Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

November 10, 2007

Richard Dawkins at AAI 07

Filed under: culture, religion, science — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 11:03 am

Above is a talk that Richard Dawkins gave about religion and atheism. As this comic points out, there is little reason to engage fundamentalist believers in a debate. Satire might actually be the best way to get the point across. I found Dawkins’ points about Athorism and parallel to the emperor’s new clothes particularly good.

The question that “stumped” Dawkins was: can you give an example of a genetic mutation or an evolutionary process which can be seen to increase the information in the genome? He doesn’t present the answer in the talk. Nevertheless, he does have one and also gives some context on the interview. Regardless of dubious circumstances that caused it to come into being, it is quite a good article. However, it apparently isn’t good enough for creationists, such as the Orwellian named “Evolution News & Views.” Sometimes I wish as much effort went into researching something as denying it.

As a side note, one can write a computer simulation of what the genes are doing and demonstrate information increase. There is an area of study in artificial intelligence known as “genetic algorithms” where the computer evolves code to solve a problem using abstractions of biological processes. The programs do “learn” to solve the problems at hand, but it typically takes a long time. Therefore, it tends to be practical for toy problems or trying to evolve an existing solution into something more optimal. What I find particularly interesting is the insight it gives into possible reasons for human behavior like retaliation, self-interest, and cooperation. However, effective indoctrination is all about refusing to connect the dots.

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