Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Live Blogging the C4ID 2011 Lecture - part two

I started here.

Ok here we go again from 27 mins in this time.

He is still going strong about how complicated life is and the fact that there is information in DNA,  oooh a fancy animation. Transcription, digital information, polymerase is complicated, messenger RNA, nuclear pore complex, a device, complicated, assembly instructions in a two part chemical factory, complicated, complicated ribosome, transfer RNA, complicated, machine, device etc. etc.

Because Huxley and Darwin knew nothing of this they were . . . (left hanging)

Another analogy, cadcam is computer aided design of parts and assembly.

Life does this, it is mind blowing and has raised "the DNA enigma".

Oh that sounds new, wait for it . . . .

Where does the information in DNA come from?

What? Still this bit of fluff?

Therefore life must be designed.

Now there is an answer to this folks, I just spent about half my core second year biology degree course studying it.

It comes from the interaction of the phenotype with the environment and is fed back into the genotype.  It is more commonly called Natural Selection.

Is that it then?  That is the big question and we already have the answer.  So will the ID crowd now go home?

No he is still going strong.

There are two concepts of information - mathematical notion i.e. Shannon information theory.  Reducing uncertainty.  He really needs to explain why he is throwing this in, unless he just wants to confuse his audience.

Claims Specificity means something - not sure what - but then neither is anyone else.  Will he admit this major criticism of his work and address it?

No.

Will he perhaps bring up that Dembski has conceded that the specificity filter gets false positives i.e. it doesn't work?  Maybe he has a refutation to this refutation.  No

Back to Crick now, who was apparently insistent that information in living systems is "specification of the amino acid sequence in the protein . . . Information means the precise determination of sequence, either of bases in the nucleic acid or on amino acid residues in the protein"

I find this to be disingenuous in the extreme.  Read Crick in context and you can plainly see that he was offering up a solution to where the information was in living systems.  Information that was known to exist from genetics and the location of which had been linked to DNA by previous experiment.  Previous experimenters had been put off DNA as a possible carrier of data because it always seemed to contain very similar ratios of the constituent ingredients i.e. the four "letters"and the structural elements of the famous duble helix and so it wasn't apparent how such a boring molecule might hold the information.

So Crick is simply explaining how a molecule with roughly equal ratios of a few chemicals can store complicated information, i.e. using the four letters as a kind of code.

Why on earth wouldn't Meyers explain this if he was trying to be open and honest with folks?  There is nothing to stop him going on to say that he doesn't agree with modern biology about how it got there and he could explain precisely why.  Wouldn't that be the honest thing to do?

Instead he is seems to me to be trying to deliberately mislead his audience.

Its complicated and specific and complicated etc.

Now he is saying that Dawkins admits DNA is uncannily computer like.  Meyer explicitly states that even in the very simplest forms of life we see extreme complexity.  Again very naughty.

The hidden card here is that he wants you to think that science thinks life started with modern cells.  That todays modern cells are the simplest form of life.  It doesn't think any such thing of course.

What about RNA world?  What about 3 or four other current origin of life hypotheses?  According to Meyer these bodies of work don't even seem to exist.  Again I find this a very dishonest approach from someone telling a non expert audience that he is covering the topic for them.

He thought origin of life was solved years back but it isn't you know.  He went to a conference with origin of life scientists and everything and their candidness about their ignorance was shocking.  He evens says that the scientists spent lots of time at the conference asking where the information came from and again he just leaves the implication hanging that they had and have no clue at all.

Now he is saying that explanations should be one of three things.  We should explain things by chance or necessity or both.

Evolution uses both of course - surely he will have to admit that at some point.

So the origin of life theories were basically just chance or necessity or both.

Chance has been rejected though apparently because Meyer can find some quotes from people saying it has.

And - If you pick a random scrabble letter you only get gibberish.

Holy Moses this is a classic Creationist argument - I thought the ID folks had supposedly got rid of all of them.

Unless you have lots of trials it doesn't work - how many trials does he think a whole planet over hundreds of millions of years might give you?  And bearing in mind any kind of short word is kept and replicates . . . oh sorry he would be simply quoting evolutionary theory.

Anyway he stopped before that and switched to trying to convince people that slowly keeping hits one at a time and building up the information slowly so it can't happen.

No mention of the scientific challenges to this work, most of which is actually covered at high school or undergraduate level.  Yes he is really trying to get away with this.

He has ignored his critics in the wider world and no pretends they don't exist to his audience. He doesn't even mention protein families!

Chutzpah is the word.

I'm flagging again now.  We are now up to 50 minutes.

So chance has been rejected by science apparently.

More another night.

1 comment:

  1. I watched the video of Meyer's lecture recently, and talked about it on a forthcoming episode of the Skepticule Extra podcast. The thing that struck me about it was primarily his insistence that ID is the "best explanation" for the origin of the information in DNA. Unfortunately what Meyer proposes isn't actually an explanation. It offers nothing extra, over and above what "I don't know" offers. The reason why we can make inferences to the best explanation in other areas — why we can speculate about possible causes for events or phenomena, is we understand how those causes work. It's no good proposing a cause when we don't know how that cause works, because that doesn't have any explanatory power. "It was designed" doesn't explain anything unless we can say how it was designed. This is my fundamental objection to ID. For instance when Meyer uses the presence of geological layers of volcanic ash as an example of inference to the best explanation, that's entirely valid, because we know how volcanoes produce layers of volcanic ash. It's not valid for inferring a design to first life.

    I did also note (as you did) that the illustration of the complexity of the cell didn't mention that this was a modern cell and probably nothing like the very first — much simpler — proto-cells that most likely formed from the first self-replicating molecules.

    (As a side note I see that Justin Brierley, host of Unbelievable?, and who was present at Meyer's lecture, has announced that he is now a believer in ID.)

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