Signature in the Cell: self-contradiction and repetition

Of late the IDists have been complaining about the dearth of reviews by ID skeptics of Stephen Meyer’s book Signature in the Cell. I agree, it would be nice if there were more reviews out there, but (a) the arguments boil down to the same old fallacious “improbability of assembly of functional sequence all at once from scratch by brute chance” creationist argument that dates back to at least the 1960s creation science literature, and (b) the book is tedious and repetitive, basically making the same unsupported assertions again and again in slightly different ways. I.e. information comes from intelligence and is too improbable to explain by chance, therefore intelligence! The actual known origin of the vast majority of genetic “information” – DNA duplication followed by mutation and selection is (1) almost completely ignored by Meyer and (2) directly refutes Meyer’s key claim, which is that the only known explanation of new information is intelligence. So in one sense, there is not a heck of a lot to review in Meyer’s book. If you are a sufficient wonk about the ID debate, there is some interesting stuff about Meyer’s highly revisionist account of his own history and the history of the ID movement, and there is an interesting study to be made of the science that Meyer left out of his book, but that makes for a big project, so it will be awhile before I or someone else get it out there.

But, while reading across the book, you do occasionally come across some examples of truly bizarre argumentation. Here an example which I just posted in response to a Telic Thoughts challenge:

There are many problems with the argument in Signature in the Cell, here is one. Meyer says that “information” – sequence-specific function – is densely concentrated in the DNA genome:

“Thus, far from being dispersed sparsely, haphazardly, and inefficiently within a sea of nonfunctional sequences (one that supposedly accumulated by mutation), functional genetic information is densely concentrated on the DNA molecule.” (p. 461)

“Far from containing a preponderance of “junk” – nonprotein-coding regions that supposedly perform no function – the genome is dominated by sequences rich in functional information.” (p. 461)

Furthermore, says Meyer, not only is this established truth, but it is a prediction of ID theory, and furthermore it was predicted by ID advocates a decade or more ago:

“The genome does display evidence of past viral insertions, deletions, transpositions, and the like, much as digital software copied again and again acumulates errors. Nevertheless, the vast majority of base sequences in the genome, and even the many sequences that do not code for proteins, serve essential biological functions. Genetic signal dwarfs noise, just as design advocates would expect and just as they predicted in the early 1990s.” (p. 461)

However, at numerous places in the book, Meyer notes (correctly) that repetitive sequences have little information:

“Since information and improbability are inversely related, high-probability repeating sequences like ABCABCABCABCABCABC have very little information (either carrying capacity or content). And this makes sense too. Once you have seen the first triad of ABCs, the rest are “redundant”; they convey nothing new. They aren’t informative. Such sequences aren’t complex either. Why? A short algorithm or set of commands could easily generate a long sequence of repeating ABCs, making the sequence compressible.” (p. 107)

Unfortunately for Meyer, he seems to not realize that 40-50% of the human genome (and most animal genomes of similar size) consists of LINEs, SINEs, segmental duplications, and other repeating elements. As documented here:

In other words, there is no way that in “the vast majority” of the genome genetic information is “densely concentrated” – as proven by his own arguments!