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Comment: Re:Completely appropriate venue (Score 1) 976

by Empiric (#48243993) Attached to: Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

Like, when someone says that quoting Nimzowitsch's "My System" on a question of chess strategy -categorically cannot be a valid argument-, regardless of any concurrent establishment of the general veracity or lack of it in the GM's book, for example.

Oh look. They guy playing checkers--that's you.

Comment: Re:I think we might have a methodology for that (Score 1) 117

by Empiric (#48238483) Attached to: Pentagon Builds Units To Transport Ebola Patients

Just to note, though, although this scenario does seem to be a serious concern, I mainly raised it to make sure that Slashdot's anti-religious cadre enthusiastically fights to make sure we avoid "pseudoscience" and leave ourselves permanently vulnerable to a potential terrorist pandemic, by continuing to reject that determining biological design is even possible.

My guess is that their position on it will suddenly change when it's an issue of saving their own ass, rather than suppressing "religious" ID concepts. Just a guess, though.

Comment: Re:I think we might have a methodology for that (Score 1) 117

by Empiric (#48238429) Attached to: Pentagon Builds Units To Transport Ebola Patients

You would think it would not be difficult to settle on a consistent translation, from the start, though.

Unfortunately, I'd say, oh maybe half of that $425 million recently (apparently) stolen by ISIS from the Iraqi central bank (letting alone the black-market oil revenue) would be enough to find a suitable biology-educated taker.

Probably more than one. Particularly if they held extremist sentiments, which seem to be in abundance lately.

Money seems to come with a lot of unintended consequences, doesn't it?

Comment: Re:I think we might have a methodology for that (Score 1) 117

by Empiric (#48238231) Attached to: Pentagon Builds Units To Transport Ebola Patients

Whichever it "officially" is, isn't really what I'm commenting on. The distinction held by any member of either rendering isn't worth bothering with thinking about, nor any member of either organization, they'll just be annihilated en masse anyway--either by evolution or by the actual God their doctrines attempt to pervert, take your pick.

It was just a commentary on propagation of an acronym within a sociopolitical media context, really. Nothing to get so upset about. Unless you know more about yourself than I do.

Comment: Re:I think we might have a methodology for that (Score 1) 117

by Empiric (#48238061) Attached to: Pentagon Builds Units To Transport Ebola Patients

While I'm not in a position to comment on your specifics, I did find it rather strange that from the government down through the media both the terms "ISIS" and "ISIL" were being used interchangeably to refer to the organization, right from the start. It almost seemed like a kind of "red versus blue" A/B testing following which usage (naturally linked in a number of conceptual ways to the broader stances and positions of the people using each term, and the countries referenced by the respective acronyms) would gain predominate currency of usage among the media-consuming public.

I'd have to add another few layers of tinfoil to my hat to make any real positive assertions about this, but it did strike me as... odd.

Comment: I think we might have a methodology for that (Score 0) 117

by Empiric (#48237933) Attached to: Pentagon Builds Units To Transport Ebola Patients

Given the current political environment in our conflict with ISIS, I think resources should probably be put into preparing to counter a potential terrorist-weaponized version of Ebola. There seems to be a reasonable chance that with ISIS' newfound financial resources, the attempt could be made to create a weaponized genetically-modified version of the Ebola virus, perhaps even rendering it airborne-transmissible. If we encounter such a thing in the population, preparation for a military response to the perpetrators seems called for, if we can determine it is indeed engineered and what its origin is.

Oh wait. Attempts to determine design in biological structures are impossible and pseudoscience. They proved that in court in at Dover. The lawyer in the black robe said so.

(Hmm... couldn't resist)

Comment: Re:Falsifiability (Score 1) 282

by Empiric (#48236635) Attached to: High Speed Evolution
Let me start by saying thank you for an intellectually interesting conversation that doesn't involve name calling, finger pointing or ranting. I have a tendency toward snark, don't take it too personally :)

Likewise. And I'll resist the contextual urge to reply--


--with a corresponding 300-style virtual kick. ;)

Your points are well-made, and I will consider them further. In particular, I'm noting that the seeming weakness of the apparent "organism -> any mutation -> any resultant organism" process is strengthened by the incorporation of chronological sequence as a filter, in terms of being able to determine actual plausibility, so there is a better "falsifiability mechanism" here than I had in mind.

I think I've reached the limit of time I can spend on arguing these sub-branches of the question for the time being, though, so I will leave it here. Have a good weekend, perhaps we'll resume on these interesting topics another time.

Comment: Re:Falsifiability (Score 1) 282

by Empiric (#48236089) Attached to: High Speed Evolution
Okay, we seem to be moving in the direction of detailing methodology rather specifically, and this discussion could branch out to be very large debating all of them in detail. This is really not what I was hoping for with my initial question, I was looking for broad conceptual heuristics within which we can meaningfully scope "evolution" in a hopefully-falsifiable rendering.

So, I'll propose some broad contrary statements to your assertions here, and see where that takes us.

If DNA mapping turned up something unexpected - it would have to be explained or it would cause a lot of trouble for the overall theory.

Would it? I propose that the conjectured lines of descent would simply be rejuggled, as has happened many times in the past. The phylogenetic tree would simple be moved around again, that becoming the new "definitely true"--for the moment. I really do think I can essentially prove this to be not a route to falsification, as we have finally developed proposably -objective- ways to map these relationships in a descent or causal fashion, via cladistics, and those relationships are -explicitly- probabilistic in that methodology. So, the proposed relationship with the highest probability is selected based on genetic analysis--but the notion that one of them is "of course" correct is simply presumed. So, for cases where we have 90% certainty for A, 10% certainty at most for all others, A becomes the selected "true". In a case where we have 1% certainty for A, and >1% certainty for all others, A becomes "true". It comes down to that any degree of improbability is simply accepted as true, because that's the most probable identified to date, and the idea that some other factor could be involved other than descent is rejected a priori. This is not a route to falsification. The model will accept any improbability whatsoever, by definition.

Since we are proposing natural selection as the filter through which life must pass, we would expect to find organisms that have adaptations to their environment.

Likewise, since I'm proposing the theory that things reproduce (for the purposes of illustration, say, created suddendly ex nihilo), and try to survive, and sometimes don't. I conclude from the fact I only find surviving things where things have survived, and don't find surviving things where they couldn't possibly survive, that my model is equally thorough and accurate as evolution. Correct?

Fossil evidence could be found which seriously compromises the theory.

How? You have a fossil. It by definition contains some characteristics similar to some form of life. What line of descent it conjecturally belongs to, and how you may modify the proposed lines of descent, again conjecturally, is totally up to you. What kind of fossil could possibly compromise any of this methodology, which is ultimately really just a largely-arbitrary categorization system?

I am not a specialist in this field, so it is quite possible I am missing some nuance in your presentation. But I'm not seeing it based on what you're providing.


But scientifically you can't tell the difference between natural process and a supernatural process that does the same thing.

Would you categorically assert this relative to organisms you might encounter, having their DNA at your disposal, for which the design was done by a genetic engineer, rather than a "natural process"? Methodologically, I do think it is probable that Specified Complexity notions will allow this differentiation to happen with a high degree of certainty. But the question is more around your categorical exclusion: If you reject entirely the possibility of detecting design from a non-human origin, do you assert this is different from detecting design of human origin? Presuming the same data, that is, the DNA, and not the fact you happened to read about the genetic engineering effort and "detected" design's presence that way.

Comment: Re: Falsifiability (Score 1) 282

by Empiric (#48235795) Attached to: High Speed Evolution
The anthropic principle is not nonsense. It makes perfect sense.

No, it doesn't. But don't get me wrong, I enjoy the notion thoroughly.

Police chief: "I don't understand it. Somehow, the suspected thief managed to elude seven different security systems and 20 guards, in broad daylight, and then opened the highest-security safe on the market, and then left without a trace. Doesn't that strike you as improbable? Seems that the odds here point to the theory it was actually an inside job."

Junior ubercool investigator: "Well, chief, do I really need to point out that if he didn't elude all the security systems and guards, and opened the safe, we wouldn't be here talking about how he eluded all the security systems and guards, and cracked the safe? [removes shades with voice filled with gravitas] -Case closed-."

It's like playing the lottery billions of times every day and winning 5 times out of all those tries.

You have absolutely no evidence of these "billions of times" having occurred. Do you expect evidence for assertions, or not? If you're trying to equivocate this over into an argument from, say, abiogenesis or naturalistic evolution, where there is evidence for multiple tries, do note this is irrelevant. The overall odds of a causally-dependent sequence of events is not possibly greater than the step with the -lowest- odds.


A -> B -> C -> D is proposed, and the odds of A is .00001%, and the odds of D is could be at estimated 90% considered in some context-dropping isolation, then the actual odds of D can be no more than .00001% (and likely significantly lower, depending on B and C)--if one is proposing causal dependency, which your model absolutely is.

Same thing if we use "intelligent-life generating physical laws and initial conditions relative to all possible ones" and "abiogenesis" and "evolution" as our terms.

Comment: Re:Falsifiability (Score 1) 282

by Empiric (#48235023) Attached to: High Speed Evolution

Okay, well, I'm not seeing a difference between this and simply calling evolution "reproduction", as there appears to be no functional difference between the two notions as you've rendered it here. I'm looking for something specific to evolution as a theory. Contrary to historical notions (e.g. "gradual change over time") there now appears to be nothing at all differentiating "evolution" from "anything whatsoever that may happen involving reproduction". Which is fine, it just doesn't give evolution any useful differentiating characteristics as a theory.

As for the question of a causal agent not being relevant, that's based on your presumption that no biological attributes exist that could not be produced by standard naturalistic means. That's a presumption for which you have no possible evidence, whereas there is evidence for the contrary, namely proposed IC structures (yes, run the standard arguments on how it isn't evidence, it'll still be evidence per what evidence simply means afterward). The distinction on how we would approach biology would fundamentally change, as it will have to anyway, as genetically-engineered organisms become ubiquitous and it becomes crucial to be able to determine characteristics of design, e.g. for biological weapons/terrorism. Being able to apply such analytical mechanisms to historical organisms would be clearly scientifically useful as well.

And, we address teleology, which naturalistic evolution is woefully inadequate at doing. I know your answer will be "there is no teleology", and "correct" me that it isn't inadequate, it's entirely nonexistent. Unfortunately you can't talk about evolution for 15 minutes without using a construct implying teleology, and your own mouth shortly refutes you. That suggests a structural problem with the model that should be addressed to, you know, bring it in line with reality, as science tends to attempt.

Comment: Re:Falsifiability (Score 1) 282

by Empiric (#48234953) Attached to: High Speed Evolution

I have had pro-undirected-evolution biologists tell me in this very forum that any biological change whatsoever happening in a single generation would be unproblematic for his notion of evolution.

Therefore, from that perspective, a Cambrian-era creature reproducing and a modern rabbit emerging, would not be an issue. Neither would generating a modern eye in -one generational step-. Where's your line of demarcation between mutations (or clusters of mutations) that are reasonable versus unreasonable? Because without that, this isn't falsifiability. Whatever happens, just call it "evolution" and done.

Comment: Re: Falsifiability (Score 1) 282

by Empiric (#48234933) Attached to: High Speed Evolution

Ah, the causality-reversing "Anthropic Principle", which is nonsense. Winning the lottery 5 times is a row is not "explained" by "Well, if I didn't win the lottery 5 times in a row, I would be here wondering how I won it 5 times in a row". The probabilities involved are still notable, and still need to be addressed.

And yes, the main reason to believe there was only one try is that's what the evidence indicates. If you have evidence for a different model, feel free to present it. Yes, I know other models exist, and yes, I know they are conjectural, and you have an odd stance if you feel you have superior evidence of that than fine-tuning.

My position actually isn't "special creation" of independent species, but rather directed evolution, but, yeah, it is not uncommon at all for when I design code to use a DLL that both includes functionality relevant to my desired end application, and functionality that is not relevant and remains inactive. Given the similarity of DNA sections across vastly different organisms, a similar scenario does not strike me as implausible.

Comment: Re:Falsifiability (Score 1) 282

by Empiric (#48232775) Attached to: High Speed Evolution

Say...repeating multiple times the peer-reviewed study (and it's contained test cases) here:

--and persistently finding a lack of reported empirical verification of the predictive accuracy of the mainline hypothesis of the "designer", rather than consistently finding empirical (i.e. "eyewitness sense data derived") verification of its predictions. The latter being the actual case we see per reality.

There's one. Additional and/or better ones in no way excluded by providing this one.

You will be successful in your work.