Do Heat Seeking Missiles Have Teleology?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #81

That’s not true. If you know what it is, it merely is a relabeling of a quantity ubiquitously computed in science, but has different meaning than he thinks.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #82

I am not a Post Doc, you are. Do something useful with your PhD. Instead of looking for Intelligent Design everywhere, use your talents to find a way to compress DNA date so that we can store everyone’s genome and the genomes of their cancer as it mutates. That will help humanity tremendously.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #83

I was trying to say that his work on tying ASC to ID is pointless as well as useless

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #84

Already done! By assuming common decent. I call it the semiotic argument for common descent. Though, it is also a useful technology.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #85

Not already done in Computer Storage Networks. With the rapid advance in DNA sequencing, it is going to be cheap enough to sequence (and storage everyone genome. And also to sequence and store any cancer tumor DNA as it mutates in time. All this data is going to required massive data storage. So what is really needed is a compression algorithm for DNA like we have for video and speech.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #86

Now you are in my realm. Till a couple months ago I was in the the WUSTL genome institute where much of the human genome was sequences. I was also a PhD student in the group that published one of the first if not the first practically useful compression algorithm, and it was based on a compression algorithm I invented for chemistry.

There is more to do but the compression algorithm isn’t the problem. The challenge is in developing a standard, and people here at WUSTL are doing just that right now.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #87

That sounds great. Can you send me the paper on the compression algoritm as I am familar with what was done with video and speech. I would like to see what is done on DNA as there must be allot of redundancy built into DNA sequences that can be compressed. Do you have any metrics you can share with me like % compression achieved, closeness to Shannon limit on minimum entropy?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #88

Had I been a better graduate student, I would have been an author on this paper. I remember coming up with key parts of this idea on the phone late at night with my advisor. The year of publication is 2007, last year of my PhD.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #89

I’d add that right now genomes aren’t the real challenge. The harder thing to deal with is the raw data off the machines. Genome compression per se is a solved problem.

(Neil Rickert) #90

There is actually a mathematics of surface area, as part of calculus. And the ups and downs are part of what matters.

That’s because you are concerned with the area of an abstraction (the abstract rectangle), rather than the surface area of the real world part of the garden enclosed by the rectangle.

(Daniel Ang) #91

The question is whether you can apply 2+2 to count things in the real world. To take a crude example, sometimes in the real world it’s actually 2.001+1.99998 - is 2+2 still a good approximation of that?

(Neil Rickert) #92

I sometimes point people to the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida, with those “hanging chads” to illustrate the complexities of real world counting.

(Edward Robinson) #93

I don’t think you biologists realize how dogmatic such pronouncements sound to philosophers. “That is the only thing that can happen.” Really? You are so sure of how evolution works that you can say that? When the Royal Society two years ago hosted a major global conference on evolution, and it was clear that the greatest theorists in the business were not in agreement over evolutionary mechanism? I do recommend that you read Scott Turner’s book. It seems that not all biologists are as confident in the “consensus” as you appear to be.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #94

@eddie that is a nonseqitor.

(Edward Robinson) #95

I don’t know “we” is, but there is no reason in principle why a God of the Biblical type couldn’t be influencing the rolls. It’s more likely, however, that a human being would be involved in deliberate fraud to cheat people out of money, than that the Biblical God would be, so I suppose that is why the usual conclusion is human rigging of the dice.

In any case, the methods of ID can’t distinguish between a God who is rigging the dice rolls and a human crook. All that ID methods can show is that we wouldn’t expect 100 wins in a row by chance, and so some explanation other than chance ought to be sought. That leaves natural law, and deliberate design. If the 100 wins in a row can’t be explained by the laws of physics, then design is the explanation by elimination.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #96

I know. I’m am a respected member of that field. The question is not about the field. It is about you. Do you have any experience solving real world problems with IT?

(Steve Schaffner) #97

I’m not sure you realize how completely indifferent most biologists are to the effect of their words on philosophers.

I would agree that this is an overstatement. For some parts of parameter space, the system will just fizzle out, for example.

Yeah, pretty much. That’s hardly the only thing going on in evolution, but that natural selection actually does result in increased fitness – yes, that’s part of how evolution works.

Who at that meeting disputes that natural selection increases fitness?

(Edward Robinson) #98

Why is it a non sequitur? T. aq. gave an understanding of evolutionary mechanism that is not universally accepted by all evolutionary theorists (it may be universally accepted by all population geneticists, but the set of population geneticists is not co-extensive with the set of evolutionary theorists). I merely pointed out that it is dogmatic to insist that evolution works that way. A philosopher would be more cautious in areas where mechanism is in dispute. In fact, even many biologists are more cautious – Turner, Shapiro, etc.

(Edward Robinson) #99

Oh, I’m quite aware of it. The extremely low level of epistemological sophistication in the discussion of evolution by population geneticists showed me that long ago. If biologists paid more attention to philosophers, they would be better biologists. Some of them realize it. J. Scott Turner does. So does Stephen Jay Gould, whose discussion of evolution in The Structure of Evolutionary Theory is light-years ahead, in breadth and depth, to anything I’ve every seen written by any population geneticist writing about evolution on the internet. But Gould had one of those broad Renaissance minds which the modern American system of scientific training doesn’t encourage, and even actively discourages, by its reward system which favors micro-specialization over big-picture thinking.

I didn’t dispute that natural selection, where it occurs (though Joshua has reminded us many times that according to neutral theory, much of evolution takes place outside of selective pressure), increases fitness in a narrow sense, e.g., makes cheetahs a little faster, or bacteria more resistant to certain antibiotics, etc. But that hardly responds to the point I was raising, which was about Scott Turner’s new book. I don’t mind if you don’t agree with Turner, but at least you could read what he says before dismissing it. He’s a trained biologist, a peer of yours, so even if you don’t care what philosophers say, you should presumably be interested in what he has to say.


How can less fit individuals outcompete more fit individuals? Both in experiments and in the lab we see the accuracy of this statement played out time and time again.

There was no disagreement about natural selection. In fact, the vast majority of the mechanisms that are being put forward by the “Third Way” or “EES” crowd require natural selection in order to work.