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Author Topic:   mihkel4397: Fred Hoyle's calculation of probability of abiogenesis
JonF
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Posts: 6169
Joined: 06-23-2003
Member Rating: 1.6


Message 1 of 50 (186210)
02-17-2005 1:07 PM


The Before the Big Bang has drifted far off-topic, and ol' Nosy has closed it for a while. When he re-opens it I presume that discussion of Fred Hoyle's calculation of the probability of abiogenesis will be verboten. But I can't let mihkel4397 get away with his egregious misinterpretations and misrepresentations.

Summarizing, in Message 74 mihkel4397 said:

The late Fred Hoyle stated that this sudden emergence of life was as likely as a tornado ripping through a junkyard would produce a perfect jetliner.

After I pointed out, with references, that Sir Fred was wrong, mihkel4397 asked:

And based on what authority can you assert that they were wrong?

I responded with a more detailed critique. mihkel4397 responded:

That is all very well. You dodge my question: On what (personal) authority do you make your statements?

to which I responded:

I have no such authority, and it doesn't matter in the slightest. There is no such authority for anyone to have. I am a rational human being, capable of thought and evaluation. That's all I need.

In science, the evidence is all that matters. When an intelligent, eminent, and learned scientist such as Sir Fred Hoyle is wrong, he's wrong, and anyone can call him on it. Scientific findings stand or fall on their own, not on the so-called "authority" of the person making the claim.

If my arguments are wrong, they're wrong. If they're right, they're right. Who's making the argument, or the attributes of the person making the argument, are irrelevant. You are steadfastly avoiding discussion of the evidence and the arguments in favor of discussing the people, and that's a fallacy on which a moderator may call you soon.

I've made my arguments, presented a brief precis of the evidence, and pointed you to easily accessible deeper discussion of my arguments and evidence.

So, the ball's in your court now; we've pointed out why Sir Fred was wrong and why you've misinterpreted/misrepresented Crick. Time for you to discuss our arguments rather than committing more appeal-to-authority and ad-hominem fallacies.

And now mihkel4397 responds:

Do you mean that you, lacking any fundamental training in the area can decide that Fred Hoyle was wrong based on common sense??

So, off I go.

Point the first: Sir Fred Hoyle had no fundamental training in biology, and if you accept his assertions without proof, on what possible basis do you question other's abilities and training?

Point the second: This is probably the most blatant shifting of goalposts I have ever seen. I wrote nothing of training and you didn't ask about that; you asked about authority, which is a very different kettle of fish.

I have advanced training in the appropriate areas. I have been granted a Masters of Science and a Bachelors of Science degree, both from MIT. I have taken probability and statistics courses on both undergraduate and graduate levels. I have used advanced probability and statistics in 25 years of professional practice. I have taken biology courses on the undergraduate level, and kept up with the parts of the field that I find interesting (such as abiogenesis).

So I am saying Hoyle was wrong (he did the calculations right, but his mathematical model was unrealistic and worthless) based on my personal and relevant expertise and ability in the field, and on the appropriate expertise of others embodied in the references, especially Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Probability of Abiogenesis Calculations.

But when you come right down to it, degrees don't matter; years of experience don't matter; subjects studied don't matter (although they all can be useful indicators). What matters is the evidence and is the math correct and is the math based on a realistic model of the real world. Hoyle's math was not based on a realistic model of the real world, no matter how much expertise and how many qualifications he had.

As a side note, I think that anyone who's absorbed a week's worth of probability and statistics could tell that Hoyle was wrong by just thinking about it. One of his errors, as I noted in Message 90, was that Hoyle assumed the the life we see is the only kind of life that could possibly evolve; he should have calculated the odds of any kind of life appearing. One of the first things we learn in probability and statistics is the basic definition of probability; the number of different ways an event can happen divided by the number of relevant events that can happen. Hoyle can be proved wrong on the basis of that definition alone!

How many different ways can life arise? We don't know.

How many relevant events can happen? We don't know.

Can we divide one number that we don't know by another number that we don't know and get a meaningful answer? No.

Therefore, Hoyle was wrong.

So, mihkel4397, the ball's in your court now; we've pointed out why Sir Fred was wrong and why you've misinterpreted/misrepresented Crick. Time for you to discuss our arguments rather than committing more appeal-to-authority and ad-hominem fallacies.


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AdminNosy
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Message 2 of 50 (186215)
02-17-2005 1:28 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
JonF
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Posts: 6169
Joined: 06-23-2003
Member Rating: 1.6


Message 3 of 50 (186769)
02-19-2005 12:49 PM


In Message 118 mihkel4397 wrote:

Chick, Wald, Barghorn and Hoyle were in agreement. Did they all miss what is so obvious to you now?

Do you mean Crick? He didn't agree that abiogenesis was low probability. "But this should not be taken to imply that there are good reasons to believe that it could not have started on the earth by a perfectly reasonable sequence of fairly ordinary chemical reactions.".

This is your first mention of Wald. If you mean Dr. George Wald, he doesn't agree either. There is an egregious, actually fabricated, misquote atributed to him that seems to indicate that he agrees, but he doesn't. See Quote #57. Incidentally, the "spontaneous generation" referred to there means the arising of modern forms of life from dead but possible organic matter and was indeed disproven by Pasteur long ago, but has nothing to do with modern theories of abiogenesis; see Spontaneous Generation and the Origin of Life.

This is also your first mention of Barghorn; I think you mean Elso Sterrenberg Barghoorn. He published some papers in the 1960's and 70's reporting very early microfossils, shortening the time between the cooling of the Earth's surface and the appearance of life. But you're going to have to come up with some evidence that he agreed with Hoyle.

Hoyle obviously agreed with himself; but he was always a bit of a nut. Brilliant, but a nut. He didn't know much biology, and he made some elementary mistakes.


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Coragyps
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Posts: 5546
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 4 of 50 (186776)
02-19-2005 1:36 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by JonF
02-19-2005 12:49 PM


Do you mean Crick?

He might have meant Chick.
Jack Chick. :D

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Sumer
Inactive Member


Message 5 of 50 (343806)
08-26-2006 10:58 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by JonF
02-17-2005 1:07 PM


Edited by Sumer, : No reason given.


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kuresu
Member (Idle past 1139 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 6 of 50 (343842)
08-27-2006 1:10 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Sumer
08-26-2006 10:58 PM


is training to learn to think critically indoctrination?


All a man's knowledge comes from his experiences

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obvious Child
Member (Idle past 2741 days)
Posts: 661
Joined: 08-17-2006


Message 7 of 50 (343864)
08-27-2006 2:23 AM


I hate to say it, but can't any idiot figure out that Hoyle's model is crock?

Running sequential trials for complicated organic sequences is going to take a long time. Running simultaneous trials will not. Creationists have taken this logic and either fallaciously or ignorantly ignored that chemical reactions organic and inorganic occur every day, every minute, every second, everywhere in the trillions. Sure rolling 1 die to achieve a set of data 500 units long may take forever. Rolling a trillion will not.


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Sumer
Inactive Member


Message 8 of 50 (343956)
08-27-2006 12:40 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by obvious Child
08-27-2006 2:23 AM


Edited by Sumer, : No reason given.


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Chiroptera
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Posts: 6916
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003


Message 9 of 50 (343959)
08-27-2006 12:49 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Sumer
08-26-2006 10:58 PM


quote:
Therefore, isn't it a bit premature to claim that Mr. Hoyle was wrong?

No. As a math teacher, I don't award credit if the student arrives at the correct answer through incorrect processes or faulty reasoning.

Hoyle may have "guessed" the correct answer through his demonstrably faulty model, but people will be justified in denying him credit for his "contribution".

The goal is not to somehow magically "guess" an answer and hope that in the end it will be correct. The goal in science is to try to understand reality, and that will require basing our conclusions on reliable data and logical thinking.

Edited by Chiroptera, : Forgot dBCode tag.

Edited by Chiroptera, : Removed last bit of post to tighten the topic of the post.


"These monkeys are at once the ugliest and the most beautiful creatures on the planet./ And the monkeys don't want to be monkeys; they want to be something else./ But they're not."
-- Ernie Cline

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Sumer
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 50 (343978)
08-27-2006 2:52 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Chiroptera
08-27-2006 12:49 PM


Edited by Sumer, : No reason given.


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Chiroptera
Member
Posts: 6916
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003


Message 11 of 50 (343991)
08-27-2006 3:37 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Sumer
08-27-2006 2:52 PM


quote:
Which model are you talking about?

His model where the atoms randomly come together to form a cell all at once.

-

quote:
So far, there is NO data that disproves his calculation of the chemical evolution.

That is not the point. The point is that without understanding the possible pathways that could have formed life, his calculations are irrelevant. He simply showed that one possibility, that the amino acides and nucleotide all randomly came together to form the first cell all at once, is pretty darn unlikely. But scientists already knew that. Scientists at that time did not make the claim, and scientists today are not making the claim, that life rose all at once when the necessary materials randomly came together as envisioned by Hoyle.


"As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests." -- Gore Vidal

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RAZD
Member (Idle past 31 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 12 of 50 (343996)
08-27-2006 4:13 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Sumer
08-27-2006 2:52 PM


welcome to the fray Sumer.

Just a suggestion, if you type [qs]quote boxes are easy[/qs] it becomes:

quote boxes are easy

You can also use "peek mode" on replies to see how others format their replies.

So far, there is NO data that disproves his calculation of the chemical evolution.

To add to what Chiroptera said in Message 11

He simply showed that one possibility, that the amino acides and nucleotide all randomly came together to form the first cell all at once, is pretty darn unlikely.

He also did not show that NO OTHER arrangement could result in life. That is a major oversight yes?

Enjoy.

Edited by RAZD, : No reason given.


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obvious Child
Member (Idle past 2741 days)
Posts: 661
Joined: 08-17-2006


Message 13 of 50 (344001)
08-27-2006 4:42 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Sumer
08-27-2006 12:40 PM


sure Hoyle proved that sequential trials are impossible, but that does not make him right or his model accurate. Merely winning a prize for good math doesn't mean your model is realistic.

The only difference between inorganic and organic is their source. And their chemistry of creation is quite important, hence why there are studies of inorganic and organic.

The fundemental problem with the trials that have been done is that they were using small scale models (comparatively) that often didn't have the right mixture of conditions on earth. The Miller-Urey experiment actually got amino acids, but it was using conditions that didn't exist on the planet.


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Chiroptera
Member
Posts: 6916
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003


Message 14 of 50 (344004)
08-27-2006 4:49 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by obvious Child
08-27-2006 4:42 PM


quote:
The Miller-Urey experiment actually got amino acids, but it was using conditions that didn't exist on the planet.

The experiment has been repeated using all the proposed compositions of the early atmosphere; every one of them produced amino acids and other complex organics.


"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one." -- George Bernard Shaw

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obvious Child
Member (Idle past 2741 days)
Posts: 661
Joined: 08-17-2006


Message 15 of 50 (344010)
08-27-2006 5:15 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by Chiroptera
08-27-2006 4:49 PM


But weren't the proposed compositions of the early atmosphere that was used in the experiment criticized as not being accurate given new findings? That I recall was the serious flaw within the experiment and why it is not considered that credible in abiogenesis today.

Also, just for my curosity, which of the amino acids did it not produce? I remember that it produced the majority of them.


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