Here's the link to the latest draft of an article I'm prepping to refute Perry S. Marshall's ludicrous arguments on information theory.

Although not complete, I offer it here for checking and your comments: particularly to make sure that my own ignorance of something important doesn't drop me in hot water. Further articles for the site are welcome - each author has their own page.


Please read it before commenting. This is the first in a series and peer review is important to make sure we get them all right.

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Perry S. Marshall:
“Show me just one paper, book or experiment anywhere in the history of biology that empirically demonstrates and proves that random mutation of DNA produces novel adaptive features (eyes, wings, legs, functional organs); and that the mutations that produced those features were in fact random. (And not Mobile Genetic Elements or some other systematic process.)

“Again I repeat: In 150 years of research on this subject, there is not a single peer-reviewed paper, book or experiment that demonstrates this to be true. Not one.”

Dr. Rupert Sheldrake (from the 2009 UK edition of "A New Science of Life", Ch-8, pg 182:
"...neither the repetition, modification, addition, subtraction or permutation of existing morphogenetic fields can explain the origin of these fields themselves. During the course of evolution, entirely new morphic units together with their morphogenetic fields must have come into being: those of the basic types of cells, tissues and organs; of fundamentally different kinds of lower and higher plants and animals, such as mosses, ferns, conifers, spiders, birds and mammals; and of structures such as feathers and eyes.

As discussed in Chapter 12, the origin of new forms can be ascribed to the creative activity of an agency pervading and transcending nature; or to a creative impetus immanent in nature; or to blind and purposeless chance. From the point of view of natural science, the question of evolutionary creativity can only be left open."
What Marshall means is the generation of an eye or a limb... he's an idiot!
"What Marshall means is the generation of an eye or a limb... he's an idiot!"

Do you mean the gradual evolution of an eye after the appearance of the first photo sensitive bundles of cells... and/or the first rudimentary nodes which eventually evolved into fully formed limbs?
Yeah. Marshall's "theory" (straw man) seems to claim that the eye just spontaneously evolved and since it didn't - and we all know it didn't - he claims that evolution is wrong.

I've formatted this badly for Nexus - it's at the end of the piece where I quote him and reply (I'll put Marshall's text in itals.). The allusion to the Concorde makes sense when you've seen the rest of it where I equate Marshall's model with a paper airplane - with the intention of discrediting him by using language his level of reader (and under) can understand:

“Again I repeat: In 150 years of research on this subject, there is not a single peer-reviewed paper, book or experiment that demonstrates this to be true. Not one.

“No one who considers themselves a skeptic or a scientifically literate person can believe this to be true and still be consistent with skepticism and scientific literacy.”

Remember that paper Concorde? It was more or less at this point that I printed this statement, folded it into the shape of a paper dart, lit the end and sent it on its way.
Thank you Julia, first bit is a little outside my area of expertise, but thank you for pointing it out, I love to learn. CFP is aimed at people who might be drawn into Perry's fallacious fantasies; not educated folk like you and my learned friends on the Nexus. As an autodidact my learning is more evolutionary than revolutionary and it gives me a different perspective on how the loons operate.

I'd agree that the language model is anything but perfect - it's not meant to be, it's an analogy. What I'm trying to show is how models can mimic but never exactly copy: the more complex the model is, the better it helps our understanding of what we're trying to study. As a model of evolution, it's a lot closer to what really happens than Marshall's ludicrous information theory in which he "proves" the existence of a designer.

Your example is an interesting one. On a macro evolutionary level we could, perhaps, argue that these two groups are sufficiently closely related to breed (i.e. of the same species) and that when the languages merge, some shared traits (words) are lost in favour of the better developed ones. Dietitian may well be common in the US, but I expect most Brits would use the "dietician" version.

I realise we're stretching this to breaking point, but I wonder if anyone has stumble across this analogy listed against the list of classifications. I'll have a bash but it'll be rough.

What I would like is for people to find my errors and correct them before I post a completed version at CFP. I can see Straw Man (several times) in Perry's reasoning, but there are other fallacies I suspect, and someone else may be able to more easily reveal them.

I can't ever see a time when I could pierce Perry's delusion but I can see a point where we can stop other people falling for it.
Awww nuts - regarding the classifications. Species is a high as I could get - each language is a species; although they seem to share a common ancestor. Divergences are profound and there is a faster level of mutation in the spoken language than in the written. Beyond that, I'd need the help of a linguist.

Which makes me wonder has anyone ever done the Chinese Whispers game with email: only move the rules so you can change the message, say, a letter or word at a time - adding or removing or mutating? The only rule is that the sentence/message must make still sense (selection). By adding a line at a time we could trace how the message changes from person to person.

Anyone up for that?
I should also point out how Marshall closes this piece:

Q: So what is your aim with the Random Mutation Generator?

A: To demonstrate as clearly as possible that the notion of Random Mutation as a source of evolutionary progress is utterly false and absurd. Evolution by Random Mutation is nothing more than a fairy tale. It is the most widely circulated myth in 500 years of science. The dogma has been repeated ad nauseum but is always assumed, seldom examined, and never demonstrated by anyone to actually be true.

The evolution of information is ALWAYS a top-down process, not bottom-up. The top-down structure of information itself makes the strongest possible inference to design in biology.
First (almost completely unformatted) draft is now available for your comments:


You may see from this that the bespoke underlying engine I'm developing for the site also needs work; which is why I'd love to hear from anyone with relevant suggestions to power MusemOfIgnorance.

I'm hard against an (unrelated) deadline so in future any major changes will appear on this special section of the CFP site. I'll file all my drafts there for your learned comments and as always, may I repeat my invitation for others to join me.

I hope you do.
"....................................which is why I'd love to hear from anyone with relevant suggestions to power MusemOfIgnorance."

Further to the spoofing of Perry Marshall's ID world of ignorance, you might consider labelling him and his chums as representing the church's 'Ministry of Ignorance'.
LOVE IT! That's a corking idea!
He also must know than dna code and proteins are not like english. Every random change can have an effect (being that effect the same aminoacid, another aminoacid or none, which is also "meaningful").
Marshall is an IDiot - as Dr Meaden so eloquently puts it. He doesn't know very much of anything unless it fits into his very narrow world view. To my mind he's deluded - but he's dangerous insomuch as he's making very loud noises that some people are being taken it by.

CFP is a way to spoof his site with some rational arguments that don't get too scientific and bogged down it what I call Allele Hell where non-scientists get bogged down and take the easy route out.

My "paper" confronts his ignorance by playing Perry at his own game - using English as a corollary to show that language can (and does evolve) in many ways that are directly analogous to evolution. There will be disparities, but that's true of any comparison. However, the idea is to show just how random mutation of lanuage - when correctly modeled - does indeed mirror the biological version quite closely.

It's about 4000 words right now and growing with each edit: have a look and let me know where I can improve it.



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