Dr Jack writes: Are you sure about this? Could we see a proof?
While I have not fully thought it through, I'm inclined to think that Dr Adequate is correct. This would likely come from graph theory (part of combinatorics, which is a branch of mathematics). The family tree is a directed acyclic graph. Well, things get murky if eukaryotes arose from a symbiotic union of simpler organisms, but you don't have to take things back that far if your concern is with a common ancestor for humans and chimps.
frako writes: would you say a tiny hole in a cd-rom that alowes light to reflect from the mettal in the middle of the disk contains information?
When people talk about a CDrom containing information, they are talking about 0s and 1s. They are not talking about pits in the surface.
The pedantically strict view would be that the surface pits are a physical representation of the information, but they are not the information itself. Rather, the information itself is in the 0 and 1 symbols that are represented in the pits. And those 0 and 1 symbols are abstractions, which means that they exist only in Plato's heaven (for a mathematical platonist), or they are mere useful fictions (for a mathematical fictionalist).
Dr Jack writes: The only reason I can see for denying that the section of DNA that codes for a protein contains the information for that protein is the nonsense and equivocation we've had to put up with from Creo's regarding the information issue.
There's also equivocation and confusion about information in cognitive science, AI, consciousness studies.
barbara writes: The word "information" is constantly used to describe genetics by scientists so why is when a creationist (I hate that word) uses your own term is considered an idiot?
Firstly, I don't recall using "idiot" in this discussion.
Some people use "IDiot" to refer to ID proponents - note the capitalization used. While it is possible that I have used that expression in the past, I mostly try to avoid it. I take it as a kind of joke/pun with a built in insult. I am not a fan of ID arguments, but I usually prefer to omit the insults.
Getting back to the work "information" - it is both an ordinary word from our common language (derived from the verb "to inform"), and it is also a technical term. It's meaning/usage as a technical term is different, more precise, than its use as a word in ordinary language.
I don't have any problem with the ordinary use of the term in normal speech, and that includes much of the use of it in genetics. The problem is when people use it loosely, as in ordinary speech, and then try to make claims about it that are only appropriate in technical usage. This mixed use is what leads to bad arguments. And, as mentioned previously, I see that kind of faulty mixed use coming from the creationist/ID communities, and also coming from the cognitive science/consciousness studies/AI communities.
barbara writes: Molecules based on shape and electron configuration that do what physics has assigned in terminology to explain the reaction is information.
The cogs on the gear wheels in the gear box of my car do what the automotive engineers have assigned them to do. So I guess cogs are information, too.
Normally, we think of the cogs as acting causally and mechanically. Normally, we think of information as detached from the direct causal chain, and as used for communication. So I think we unnecessarily confuse things when we use "information" for actors in direct causal chains.
If things that act in direct causal chains are information, then everything is information. And if everything is information, then the word "information" becomes useless.
Wounded King writes: But whatever the pros and cons of a semantic debate on the nature of information theidea that there is some form of information inherent in specific sequences of DNA is certainly one that is well established in the scientific literature, in terms of Shannon entropy, Kolmogorov complexity, Fisher information, Kullback-Leibler information and probably many others.
I don't actually have a problem with that.
My view is that when "information" is used as a technical term, we should understand that we are using a mathematical model. So we should be prepared to identify the information system to which we are applying that model. And if we want to talk about ideas such as "conservation of information", then we either need to prove that such conservation is provable purely from the mathematics, or we need to be able to provide a basis for assuming that conservation as part of the particular information system being modeled.