Eric Holloway just made a dramatic announcement on The Skeptical Zone, in Dieb’s thread on the number of posts at the ID site Uncommon Descent. In this comment he concludes “At least in my personal interactions with people, it seems like ID has won the debate.
The link is to a post by “News” (Denyse O’Leary) at Uncommon Descent which quotes from a post at a blog called Eidos, where Holloway says that in his personal conversations with “atheists and agnostics” many of them agree with him that evolution cannot explain consciousness. Then he goes on to announce his own “journal” that will discuss that. That’s all. No mention of the mathematical arguments that Holloway and his co-thinkers have been making that purport to show that evolutionary mechanisms cannot account for new information getting into the genome.
Now, I have no problem with Holloway feeling that he has two arguments for ID, the second even more convincing than the first. But does it mean that he has abandoned his previous argument, the technical argument using Algorithmic Specified Complexity? Is he intending to the return to the discussion of how that argument works? Or is he going off to declare success, leaving the rest of us puzzled as to what that argument was and how it actually worked.
Now Holloway has done this at least twice before – announced that there is no sensible counter-argument to his arguments. In fact, I’ve commented on it here in a post last November. There I noted a 2018 statement he made at the Discovery Institute’s “Mind Matters” site about there being no counterarguments to information-theory based arguments for ID. In my PT post in November I gave extensive links to the detailed refutations that have appeared here and at TSZ for those arguments. I also pointed out that he did this once before, in 2011, about William Dembski’s No Free Lunch argument. As I noted, also with links, it had been knocked down very thoroughly by seven people soon after it appeared. But somehow all seven counterarguments were invisible to Holloway!
What about Holloway’s latest arguments? Let me comment briefly below …
In recent months, Holloway has presented arguments that there is a mutual-information conservation law showing that a function applied to algorithmic complexity cannot increase the amount of Algorithmic Specified Complexity in a genome. Here are some links to places that he made arguments:
- At Joshua Swamidass's Peaceful Science blog
- A set of dramatic assertions at the Discovery Institute's anti-artifical-intelligence blog Mind Matters
- In some comments after my post at Panda's Thumb (ignore most of the trollery and troll-chasing and look for the comments by Holloway, posting as user "yters" and identifying himself).
- In comments on a post by Tom English at The Skeptical Zone
Holloway also says that he has a paper in press at the ID journal BIO-Complexity, one that has not appeared yet.
The strong implication was that all this somehow showed that natural selection could not put Specified Complxity into genomes. I and others have asked for clarification of this. How does this work? Why is Algorithmic Specified Information, a measure of the unusual simplicity of an algorithm, relevant to fitness or adaptation? How does it refute simple population genetics calculations, that show that highly-fit genotypes can increase greatly in frequency in a population? Before it can be taken to have any force, the argument needs careful explanation. But alas, Holloway never engaged with these issues.
Having gone off without explaining, now he is again making declarations that ID is winning, but the particular ID arguments he has in mind are about why consciousness cannot arise from evolutionary processes. I am not going to argue with him here – that would involve a careful consideration of consciousness in animals, for example. But I do want to point out the likelihood that if people do engage with that topic, they may be disappointed after a while when they find that Holloway has absented himself, gone somewhere else, and, of course, declared that he has found no sensible arguments against his position.
Or he could come back and explain his mutual information ASC argument here.
I will be “pa-trolling” this thread and will delete comments by trolls who try to divert discussion from the topic.