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Old 01-16-2009, 08:25 PM   #76
madnak
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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Originally Posted by David Sklansky View Post
First of all I don't think evolution qualifies. I don't think one in 90 BRILLIANT Phds think that the evidence is not overwhemingly in its favor.
I doubt 1 in 1000 Biology PhDs doubt evolution. Brilliant or otherwise. And I can't think of a brilliant PhD in any of the sciences who denies evolution. Even many of the intelligent design proponents with PhDs accept evolution and common descent (including those NR keeps citing).

But I think NR's position in this thread is far from wholly unreasonable.
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Old 01-16-2009, 08:48 PM   #77
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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But I think NR's position in this thread is far from wholly unreasonable.
If the position you're referring to is " advanced life forms may be rare in the universe." it's hard to see how that is unreasonable, except maybe having a position on the topic.

If the position on you're referring to is " it's rare because Marcy changed his mind on it's rarity" that does sound unreasonable. Wholly? yeah, I'd say even wholly.
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Old 01-16-2009, 08:53 PM   #78
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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If the position you're referring to is " advanced life forms may be rare in the universe." it's hard to see how that is unreasonable, except maybe having a position on the topic.

If the position on you're referring to is " it's rare because Marcy changed his mind on it's rarity" that does sound unreasonable. Wholly? yeah, I'd say even wholly.
I mean the former, of course. But I don't even think the idea of fine tuning is unreasonable on the surface. Incoherent at its root, but still not wholly unreasonable.
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Old 01-16-2009, 09:16 PM   #79
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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If the position you're referring to is " advanced life forms may be rare in the universe." it's hard to see how that is unreasonable, except maybe having a position on the topic.

If the position on you're referring to is " it's rare because Marcy changed his mind on it's rarity" that does sound unreasonable. Wholly? yeah, I'd say even wholly.
As I said it isn't just Marcy.

http://www.amazon.com/Rare-Earth-Com.../dp/0387987010

Both these guys seem very competent:

Quote:
Peter Douglas Ward is a paleontologist and professor of Biology and of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle, as well as an author of popular science works for a general audience.
RTB has mentioned this book and others many times, none of them by IDers or theists.

I haven't read any of the books but if we're just counting heads the number seems to be growing that think intelligent life in the universe is rare or non-existent. Marcy was just the latest.
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Old 01-16-2009, 09:18 PM   #80
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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But I think NR's position in this thread is far from wholly unreasonable.
Being a mod is killing your brain cells.
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Old 01-16-2009, 09:53 PM   #81
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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1. If your best estimate of the probability that a planet has life (or anything else) has changed from one in a billion to one in a sextillion, it need not mean that you made major revisions in your assumptions. A technical post that had nothing to do with your specifc issue.
Are you ignoring my point about the uncertainty? Both estimates are inherently worthless. I am studying physics at the aforementioned school, but I don't have a Ph.d yet so I'm not sure how many Idaho masters it would take to make this even money.
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Old 01-16-2009, 09:58 PM   #82
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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I wasn't pretending to give a technical dissertation on evolution. I have read the Blind Watchmaker and understood it, 2 books by Behe, several by RTBers and I listen to them all the time. I think I grasp the basics.
Have you ever read or listened to anything by Dr. Kenneth Miller? You should forgo anything by Dawkins, since you obviously don't trust him and I agree he seems to have an ulterior motive or at least a common motive that has to do with repudiating religion. But Kenneth Miller is a devout Christian who also understands evolution. He made mincemeat of Behe at the Dover trial. And did I mention Miller is also a devout Christian?


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The point I was making which is what I think Marcy was making and with which you seem to agree is that advanced intelligence like ours is rare, maybe extremely rare.
There's no disputing that. Bunny and I went through this when discussing the likelihood of life elsewhere in the universe. While I think it's absurd to think we are the only life, it wouldn't surprise me if intelligent life is extremely rare or even if we are currently the most intelligent organism in the universe. The small window (75 years?) with which we've possessed the technology to detect other intelligent life, and that another technologically advanced species exists with this technology, before one of us goes extinct might exceed any realistic probability.
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Old 01-17-2009, 01:00 AM   #83
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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Are you ignoring my point about the uncertainty? Both estimates are inherently worthless. I am studying physics at the aforementioned school, but I don't have a Ph.d yet so I'm not sure how many Idaho masters it would take to make this even money.
I don't understand. The OP implied that this Marcy fellow changed his estimate of a planets having life from about one in a billion to about one in a sextillion. I said that isn't such a big change. Assuming you have to parlay a lot of factors. Nothing more, nothing less.

If you say that he should have realized his original estimate had a big margin for error I agree. Did he say it didn't?
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Old 01-17-2009, 01:04 AM   #84
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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Most physics PhDs haven't studied biology at great lengths. Not even close, in many cases they know less bio than I do as an undergraduate. There's no need for the average physics PhD to study biology.
Even the ones who make pronouncements about biology? Most Physics Phds don't know much about poker either. But every one that I know that got into poker is a great player (Mark Weitzman, Bill Bertram, Michael Binger, Jimmy Warren, Tom Weideman)
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Old 01-17-2009, 01:33 AM   #85
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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It isn't off subject for the following reasons:

Say mankind knows 10% of all that can be known of biology and 90% of physics. Someone who knows that 90% would seem smarter than someone who knows the 10%, even though both know all mankind knows about the respective topics - and the physics guy would sound smarter talking about biology than the biologist would about physics. Also, the skill set is different and someone could be brilliant in biology but slow in math.

I personally believe though I can't prove that biology is a much more complex and difficult subject relative to the total knowledge available than physics. One cell of a living organism may be more complex than the entire physical universe - not sure of that but may not be far off.
Biology is much more memory and much less thinking than physics. You have to be able to think expertly to get a degree in physics. That is the germaine point. Not how much of each subject we presently know.
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Old 01-17-2009, 01:38 AM   #86
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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I don't understand. The OP implied that this Marcy fellow changed his estimate of a planets having life from about one in a billion to about one in a sextillion. I said that isn't such a big change. Assuming you have to parlay a lot of factors. Nothing more, nothing less.

If you say that he should have realized his original estimate had a big margin for error I agree. Did he say it didn't?
I just find it odd that he is even talking about it to begin with and that was the reason for my initial post in which I said I couldn't really take him seriously.
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Old 01-17-2009, 03:38 AM   #87
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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Biology is much more memory and much less thinking than physics. You have to be able to think expertly to get a degree in physics. That is the germaine point. Not how much of each subject we presently know.
I don't know who's right in this but I do think you're way underestimating the difficulty of understanding biology, by which I don't mean the subject in school but the real thing in the real world.

http://rrteaching.blogspot.com/2007/...an-physics.htm

Quote:
Why biology is harder than physics

But in reality biology is much more complex than the physical sciences, and understanding it requires more, not less, brain work...

I don't think population thinking is addressed in high school biology. We can't really blame their teachers, because the issues probably were never made clear to them either. Instead high school teachers pass on the facts they remember from what they themselves learned at university. The result is that their students enter university expecting their biology education to consist mainly of memorizing lots of new facts.
It may be easier to make A's in biology but I don't think it's easier to fully understand the subject.

This seems to work:

http://rrteaching.blogspot.com/2007/...n-physics.html

Last edited by NotReady; 01-17-2009 at 03:57 AM.
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Old 01-17-2009, 03:44 AM   #88
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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I don't know who's right in this but I do think you're way underestimating the difficulty of understanding biology, by which I don't mean the subject in school but the real thing in the real world.

http://rrteaching.blogspot.com/2007/...an-physics.htm
Lol, i think you need to fix the link.
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Old 01-17-2009, 04:25 AM   #89
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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I don't know who's right in this but I do think you're way underestimating the difficulty of understanding biology, by which I don't mean the subject in school but the real thing in the real world.

http://rrteaching.blogspot.com/2007/...an-physics.htm



It may be easier to make A's in biology but I don't think it's easier to fully understand the subject.

This seems to work:

http://rrteaching.blogspot.com/2007/...n-physics.html
Here's another interesting comment on this:

http://northstatescience.blogspot.co...iological.html

They even quote from my favorite scientist, Dawkins:

Quote:
We think that physics is complicated because it is hard to understand and because physics books are full of difficult mathematics. But the objects that physicists study are still basically simple objects…They do not, at least by biological standards, have intricate working parts…The behavior of physical, nonbiological objects is so simple that it is feasible to use existing mathematical language to describe it, which is why physics books are full of mathematics.
And from the article:

Quote:
The point, I tell my students, is that we often think it is easy to grasp biology (and make substantial claims about it) because it does not appear on the surface to be as difficult a subject as physics. But biology deals with systems infinitely more complicated than those in physics (or engineering) and the ability to study and explain those systems requires grasping a body of knowledge inconceivable to most lay people and to many others in different disciplines.
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Old 01-17-2009, 04:56 AM   #90
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Re: Jeff Marcy

I don't really like the logic of biology being harder than physics because it deals with more complicated objects. That would make string theory and particle physics the easiest subjects in science and I think it is pretty obvious that they are not and have not been historically. For some strange reason that nobody understands, the universe uses very difficult math on a fundamental level. If you poll all high energy theorists 95%+ will say that the math to describe the most basic particles in the universe does not exist yet. Also, Ed Witten wins a Fields Medal and nobody bats an eye. I think it will be a very long time before a biologist wins a Fields Medal.
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Old 01-17-2009, 06:42 AM   #91
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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Originally Posted by NotReady
I don't know who's right in this but I do think you're way underestimating the difficulty of understanding biology, by which I don't mean the subject in school but the real thing in the real world.
As in, a biological system is a harder thing for physicists to model than an atom?

True, but biologists don't stand a chance of modeling either...
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Old 01-17-2009, 12:55 PM   #92
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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Even the ones who make pronouncements about biology? Most Physics Phds don't know much about poker either. But every one that I know that got into poker is a great player (Mark Weitzman, Bill Bertram, Michael Binger, Jimmy Warren, Tom Weideman)
Those who make pronouncements about biology are probably likely to have studied biology to some extent.

However, anyone who denies evolution is also likely never to have studied biology.

If a top physicist were to publicly deny evolution (I don't think this has ever happened), then I would consider the likelihood of that physicist having never studied biology to be greater than the likelihood of that physicist having studied biology (based on conditional probability). I would at least want to see clear evidence of a background in biology if that were the case.
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Old 01-17-2009, 12:59 PM   #93
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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As in, a biological system is a harder thing for physicists to model than an atom?

True, but biologists don't stand a chance of modeling either...
I have to agree. While I stand firmly behind the biologists in the Great War, it's much harder to become a credentialed physicist than a credentialed biologist. Also, the average physicist is much smarter than the average biologist.

I don't think this implies that there are no brilliant biologists (and I don't think crazy outliers like Ed Witten are necessarily fair to invoke here, especially given that physicists must work with math on a regular basis while biologists generally don't, making them more likely to win Fields medals regardless of their intelligence). But in general, physicists > biologists.
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Old 01-17-2009, 04:27 PM   #94
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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I have to agree. While I stand firmly behind the biologists in the Great War, it's much harder to become a credentialed physicist than a credentialed biologist. Also, the average physicist is much smarter than the average biologist.

I don't think this implies that there are no brilliant biologists (and I don't think crazy outliers like Ed Witten are necessarily fair to invoke here, especially given that physicists must work with math on a regular basis while biologists generally don't, making them more likely to win Fields medals regardless of their intelligence). But in general, physicists > biologists.
I don't disagree with that or with the idea that a physics Ph.D. is harder than one in biology. But there's an acid test for which subject is actually harder. Let a few brilliant physicists enter biology and see if they can make new discoveries about life, etc., that biologists have so far failed to make. There can even be a selfish motive as the field is surely more open to new discoveries than physics - for instance, make a microbe that can turn garbage into hydrogen as Venter is trying to do - instant trillionaire.
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Old 01-19-2009, 09:34 PM   #95
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Re: Jeff Marcy

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I don't disagree with that or with the idea that a physics Ph.D. is harder than one in biology. But there's an acid test for which subject is actually harder. Let a few brilliant physicists enter biology and see if they can make new discoveries about life, etc., that biologists have so far failed to make. There can even be a selfish motive as the field is surely more open to new discoveries than physics - for instance, make a microbe that can turn garbage into hydrogen as Venter is trying to do - instant trillionaire.
That doesn't mean biology is necessarily harder. I think theoretical physics and math are the fields to which your level of success is most strongly correlated to your intelligence.
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