I Get Email
I recently happen to come across your website
www.ooblick.com through the section /text/evoquotes. Actually, I had bookmarked the quotes some time ago and happen to cleaning up some old favorites when I saw them again. I do not know if this website is still being maintained or if you are still interested in any dialogue about it. My first question is are these quotes for real? If so, doesn’t it give you even a small pause regarding your anti-creationist stance? I moved up to your main page and it is quite an interesting collection of works. I particularly like the “ooblick” recipe itself. I didn’t realize that I had been inadvertently making ooblick every time I created a rue to thicken my gravy.
In any case, I am a creationists and that is my main concern with your page, in particular the “message to creationists”. It appears the site is quite dated and I’m wondering if it has ever been updated. You may feel you’ve heard every argument before and if you are not interested in any feedback that is perfectly fine. You simply need not respond. Likewise, I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this message if you are not interested in any polite and respectful dialogue.
I will give you this feedback, however, if you are still listening. If you’d like to respond, I would be interested in discussing it in more detail, point by point. There didn’t appear to be a way to respond publicly on your site, so I’m sending you this email. You claim to have heard every anti-evolution argument there is. However, if that were true, you wouldn’t be posting the fallacious comments you have made. To be honest, there is very little if anything that is true on this page. What is surprising to me is that you are critical of creationists for not understanding evolution, yet you have not bothered to even look up creation theory. This is not surprising to me. If you think about it, we are all indoctrinated in evolutionary dogma in school, so there are few people that do not understand at least the basics of evolutionary theory. Since scientific creation theory is not allowed to be taught in school, I’ve never met an evolutionist that had an inkling about what creation theory is actually about.
Throughout the site you appear to want creationist to provide extremely specific detail about the ancient past, yet you do not insist on these same standards for evolutionists. For example, when exactly did the first life form appear? Where on earth did it appear? what did it look like? How many years did it take before it evolved into something else? If it actually happened, why can’t we repeat the event in the lab? Please provide a complete list of transitional forms between this first life and the organisms found in the Cambrian explosion. Where is the Oort cloud (the supposed source of short term comments that demonstrate a young universe)? Really, this list could go on ad infinitum and I doubt you could answer any of them. On the other hand, I can actually answer many, if not most, of the questions on your site.
There certainly are well defined creationists theories regarding our origins and they are backed by substantial POSITIVE evidence in their favor. In no way is creationism simply anti-evolution. However, just as evolutionists point out faults with creation theories, it is natural for creation scientists to do the same. After all, there are only two viable scientific theories of our origins at the moment and any negative evidence against one is evidence in favor of the other. That is because we are talking about historical theories and it is the preponderance of the evidence which matters, since neither can be scientifically proven.
This is already long, but if you would be interested in having me actually respond to your comments point by point, I would be happy to oblige.
Okay, tell you what. Why don’t you take your “viable scientific” theory of creation, remove all the bits that have been debunked ad nauseam and refuted in the Index of Creationist Claims (such as CA510.1, your assertion that evidence against evolution is evidence for creationism), and see what you have left.
If it’s still a viable scientific theory that can withstand scrutiny, and can be tested through experiment, come back and we’ll talk about it.
No, you presented the statement that “living things contain information (regardless of how we might define it)”. I can’t agree with that, because it depends on how you define “information”. If you define “information” as DNA, then no, not all living beings contain information.
And it doesn’t help the conversation if each of us has our own private definition of “information”, because then we’ll be using the same word for different concepts.
Ah, see, this is different: you’re allowing me to decide how to define “information”, and implying that you’ll be bound by that definition.
And the answer to your question is “no”. See below.
For purposes of this conversation, and only for books, I define “information” as “jars of mayonnaise”.
To measure the information content of a book, open it and count the number of jars of mayonnaise contained between its covers. Size doesn’t matter. Jars less than half-full of mayonnaise don’t count. Blends (such as aioli) count, but only if the jar has a list of ingredients that includes mayonnaise.
Okay, I’ve given you an objective metric by which to measure information in books. Where are you going with this?
Clearly not. As far as I know, the claim that X contains Y is never independent of the definition of Y in any language, but different languages is the only explanation I can come up with.
Let me rephrase your question in a more accurate way and give you the answer you clearly want:
Q: Can we agree that for certain definitions of the word “information” living things contain information?
Excellent! Somebody has made a claim somewhere that living things contain information. Let’s look at those claims *specifically* and see which ones actually mean “information” in some quantifiable sense (rather than a colloquial “DNA is information!” for students) and work with those. Maybe we can even agree or disagree with those claims. Do you have a reference handy?
Here are the high points of my take on the topic:
1) DNA clearly has measurable Shannon information content and Kolmogorov complexity. This information content can increase or decrease with mutations.
2) It’s trivial to show that a series of the types of mutations that have been observed can turn any arbitrary DNA sequence into any other arbitrary DNA sequence.
3) Given (2), I find it hard to believe that there is any definition of “information” that is quantifiable and cannot be increased by standard evolutionary paths.
4) I won’t claim that “new information has been created” for any arbitrary definition of “information.” I do believe that the claim is probably true for any quantifiable definition of the word as it applies to DNA.
I find Egnor’s tactics distasteful because he appears to reject all quantifiable metrics for “information” and then demands that his opponents show in a quantitative way how his secret unquantifiable definition increases. He has a version of “information” that somehow cannot be measured, but he’s angry that we’re unable to explain its obvious (?!) abundance.
Sorry, but I’ve lost my patience with this. It is no longer worth my time. I’ve tried to have a reasonable and honest conversation about this, but apparently you don’t want to have any part in an honest conversation and I have better things to do. This has been significantly worse then pulling teeth. I will make my final comments and of course, since this is your blog, you will have the last word to spin it in any dishonest way you’d like. In the end, the reason I’m abandoning this conversation is that you have made it perfectly clear that you do not want to debate this in good faith.
Nevertheless, any objective person reading this blog will see that I’ve repeatedly demonstrated the blatant hypocrisy displayed in your dealings with creationists whether it is a fanatical focus on refuting creation theory instead of positive evidence for evolution (for which there apparently is none), complaining creationists don’t understand evolution but then displaying a complete ignorance of creation theory established by mainstream creation scientists, complaining the definition of creation theory is incomplete but then trying to pull the wool over our eyes by using a deceptive one liner for the theory of evolution that is not even close to being complete, to resorting to every tactic imaginable in order not to answer questions, but then complaining that getting information from creationists is like pulling teeth. It is clear you have absolutely no interesting in either seeking or knowing the truth through any objective reasoning.
Your claim that evolutionists measure information as “jars of mayonnaise” clearly puts you in a category outside the rest of humanity including those of scientists and biologists. Regardless of how much you want to deny it, real and tangible information resides in books and in living things and it is not measured by “jars of mayonnaise” by any evolutionist, creationist, scientist or biologist I know or have heard of. You are supposed to be representing the position of evolutionists in this debate, but since you have chosen to represent something else completely foreign to that, I have no interest in continuing as my disagreement lies with evolution, not a perverted form of it where mayonnaise is equated with information (Gee, another “flavor” of evolution, pun intended). If you really believe evolutionists define information as jars of mayonnaise then enjoy your sticky world, I don’t want any part of it. Perhaps you believed the first life evolved in a jar of mayonnaise as well. Of course, that begs the question of whether aliens delivered the mayonnaise to earth in the first place. Although in my past work, I did provide Kraft with a data analysis of their mayonnaise mixing machines so that their mayonnaise would come out with the correct viscosity, this kind of fantasizing lies outside the realm of my expertise or interest.
Since you apparently have no clue how evolutionists actually measure information, the least you could have done is grab a dictionary definition that would have made some sense, as in Webster’s – “the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects”. Of course, evolutionists have no clue as to how to measure this information which makes any similar accusations against ID scientists the final hypocrisy, especially since in fact they DO have methods to identify biological information.
In the end, I find your tactics particularly distasteful because you appear to reject all metrics for “information” (mayonnaise notwithstanding) and then demand that your opponents show in a quantitative way how information increases so that they can do your job for you. You hold a version of “information” that cannot be measured, but then you’re angry when it’s pointed out that you are unable to explain its obvious abundance which is essential for YOUR defunct theory.
Sorry TF, I wouldn’t have minded exploring this further with you as it appears you’re slightly more reasonable, but unfortunately it’s not your blog.
Have a nice life guys. And don’t eat too much mayonnaise. You’re libel to get swelled heads from all that information!
Since you’re demonstrably hung up on dictionary (Webster’s 1828 by any chance?) definitions why not flip that puppy back to the “A is for…” section and look up ‘analogy’ before you attempt the more difficult words.
Did you really not get the point of that post? I’ll spell it out for you: Your point about information existing “regardless of definition” is nonsense because clearly there are definitions for which that claim is untrue.
Let’s take books. How would you evaluate these claims: “Book A has more information than book B.” Or, “Your changes to the book have increased its information content.” You could count pages, characters, words, or sentences. If it was a math book, you could count theorems. If it’s a phone book, you could count phone numbers. I’m certain of two things here:
1) The usefulness of your definition depends on what you’re trying to measure.
2) If I gave you a mechanism that could change any arbitrary string of text into any other string of text, any definition of “information” you come up with could be increased by that mechanism.
Would that definition be quantifiable in any meaningful way? Is that the definition you’re referring to when you claim that evolution does not produce new information? If so, then of course your claim is being ignored.
1) Nobody on “our” side is making any claims that information must increase for any definition of the word that you seem to be groping for. That’s *your* claim. As far as I can tell, these arguments go like this:
Creationist: You’re claiming that information increases.
Biologist: I am? For what definition of information?
Creationist: See! You can’t even define the information that you’re claiming increases. We all know from the Laws Of Science that information doesn’t increase!
Everybody else: WTF?
Creationist: Your theory requires that information increases.
Biologist: It does? For what definition of “information?”
Creationist: Pfft! I’m not doing your work for you.
2) ID scientists don’t have methods to identify “biological information.” Full stop. To my knowledge, no such quantity has ever been defined or measured by any of them. If it had, I’m fairly certain you would have mentioned it after the first dozen times you were asked what your definition of “information” was in this context. Frankly, for all of the mathematical handwaving creationists do, it’s shockingly easy to call them on it. You’ve been called on it. There’s no math. None.
Don’t worry about it. I was finished dealing with you as soon as you (not for the first time) simply copied my post to you and changed some words to produce a crude mimic rather than actually putting some thought into a meaningful response. I’ve tried to be polite and constructive, but it’s clearly a complete waste.
You may want to follow Tom’s baraminology links. They’re interesting and worth discussing. A few things jumped out at me very quickly:
1) Rather than come up with an objective classifier as you would with most statistical classification schemes, there’s some pre-selection of data sets that is done by eyeball.
2) One of the papers essentially says, with a straight face, that when they added molecular similarities (as might be caused by DNA) into the algorithm, they got the ancestry the expected plus a bunch more associations (as one might expect with a very long common ancestry that goes back far deeper than they want). Since that was clearly wrong, they removed those metrics and got much more sensible results.
Wow. Go math.
I scanned over those pages, looking for a formula or something, but I confess I haven’t read them in great detail this time around (it seemed to be mostly the same stuff I saw in the 90s when I looked at baraminology in more detail).
I didn’t notice the points you raise, but I thought holobaramins(?) were interesting. Those were the pseudo-baramins that include humans and apes, but obviously can’t be true created kinds. It seemed to be a concession of the fact that living beings do fall into a nested hierarchy; the next problem was how shoehorn their Biblical-literalist conclusions into that inconvenient fact.
And that’s about as specific as I’ve seen creationists get. One time, Kent Hovind was on Reggie Finley’s show, and I called in and asked him how to tell whether two beings are of the same “kind”. He basically answered any six-year-old can tell that a poodle and a banana are different.
Now, I’m not fundamentally opposed to using six-year-olds as scientific instruments (as long as they’re properly calibrated), but this is why I brought up the example with cauliflower, broccoli, and kohlrabi, above (I trust everyone followed the links and checked the genus and species, yes?).
I can’t be arsed to go read the links, but is Todd Wood among the authors? I recall a t.o thread c. 1999 in which someone (I think Harshman) went over a Todd Wood paper which basically concluded that all the equids right back to eohippus were the same kind. Wood is one of the few creationist doing (almost) honest work.
I don’t remember Todd Wood, but I googled him and found this quotation:
This reminds me of the creationist naval engineer who decided to help the cause by figuring out what kind of boat the ark was. Last I checked, he’d figured out that a squarish barge would be shattered to toothpicks by waves in a few hours, and was planning on exploring some other possibilities. I don’t know whether he ever did, though.
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