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Laws Of Nature Regarding Information


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#1 Guest_92g_*

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Posted 09 April 2006 - 05:30 PM

Mr. Meth asked:

What Laws of Nature are these? Please specify the ones you are talking about.
Francis Crick did not discover the genetic code

.

Its been a while since we've been through this, so its probably worth the discussion.

Dr. Werner Gitt has postulated the Laws of Nature reagarding information. You can read about them here:

http://www.answersin...information.asp

Life depends on the genetic code, the genetic code is a bonafide code system, and hence requires a mental source for its origin. These are the properties that descrive the qualitative aspect of Information:

No information can exist without a code.

No code can exist without a free and deliberate convention.

No information can exist without the five hierarchical levels: statistics, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and apobetics.

No information can exist in purely statistical processes.

No information can exist without a transmitter.

No information chain can exist without a mental origin.

No information can exist without an initial mental source; that is, information is, by its nature, a mental and not a material quantity.

No information can exist without a will.



These aspects of information preclude life from having evolved by materialistic properties alone.

Terry

#2 Meth

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 05:26 PM

Just been doing some extensive background reading into information theory, enough to know that Dr. Gitt's article has almost nothing to do with Shannon, despite several references.

For those who either have not read the article or do not understand it, I shall provide a summary here.

Gitt begins by discussing Shannon's Information Theory, and in the process demonstrates his complete failure to understand both its content and its intent. He complains that:

(I)nformation according to Shannon does not relate to the qualitative nature of the data, but confines itself to one particular aspect that is of special significance for its technological transmission and storage. Shannon completely ignores whether a text is meaningful, comprehensible, correct, incorrect or meaningless.


Why would Shannon have worried about that? Information theory deals with the transmission and optimal compression of data, not its actual meaning. (For those looking to learn more about information theory, there is the Wikipedia article, or, for those of a less statistical bent, this site, which rather amusingly has managed to spell "information" wrong in the domain name, and again in a different way on the home page.) However, Gitt ignores this, even stopping so low as to attempt to ridicule Shannon's method, but only humiliating himself in the process.

The section that follows is about information density, and it is entirely unclear in what way it is relevant to Gitt's point. However, it is notable for one section:

Shannon’s information theory makes it possible to determine the smallest number of letters that must be combined to form a word in order to allow unambiguous identification of all amino acids. With 20 amino acids, the average information content is 4.32 bits/amino acid. If words are made up of two letters (doublets), with 4 bits/word, these contain too little information. Quartets would have 8 bits/word and would be too complex. According to information theory, words of three letters (triplets) having 6 bits/word are sufficient and are therefore the most economical method of coding.

Another failure to understand information theory, which is irrelevant to the calculation of optimum "letters" to code for amino acids. Simple mathematics does that.

He then examines various ways of storing information, again with no obvious purpose. How are either of these sections relevant to the paper? So far, it appears to be a mixture of misunderstanding and irrelevancy. However, in his next section, Gitt brings in a new factor: illogicality.

Gitt defines a new system for interpreting information, based around five levels:

Statistics
Syntax
Semantics
Pragmatics
Apobetics


The first is an attempt to merge his misunderstanding of information theory into the system, while also relegating it to the lowest level. He fails to realise that the statistical analysis of information has absolutely nothing to do the information itself.

At this point, I should point out that throughout the article Gould proposes a number of "theorems", which are mostly rewordings of what he has already said, although in some cases they are completely unrelated. More accurate descriptions of them would be variously "truism", "irrelevancy" and "non-sequitor". It does not appear that Dr. Gitt is aware of what a theorem is.

The next level (syntax) basically states that all information needs a way of interpreting it, called a "code". Here are the "theorems" that Dr. Gitt draws from his logic:

Theorem 4: A code is an absolutely necessary condition for the representation of information.

Theorem 5: The assignment of the symbol set is based on convention and constitutes a mental process.

Theorem 6: Once the code has been freely defined by convention, this definition must be strictly observed thereafter.

Theorem 7: The code used must be known both to the transmitter and receiver if the information is to be understood.

Theorem 8: Only those structures that are based on a code can represent information (because of Theorem 4). This is a necessary, but still inadequate, condition for the existence of information.

Let's examine these further:
4) Truism. If you have information, of course you need a way of interpreting it.

5) Non-sequitor. That "mental process" thing came out of nowhere, with not a scrap of evidence for it. He doesn't even define what he means by a "mental process" (as in, what level of mental activity is required). His only support for the "consciously established conventions" part is language, both completely ignoring other forms of expression of information and a little hazy in itself, being that no one sat down to define languages. They come together gradually; one could even say they evolve.

6) Not true. You can use any number of codes for any number of sequences of information. If I am talking to someone, we can switch between English and French, for example, providing that we both know both.

7) Truism.

8) Equivalent to 4.

His next level of information is "semantics", i.e. information must carry meaning. Again, a truism. How else would you define information? However, in addition to stating the blindingly obvious, Gitt makes a rather interesting diversion from ordinary logic:

The Dortmund information scientist Werner Strombach emphasises the non-material nature of information when he defines it as ‘an appearance of order at the level of reflective consciousness.’ Semantic information, therefore, defies a mechanistic approach. Accordingly, a computer is only ‘a syntactical device’ (Zemanek) which knows no semantic categories. Consequently, we must distinguish between data and knowledge, between algorithmically conditioned branches in a programme and deliberate decisions, between comparative extraction and association, between determination of values and understanding of meanings, between formal processes in a decision tree and individual selection, between consequences of operations in a computer and creative thought processes, between accumulation of data and learning processes. A computer can do the former; this is where its strengths, its application areas, but also its limits lie. Meanings always represent mental concepts; we can therefore further state:

Theorem 10: Each item of information needs, if it is traced back to the beginning of the transmission chain, a mental source (transmitter).


The problem here is that Gitt makes no distinction between recognising information and creating it. One can reword from "Information is the appearance of order at the level of reflective consciousness" to "Information is that which appears ordered to a reflective consciousness" with no change of meaning. If we take the second statement (equivalent to the first), Gitt's logic seems farcical.

As an aside, we should point out that "A computer can [only] do the former" should in fact read "A computer can at present only do the former".

Following on from this, theorem 10 is clearly a non-sequitor. It should be mentioned that this does not technically prove that it is incorrect, only that it has no basis in logic. However, it is easy to prove incorrect with a simple counter-example.

The absorption lines in the light spectra of distant stars and galaxies contain information about how fast they are moving (the so-called "red shift"). This is undeniably information, and undeniably does not come from a mental source.

Gitt then makes some irrelevant statements about languages - it is not enough to focus on one type of information. This kind of logic requires abstraction. Otherwise all he is doing is proving a point about languages.

The next two stages are pragmatics and apobetics - i.e. the result of the conveyance of information, and its intent. However, it should be stressed that these terms ONLY APPLY TO LANGUAGE. The red shift example above is one counter-example, E=mc^2 (to pick an example at random) is another. Neither of these have result or purpose, yet both are clearly information.

Gitt then brings in more irrelevancy regarding information in living beings. He finishes by proposing some "laws" about information and tying the whole thing into humanity.

Here are those laws again (so you don't have to scroll up):

1.No information can exist without a code.

2.No code can exist without a free and deliberate convention.

3.No information can exist without the five hierarchical levels: statistics, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and apobetics.

4.No information can exist in purely statistical processes.

5.No information can exist without a transmitter.

6.No information chain can exist without a mental origin.

7.No information can exist without an initial mental source; that is, information is, by its nature, a mental and not a material quantity.

8.No information can exist without a will.


1) Truism.

2) He doesn't specify what he means by "free" and "deliberate" is highly questionable.

3) Plain wrong. The first, fourth and fifth are not required.

4) What? Another failed attempt to tie in with Shannon.

5) Truism, ignoring Gitt's personal definition of "transmitter". This is addressed above.

6) Wrong again. See above.

7) Equivalent to 6.

8) What? A complete non-sequitor, unrelated to anything that has gone before. He should also define his use of "will".



Hope that clears things up.

#3 Guest_92g_*

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Posted 10 April 2006 - 07:10 PM

Gitt begins by discussing Shannon's Information Theory, and in the process demonstrates his complete failure to understand both its content and its intent. He complains that:
Why would Shannon have worried about that? Information theory deals with the transmission and optimal compression of data, not its actual meaning. (For those looking to learn more about information theory, there is the


This is a typical hollow complaint about that article. Its important to understand that Dr. Gitt is writing the article for publication in a techincal proceeding:

This paper has been adapted from a paper entitled ‘Information: the third fundamental quantity’ that was published in the November/December 1989 issue of Siemens Review (Vol. 56, No. 6).

with the understanding that the people who read the article are traditionally looking at things from the viepoint of Shannon theory, so he starts there and explains that while it has a purpose, its not enough to explain the qualitiative aspects of Information.


5) Non-sequitor. That "mental process" thing came out of nowhere, with not a scrap of evidence for it. He doesn't even define what he means by a "mental process" (as in, what level of mental activity is required).


Do you really need an explanation of what a mental process is?

His only support for the "consciously established conventions" part is language, both completely ignoring other forms of expression of information and a little hazy in itself, being that no one sat down to define languages. They come together gradually; one could even say they evolve.


Dr. Gitt is dealing with information that is stored via a symbol set. He does not claim that you cannot look at information in other ways, it doesn't really matter. If what he claims is true, and it is, then the logical conclusoins that follow from it are profound.

6) Not true. You can use any number of codes for any number of sequences of information. If I am talking to someone, we can switch between English and French, for example, providing that we both know both.


In each case each code was inherently adheared to. The statement is true, your analogy is false.

7) Truism.
Calling something a Truism does not mean its false. He's being thourough, and it's silly to insult him for that, especially consdering the gaff that follows below.....

Following on from this, theorem 10 is clearly a non-sequitor. It should be mentioned that this does not technically prove that it is incorrect, only that it has no basis in logic. However, it is easy to prove incorrect with a simple counter-example.

The absorption lines in the light spectra of distant stars and galaxies contain information about how fast they are moving (the so-called "red shift"). This is undeniably information, and undeniably does not come from a mental source.


That undeniably demonstrates that you don't understand what he, and hence you are talking about.

There is no symbol set involved in your example. How can you say that you understand what he is talking about and then throw that out?
:lol:

Dr. Gitt, in his book "In the Beginning Was Information" is very careful to state that information is never an object itself. Information does not exist unless is it stored, not necessarily for ever(I think), via a symbol set.

This is a laugh since you claim:

4) Truism. If you have information, of course you need a way of interpreting it.

Theorem 7: The code used must be known both to the transmitter and receiver if the information is to be understood.

8) Equivalent to 4.


and then use an example of information that does not meet the "truisms" that you claim exist...... :o :o

Finally, try to be a little more concise in your posts :lol: ,

His next level of information is "semantics", i.e. information must carry meaning. Again, a truism. How else would you define information?


Why don't you ask yourself that question? You've already claimed that all the "truisms" about information are obvious to the casual observer, and then tried to use physical quatities that did not meat those "truisms" as information.

Nice try, but your not there yet.....

Terry

#4 Meth

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Posted 11 April 2006 - 04:48 AM

This is a typical hollow complaint about that article. Its important to understand that Dr. Gitt is writing the article for publication in a techincal proceeding:

This paper has been adapted from a paper entitled ‘Information: the third fundamental quantity’ that was published in the November/December 1989 issue of Siemens Review (Vol. 56, No. 6).

with the understanding that the people who read the article are traditionally looking at things from the viepoint of Shannon theory, so he starts there and explains that while it has a purpose, its not enough to explain the qualitiative aspects of Information.

The quantative and qualitative analyses of data are completely separate and in no way resemble each other. It is both unneccessary and irrelevant to draw a comparison. If it is a common complaint about the article, perhaps you should consider it, instead of dismissing it as "hollow".

Do you really need an explanation of what a mental process is?

Actually, yes. When Dr. Gitt's whole article concludes that information requires a mental process, he should clarify what a mental process is. Does it require human thought? If not, what level of animal does it stop at? Can a chimpanzee do it? Can an insect do it? Can a bacteria do it? Does it have to be conscious thought?

Dr. Gitt is dealing with information that is stored via a symbol set.  He does not claim that you cannot look at information in other ways, it doesn't really matter.  If what he claims is true, and it is, then the logical conclusoins that follow from it are profound.

All information is stored in some kind of symbol set. Dr. Gitt even points this out in one of his "theorems".

Don't just say "and it is". Say "and it is, because...", and then give me a reason why.

In each case each code was inherently adheared to.  The statement is true, your analogy is false.

Wrong, wrong and wrong. Let's take the phrase "Cogito donc I am". Providing you understand Latin, French and English, that makes perfect sense, if it is a little odd. There is no need to stick to one code.

Calling something a Truism does not mean its false. He's being thourough, and it's silly to insult him for that, especially consdering the gaff that follows below.....

I am well aware of that. A truism is true by definition. Let me explain what I mean. These "theorems" have all been presented as such. In actual, logical terms, a theorem requires a set of premises, a proof, then a conclusion (the theorem itself). It is perfectly allowable to use truisms as premises (in this case they are called axioms), but they should not be presented as though they have required logical extrapolation.

That undeniably demonstrates that you don't understand what he, and hence you are talking about. 

There is no symbol set involved in your example.  How can you say that you understand what he is talking about and then throw that out?
:lol:

And that demonstrates that you don't understand what either of us are talking about. There is a symbol set in the analysis of redshift. It is the absorption lines observed in light spectra and their frequencies. Just because it is unconventional does not make it non-symbolic. Remember, DNA has no symbol set until you write it down. The same with redshift. Either Dr. Gitt's "rules" apply to both, or they apply to neither.

And don't laugh at me if you don't understand me. It just makes you look stupid.

Dr. Gitt, in his book "In the Beginning Was Information" is very careful to state that information is never an object itself.  Information does not exist unless is it stored, not necessarily for ever(I think),  via a symbol set.

That is nothing new. It has long been recognised that information is neither matter nor energy. But information does not have to be stored as "symbol sets". It can be stored in the state of a logic gate, the arrangment of a set of molecules, the quantum state of a particle, or in light. All of these are translatable into symbols, but are not stored in symbols themselves.

[Meth: Invision software limits posts to 10 quotes. I deleted the last several quotes you responded to, it was pure useless chatter anyway]

#5 Fred Williams

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Posted 11 April 2006 - 08:24 AM

Meth, it is clear you are very unfamiliar with the information debate given many of the statements you have made. Instead of evo-babble bluster, like “Gitt…demonstrates his complete failure to understand”, and “Gitt ignores this, … humiliating himself in the process”, wouldn't you be better served to assume the role of learner interested in improving your knowledge on the topic, rather than a "teacher" who knows nothing? The truth is, you are a green college student hack, he is a Director at a prestigious German College and teaches info science. This is your last warning to withhold the evo-babble.

It has long been recognised that information is neither matter nor energy.


Funny, I debated Tim Thompson (physicist who frequents T.O.) for some time on this several years ago. Even though he took the unwinnable position that information has matter and energy, at least he was trying to be consistent with his atheistic worldview - because if you admit information is neither matter or energy, you’ve already lost the origins debate from an atheistic POV. I’ll let you ponder that one, and look forward to you completely changing your position on this aspect of information, since I'm sure you do not want to relinquish your atheistic worldview.

Or maybe you'll evolve into a theistic evolutionist? :lol:

#6 Guest_92g_*

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Posted 11 April 2006 - 12:56 PM

Meth,

I promise, I've been through this numerous times with people who understand it a various levels, and who were honest about it, at various levels.

Seeing to it that you continue to make the same blunder with this counter example:

There is a symbol set in the analysis of redshift. It is the absorption lines observed in light spectra and their frequencies. Just because it is unconventional does not make it non-symbolic. Remember, DNA has no symbol set until you write it down. The same with redshift. Either Dr. Gitt's "rules" apply to both, or they apply to neither.


its obvious to the casual observer that you don't get it. There is no symbol set in a physical quantity, and an object itself is never the information. The information in a symbol set is used to represent something that is not present in the place the information is stored. It has to be to used for abstraction.

You are wrong about DNA, it contains a bonifide code, and the information stored in it is used to create something that is not present at the time.

I'll let you have the last word, but tread lightly since your on thin ice far as staying around here goes.

Finally, I tend to be very careful about what I say, so when I laugh its because its deserved.....

Terry




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