Dear Malcom Dean,

Unless you are claiming that the past 150 year of thermodynamics is bunk, I
think your denial needs qualification. Of course "entropy" is a
mathematical variable. And yes it balances equations. And yes it assesses
only one aspect of the changes that occur in a physical transformation. And
yes we should be wary of reifying every operator or variable in our
mathematical models of physical processes. But this particular measure of
state is not just a figment of some mathematician's imagination. It does a
terrific job of making predictions about the outcomes of physical
processes. To deny that the measurable value called 'entropy' increases
with mechanical or chemical work in an isolated system seems to deny a
pretty clean paraphrasing of the 2nd law. Is that really your claim? Or is
this merely a quibble about phraseology?

Although I have problems with some overstated versions of the maximum
entropy production principle (MEPP), I think that for the most part it
captures an important attribute of far-from-equilibrium processes. Yes
"creation" of entropy was perhaps an odd way to describe this "production",
but you seem to be reading something into this phraseology that I don't
think was intended. This did not read to me like a something-from-nothing
claim or to reify entropy as some sort of substance. However, your last "it
from bit" statement, though coined by an eminent physicist and very popular
in some domains, does in my opinion make an unwarranted claim of this sort.
At the very least it collapses some critical distinctions about what
information is that my piece attempts to unpack. I consider the use of the
term 'information' in this context to be quite misleadingly metaphoric.
Finally, your claim about information and object creation seem vastly more
speculative and ambiguous than any of the statements made about entropy and

How about some constructive criticism of the paper, since it develops ideas
that appear to be in conflict with some of your assumptions?

— Terry

On Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 12:36 AM, Malcolm Dean <>

> On 2015-01-19 20:37 GMT+01:00 Joshua Augustus Bacigalupi <
>> wrote to the FIS list:
> >
> > > Josh Bacigalupi here, fellow pirate.  Thank you all for this
> thoughtful discussion.
> > >
> > > ... We can all agree that the creation of entropy is necessary to do
> work; ...
> With respect, this statement should not continue to go unchallenged. I for
> one do not agree.
> Entropy is a mathematical variable which balances equations, but cannot
> possibly describe the conditions and actual processes which lead to work,
> enable its completion, or detail its purpose. The variable "entropy"
> describes only one aspect. It is like claiming homeostasis as a complete
> description of a human.
> The constant danger is coming to believe in variables thrown into some
> picture, such as we see in recent cosmology. They are reified. They become,
> as a result, objects of faith, even worldviews (Rifkin 1981). If someone
> claims mathematics as prior to cosmology, that scientific faith should not
> be presented as if it is a proven fact.
> It is ridiculous to continue talking about "creation" of entropy. What is
> created are new conditions, fresh processes, and objects. The point of a
> thermodynamic process, or more generally, an Information process, is
> object-creation. It from bit.
> Thermodynamics is only a part of an Information process (Lerner 2014) [
> ].
> Malcolm Dean
> _______________________________________________
> Fis mailing list

Professor Terrence W. Deacon
University of California, Berkeley
Fis mailing list

Reply via email to