Dumbest Attack on Genetic Algorithms. Ever.

Last summer, I had it out with Uncommon Descent’s Salvador Cordova on the topic of Genetic Algorithms (GA’s). During this series of posts, I explained that Dawkin’s use of a Targeted genetic algorithm - one that looks for the specific phrase “Methinks it is like a weasel” in simulations of selection and reproduction - was intended as a tutorial example only, and does not(as Dawkins himself pointed out way back in 1986) provide a rigorous simulation of evolution. Since then, creationists of all stripes have tried time and again to smear allGenetic Algorithms with the “They Need a Specified Target - just like Dawkins’ Weasel” argument.

During the series of posts, which began here, and ended here (the latter having links to the summer’s salvos from both sides), Cordova said I was just sneaking in the answer to difficult math questions (involving Steiner Trees, an NP-hard math problem) instead of having the genetic algorithm “evolve” them properly. Cordova presented an algorithm he claimed could do math problems without specifying an answer, just like mine, but I proved that his algorithm did indeed inevitably converge to an exact, specified result, quite unlike my GA for Steiner.

I posed an open, unsolved Steiner problem for the Design Challenge. Dozens of math buffs responded, with about half of them finding the exact answer to the problem, and the other half deriving viable (but less-than-optimal) solutions.

Even with a week’s time, and the libraries and websites of the whole world available to him, Cordova failed to derive as good an answer to the given challenge as my evolution-based GA did in just a couple of hours.

About this time, Cordova stopped railing about Dawkins, Weasels, Selection, and Targets, and started saying that computers are just plain faster than humans at solving math problems.

While Cordova’s attack on GA’s in defense of ID was feeble at best, at least he was trying to keep up with parts of the discussion.

Not so Uncommon Descent contributor Patrick, who recently posted a little gem titled “GA This!”

Rather than focusing on how new information might emerge from evolutionary processes, Patrick steps into the Wayback machine, demanding that GA’s produce not just a specified phrase a la “Weasel,” but instead a complete (and completely insipid) anti-evolutionary “poem.”

I kid you not. I wonder if Dembski even knows what his silly monkeys are doing on his blog. I guess ID theorists are never critical to each other, for the same reason you rarely hear harsh words exchanged publicly between members of the same church.

Hat tip: Richard Hughes