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A Seemingly Definitive Refutation of the "No new information" canard

Discussion in 'Creation & Evolution' started by TeddyKGB, Mar 14, 2008.

  1. TeddyKGB

    TeddyKGB A dude playin' a dude disgused as another dude

    Taken largely intact from a clever IIDB member.

    The claim: No genetic mutation may increase information.

    1. Point mutations are reversible.
    2. Suppose a point mutation in gene G at nucleotide N changes a T to an A. Per the claim, this represents a decrease in information.
    3. Suppose a point mutation at N changes the A back to a T. Per the claim, this also represents a decrease in information.
    4. It follows from premises 3 & 4 that two chemically identical configurations of G have distinct information contents.

    It seems almost too neat.
  2. consol

    consol Well-Known Member

    Does this mean creationism is true?
  3. Hnefi

    Hnefi Regular Member

    In Relationship
    No, it means it's self-contradictory.
  4. FishFace

    FishFace Senior Veteran

    To end the proof you should state that this is a contradiction. - Which it is. I have used this argument in the past, but creationists don't seem to get it.
    Nonetheless it is sound - the premises are correct, the conclusion states that I(G) > I(G) where I is some information counting function, but the output of that function can only be a number, and for any number, "a > a" is false.

    Thus the argument is valid and sound, providing a reductio ad absurdum disproof of the claim, "mutations can never increase information."
  5. LordTimothytheWise

    LordTimothytheWise Fides Quaerens Intellectum

    Christian Seeker
    But a monkey is still a monkey :p

    ha ha.

    Isn't information always in reference to something else though? Anti-biotic resistance qualifies as new information right?

    Sure its through sort of directed hypermutation, but the mutations themselves were still random.

    I think co-dependent information would be a better argument. I absolutely cannot comprehend why anyone would say "no new information".
  6. flatworm

    flatworm Veteran

    The beauty of this example is that it doesn't rely on any particular definition of information. It holds as long as there is some measure for the information content of a genome.

    Let G be a genome and I(G) the information content of that genome.

    Let G' be a genome produced from G via a single nucleotide substitution.

    Evolution deniers assert that I(G) >= I(G'), for all G, G' in the real world.

    Unfortunately for them, the same mutation that made G' out of G is known to occur in reverse, making G out of G'.

    Since this latter is also a mutation, evolution deniers claim then that I(G') >= I(G), for all G, G'.

    The only way this can be true is if I(G) = I(G'), for all G,G', which by extension means there is never any difference in information content for genomes of the same length, something so ridiculous they could never sell it even to their scientifically and mathematically illiterate support base.
  7. Nathan45

    Nathan45 Guest

    well the thing is there's two factors in evolution:

    First you have random mutations, which are just that, random.

    Then you have Natural selection, which is a non-random process that determines which organisms are fit based on their environment. This process determines which of the above random mutations are "fit" and which arn't.

    So which mutations are selected is non-random dependent on the environment.

    But which mutations happen in the first place is random. So no, new information is not always in reference to something else. But the mutations that survive the filter of natural selection often are.
  8. necroforest

    necroforest Regular Member

    In Relationship
    You can get around this by changing "mutations always decrease information content" to "mutations don't increase information content" (you essentially change I(G) > I(G') to I(G) >= I(G') ), but that will logically imply that "all genomes have the SAME information content", which makes talking about information content meaningless. ^_^

    This looks pretty airtight, I wonder what huggybear and his ilk will have to say to this (if they bother responding...)
  9. Loudmouth

    Loudmouth Contributor

    There is a hole. You did not explain where the original information in G came from.

    Lee Spetner (if memory serves) conceded that back mutations produce new information, but he also stated that there was no net gain of information if one includes the original gene in the equation.

    There is a much better example that covers most of the bases. IDers have argued that genetic information is front loaded into the genome. Therefore, if a new function emerges they will claim that mutations are only unlocking the information that was already there. They can also claim that these are just back mutations so no net information was gained.

    To get around this one can start with a purely random sequence produced in the lab and insert it into a genome. If this purely random sequence produces function then all of their arguments are out the window. This experiment has been done.

    In this study the random sequence mutated and resulted in a virus that was more infectious than the wild type virus. Not only that, but the mutations in the random sequence were vital for the increased infectivity which is a great example of evolution producing an irreducibly complex system.
  10. Naraoia

    Naraoia Apprentice Biologist

    Total wowz. :eek:
  11. anunbeliever

    anunbeliever Veteran

    Isnt it true that the human genome is larger and more complex than that of a flatworm? Wouldnt the genome have gotten larger through allele duplication via mutation?
  12. BrainHertz

    BrainHertz Senior Member

    Here's another refutation, based on examining the commonly accepted definition of information. The one I refer to is that proposed by Claude Shannon in 1948, and used in the design of communication systems. I don't know of a different definition, but I'm open to alternative proposals.

    Start here.

    Shorter version: an information source is a system which produces symbols according to a stochastic process. In other words, randomness is fundamental to the generation of information.

    This part is quite important; it isn't at all surprising that random genetic mutations add information to the genome. Such addition of information is precisely what the 1948 paper which founded information theory predicts.

    I can add much more to this if anybody is interested.
  13. Wesley B Coleman

    Wesley B Coleman New Member

    United States
    Duplications and mutations do not add new information to the genome, though. Duplications are the result of duplicating existing genetic information, and mutations alter existing genetic information (whether original or duplicated). Neither of them adds new information.

    Think about it this way: if I give someone a copy of a book they already own, then they don’t have any new information, just a copy of information they already had. If I subsequently take a marker and mark out some of the letters or words in the copy of the book I gave them, they still don’t have any new information—just a messed up copy of one of the books.

    Your idea is that I give them a copy of the book that also subsequently has added letters or words in it. That, unfortunately for an atheist, is never seen in nature. In short, duplications/mutations have never been observed to add new information. You can speculate all you want.
  14. FrumiousBandersnatch

    FrumiousBandersnatch Well-Known Member

    That's a twelve-year-old thread you just necro'd. Bad form.

    Also, several posts in that old thread actually debunk your new post. Worse form.
    • Agree Agree x 6
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  15. Wesley B Coleman

    Wesley B Coleman New Member

    United States
    Ok. I was more curious than anything else, as to your explanation of point mutation. Can you please show me what post debunks this concept I shared? Thanks!
  16. Wesley B Coleman

    Wesley B Coleman New Member

    United States
    As we speak, I'm looking through articles on NCBI (I have been since yesterday morning) and I can't seem to find any articles that have tested and found added genetic information. Maybe, you could site a source?
  17. Gene2memE

    Gene2memE Newbie

    Try searching for the terms 'De Novo' 'Orphan', 'Novel' or 'Novelty' + 'Information' on NCBI.

    Here's an example:

    A Continuum of Evolving De Novo Genes Drives Protein-Coding Novelty in Drosophila

    Scientific papers use technical language that may be divorced from every day word usages, as they need precision to communicate their information.
  18. SelfSim

    SelfSim A non "-ist"

    Mutations can affect the behaviours of regulatory networks and new functions can then emerge. Those functions are notoriously difficult to predict.

    A change in the sequence of a specific gene, can have a cascading influence on the interactions between it and what you're introducing above, under the seemingly innocuous term: 'nature'.

    When it comes to the functional evolution of new species, one cannot simply exclude the influence of changes in informational interchanges between a functioning, 'active' gene and an ever changing environment.

    In physics, whilst it may be so that the net information in any defined (isolated) system only ever changes form and is neither created nor destroyed, what constitutes the 'defined system', does change.

    A functional, active gene is not a copy of a book.
    (Mind you, no two readers will necessarily read the information in a book in exactly the same way, either).
  19. Shemjaza

    Shemjaza Regular Member Supporter

    Before anyone can respond you need to define your version of "information".

    Do you have a definition of information?
    Can information be objectively measured?
    If so, what unit do you use?

    Because in any definition I've seen, changing the content of a message changes the message and provides different, and thus new, information.
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  20. Radagast

    Radagast comes and goes Supporter

    No, it doesn't work like that.