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Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

Empiric Re:Completely appropriate venue (1007 comments)

No, that's the fun thing. Your argument fails both on the level of analogy and literally.

And, well, I'd destroy you at chess. So I guess that makes 3.

about 1 month ago
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Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

Empiric Re:Completely appropriate venue (1007 comments)

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.

about 1 month ago
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Pentagon Builds Units To Transport Ebola Patients

Empiric Re:I think we might have a methodology for that (117 comments)

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.

about a month ago
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Pentagon Builds Units To Transport Ebola Patients

Empiric Re:I think we might have a methodology for that (117 comments)

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?

about a month ago
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Pentagon Builds Units To Transport Ebola Patients

Empiric Re:I think we might have a methodology for that (117 comments)

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.

about a month ago
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Pentagon Builds Units To Transport Ebola Patients

Empiric Re:I think we might have a methodology for that (117 comments)

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.

about a month ago
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Pentagon Builds Units To Transport Ebola Patients

Empiric I think we might have a methodology for that (117 comments)

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)

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Empiric Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

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--

THIS... IS... SLASHDOT!

--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.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Empiric Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

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.

Incidentally...

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.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Empiric Re: Falsifiability (282 comments)

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.

If...

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.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Empiric Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

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.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Empiric Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

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.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Empiric Re: Falsifiability (282 comments)

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.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Empiric Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

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

http://www.thelancet.com/journ....
http://profezie3m.altervista.o...

--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.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Empiric Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

It isn't invalidated by any given species failing to adapt. It isn't invalidated by "bad" mutations or slow change or fast change or no change (for any given genetic line over any given time period). It is well understood that mutations don't always (or even often) happen in a way that enhances survival, especially in a limited time frame (like dinosaurs needing to adapt to changes from a meteoroid impact overnight).

In other words, it can be invalidated by no means whatsoever, merely because of how it is defined. Therefore, it is unfalsifiable. Falsifiability matters. If your notion is that what you are presenting is somehow distinct from theorizing mere reproduction, it isn't.

"Evolution" is only coherent as a theory insofar as it prescribes -particular- mechanisms for genetic change that are distinct from some other conjectural model. Saying it is caused by selection pressure, but maybe not, happens gradually over a long period of time, but maybe not, etc., etc., is not giving "evolution" any particular attributes that can be said to characterize it. It's the scientific equivalent of the guy at the restaurant looking at the menu and saying "okay".

Despite your assertion, I understand he mainline mechanisms quite well. I'm just looking for you to understand that in their totality, as they are rendered in TFS and increasingly commonly elsewhere, no actual specific assertions are being made, i.e., the conceptualization lacks both specific content and falsifiability. These are not good attributes for any scientific theory. I am not against "evolution" per se, but this definitely needs to be cleaned up. You say "evolution", I say "reproduction". What does your term entail in terms of content that mine does not, given the admission of literally every possible scenario of genes being altered by reproduction (hardly notable) into the model? This really can't be handwaved. Phyletic gradualism versus punctuated equilibrium is, and has been, important entirely as an internal scientific debate. For good reason. If the answer now is "eh, screw it, maybe the brain evolved over millions of years for this species, maybe it was one super-compound set of mutations happening in a single generation, we'll just call them both evolution" I don't even know what is being proposed that "evolution" means here. And yes, I -know- fully as much about evolution as I need to, to make the determination that this aggregation is not useful. It is not a question of the scope of my knowledge, it is a question of the validity of certain renderings of it.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Empiric Re: Falsifiability (282 comments)

As was previously stated, "relatively optimal" would have been a better way to have put it. And it is "relatively optimal" by the criteria of survival.

The rest reminds me of that old joke of God to the dismissive genetic engineer asserting he can create life: "No. Get your own dirt."

"Totally random" presuming a fine-tuned planet capable of producing it, within a fine-tuned solar system capable of sustaining that environment on the Earth, within a fine-tuned universe within which the odds that intelligent life, rather than "spacetime goo" would be produced on the first-and-only "try" are vanishingly small.

And, of course, presuming that "random" is scientifically meaningful explanation. It isn't. And, that you have any idea what "better" would be, other than as a subjective floating abstraction. You don't.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Empiric Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

...when the observed facts don't require one, then it's on you to prove your claim.

Not in any way.

Try that with the Interpretations of QM.

I'm talking about science here, not Judge Judy.

And, to state it up front, it is your claim that is "extraordinary". Mine's the ordinary one, by sizable statistical preponderance.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Empiric Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

... but if you wanna make it scientific, you do have to show me how you know this happened.

Well, no. Nobody knows which of the Interpretations (Copenhagen, Many-Worlds, etc.) of QM "happen". They are all science. The are science by virtue of strong plausible inference from knowns.

Mainly, this one is winnable simply by observing actual scientists (or anyone working in a domain related to the sciences), and noting that nobody actually applies the same criteria to any other scientific arena that they apply specifically to anything reminding them of religion. Untested, and untestable premises abound in every field. The hypocrisy part of that fact isn't scientifically central, the fact "science" would be an unrecognizable hatchet job of itself, if the claimed criteria were actually applied to science in general, is. I prefer my scientific criteria to be such that science as we know it would still be possible if we accept it.

The problem is, you can't hypothesize that aliens participated in evolution without first establishing that aliens exist.

Watch me. I hypothesize that aliens participated in evolution. I have not yet established they exist. Similarly, I hypothesize that dark matter participates in the expansion of the universe. We have not yet established it exists. There you go. Fait accompli.

You have to establish the physical properties and nature of aliens empirically before you can actually do any inferences with them, otherwise they could do anything, they could have the power to rewrite your brain to make you think they created us when they didn't.

Er, no. That they might have such a conjectural power in no way means they don't have the power to do genetic design. In reality, though, you're making another argument that is shown unrealistic in light of current human-implemented design. You are doing the equivalent of saying, "But... you haven't established which geneticist. You haven't specified which tools he used. Which exact ones on the shelf. At what time, exactly. You haven't proven which room the genetic modification occurred in... how he was dressed...".

No, the geneticists have the assumed ability to perform the design, and you would not ask these questions in -that- case. It would be seen, even by you, as nonsensical blocking of the hypothesis that "the geneticists designed the animal". Same case here. Again, I demonstrate my point regarding your premise via that -you- don't believe your premise, for any circumstance or context other than when talking about something reminding you of a religious notion.

Here's the question though. What are the empirical knowns pertaining to alien or trans-dimensional beings, or their interference in evolution?

Biological structures that appear to be Irreducibly Complex, and are not yet specifically explained. One can argue as well that periods of history where massive unaccounted-for increases in genetic diversity occurred, such as the Cambrian Explosion, are also evidence, though in a less precisely-detailed way. There's two. N others may follow, presuming we maintain a degree of intellectual and scientific integrity and don't dismiss them before they're ever analyzed, because we don't like the potential implications.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Empiric Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

Can you construct a falsifiable hypothesis involving trans-dimensional beings, or ETs, or something else, and Earth's natural history? Or any hypothesis of any kind?

Can you construct a falsifiable hypothesis involving -human- design, bearing in mind that present-day design is -fact-? You are given an animal, say, midway between the town's biggest farm and the town's genetic research facility. Form a testable hypothesis showing either of these is involved in explaining the animal's biological characteristics. You have the DNA available to you. Neither the farmer nor the research facility's staff recalls this animal specifically.

If you couldn't do it -presently-, with such an empirical immediacy available to you, how reasonable is that as a criterion for the distant past?

Rather, I suggest, we would address it inferentially, as this is a case, like the QM Interpretations, where there isn't a differentiating test. The inference that over billions of years some alien civilization has visited is not implausible. That another kind of being could have as well, is not implausible. Yes, I expect you to say it is implausible. As you are saying it, it will be perfectly clear in your own mind it is plausible, as you type otherwise.

People believed atoms existed for thousands of years. But atoms weren't actually science until people in the 19th century devised experiments to observe them; until then there was "Atomism," a branch of philosophy, and atoms were mystical, pseudoscientific entities.

Well, wholly wrong. Then, as now, inferential support for entities from empirical knowns is science. Witness the Higgs boson. This was most definitely science long before empirical observation was possible. Same with neutrinos. Same with quarks. It may not meet your scientific criteria, but that's because your scientific criteria is wrong.

Should the King of France have spent millions of francs trying to invent Leibniz's bomb?

Well, probably. That's why we had the Manhattan Project. And it was science.

Your position is pseudoscience.

No. Your scoping of science is pseudoscience.

about a month ago
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High Speed Evolution

Empiric Re:Falsifiability (282 comments)

You're original contention was that people say "only evolution happens," and I asked for a quote that gave it as "the only explanation," neither of your quotes actually say this.

The requested quote was given. Dawkins says it is doubtful that atheism is logically tenable without Darwin.

So you're not really saying anything about evolution, you're only beef is with how some people talk about evolution? It's just a rhetorical argument?

It's an argument that in the interests of science, we need to make scientifically-valid statements. That includes valid definitions, valid scoping, and valid inferences.

If you wanted to propose some kind of non-evolutionary mechanism that didn't involve people, that would actually make your argument make sense, otherwise it seems completely semantic.

Well, no, it doesn't seems completely semantic, even to you. But sure.

1. A superlatively knowledgable and capable trans-dimensional being
2. Extraterrestrial life


Which are not exclusive possibilities. Both would be scientifically interesting, and the possibility of further scientific evidence should not be discounted a priori. I say further, because apparently-IC structures are evidence. When you bring up that they aren't "proof" or because there's an alternate scenario, they aren't evidence at all rather than in fact evidence for both, they will remain exactly the evidence they are.

I've asked this like three times now and you demur every time, I don't think you're being completely honest about your position.

I have stated my position many times. I'm an advocate of directed evolution, overlapping in content with "ID" as it is known and politically smeared. There is no "sniping" or "smokescreens" going on, I want a falsifiable working definition of "evolution", or agreement that it is not falsifiable. As I said at the outset, that's essential for clarity of consideration of it within a scientific context. The rest of the content of the thread has resulted from sniping at my question.

about a month ago

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