Random vs. Stochastic

There’s a category of control systems engineering called “Stochastic Control Systems” which is basically “How do you get the autopilot to get the airplane to Boston, even though there’s 114MPH headwind from the northeast, rainstorms and rising masses of air over Ohio.”

The models for this have been very well developed since roughly the 1930s. What it really means is “achieving goals despite high levels of noise coming into the system.”

The biology profession has butchered this term, assumed that stochastic is just a 5 dollar word for random… and then to add insult to injury, imposed this misunderstanding into evolutionary biology. Not realizing, ironically, that the cell and its Natural Genetic Engineering components are an even more sophisticated form of stochastic control system than the autopilot on an airplane.

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10 Responses

  1. John Estes says:

    I read your free 3 chapters and I MIGHT buy your book. But is your approach any different from what Michael Denton wrote years ago?
    I’m also troubled because, if your research has been as thorough as you claim, you should have known that at least one of your claims is totally false. Young Earth Creationism is NOT antithetical to scientific inquiry – it is simply antithetical to the assumptions made by those like you who BELIEVE in deep time. There are in fact 2 scientific journals published by YEC’s, as well as thousands of highly technical books. To claim otherwise is to admit ignorance, shallow research, and an antiscientific prejudice.

    • It goes much farther into evolutionary mechanisms than Michael Denton. Very different but I would still say compatible.

      I reject YEC because of its inability to satisfactorily account for speed of light among other things. You can search “speed of light” on this blog and find plenty.

      Based on what you’ve said, however, you will not like the book and I do not recommend that you buy it.

  2. J Miller says:

    On another note. Stochastic is deterministic. Physical laws are followed. Stochastic implies that our knowledge of all that is happening is limited or indeterminable(man’s uncertainty). Probabilistic models are necessitated by indeterminism. By the indeterminism does not imply not deterministic.

    • I do not believe we are in a position to know whether stochastic is really deterministic or not. That is still a subject of debate.

    • I certainly do agree that the main point of using the term stochastic is that we are operating in a frame that makes it impossible for us to predict something. Randomness is always defined with respect to something else.

  3. Doug Crowe says:

    As a former evangelical / SBC, now a ‘done’, I’ve been working through your book, and could probably have a lot of good things to say about. I appreciate your technical background, as I worked as an electronics engineer before my retirement. I’ve also had a long term love of the study of all sorts of scientific subjects, including biology and evolution. But when I came across this sentence “If there were no God, if evolution through natural selection were an inevitable feature of an utterly indifferent universe, we would have no rational basis whatsoever for racial equality, morality, and human rights” I have to tell you that I’m setting the book aside for a while. I’m writing this on the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. And I’m wondering how many God-fearing men (since I’m sure there were no women involved in the decision chain) who participated in the development and deployment of nuclear weapons. Whatever kind of “God” they believed in didn’t contribute to their moral decision making. But, admittedly, that criticism cannot be limited just to the development and use of nuclear weapons. I feel about the same way about Hiram Maxim and his first portable fully automatic machine gun. I will try to return to your book before too long, since your slant on some of the elements of the origin of life and complexity I find helpful.

    • If there were no God we wouldn’t have a rational basis for discussing the morality of warfare either.

      • Doug Crowe says:

        Thank you for your concise, if somewhat puzzling response. I will also keep my response short. americanhumanistcenterforeducation(dot)org/?page_id=14747
        I’m sure you’ll be able to make the (dot) to . insertion.

        • I agree these are all important values. They are still just arbitrary human constructs if there is no God. There is a strictly logical reason why the declaration of independence says:

          We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

          What argument exists for saying that evolution has endowed anyone with such rights?

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