is in order), and BHoT at least three times, and I too find myself arguing from authority based on these books.

But again, I think it’s dangerous to ignore the math, but that’s just me.

The Elegant Universe? He (Greene), is pretty good (LOL. Not that I am qualified to judge).

The chapter in “The Fabric of the Cosmos” I am referring to is #6. Don’t forget this has nothing to do with biology or evolution, he is referring to the Universe (although Biology/Evolution would not get far without one).

He also explains why SLoT is not relevant to Evolution. Well it is, but is not violated due to the Sun.

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 2, 2006 01:48 PM

Stephen,

Thanks!

NP. I think people started commenting without reading.

Stephen Elliott noted:

Don’t forget this has nothing to do with biology or evolution, he is referring to the Universe (although Biology/Evolution would not get far without one).

…which leads us to the Pinhead Corollary: if it takes a universe for the Flying Spaghetti Monster to evolve mere matter into pizza and pasta, then I’ll take a universe, already. Just make it snappy, and use plenty of the red onions!

Posted by Steviepinhead on February 2, 2006 04:16 PM (e)

…which leads us to the Pinhead Corollary: if it takes a universe for the Flying Spaghetti Monster to evolve mere matter into pizza and pasta, then I’ll take a universe, already. Just make it snappy, and use plenty of the red onions!

What is a snappy Universe? Is it a cyclic universe where the retraction phase is much quicker than the expansion?

Stephen:

What is a snappy Universe? Is it a cyclic universe where the retraction phase is much quicker than the expansion?

Stevie: Indubitably, my good sir. Which leads to a sufficiency of oscillation and, um, entropic reverb, er, great enough to slice all those red onions to a fare-the-well.

Posted by Steviepinhead on February 2, 2006 04:36 PM (e)

Stephen:

What is a snappy Universe? Is it a cyclic universe where the retraction phase is much quicker than the expansion?

Stevie: Indubitably, my good sir. Which leads to a sufficiency of oscillation and, um, entropic reverb, er, great enough to slice all those red onions to a fare-the-well.

Well the FSM had better be careful with his noodly appendages on the shrinking phase.

Comment #77075

Posted by Stephen Elliott on February 2, 2006 02:25 PM (e)

I am not a scientist either. I admit that in a way I am arguing from authority.

There’s nothing wrong, per se, of citing authority. In fact, unless you made the discovery, pretty much everything will (or at least should) come from some authority as part of your learning experience.

It seems to me, the real sin is arguing from inappropriate authority. Or using “faux authority” as a proxy for a solid argument/competency and/or to shout down dissenting opinions; when in fact, you’ve got nothing.

Stephen:

Well the FSM had better be careful with his noodly appendages on the shrinking phase.

Stevie: Now here’s one of the occasions where Carol may actually have a point (and, no, I don’t mean a pinhead kind of point, though I don’t think we can absolutely rule that out), for a change–these supraluminal, superdeluxe, superlative-type beings somehow seem to have the mysterious ability (well, “ability” may be a little strong; perhaps, “unspecific exo-phenomenal non-characteristic” might be more accurate) to like, get sideways with time and space, such that they can (well, “can” may be a little strong; perhaps “weave transubstantial psuedo-causal correlational potentialities” might be more accurate), er, extract the relevant non-portions of their incorporeality from any direct psuedo-interactions with the more blatantly, um, physical aspects of reality.

In short, the FSM just momentarily “disentangles” (I’m skipping a lot of details here, because–just like Carol–I don’t really have all dang “eon” to dumb these Really Complex Simplifications down to phrases compressed enough for you pterrible pt’ers to grasp and, besides, even if any of you were willing to pony up for the Tremulous Tome wherein all this is writ in an unverifiable but voraciously lingual linguini, still none of you could be expected to follow the ineffable flows and folds and penumbras of the One True Logos even if I could be bothered to cite from the truly-translated version of the ultra-technical hypno-jargon) his noodly appendages from the Quantum Mechanical antiphonal trans-phasal fibrillations of consensual universality just long enough to avoid any embarassing conniptions.

I trust that’s clear. Because all my words are never less than clear, I’m never wrong, and even if they weren’t or I were, we’re not.

But, if not, too bad, ‘cause you’ve used up the one mini-eon I have budgeted for dallying with you mere mortals during this particular cycle of blogosity.

Posted by Steviepinhead on February 2, 2006 05:23 PM (e) .….….

Bah! Unbeliever! All that sophistry does not impress me. Everyone knows, a simple pirate costume solves any problem.

But, felonious heretic, as is plain as plain could be, that’s exactly what I said, in language so lucid that mud itself would not dare to cling to my cling-free, stain-resistant, and pleasingly-plaid eye-patch!

If only the blind would but open their eyes, they could see!

Posted by Steviepinhead on February 2, 2006 05:42 PM (e)

But, felonious heretic, as is plain as plain could be, that’s exactly what I said, in language so lucid that mud itself would not dare to cling to my cling-free, stain-resistant, and pleasingly-plaid eye-patch!

If only the blind would but open their eyes, they could see!

LOL. I concede.

Well, thanks, I think, but of course Carol won’t.

And maybe that’s a good thing. Boring trolls may be better than no trolls at all, from the perspective of humor, if nothing else.

In the world of the blind, the one-eyed man is under arrest.

CJ O’brien wrote:

“Call it incredulity, but I just don’t see how it’s useful to speak of “total entropy” on a universal scale. The laws of thermodynamics are properties of collections of stuff in a universe with certain kinds of physical laws, not properties of universes themselves. It seems like a category error to me.”

The second law of thermodynamics is actually quite unique among the laws of science in a manner that makes it outstandingly strong and yet also endows it with a built in weakness. In addition to the empirical data to support it, this law also has the principles of probability and statistics behind it. It could actually be established in the absence of any experiments and data, just based on sound mathematics. Deep down it actually is a probabilistic statement. It does not really state that entropy MUST increase, just that it is highly likely to do so. This weakness has tempted many an innovative engineer to try and defeat it, all to no avail. Yet the probabilistic statement it makes is backed by more than raw data. It is actually supported by mathematics.

The same statistical analysis that leads to the SLOT for, say, engines and local phenomena, forces us to apply it to the universe as a whole, even if no direct data exist for that conclusion. (After all we don’t have many universes to inspect.) This is on top of the general principle in science that nature is guided by rules that are applicable to the entire universe.

The net result is that the SLOT raises some very thorny issues pertaining to the universe and its existence, as described in my original post here.

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 2, 2006 08:22 PM (e) … The second law of thermodynamics is actually quite unique among the laws of science in a manner that makes it outstandingly strong and yet also endows it with a built in weakness. In addition to the empirical data to support it, this law also has the principles of probability and statistics behind it. It could actually be established in the absence of any experiments and data, just based on sound mathematics…

Carol, Why do you not give ATbC a try? You can start your own thread over there. TBH. I would not mind discussing a few things with you. Over here it is more difficult as it tends to derail threads.

BTW. That was not a reflection on that post.

Stephen,

You certainly are welcome to post any commentary at ATBC and I will be more than happy to deal with them, as time permits. I do prefer, however, and would encourage you to consider, posting here where the multitudes may perhaps benefit from the interaction.

I do prefer, however, and would encourage you to consider, posting here where the multitudes may perhaps benefit from the interaction.

This blog is not a free-for-all, and it is not to be the preferred venue for whatever argument you choose just because it has more traffic than AtBC. Thread closed.

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This page contains a single entry by Steve Reuland published on January 31, 2006 8:16 PM.

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