Information creation in biological systems

Incl. intelligent design, belief in divine creation

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Information creation in biological systems

#1  Postby Mononoke » Nov 12, 2016 10:44 am

So someone just told me information cannot be created in biological systems. What does this mean for evolution? Is it even true? A quick response is appreciated. I have a maths and statistics background so no need to dumb answers down too much
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#2  Postby Fenrir » Nov 12, 2016 10:51 am

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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#3  Postby newolder » Nov 12, 2016 10:54 am

Sperm + egg -> embryo -> Kevin.
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#4  Postby Mononoke » Nov 12, 2016 10:59 am

I'm looking for an answer more in line with information theory. Is there a way to define Shannon information in a biological system.
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#5  Postby Fenrir » Nov 12, 2016 11:08 am

Religion: it only fails when you test it.-Thunderf00t.
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#6  Postby newolder » Nov 12, 2016 11:23 am

The development of language (incl. poetry) creates noisy communication channels (in a market place, for example) that can and do transfer non-entropic Shannon information. The trivial Kevin example is fine for creationist purposes.
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#7  Postby Mononoke » Nov 12, 2016 12:13 pm

Newolder thx but I'd like to know more if there is someone how can explain to.me
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#8  Postby Shrunk » Nov 12, 2016 12:18 pm

"A community is infinitely more brutalised by the habitual employment of punishment than it is by the occasional occurrence of crime." -Oscar Wilde
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#9  Postby Mononoke » Nov 12, 2016 1:14 pm

Hi shrunk I hope u remember me. :) is there anything that clarifies the use of information in biological system. With examples and pictures
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#10  Postby Shrunk » Nov 12, 2016 1:17 pm

Mononoke wrote:Hi shrunk I hope u remember me. :) is there anything that clarifies the use of information in biological system. With examples and pictures


Yes. I already gave it to you. Hack's post has lots of pictures and is very clear. It certainly cleared things up for me. Should be more than clear for someone who actually has a background in statistics. What more do you want?
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#11  Postby Mononoke » Nov 12, 2016 1:46 pm

Thx. I also found another article it should help me alot
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#12  Postby igorfrankensteen » Nov 12, 2016 1:47 pm

Is there an official name for "changing the definition of the terms mid-argument, in order to win by coy trickery"?

That's what appears to me, to have triggered the opening questions.
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#13  Postby Shrunk » Nov 12, 2016 1:59 pm

igorfrankensteen wrote:Is there an official name for "changing the definition of the terms mid-argument, in order to win by coy trickery"?


"Bait and switch"?
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#14  Postby igorfrankensteen » Nov 12, 2016 10:49 pm

Such arguments are certainly fallacious, but the dishonesty involved deserves it's own term.
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#15  Postby Arcanyn » Nov 13, 2016 9:17 am

Fallacy of equivocation.
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#16  Postby Calilasseia » Nov 13, 2016 11:12 am

Time for this again ...

The infamous canards surrounding "information".

Now this is a particularly insidious brand of canard, because it relies upon the fact that the topic of information, and its rigorous analysis, is replete with misunderstanding. However, instead of seeking to clarify the misconceptions, creationist canards about information perpetuate those misconceptions for duplicitous apologetic purposes. A classic one being the misuse of the extant rigorous treatments of information, and the misapplication of different information treatments to different situations, either through ignorance, or wilful mendacity. For example, Claude Shannon provided a rigorous treatment of information, but a treatment that was strictly applicable to information transmission, and NOT applicable to information storage. Therefore, application of Shannon information to information storage in the genome is a misuse of Shannon's work. The correct information analysis to apply to storage is Kolmogorov's analysis, which erects an entirely different measure of information content that is intended strictly to be applicable to storage. Mixing and matching the two is a familiar bait-and-switch operation that propagandists for creationist doctrine are fond of.

However, the ultimate reason why creationist canards about information are canards, is simply this. Information is NOT a magic entity. It doesn't require magic to produce it. Ultimately, "information" is nothing more than the observational data that is extant about the current state of a system. That is IT. No magic needed. All that happens, in real world physical systems, is that different system states lead to different outcomes when the interactions within the system take place. Turing alighted upon this notion when he wrote his landmark paper on computable numbers, and used the resulting theory to establish that Hilbert's conjecture upon decidability in formal axiomatic systems was false. Of course, it's far easier to visualise the process at work, when one has an entity such as a Turing machine to analyse this - a Turing machine has precise, well-defined states, and precise, well-defined interactions that take place when the machine occupies a given state. But this is precisely what we have with DNA - a system that can exist in a number of well-defined states, whose states determine the nature of the interactions that occur during translation, and which result in different outcomes for different states. indeed, the DNA molecule plays a passive role in this: its function is simply to store the sequence of states that will result, ultimately, in the synthesis of a given protein, and is akin to the tape running through a Turing machine. The real hard work is actually performed by the ribosomes, which take that state data and use it to bolt together amino acids into chains to form proteins, which can be thought of as individual biological 'Turing machines' whose job is to perform, mechanically and mindlessly in accordance with the electrostatic and chemical interactions permitting this, the construction of a protein using the information arising from DNA as the template. Anyone who thinks magic is needed in all of this, once again, is in need of an education.

As for the canard that "mutations cannot produce new information", this is manifestly false. Not only does the above analysis explicitly permit this, the production of new information (in the form of new states occupied by DNA molecules) has been observed taking place in the real world and documented in the relevant scientific literature. If you can't be bothered reading any of this voluminous array of scientific papers, and understanding the contents thereof, before erecting this particularly moronic canard, then don't bother erecting the canard in the first place, because it will simply demonstrate that you are scientifically ignorant. Indeed, the extant literature not only covers scientific papers explicitly dealing with information content in the genome, such as Thomas D. Schneider's paper handily entitled Evolution And Biological Information to make your life that bit easier, but also papers on de novo gene origination, of which there are a good number, several of which I have presented here in the past in previous threads. The mere existence of these scientific papers, and the data that they document, blows tiresome canards about "information" out of the water with a nuclear depth charge. Post information canards at your peril after reading this.

Whilst dwelling on information, another creationist canard also needs to be dealt with here, namely the false conflation of information with ascribed meaning. Which can be demonstrated to be entirely false by reference to the following sequence of hexadecimal bytes in a computer's memory:

81 16 00 2A FF 00

To a computer with an 8086 processor, those bytes correspond to the following single machine language instruction:

ADC [2A00H], 00FFH

To a computer with a 6502 processor, those bytes correspond to the following machine language instruction sequence:

CLC
ASL ($00,X)
LDX #$FF
BRK

To a computer with a 6809 processor, those bytes correspond to the following machine language instruction sequence:

CMPA #$16
NEG $2AFF
NEG ??

the ?? denoting the fact that for this processor, the byte sequence is incomplete, and two more bytes are needed to supply the address operand for the NEG instruction.

Now, we have three different ascribed meanings to one stream of bytes. Yet, none of these ascribed meanings influences either the Shannon information content, when that stream is transmitted from one computer to another, or the Kolmogorov information content when those bytes are stored in memory. Ascribed meaning is irrelevant to both rigorous information measures. As is to be expected, when one regards information content simply as observational data about the state of the system (in this case, the values of the stored bytes in memory). Indeed, it is entirely possible to regard ascribed meaning as nothing other than the particular interactions driven by the underlying data, once that data is being processed, which of course will differ from processor to processor. Which means that under such an analysis, even ascribed meaning, which creationists fallaciously conflate with information content, also requires no magical input. All that is required is the existence of a set of interactions that will produce different outcomes from the different observed states of the system (with the term 'observation' being used here sensu lato to mean any interaction that is capable of differentiating between the states of the system of interest).
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#17  Postby ElDiablo » Nov 14, 2016 3:19 am

Calilasseia wrote: However, the ultimate reason why creationist canards about information are canards, is simply this. Information is NOT a magic entity. It doesn't require magic to produce it. Ultimately, "information" is nothing more than the observational data that is extant about the current state of a system. That is IT. No magic needed. All that happens, in real world physical systems, is that different system states lead to different outcomes when the interactions within the system take place. Turing alighted upon this notion when he wrote his landmark paper on computable numbers, and used the resulting theory to establish that Hilbert's conjecture upon decidability in formal axiomatic systems was false. Of course, it's far easier to visualise the process at work, when one has an entity such as a Turing machine to analyse this - a Turing machine has precise, well-defined states, and precise, well-defined interactions that take place when the machine occupies a given state. But this is precisely what we have with DNA - a system that can exist in a number of well-defined states, whose states determine the nature of the interactions that occur during translation, and which result in different outcomes for different states. indeed, the DNA molecule plays a passive role in this: its function is simply to store the sequence of states that will result, ultimately, in the synthesis of a given protein, and is akin to the tape running through a Turing machine. The real hard work is actually performed by the ribosomes, which take that state data and use it to bolt together amino acids into chains to form proteins, which can be thought of as individual biological 'Turing machines' whose job is to perform, mechanically and mindlessly in accordance with the electrostatic and chemical interactions permitting this, the construction of a protein using the information arising from DNA as the template. Anyone who thinks magic is needed in all of this, once again, is in need of an education.

As for the canard that "mutations cannot produce new information", this is manifestly false. Not only does the above analysis explicitly permit this, the production of new information (in the form of new states occupied by DNA molecules) has been observed taking place in the real world and documented in the relevant scientific literature. If you can't be bothered reading any of this voluminous array of scientific papers, and understanding the contents thereof, before erecting this particularly moronic canard, then don't bother erecting the canard in the first place, because it will simply demonstrate that you are scientifically ignorant. Indeed, the extant literature not only covers scientific papers explicitly dealing with information content in the genome, such as Thomas D. Schneider's paper handily entitled Evolution And Biological Information to make your life that bit easier, but also papers on de novo gene origination, of which there are a good number, several of which I have presented here in the past in previous threads. The mere existence of these scientific papers, and the data that they document, blows tiresome canards about "information" out of the water with a nuclear depth charge. Post information canards at your peril after reading this.


Thanks Cali,
Here's a video showing what you describe about DNA.
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#18  Postby Rumraket » Nov 20, 2016 3:01 pm

Mononoke wrote:I'm looking for an answer more in line with information theory. Is there a way to define Shannon information in a biological system.

http://recursed.blogspot.dk/2009/01/test-your-knowledge-of-information.html

Test Your Knowledge of Information Theory
Creationists think information theory poses a serious challenge to modern evolutionary biology -- but that only goes to show that creationists are as ignorant of information theory as they are of biology.

Whenever a creationist brings up this argument, insist that they answer the following five questions. All five questions are based on the Kolmogorov interpretation of information theory. I like this version of information theory because (a) it does not depend on any hypothesized probability distribution (a frequent refuge of scoundrels) (b) the answers about how information can change when a string is changed are unambiguous and agreed upon by all mathematicians, allowing less wiggle room to weasel out of the inevitable conclusions, and (c) it applies to discrete strings of symbols and hence corresponds well with DNA.

All five questions are completely elementary, and I ask these questions in an introduction to the theory of Kolmogorov information for undergraduates at Waterloo. My undergraduates can nearly always answer these questions correctly, but creationists usually cannot.

Q1: Can information be created by gene duplication or polyploidy? More specifically, if x is a string of symbols, is it possible for xx to contain more information than x?

Q2: Can information be created by point mutations? More specifically, if xay is a string of symbols, is it possible that xby contains significantly more information? Here a, b are distinct symbols, and x, y are strings.

Q3: Can information be created by deletion? More specifically, if xyz is a string of symbols, is it possible that xz contains signficantly more information?

Q4: Can information be created by random rearrangement? More specifically, if x is a string of symbols, is it possible that some permutation of x contains significantly more information?

Q5. Can information be created by recombination? More specifically, let x and y be strings of the same length, and let s(x, y) be any single string obtained by "shuffling" x and y together. Here I do not mean what is sometimes called "perfect shuffle", but rather a possibly imperfect shuffle where x and y both appear left-to-right in s(x, y) , but not necessarily contiguously. For example, a perfect shuffle of 0000 and 1111 gives 01010101, and one possible non-perfect shuffle of 0000 and 1111 is 01101100. Can an imperfect shuffle of two strings have more information than the sum of the information in each string?

The answer to each question is "yes". In fact, for questions Q2-Q5, I can even prove that the given transformation can arbitrarily increase the amount of information in the string, in the sense that there exist strings for which the given transformation increases the complexity by an arbitrarily large multiplicative factor. I won't give the proofs here, because that's part of the challenge: ask your creationist to provide a proof for each of Q1-Q5.

Now I asserted that creationists usually cannot answer these questions correctly, and here is some proof.

Q1. In his book No Free Lunch, William Dembski claimed (p. 129) that "there is no more information in two copies of Shakespeare's Hamlet than in a single copy. This is of course patently obvious, and any formal account of information had better agree." Too bad for him that Kolmogorov complexity is a formal account of information theory, and it does not agree.

Q2. Lee Spetner and the odious Ken Ham are fond of claiming that mutations cannot increase information. And this creationist web page flatly claims that "No mutation has yet been found that increased the genetic information." All of them are wrong in the Kolmogorov model of information.

Q4. R. L. Wysong, in his book The Creation-Evolution Controversy, claimed (p. 109) that "random rearrangements in DNA would result in loss of DNA information". Wrong in the Kolmogorov model.

So, the next time you hear these bogus claims, point them to my challenge, and let the weaselling begin!
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#19  Postby Rumraket » Nov 20, 2016 3:07 pm

Evolution produces information through mutation and natural selection. Genetic sequences accumulate mutations over many generations. Over long time periods (millions of generations), gene-duplications of already existing genes are slowly rewritten in their nucleotide sequences. There is an enormous amount of evidence that this happens. So-called superfamilies of proteins have emerged through this process.

So for example, (to keep it simple I can't be bothered writing hundreds of nucleotides) there is this starting sequence. Let's just say it's a gene:
CGGATGAAAGCCGCT

This gets duplicated, so there are two of them:
CGGATGAAAGCCGCT CGGATGAAAGCCGCT

Then a few generations later, a mutation happens in the copy
CGGATGAAAGCCGCT CGAATGAAAGCCGCT
Along the way, other mutations happen that negatively affect the organism that get these mutations (here marked in green, they can also happen in the original copy, but that gene is critical to the organism, so those organisms that get a mutation in that gene die):
CGGATGATAGCCGCT CGAATGAAAACCGCT
But there are millions of individuals in the population, so there are still many others that don't get the lethal/deleterious mutation.

Then a few generations later, another mutation happens in the copy
CGGATGAAAGCCGCT CGAATGAAAGTCGCT

Then a few generations later, another mutation happens in the copy
CGGATGAAAGCCGCT CGAATGAAAGTCGAT
...
...
And so on until many thousand of generations later, an entirely new piece of gene-sequence has been written:
CGGATGAAAGCCGCT GTAGCTCCGATACAA

That's how evolution produces new information. The information came from the process of evolution. The combination of mutations that accumulate, and natural selection on their effects, produced a new functional gene-sequence.

There isn't a coherent definition of biological information that could meaningfully say the first and original gene-sequence constitutes a genuine case of biological information, but that the mutated copy generations later, does not. Any rational person can see that all it takes for information to be created in a biological system, is mutations accumulating over time, and their effects filtered through natural selection. Of all the creationist arguments, the one that says there isn't a process that can create information is the most obviously false.
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Re: Information creation in biological systems

#20  Postby igorfrankensteen » Nov 20, 2016 4:24 pm

A lot of brilliant exposition in all that. But I would encourage those confronted with spurious creationist "arguments," to stop at it depends on exactly how you define the term "new information," and leave it at that.

After all, creationists, and those who may be swayed by their "arguments," are in denial of all the starting-point data required to make that complicated description work, so despite you're being right, none of the people you are talking to, will be persuaded.

Oh, and I would also caution against using the term "created," as in "new information IS created" in your argument, since "created" isn't accurate here. Instead, say something like "previously unseen but always possible variations can show up" or something like that.
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