Yet another weird SF fan


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Yet another weird SF fan
 

Monday, January 02, 2006

An Embarrassment to Mathematicians

A mathematics professor named Granville Sewell has published an article in The American Spectator (currently being discussed at Free Republic) attempting to use the Second Law of Thermodynamics to refute Darwin's explanation of evolution. It has the usual errors:

If we define thermal "order" to be the opposite (negative) of thermal entropy, we can say that the thermal order can never increase in a closed (isolated) system. However, it was soon realized that other types of order can be defined which also never increase in a closed system. For example, we can define a "carbon order" associated with the distribution of carbon diffusing in a solid, using the same equations, and through an identical analysis show that this order also continually decreases, in a closed system.
Wrong. Even in closed system, graphite can condense from carbon gas. (This is, of course, at the expense of thermal order.) Entropy is fungible.
The discovery that life on Earth developed through evolutionary "steps," coupled with the observation that mutations and natural selection -- like other natural forces -- can cause (minor) change, is widely accepted in the scientific world as proof that natural selection -- alone among all natural forces -- can create order out of disorder, and even design human brains with human consciousness.
Wrong. Weather patterns (or, for that matter, volcanos) are order created out of disorder. (I've mentioned this before.)

My fellow wingnuts should remember that there is a difference between a valid argument and one with a ccnclusion you might want to accept. Similarly, there is a difference between someone with a PhD and someone who's making sense. (This is not limited to Unknown University … as the examples of Andrew Weil or John Mack should show.)

I'm reminded of the following quote from James Lileks:

Everyone always thinks they have some armor-piercing argument the other side has never considered, but that's rarely the case.

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