Cheap Lunches still not free

As promised, I’ve had a chance to read Meester’s paper on the No Free Lunch Theorem (NFLT) and I have to say that it appears to really not support ID science….really…..nope, not at all.

What Meesters does is to take Dr. Dembski’s old argument that the NFLTs show that evolution cannot be better than a random search, and presents a more general version.

In No Free Lunch, Dembski argued that the NFLT shows that evolution cannot do better than blind chance in finding an optimum. This was criticised by Häggström who said that the NFLT averages over every possible fitness. I will leave it to Dr. Dembski to respond to that.

Meesters points out that a similar argument can be used. If an algorithm does much better than average in finding the optimum on a fitness surface, then it is obviously matched to the surface. This, however, has a consequence that the Darwinists will not like. Simulations of evolution are designed – they do not evolve – therefore, they are matched to the fitness surface. If Darwinists want to argue that they are simulating evolution, it’s imperative that they avoid doing this.

Of course, some Darwinists will claim that the search algorithm was designed independently of the fitness function. But they would only be showing that they haven’t read the papers properly. Meesters cites a paper by Lenski et al. (2003) which purports to use siumlations that show that complex functions can evolve. But look closely at their methods section:

Copy errors caused point mutations, in which an existing instruction was replaced by any other (all with equal probability), at a rate of 0.0025 errors per instruction copied. Single-instruction deletions and insertions also occurred, each with a probability of 0.05 per genome copied. Hence, in the ancestral genome of length 50, 0.225 mutations are expected, on average, per replication. Various organisms from nature have genomic mutation rates higher or lower than this value.

Where did they get these numbers from? They were designed to look like “various organisms from nature”! A different choice of parameters would not have lead to evolution – the digital organisms would have died, because they were decaying too rapidly, or they would not have been able to change at all. If computer simulations like this are to be used for saying anything about how life on earth has evolved, they need to allow the algorithms to evolve too (I will let them off from having to allow their computers to evolve – that would be silly).

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3 responses to “Cheap Lunches still not free

  1. Where did they get these numbers from? They were designed to look like “various organisms from nature”

    Um, well yes, when one is designing a computer model of some natural system, one does use parameter values that are characteristic of that system. For example, if one were building a weather model, one would use values for variables like wind speed that are characteristic of real wind speeds. Doesn’t seem problematic fo me.

  2. I agree that it’s OK to include wind speed in a weather model, but that would not be a true test of the chaotic nature of the atmosphere now would it? It would be a test of a specific wind speed model. The problem with evolutionary algorithms is that they don’t use an unguided fitness landscape, but input their own. IOW, they add a teleological flavor to the program then they turn around and declare evolution is right. But, what they’ve simply done is intelligent design.

  3. Darth Piglet

    Exactly. If the program has been designed first, how can Darwinists claim that it represents naturalistic evolution?

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