Friday, December 23, 2005

"Get me an engineer. Get me someone who understands Ohm's Law"

Such was the response of a colleague when told to do extremely stupid things by a hack engineer who was put into his job because a certain owner of a certain company didn't think that Civil Rights laws were good things.

But I had a similar response that day when I approached that colleague's manager and asked him a very simple question: if you transmit a bit sequence that flips the bits with probability = 1/2, can you design a coder to reliably transmit the sequence?

The answer, of course is "no."

But of course that grand wizard of "Intelligent" "Design" William Dembski ...well, he could have seen eye-to-eye with my colleague's manager:

How much energy is required to impart information? We have sensors that can detect quantum events and amplify them to the macroscopic level. What’s more, the energy in quantum events is proportional to frequency or inversely proportional to wavelength. And since there is no upper limit to the wavelength of, for instance, electromagnetic radiation, there is no lower limit to the energy required to impart information. In the limit, a designer could therefore impart information into the universe without inputting any energy at all.

This is just so wrong on so many points that it's wrongness is breathtaking. Not only as RBH observes:

That is, Dembski invokes a zero-energy (and therefore zero channel capacity) infinite wavelength (and therefore unfocusable) communication channel. One also wonders what sort of modulation of a zero-energy infinite-wavelength signal would encode the ‘information’.

But there's the problem of noise. Does Dembski deny that there is not noise involved in the channel involving the transfer of information for evolution? Of course he doesn't; elsewhere he (wrongly) argues that this noise carries no information (I wouldn't let him near any coder or radio design). But overcoming noise takes energy.

Moreover, I won't go into how sensors detect quantum events, but to put it briefly, it ain't the quantum events themselves that are being detected, because that would of course change the quantum events.

I had been on hiatus for a few days, but seeing this tripe from Dembski on Panda's Thumb, and folks on Evangelical Outpost defending this tripe, well, I had to put up something...

No comments: