An ID Curriculum?

Over at ARN this was proposed as curriculum for Dover, PA new biology policy.

The theory of ID posits the following:

  • High information content (or specified complexity and irreducible complexity constitute strong indicators or hallmarks of past intelligent design.
  • Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity.
  • Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.
  • Therefore, intelligent design constitutes the best explanation for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems.

reference page 92 of Darwinism, Design and Public Education

As far as I can tell, the person who posted this is serious. From a logical standpoint, the major flaw in this “theory [sic] of ID” is that it relies solely on negative argumentation. It tries to prove “intelligent design” true by disproving something else. Such an argument rarely works in science because one has to first demonstrate that both the “proved” and “disproved” explanations together make up the complete set of all possible explanations. People who rely on negative argumentation seem to always ignore the unknown.

The problems with the proposal go beyond that because number four does not follow from number three even if we grant that there is a complete set. If hypotheses X and Xc are a complete set, and X explains 90% of the data, whereas Xc explains 10% of the data, neither is sufficient. But according to the logic employed in the ID argument above, Xc would be declared the best explanation because X is not sufficient. However, X is actually the best explanation on the criterion given despite the fact that it is not sufficient.

Points one, two, and three are popular talking points of “intelligent design” activists but are not supported by any scientific research. (If you disagree, feel free to provide references to the peer-reviewed scientific papers that demonstrate any of these things.) As such they are entirely inappropriate for a secondary school science curriculum that treats them as anything other than the pseudoscience they are.

Another obvious flaw is that “information” is not defined in any biologically meaningful way (or at all). Under some definitions of “information,” high information content is the hallmark of a completely random process. “Information” as a formal concept is butchered by “intelligent design theorists” almost as badly as the Second Law of Thermodynamics is butchered by Young Earth Creationists.

If this represents what “intelligent design” activists think counts as science, then its only use in a science classroom is to point out how to not do science.