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  #41  
Unread August 7th, 2006, 08:34 AM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: Selling Evolution

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Originally Posted by Fred H.
Bingo! The “control” Tom claims to “feel” is also known as free will, choice, moral responsibility. But, unfortunately, such things seem to be fully available only to sane, rational adults able to comprehend and acknowledge that they do indeed have at least some choice and that they do indeed have moral responsibility. Therefore, I suspect that whatever “control” Tom thinks he “feels,” much or all of it may be an illusion. Nevertheless, I still think he has to be held accountable for the incoherent illogical crap that he posts here.

Perhaps someone else here would care enough to call Tom on his nonsense?
Yes, "feel" is the operative word here. It IS all an illusion. Unless, of course, you're able to describe in what any true autonomy from the chemicals in our brains resides. No, I thought not. Otherwise, your superior moral fumes would not need your meds.

As for "incoherent illogical crap", you're transferring. "Incoherence" could be described by your POV that someone on one side of some quantity of sanity has responsibility while someone on the other does not. Unless you can show that line, you're incoherent. You're not so much full of crap as you are full of wishful thinking. You have no basis for your argument except for your ignorance.

You're wrong, Fred, and will stay that way. Everyone is trying to hold you "accountable for the incoherent illogical crap that" you post here but you refuse to listen and understand. That's why everyone is so exasperated. I know where it comes from so it doesn't bother me as much.
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  #42  
Unread August 7th, 2006, 11:08 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Selling Evolution

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Tom: Yes, "feel" is the operative word here. It IS all an illusion.
Hmmm. Tom can’t seem to make up his mind—first everything is deterministic and free will is an illusion, then he declares that he feels much more in control of a deterministic universe, and now he’s back to it’s all an illusion.

Well, OK, whatever—apparently Tom’s back to where this started—Since Tom is convinced that we humans are not morally responsible for our behavior, that any free will is an illusion, that it’s all deterministic, then if in fact Carey and I do not agree, then it is and always was inevitable (deterministic) that Carey an I would not agree.

So what’s Tom’s beef? If it’s all deterministic, then it’s all deterministic . . . except, apparently, that Tom would have a beef is/was also deterministic . . . and that he would assert that everything is deterministic and that human free will is an illusion, and then, discordantly, also declare that he feels much more in control of a deterministic universe, and then again, to add discord to discord, continue to maintain that everything is deterministic and that human free will is an illusion, is/was also, apparently, in Tom’s universe, inevitable/deterministic. Period. The end.

My own view is that Tom’s reasoning and arguing skills are dismal. But maybe that’s just me.

Tom, you have the last word, as incoherent (i.e., lacking cohesion, connection, or harmony; not coherent: incoherent fragments of a story; unable to think or express one's thoughts in a clear or orderly manner) and inconsistent as I’m certain it will be.
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  #43  
Unread August 7th, 2006, 01:22 PM
TomJrzk TomJrzk is offline
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Default Re: Selling Evolution

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred H.
Hmmm. Tom can’t seem to make up his mind—first everything is deterministic and free will is an illusion, then he declares that he feels much more in control of a deterministic universe, and now he’s back to it’s all an illusion.

Well, OK, whatever—apparently Tom’s back to where this started—Since Tom is convinced that we humans are not morally responsible for our behavior, that any free will is an illusion, that it’s all deterministic, then if in fact Carey and I do not agree, then it is and always was inevitable (deterministic) that Carey an I would not agree.

So what’s Tom’s beef? If it’s all deterministic, then it’s all deterministic . . . except, apparently, that Tom would have a beef is/was also deterministic . . . and that he would assert that everything is deterministic and that human free will is an illusion, and then, discordantly, also declare that he feels much more in control of a deterministic universe, and then again, to add discord to discord, continue to maintain that everything is deterministic and that human free will is an illusion, is/was also, apparently, in Tom’s universe, inevitable/deterministic. Period. The end.

My own view is that Tom’s reasoning and arguing skills are dismal. But maybe that’s just me.

Tom, you have the last word, as incoherent (i.e., lacking cohesion, connection, or harmony; not coherent: incoherent fragments of a story; unable to think or express one's thoughts in a clear or orderly manner) and inconsistent as I’m certain it will be.
Again, you have no facts. Your argument is nothing but attempting to ridicule me, which shows just how weak you are. You can't understand the simple notion that human intelligence is part of the determinist universe. Once again, you are wrong. And I still pity you, it's not your fault.
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  #44  
Unread August 7th, 2006, 11:00 PM
ToddStark ToddStark is offline
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Cool Random?

Hi,

Interesting issue regarding randomness and what it means.

To me, probability is in a very real sense the mathematics of randomness. Probability expresses our best efforts to understand the nature of randomness, to provide a way of making decisions based on relative uncertainty about the world.

That said, American mathematician-philosopher Charles Peirce rightly observed that probability is also the one branch of mathematics in which good writers frequently get results that are entirely erroneous.

We can define probability in terms of measure in order to make random events seem sort-of predictable (at least in the long run) but the validity of the answers we get that way depend on the nature of our question. Quoting the odds of events or saying that they have no discernable pattern to us is not the same thing as saying they are not determined by something (or more typically, many somethings).

I think Carey made the point for the Darwinian view eloquently by emphasizing that the point distinguishing it from "intelligent design" is not some abstract notion of "accident" opposed to "design" but the putative manner in which beneficial features arise and spread in a population, directed top-down with an end in sight vs. conforming to selective pressures for survival and reproduction.

True, genetic change is in various ways not random, but it is still important to distinguish change that clearly and directly benefits a species in some way ("hopeful monsters") from change that requires some additional mechanism such as selection in order to plausibly explain its spread through a population.

I'm not sure that even "hopeful monsters" would really make the the case for ID much stronger because of the limited scope of what they can explain in practice. We would be essentially be using these "X-Men" sort of mutations to explain a small set of critical changes, such as radical differences that can lead rapidly to new body plans, but even then the majority of genetic change would still not plausibly be explained without a more gradual sort of selection process, as far as I can tell.

Somewhat of a sideline - There is an intriguing discussion of the philosophy of probability and randomness suitable for non-specialists and math-phobics in Michael and Ellen Kaplan's book "Chances Are ... Adventures in Probability."

kind regards,

Todd
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  #45  
Unread August 9th, 2006, 09:33 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Selling Evolution

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Todd: To me, probability is in a very real sense the mathematics of randomness. Probability expresses our best efforts to understand the nature of randomness, to provide a way of making decisions based on relative uncertainty about the world.
As you know Todd, my own view is that randomness is an illusion, although our ignorance certainly seems to be real, and probability is merely our efforts to quantify that ignorance.

As far as I know, randomness is not falsifiable; and I don’t know of anything that convincingly proves/establishes/confirms that randomness is real, certainly not at the classical level . . . although there is that pesky quantum level “measurement problem,” a “problem” that only seems to arise b/c we are attempting a “measurement” on something (the quantum level wave-particle) that we don’t yet seem to begin to truly understand.

Do you agree that “randomness” may well be an illusion, that there really is no way of proving or confirming that randomness is in any meaningful way real? Or can you provide (succinct and convincing) evidence that confirms the reality of randomness?
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  #46  
Unread August 14th, 2006, 05:18 PM
ToddStark ToddStark is offline
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Arrow Re: Selling Evolution

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As you know Todd, my own view is that randomness is an illusion, although our ignorance certainly seems to be real, and probability is merely our efforts to quantify that ignorance.
In a sense it is an illusion, since randomness doesn't really matter for individual events, what matters is the pattern of events over time. Every event just is what it is. For example, even if human mating were random overall (which it isn't, but just say ...) each pairing would still have unique significance to the couple, and its own history.

The technical issue at hand (in probability) is generally not whether something is random but whether events are independent. Tests start with the "null hypothesis" which assumes we got things wrong. You're never proving that you got the right distribution, you are disconfirming the claim that you got it wrong within a given range of likelihood.

It seems to me that quantifying risk and uncertainty based on the law of large numbers has been one of the fundamental tools of modern culture for maybe two hundred years or so. Insurance, quality control, process improvement, stocks, and many other things we take largely for granted all are based on "quantifying ignorance" in some sense. We are ignorant of the details of the causes of lots of these things, or at least we don't always dive into the details, but we still rely on what we know about "the long run."

Individual mutations are not neccessarily "random," in every sense since some regions of DNA may be more likely affected than others in principle (some regions of the DNA molecule may be a larger target than others), or because the functionality of DNA is not evenly distributed so some mutations have much more dramatic effects than others. However, they are "independent" in the sense that the mutations are independent events from the resulting adaptation to the environment that we care about in biology.

I think Carey made the same point, so I don't think I am adding anything really new here?

kind regards,

Todd
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  #47  
Unread August 14th, 2006, 07:32 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
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Default Re: Selling Evolution

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Todd: We are ignorant of the details of the causes of lots of these things, or at least we don't always dive into the details, but we still rely on what we know about "the long run."
Yeah, I’m inclined to agree, although I’d be a bit more modest and say that we rely on what we “think” we may know about the long run.

It occurs to me that one could perhaps equate an increase in entropy to an increase in randomness—perhaps randomness is “real,” but in the sense that, for example, the huge entropy of a black hole (a virtual nothingness) is some sort of actual randomness.
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