Sand dune

| 86 Comments
IMG_4558_Dune.JPG

Sand dune, showing wind ripples. Sahara desert, Morocco.

86 Comments

A video will show that the wind ripples are as transient (if slower) as ripples on water - the blowing sand particles move the ripples along.

And while the Sahara is somewhat out of reach for most folks, if you’re ever anywhere near El Paso TX and have any interest at all in sand dunes, you really should take a day and go to White Sands.

(I lived in Libya for several years - that’s the exact color I remember the Sahara - I even have a little bottle of very fine Sahara sand that color somewhere.)

I’ve been to White Sands a couple times, many years ago while doing nuclear radiation testing on the nearby Air Force base. The dunes are not your typical silicate based sand, they are made of gypsum, and are bright white (thus the name). If you walk out into the dunes, it has a wierd acoustic affect when talking to someone. There seems to be no reflection of your voice off of any surface. Our brain probably processes out reflections in normal environments and it seems odd when they are missing. As a side effect, you can talk in a normal voice to someone on a dune many yards away, and they can hear you just fine.

But look! It’s so ORGANIZED, in a neat PATTERN! That can’t be the result of random sand grains blowing randomly. Do you know what the chances are of those grains RANDOMLY forming that exact pattern? 4.87 x googolplex to one! Therefore Jesus did it. And if you refuse to believe that and teach that it’s the result of undirected, random, materialistic forces, then you’re going to hell. And it’s illegal for me not to be able to teach that it’s the result of Divine Design in American public schools, since several of us believe that.

There, I’ve done it all for you, Byers. Did I miss anything?

Just Bob said:

But look! It’s so ORGANIZED, in a neat PATTERN! That can’t be the result of random sand grains blowing randomly. Do you know what the chances are of those grains RANDOMLY forming that exact pattern? 4.87 x googolplex to one! Therefore Jesus did it. And if you refuse to believe that and teach that it’s the result of undirected, random, materialistic forces, then you’re going to hell. And it’s illegal for me not to be able to teach that it’s the result of Divine Design in American public schools, since several of us believe that.

There, I’ve done it all for you, Byers. Did I miss anything?

Yes, it is intelligible.

dpr

Arrakis… Dune… Desert planet…

Ripples are indeed from laws and order and not happenchance. Ripples are formed by any moving force. so they are found etched in stone where created by moving water and vortices in a sudden event. So while in a dune here it does allow the ripples to move it is only after the fact. At any one point the creation is finished.

I have read about the effects of sound and sand. there is the famous case of the roaring sound from sand dunes in africa etc. so indeed noise must be interfered with. I believe they still have not figured out the mechanism for roaring sand avalanches.

Its interesting that they say it is not the sand but the dust that in many deserts carves out bedrock or any rock protrusion in deserts.

Its also interesting, and desirable to creationism, that its believed in the past there was great sand movement and now very little. This fits post flood models of great changes on earth happening quickly and making results. Not slow processes as is often invoked for everything.

Thanks for another great picture, Matt.

Robert Byers said:

…So while in a dune here it does allow the ripples to move it is only after the fact. At any one point the creation is finished.

…so indeed noise must be interfered with.

…its believed in the past there was great sand movement and now very little.

Doesn’t it strike you that those first two snips are unintelligible? What the HELL do they mean? That last bit–who is it exactly that believes that? Lots of really bizarre things are “believed” about the past by all sorts of crackpots.

Like you.

Hey, why couldn’t God beat Jacob in a wrestling match, even after He cheated?

Just Bob said:

Robert Byers said:

…So while in a dune here it does allow the ripples to move it is only after the fact. At any one point the creation is finished.

…so indeed noise must be interfered with.

…its believed in the past there was great sand movement and now very little.

Doesn’t it strike you that those first two snips are unintelligible?

Actually, you may just have invented some kind of weird Creationist haiku

“ Endless cold science.

“ Why does God not smite their eyes?

“ I miss the olde days. “

Oooh I like this game… more creationist haiku …

I want to believe The world is a dinner plate Must they shoe me globes?

Um, should be “Must the show me globes?”

Of course, this is about art, so “shoe me globes” probably works too.

Aaargh!!!

“Must they show me globes?”

The whole thing is supposed to be…

I want to believe

The world is a dinner plate

Must they show me globes?

See what the *^$#^& trolls are doing to me!?! I can’t even type anymore!

You should see the Verilog I’ve been writing today.

I’m going to go have a cocoa.

The formation of dunes and sand ripples is fairly well understood - the phenomenon being expected wherever a fluid flows horizontally over a loose particulate surface. The fluid will pick up a particle, carry it along slightly above the surface until gravity returns it to the surface some distance ahead. This is called “saltation” (Google it), and results in many examples of self-organized patterns - most commonly in deserts and snow fields by the wind, and in shallow sandy bottoms, where the moving fluid is water in slow regular wave or tidal oscillation. The details (e.g., depth and wavelength) involve the fluid dynamics of the situation (fluid speed and density, particle aero/hydrodynamics, particle interactions, etc.) At the entrance to the Paleo Hall at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, one can find the tracks of giant worms over a field of such sand ripples, looking just like a beach criss-crossed by dune buggies today, but dating from 600 million years ago. Ain’t science grand!

This shows what can happen if you overlook supplied links. Matt Young supplied the perfect reference for this topic - the link under the picture, which contains all you might want to know about the formation of these structures. I apologize for burdening your attention with my meager ramblings on the topic in my previous comment. However, several of the other comments related to acoustic effects in the presence of these wave fields. A flow has a turbulent spectrum with a mean speed - the pressure fluctuations of the turbulence contributing to the wind’s “roar” that we hear. The (fixed) ripple field acts as an acoustic “tuned circuit” that can alter the character of any acoustic spectrum encountering it (e.g., talking, roaring) or even produce new noises through “strumming” by the wind/water flow. Basically, there is nothing really complicated here, but I guess I am carrying on so simply to emphasize that many puzzling or mysterious events require not the intervention of Jesus, but rather just another run through Physics 101. Thus Endeth the Epistle for Today.

Thanks, docent, for helping us to understand how complex, ordered, statistically impossible, “designed” structures can result from completely natural forces of nature.

And beautiful, I might add.

docent said:

This shows what can happen if you overlook supplied links. Matt Young supplied the perfect reference for this topic - the link under the picture, which contains all you might want to know about the formation of these structures. I apologize for burdening your attention with my meager ramblings on the topic in my previous comment. However, several of the other comments related to acoustic effects in the presence of these wave fields. A flow has a turbulent spectrum with a mean speed - the pressure fluctuations of the turbulence contributing to the wind’s “roar” that we hear. The (fixed) ripple field acts as an acoustic “tuned circuit” that can alter the character of any acoustic spectrum encountering it (e.g., talking, roaring) or even produce new noises through “strumming” by the wind/water flow. Basically, there is nothing really complicated here, but I guess I am carrying on so simply to emphasize that many puzzling or mysterious events require not the intervention of Jesus, but rather just another run through Physics 101. Thus Endeth the Epistle for Today.

I’ve read about dunes and so on. Indeed these and many formations are not settled as to origin. I know that about dunes, tranverse etc, they argue either vortices create them this way or that or other ideas kick in. They are often not witnessed or watching them fails to disclose their origin. In fact in glacial issues the origin of formations is hotly fought. The good guys saying they are from mega floods and the bad guys saying they are from slow processes. Origin matters are of past and gone events and so not open to the scientific method and so conclusions are inconclusive.

The noise thing was interesting as to how you put it. Yet i know they still are uncertain about the origin of roaring noise from some minor sand avalanches in Africa and so on. In either case ‘science’ is not going on or not not creative enough to prove its case. Indeed the reason for so much error in origin issues as biblical creationists see it.

Notes to lurkers: Byers keeps saying this over and over. It’s a version of Jack Chick’s “were you there, teacher?”, meant to imply that it’s impossible to know where things come from - what he calls “origins issues” - from material evidence, rather than eyewitness testimony. (Byers will tell you that he’s got a witness to origins. Trouble is, it’s a bit hard to subpoena God.)

The notion is of course idiotic, but it’s also self-seeking. If accepted, it rules out investigation of any phenomenon that’s too fast or too slow, too transient or too gradual, to be directly observed by the human eye. Which is what Byers wants to do with investigation of the age of the earth and the origin of the species.

I’ll leave it to the earth scientists, of which we have a moiety, to correct Byers’ dingbat pronouncements on sand dunes, which are no doubt his usual blend of ignorance and damnfool quackery. For another hilarious example of this, take a look at how he thinks the limestone that was quarried for the Pyramids was originally formed.

Byers, you keep dodging my question. This must be the 5th thread now. WHY CAN’T GOD WRESTLE? Surely your pastor or some fundamentalist website can provide you with a made-up story to explain away the LITERAL story in Genesis, where God can’t get out of Jacob’s grasp, even by cheating with magic, until He “says uncle” by blessing Jacob.

Just Bob said:

But look! It’s so ORGANIZED, in a neat PATTERN! That can’t be the result of random sand grains blowing randomly. Do you know what the chances are of those grains RANDOMLY forming that exact pattern? 4.87 x googolplex to one! Therefore Jesus did it. And if you refuse to believe that and teach that it’s the result of undirected, random, materialistic forces, then you’re going to hell. And it’s illegal for me not to be able to teach that it’s the result of Divine Design in American public schools, since several of us believe that.

There, I’ve done it all for you, Byers. Did I miss anything?

CHUCK NORIS MADE THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Beautiful picture and interesting discussion. There have been a number of non-explicit comparisons made between the sand dunes in this picture and life that we observe. The comparisons I’ve drawn out from comments in this thread are: 1. Organization/pattern/order 2. Intelligibility 3. complexity 4. statistically impossible

From these similarities, and these similarities alone, I believe it was implied that “designed” structures can result from completely natural forces of nature.

Let’s be explicit: what other comparisons can we draw? What dissimilarities can we draw?

Regarding dissimilarities, while sand dunes exhibit organization, intelligibility, and a high degree of statistical improbability in their exact configuration, I would think they actually do not display complexity. Much has been said of the simplicity of sand dunes and how their structure can be explained by reduction to relatively simple mathematical formulas and laws governing their self-organization. Given enough information about the sand dunes and a powerful enough computer, we could compress a representation of them with a fourier transformation or something similar to that. However, DNA is complex in that the information contained within it is not compressible and cannot be explained in terms of reduction to mathematical formulas and laws governing their self-organization. (Granted, while there is a seeming randomness in the placement of individual grains of sand, there still exists a pattern to their placement. I’m willing to listen to arguments in favor of sand dunes being complex, however, so long as you take account of order with statistical randomness/complexity.)

Another dissimilarity between sand dunes and living systems is in the area of high statistical improbability. Sure, this particular formation of sand dune is wildly improbable, but given the presence of sand these quantities and wind you are guaranteed to have some sand dune, and so the statistical probability of having a sand dune is high. Can the same be said for a living system? Given a massive soup of pre-biotic chemicals, is the probability of having a living system of any kind high? Quite the contrary, it is extremely low or statistically impossible.

A third dissimilarity between sand dunes and living systems, specifically DNA, is that while sand dune and DNA both exhibit statistical randomness/complexity, only DNA exhibits specificity. Information is contained in the structure of DNA but not in sand dunes.

What other similarities and dissimilarities do you see?

What other similarities and dissimilarities do you see?

Sand dunes don’t generate more dunes having similar configurations to themselves. Therefore there is no feedback loop acting to adapt the “species” of sand dune to whatever the environment is.

Henry J

Oh, hell. Here we go again.

Okay, Tommy, what, exactly is “specificity”? And how much of it is in, say, a single heme A molecule?

What are the units, and how do you measure them, and why?

Say you end up with a measurement, like 3.17x10^3 phnerbles. Now that you’ve got it, what do you do with it, exactly? What possible use can it be for further investigation?

No cutting and pasting, now, I want to read your explanation of what you just wrote.

btw there is information in sand dunes. If you read the remarks above, the vertical and horizontal parameters of the dunes are indicative of / related to fluid (includes wind) velocity and pressure, and particle size. If you find ‘fossilized’ dunes you can roughly estimate the environment in which they were formed. So your “no information” comment is (also) wrong.

You also need to back up your assertion about ‘pre-biotic’ soup. Which elements does your theory say were present? In what proportions? In what environment? What does your statistical analysis of the chemistry and physics conclude, even approximately, was the probability of… whatever you choose to define as “a living system”? What would count, for you, as a living system?

In short, put up or shut up.

Tommy Hard said:

Given a massive soup of pre-biotic chemicals, is the probability of having a living system of any kind high? Quite the contrary, it is extremely low or statistically impossible.

Here it is again; The Fundamental Misconception of all ID/creationists.

stevaroni said: Um, should be “Must the show me globes?”

For a moment I thought you were being deep and subtle…using “shoe” as a verb, evoking an image of us scientists throwing globes at them in disgust, analogous to what that Iraqi reporter did to Pres. Bush. But that would have to be “must they shoe me with globes,” which I guess has too many syllables.

fnxtr said:

Oh, hell. Here we go again.

Okay, Tommy, what, exactly is “specificity”? And how much of it is in, say, a single heme A molecule?

What are the units, and how do you measure them, and why?

Say you end up with a measurement, like 3.17x10^3 phnerbles. Now that you’ve got it, what do you do with it, exactly? What possible use can it be for further investigation?

No cutting and pasting, now, I want to read your explanation of what you just wrote.

btw there is information in sand dunes. If you read the remarks above, the vertical and horizontal parameters of the dunes are indicative of / related to fluid (includes wind) velocity and pressure, and particle size. If you find ‘fossilized’ dunes you can roughly estimate the environment in which they were formed. So your “no information” comment is (also) wrong.

You also need to back up your assertion about ‘pre-biotic’ soup. Which elements does your theory say were present? In what proportions? In what environment? What does your statistical analysis of the chemistry and physics conclude, even approximately, was the probability of… whatever you choose to define as “a living system”? What would count, for you, as a living system?

In short, put up or shut up.

What is specificity? In my own field of work, software engineering, a computer program is highly specific in it’s information structure in that it cannot tolerate even minor changes. Flip a single 1 to a 0 and you could have a catastrophic system failure. This is not to say there is only one way a piece of software can be written, but that there is syntax and vocabulary which must be strictly adhered to. What is more, even having correct syntax and vocabulary will not guarantee that a catastrophic failure will occur. The use of correct vocabulary and syntax, in the right locations, must follow complex patterns to work. How such a structure is to be quantified I am not exactly sure, but it should be obvious that a computer program is not only complex but also specific in it’s arrangement of 1’s and 0’s. Not any old arrangement will do. The same is true of DNA. Even a single miss copied T, C, G, or A could spell disaster for an organism. There are highly specific instructions for the production of various proteins which manage any number of necessary systems to prevent catastrophic system crashes.

How much specificity is in a heme A molecule? I’m not sure, but maybe you can tell me. How tolerant is a heme A molecule to change? As there are multiple configurations of insulin, there are likely multiple ways a molecule could be made which will perform the same necessary function of a heme A molecule. I’m not sure how to estimate how many different configurations there could be, but likely the number is very small compared with the total possible number of configurations. What is more, of the possible configurations of a ‘heme A’-like molecule, which is the most efficient or optimized? Optimization would seem to be another indication of specificity.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no unique configurations of sand dunes which are necessary for the survival of a sand dune. Any old way will work.

Your comments regarding the information contained in, say, a fossilized sand dune are interesting. Would you say there is no categorical or quantifiable difference between the structure of sand and the structure of your comments? or DNA?

Regarding the supposed prebiotic soup, I have no theory regarding this to my name. I’ll let you pick whatever conditions you find most favorable, so long as you can provide a plausible naturalistic scenario for the occurrence of whatever chemicals you choose, in whatever quantities you want, in whatever environment you want. Given such conditions, is the formation of a self-replicating molecule inevitable like the formation of a sand dune? or even likely?

It would seem to me you are suggesting that the formation of a structure such as DNA is explainable in terms of spontaneous self-organization. Is this accurate?

Lastly, regarding the ‘put up or shut up’ comment, there is no need to be hostile. If your points or mine can stand on their own, great, but posturing isn’t necessary or helpful.

Mike Elzinga said:

Tommy Hard said:

Given a massive soup of pre-biotic chemicals, is the probability of having a living system of any kind high? Quite the contrary, it is extremely low or statistically impossible.

Here it is again; The Fundamental Misconception of all ID/creationists.

I don’t need an essay as a reply (unless it is really necessary) but please explain what misconception I have made. Your comment isn’t specific enough for me to either change my mind or rebut.

Thanks.

Tommy Hard said:

How much specificity is in a heme A molecule? I’m not sure, but maybe you can tell me. How tolerant is a heme A molecule to change? As there are multiple configurations of insulin, there are likely multiple ways a molecule could be made which will perform the same necessary function of a heme A molecule. I’m not sure how to estimate how many different configurations there could be, but likely the number is very small compared with the total possible number of configurations. What is more, of the possible configurations of a ‘heme A’-like molecule, which is the most efficient or optimized? Optimization would seem to be another indication of specificity.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no unique configurations of sand dunes which are necessary for the survival of a sand dune. Any old way will work.

This confusion points to another common misconception of ID/creationists; namely, that what exists in the world of living organisms is a specific goal of some kind of process.

That is often referred to as the “lottery winner fallacy.”

But the reality is that if a similar but slightly different molecule survives, it very likely fills a different niche in its environment.

There are millions upon millions of organisms that exist and have existed on this planet and work for at least some period of time; i.e., they have temporal stability. Just that fact alone should give some idea that many viable outcomes are possible and that probabilities aren’t as low as ID/creationists assert.

Tommy Hard said:

I don’t need an essay as a reply (unless it is really necessary) but please explain what misconception I have made. Your comment isn’t specific enough for me to either change my mind or rebut.

Thanks.

It’s not “spontaneous molecular chaos” at the atomic and molecular level. That belief – common among the ID/creationist leaders and their followers – is dead wrong. There is nothing to “rebut.”

Tommy Hard said: I don’t need an essay as a reply (unless it is really necessary) but please explain what misconception I have made.

Multiplying a set probabilities together is the the equivalent of saying there is no reproduction and no selection: all the pieces of an organism assemble from components in one fell swoop.

(1) This is not what we observe. So the model is just plain inappropriate for modeling life on earth.

(2) This is also not what evolution claims, so it is a bad model of evolution.

(3) Modeling evolution correctly, by adding reproduction and selection, drastically reduces the improbability of getting complex structures. For example, for a simple 28-character “structure,” the random process you suggest, Tommy, will arrive at a specific combination in about 1036 “generations.” But under a reproduction and selection model, it takes on average less than 50 generations.

Tommy sez:

But if you want to chalk everything I say up to observational bias, I might ask, what kind of trees do you see with your axe? That every system can be explained in terms of spontaneous organization?

As far as I know, nothing I’ve heard of has ever required divine intervention.

If you say ID isn’t about divine intervention, you are simply lying, period.

When I don’t understand how something works or came to be, I don’t just throw up my hands and say “It’s impossible. God did it.” That’s just lazy.

And I don’t invent shitty mathematical sleight-of-hand to try validate my a priori commitment to 2000-year-old campfire stories.

Tommy Hard said:

I talked to Dr. Dembski this morning about this point. He clearly affirms the existence of solids, liquids, glasses which fog up, and other spontaneously organizing systems. Have you read the works of ID/creationists such as Dembski, Behe, Abel, Meyer, Wells, and the rest?

Ah, so you are collecting grade points from Dembski.

Tell him that I not only have read all that stuff, but that I have more than enough expertise to understand and critique it; which I have done many times over 40+ years since Morris and Gish introduced the misconceptions and misrepresentations on which Dembski’s writings are founded.

The order od nucleotides in DNA are essentially random in terms of their predictability, a clear counter-argument to the idea that their ordering is the product of spontaneous self-organization.

Also tell Dembski that he knows nothing about condensed matter and organic chemistry.

I know how he does his “calculations”; and I also know far better than he does what his misconceptions are.

Also tell him to learn some physics and chemistry.

Tommy Hard said:

I talked to Dr. Dembski this morning about this point.

Oh Special!

Since you know Wild Bill, next time you see him, could you please ask him to actually define “specified complexity” and tell us how to measure it?

Because, well, “The set complement of random chance” doesn’t really drop into a formula very neatly.

It’s now been about 10 years and 5 books or so, and the “Isaac Newton of Information Theory” still hasn’t gotten around to actually defining his terms in such a way that other people can actually go out and measure the things he’s talking about.

Guess he’s been too busy, huh?

So, um, be a pal and see if you can get him to do that, so that the rest of us (like the engineers among us who actually work with information theory every single day, and actually thought we understood this stuff) can duplicate his math and be amazed at his sheer glory.

Thanks.

I suggest you read Kenneth R. Miller’s “Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul”. Ken has an especially lucid account of a computer simulation that demonstrates how complexity can emerge, almost “spontaneously”:

Tommy Hard said:

DS said:

Tommy wrote:

“DNA, however, is not explainable in terms of an emergent phenomenon. Prove me wrong.”

Well DNA, is explainable in terms of an emergent phenomenon. You prove me wrong. Exactly why do you think that it isn’t? What evidence do you have? Is this the old information argument all over again?

So, please explain what set of emergent phenomenon can create DNA. Isn’t the burdon of proof on you here to demonstrate this? Otherwise it is a matter of faith.

Tommy Hard said:

Eric mentioned that a simple 28-character ‘structure’ will arrive at a specific combination in about 10^36 ‘generations’ if left to random processes. Certainly a much longer sequence of characters is needed to encode the basic structures needed to even untilize RNA.

Of course, calculating the random probability conveniently ignores that evolution is not random, but operates in an iterative feedback loop.

You know, the natural selection part of the RM+NS model.

Once you remember to include that, it’s actually fairly easy to build a experiment to investigate and demonstrate the power of selection, rather than just, ya know, talking about how it won’t work.

(Actually, under the right circumstances, you don’t even have to build the experimental tool. Sometimes you can actually get the tool to build itself)

Gee Tommmy, it’s kinda funny that someone who describes themselves as a software engineer who’s so very interested in this subject that he’s discussed it with “professor Dembski” doesn’t know about any of the seminal research being done on evolutionary programming.

Actually, it’s kinda funny that someone who describes themselves as a software engineer doesn’t just take an hour or two, write some code, and investigate it for himself.

Because, that’s about all the time it took me, and I’m a hardware guy.

Actually, no, it’s not funny at all. it’s just sad.

Not only are you still arguing that heavier-than-air flight is impossible, but you won’t even drive to the airport to check out the opposing argument for yourself.

Tommy,

Maybe you can ask Bill Dembski this question. I tried twice, in person, after the American Museum of Natural History Intelligent Design debate back in the Spring of 2002. I also tried again several times during an e-mail correspondence that we had back in early December 2007. Both times he refused to answer:

How do you calculate the confidence limits of an Explanatory Filter?

Or, to rephrase this slightly differently, what valid statistical test would he propose that would demonstrate that the “result” of an Explanatory Filter analysis would yield a statistically meaningful result, not mere random scatter that’s indistinguishable from anything within a uniform distribution.

I eagerly await reading Bill’s reply.

Sincerely yours,

John

P. S. And please tell him that he’s missed the boat. He ought to be writing the definitive textbook on Klingon Cosmology, especially since there is substantially more proof for that than there will ever be for Intelligent Design creationism.

Tommy Hard said:

I talked to Dr. Dembski this morning about this point. He clearly affirms the existence of solids, liquids, glasses which fog up, and other spontaneously organizing systems.

Since you chose to post your “challenge” here in front of a bunch of real scientists, let me offer you some unsolicited advice about hanging out with pseudo-scientists.

Dembski’s glib acknowledgement of the existence of liquids, solids, and fogged glasses with no further comment betrays some of the most profound blindness we always see among those purporting to be scientists but who aren’t.

Neither you nor Dembski have any idea what those simple phenomena mean, nor do you even grasp the fact that it was an obvious hint plucked from the vast array of phenomena already known and studied in condensed matter physics and organic chemistry.

Dembski already knows that the science community figured out long ago that it is a mistake for any scientist to lend his coattails to a pseudo-scientist in a public “debate” from with the pseudo-scientist gets rewarded with “credibility” and “legitimacy” while spreading misconceptions and mischaracterizations in the public mind.

Dembski knows about the crucible of peer-review because he has systematically avoided it. If he had anything important to say that had such a profound impact on the fields of physics and chemistry as he implies, then he would be submitting his “papers” to journals like Physical Review Letters.

My advice to you is to put as much distance between you and him as you possibly can. Any hope you have for a career in science will be a dead end because of all the misconceptions you will inherit from your association with someone with such ingrained misconceptions and perceptual blindness.

Agreed, Mike. You get a ringing endorsement from me. There are other, substantially far superior, role models for Tommy to emulate if he is really serious about embarking on a scientific career. Bill Dembski lost any semblance he had had with the professional scientific community a long time ago by walking away from peer-reviewed scientific research and by engaging in harsh attacks upon his critics and other, rather unseemly behavior (e. g. falsely accusing eminent University of Texas ecologist Eric Pianka to the Federal Department of Homeland Security as a “potential” bioterrorist and admitting that he stole from Harvard University, a cell animation video) which departs radically from what one might expect from a professor of philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary:

Mike Elzinga said:

Tommy Hard said:

I talked to Dr. Dembski this morning about this point. He clearly affirms the existence of solids, liquids, glasses which fog up, and other spontaneously organizing systems.

Since you chose to post your “challenge” here in front of a bunch of real scientists, let me offer you some unsolicited advice about hanging out with pseudo-scientists.

Dembski’s glib acknowledgement of the existence of liquids, solids, and fogged glasses with no further comment betrays some of the most profound blindness we always see among those purporting to be scientists but who aren’t.

Neither you nor Dembski have any idea what those simple phenomena mean, nor do you even grasp the fact that it was an obvious hint plucked from the vast array of phenomena already known and studied in condensed matter physics and organic chemistry.

Dembski already knows that the science community figured out long ago that it is a mistake for any scientist to lend his coattails to a pseudo-scientist in a public “debate” from with the pseudo-scientist gets rewarded with “credibility” and “legitimacy” while spreading misconceptions and mischaracterizations in the public mind.

Dembski knows about the crucible of peer-review because he has systematically avoided it. If he had anything important to say that had such a profound impact on the fields of physics and chemistry as he implies, then he would be submitting his “papers” to journals like Physical Review Letters.

My advice to you is to put as much distance between you and him as you possibly can. Any hope you have for a career in science will be a dead end because of all the misconceptions you will inherit from your association with someone with such ingrained misconceptions and perceptual blindness.

A typo, so am correcting this:

Agreed, Mike. You get a ringing endorsement from me. There are other, substantially far superior, role models for Tommy to emulate if he is really serious about embarking on a scientific career. Bill Dembski lost any semblance of credibility he may have had with the professional scientific community a long time ago by walking away from peer-reviewed scientific research, by proposing religiously-derived pseudoscientific nonsense like Specified Complexity and the Explanatory Filter, and by engaging in harsh attacks upon his critics and other, rather unseemly behavior (e. g. falsely accusing eminent University of Texas ecologist Eric Pianka to the Federal Department of Homeland Security as a “potential” bioterrorist and admitting that he stole from Harvard University, a cell animation video) which departs radically from what one might expect from a professor of philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Mike Elzinga said:

Tommy Hard said:

I talked to Dr. Dembski this morning about this point. He clearly affirms the existence of solids, liquids, glasses which fog up, and other spontaneously organizing systems. Have you read the works of ID/creationists such as Dembski, Behe, Abel, Meyer, Wells, and the rest?

Ah, so you are collecting grade points from Dembski.

Tell him that I not only have read all that stuff, but that I have more than enough expertise to understand and critique it; which I have done many times over 40+ years since Morris and Gish introduced the misconceptions and misrepresentations on which Dembski’s writings are founded.

The order od nucleotides in DNA are essentially random in terms of their predictability, a clear counter-argument to the idea that their ordering is the product of spontaneous self-organization.

Also tell Dembski that he knows nothing about condensed matter and organic chemistry.

I know how he does his “calculations”; and I also know far better than he does what his misconceptions are.

Also tell him to learn some physics and chemistry.

In addressing this landslide of comments, let me first say that I speak for myself and no one else. I simply asked him, since he was named as someone who does not believe in solids or liquids, if he in fact believes in solids and liquids, and he does. This goes to show that the writings and thoughts of ID’ers are mis characterized, as I see clearly my own position here is being mis characterized. If you wish to insult him, you can call or email him yourself.

Tommy Hard said:

This goes to show that the writings and thoughts of ID’ers are mis characterized, as I see clearly my own position here is being mis characterized. If you wish to insult him, you can call or email him yourself.

Dembski already knows this; the comment was meant to inform you.

Stop being so dense.

Tommy Hard said:

In addressing this landslide of comments, let me first say that I speak for myself and no one else. I simply asked him, since he was named as someone who does not believe in solids or liquids, if he in fact believes in solids and liquids, and he does.

My grandmother believes in solids, liquids and gasses (understandable, seeing as most of these come out of my grandfather with great frequency).

She also demonstrably doesn’t know jack about actual science, is unwilling to defend the “theory of specified complexity” in an academic situation and has never published a peer-reviewed paper in any journal.

So my grandmother and Bill Dembski are apparently equally qualified to opine on this stuff.

Comfortingly, this is pretty much what I’ve always suspected.

stevaroni said:

Tommy Hard said:

Eric mentioned that a simple 28-character ‘structure’ will arrive at a specific combination in about 10^36 ‘generations’ if left to random processes. Certainly a much longer sequence of characters is needed to encode the basic structures needed to even untilize RNA.

Of course, calculating the random probability conveniently ignores that evolution is not random, but operates in an iterative feedback loop.

You know, the natural selection part of the RM+NS model.

Once you remember to include that, it’s actually fairly easy to build a experiment to investigate and demonstrate the power of selection, rather than just, ya know, talking about how it won’t work.

Stevaroni, I’m glad someone finally got back to the weasel program which eric mentioned but was not willing to address. This is an excellent example of artificial selection. For this program to work METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL must be supplied to the program by which the fitness algorithm checks the results. Evolution is supposed to be blind and without a goal, so what do you do? Supply it a goal by giving it a target phrase. Evolution is also supposed to be blind. So what do you do? Give the program eyesight and the ability to compare its results with this pre-supplied information. The very information which you are trying to produce is already contained within the program, the genesis of which you are claiming to simulate by this process. All you are doing is generating a known string of information in a partially random manner. FAIL.

(Actually, under the right circumstances, you don’t even have to build the experimental tool. Sometimes you can actually get the tool to build itself)

Gee Tommmy, it’s kinda funny that someone who describes themselves as a software engineer who’s so very interested in this subject that he’s discussed it with “professor Dembski” doesn’t know about any of the seminal research being done on evolutionary programming.

Actually, it’s kinda funny that someone who describes themselves as a software engineer doesn’t just take an hour or two, write some code, and investigate it for himself.

Because, that’s about all the time it took me, and I’m a hardware guy.

Actually, no, it’s not funny at all. it’s just sad.

Not only are you still arguing that heavier-than-air flight is impossible, but you won’t even drive to the airport to check out the opposing argument for yourself.

As you have said, it shows that you have only spent an hour or two in (arguably) intelligently designing a fitness algorithm. You assume, wrongly, that I know nothing of evolutionary programming. When you supply an intelligently designed program with a goal, you are sure to have great results. Thanks for making my case for me.

Your rationale for questioning Dembski and then using his answer to prove your own inane conclusion that Intelligent Design creationists like Dembski are “mis characterized” (sic) is inexcusable. It merely demonstrates your own abysmal lack of intellectual credibility IMHO.

Again, I agree with Mike:

“Stop being so dense”.

You are not dealing with a mere innocent in William A. Dembski. Instead, you are dealing with someone who could be described as the “Josef Goebbels of the Intelligent Design Movement”, with someone who has resorted frequently to lies, censorship, and even theft (in the case of admitting that he stole the Harvard University cell animation video that he used in his talks around the country in the Fall of 2007) in order to promote his intellectually indefensible positions, acting by means which his “savior”, Jesus Christ, would regard as morally repugnant and inexcusable from someone claiming to be one of his servants (On the other hand, Dembski’s behavior is entirely consistent with what one might expect from someone whose real master is Lucifer.).

Would you give William Dembski the same benefit of doubt if he was Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, or Pol Pot? For goodness sake, I most earnestly would hope not:

Tommy Hard said:

Mike Elzinga said:

Tommy Hard said:

I talked to Dr. Dembski this morning about this point. He clearly affirms the existence of solids, liquids, glasses which fog up, and other spontaneously organizing systems. Have you read the works of ID/creationists such as Dembski, Behe, Abel, Meyer, Wells, and the rest?

Ah, so you are collecting grade points from Dembski.

Tell him that I not only have read all that stuff, but that I have more than enough expertise to understand and critique it; which I have done many times over 40+ years since Morris and Gish introduced the misconceptions and misrepresentations on which Dembski’s writings are founded.

The order od nucleotides in DNA are essentially random in terms of their predictability, a clear counter-argument to the idea that their ordering is the product of spontaneous self-organization.

Also tell Dembski that he knows nothing about condensed matter and organic chemistry.

I know how he does his “calculations”; and I also know far better than he does what his misconceptions are.

Also tell him to learn some physics and chemistry.

In addressing this landslide of comments, let me first say that I speak for myself and no one else. I simply asked him, since he was named as someone who does not believe in solids or liquids, if he in fact believes in solids and liquids, and he does. This goes to show that the writings and thoughts of ID’ers are mis characterized, as I see clearly my own position here is being mis characterized. If you wish to insult him, you can call or email him yourself.

John Kwok said:

A typo, so am correcting this:

Agreed, Mike. You get a ringing endorsement from me. There are other, substantially far superior, role models for Tommy to emulate if he is really serious about embarking on a scientific career. Bill Dembski lost any semblance of credibility he may have had with the professional scientific community a long time ago by walking away from peer-reviewed scientific research, by proposing religiously-derived pseudoscientific nonsense like Specified Complexity and the Explanatory Filter, and by engaging in harsh attacks upon his critics and other, rather unseemly behavior (e. g. falsely accusing eminent University of Texas ecologist Eric Pianka to the Federal Department of Homeland Security as a “potential” bioterrorist and admitting that he stole from Harvard University, a cell animation video) which departs radically from what one might expect from a professor of philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

John Kwok and Mike Elzinga, than you both for your career advice. Now back to the subject matter at hand.

Mental note: when on a discussion board and someone tells a lie, for heaven’s sake don’t mention that you fact checked their lie.

Tommy Hard said:

Stevaroni, I’m glad someone finally got back to the weasel program which eric mentioned but was not willing to address. This is an excellent example of artificial selection. For this program to work METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL must be supplied to the program by which the fitness algorithm checks the results. Evolution is supposed to be blind and without a goal, so what do you do? Supply it a goal by giving it a target phrase. Evolution is also supposed to be blind. So what do you do? Give the program eyesight and the ability to compare its results with this pre-supplied information. The very information which you are trying to produce is already contained within the program, the genesis of which you are claiming to simulate by this process. All you are doing is generating a known string of information in a partially random manner. FAIL.

Dembski and Marks have the same misconceptions as you do. I have referred to it as “The Fundamental Misconception of ID/creationism.”

You also have the same misconceptions about the laws of thermodynamics and the concept of entropy.

You still haven’t grasped the significance of condensed matter and organic chemistry even though you were advised that those little hints you asked Dembski about were extremely important.

You still insist that scientists are not allowed to put into their algorithms the strategies that are actually found in nature and are understood by science.

You still think that solutions by genetic algorithms are selected at random from essentially infinite solution sets.

You apparently don’t even know that solving equations and sets of partial differential equations makes use of things like continuity, differentiability, analyticity and whatever else can be use to converge on a solution.

You don’t know that Dembski and Marks “active information” is actually a ploy by them to accuse scientists of putting the answer into their programs when in fact scientists put in the strategies nature uses and discover that the programs end up producing what is actually observed in nature.

You still don’t know what the Weasel program illustrates; you think the answer was smuggled in.

You don’t know anything about potential energy wells and what it means to stay in them without bouncing back out. And you certainly don’t know what any of this has to do with genetic algorithms.

You are so far off track and out of the ballpark that you currently have no hope of converging on an understanding of how science, particularly physics and chemistry, really works.

You really need to take my advice in my previous post.

You’re utterly delusional and quite literally a prime example of what I have described more than once as a Dishonesty Institute IDiot Borg drone. Dembski admitted that he reported ecologist Eric Pianka as a potential bioterrorist to the Federal Department of Homeland Security in 2006 (Pianka was subsequently investigated by the Feds), that he stole the Harvard University video in question on his website, Uncommon Descent. So obviously you haven’t done a good job in fact checking, my dear delusional Dishonesty Institute IDiot Borg drone:

Tommy Hard said:

Mental note: when on a discussion board and someone tells a lie, for heaven’s sake don’t mention that you fact checked their lie.

Tommy Hard said:

Mental note: when on a discussion board and someone tells a lie, for heaven’s sake don’t mention that you fact checked their lie.

While you are making your mental notes, you would do well to spend some concentrated learning on the following links.

Discussion of the Dembski & Marks paper.

Another D&M paper discussion

Weasel Program discussion

Entropy and Evolution

Second Law

You might find that we aren’t quite as ignorant and misrepresentative as you have been told.

When you finish with that, I can point you to far more.

Tommy Hard said:

Stevaroni, I’m glad someone finally got back to the weasel program which eric mentioned but was not willing to address. This is an excellent example of artificial selection.

So?

Weasel is not purported to model natural selection. That natural selection exists is amply demonstrated and not in question.

Weasel does one thing, and that is to demonstrate that active selection combined with iteration provides phenomenal system gain, allowing the program to quickly on a solution that would be impossible with random chance.

The issue of artificial versus natural selection is an immaterial red herring because that’s not the question Weasel is trying to address. (though, if it were, I would address you again to the Creapau paper, which I note, you are studiously avoiding)

Unless you’re advocating the idea that there is no selection pressure in nature, Weasel demonstrates that the select/iterate model will have a phenomenal effect on system tracking.

Is it your assertion that there is no selection pressure in nature?

Because, if this is your experience, I assure you, you went to the only high school on earth where the cool jocks didn’t have better luck than the geeks at bedding the hot cheerleaders.

More disturbing than your magical upbringing is what, for a software engineer, seems to be your baffling unfamiliarity with control theory.

This is feedback loop 101, Tommy. There is actual math that describes it. math that you should have learned in sophomore year. Perhaps engineering is no longer the rigorous, reality based discipline it was back when I went through the mill.

You’re not going to Baylor, where science takes a back seat to Bible study, are you?

For this program to work METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL must be supplied to the program by which the fitness algorithm checks the results.

Again, So?

Please explain exactly the form of the test invalidates the demonstration of difference in system gain with and without selection.

If you don’t have some test, no matter how arbitrary, how do you purport to assign fitness?

Evolution is supposed to be blind and without a goal, so what do you do? Supply it a goal by giving it a target phrase. Evolution is also supposed to be blind. So what do you do? Give the program eyesight and the ability to compare its results with this pre-supplied information.

Who told you evolution has no goal. of course evolution has a goal, and it’s a simple one. Survive long enough to have viable offspring. That is, in fact, pretty much the only thing evolution cares about, and to that end evolution is perfectly happy to craft solutions that are detrimental to the individual in search of fulfilling the overriding goal.

I’m not the first to note that colorful male birds not only get laid more, but get eaten at a dramatically higher rate by predators.

What evolution does not have is a specific solution.

“Avoid getting eaten by the lions” has multiple possible solutions. You can get fast, liek gazelle, you can climb trees, like monkeys, you can get big, like elephants, or learn to burrow, like meerkats.

There are myriad ways to solve “don’t get eaten by lions”, but there is only one solution to a test that requires 28 specific letters in 28 specific memory locations.

In this regard Weasel programs actually solve a much more difficult problem than mother nature does, yet, Weasel programs always converge, a result that, looking at the sheer random numbers, creationist “information theory” says can’t ever happen.

The very information which you are trying to produce is already contained within the program, the genesis of which you are claiming to simulate by this process. All you are doing is generating a known string of information in a partially random manner.

And you’re still not addressing the Creapau paper, which is far, far more interesting than Weasel for the sheer reason that path to the solution is not specified.

You assume, wrongly, that I know nothing of evolutionary programming. When you supply an intelligently designed program with a goal, you are sure to have great results. Thanks for making my case for me.

I need to assume nothing.

You have already demonstrated an inability to understand the underpinnings by conflating the goal, the control loop and the algorithm.

If you are capable of writing a program like this yet incapable of understanding exactly what your program is actually testing, I already know all I need to know about your engineering abilities.

Oops, I lost a block quote there, Just for the record, the Italics in the middle would have been a quote from Tommy (don’t want to be accused of using your words without attribution, Tommy)…

For this program to work METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL must be supplied to the program by which the fitness algorithm checks the results.

Again, So?

Please explain exactly the form of the test invalidates the demonstration of difference in system gain with and without selection.

If you don’t have some test, no matter how arbitrary, how do you purport to assign fitness?

Evolution is supposed to be blind and without a goal, so what do you do? Supply it a goal by giving it a target phrase. Evolution is also supposed to be blind. So what do you do? Give the program eyesight and the ability to compare its results with this pre-supplied information.

Who told you evolution has no goal. of course evolution has a goal, and it’s a simple one. Survive long enough to have viable offspring. That is, in fact, pretty much the only thing evolution cares about, and to that end evolution is perfectly happy to craft solutions that are detrimental to the individual in search of fulfilling the overriding goal.

I’m not the first to note that colorful male birds not only get laid more, but get eaten at a dramatically higher rate by predators.

What evolution does not have is a specific solution.

(etc…)

Tommy Hard said:

Mental note: when on a discussion board and someone tells a lie, for heaven’s sake don’t mention that you fact checked their lie.

Which lie was that, Tommy?

This is a board where lots of creationists post, so we get lots of lies here. Be specific.

The Weasel program illustrates one aspect of evolution theory; it doesn’t simulate the whole thing, nor was it intended to do so. In natural evolution the “goal” is to produce offspring, using whatever tactics can be reached by small genetic changes to the existing genomes, then spreading the genes that produced those tactics.

(I put “goal” in quotes because the literal meaning of that word is not what is meant here.)

Henry J

Tommy: It is important to remember that a theory is a testable explanation for a body of facts. ID is not a theory because there is no explanation and nothing to test. What we need is something along the lines of “if I do this experiment and get these results, ID will have been falsified.” Note: a theory makes no reference to alternative theories. ID consists solely of assertions and long-refuted criticisms of the theory of evolution. No-one has ever made a falsifiable prediction using it.

While chatting with the Good Doctor, you might like to ask him which definition of irreducible complexity he prefers. The one which was first called interlocking complexity when it was a predicted consequence of evolution, or one of the other versions? You might also like to ask him how complex specified information is measured, what the units are, and if there is more in an Amoeba proteus,a human or a potted begonia.

Henry J said:

The Weasel program illustrates one aspect of evolution theory; it doesn’t simulate the whole thing, nor was it intended to do so. In natural evolution the “goal” is to produce offspring, using whatever tactics can be reached by small genetic changes to the existing genomes, then spreading the genes that produced those tactics.

(I put “goal” in quotes because the literal meaning of that word is not what is meant here.)

Henry J

A more careful way to put it is that what shows up in the next generation will more probably be the offspring of parents that got through a complex and contingent sieve of selection events to reproduce.

And they might not have been the “best” possible parents either. The winners are simply the winners.

Tommy -

Bill Dembski has a M. S. degree in Statistics from the University of Illinois and a Ph. D. in Mathematics from the University of Chicago. Since his knowledge of both probability theory and statistics is supposedly superior than mine - since I am merely a former evolutionary biologist who took courses in biostatistics, not in theoretical statistics - care to speculate as to how come he can’t answer this basic question in statistics:

How do you calculate the confidence limits of an Explanatory Filter?

And indeed, given his ample training in probability and statistics, he ought to be able to do this:

Or, to rephrase this slightly differently, what valid statistical test would he propose that would demonstrate that the “result” of an Explanatory Filter analysis would yield a statistically meaningful result, not mere random scatter that’s indistinguishable from anything within a uniform distribution.

Am looking forward to Dr. William A. Dembski’s response as conveyed by you.

Respectfully submitted,

John Kwok

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on February 8, 2010 12:00 PM.

Freshwater: Dumpster diving for docs? was the previous entry in this blog.

Freshwater: The police report is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter