Announcement

Collapse

Natural Science 301 Guidelines

This is an open forum area for all members for discussions on all issues of science and origins. This area will and does get volatile at times, but we ask that it be kept to a dull roar, and moderators will intervene to keep the peace if necessary. This means obvious trolling and flaming that becomes a problem will be dealt with, and you might find yourself in the doghouse.

As usual, Tweb rules apply. If you haven't read them now would be a good time.

Forum Rules: Here
See more
See less

Some thoughts on "information"

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Some thoughts on "information"

    What is information?

    One of the most common Creationist ploys used to sway the lay public is the appeal to information. “Evolution can’t create information!” is the new battle cry. But what do they mean by information? True to form Creationists who use the term will never define what they mean by it, preferring the wiggle room that vagueness gives them. In the world of honest people though the term information can mean several different things depending on the context.

    In the most basic sense information means a message conveying our state of knowledge about an object or idea. It’s a human construct to help us describe the physical world. Objects by themselves don’t contain stuff called information; it’s not a property of matter like mass. Information doesn’t float around in space. There can be no information without instantiation by matter and energy. Information is merely what we call our description of an object or idea. Let’s look at a few examples

    Information Theory: Information theory (IT) is the field of mathematics that deals with the quantification of information passed during communication. In the simplest case you have a sender, a message being passed over a (possibly noisy) communications channel, and a receiver trying to reconstruct the original message. Measuring the information content is a way to determine the veracity of the communication or the uncertainty in the message recovery. For a digital message the information content is related to the natural log of the number of symbols sent and is usually expressed in bits: A binary string of length 32 will have an information content of 5 bits. Note that the information content has nothing to do with any meaning of the message. Meaning is determined beforehand by the sender and receiver. It involves intellectual abstraction, assigning values to the symbols in the message above and beyond the symbols themselves. Paul Revere’s lanterns in the Old North Church (“one if by land, two if by sea”) had very little information but huge meaning. There are various subsets of information defined in IT. Shannon information is the basic definition given above. Kolmogorov–Chaitin information is a measure of how compressible a message is, i.e. a string of a thousand repeating 1s and 0s could be described as (1 0 repeat 500 times). Neither have anything to do with biological evolution.

    Physical Information: This is the usage most laymen are familiar with. How much information does an object contain? Since there is no inherent quality of matter called information the answer is the information content depends on how thoroughly we as observers describe the object. Example: We are out walking and we see a red car in the distance. The object has the information “red car”. As we get closer we see it’s a 1966 Ford Mustang. The object now offers more information to us. If we could examine every last screw, bolt, and mechanical piece we’d have tons more information. If we could examine and catalog every atom we’d have tons more information still. The physical properties of the car haven’t changed one iota; our description of the car has gotten more detailed. The information content of how we see the car has increased.

    Biological information: how can we apply this to biological evolution? Turns out it’s already been done. Francis Crick, one of the co-discoverers of DNA addressed the problem back in the 1950’s. In Crick’s words

    “By information I mean the specification of the amino acid sequence in protein. . . Information means here the precise determination of sequence, either of bases in the nucleic acid or on amino acid residues in the protein”

    When scientists talk about the information in DNA they are talking about the genetic sequences that undergo a complex chemical reaction to produce a protein. They are not talking about meaning. There is no abstraction involved in DNA. A genetic sequence doesn’t "mean" a certain protein; it is part of the chemical process that produces a protein. The deliberate equivocation between information and meaning is a favorite Creationist ruse.

    By Crick’s definition every time we get a gene duplication with point mutation event we get a new genetic sequence or new information. Still, Creationists will squawk “evolution can’t produce the information for new functions or new features!!” Sure it can. Basic evolutionary processes of random genetic variations filtered by selection causes the new “information” to accumulate into morphologies that have the best chance of surviving in their particular environment. It’s not wrong to say the information for the new features comes through feedback from the environment.

    Bottom line? The next time you hear a Creationist blither about “information” call him on his definition. Watch him squirm just like our little village Jorge does.

    Comments or constructive criticism welcome.

  • #2
    Creationists use the term because it's essentially meaningless, but it sounds good. By implication, at least over at UD, "information" means "that indefinable quality that takes all the credibility out of natural processes." I've even seen the word used to describe an active agency - "DNA is created by information!"

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by HMS_Beagle View Post
      What is information?

      One of the most common Creationist ploys used to sway the lay public is the appeal to information. “Evolution can’t create information!” is the new battle cry. But what do they mean by information? True to form Creationists who use the term will never define what they mean by it, preferring the wiggle room that vagueness gives them. In the world of honest people though the term information can mean several different things depending on the context.

      In the most basic sense information means a message conveying our state of knowledge about an object or idea. It’s a human construct to help us describe the physical world. Objects by themselves don’t contain stuff called information; it’s not a property of matter like mass. Information doesn’t float around in space. There can be no information without instantiation by matter and energy. Information is merely what we call our description of an object or idea. Let’s look at a few examples

      Information Theory: Information theory (IT) is the field of mathematics that deals with the quantification of information passed during communication. In the simplest case you have a sender, a message being passed over a (possibly noisy) communications channel, and a receiver trying to reconstruct the original message. Measuring the information content is a way to determine the veracity of the communication or the uncertainty in the message recovery. For a digital message the information content is related to the natural log of the number of symbols sent and is usually expressed in bits: A binary string of length 32 will have an information content of 5 bits. Note that the information content has nothing to do with any meaning of the message. Meaning is determined beforehand by the sender and receiver. It involves intellectual abstraction, assigning values to the symbols in the message above and beyond the symbols themselves. Paul Revere’s lanterns in the Old North Church (“one if by land, two if by sea”) had very little information but huge meaning. There are various subsets of information defined in IT. Shannon information is the basic definition given above. Kolmogorov–Chaitin information is a measure of how compressible a message is, i.e. a string of a thousand repeating 1s and 0s could be described as (1 0 repeat 500 times). Neither have anything to do with biological evolution.

      Physical Information: This is the usage most laymen are familiar with. How much information does an object contain? Since there is no inherent quality of matter called information the answer is the information content depends on how thoroughly we as observers describe the object. Example: We are out walking and we see a red car in the distance. The object has the information “red car”. As we get closer we see it’s a 1966 Ford Mustang. The object now offers more information to us. If we could examine every last screw, bolt, and mechanical piece we’d have tons more information. If we could examine and catalog every atom we’d have tons more information still. The physical properties of the car haven’t changed one iota; our description of the car has gotten more detailed. The information content of how we see the car has increased.

      Biological information: how can we apply this to biological evolution? Turns out it’s already been done. Francis Crick, one of the co-discoverers of DNA addressed the problem back in the 1950’s. In Crick’s words

      “By information I mean the specification of the amino acid sequence in protein. . . Information means here the precise determination of sequence, either of bases in the nucleic acid or on amino acid residues in the protein”


      When scientists talk about the information in DNA they are talking about the genetic sequences that undergo a complex chemical reaction to produce a protein. They are not talking about meaning. There is no abstraction involved in DNA. A genetic sequence doesn’t "mean" a certain protein; it is part of the chemical process that produces a protein. The deliberate equivocation between information and meaning is a favorite Creationist ruse.

      By Crick’s definition every time we get a gene duplication with point mutation event we get a new genetic sequence or new information. Still, Creationists will squawk “evolution can’t produce the information for new functions or new features!!” Sure it can. Basic evolutionary processes of random genetic variations filtered by selection causes the new “information” to accumulate into morphologies that have the best chance of surviving in their particular environment. It’s not wrong to say the information for the new features comes through feedback from the environment.

      Bottom line? The next time you hear a Creationist blither about “information” call him on his definition. Watch him squirm just like our little village Jorge does.

      Comments or constructive criticism welcome.
      Just as Crick (see above) should have stuck to what he knew something about, so should you.

      By the way, that's the same Crick who, after realizing that the information problem was totally intractable for Materialism, he invoked intelligent beings (namely, an advanced extraterrestrial civilization) in order to "solve" (better said, "to weasel out of") that intractable problem. You do know about Directed Panspermia, right?

      Yup ... "science" at its best! Bwahahahahahahaha

      Jorge
      Last edited by Jorge; 02-10-2014, 07:14 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Jorge View Post
        Just as Crick (see above) should have stuck to what he knew something about, so should you.

        Jorge
        Well, that wasn't very surprising. The village Jorge comes by, calls a Nobel Prize winning scientist stupid because his work contradicts Jorge's Creationist claims, flees without providing any new thoughts himself.

        Jorge, what is your definition of information as it pertains to biological life?
        Last edited by HMS_Beagle; 02-10-2014, 11:56 AM. Reason: fixed typo

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by HMS_Beagle View Post
          Jorge, what is your definition of information as it pertains to biological life?
          'Complex specified information is information that is specified and complex.'

          Or maybe it was '...information that is complex and specified', I forget. Something like that, anyway.

          Happy to help,

          Roy
          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


          • #6
            It's good to see TW up and running again.
            SInce this thread relates to information and biology you may be interested in quotes from threads on biological information on the old TW that survived at other sites:
            Springer gets suckered by creationist pseudoscience
            Update on Springer “Biological Information: New Perspectives” Volume
            Inside Higher Ed on creo/ID volume
            Creationists covering tracks on Cornell meeting; and Fuller doesn’t get it
            Biological Information: New Perspectives, The Springer Book Flap
            Biological Information: New Perspectives
            Science book delayed when someone notices it's written by creationists

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Roy View Post
              'Complex specified information is information that is specified and complex.'

              Or maybe it was '...information that is complex and specified', I forget. Something like that, anyway.

              Happy to help,

              Roy
              Hey, Roy: here trying to decide which sits at the lowest lever, your IQ or your integrity.

              Jorge

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Jorge View Post
                Just as Crick (see above) should have stuck to what he knew something about, so should you.

                By the way, that's the same Crick who, after realizing that the information problem was totally intractable for Materialism, he invoked intelligent beings (namely, an advanced extraterrestrial civilization) in order to "solve" (better said, "to weasel out of") that intractable problem. You do know about Directed Panspermia, right?

                Yup ... "science" at its best! Bwahahahahahahaha

                Jorge
                "... We conclude that it is possible that life reached the earth in this way, but that the scientific evidence is inadequate at the present time to say anything about the probability. ..."

                http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1973Icar...19..341C
                βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
                ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

                אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

                Comment


                • #9
                  Since our new friend Jorge has nothing useful to add, I'll continue with the discussion on 'information'.

                  As I pointed out earlier, Creationists love to push a deliberate equivocation between information and meaning. A recent classic example of this is in this paper by Creationist Warner Gitt and two of his toadies.

                  Biological Information — What is It?

                  (ASIDE: The paper was part of the infamous "Cornell" conference where a bunch of Creationists rented a hall at Cornell University for a meeting then began marketing the results as a Cornell sponsored conference on Biological Information. Cornell's lawyers got wind of the subterfuge and put a quick end to the nonsense. That's a side story easily found elsewhere on the web.)

                  Gitt and the toadies made up from whole cloth a whole new definition of 'information' they call Universal Information. It's a muddled mish-mash of actual information theory mixed in with the the concept of 'meaning' and making the ridiculous claim that DNA is an abstract code using abstract symbols to pass messages. They seem to be completely clueless on the fact that there is no abstraction at all in the DNA --> protein reaction. A codon triplet doesn't "mean" an amino acid; a codon triplet is part of a complicated chemical reaction that results in an amino acid. DNA doesn't "mean" a protein any more that the reaction of Na and Cl "means" table salt.

                  Needless to say the real scientific community was less than impressed with their amateurish attempt to define their "evidence" for Creationism into existence. The work quickly fell by the wayside and is hardly mentioned by the Creationists any more, possibly out of embarrassment.
                  Last edited by HMS_Beagle; 02-24-2014, 03:58 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    While I personally do not hold to "theistic" evolution. Evolution is a fact. It is a fact there is a process of change, which we identify as evolution. In the case of the origins of life, this of course involves biological evolution. How ever one wants to cut it or interpret it (myself believing the Biblical account as true), it still involves information. http://www.toriah.org/articles/yockey-2002.pdf
                    . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

                    . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

                    Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by 37818 View Post
                      In the case of the origins of life, this of course involves biological evolution.
                      With all due respect, 37, neither the process of evolution nor the theory of evolution deal with the origins of life. If that was NOT your intent, I apologize for the confusion, but that does seem to be what you're saying.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by 37818 View Post
                        While I personally do not hold to "theistic" evolution. Evolution is a fact. It is a fact there is a process of change, which we identify as evolution. In the case of the origins of life, this of course involves biological evolution. How ever one wants to cut it or interpret it (myself believing the Biblical account as true), it still involves information. http://www.toriah.org/articles/yockey-2002.pdf
                        Not sure what your point is, if any.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Outis View Post
                          With all due respect, 37, neither the process of evolution nor the theory of evolution deal with the origins of life. If that was NOT your intent, I apologize for the confusion, but that does seem to be what you're saying.
                          Evolution and the life follow existing laws that govern them. These laws which effect, physics, the quantum mechanics, the chemistry and yes, RNA & DNA are what determines process. Life is made up of these "smart" molecule. There is information, instructions by which they work. What ever we think evolution is, it is governed by those laws. My point, creation precedes evolution. Evolution is an effect, not the cause.
                          . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

                          . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

                          Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Outis View Post
                            With all due respect, 37, neither the process of evolution nor the theory of evolution deal with the origins of life. If that was NOT your intent, I apologize for the confusion, but that does seem to be what you're saying.
                            Also I had in mind the following:
                            Originally posted by HMS_Beagle View Post
                            . . . Creationists will squawk “evolution can’t produce the information for new functions or new features!!” Sure it can. Basic evolutionary processes of random genetic variations filtered by selection causes the new “information” to accumulate into morphologies that have the best chance of surviving in their particular environment. . . .
                            . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

                            . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

                            Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 37818 View Post
                              Evolution and the life follow existing laws that govern them. These laws which effect, physics, the quantum mechanics, the chemistry and yes, RNA & DNA are what determines process. Life is made up of these "smart" molecule. There is information, instructions by which they work. What ever we think evolution is, it is governed by those laws. My point, creation precedes evolution. Evolution is an effect, not the cause.
                              The equivocation between biogenesis and evolution does not establish your point, 37. While I agree that evolution is an effect of the existence of life, and is a process that is only possible once life is present, the existence of evolution does not tell us anything bout biogenesis. _Even if we assume a completely natural cause for biogenesis_, it still precedes evolution.

                              Arguments for biogenesis, natural or supernatural, are still a separate topic.

                              Comment

                              Related Threads

                              Collapse

                              Topics Statistics Last Post
                              Started by shunyadragon, 10-17-2020, 05:11 PM
                              7 responses
                              37 views
                              0 likes
                              Last Post rogue06
                              by rogue06
                               
                              Started by shunyadragon, 10-09-2020, 09:25 PM
                              0 responses
                              22 views
                              0 likes
                              Last Post shunyadragon  
                              Started by rogue06, 10-09-2020, 03:29 PM
                              6 responses
                              52 views
                              1 like
                              Last Post shunyadragon  
                              Started by shunyadragon, 10-07-2020, 12:11 PM
                              0 responses
                              10 views
                              0 likes
                              Last Post shunyadragon  
                              Started by Sherman, 10-06-2020, 03:31 PM
                              40 responses
                              257 views
                              0 likes
                              Last Post rogue06
                              by rogue06
                               
                              Working...
                              X