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Author Topic:   the old improbable probability problem
RAZD
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From: the other end of the sidewalk
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 (1)
 Message 1 of 76 (99925) 04-14-2004 10:45 AM

We see them over and over .... this or that could not possibly have happened because the improbability is just too great.

Usually these are based on very restrictive "all-at-once-out-of-nothing" linear calculations where the errors involved are multifold and pervasive:

1. The calculation is a mathematical model of reality and not the reality itself. When a model fails to replicate reality it is not reality that is at fault but the mathematical model. When a hurricane prediction program crashes because it can't model the first hurricane in the South Atlantic on record, the meteorologists don't go out to the hurricane and say "you can't be here, our model does not allow you to be here" ... they fix the model by looking for and taking out the failed assumptions (ie - that all hurricanes are north of the equator). When a model fails to model reality it is a good indication that some aspect of reality has been missed in the model.

2. The calculation fails to account for the known pre-existing molecules used in the formation of life that are found throughout the universe, and this failure means the calculation with creation-all-at-once including these molecules is unnecessarily extended downward, starting with too much simplicity.

3. The calculation fails to account for the fact that the first life need not be as complicated as a modern cell, that the minimum configuration is much simpler as shown by the LUCA studies. This failure means that the calculation is unnecessarily extended upward, ending with too much complexity.

4. The calculation fails to account for combinations of groups of such molecules in smorgasbord fashion instead of in assembly line fashion all at once all from nothing. And further, that all those "failed" experiments are still available to be cut and reassembled into new experiments without having to go through all the preliminaries. It fails to account for actual combination process as used in natural assembly of large organic compounds. Amino acids are assembled into larger molecules like peptides and not from extending amino acids by adding atoms. This failure means that all the ways to reach the final necessary combination are not included and thus it unnecessarily excludes possible combination methods.

5. The probability of winning a lottery by any one ticket is extremely low, but the probability that the lottery will be won is extremely high. How do you reconcile these two very disparate probabilities? By knowing that any one of the millions of tickets is a valid winner if picked. To show that this is not the case for the calculations mentioned (ie -- in order to say "1 out of") you have to show that no other combination works of all the other probabilities. There are several different known forms of hemoglobin, all of which do the job of transporting oxygen in the blood, and thus the probability is high that there are other versions that will work as well. Scientists have also manipulated an organism successfully to make it produce an unnatural amino acid, one that does not occur naturally, thus demonstrating that there are other "solutions" than the ones that happen to be used in life as we know it. It could well be that 1 in a million "solutions" of the possible combinations would work, and that the probability would then reduce to 1 in 106. This calculation has not been done and is not included, unnecessarily excluding possible solutions from the probability calculation.

6. Finally, the improbability of a thing occurring is not proof of impossibility of it occurring. It could well be that this is the only planet in all the universe that has life on it because it is a very improbably event. And if you divide the surface of the planet into all the different types of environments and do the same for all the other planets and moons and asteroids in the solar system alone you will have billionsXbillions of little experimental crucibles for carrying out experiments and if that is carried out over several billion year periods (4.55 billion year old earth, in a 13.7+ billion year old universe) with multiple "experiments" in a {day?hour?minute?} ... billionsXbillions of time periods, and do the same for all the billionsXbillions of stellar systems throughout the universe it does not take long to create an equally mind boggling number that reduces improbability down towards a definite probability. I'm at 1054 possiblities already on this one aspect alone ... and for a 1 in 106 chance that looks pretty good.
Anyone care to play?

This message has been edited by RAZD, 09-09-2004 12:02 AM

This message has been edited by RAZD, 01-03-2005 21:01 AM

Edited by RAZD, : fixed font problem in smorgasbord

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 Replies to this message: Message 3 by 1.61803, posted 04-14-2004 3:52 PM RAZD has acknowledged this reply Message 11 by RAZD, posted 09-09-2004 1:03 AM RAZD has responded Message 23 by RAZD, posted 10-01-2005 5:32 PM RAZD has responded Message 27 by Mirabile_Auditu, posted 10-24-2005 2:12 AM RAZD has responded Message 36 by DivineBeginning, posted 11-17-2006 7:25 PM RAZD has acknowledged this reply Message 40 by dogrelata, posted 12-04-2006 1:54 PM RAZD has responded Message 45 by RAZD, posted 05-09-2012 6:34 PM RAZD has acknowledged this reply Message 70 by ICANT, posted 06-12-2012 9:41 AM RAZD has acknowledged this reply

Director
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 Message 2 of 76 (100001) 04-14-2004 3:40 PM

Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

[This message has been edited by Adminnemooseus, 04-14-2004]

WHERE TO GO TO START A NEW TOPIC (For other than "Welcome, Visitors!", "Suggestions and Questions", "Practice Makes Perfect", and "Short Subjects")

Comments on moderation procedures? - Go to
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1.61803
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 Message 3 of 76 (100003) 04-14-2004 3:52 PM Reply to: Message 1 by RAZD04-14-2004 10:45 AM

I seemed to remember reading somewhere that on a quantum level a event can take place that would be by all rational considerations seem impossible. Rules are broken, all bets are off. No sooner does someone say something can not be done ..and boom it happens. I appears to me that God allows for gambling in this big Cosmic Casino (even if Mr. Einstien did not agree.)IMO. *edit to add: I think that God if he exist is sometimes surprized.

[This message has been edited by 1.61803, 04-14-2004]

"One is punished most for ones virtues" Fredrick Neitzche
 This message is a reply to: Message 1 by RAZD, posted 04-14-2004 10:45 AM RAZD has acknowledged this reply

Stipes
Inactive Member

 Message 4 of 76 (107597) 05-11-2004 8:14 PM

Then why?
Then why teach probability? To me it seems like a wasted unit in my math class. Sorry, a little off topic.
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Lammy
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 Message 5 of 76 (107605) 05-11-2004 8:38 PM Reply to: Message 4 by Stipes05-11-2004 8:14 PM

Re: Then why?
 Stipes writes:Then why teach probability? To me it seems like a wasted unit in my math class. Sorry, a little off topic.

Because it is helpful in many situations. It is especially very helpful in genetics. Say that if a woman has trisomy 21, the chance of having a normal child for her is 50%. Very helpful to know.

The Laminator

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crashfrog
Inactive Member

 Message 6 of 76 (107607) 05-11-2004 8:43 PM Reply to: Message 4 by Stipes05-11-2004 8:14 PM

 To me it seems like a wasted unit in my math class.

I think that statistics is the most useful thing you could ever learn in high school, and I'll tell you why.

Can you think of any other mathematics that is used so often to influence public policy? Mark Twain once said "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics."

With the way statistics are bandied about by politicians - usually erroneously - I don't see how one could truly be a full-fledged participant in democracy without an ability to sort good statistical reasoning from bad.

 This message is a reply to: Message 4 by Stipes, posted 05-11-2004 8:14 PM Stipes has not yet responded

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Loudmouth
Inactive Member

 Message 7 of 76 (107629) 05-11-2004 11:01 PM Reply to: Message 6 by crashfrog05-11-2004 8:43 PM

quote:
With the way statistics are bandied about by politicians - usually erroneously - I don't see how one could truly be a full-fledged participant in democracy without an ability to sort good statistical reasoning from bad.

Agreed. My favorite is the anti-drug ad that states "30% of wreckless drivers test positive for marijuana" giving the impression that those who test positived are stoned. Actually, 30% smoked pot within the last 2 weeks. Even better are the new stats here in the States showing that unemployment claims are on the downturn. What they don't show is the number of people that are unemployed but either no longer qualify for unemployment or have given up on the system.

My other favorite misuse of stats is drunken driving. If 30% of accidents are caused by drunken drivers, aren't sober drivers more dangerous since they make up the other 70%?

This message has been edited by Loudmouth, 05-11-2004 10:02 PM

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jar
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 Message 8 of 76 (107650) 05-12-2004 12:30 AM Reply to: Message 6 by crashfrog05-11-2004 8:43 PM

My favorite statistic
was in the Savannah, Georgia newspaper. It proudly proclaimed that car thefts had been reduced 200%.

I bet folk were coming out their doors in the morning to find that thieves had once again left a car in their driveway over night.

Aslan is not a Tame Lion
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Darwin Storm
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 Message 9 of 76 (107658) 05-12-2004 2:36 AM Reply to: Message 4 by Stipes05-11-2004 8:14 PM

Re: Then why?
Probability and statistics are the root of quantum mechanics. The wavefunction can be solved to give probablilities, not exact solutions. However, the probablities it gives are EXTREMELY accurate.
 This message is a reply to: Message 4 by Stipes, posted 05-11-2004 8:14 PM Stipes has not yet responded

Parasomnium
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 Message 10 of 76 (107669) 05-12-2004 3:47 AM Reply to: Message 7 by Loudmouth05-11-2004 11:01 PM

 My favorite is the anti-drug ad that states "30% of wreckless drivers test positive for marijuana" giving the impression that those who test positived are stoned.

Officer to stoned driver: "...and who do you think is going to pay for the damage if you drive like that, young man?"
Stoned driver: "Not to worry officer, I'm a wreckless driver."

"It's amazing what you can learn from DNA." - Desdamona.
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RAZD
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From: the other end of the sidewalk
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 Message 11 of 76 (141141) 09-09-2004 1:03 AM Reply to: Message 1 by RAZD04-14-2004 10:45 AM

bump for literal loren
When you talk about the improbability of things you need to know what you are talking about. Your argument is just the "agrument from incredulity" -- just because you cannot see how it could come to be is due to your lack of imagination if anything, a problem that does not hinder the natural world (especially if it has already solved the problem).

http://www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=page&f=11&t=107&p=12

ps - the {proposed new topic} is only for setting up new topics and not for discussing them.

enjoy

we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand

RebelAAmerican.Zen[Deist
{{{Buddha walks off laughing with joy}}}

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Lammy
Member (Idle past 98 days)
Posts: 3575
From: Chicago Suburbs
Joined: 03-29-2004

 Message 12 of 76 (141144) 09-09-2004 2:02 AM Reply to: Message 11 by RAZD09-09-2004 1:03 AM

Re: bump for literal loren
I think you are wasting your time. I think he's one of those hit-and-run people. I would be very impressed if he actually comes back anytime soon and talk about what he started.

The Laminator

We are the bog. Resistance is voltage over current.

For goodness's sake, please vote Democrat this November!

 This message is a reply to: Message 11 by RAZD, posted 09-09-2004 1:03 AM RAZD has responded

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happy_atheist
Member (Idle past 2356 days)
Posts: 326
Joined: 08-21-2004

 Message 13 of 76 (141163) 09-09-2004 5:49 AM Reply to: Message 7 by Loudmouth05-11-2004 11:01 PM

 crashfrog writes:My other favorite misuse of stats is drunken driving. If 30% of accidents are caused by drunken drivers, aren't sober drivers more dangerous since they make up the other 70%?

Only if there are a comparable number of drunk drivers to sober drivers. The statistic is a bit meaningless as it is, but I would imagine that sober drivers outweigh drunken drivers by more than 3:1. If this is the case, then you have a small number of drunk drivers causing a disproportionate number of the accidents.

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RAZD
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Posts: 18658
From: the other end of the sidewalk
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 Message 14 of 76 (141185) 09-09-2004 10:07 AM Reply to: Message 12 by Lammy09-09-2004 2:02 AM

Re: bump for literal loren
or a child.
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nator
Member (Idle past 2085 days)
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Joined: 12-09-2001

 Message 15 of 76 (141189) 09-09-2004 10:26 AM Reply to: Message 6 by crashfrog05-11-2004 8:43 PM

quote:
With the way statistics are bandied about by politicians - usually erroneously - I don't see how one could truly be a full-fledged participant in democracy without an ability to sort good statistical reasoning from bad.

Absolutely.

For example, the reports that recent polls that showed the Bush got an 11 point lead over Kerry...

Well, first of all, out of 8 polls, only two polls showed that. The rest had a much smaller lead, or showed Kerry ahead of Bush.

Now, the deal with the high polls is that those two particular news sources didn't correct for bias in their samples, which is what all the major polling companies do.

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