Sunday, May 23, 2010

Is ID Science?

This is not a simple or straight forward question. It is the question that Meyer addresses in his 7th chapter. I think I found this the most difficult chapter in the book.

Meyer discusses the nature of “historical sciences” such as geology and paleontology and evolutionary biology and argues that they use different methods to “experimental sciences” such as physics and chemistry. He states that Stephen Jay Gould accepted this distinction and argued that historical scientific theories were testable by analysing their “explanatory power” (Gould, “Evolution and the Triumph of Homology”) Gould describes the process of testing in historical sciences as seeking “consilience”. Consilience is the situation where many facts can be explained well by a single proposition or theory. Gould he says argues that historical sciences depend upon the knowledge of the laws of nature to make inferences about the past.
Meyer then asks whether a design hypothesis can be formulated as a historical scientific theory about what happened in the past.

Historical scientists cite the occurrence of an event or series of events in the past as the explanation for some observable phenomenon in the present. Historical scientists use a distinctive mode of reasoning. Using their knowledge of cause and effect relationships historical scientists “calculate backwards” and infer past conditions and causes from present conditions and causes.

This type of reasoning is called “abductive” reasoning as opposed to inductive(in which a universal law is established from repeated observations) or deductive (in which a particular fact is deduced by applying a general law to another particular case. Abductive logic was first described by Charles Sanders Pierce
Despite the tentative nature of abductive reasoning we do make conclusive inferences about the past.

A conclusion of abductive reasoning is certain if we cannot explain the currently observed facts without the past cause. An abductive conclusion is established by showing that it is either the best or the only explanation of the effects in question.

To address this problem in geology Thomas Chamberlain proposed a method of “multiple working hypotheses. This is also known as “inference to the best explanation”
Peter Lipton is associated with this way of reasoning arguing that it is used both in science and ordinary life. Discovering certain particular marks in fresh snow we infer that a person with snow shoes has passed this way. Lipton argued that the ability to explain particular facts sometimes mattered more than predictive success in the evaluation of a particular hypothesis.

The problem with this method of assessing explanations is exactly how we judge which is the best explanation as opposed to the explanation we like the best.

25 Comments:

Blogger Psiloiordinary said...

Hi Andrew,

You said;
"Meyer then asks whether a design hypothesis can be formulated as a historical scientific theory about what happened in the past."

In theory then yes it could - if is falsifiable and makes predictions about things we haven't yet observed.

It doesn't do either.

Regards,

Psi

8:27 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It doesn't do either."

...Could you please elaborate?

3:03 pm  
Blogger Psiloiordinary said...

It is not falsifiable and doesn't make testable predictions about things we don't already know or that aren't already predicted by evolution.

Proving a negative isn't possible. The usual procedure if you disagree with these comments would be to given examples that show it can do either of them.

Thanks,

Psi

7:20 pm  
Anonymous Cedric Katesby said...

30/May/2010

(This is a re-post from a few days ago. My previous attempt got lost.)

Is it science?
Well, is it?

After all the philosophy and soul searching, is there a straight answer?

Can THEY give you a straight answer?

This is not a personal attack.
Please don’t react to anything I’m saying as if this is a personal attack.
PLEASE.

I give you my word that it is not.
Yet I must be blunt.

You have bent over backwards to give the ID people the benefit of the doubt.
You really have.
I’m sure you have read everything the Discovery Institute has put out.
You have invested time and money in the ID movement.

Yet is ID science?
Yes or no?

This is an important question.
It’s a vital question.
It’s THE question.
It speaks to the heart of the integrity of the whole ID movement.

I’ve read your most recent articles. I read them with an open mind and tried to be as reasonable as possible.
I could not find a straight answer to this basic question.

Your first article finished with a question, not an answer.

Why has intelligent design which was so important in the origin of science become so completely rejected from modern science?

Interesting philosophical question. Fine… but…

Is ID science?
Yes or no?

So we move on to the most recent entry.

You boldly begin…”Is ID Science?”

Then you ruin it all and getting all mushy and waffley by saying …”This is not a simple or straight forward question.”

Not good. Not good at all.
Awful, in fact.

When you ask somebody a straight-forward question and they give you that opening line, you can almost feel everybody in the room rolling their collective eyeballs in discomfort.

Do you want to call ID a theory?
Then you must demonstrate that ID really is a theory.
You don’t get to re-define what a theory is just to squeak by.

Do you want to call ID a hypothesis?
Ok.
Then you must demonstrate that ID really is a hypothesis.
You don’t get to come up with some weasel-word definition just to wriggle out of a tight spot.

Do you want to call ID a…philosophy?
Or just an idea?

Then do so. Go ahead. Call it a philosophy.
An old philosophy.
Be direct and forthright and call it Natural Theology and give poor ol’ Paley his watch back.

The Discovery Institute has lied to you.
Continuously, repeatedly and shamelessly.
They have lied to you.
That’s wrong. That is not good.

They have claimed that ID is science.
It’s not.
There’s no science going on.
There no work going on.
There never will be.

There is no scientific definition of ID.
It’s not a theory.
It’s not even a hypothesis.
It’s a deception.

A deception that makes gullible, trusting, religious people think that there’s “something sciencey going on”.

Whenever a true believer starts talking about ID, I always jump in and ask them what ID actually is.

“Is ID a scientific theory?” I chirp.

They never step up to the plate and go…”Nope”.
They never say “ID isn’t science. It’s just an untestable idea.”

They ALWAYS waffle. They ALWAYS wave their hands. They ALWAYS get very confused and resentful and then flounce off in a huff.

That’s because they have the impression that ID is sciencey. That’s what the propoganda tells them to believe.
So they believe it.
Someone like me comes along and points out the elephant in the room and “poof” the magic trick is exposed.

The Biologic Institute. The PCID “journal”. The Bio-complexity “journal”.
It’s window dressing.
A sciencey lab. A sciencey “journal” or two.
Lots of delightfully confusing and sciencey gobbledy-gook trotted out year after year after year.

No science though.
None.
No actual work.

The work is what separates the sheep from the goats.
No work, no science.
It’s that simple.
Not sophistry or word games.
Not self-indulgent navel-gazing.
Work.

Millions of (never to be refunded) dollars in hard cash.
Over twenty years of grand pronouncements.
No work.

ID is not a scientific theory.
It's not even a hypothesis.
ID is not science.

4:11 am  
Blogger Pépé said...

A scientific theory must be falsifiable and must make predictions.

ID does both.

ID can be falsified if it can be shown that complex specified information is the result of something other than intelligence.

ID also predicts that what Darwinist call “Junk DNA”, remnants of our evolutionary past, will instead be found to perform very important functions in the cell. (Other predictions are given in Stephen Meyer’s book, Signature in the Cell.)

Therefore ID is a scientific theory.

2:55 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’d move away from the sociological debate whether ID is science or not. Philosophers have known for donkeys’ years that there’s no demarcation (science Vs non-science).

If we are to believe evolution is true, regardless of whether we call it science, non-science or other, it still needs to pass a simple test. Produce ONE example of natural processes creating de novo a message, a code or a language.

8:15 pm  
Blogger Psiloiordinary said...

There isn't even a defintion of specified complex information that holds water.

So much for falsification.

Pepe - you are also grossly misrepresenting what science currently thinks about "junk" DNA.

Not an honest approach - is this your own or are you just repeating it - if so what do you think of folks that are leading you into this kind of dishonesty?

How many examples of new information do you want?

Heard of gene duplication for a start?

Cheers,

Psi

10:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Psiliordinary
"Heard of gene duplication for a start?"

.....I have & there are 2 problems.

(1) The starting point is PRE-EXISTING genes. How do we get them?

(2) Duplication is not producing new genes & again starts from pre-existing ones.

So we still need at least one example of de novo creation of code - just for proof of concept.

10:09 pm  
Blogger Psiloiordinary said...

OK here we go then;

re 1) do you want to discuss the origin of new information in evolutionary processes or the origin of life?

You seem to be objecting that my answer to your questions about the former don't address the latter.

Please clarify which you want to discuss - they are not the same thing.

2) Yes and now when a mutation occurs in the gene copy is no longer prevents the products of the original gene being produced and used in the cell/organism. Such a mutation can sometimes be a subtle alteration to the gene product, other times it makes drastic changes - when such subtle alterations or drastic changes are functional in some way then you now have two genes and a gene family.

Cheers,

Psi

7:11 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Psi
I’m asking about origin of coded information. It doesn’t matter if this is origin of life, evolution or any discipline of knowledge. Please give an example of a natural process which produces coded information where non-existed before.

9:31 pm  
Blogger Psiloiordinary said...

OK

Nylonase evolved.

Do you give in yet?

Psi

10:28 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Psi,

I looked at the Nylonase papers back in April 2006.
here

At the time I thought what they were describing was extremely odd.

Subsequent papers have cast doubt on the original frameshift idea and suggest that it is a mutation in the code for an already functioning enzyme causing a reduced specificity and allowing the utilization of some of the components of nylon as a carbon source.

see here


This seems a much more reasonable explanation to me and removes nylonase as an example of a totally new gene.

9:43 am  
Blogger Psiloiordinary said...

Once again make your mind up.

Do you want a new function - you seem to admit you have got this - or do you want a gene to change magically completely into something else.

Evolution won't provide this - not sure why you are asking.

Please be more specific.

12:41 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Psi,

Perfectly happy with news functions through mutation of residues around the active site.

Antibiotic resistance, sickle cell anaemia, insecticide resistance etc

If you look through protein structures what you will often see is spectacular 3D forms which require huge amounts of specific folding.

Any globular protein requires huge amounts of specific folding. Tinkering with one region to modify substrate specificity is not the same thing as producing a new family of protein structure.

There are a huge number of protein structure families already in the databases. Can random sampling by natural selection account for them all...if so how?

I want the production of a globular protein with specific function from scratch. If the original nylonase story had been correct that would have been what I was looking for.

2:11 pm  
Blogger Psiloiordinary said...

You said;

"There are a huge number of protein structure families already in the databases."

Well these are just a tiny fraction of those we know about.

"Can random sampling by natural selection account for them all...if so how?"

Well in the same kind of manor you just asked about - random sampling - but don't forget about domains, and exon shuffling. Yawn.

Chemistry actually.

I think that perhaps, if you had been blogging a couple of thousand years ago you would be making exactly the same arguments about how lightening or "intelligent smiting", can not be accounted for my the known laws of rubbing cats together.

As for this;

"I want the production of a globular protein with specific function from scratch. If the original nylonase story had been correct that would have been what I was looking for."

Evolution does not and never has claimed to work in this way.

Yet you demand evidence of such before you will accept evolution.

Where do you go from here?

I haven't a clue.

Cheers,

Psi

11:15 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

There are proteins in a particular family which have homology to other proteins within that family – I can imagine one of these arising from another within the family by….
“random sampling - but don't forget about domains, and exon shuffling. Yawn.

Chemistry actually.”
Are you also saying that you believe that this also accounts for the origin of the family as well?
We must all accept that a certain number of proteins were built from nothing at some point in the origin of life. Are you saying that you believe that since that point it is all a matter of…
“random sampling - but don't forget about domains, and exon shuffling. Yawn.

Chemistry actually.”

8:58 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

I presume that you would accept that the origin of a totally new structure or function will sometimes (if not usually) require the building of proteins which have no homology to any other existing proteins.
I presume that you are not saying with regards to this situation that
“Evolution does not and never has claimed to work in this way.”

8:58 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Psiloiordinary
“Or do you want a gene to change magically completely into something else.”

......Indeed. If we substitute “magically” for “evolutionarily,” or some (any) natural process then yes. How do we get a new gene from non-genes or new globular protein from where non-existed? If you can answer this, you could get me to accept evolution as true. Otherwise I really struggle to find it credible.

As an aside, if I’m allowed to say this here, Behe is speaking in London on 22nd November. I heard this from www.premier.org.uk (I have no commercial interest & am not affiliated to either Behe or premier)

9:05 pm  
Blogger Psiloiordinary said...

Hi Andrew,

Sorry to be pedantic. No I don't believe it. I can see the evidence that supports it and waving your arms around being personally incredulous in my direction doesn't count as science.

Evolution works in small steps, sometimes small steps in amino acid sequence can have huge effects on physical structure and function.

We have sequenced a very very small percentage of proteins. We know even less about their shapes and the details of their functions.

This reminds me of the fossil record in Darwin's time. Back then you would have draw conclusions from the gaps that the transitional fossils found since didn't exist.

Why on earth are you putting yourself in the same position now?

Cheers,

Psi

PS Anon - I have high hopes that Reiss will show up Behe for the arm waver that he is - fingers crossed.

7:11 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Psiloiordinary
I note you said, "Evolution works in small steps etc." Please have a go at this.

http://www.randommutation.com/

Does this affect your statement above in any shape or form?

11:14 pm  
Blogger Psiloiordinary said...

Why do you think it would?

Unless that is someone has told you that such a system is how evolution works.

It isn't.

Each small step is only retained (persists in the population) if it is either neutral or beneficial.

This is the same basic maths mistake made time and again on this blog, which has been pointed out to the author and, which he keeps repeating.

Do you understand what I am saying?

Happy to spell it out more if you wish.

Regards,

Psi

7:19 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

"This is the same basic maths mistake made time and again on this blog, which has been pointed out to the author and, which he keeps repeating."

Just for completeness Psi, can you point out
(a) Where I made this "basic maths mistake"?
(b) Where it is pointed out to me?

9:43 pm  
Blogger Psiloiordinary said...

Your arguments about probability that ignore the fact that the various events under discussion can happen one at a time and be preserved - they don't have to happen all at once.

This software (I realise it wasn't your link ANdrew) appears to operate in the same way.

My kids did this kind of thing in pre GCSE maths class.

It's amazing that no creationists can seem to grasp it.

Would you like a worked example?

Regards,

Psi

10:02 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Just for completeness Psi, can you point out
(a) Where I made this "basic maths mistake"?
(b) Where it is pointed out to me?

"Your arguments about probability that ignore the fact that the various events under discussion can happen one at a time and be preserved - they don't have to happen all at once."

Can you just put in a couple of examples as links?

10:24 pm  
Blogger Psiloiordinary said...

Your comments on the protein folds origin springs to mind.

5:57 pm  

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