Science and Religion: Which is Which? - Evolution News & Views

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Science and Religion: Which is Which?

Which of the items below is an exercise in science from a peer-reviewed journal, and which is an example of religion in a popular magazine?

According to conservation of information theorems, performance of an arbitrarily chosen search, on average, does no better than blind search. Domain expertise and prior knowledge about search space structure or target location is therefore essential in crafting the search algorithm. The effectiveness of a given algorithm can be measured by the active information introduced to the search. We illustrate this by identifying sources of active information in Avida, a software program designed to search for logic functions using nand gates. Avida uses stair step active information by rewarding logic functions using a smaller number of nands to construct functions requiring more. Removing stair steps deteriorates Avida's performance while removing deleterious instructions improves it. Some search algorithms use prior knowledge better than others. For the Avida digital organism, a simple evolutionary strategy generates the Avida target in far fewer instructions using only the prior knowledge available to Avida. (here)

Or:
Camp Quest (which stands for Question, Understand, Explore, Search, and Test), an operation that holds summer camps in six states in the United States, one in Ontario, and, for the first time last summer, in the United Kingdom, swaps out a religious perspective for a scientific one, and has campers ponder their places in the universe using logic. "The whole thing is to show the virtues of evidence and inquiry and reason over visions and faith," ... Though Camp Quest kids participate in many different science-related activities as they enjoy a week in nature, a staple of every session is a round of the "Invisible Unicorns Challenge." Campers are introduced to two invisible unicorns that roam the camp and encouraged to develop rational arguments that prove to camp counselors that the unicorns don't exist. At Camp Quest UK this summer, Stein says that campers turned in some impressive efforts at disproving the unicorns' existence, but as in every previous iteration of the game, no one succeeded. (here)