Re: Intell. Design

Glenn R. Morton (
Mon, 01 Jun 1998 20:30:40 -0500

I was pointed to a post from last year that addressed EGM's second point.
It can be found at

I was given permission to to repost this and it is a better rebuttal than

>Subject: Re: Economic irreducible complexity
>Creator: owner-evolution / tiger, unix (
>Message Id: 199611262104.QAA07165(a)
>Create Date: 11/26/96 16:04:05
>Received Date: 11/26/96 16:05:26
>Chuck W. elaborated on Glenn's economic analogy:
>>My point was that intelligent input is required for the economy to
>>"evolve". Whether this input comes from inside or outside the system,
>>whether or not the intelligent agents are coginzant of their exact part in
>>the whole -- these are irrelevant. Nonintelligent agency cannot generate a
>>complex system such as an economy. Blind Watchmaker evolutionary theory
>>argues for the evolution of complex systems with *no* intelligent input
>>from any source; thus the economy analogy fails.
>I think its your argument against Glenn's analogy that fails. The
>intelligence or lack thereof of the individual agents in the economy is not
>relevant to the analogy. For the most part the economy can be modeled as a
>collection of various populations of automata whose actions follow a few
>simple rules that can be reduced to algorithmic formulae. The most important
>such rule is that the agents each attempt to act in a way that will maximize
>their well being (i.e. profit/income/market share/etc.) based on the limited
>information available to them from their local environment (e.g. market
>conditions, etc.) at the time. The effect of irrational actions and self-
>denying altruistic behavior, and other acts that agents may exhibit by
>actually being free (supposedly) intelligent agents can be modeled as a
>background stochastic noise (mutations) as can the effect of the introduction
>of various political, social and technological developments (such as wars
>crop failures, and new inventions). As I recall (former physicist) Paul
>Samuelson got a Nobel Prize in economics for applying mindless extremum
>principles (analogous to the Hamilton's principle of least action) to the
>field of analytical economics. Econometrics is not as precise as physics as
>far as its models goes, but even physical models of complicated phenomena in
>nature are not perfect (e.g. simulations of the global weather and climate,
>etc.) either. Just because the models sometimes (ok, often) are incorrect in
>their detailed predictions, that does not mean they do not capture the major
>effects driving the phenomology, and the supposed intelligence of the actors
>is not needed to understand how the processes work or how things unfold on
>large scale. Like the biological world there are fossil suboptimalities in
>the marketplace that are the result of historical contingencies. (This is
>certainly the case in the electronics/computer/software industries, e.g. the
>long time persistence of the 640k memory barrier and many other examples.)
>Because of the (non-markovian) persistent effects of such random historical
>contingencies it is doubtful that the economy would develop the same way in
>detail a second time from the same inital state. However, to understand the
>mechanisms of economic change one does not have to invoke intelligent design.
>Come to think of it, I believe that recent history has shown that planned
>economies tend to be at a competitive disadvantage.
>Echoing Brian here, Good Analogy Glenn!
>David Bowman

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