A Journal Imposes Order, Rejects High Entropy Submission

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Asserting that the Second Law of Thermodynamics (2LoT) means that evolution is false is a perennial favorite out of the ensemble of religious antievolution arguments. It takes a subsection of the Index to Creationist Claims to cover the various ways it most often gets presented by a religious antievolutionist. The TalkOrigins Archive has a series of longer responses to the sometimes bizarre range of 2LoT folderol coughed up by religious antievolutionists. Even “Answers in Genesis” notes that one variant, that 2LoT started with “The Fall”, is among arguments that should never be used.

So what can one make of a recent attempt to publish a batch of 2LoT religious antievolution as if it were a genuine scientific contribution? E. Granville Sewell, a mathematician at the University of Texas at El Paso and “intelligent design” creationism (IDC) advocate, submitted a manuscript to Applied Mathematical Letters (AML) titled, “A second look at the second law”. AML apparently indicated acceptance of the manuscript to Sewell, leading to gloating on an IDC blog. That in turn led to action by David vun Kannon from the “After the Bar Closes” forum, who wrote the editors at AML to point out the problem. AML responded to vun Kannon, saying that they were withdrawing the manuscript.

More below the fold.

Let’s take a bit and consider the content of Sewell’s essay. I’ve found three other texts by Sewell related to this topic starting back in the year 2000.

[S2000] 2000, Granville Sewell, A mathematician’s view of evolution, The Mathematical Intelligencer.

[S2001] 2001, Granville Sewell, Can ANYTHING happen in an open system?, The Mathematical Intelligencer.

[S2005] 2005, Granville Sewell, Evolution’s thermodynamic failure, The American Spectator.

[S2011] 2011, Granville Sewell, A second look at the second law, submitted to Applied Mathematics Letters.

It isn’t like Sewell wrote this sequence in a vacuum, as searching for these items also shows critics having their say about the texts. Notable among these would be PT contributor Mark Perakh’s thorough demolition of [S2005] in a 2006 PT post (also posted to TalkReason). So there is a record of forceful corrections of manifold errors on Sewell’s part prior to the latest outing.

Here’s a question: did Sewell manage to account for the criticisms and deliver something more substantive this time?

And here’s an answer: No.

I ran the text from each of the sources through my matching text finding script. I did this a few years ago for several related texts from Stephen Meyer, as you may remember.

Sources
[S2005] [S2001] [S2000]
[S2011] 24% 15% 6%
[S2005] 11% 2%
[S2001] 2%

A whopping 24% of Sewell’s latest essay is taken from his 2005 American Spectator article. That looks a lot like republication to me and not careful reconsideration.

Predictably, the idea that any established journal would publish such bafflegab was greeted with joy over at William Dembski’s Uncommon Descent blog.

My script’s output for comparison of two texts includes a report of what, exactly, was considered to match between the two. This can turn up some interesting tidbits. For example, one finds this in [S2005]:

we can say that the thermal order can never increase in a closed isolated system

(Note: for processing, my script strips punctuation and pretty much anything but letters, numbers, and spaces. I’m not adding those back here.)

And here’s the match from 2011:

we can say that the thermal order can never increase in a closed system

Did Sewell figure out the difference in definitions that are used in thermodynamics in between 2005 and 2011, where closed indicates a system where matter does not cross the boundary but energy may, and isolated indicates a system where neither energy nor matter can cross the boundary? Once one knows that, one tends not to use “closed” and “isolated” to describe the same system, since the two terms mean different things. Getting back to Sewell, we have to again answer, no, he appears not to have learned something in the interim. At the beginning of the paragraph from [S2011] that the match above came from, we find this:

From (5), it follows that St ≥ 0 in an isolated, closed, system, where there is no heat flux through the boundary (J•n = 0).

Oops. I don’t know why Sewell modified the last sentence in the paragraph, but it doesn’t seem to be obviously due to an increase in knowledge on his part.

Sewell’s argument from [S2005] carries over into [S2011]. Rather than deal with the problems noted by Perakh, Sewell just ornaments what he said in [S2005], changing several references to “order” and “entropy” into “X-order” and “X-entropy” but otherwise leaving the text the same. Perakh succinctly dismantled the whole edifice of Sewell’s “order” talk:

While expressions like “entropy flows into the system,” are common in thermodynamics, they are just metaphors. Entropy is not a substance which can literally “flow” from or into a system. Entropy is a measure of disorder and the actual mechanism of its decrease in one place and accompanying increase in another place is statistical. It is realized via random motion of particles chaotically exchanging their energy and momenta through collisions. Likewise, expression like “order is imported,” have no literal meaning, but Sewell uses such expressions as if they reflect the actual influx (“import”) or outflow (“export”) of some non-existing substance called “order.” This metaphoric language sheds no additional light on the discussed phenomena, more so because his expressions like “temperature distribution becomes less random” are simply confusing as the temperature is essentially a macroscopic quantity having no meaning for infinitesimally small volumes and therefore a distribution function for temperature cannot be defined.

Calling it “X-order” instead isn’t responsive to the criticism.

Given the rather obvious problems in the essay, one wonders how it passed review at AML. Ervin Rodin at AML described it as “hastiness” in his reply to David vun Kannon. That’s where Rodin also said that Sewell’s essay [S2011] was being withdrawn from AML.

So we have another instance of religious antievolutionism where, instead of engaging in science to change science, someone simply tried repeating the same old tired arguments from the same ensemble, gussied up with formulas and cool neologisms (“X-order”… that’s kinda like “X-Men”, eh?). Not every journal has the wherewithal to deal with the deliberate gaming of the system that is second nature to the religious antievolution movement. Fortunately, it appears that AML is among those willing to take action when such is pointed out.

One thing Sewell did was quote Isaac Asimov to the effect that entropy decreases on earth were explainable due to a corresponding and larger entropy increase in the sun. Sewell, though, didn’t note this as a plain error. That is despite Chris Ho-Stuart patiently explaining how, in fact, the sun is undergoing a decrease in entropy, as is the earth, and supports that with calculations. It seems that Sewell missed a chance to put Asimov firmly in his place, but it would have required paying attention to sources of critical commentary.

What about Sewell himself? He closed [S2011] as he did [S2005], with this paragraph:

Of course, one can still argue that the spectacular increase in order seen on Earth does not violate the second law because what has happened here is not really extremely improbable. Not many people are willing to make this argument, however; in fact, the claim that the second law does not apply to open systems was invented in an attempt to avoid having to make this argument. And perhaps it only seems extremely improbable, but really is not, that, under the right conditions, the influx of stellar energy into a planet could cause atoms to rearrange themselves into nuclear power plants and spaceships and digital computers. But one would think that at least this would be considered an open question, and those who argue that it really is extremely improbable, and thus contrary to the basic principle underlying the second law of thermodynamics, would be given a measure of respect, and taken seriously by their colleagues, but we are not.

Is that really a paragraph that belongs in a mathematical publication? It doesn’t seem that way. There’s a couple of forms of respect at play here. There’s a kind of default position that, in ignorance of what someone says or does, one tends to accord respect proportional to the perceived status of that person’s position. We tend to think that institutions generally chose their faculty with care, so the bare fact that one is a professor will get one a modicum of respect right off the bat. But that provisional allocation of respect gets modified as we learn more about the person in question. For some, their accomplishments in their field bring even greater amounts of respect. For others, the record may instead show signs of taking up crank causes, recycling long-rebutted arguments, using fallacious reasoning, and refusing to take note of or even attempting to rebut critical commentary. The amount of respect such people get is low, and deservedly so. Sewell is not arguing anything new here. The religious antievolution fascination with the 2LoT goes back decades. All Sewell brought to the table was a willingness to reify “order” in a particular way his predecessors hadn’t. And Sewell sought to republish a substantial amount of a lay publication in a journal, a behavior that tends to reduce respect for those engaging in it.

All in all, one need not tender respect for badly argued balderdash that is long past its expiration date, and one isn’t likely to think better of people who push it as if it were valid.

176 Comments

I have occasionally come across statements by creationists that Henry Morris may have obtained the idea for his evolution vs. the second law of thermodynamics argument from A.E. Wilder-Smith. And the earliest I have been able to trace Morris’s thermodynamics argument would place the development of the argument back in the 1960s, with its active use beginning around 1973.

At any rate, the argument was recognized to be blatantly stupid back then; and it was repeatedly debunked as misrepresentative and wrong by a number of us dealing with these issues locally and with little awareness of just how extensively these misconceptions were being propagated nationwide.

But the pattern with this, as with all ID/creationist arguments, is that they will turn right around and reuse it in any new venue where the audiences haven’t heard the refutations.

And if the heat was really put on them, the ID/creationists would cease using the argument for a period of time, but then suddenly pull it out of their arsenal again as though everyone should have forgotten it by now.

And here is Sewell attempting the same crap again in 2011.

This pattern of behavior needs to be documented just as thoroughly as the bad arguments themselves. People need to see this behavior in order to understand exactly what these IDiots are. In the talks I used to give, this is what I did; and it was more effective than the counter examples and comparisons with real science themselves.

Future generations of antievolution fighters must never forget these behaviors. They mark antievolutionists not simply as naive and a bit dim-witted, but as active, underhanded bastards with no moral scruples whatsoever. And that is how they need to be seen.

The calculation that the sun is decreasing in entropy is based on it having an outgoing energy flux and estimating based on dQ ~ dS/T ; since dQ is negative (outgoing) so is dS.

But does this calculation take account of nuclear fusion in the Sun’s core? I had understood that the process, of hydrogen fusing to helium plus neutrinos and radiation, involved an increase in entropy. I gather the argument is that the helium remains in the core while the radiation escapes into the cold universe, so it’s the cold universe that increases in entropy; but again, given the density of the solar core, it takes a very long time for photons to diffuse out to the surface and escape.

SAWells said:

The calculation that the sun is decreasing in entropy is based on it having an outgoing energy flux and estimating based on dQ ~ dS/T ; since dQ is negative (outgoing) so is dS.

But does this calculation take account of nuclear fusion in the Sun’s core? I had understood that the process, of hydrogen fusing to helium plus neutrinos and radiation, involved an increase in entropy. I gather the argument is that the helium remains in the core while the radiation escapes into the cold universe, so it’s the cold universe that increases in entropy; but again, given the density of the solar core, it takes a very long time for photons to diffuse out to the surface and escape.

Look up the Virial Theorem.

In a gravitational well, if a collection of particles falls two units of energy deeper into the gravitational potential well, one unit goes into the kinetic energy of the particles and the other goes off into space.

When the kinetic energy among particles is great enough, they then slam into each other enough to fuse into heavier elements. And there are a number of routes along the way.

This fusion releases energy in the form of photons and neutrinos and some other particles that carry large enough amounts of energy to take them out of the gravitational well.

In every detailed case, falling into wells and staying there requires a release of energy. That’s how matter condenses.

And, by the way, particles in gravitational wells are unstable and have a negative heat capacity. They increase in temperature as they loose energy falling deeper into the well. Increasing temperature causes the particles to radiate more energy which releases more energy from the system which then drops deeper into the well, etc.

Here’s something I’ve been wondering about this whole stupid second law argument.

Creationists claim that the second law prohibits natural processes from causing “atoms to rearrange themselves into nuclear power plants and spaceships and digital computers.”

Does this mean that humans, who can in fact cause atoms to do these very things, are supernatural? Does it mean that other species that make tools are supernatural?

Inquiring minds want to know …

SWT said:

Here’s something I’ve been wondering about this whole stupid second law argument.

Creationists claim that the second law prohibits natural processes from causing “atoms to rearrange themselves into nuclear power plants and spaceships and digital computers.”

Does this mean that humans, who can in fact cause atoms to do these very things, are supernatural? Does it mean that other species that make tools are supernatural?

Inquiring minds want to know …

Humans frozen to near absolute zero would have less entropy and therefore be more intelligent. If they were put into a non-degenerate ground state, their entropy would be zero and they would be infinitely intelligent and could therefore do anything.

This would also apply to e-coli.

Therefore, all creatures approaching absolute zero temperature would become equally and infinitely intelligent.

Mike Elzinga said:

Therefore, all creatures approaching absolute zero temperature would become equally and infinitely intelligent.

Awesome! I’m going to sit in my fridge with the beer and think about this further.

Note also that Sewell’s argument also means that the 2LoT disallows development of a zygote into an adult. Or of a building from a pile of bricks.

Seems to me that according to Sewell, the universe is in a condition of absolute stasis. Silly me who always have thought that the (a) static universe would be uncountable zillions of years into the future, and maybe not even then…

F to AML

Ummm,

Given that Prigogine *demonstrated* self ordering closed thermodynamic systems, and presumably open ones too, way back in the seventies.….

Given that, it seems that nothing could be more idle than vapid speculations about the impossibility of same.

Rusty

One thing that I have long wondered about the 2LoT argument is that it assumes without evidence that an intelligent designer is not subject to the law. But my understanding of the history of the laws of thermodynamics is that they were discovered precisely because of the limitations on the clever engineers of the Industrial Revolution. Intelligent Designers are limited by the laws of thermodynamics, just as they are by all the other laws of nature. One can discover laws of nature by doing experiments in the lab.

It would be as if someone were to claim to explain how airplanes fly, contrary to the law of gravity, by pointing out that airplanes are intelligently designed.

TomS said: It would be as if someone were to claim to explain how airplanes fly, contrary to the law of gravity, by pointing out that airplanes are intelligently designed.

This is one of the oddities of the way the SLOT argument is presented. It’s pushed as a proof of INTELLIGENT Design but, as presented, it’s a proof of SUPERNATURAL Design.

I think this confusion traces back to the creationist confusion over the definition of the word “supernatural” – instead of recognizing the fact that it’s the logical equivalent of pulling a rabbit out of a hat, they try to imply that the supernatural is, actually, natural, while simultaneously saying it isn’t.

Thanks Wesley for yet another superb instance of sleuthing on your part, which merely exposes Sewell as the duplicitous and intellectually lazy fraud that he is. However, if I may, I should note that while Uncommon Descent was founded by our mutual “pal” Dembski, it is no longer solely under his control, and, in fact, it seems as though Denyse O’Leary has become the prominent IDiot who posts there most often.

Mike Elzinga said:

SWT said:

Here’s something I’ve been wondering about this whole stupid second law argument.

Creationists claim that the second law prohibits natural processes from causing “atoms to rearrange themselves into nuclear power plants and spaceships and digital computers.”

Does this mean that humans, who can in fact cause atoms to do these very things, are supernatural? Does it mean that other species that make tools are supernatural?

Inquiring minds want to know …

Humans frozen to near absolute zero would have less entropy and therefore be more intelligent. If they were put into a non-degenerate ground state, their entropy would be zero and they would be infinitely intelligent and could therefore do anything.

This would also apply to e-coli.

Therefore, all creatures approaching absolute zero temperature would become equally and infinitely intelligent.

Doesn’t one of Terry Pratchett’s City Watch trilogy feature a troll who’s locked in a freezer where the temperature becomes low enough for his silcon-based brain to start superconducting making him smart enough to come up with a working Grand Unified Theory ?

Therefore, all creatures approaching absolute zero temperature would become equally and infinitely intelligent.

Then, after the winter we just endured, being buried in snow up to our eyeballs, we should all be smarter. Why didn’t it work on the creos?

Matchstick said:

Doesn’t one of Terry Pratchett’s City Watch trilogy feature a troll who’s locked in a freezer where the temperature becomes low enough for his silcon-based brain to start superconducting making him smart enough to come up with a working Grand Unified Theory ?

On Pratchett’s Diskworld, trolls being based on various minerals, their conductivity and intelligence increase as the temperature drops. Of course, on hot days they think slowly. Constable Detritus of the City Watch has a spring driven cooling fan in his helmet to help him think on hot days.

The king of trolls, Mr. Shine, is diamond-based, and hyper-intelligent.

Wes Elsberry said:

Perakh succinctly dismantled the whole edifice of Sewell’s “order” talk:

… Entropy is a measure of disorder…

Even more succinct would have been:

Thermodynamic entropy is not some universal measure of “disorder”.

Frank Lambert’s entropysite lists 24 top intro chem textbooks that as of August 2010 have now eliminated “disorder” from their description of entropy. (Thanks somewhat to Lambert’s own efforts over the last decade.)

No need to play into the core of Sewell’s confusion.

Cue Disco Tute (my guess is Klingerhoffer) and UD (Dense O’L) on the power of the Darwinian Thought Police Lobby in suppressing viewpoints in 3, 2, 1 …

Open system? Closed system? The universe (as much as we know of it) seems to be a reasonable approximation of a closed system. Perhaps, by definition, it is a closed system since the term universe is meant to mean everything - observed or not.

So entropy is increasing in the universe. I understand this matches observation. The simple fact is that nothing requires that overall requirement of the SLoT for entropy to increase to be uniform. If I add up all the changes in entropy it will be larger as time progresses. Yet, it will not be larger everywhere.

QED

Doc Bill said:

Cue Disco Tute (my guess is Klingerhoffer) and UD (Dense O’L) on the power of the Darwinian Thought Police Lobby in suppressing viewpoints in 3, 2, 1 …

Am actually counting on Casey Luskin, the wannabee backup guitarist of the Katy Perry Band to release his version of “Hot N’ Cold” in response to what he would regard as AML’s bait and switch (Sorry, it wasn’t such, especially since they did not offically tell Sewell that they were going to publish his ms.).

Aldotius said:

F to AML

I disagree. Whatever the failures involved in accepting the paper up front (for example, Sewell could have nominated the reviewers for all I know) Dr Rodin acted promptly and decisively when the matter was brought to his attention. That gets high marks from me.

It should be noted that Sewell published a book through the Discovery Institute last year, and that this material forms a large part of it. (Including the essay My Failed Simulation, which simply inverts part of the argument.) He also has a YouTube video on the topic.

Doc Bill said:

Cue Disco Tute (my guess is Klingerhoffer) and UD (Dense O’L) on the power of the Darwinian Thought Police Lobby in suppressing viewpoints in 3, 2, 1 …

Because there are no right answers in science!

Glen Davidson

I donno, guys. The sun is shining, yet the disorder and chaos on my desk always increases. Maybe Sewell has a point after all.

I’d be a little careful when claiming that Entropy flow or transport into a system is simply a metaphor. I know what you’re getting at. However, in the case of thermal convection in compressible bodies, the energy equation is generally written in terms of the “entropy transport equation”. In which case the boundary conditions effectively represent constraints on entropy flow in or out of the system. In the case of incompressible fluids this reduces to the usual heat transport equation.

“in fact, the claim that the second law does not apply to open systems was invented in an attempt to avoid having to make this argument”

This is wrong. The second law does not in fact apply to open systems. It sometimes is still a useful approximation. It does apply to open systems + surroundings. But that is not what Sewell said.

Its amazing how an otherwise competent mathematician twists himself in knots to make such silly claims.

JohnK said:

Wes Elsberry said:

Perakh succinctly dismantled the whole edifice of Sewell’s “order” talk:

… Entropy is a measure of disorder…

Even more succinct would have been:

Thermodynamic entropy is not some universal measure of “disorder”.

Frank Lambert’s entropysite lists 24 top intro chem textbooks that as of August 2010 have now eliminated “disorder” from their description of entropy. (Thanks somewhat to Lambert’s own efforts over the last decade.)

No need to play into the core of Sewell’s confusion.

I didn’t become aware of Frank Lambert’s efforts until sometime around 2000 or 2001. In fact, even though a number of people in the physics community were trying to deal with the same misconception, I don’t believe any of them were aware of this being an even greater problem among chemists and their textbooks.

One of the problems in dealing with this is that many people in the physics community didn’t see the problem, didn’t have the problem themselves, and tended to view those who were aware of the problem as being overly pedantic.

I’m not even sure that there were many people in the physics community that even knew about the creationist campaign back in the 1970s or 80s.

And the excellent textbooks in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics that have been the staple of physics training don’t make these mistakes. A number of them were in wide use back in the 1960s and 70s and are still used today. These were the books I used; and I still have them.

However, I also have on my shelves several textbooks that were used for liberal arts and non-majors in physics; and these do have this confusion about entropy being disorder.

Today there are many more people in physics who are aware of the issue and are taking steps to address it. However, I don’t know if anyone is addressing this as seriously in the courses for non-majors.

Mike Elzinga said: One of the problems in dealing with this is that many people in the physics community didn’t see the problem, didn’t have the problem themselves, and tended to view those who were aware of the problem as being overly pedantic.

I think entropy COULD be called a form of disorder – take a vessel of hot gas, a sink of cool gas, that’s an ordered system, mixed them together the system has lost order.

The problem is of course that it is a very SPECIFIC sort of disorder and has little or nothing to with the disorder, say, in which we find our house when we let it go for a while, and so use of the term is pointedly confusing, even if Henry Morris hadn’t tried to exploit it.

“Well, you COULD call it disorder.”

“Yes, but you’re not doing yourself a favor by doing so.”

Sewell has twice, if I remember correctly, included a brief appendix to two of his mathematical books Computational Methods in Linear Algebra and/or Analysis of a Finite Element Method asserting the same SLoT bogosity. He didn’t even bother to do the math, but just says that it’s obvious from the earlier work in the book.

I remember seeing this in his books when I was thinking of buying them. I of course put them back on the shelves. It’s quite possible that the rest of the books were superb, but why risk it?

E. Granville Sewell wrote:

And perhaps it only seems extremely improbable, but really is not, that, under the right conditions, the influx of stellar energy into a planet could cause atoms to rearrange themselves into nuclear power plants and spaceships and digital computers.

Indeed, it’s not extremely improbable. Offhand I can think of natural spaceships* and nuclear reactors. Both of these are made possible by the birth and continuing influence of the sun.


*Unmanned, so far as we know.

Intelligent Designer said:

Stanton, do you think that crystals growing out of a medium is information?

Thus, I return to my previous request for you to “define ‘information,’” and my complaint about how Intelligent Design proponents deliberately refuse to define “information” in order to arbitrarily and deliberately disqualify any and all examples presented to them.

Matt G said:

It seems to me that God-acting-in-the-world is a violation of SLoT. I guess this means that it is a miracle that miracles are able to happen.…

That’s excused because it’s GODDIDIT, that’s why.

Intelligent Design proponents don’t want to allow evolution because it isn’t GODDIDIT.

Intelligent Designer said:

Stanton, do you think that crystals growing out of a medium is information?

Better yet, please explain to me why crystals growing out of a medium is not information.

Stanton said:

Intelligent Designer said:

Stanton, do you think that crystals growing out of a medium is information?

Better yet, please explain to me why crystals growing out of a medium is not information.

Stanton,

I asked you a question that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no”. Don’t ask me to write a book (or read one) to try and weasel out of answering a simple question.

Intelligent Designer said:

Stanton said:

Intelligent Designer said:

Stanton, do you think that crystals growing out of a medium is information?

Better yet, please explain to me why crystals growing out of a medium is not information.

Stanton,

I asked you a question that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no”. Don’t ask me to write a book (or read one) to try and weasel out of answering a simple question.

Then ask an unambiguous question.

Intelligent Designer said:

Stanton,

I asked you a question that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no”. Don’t ask me to write a book (or read one) to try and weasel out of answering a simple question.

Stanton is asking for a perfectly legitimate explanation from you. If you had a succinct notion of what the concept is, you should have no trouble making the concept clear.

You would also know what it has to do with the laws of physics. Yet not one of the standard and well-tested textbooks used in the training of physicists finds a reason to include it in teaching the concepts of statistical mechanics and thermodynamics.

And no creationist has ever shown how “information,” whatever they mean by that, pushes matter around or why it is a fundamental force in nature that operates far less subtly than does the interaction of neutrinos with matter which we are able to detect.

So, what do you mean by “information?”

Intelligent Designer said:

Stanton said:

Intelligent Designer said:

Stanton, do you think that crystals growing out of a medium is information?

Better yet, please explain to me why crystals growing out of a medium is not information.

Stanton,

I asked you a question that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no”.

The question can not be answered with a “yes” or a “no” because you have not defined what form or definition of “information” you have in mind.

Don’t ask me to write a book (or read one) to try and weasel out of answering a simple question.

The question is not simple: it’s intended to deceive.

In other words, I am not weaseling out of anything: I am merely pointing out that, by refusing to define “information,” you are being dishonest.

Intelligent Designer said:

That’s an interesting example because it illustrates why disorder and entropy aren’t exactly the same thing. Can you provide an example that creates information?

How about a simple problem for which there should be no ambiguity?

I’ll give you the same problem I gave to another commenter here; and it will give you the chance to demonstrate that you understand some basic concepts.

You have a system consisting of 10 identical atoms, each atom having a non-degenerate ground state and a single excited state.

(a) Calculate the entropy of the system when every atom is in its ground state.

(b) Now add energy to the system such that every atom is in its excited state. What is the entropy now?

(c) Now put just enough energy into the system such that half the atoms are in their excited state. What is the entropy now?

Which of the above conditions has more “order,” and explain what you mean by “order?”

Which of the above conditions has more “information” and what do you mean by “information?”

If you really do know what entropy, “order,” and “information” are, you should be able to answer this in a relatively straight-forward reply that we can all understand.

Intelligent Designer said:

The example provided by JohnK is also interesting because it illustrates how adding energy (like sunlight) to a system often generates disorder.

This is and even better reason that you should answer my previous question about the 10 atoms.

Why are you avoiding his question about what definition of “information” you are using?

Intelligent Designer said:

Stanton, do you think that crystals growing out of a medium is information?

“Stanton, do you think that crystals growing out of a medium is information? “

Sure. If you know about how crystals form, a crystal can tell you about the conditions in the time and place it formed. Thus you get information from it.

Not what you had in mind? That’s the point!

In ID, information is sort of a generic non-defined word that doesn’t really apply to anything beyond the statements that you can’t make more of it without intelligence or some such. For example, if a gene gets randomly copied and then the copy gets mutated so that a part of it is missing but it is now good for something else, that’s evolution. But is it more information? Depends on who you ask and what you consider information. That’s the problem being pointed out.

Evolutionary increases in information addresses how an example considered under three differing definitions of information (two formal, one informal) leads to the conclusion that information has increased in each.

It’s not like this ground hasn’t been covered adequately before.

The topic here, which apparently some people are forgetting, is 2LoT self-plagiarism on Sewell’s part. If things go substantially away from that, I’ll probably just close the thread.

Intelligent Designer said:

Stanton said:

Intelligent Designer said:

Stanton, do you think that crystals growing out of a medium is information?

Better yet, please explain to me why crystals growing out of a medium is not information.

Stanton,

I asked you a question that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no”. Don’t ask me to write a book (or read one) to try and weasel out of answering a simple question.

There is a difference between questions that can be answered with a “simple” Y or N and questions that can be meaningfully answered with a “simple” Y or N.

dpr

Wesley R. Elsberry said: The topic here, which apparently some people are forgetting, is 2LoT self-plagiarism on Sewell’s part. If things go substantially away from that, I’ll probably just close the thread.

To parahprase Leszek, since we know how documents are written, the content can tell you about the time and conditions under which it was written. In this case we derive the knowledge ‘self-plaigerism’ based on equivalency to the author’s other written materials. We don’t even have to understand the characters on the page; they could be complete gobbledigook and we could still derive the information “plaigerism or not.”

So if Sewell is producing information, so are the crystals. OTOH if their growth does not produce information, neither can his articles be said to produce information. :)

Publication status update …

Sewell has removed the link to the paper from his manuscript. However, a search using the DOI still produces the manuscript. If you want a copy, better get while the gettin’s good.

How long does it take to take down a rescinded document?

SWT said:

Publication status update …

Sewell has removed the link to the paper from his manuscript. However, a search using the DOI still produces the manuscript. If you want a copy, better get while the gettin’s good.

How long does it take to take down a rescinded document?

Meh. Sewell removed the link to his paper from his website.

JohnK said:

From the Oxford Dictionary FAQ

How do we know what a word means?

We don’t always know! …

Dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive. In other words, when we’re defining a word we combine our understanding of how it is used in the language with an analysis of resources such as the Oxford English Corpus. This should result in a definition of how a word is actually used, rather than how it should be used.

People have traditionally interpreted thermodynamic entropy incorrectly, the dictionary is merely accurately repeating their frequently expressed misunderstanding.

Now that most all major textbooks have abandoned this faulty interpretation, eventually the dictionary will change too.

If a dictionary defined “thermodynamic entropy” as a measure of disorder, of chaos, that would be wrong. But for it to list disorder and chaos as a meaning of “entropy” is perfectly appropriate. Words are sounds to which we arbitrarily assign meaning; if enough people decide that that’s what those sounds mean, then that is a meaning of those sounds Perhaps with enough pushing from the scientific community the “chaos” meaning of “entropy” will disappear. Until then, it is an OK meaning, provided it is in the right context. This is just how language works.

David Fickett-Wilbar said:

This is just how language works.

And that doesn’t mean force times distance.

Nor should it be forced upon others.

Robin said:

I didn’t think I implied anything about dictionary definitions indicating “correct” or “incorrect” meanings, but if so I apologize - not what I meant. I’ll accept “popular” vs “less popular” in place of “primary” and “secondary”, though I have had English teachers and course leaders who phrased the significance of the order that way.

I have a series on my website with the topic “Things your English teacher told you that are wrong.” Maybe I’ll add this to the list.

In any event, I agree, there’s nothing about the judgment of the usefulness of a given definition of a word. I thought I pointed out that the reason that IBIG’s chosen definition of the word entropy is wrong is due to the context of this venue vs casual conversations, not because one definition is judged to be better or more important than another. I guess that got lost against the other parts I wrote.

If it did, then np; you got it exactly right this time.

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I’d say we’re done here.

Shut ‘er down, Wes,

Mike, I think that you are right. Bad behavior on the part of religious antievolutionists has been documented, 2LoT misconceptions, some exceptionally long-standing, have been addressed, and the “evolution cannot increase information” canard has been thoroughly stomped, even if the trolls pretend they didn’t see it.

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This page contains a single entry by Wesley R. Elsberry published on February 28, 2011 12:01 AM.

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