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View Diary: Let's Teach the Controversy of Evolution vs Intelligent Design **Updated with Poll question** (365 comments)

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  •  Simon's ant (1+ / 0-)
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    Consider Herb Simon's discussion of the tracks of an ant on a sand dune.  the tracks look like many complex cognitive decisions have occurred, leading to a false impression that the ant possesses advanced cognitive abilities.  In reality, the ant was making very simple adjustments in it's path in response to the terrain of the dune.  

    The organization we see in the world is similar, small adjustments over time to a changing environment.  

    Also, most humans cannot detect randomness.  They almost always detect patterns in truly random situations, and believe they see randomness in non-random situations.  In fact, random sequence generation has been used to test many aspects of human cognitive control.  It is just not possible to create something that looks random without substantial effort.

    Thus you cannot deduce design from a perceived lack of randomness.

    •  What can be deduced is that randomness, (0+ / 0-)

      by definition, is not order, design, or governed by any set of laws.

      Order, by definition is a logical arrangement with specific governing laws, and specifically denotes design, and design denotes a creator.

      Evolution, denotes order, not randomness, and is therefore design, and therefore created to be so.

      •  no (1+ / 0-)
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        The important thing is the perception of randomness, not randomness itself  

        Consider these two sequences:

        sequence 1:

        sequence 2:


        One is designed, one is random (or as close as a psuedo-random number generator can be).

        Most will perceive the random one to be designed and vice versa.  

        And by the way, order does not denote a creator.  The order you see in the world is an illusion.  Our brains are expert pattern detectors.  We have evolved to see patterns in everything, whether they are designed or not.  So you can not trust your intuitions, which is why we need the scientific method to extract the nature of the world.

        •  Any n sequences can be randomly generated (1+ / 0-)
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          I can use a "true" (yeah, yeah, I know) random number generator and if I generate a long enough sequence can find segments from the longer sequence that were randomly generated. Hence, a sequence


          could be a randomly generated sequence, and, hence, "random."

          In high school (1970's) I wrote a program to flip coins (heads=1; tails=0) and then ran some trials out of boredom to answer question like, "how many coins do I need to flip in order to get a sequence of 1,000 consecutive 'heads' results?"

          In cryptography (specifically "steganography") a hint that a message may be embedded in what appears to be random sequences is if the sequences are TOO random.

          (Missouri 2nd Congressional District)

          I’m not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said whatever it was. -Mitt Romney (2012 GOP Presidential Candidate)

          by fugitive on Tue May 07, 2013 at 07:13:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Your logic is based on a false premise. (0+ / 0-)

          Both sequences are designed by a set of governing laws, the first by you, the other by someone else who wrote a "logical" program that generated results. In the first sequence you are the creator, in the second you are the observer, but both sequences where created.

          Again, the very definition of randomness is that there are no governing laws.  If there are no governing laws then it is impossible to predict results.  If results can be predicted then there are governing laws that dictate what the results will be just like your sequences have demonstrated. Just like 1 + 1 = 2 in an ordered universe.  In a random universe 1 + 1 never, ever has the same result because there are no laws that govern the definition of 1.

          If there is no order in the universe, then science is an illusion.  There must be order to have predictable results.

          The scientific method does not extract the nature of the world; it merely reveals the world in higher definition.

        •  I pick 2 (0+ / 0-)

          This is based on the fraudulent polling that tripped up DK awhile back. When humans try to pretend to be random they avoid repeating numbers. The numbers in the fraudulent tracking poll never were the same day to day while truly random numbers can have that.

        •  a sequence of numbers (0+ / 0-)

          is not "random".  It simply is.  It could be randomly generated.  But the same sequence of numbers that has been randomly generated will also have a real existence.

          At the risk of diving into more mathematical rigor than people care for, in mathematics "randomness" is a word for describing a class of distributions and the sampling processes thereof.  And when you get past that, randomness is nothing more than a subset of measure theory.  

          Any function can be used to generate a random distribution.  A constant function, for example, is technically a "random" distribution (with all of the weight on one particular outcome).  Popular culture conflates "random" with "chaotic" or "wacky" and that's really a poor way to use the word.  

      •  Nature includes random and deterministic processes (2+ / 0-)
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        cybersaur, JerryNA

        Should we invoke divine intervention at the concentration of atoms in our sun, that they are not scattered randomly about the galaxy?  Gravity neatly explains this orderly pattern, so no special interference is required.

        Likewise, natural selection is a deterministic process which tends to produce orderly results.  Random processes such as genetic drift and environmental change may compete with it, but in many (thought not all) cases selection has given rise to increasingly complex organisms.

        It's important to differentiate between order and entropy in a subjective sense vs. a physical energetic sense.  Physics indicates that reactions tend to increase their energetic entropy, but biological processes following this law can nevertheless give rise to organisms which we subjectively perceive as more orderly in a different sense.

        Whether one believes the laws of nature were invented by a deity is a separate matter, outside and not immediately relevant to the scope of modern science

        There are thousands hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root. -Thoreau

        by Frameshift on Tue May 07, 2013 at 06:51:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Randomness is illusory (1+ / 0-)
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        Random just means we can't perceive a pattern.
        Take rolling dice as an example. It is said to be random, but the reality is that rolling dice is governed by the laws of physics and if you can account for all the variables then you can determine the outcome before the dice come to rest.
        Computers are horrible at generating random numbers, but they do it well enough that us mere mortals can't grasp it. What we perceive as random is not random at all.

        +++ The law is a weapon used to bludgeon us peasants into submission. It is not to be applied to the monied elite.

        by cybersaur on Tue May 07, 2013 at 09:44:10 AM PDT

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        •  Are you denying (0+ / 0-)

          that true randomness exists in nature?

          •  essentially (2+ / 0-)
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            RickD, Joieau

            Nature is largely deterministic, but I don't understand quantum mechanics well enough to apply that idea there.
            I really can't think of anything truly random. Maybe you could suggest something?

            +++ The law is a weapon used to bludgeon us peasants into submission. It is not to be applied to the monied elite.

            by cybersaur on Tue May 07, 2013 at 01:23:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hmmm... (0+ / 0-)

              the spontaneous decay of atoms? Sure, you can get enough of them in one place to come up with a half-life, and you can know that because there's a half-life the atoms must be fundamentally unstable. But you can never predict when any given atom of any given isotope will spontaneously decay.

              But even there you might suggest that there are internal processes that lead to the spontaneous decay, so our ignorance in being unable to predict precise decay moment is just that - mere ignorance of the process, of something not actually random at all.

              So... okay, how about specific biological damage resulting from, say, an atom of plutonium sitting on the one-cell thick lining of your lung when it decays. We'd have no real way to know exactly what cell/cell group it is sitting on when it decays and blasts the holy hell out of them. Nor would we have any way to know which adjacent cells lived but suffered enough DNA disruption to turn cancerous. But we could know that an atom of plutonium in your lung is entirely likely to decay at some point, and cause one of the cells not utterly destroyed to turn cancerous due to specified genetic damage. Hmmm...

              Perhaps you're right, there is only our ignorance.

          •  randomness is a mathematical abstraction (1+ / 0-)
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            of the types of behavior we observe in reality.

            True randomness is abstract.  

            Now, some physicists will argue that certain physical phenomena (like radioactive decay) is truly random, but how would we know if they are correct?

            Maybe it just seems to be random since it can be well described by a random distribution?  

      •  you don't even know what "randomness" is (0+ / 0-)

        For starters, "randomness" is, outside the realm of mathematics, something that our minds impose on reality.  And few things in reality are more ordered than randomness.  Doubt me?  There are plenty of wealthy people in Las Vegas who make lots of money on the predictability of seemingly random events.

        You assert that randomness and order are in tension.  Few things could be further from the truth.  Randomness is not chaos.

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