The Silliest Thing Yet, or Sheer Genius?

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Stephen Meyer, Discovery Institute cofounder and major IDist, in support of the Designer on this somewhat trying day, offers this amazing discovery: Meyer proves that information of any sort, not just complex specified information, comes from out of this world! Meyer’s impeccable proof is so astonishing in its simplicity that it can be explained to a first grade class! Here it is.

Stephen Meyer, explaining why biological information cannot originate through a materialistic process, said:

One of the things I do in my classes to get this idea across to students is I hold up two computer disks. One is loaded with software the other one is blank. And I ask

“What’s the difference in mass between these two computer disks as a result of the difference in the information content that they posses?”

Meyer of Disco

And of course the answer is zero - none. There is no difference as a result of the information. And that’s because information is a massless quantity. Now if information is not a material entity, then how can any materialistic explanation explain its origin? How can any material cause explain its origin. And, this is the real fundamental problem that the presence of information in biology has posed. It creates a fundamental challenge to the materialistic evolutionary scenarios because information is a different kind of entity that matter and energy cannot produce. uhm  In the nineteenth century we thought that there were two fundamental entities of science: matter and energy. At the beginning of the 21st century we now recognize that there is a third fundamental entity, and it’s information. It doesn’t - it’s not reducible to matter, it’s not reducible to energy, but it is still a very important thing that is real, we buy it we sell it, we send it down wires. Now what do we make of the fact that information is present at the very root of all biological function? [picture of DNA] That in biology we have matter we have energy but we also have this third, very important entity, information? The biology of the information age I think poses a fundamental challenge to any materialistic approach to the origin of life.

This is a quiz. You have until sometime Monday morning to say if this is for real. Which is it, why, and how sure are you? Only your first answer counts toward your grade.

The answer is now posted, in Comment #167968 below. Per that comment, slight correction is made to the Meyer quote. The sense of it is unchanged.

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Yesterday, the Panda's Thumb revealed that Michael Egnor had only been pretending to be a creationist. They even linked to his confession at Evolution Views and News. I chimed in, defending our prior work on Egnor's absurd claims with argument... Read More

135 Comments

One of my previous supervisors, who then worked for NASA, was once asked about how to account for the weight of the software on the space missions. Apparently the bean counters were unwilling to accept an answer of zero weight.

They were, however, willing (according to his story) to accept as the weight of the software the weight of the punched chads from the cards.

According to this version, then, information would in fact have had a mass and weight up until punched cards or paper tape disappeared, at which point the information itself would have evolved into a massless entity.

One correct answer to Meyer’s question, however, is that mass and energy are interrelated (Einstein, right?) and thus one estimate of “the mass of the information on the disk” can be obtained from knowing how much energy it took to organize the electrons from the patterns on the disk as shipped.

That’s a really tough choice… But because I do believe that every human being (yes, even creationists.) is in possession of at least a minimum amount of common sense, I’d wager that this is not for real. I cannot believe that anyone in this position would suggest that there is no physical difference between a blank and a loaded CD. Or that the “Information” he describes are due to no “materialistic” cause.

Nevertheless I am not sure about this (about 51%), since we’re still talking about a creationist here, that is.

One correct answer to Meyer’s question, however, is that mass and energy are interrelated (Einstein, right?) and thus one estimate of “the mass of the information on the disk” can be obtained from knowing how much energy it took to organize the electrons from the patterns on the disk as shipped.

What if the disk is formatted with all blanks?

According to an article Talk Islam.com, at least part of what you quoted comes from a talk called “Why Can’t Biological Information Originate Through a Materialistic Process” on the Unlocking the Mystery of Life dvd.

I am almost certain that this is for real. After all, you can’t make up stuff this stupid for no good reason. I once went to a creationist presentation in a church where the guy held up a “spork” and claimed that it was a “transitional form” between a spoon and a fork! Boy, that really proved how wrong evilution is.

Seriously, no argument is too stupid for these people if someone falls for it. We need to adapt Dembski’s design detector as a BS detector. Of course he won’t let us do that because he is afraid we will turn it on him.

Duncan Buell wrote

One correct answer to Meyer’s question, however, is that mass and energy are interrelated (Einstein, right?) and thus one estimate of “the mass of the information on the disk” can be obtained from knowing how much energy it took to organize the electrons from the patterns on the disk as shipped.

Well, according to Dembski (see here) information can be “imparted” via an infinite wavelength/zero energy communication channel:

How much energy is required to impart information? We have sensors that can detect quantum events and amplify them to the macroscopic level. What’s more, the energy in quantum events is proportional to frequency or inversely proportional to wavelength. And since there is no upper limit to the wavelength of, for instance, electromagnetic radiation, there is no lower limit to the energy required to impart information. In the limit, a designer could therefore impart information into the universe without inputting any energy at all.

Never mind that as wavelength goes to infinity and energy goes to zero, in the limit the channel capacity goes to zero. In Dembski’s and Meyer’s fantasy world, energy isn’t even necessary. The information is just … well … imparted. It’s like, y’know, magic, dude.

RBH

They got me on the Egnor thing, but I’m not falling for this one. It has to be a self parody - it just has to be.

The sad thing is that’s kind of hard to tell with these guys. Just to be safe we should treat everything that comes out of the Discovery Institue as part of an elaborate April Fools Day joke.

Is this another April Fools?

;-)

You’re suppose to answer that question.

Not reducible to matter or energy? Without matter or energy, you have NO information.

Pete Duckelburg — Well, it is April and they are fools

:-)

It’s a joke; must be. Of course “information” is massless. If I take a bunch of objects and change their configuration in regard to one another so that they have meaning, I haven’t added or lost mass. To use the computer disk example, what happens isn’t that something is added or removed from the disk; what happens is that magnetic domains are created on the disk by changing the polar orientations of the material from which the disk is made.

An even simpler example; I have a quill pen and an ink pot. As long as the ink is in the pot, there’s no information. If I use the pen to arrange the ink into meaningful forms until I use it all up, then I’ve created information. It’s the same exact mass of ink I started with. Nothing’s been added or subtracted, it’s just an arrangement that can be interpreted by someone who looks at it as meaningful.

So yeah, this is too simple to cut through. Either it’s another prank, or else it should be one.

1. Yes it is real. Stephen Meyer really did say it and believe it. 2. Why do I say that? Well I googled it. 3. Pretty sure.

Or are you asking if he is correct:

1. Yes, absolutely. His arguments support my own views on gravity, and the atheist conspiracy surrounding Newtonist views. 2. Why? Come on. If everything falls down, how could I possibly lift anything up? That would mean when I lift this can of Coke, I’m violating the laws of physics. Also birds fly, how does that happen? So-called scientists rule out a priori an Intelligent Lifter (who may or may not be Yoda.) You can tell this because of Irrefutable Height. Take those discs Meyer was holding. Say he was holding one higher than the other. The higher one has IH, and guess what, the discs both have the same mass. Height is a massless quantity, so how can any materialistic explanation explain its origin? Height is a different kind of entity that matter and energy cannot produce. (Cannot produce! No sireee Bob! No relation to energy there at all! Unless you mean The Force, or whatever energy field you coincidentally happen to believe that binds the galaxy together.)

3) How sure am I? I’m open minded enough to know the Newtonists are completely wrong. They should learn science, and stretch out with their feelings.

May the Force be With You.

Well OK, it’s April 1 and all that, but then again he probably wrote it earlier.

What’s particularly stupid is that it is indeed likely that there is the same amount of information on a blank disk as on a written disk (any difference is likely to be trivial, though a tiny difference ispossible). The domains (if we’re talking about magnetic media) are already “coding” 1s or 0s, holding information that is utterly uninteresting to us—we replace that information with information we find interesting/useful.

That’s the way it is with these ignorant types, they don’t know the difference between information and meaningful information, thus they think that information cannot arise.

And really, what is wrong with a purported philosopher not having even a slight acquaintance with the ancient notion of “formal cause” as being related to information issues? There’s nothing at all new about “information” as an issue, if we don’t insist upon a formal definition for “information”. Meyer ought to know enough about language as a “philosopher” even to recognize that in-form-ation has, in some sense, to do with (internal) form, a very ancient concept (almost certainly prehistorical).

Plato, and even more so Aristotle, discussed information (as form) reasonably and usefully, which means that even a poorly educated philosopher ought to know something about it.

Discuss entropy, please, Meyer. There’s where information is inextricably tied into physics, and governs the effects of energy. The trouble is that you, like your cohorts, really know nothing about science as a universal practice, you guys only know bits and pieces, so it is hardly surprising that you never manage to recognize a successfuly synthetic theory as such.

They like to accuse us of being “reductionists”, never realizing that they are the supreme reductionists, for they don’t know how energy and information are related. Likewise, they also think that the information in biology is all accident, whim, or whatever is supposed to drive their designer (they evidently agree that making the best design for a given function is not driving said designer—the one way in which they have characterized the “designer”, albeit not in a straightforward manner). Everything in their “biology” is reduced to disconnected bits, mere bits in an inherently not-understandable set of parts.

Of course the piece is real, for it is uncomprehending and totally disconnected from any reasonable discussion of the highly interconnected and comprehensive scientific explanations that his foes have worked out.

Glen D http://tinyu

Jesus Christ Wrote:

Not reducible to matter or energy? Without matter or energy, you have NO information.

Nonsense, if you whip away the disk really quickly, the disk will become blank and pure information will be left behind. A person subsequently happening on the spot may suddenly be struck by a new thought or image.

Funny enough, Egnor makes a similar claim on the “Evolution News and Views” webpage. I realize that it’s April 1st, but it seems to be a legitimate post (unlike the one on evolutionnews.net). Egnor writes: “Materialism is nonsense, because if matter and energy are all that exist, then truth doesn’t exist (it’s neither matter nor energy). If truth doesn’t exist, then materialism can’t be true.”

Wow. Is that dumb. I would think it was an April Fool’s day joke, but the rest of the article is pretty typical IDist claims.

Information on a computer disk is encoded in an arrangement of materials so it directly exists as a material entity. It is created through a process that manipulates the structure of the disk and which must follow basic laws of physics, including of course the laws of thermodynamics regarding the conservation of energy. DNA encodes genetic information. The information does not float around without a physical structure connected to it.

What the hell is this “materialistic” label? You see this kind of wording in Islamic materials - see Taner Edis’ The Illusion of Harmony about science and Islam. In their usage, which seems to mirror this, “material” is a derogatory label applied to maintain the Islamic necessity that the spiritual approach must dominate. Edis explains how this approach roots in the Quranic statements and the accompanying belief that the text is without doubt. This “without doubt” statement limits the ability of Islam to process ideas which create doubt.

The oddity of finding this sentiment expressed in Christian fundamentalist thought is striking because the war about doubt in the Bible was over, in the history of Western civilization, with the Englightenment, meaning that Mr. Meyer, probably without realizing it, has expressed a medieval, pre-Englightenment point of view, one which agrees with fundamentalist Islam.

I have to do a little nit-picking here, since (disregarding the obvious confusion Meyer has with the concept of information in system state permutations) there is a difference in mass between blank and written CD discs. CDs function optically, that is, one must mold small ridges in the grooves on the CD surface to store binary data. This causes a minuscule reduction in disc mass (or, in the case of CD-Rs, grooves are not burnt, but the reflective properties of the surface are changed which, I believe, still causes an even more minuscule difference in mass).

This has no relevance whatsoever with the computational complexity of a physical system, just thought I’d mention it. I’ll leave tearing the real argument to the professionals.

According to an article Talk Islam.com, at least part of what you quoted comes from a talk called “Why Can’t Biological Information Originate Through a Materialistic Process” on the Unlocking the Mystery of Life dvd.

When I first read your statement, I thought you were saying that TalkIslam was making this argument. In fact, they cite Steven Meyer in their article. (Do a google search on “difference in mass between these two computer disks”, and you’ll find the article.) It states:

Stephen C. Meyer, a philosopher of science from the Cambridge University and who is critical of the theory of evolution as well as materialism, says in an interview:

One thing I do in classes to get this idea across the students is that I hold up two computer disks. One is loaded with software, the other one is blank. And I ask, “What is the difference in mass between these two computer disks as a result of the difference in the information content that they possess”? And of course the answer is zero, none, there is no difference as a result of the information. That is because information is a massless quantity. Information is not a material entity.

Actually, in the information-theoretic sense there is likely to be more information on the blank disk. (Well, it depends on how it was manufactured, I suppose.) Information, in so far as it has a precise definition, means more or less the opposite of what Meyer, Dembski, et. al. think it does. It is, informally, the absence of pattern. That is, a random string has much more information that a string with a concisely described pattern. See

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolmog[…]v_complexity

for a more precise definition of algorithmic information.

As for the idea that information in the sense of order cannot be created by material means, that is simply an assertion with no basis in fact. And, as it happens, it’s a false assertion. See Stuart kauffman’s The Origins of Order for a (somewhat technical) discussion of this.

And no, I don’t think it’s an April Fool’s joke, but even if it were, the fact that it’s hard to tell is all you need to know.

There is zero information on either disk unless you have some way to read and interpret it. Take 2 5 1/4” disks. Both are CP/M formatted and one contains Wordstar, the other nothing. Now tell me which is blank and which contains information. I’m picturing an Uncertainty Priciple of Information. It is non-existant until observed…

Come on - that is just as valid an observation as Meyer’s insn’t it? :-)

I’m going to say this is not for real, just because the argument is so convoluted. If you use the same media across the board, then the more information you accumulate will make the mass of media increase. In the example with the floppy disks it should be easily recognized that if one photo fits on one disk, then 10 photos of the same quality and size will take up ten disks. This is such a simple concept I find it hard to believe it could even trick a bunch of first graders.

Also, I’m not aware if Stephen Meyer would know this, but scientist can measure the weight of DNA, and guess what DNA from bacteria weighs less than from a humans. I wonder if that is because human DNA has more information? In fact if we put the DNA of a bacteria on 3.5” floppy disks, and DNA from humans and the same media you would have more disks for the human DNA than for the bacteria. And if you used a scale to measure the total weight of the disk, guess which one would weigh more? I really really hope this is bull crap, if not screw you guys I’m switching sides. I am pretty sure I could BS my way into a pretty high paying job telling people crap I made up. I mean if their dumb enough to fall for it anyway, why not make a couple of bucks?

If it’s not real it deserves to be - the quality of the argument is as good or better than average for the ID’er attempts to persuade. Can information exist in the absence of matter and energy? It surely takes physical processes to create it, store it and access it. The success of the argument would depend on following up with further similarly flawed arguments before the victim’s brain can kick into gear. It happening in the presence of massed true believers providing a sense of belonging (you can belong too)is also a good way to sidetrack reasoned thought. I have to vote for yes it’s real.

However, the state of no information is also massless. As proof, I point to the heads of IDist. Containing air instead of brains, they are both without information and without mass. Yet, IDist have a materialistic explanation - just make your cheque out to “The Discovery Institute”. Operators are standing by.

For fun let’s make this argument and see how well it holds up. I have three one gallon jugs, I fill one with water, one with vegetable oil, and one with air. So in order of weight it goes air, vegetable oil, and water. Since they all hold the same volume this proves that water has more information in it than air, and vegetable oil. Take that evolution, PROVE ME WRONG!

Stoned college dude #1: “Dude, I just totally realized that information, like, doesn’t weigh anything, dude.

Stoned college dude #2: “Man, have you ever looked at your hand? I mean, like, really looked at it?

Stoned college dude #1: “That’s gotta, like, demonstrate something really, you know, really heavy, man,

Stoned college dude #2: “Wow, man. Just, wow.”

This is just a rehash of the “you can’t get something from nothing” fallacy.

A biologist would say, yes you can evolve new information from mutation and selection. All of which involve matter and energy but do not depend on some esoteric third state, not matter or energy.

Micrevolution creates new information all the time, empirically seen countless times and a deadly nuisance occasionally. Flu viruses continually adapt to their hosts by antigenic drift. The AIDS virus adapted to a new host, humans. Cancer cells mutate to resist treatments. So take microevolution, repeat N times. You’ve gone from a prokaryote to a human.

This argument is proof that footprints are divine creations.

1. Mud without a footprint weighs the same as mud with a footprint (unless it’s really sticky mud the footprint is caused by squishing the matter out of the way, not removing it).

2. Therefore there is no possible materialistic cause.

3. Profit!!

Taken off the net Encyclopedia Columbia

“Interestingly, the mathematical expression for information content closely resembles the expression for entropy in thermodynamics. The greater the information in a message, the lower its randomness, or “noisiness,” and hence the smaller its entropy. Since the information content is, in general, associated with a source that generates messages, it is often called the entropy of the source. Often, because of constraints such as grammar, a source does not use its full range of choice. A source that uses just 70% of its freedom of choice would be said to have a relative entropy of 0.7. The redundancy of such a source is defined as 100% minus the relative entropy, or, in this case, 30%. The redundancy of English is estimated to be about 50%; i.e., about half of the elements used in writing or speaking are freely chosen, and the rest are required by the structure of the language.”

I’m by no means an expert in information theory to put it mildly. I believe though that formally information is a decrease in entropy. Entropy doesn’t weigh anything but it still exists as part of the physical, empirically accessible world. Hopefully someone who knows information theory will show up and chime in.

Unfortunately, raven, that encyclopedia has it all wrong. There does seem to be a notion of “entropy” that embraces that idea, however in actual physics information increases with entropy. Indeed, it is the reason why a perpetual motion machine of the second kind cannot work (Maxwell’s demon).

Here’s a quote from a source, and the link to it:

Many view information as a logical sequence of bits of some meaning as oppose [sic] to a thermal state, which is a state of randomness. The known scientific knowledge does not support this mystic idea. Shannon has shown that the higher the randomness of the bits in a file, the higher the amount of information in it. The Landauer and Bennet school suggests that the randomness of the bits in a file is related to Kolmogorov complexity. This claim may give an impression that the Shannon information is a meaningful subjective quantity. However, according to the Shannon theory a compressed file, containing meaningful information, has similar amount [sic] of information as an identical file, with one flipped bit that cannot be decompressed and therefore, for us the receivers, it is just a noise.

[Reference numbers left out, and bolding added. Mistakes in number by the author probably are due to his being a non-native English speaker.]

Page 2 of:

http://arxiv.org/ftp/cs/papers/0602/0602023.pdf

Glen D

By the way, not long ago I quoted and linked the sort of information you pretended to teach me, here:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives[…]mment-164529

The quote:

Many view information as a logical sequence of bits of some meaning as oppose [sic] to a thermal state, which is a state of randomness. The known scientific knowledge does not support this mystic idea. Shannon has shown that the higher the randomness of the bits in a file, the higher the amount of information in it. The Landauer and Bennet school suggests that the randomness of the bits in a file is related to Kolmogorov complexity. This claim may give an impression that the Shannon information is a meaningful subjective quantity. However, according to the Shannon theory a compressed file, containing meaningful information, has similar amount [sic] of information as an identical file, with one flipped bit that cannot be decompressed and therefore, for us the receivers, it is just a noise.

[Reference numbers left out, and bolding added. Mistakes in number by the author probably are due to his being a non-native English speaker.]

Reference link is at the post (if I include the link this won’t post, not soon anyway).

I could have written something similar to that quote (indeed, I have), but quoted and linked because the writer knows more, and utilizes the right jargon.

So yeah, unsurprisingly I don’t enjoy the pretense that I don’t know these things, nor the confusion of what was meant in this discussion vs. the largely irrelevant Shannon Information theory.

Glen D

I hit post, then before it had posted I thought of a caveat I should include, to prevent a possible cheap shot. So here’s the last sentence changed:

So yeah, unsurprisingly I don’t enjoy the pretense that I don’t know these things, nor the confusion of what was meant in this discussion vs. the largely irrelevant (to the discussion) Shannon Information theory.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Glen Davidson — I fear you are simply wrong regarding the relevance of Shannon theory to the storage of ‘information’. As I have previously posted, the ‘information’ on a disk, say, is there to be transmitted via a ‘reader’. Thus it is a Shannon source.

Therefore prior knowledge of the state of the disk is relevant to any discussion of the Shannon information content of the disk.

So far, all you have done is say that the above is false. Cite any competent authority. Start, for example, with a paper in IEEE Transactions on Information Theory. :-)

Glen Davidson — Please stop making stuff up. I never posted anything which stated you did not know something about Shannon theory. Also, while I am sure I have many failings, telling lies is not one of them.

Further, notice I have posted nothing whatsoever regarding an ‘unformated’ disk. The reason is simple. Some drives require formatted disk in order to properly read the contents. I have no idea at all what the reader would transmit from an unformated disk.

Glen Davidson — I fear you are simply wrong regarding the relevance of Shannon theory to the storage of ‘information’. As I have previously posted, the ‘information’ on a disk, say, is there to be transmitted via a ‘reader’. Thus it is a Shannon source.

There you go again, twisting what I wrote to set up a strawman. I didn’t say that Shannon theory isn’t relevant to the storage of information, liar, I said that it wasn’t relevant to the discussion of whether or not information exists on a “blank disk” (more or less).

Therefore prior knowledge of the state of the disk is relevant to any discussion of the Shannon information content of the disk.

Of course it is, which is why I discussed the state of the disk as containing “bit-pieces” that store information whether or not it has been deliberately inputted.

So far, all you have done is say that the above is false.

So far you have avoided what I’ve written and substituted your incoherent imaginings in place of what I wrote. That is another lie, you’re taking the matter out of the context of the discussion in order to make claims that have little or nothing to do with the discussion.

It’s not surprising that you almost never quote me (though when you do it’s out of context, twisted, and dishonest), for you could not support virtually any of the charges that you make in your ongoing thuddingly dull insistence that everything revolve around your misconceptions of what this is all about.

Why don’t you for once try to back up your scurrilous charges with some evidence?

Cite any competent authority. Start, for example, with a paper in IEEE Transactions on Information Theory. :-)

Sure, I’m out to support your delusions about what I’ve written.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Glen Davidson — Please stop making stuff up. I never posted anything which stated you did not know something about Shannon theory.

The weaselly modifier (“something”) won’t get you out of your cretinous and false claims. You started in with this false charge, just the sort of falsehood that anyone would despise when aimed at him:

Glen Davidson — In which you also demonstrate you do not understand the Shannon Theory of the Transmission of Information.

You ought to actually study the theory before commenting on it…

I don’t care about your “something”. I didn’t make up what I actually wrote, which no doubt is why you again fail to provide an honest reference:

So yeah, unsurprisingly I don’t enjoy the pretense that I don’t know these things, nor the confusion of what was meant in this discussion vs. the largely irrelevant Shannon Information theory.

This was in-line with your false charges in the beginning, only you had to misrepresent what I wrote with your illegitimate modifier, “something”.

Also, while I am sure I have many failings, telling lies is not one of them.

I have yet to see in this thread where you have honestly treated a non-trivial subject. True, you hardly understand the discussion, but if you don’t know you shouldn’t be making it up to replace what was written.

Further, notice I have posted nothing whatsoever regarding an ‘unformated’ disk.

Another strawman. According to the search function, “unformatted” (I do spell it correctly) doesn’t appear in this thread, and the only one who wrote “unformated” is you. I wrote “blank disk”, usually in quotes because a “blank disk” is not well defined, and I didn’t wish to write “unformatted disk”. It seemed okay because formatted floppies are frequently called “blank” disks, floppies, whatever.

So again the trumped up charge, with no supporting evidence—because there is none.

The reason is simple. Some drives require formatted disk in order to properly read the contents. I have no idea at all what the reader would transmit from an unformated disk.

Which is why you made up the false insinuation that I had referred to “unformatted disks”, in the post in which you whine that you don’t lie.

And again, I’m not spending more time with all of this disingenuity at this time. Perhaps later tonight, maybe tomorrow, or perhaps I’ll just ignore the constant drumbeat of false accusations thrown to cover up his many lapses.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Glen Davidson — I never claimed that you had written anything regarding unformatted disks. Quit making stuff up!

You continually fail to address the point that Shannon theory is relevant to the storage of ‘bits’, other than to simply claim that it is largely irrelevant.

The basic problem is that the word information has more than one meaning, even in this limited context. Earlier you agreed, I believe, that reading a disk entirely written to zeros and you know that it is provides no information. That is, zero Shannon bits of information. Thus the fact that the disk has a storage capacity of, say, one billion bits does not mean that it contains one billion bits of information. It is only that it has the capacity to do so.

Most often one makes the most pessimistic assumption that all the possible states of the device are equiprobable. In this case one has no prior knowledge of the state of the device and so the device can be said, correctly, to contain one billion bits of Shannon information.

But sloppy use of language leads to sloppy reasoning…

My apologies for my spelling mistake, surely another demonstration of one of my failings. However, I am certain that I understand information storage and transmission the better of the two of us. I am also certain that you are the better at name calling, moving the goal posts, and otherwise attempting to appear correct even when you are wrong…

Glen Davidson — Apologies, I didn’t see your post #168321 before responding to your post #168323.

I don’t know what you mean by a “blank” disk (more or less)”. Further, all this is not completely specified until the nature of the reading device is given. Once given, then Shannon theory will indeed provide the answer to the bits of Shannon information contained on the “blank” disk, provided the reading device is capable of actually transmitting any bits at all from a “blank” disk.

But if one assumes that a “blank” disk is always readable by a reader which always delivers up a zero or a one for each position and that the magnetization on the “blank” disk is random, then the “blank” disk is a one Shannon bit per IT bit device.

Sorry, but you are wrong about the role of Shannon theory.

I just happened to meet a sysadmin guy who explained what happens when one attempts to mount an unformatted floppy disk: the mount program always delivers the same error code, the one for no fs.

Therefore a “blank” floppy, which is known to be “blank”, contains zero Shannon bits of information. In this sense, it contain no information.

OK, I think I’ve got it:

Suppose I’ve got a pound of lead and a pound of gold, both at room temperature:

1 - They contain the same amount of matter, and the same amount of energy. 2 - Therefore the difference between them can’t be explained in materialistic terms. 3 - Therefore the difference between them is spiritual in nature. 4 - Therefore I can change lead to gold by praying over it. 5 - Profit!!!

Imagine a 50 pound ball of lead and a 50 pound ball of plutonium.

The lead is happy with it’s lot in life. It’s not glamorous, but it’s content with it’s place in the world, and knows it should be happy with the way the metallic creator made it. It will be rewarded with eternal life, probably as fishing weights.

The plutonium is restless, uncomfortable with the way the metallic creator made it. It wants excitement. It craves change, it understands science, dabbles with alchemy, with things that no atom should try to know. Poof!

The moral of the story is clear. Science is dangerous, and Periodic-Tableism is just plain evil.

Re “Periodic-Tableism”

Webelements

:p

Henry

Webelements

Aw come on now! Element 114; ununquadinuim! Now I know those Tableists are just makin stuff up!

ununquadinuim - it’s elementary! Oh, and also periodic!

Henry

I suspect Poe’s Law is applicable here - “A parody of fundamentalism is likely to be indistingushable from the real thing”. However, having encountered real examples of stupidity from the creationist brigade, I suspect this may well be real.

Meanwhile, as an answer to the quoted piece …

* Headdesk *

The information on the disc with the software written to it is contained in the magnetic orientations of the ferrous oxide particles. Which is a material quantity. It can be measured. Quantitatively if you so wish (i.e., what is the coercivity of the magnetic field required to change the state of an individual bit on the disc).

information is a different kind of entity that matter and energy cannot produce.

The irony of him holding a floppy disc full of software whilst saying this is not lost upon me.

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This page contains a single entry by Pete Dunkelberg published on April 1, 2007 2:09 PM.

SUCKERED was the previous entry in this blog.

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