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Gitt’s First Law of Information.

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  • Gitt’s First Law of Information.

    I was out on facebook discussing, with a well known PhD creation scientist, the Ebola virus. Naturally, the discussion got onto information being added to a genome. This led to the following two links being posted (to me):-


    Scientific laws of information and their implications—part 1



    More or less information? / Has a recent experiment proved creation?

    

Now the second link advises this (bolding mine, and links omitted):-

    


    Originally posted by first link above
    We have received a number of queries about the article Research: God did speak world into existence: Student’s scientific documentation offers evidence of biblical account’ from World Net Daily, 11 February 2007. Interestingly, in 1999, Brenda from Canada had asked about a newspaper article on the phenomenon referred to in the WND article, and whether an experiment would be helpful to creationists. Dr Sarfati’s reply below applies equally to this article which reports on just that sort of experiment:


    The particular experiment you mention is a phenomenon called sonoluminescence. It would probably be quite difficult to do without a proper laboratory. More importantly, although it might illustrate the theme of God speaking light into existence, the connection should not be pressed too hard.
    

But according to the first link:-



    Originally posted by Gitt’s first law of information
    A material entity cannot generate a non-material entity
    



    Now, I’ve written to the creation scientist pointing out that if Gitt’s first law is to be believed, then the answer to the question raised in respect to that experiment mentioned in the second quote should be a resounding “No”, surely.



    Presumably, sonoluminescence is sound (a material phenomenon), producing energy (a material phenomenon), and that energy has information associated with it. It seems that a whiff of such logic is being argued if it’s suggested that the phenomenon may vaguely, possibly, just inform us about God speaking light into existence, but don’t press it too hard.



    This got me thinking about that first law of Gitt’s.



    Is it necessarily so? If I can look at a rock, examine it, look at its chemical and physical properties, and extract meaning from the associated data (e.g that rock is igneous, and was produced by that volcano over there), then surely information must exist for me to extract meaning.

    

But it was a natural (material/energetic) process (the volcano) that produced that rock in the first place.



    Hence a material process, a material entity can generate information (a non-material entity).
    




    Last edited by rwatts; 10-25-2014, 08:20 PM.

  • #2
    May not the definition of information in Gitt's approach be different from what is implicit in your example?
    The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

    [T]he truth I’m after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance -— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
      May not the definition of information in Gitt's approach be different from what is implicit in your example?
      In what sense?

      Comment


      • #4
        In discussions like these, step one (always omitted for some reason) is to provide a rigid definition of "information" such that all parties involved can unambiguously agree as to whether something is or is not information. Preferably, this definition will be refined enough to be able to calculate the quantity of information involved, as defined.

        A definition such as "anything I find meaningful within a context different from yours" is worse than useless, because it masquerades as communication.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by phank View Post
          In discussions like these, step one (always omitted for some reason) is to provide a rigid definition of "information" such that all parties involved can unambiguously agree as to whether something is or is not information. Preferably, this definition will be refined enough to be able to calculate the quantity of information involved, as defined.

          A definition such as "anything I find meaningful within a context different from yours" is worse than useless, because it masquerades as communication.
          That makes sense.

          The first link I gave provided this:-

          "In his outstanding articles “Inheritance of biological information”5, Alex Williams has explained this five-level concept by applying it to biological information. Using the last four of the five levels, we developed an unambiguous definition of information: namely an encoded, symbolically represented message conveying expected action and intended purpose. We term any entity meeting the requirements of this definition as “universal information” (UI)."

          But then, these kind of discussions then end up with the creationist claiming that information cannot be added to a genome. It can only be muddled up or detracted.

          Then it kind of looks as if the definition has been set up, like so many creationist "arguments", to exclude evolution from being science. And so one comes back to other definitions of information, which, in the biological context, that same link admits:-

          "However, there is no binding definition of information that is universally agreed upon by practitioners of engineering, information science, biology, linguistics or philosophy. There have been repeated attempts to grapple with the concept of information. "

          Therefore, like I say, if I can get meaning from a rock, then presumably it has information that was generated by a natural process, and we come back to the point I made about Gitt's first law (and others). In the context of evolution, it's a croc.
          Last edited by rwatts; 10-25-2014, 10:53 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            The definition you provide should generate some confusion immediately. So if it's not symbolically encoded, it's not information? If it doesn't embody "intended purpose" it's not information? Golly, information here has been "unambiguously defined" as being inherently teleological. If you can't find intended purpose, it's not information! And he has the brass balls to call this "universal information". As opposed to what geologists get from rocks, which I suppose is simply uninformative, though geologists don't realize they are uninformed.

            There have been some arguments, over on Uncommon Descent and the Skeptical Zone, as to whether DNA constitutes a language, spelling out encoded messages with a 4-letter alphabet. And the problem with this claim has been that there is no decoding mechanism. Instead, DNA works directly, much like paint needs no decoding to protect wood.

            I've never seen any use of "information" by creationists that's not part of an inapplicable analogy. All ID arguments seem to be by analogy: "BECAUSE DNA is a language, and has encoded information, and BECAUSE natural processes cannot encode information..." and so on. It's semantic white noise.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by phank View Post
              The definition you provide should generate some confusion immediately. So if it's not symbolically encoded, it's not information? If it doesn't embody "intended purpose" it's not information? Golly, information here has been "unambiguously defined" as being inherently teleological. If you can't find intended purpose, it's not information! ...
              Exactly.

              Given this, and given Gitt's anti evolution stance, it looks to me as if this has been designed with evolution in mind:-

              1) Information concepts are often applied to genes.

              2) Genes including new genes get added to DNA via evolution.

              3) That is, information gets added to DNA via evolution.

              4) But we (creationists) have made a religion of hating evolution, and Darwin is the Satan of that religion, being responsible for most of the modern world's problems.

              5) So let's define information in the Gitt sense and:-

              a) we have something that looks sciency, and

              b) it shows that information cannot be added to the genome.

              Therefore by 6 b), evolution is bunk because something sciency shows that it is.

              However the definition itself looks crapy. Like I say, if I can get meaning from a rock then presumably the rock contains information. But natural processes make rocks.

              Therefore Gitt's definition is silly.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by rwatts View Post
                However the definition itself looks crapy. Like I say, if I can get meaning from a rock then presumably the rock contains information. But natural processes make rocks.

                Therefore Gitt's definition is silly.
                Have you considered his fourth law:

                "Attributing meaning to a set of symbols is an intellectual process requiring intelligence"?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                  Have you considered his fourth law:

                  "Attributing meaning to a set of symbols is an intellectual process requiring intelligence"?
                  Yes, and I agree with that (I think).

                  I do have a problem with the word "symbol". An intelligence can extract meaning from a rock. So is a mineral in a rock a symbol?

                  It's the information generating process that looks to be a case of - "it ain't necessarily so" - to me. In fact as phank points out, it looks contrived and how it's used in these arguments, it seems to have been contrived in order to argue that evolution cannot generate information and so macroevolution is wrong.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by rwatts View Post
                    Yes, and I agree with that (I think).

                    I do have a problem with the word "symbol". An intelligence can extract meaning from a rock. So is a mineral in a rock a symbol?
                    I do think 'symbol' is not particularly well-defined. However, is not 'seeing' our brain interpreting the electrical impulses sent by photoreceptor cells, then interpreting the impulses through certain frameworks? If so then the 'symbols' are the electrical impulses.

                    It's the information generating process that looks to be a case of - "it ain't necessarily so" - to me. In fact as phank points out, it looks contrived and how it's used in these arguments, it seems to have been contrived in order to argue that evolution cannot generate information and so macroevolution is wrong.
                    I agree that the first law looks like begging the question, but that does not disprove it.

                    What do you think of the other levels of the definition - statistics, syntax, semantics and pragmatics?
                    Last edited by Paprika; 10-26-2014, 03:04 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                      ... but that does not disprove it.
                      That was not my intent. It's just that it was a "not necessarily so" definition that Gitt had offered.

                      Originally posted by Paprika
                      What do you think of the other levels of the definition - statistics, syntax, semantics and pragmatics?
                      At a glance, I have problems with some of those as well.

                      For example, take 5) and 6). They depend on intelligence and even then don't necessarily seem to be rigorous. Thus, I could send a message that contains information but have absolutely no intent behind sending it. If the receiver happens to pick it up, then fine, if not then fine. If the receiver happens to act on it, I don't care one way or another. Gitt seems to say that the receiver may or may not act on it. It does not matter, the sender still sends with an expectation. But as I point out, conceivably I can send a message with no expectation. Does it then contain no information?

                      And of course, where information is generated by a non-intelligence as per my illustration in the O.P then 5) and 6) simply don't apply. I just don't think Gitt's definition and hence his levels of information are necessarily all that good. He's only captured it in the context of information and intelligences (and I don't know how well he's captured it there. I wonder what folk who really know this stuff would think?). But I think information can be generated by non-intelligences.
                      Last edited by rwatts; 10-26-2014, 05:29 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by rwatts View Post
                        Hence a material process, a material entity can generate information (a non-material entity).




                        Gitt would no doubt argue that the information comes not from your material brain, but from your immaterial intelligence.

                        Roy
                        Last edited by Roy; 10-26-2014, 07:27 AM.
                        Jorge: Functional Complex Information is INFORMATION that is complex and functional.

                        mikewhitney: What if the speed of light changed when light is passing through water? ... I have 3 semesters of college Physics.

                        Mountain Man: First of all, the Bible is a fixed document.
                        Mountain Man: … this is how liberals argue these days, with labels instead of ideas.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Roy View Post
                          Gitt would no doubt argue that the information comes not from your material brain, but from your immaterial intelligence.

                          Roy
                          Bingo!

                          The idea of intelligence in the sense of ID movement can't distinguish between material and immaterial intelligence.

                          Ergo, ID is not falsifiable.

                          Ergo, it's a BRILLIANT creationist concept. Why? Because YEC is falsifiable (modulo an evil trickster creator), and HAS been falsified.

                          K54

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                            I do think 'symbol' is not particularly well-defined. However, is not 'seeing' our brain interpreting the electrical impulses sent by photoreceptor cells, then interpreting the impulses through certain frameworks? If so then the 'symbols' are the electrical impulses.
                            And I suppose if you poke at a pebble and it moves away from your finger, the poke is the symbol, and the moving away is the intelligent response. The pebble has decoded and responded to the information in the poke (or flow of water or wind, or pull of gravity, or whatever else might inform a pebble that it should move).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Roy View Post
                              Gitt would no doubt argue that the information comes not from your material brain, but from your immaterial intelligence.

                              Roy
                              Yes, I wondered that.

                              However, I still come back to the idea that if I can extract meaning from some entity, say the minerals in a rock, then the rock has information. Natural processes caused those minerals, and so Gitt's definition (e.g. his first law) is nonsense.

                              As phank and myself discussed, those definitions seem awfully contrived.

                              Comment

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