Monday, April 23, 2007


Information Underload

Andrew Arensburger at Ooblog has detailed an email exchange with Dr. Michael Egnor that puts the final nail (if one was needed) in any pretense Egnor might still have had to serious thinking on the subject of evolution.

Egnor claimed that he "asked Darwinists to define biological information, because Darwin’s theory hinges on it" and claimed to be "appalled" that "Darwinists" don’t even know "how to measure the property on which their entire theory turns." While he waves in the direction of "Dembski’s CSI" as a measure of information, Egnor admits that "[n]o one knows how to measure biological information in a meaningful way."

So what is all his brouhaha about then? According to Egnor, "we know biological information when we see it." When Andrew pointed out the scientists don't think that "information" is a useful concept when discussing life, Egnor replied that he has "no patience for sophistry."

So, let's see. "I know information when I see it and if you don’t see what I see, you’re a sophist!"

I wonder if Egnor knows the meaning of the word?

This is all wonderfully ironic given Egnor's latest babble about how ID is all about the science!
P.S. For the morbidly curious, if you go back to the nethermost regions of this blog, you may just catch a glimpse of Andrew.
P.P.S. Mike Dunford at the Questionable Authority, who was the target of Egnor's post about Intelligent Design Creationists' supposed greater concern for science than "Darwinists" have, has responded with all the seriousness that blather deserves.
P.P.P.S. Jason Rosenhouse at Evolutionblog has weighed in on Egnor's misdirection here: "Creationists Don't Know What They are Talking About. Literally!"
P.P.P.P.S. Tyler DiPietro at Greedy, Greedy Algorithms has a post about Egnor's motorized uprights, "Moving Goalpost Syndrome at It's Worst."
P. (n) S. Ed Brayton has also noted the evasion in his post "Egnor and Biological Information, Take 2" at both Dispatches From the Culture Wars and at Talk To Action.
P. (n + 1) S. Mark Hoofnagle at has made Egnor the subject of "Denialist busting of the day."
Okay, Andrew ... my work is done. I got you a mention in Pharyngula: "George Gilder, Lord of the Adguacyth."

How do they plan to "enlist people who do care about science" when so far they've failed to enlist people who care enough about science to actually do it? (How many of those "Dissent from Darwinism" signers are named Steve?)
Why, they enlist people who care about science only to the extent (and not an iota more) that it contradicts their pre-existing beliefs. You know ... like Egnor himself!
Let me pimp myself here a bit if you will. Even though I commented on OOblog, I just put up a real post about evolution and information.
Pimp? I don't know the meaning of the word. I do it all the time ... I just don't know what it means.

Speaking of not knowing ... Egnor rejects Shannon information as a measure of biological information. I'll let you decide how valid his criticism is.

Also, the author of the book your correspondent sent you, John Sanford, is an IDeologist who testified in the Kansas kangaroo hearings.
I do it all the time

Yeah, I saw you pimping my post in several places. Remind me next time I see you, and I'll give you your share of the profits.

I haven't finished reading the paper that Chris mentioned, but it looks as though the author defines information as protein binding site specificity, measured in bits; then shows how natural selection drastically increases specificity, and therefore the information content of the genome.
I saw you pimping my post in several places.

This is really too good for it not to get around. Have you posed it to yet?
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