Thursday, January 08, 2009

Randomness and Monkeys

Taking out the mystery surrounding what appears to be a random event, if you ask me, is what a scientific theory should be doing. A scientific theory that simply recognizes that there is a random element here or there does not qualify as a scientific theory. You have not added any new information if your theory simply recognizes it. Just imagine the task of building a bridge. You can observe that some bridges collapse at least some contribute to accidents. Imagine if building a bridge is a matter of guess work, a matter of "que sera, sera", a matter of randomness. If so there is no possibility of technological progress.

Want some example of how randomness is explained away by hand waving? Here is a quote from

Chance certainly plays a large part in evolution, but this argument completely ignores the fundamental role of natural selection, and selection is the very opposite of chance. Chance, in the form of mutations, provides genetic variation, which is the raw material that natural selection has to work with. From there, natural selection sorts out certain variations. Those variations which give greater reproductive success to their possessors (and chance ensures that such beneficial mutations will be inevitable) are retained, and less successful variations are weeded out...
My reply: If this is not random chance, then you should be able to predict where a mutation should go in a large scale ecause after all that is what Evolution is saying, a specie turning into another pecie and not just mutating microbiologically. For example, you should be able to predict that a fish should form some feathers. Have you ever looked at how things re done in a horse race? There is a lot more science in the horse race than this, for pundits are able to predict which horse should get in, most of the time.

It continues...
Some people still argue that it is wildly improbable for a given self-replicating molecule to form at a given point (although they usually don't state the "givens," but leave them implicit in their calculations). This is true, but there were oceans of molecules working on the problem, and no one knows how many possible self-replicating molecules could have served as the first one. A calculation of the odds of abiogenesis is worthless unless it recognizes the immense range of starting materials that the first replicator might have formed from, the probably innumerable different forms that the first replicator might have taken, and the fact that much of the construction of the replicating molecule would have been non-random to start with.

My reply: Notice how the explanation pertains only to micro level not macro level. To say that "probably innumerable different forms" does not add any information to a theory. This is like using a magic wand to explain the objection away. In a horse race, you can also say there are millions of possibilities. Yet pundits are able to cut through that cloud, they can give a reasonable prediction.

What I see amongst evolutionists (not of course in the stated web site) as I go around the internet, is this intellectual imperialism ever so present and as bigotted as the rest of us. Most of the time, their argument is based on bullying using ad hominem attacks - i.e. you must be a moron if you are even mildly skeptical of it. One of which dismissed the opinions of physicists, chemists, engineers and mathematicians as if knowledge is confined to a sector of society and no scholar or scientist is qualified to comment if he/she does not come from that field, i.e biology. Can you see the intellectual arrogance of these pseudo-intellectual colonizers?

OK I will agree, some people do come from monkeys. Yes, because judging by the way these evolutionists argue and how they attack the sanity and credibility of people who disagree, surely they have evolved from orang-utangs.


John H said...

Lito: I'd say that "taking the mystery out of a random event" is precisely what evolution does.

Random mutations occur; individuals within populations are subjected to unpredictable and complex pressures. How does order emerge out of this apparent chaos? When we see the process of natural selection working (in a highly predictable manner, at the level of statistical aggregation) to favour some mutations over others.

Evolutionary theory makes predictions about how mutations will be transmitted through populations that can be tested. See, for example, the development of antibiotic resistance.

I still ask: why are you singling out evolution like this? Precisely the same objection can be made to many other sciences, which cannot predict how an individual particle or organism will behave at any moment, but make large-scale predictions about populations of such particles or organisms. See, for example, thermodynamics or quantum mechanics. Or, for that matter, economics.

And as I said on my own blog, in evolution randomness and chance are really only approximations. In principle one could analyse precisely how each mutation or whatever occurs, though one would gain little by doing so, just as one would gain little by analysing how every molecule in a given volume of gas is behaving at an individual level.

However, in quantum mechanics, randomness and chance are (as far as we can currently tell) built into the process itself, and not merely convenient approximations. So does this mean that quantum mechanics - generally regarded as the most brilliantly successful theory in history, as regards the correlation between theory and observation - is not really "science", simply because it cannot tell you how a particular particle is going to behave at a particular moment?

You may also want to check this New Scientist item which tackles the question of whether evolution can make predictions.

L P Cruz said...


Evolutionary theory makes predictions about how mutations will be transmitted through populations that can be tested.

This is not evolution, mutations or variations still happen in the same specie, evolution says a fish can turn to a turtle, i.e. change in trait in the grand scale. A germ becoming resistant is still a germ.

By Quantum Mechanics, I believe you are referring to say Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle?

This principle is very precise in telling us what will not happen. You are told the atom will not be there by the time you measure it. This satisfies the requirement of falsifiability. Evolutionary theory is hard to falsify. Quantum Theory says that the process of measuring the position of an atom will intrude into the system one is measuring. Does evolution have that precision?

Quantum Theory re: Heisenberg says that you cannot know both the position of an atom and its momentum at the same time. If you have the position, you do not have the momentum, and vice versa. You can determine only one of these.

Does evolution have that precision? I don't think so.

The Heisenberg Theory makes negative statements that can be falsified, science is not limited to positive predictions but negative predictions as well. So if we take Evolutionary theory, can it make statements that fish cannot possibly be a stork? If it answers no, it has already defeated itself. It must always say yes, anything is possible.

But we know that anything is possible for things we do not know, so how does that contribute to knowledge?

Thanks for reading.