A post over at Uncommon Descent with a long-running series of comments resulted in a link to a video segment that bears on a stance taken by William Dembski and others that Richard Dawkins’ “weasel” program somehow worked by locking-in correct characters, protecting those from further mutation. The video shows that no such protection was given to correct characters. I’ve sent an email to Dembski and Robert Marks to bring this directly to their attention. I’ll share it with you here.
“David Kellogg” on Uncommon Descent linked to a YouTube video of a 1987 BBC Horizon
sprogram on Richard Dawkins’ “The Blind Watchmaker”. It includes video closeups of Dawkins’ “weasel” program in operation. The video also plainly shows that letters that match the target string are not locked or latched, just as I informed you some time ago (2000/10/09 for Dr. Dembski and 2007/10/11 for Dr. Marks).
View the following video:
The relevant part begins at 6:15 into the video. The camera is close enough to the screen to show the letters in the evolutionary computation clearly, and it plainly shows that there is no latching of any character in any position.
You have continued to present Dawkins’ “weasel” program as incorporating a latching mechanism for correct characters, and have gone so far as to term “weasel” a partitioned search. You concluded in drafts of papers that “weasel”‘s performance advantage over blind search was due to it having a partitioned search as its mechanism.
I previously laid out the evidence that the description of “weasel” provided by you was incorrect, without apparent effect. I have a further blog post that plots the performance of the partitioned search as you described it, and an accurately implemented version of the “weasel” program.
While actual “weasel” is slightly less efficient than Dembski-partitioned-search, both are dramatically better than blind search. This is at variance with several of the claims that you have made.
Given that now the evidence is as clear that Dawkins’ did not use a partitioned search as it always has been that he never described a partitioned search, I would hope that you each and jointly will take steps to remove the inaccurate descriptions and invalidated conclusions that were made on an incorrect premise.
Wesley R. Elsberry
Why pay attention to persistent antievolutionist error over a toy pedagogical example from 23 years ago? Because the antievolutionists don’t seem to be able to understand even the simplest sort of illustration of evolutionary computation, and that implies that understanding the basics of the principles behind “weasel” is also far from them. The incorrect description of “weasel” is propagated in the text of a paper that Dembski has claimed has been accepted for publication somewhere, though the correction was brought to Dembski’s attention over eight years ago, and to his co-author’s attention in 2007. Not only is the description incorrect, but the incorrect elements of the description were the ones that were the subject of analysis and the basis for the erroneous conclusions that they drew. Further, the tenacity with which this error has been clung to has resulted in the incorrect description and conclusion being used by others in the religious antievolution movement, as may be seen in Meyer’s Hopeless Monster. Error this basic whose effects have been so protracted needs to be exposed assiduously.