Disinformation Theory

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I always enjoy watching creationists blather about stuff that they have no knowledge about, which is of course just about anything that comes out of their mouths. I am always amazed how they can pull the most randomly backwards arguments from out of nowhere and confidently state that this one is the one that is going to trump “Darwinism”. Their arguments are really not that different from one another, but they sure can come up with some bizarre and senseless variations.

Good Math, Bad Math has a good take down of one such recent argument from Cordova on UD: Once again, Sal and Friends Butcher Information Theory.

110 Comments

Hey Reed,

Some advice before you proclaim Chu-Carrol as your hero, you might investigate the comment section where he was taken to task in his supposed field of expertise.

In the very Wiki link Chu-Carrol gave regarding Godel it says:

For any consistent formal theory that proves basic arithmetical truths, an arithmetical statement that is true but not provable in the theory can be constructed. That is, any theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete.

Chu-Carrol nonetheless fumes at this statement by the ID proponents:

Gödel proved that, in general, a complete mathematical theory cannot be derived entirely from a finite number of axioms. In general mathematics is too rich to be derived from a limited number of propositions (what mathematicians name a “formal system”). In particular just arithmetic is too rich to be reducible in a finite set of axioms.

Chu-Carrol’s responds with an equivocation:

Bullshit and nonsense! That’s an astonishingly bad explanation of Gödel’s incompleteness theorem…You can describe all of arithmetic using a formal system with a finite set of axioms; in fact, Gödel himself proved that, in his completeness theorem.

So, how about you ask Chu-Carroll the following question since he said, “You can describe all of arithmetic using a formal system.”

Ask him, “Gee, Mark, does that mean you can prove or disprove every arithmetical statement in violation of Godel’s theorem?” Hahaha!

But what Mark is doing is equivocating the sense of what the ID authors said when they said, “arithmetic is too rich to be reducible in a finite set of axioms”. Chu-Carrol rather than trying to understand what was said, chose to affix his own idea about what was said.

One can reduce basic arithmetical truths to a finite set of axioms, but one cannot reduce ALL arithmetically true statements as deducible from a finite set of axioms.

Chu-Carroll refuses to try to understand what was said.

Perhaps before you claim I spread disinformation, it might be better to look to your own and get them to stop their equivocations. He pumped out more junk in the same vein in that thread and in welogs pertaining to me, perhaps not worth time for me to waste on…

Reminds me of something Scott Adams had to say about PZ Myers:

He’s made it a personal mission to misunderstand me and then get very angry about his misunderstandings. He has a sizeable following and is highly entertaining, in an entirely accidental way.

So, how about you ask Chu-Carroll the following question since he said, “You can describe all of arithmetic using a formal system.”

Ask him, “Gee, Mark, does that mean you can prove or disprove every arithmetical statement in violation of Godel’s theorem?” Hahaha!

Sal is such an arrogant ignorant fool. You can indeed prove or disprove every arithmetical statement, but that does not violate Godel’s theorem. What Godel’s theorem states is that you cannot prove every true statement of a consistent formal axiomatic system (of sufficient power to perform Godel numbering of its statements) in that system. But statements that aren’t provable in, say, Peano Arithmetic, such as the consistency of Peano Arithmetic, are provable in more powerful systems such as ZFC. Godel himself provided a proof of the consistency of PA in type theory.

Perhaps Sal is under there impression that there are statements that are true simpliciter, independent of any axiomatic system. But that’s a serious misunderstanding of the nature of logical truth. Notably, any statement P is true in {P} and false in {not P}.

That still doesn’t do much for your argument of “more doesn’t come from less”, or how it even applies to a biological system. Keep the gibberish coming, Sal!

Oh, and

Some advice before you proclaim Chu-Carrol as your hero

is one of the most profoundly ad hominem pieces of crap I have ever read. Reed didn’t proclaim Chu-Carroll to be his hero, he simply linked to Chu-Carroll’s rebuttal of one of Sal’s arguments. Rather than address Chu-Carroll’s points, Sal pointed to some other claim of Chu-Carroll’s that he disagrees with, and starts throwing around words like “equivocation”. Even if CC had equivocated all over the place in that discussion, that would have no bearing on his argument that Reed links to, or the apppropriateness of Reed linking to it.

Yeah, it’s just Sal being Sal: flinging poo every which way in the futile hope that it will distract from the royal spanking he received (yet again).

I’ll touch here on only one point in Cordova’s new appearance where he pretends to provide a judgment on Goedel’s, Turing’s, Chaitin’s and von Neuman’s views, namely his impudent and mendacious claim that Gregory Chaitin’s work in some way supports ID. In 1999 I posted an essay (later reproduced in my book of 2003) addressing Behe’s Irreducible Complexity, wherein I pointed to Kolmogorov-Chaitin’s algorithmic theory as being profoundly incompatible with Behe’s ideas. The algorithmic theory maintains, among other things, that irreducibly complex strings are necessarily random. If IC is an equivalent of randomness, all Behe’s construct collapses. Neither Behe, nor any other ID advocate has ever tried to rebut my thesis. Since Behe’s IC is viewed by ID advocates as one of the pillars of their conceptual system, its collapse seriously undermines their entire set of views.

Hey Sal how’s your sainthood coming along?

Can I make a suggestion? Find a real religion (one that offers sainthoods) and arrange a PR firm to do a glowing profile promoting your godly work among the poor and downtrodden. Then go off and save a hard pressed theology professor working for an irrelevant bible chanting gulag …er right wing political re-education camp theofacist think tank.

Should be a slam dunk, remember Jesus said “Blessed are the geek(s) for they shall inherit the mirth” Good luck.

If IC is an equivalent of randomness, all Behe’s construct collapses.

Perhaps, but aren’t all the alleged facts about God true for no reason? And thus God’s acts occur for no reason? Note that Greg Chaitin writes “some mathematical facts are true for no reason, they are true by accident, or at random. In other words, God not only plays dice in physics, but even in pure mathematics, in logic, in the world of pure reason.”

It seems to me that the notions that there are biological systems that are random, uncaused, or caused by God are all logically equivalent.

Gee PG, that’s basically what I said, like 3 years ago..

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 7, column 35, byte 432 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187

Are you comparing me to an mp3?? Sounds like yours is a sleight of hand argument. It’s the ‘watchmaker’ again.

Sal…er attempts a musical allusion.

Mark argues #2 to argue suggest #1. This is a sleight of hand argument. The property of being incompressible (or at least being extremely difficult to compress since absolute incompressibility is difficult to extablish), does not in and of itself say anything of its intelligent or un intelligent origin. For example an Mp3 is for the most part incompressible (or approximately so, as far as we know anyway). Does Mark argue an Mp3 is not therefore of intelligent origin?

Is our Sal. channeling that great dadaist the late Mr. Dali?

Who famously said:

I believe that the moment is near when by a procedure of active paranoiac thought, it will be possible to systematize confusion and contribute to the total discrediting of the world of reality.

Sal please go back and re-read your last bit of confusion.

[compressibility and thus ‘information quantity’ or IDers perception] does not in and of itself say anything of its intelligent or un intelligent origin.

.…but you’re saying it does .…or does not.… right?

Maybe you became confused Sal?

because Mr Dali also said this:

At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since. Salvador Dali

It’s a pity .…..so much ambition but absolutely zero talent.

Sal:

Since you’ve now raised the issue of equivocation, perhaps you could provide the single definition of the term “information” consistent across its use in the works of Shannon, Kolmogorov, Chaitin and within Intelligent Design?

Sal:

Since you’ve now raised the issue of equivocation, perhaps you could provide the single definition of the term “information” consistent across its use in the works of Shannon, Kolmogorov, Chaitin and within Intelligent Design?

Sorry, missed one - “and in Fisher’s work”.

I think it fair to point out that Sal is quite probably grousing because Mark Chu-Carroll has already wiped the floor with Sal here: Stupidity from our Old Friend Sal

In that thread Mark showed that Sal completely misunderstands information theory, and is unable to provide the actual math to back up his bogus claims.

This kind of basically cowardly behavior from Sal is par for the course, naturally, but it does explain why Sal is attempting to discredit Mark with an ad-hom.

When Sal is make to look like an idiot, he tends to get petty.

I was waiting to see if anyone else noticed this. MP3’s are compressions. Not that it matters. MP3’s also aren’t made of self-replicating chemistry. Once again a cdesign proponetsist confuses an analogy with reality.

Sal, what the smeg? Even /I/ can see you’ve totally twisted what Perakh was saying - he didn’t mention or even /imply/ intelligence. If I read it right, he’s claiming that IC structures are, according to information theory, necessarily random (in your #2 sense of incompressible), which is clearly at odds with reality. That’s it. Where is this equivocation?

Can you answer the question? Is he wrong?

Sal Wrote:

Mark argues #2 to argue suggest #1.

I don’t see where Mark has argued that. What he said was that algorithmic IC and Behe’s IC are incompatible. If you conflate the two, Behe’s work doesn’t make sense since biological structures are most definitely NOT random in the AIT sense.

Sal Wrote:

For example an Mp3 is for the most part incompressible (or approximately so, as far as we know anyway).

Actually, no. MP3s can’t be compressed by an MP3 compression algorithm, but theoretically a higher-level compressor could exploit the patterns in the music itself to compress it further.

Sal Wrote:

Does Mark argue an Mp3 is not therefore of intelligent origin?

All information, random or not, has meaning within some conceivable semiotic system, so Sal is correct in saying that AIT randomness doesn’t preclude intelligence. I doubt that Mark would ever say that it does.

Sal Wrote:

Mark, like many Darwinists are equivocating the word random.

The irony in this accusation is off the charts, considering the article that Sal is touting. The authors seem to think that since Chaitin and Behe use the same term, irreducible complexity, their concepts must be positively related. Argumentum ad terminologium.

secondclass: I didn’t know that. Is Perakh then equivocating over IC, and not over what Sal says he is?

Aren’t MP3’s a poor choice for this discussion anyway, since, like JPEG, it is a *lossy* compression algorithm? Shouldn’t we be discussion something like LZW instead?

Salvador T. Cordova Wrote:

Mark, like many Darwinists are equivocating the word random. There are at least three senses of the word random.

1. un-intelligent origin

Um, nobody defines “random” as “un-intelligent origin” except creationists. Mark certainly didn’t.

For example an Mp3 is for the most part incompressible (or approximately so, as far as we know anyway).

What? No, it’s not. People Stuff/Zip/otherwise compress Mp3s all the time. And like secondclass says, that’s even without exploiting. regularities in the music.

Pigwidgeon, I haven’t read anything the Perakh has written on the subject other than his post above, but I think Perakh is arguing against equivocation on the term “IC”. It’s the IDers who are equivocating when they pretend that algorithmic information theory somehow supports Behe’s work. The equivocation can’t possibly work in their favor since biological structures are not IC in Chaitin’s sense.

Sal accuses Perakh of equivocating on the term “random”, claiming that Perakh is arguing that AIT randomness implies the “non-intelligent source” sense of randomness. But Perakh didn’t say that in his post, and I’d be very surprised if he said it elsewhere.

I hope that most people have come to understand why I consider Sal to be one of evolutionary theory’s best friends :-)

It is always a useful idea to fisk Sal’s comments.

Mark, like many Darwinists are equivocating the word random. There are at least three senses of the word random.

He begins with an error of grammar: it should, of course, be “like many Darwinists, is…” - Sal has violated number here.

1. un-intelligent origin

As already indicated, only creationists do this. Does this imply that Creationists are actually closet Darwinists? Of course!

2. algorithmically incompressible (in the sense no algorithm or law can describe them more compactly)

3. unpredictable

What Sal fails (as usual) to understand is that there is a sense in which randomness is used by the folks to accept biological evolution: ‘uncorrelated’. When we discuss ‘random’ we are talking about ‘random with respect to fitness or utility’- uncorrelated.

Sal forgot about that. Oopsie.

Mark argues #2 to argue suggest #1.

This is, of course, factually incorrect. Mark does not do so. The fact that Sal doesn’t understand this is troubling.

This is a sleight of hand argument.

Sal is, indeed, engaging in a sleight of hand argument here: he is attacking a straw man.

The property of being incompressible (or at least being extremely difficult to compress since absolute incompressibility is difficult to extablish), does not in and of itself say anything of its intelligent or un intelligent origin.

Since that’s not what Mark said, Sal’s comment is irrelevant.

For example an Mp3 is for the most part incompressible (or approximately so, as far as we know anyway).

As noted, this is factually incorrect.

Does Mark argue an Mp3 is not therefore of intelligent origin?

Straw man.

No wonder Mark Chu-Carroll kicked Sal’s little fanny from here to Miami; Sal’s can’t even address a simple, straightforward argument like Perakh’s without getting utterly confused.

Sal, have we EVER seen you do the math?

You constantly make claims that can be butressed by the math, but I don’t ever think I’ve seen you do the math.

PZ also links here,

http://growthratenlgn.wordpress.com[…]sh-sal-with/

where Tyler points out that nearly everything Salvador says is wrong.

At first I was laughing but later I was crying. How can you be so stupid??????????????? How can so much inanity be exhibited by a single individual????? But instead of becoming frustrated by the flagrant exhibition of stupidity, I applaud Sal for showing to all of us out here the quality of scholar that support IDiocy. Thanks Sal and keep up the good work (sarcasm meter off).

Anton Wrote:

Um, nobody defines “random” as “un-intelligent origin” except creationists. Mark certainly didn’t.

I think even creationists would have a problem with that definition. I don’t think most creationists consider the trajectory of a meteor to be intelligently designed (or maybe they do?), but I don’t think they would call it “random” either.

Re “I think even creationists would have a problem with that definition. I don’t think most creationists consider the trajectory of a meteor to be intelligently designed (or maybe they do?), but I don’t think they would call it “random” either.”

Hmm. It has a range of possible values, and isn’t attracted particularly to any one spot on the planet. How isn’t it random? ;)

Henry

Really, the only way to fight this is to doggedly demand detail.

While that’s the best approach among those of us who accept the paradigm of rational justification of claims, it really isn’t the best, let along the only, way to fight “this”. See, for instance, the main page for discussion of the movie “Flight of Dodos”.

And you can’t put limits on biology from limits on formal systems. How would you do that?

More importantly, what would it matter if you could? The set of evolved organisms and mechanisms is just a teency tiny finite subset of an unbounded variety of possible evolved mechanisms, so the limits of infinistic proofs, even if they apply, have not been, and never will be, reached. Sal’s inference is so incredibly stupid and irrational, such an absurd non sequitur, that I think people have trouble getting their heads around it. It’s certainly small potatoes compared to MarkCC’s gaffe about Gödel’s theorems.

…it really isn’t the best, let along the only, way to fight “this”

By “this” I meant Sal’s M.O.

Just keep presuming I won’t return or that I’m incapable of seeing the invincible Chu’s fumblings. Hahaha!

No one claimed that Chu is invincible. It’s your claim that, because Mark made a mistake on one point, he hasn’t refuted your overall argument. But he has.

Mark is smart enough to know what’s correct, but un-willing to see it. He’ll adopt a position opposite mine, even if I’m right, simply because I’m a creationist, and the thought that I might have a valid point is intolerable to him. Thus, he’ll resort to misrepresentations of what I say, and even hastily scream obsenities and fume over things I never implied or said.

What if that were true? How would that change the fact that you’re an idiot and ID is idiotic bullpucky?

Re “an arithmetical statement that is true but not provable in the theory can be constructed”

Sort of like the question in set theory about whether there are sets intermediate in size between that of the set of all integers and the set of all real numbers? (Or has somebody managed to answer that one since I read that book about it that said they hadn’t?)

No, it really isn’t like that. The Continuum hypothesis not only isn’t provable in set theory, but it isn’t true (or false) in set theory. One can confirm the hypothesis, getting one theory, or deny it, getting another theory.

And so closes another saga demonstrating that Sal has a screw loose.

…it really isn’t the best, let along the only, way to fight “this”

By “this” I meant Sal’s M.O.

Yes, I knew that.

See, for instance, the main page for discussion of the movie “Flight of Dodos”.

Can you provide the link, please? There were a couple of hits for “Flock of dodos” and “flight of Dodos”, none of them having to do with Sal.

GF, I think PG is talking about this one:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives[…]insti_6.html.

If so, the link in the post takes you over to a PZ article in Pharyngula…

Merci. In which case I’m not sure to what PG is referring as a better way to deal with Sal’s M.O.

Merci. In which case I’m not sure to what PG is referring as a better way to deal with Sal’s M.O.

What I’m saying is that “doggedly demand detail” isn’t particularly effective against Sal’s M.O.; it just further confirms for us that he’s the sort of evasive person we already know he is when he fails to provide such detail. I haven’t seen Olson’s movie yet, but my understanding from those who have is that we need to develop better PR, because that’s what the other side is all about.

Comment #160215 Posted by David B. Benson on February 8, 2007 4:20 PM (e)

And so closes another saga demonstrating that Sal has a screw loose.

.…except to Sal.

Sal look at this way…your professed version of creationism is an admission that you are technically insane. Sal you are pathologically incapable of engaging in the discourse of science or any other process requiring rational thought.

You don’t even come within a bull’s roar. You’ve missed the boat, the gangplank’s up and your potential to get on is nil.

You may consider religious propaganda promotion, fundy-conservative political spin, theocratic social engineering, institutional promotion of cultural schizophrenia an honorable pursuit. If so, find a group of people who like you are incapable of determining the difference between fact and fiction…there’s one born every minute.

But don’t let me stop you, you actually are performing a service. Most people have no idea how crazy you and your identity group are. Thankyou.

Just keep presuming I won’t return or that I’m incapable of seeing the invincible Chu’s fumblings. Hahaha!

But you ARE incapable of common politeness and decency.

You’ve been repeatedly told Mark’s CORRECT last name, yet you persist in purposely mis-stating it.

You, sir, are an impolite, disrepectful asshole. And THAT is proven to my satisfaction.

I think he can’t really imagine evolution.

LOL.

at the risk of sounding pedantic…

DUH!

What I’m saying is that “doggedly demand detail” isn’t particularly effective against Sal’s M.O.; it just further confirms for us that he’s the sort of evasive person we already know he is when he fails to provide such detail.

Ah, got it.

I would hope, though, that doggedly demanding detail would also do the same for people who don’t know him yet. Insulting him and putting words in his mount actually makes him look better to neutrals than simply sticking to asking for detail. I think he purposefully acts the way he does in order to elicit these reactions.

GuyeFaux Wrote:

your use of the term “primitive” connotes Social Darwinism.

Thank you! I didn’t note that, and that nit really needed to be picked.

I think the main problem here is that I have seen this term used for these cultures early on. Somehow it stuck as the preferred english term.

I googled and got “indigenous people” as the preferred neutral term, used by UN among others. (“Aborigines, native peoples, first peoples, Fourth World, first nations and autochthonous” are among the terms one should forget.)

And of course, the second subtext here is that this is primitive math in the real sense, and the third that it was about a creationist. :-)

I would hope

Previously you said there was only one way, now you’re down to hoping. But ridicule can be an effective strategy, especially in the form of ridiculing his more outrageous claims, and Sal’s behavior doesn’t really make him look good; that’s just your just-so story. As for putting words in his mouth, I have no idea what you’re referring to.

Yes, but back to this nonsense about information theory. The IDists desperatley want it to be a measure of meaningful content so that they can apply it to genetic code. Even one of their own websites acknowledges that it’s not supposed to be used for that.

As for putting words in his mouth, I have no idea what you’re referring to.

So when people demand detail from Sal, to which Sal does nothing but throw words out, people start guessing what he means (i.e. putting words in his mouth). To which he indignantly makes claims about straw-men and intellectual dishonesty.

Your quote about my “hoping” was out of context.

My position about Sal looking good to neutrals as a result of his M.O. is conjectural. I don’t talk to “neutrals.”

As for putting words in his mouth, I have no idea what you’re referring to.

So when people demand detail from Sal, to which Sal does nothing but throw words out, people start guessing what he means (i.e. putting words in his mouth). To which he indignantly makes claims about straw-men and intellectual dishonesty.

Your quote about my “hoping” was out of context.

My position about Sal looking good to neutrals as a result of his M.O. is conjectural. I’m lucky enough to not have to talk to many neutrals on the topic.

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This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on February 5, 2007 1:34 PM.

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