There’s a new article at Bio-Complexity.
I’m not sure how it ranks on the usual scale.
The abstract begins:
In computer search optimization theory, active information is a measurement of a search algorithm’s internal information as it relates to its problem space
I don’t think this is true. I can’t find any definition or references or publications about “active information” other than from the Discovery Institute. Nor dos the article have any references to articles about “active information”. There isn’t even a Wikipedia page on it. “Active information” appears to be just another ID buzzword of little relevance. At least this one has a formal definition.
The full text of the article begins:
Biological evolution operates in at least two well-known modes—either semi-directionalized, where the outputs of evolution are correlated with the selection pressures the organisms face , or as a non-directionalized drift, as neutral theory describes . Historically, research into evolution has focused on the ability of natural selection to keep beneficial mutants in the population, and not how they originate to begin with.
It’s hard to know whether the first sentence qualifies as an error, fallacy or falsehood, because the author doesn’t seem to know the meaning of the words he’s using. Evolution may be semi-directional or non-directional, but it isn’t directionalized (unless Bartlett thinks its guided by the hand of God). It’s even arguable whether evolution is (semi-)directional. Bartlett’s first reference is to the 1859 Origin, which doesn’t mention direction (other than by artificial selection), selection pressure, correlated outputs or even “evolution”. As for “the outputs of evolution are correlated with the selection pressures the organisms face”, Darwin gave examples of linked traits where the “outputs of evolution” are not correlated with any selection pressure. Darwin also devoted space in Origin to the origin of variation, albeit to admit ignorance, and mutations have been studied since before the discovery of DNA, mutations to which have been studied for more than 50 years, so Bartlett’s claim about research into evolution historically may or may not be false depending on how “focussed” is interpreted.
Recent work in evolutionary theory, especially in evolutionary developmental biology, has led to the realization that the inputs to evolution (i.e. the evolutionary paths that organisms are endogenously predisposed to take and the existing developmental pathways that canalize these changes into useful phenotypes) are just as important as the processes of mutation and selection themselves.
This is more bafflegab. Organisms are not endogenously predisposed to take particular evolutionary paths. Evolutionary paths are not the inputs to evolution. Developmental pathways don’t “canalize” developmental changes (that seems to be Bartlett trying but failing to impress with vocabulary he’s read but not understood*) and don’t really channel them either. Bartlett appears to be another IDer who, like Behe, mixes up development with evolution of development and evolution of form.
The rest of the article isn’t much better. It’s based on the usual misrepresentation of evolution as a search for specific mutations, and consequently fails completely to connect “active information” to anything biological.
So, how does this article scale? The abstract seems to score a zero, but that’s based on not finding any non-DI use of “active information”. The body might score anywhere from zero to two, depending on how Bartlett’s Humpty-Dumptyism is interpreted.
*“Canalisation” has been used to describe how physical contraints of both organisms and the environment lead different species along the same broad evolutionary pathways, e.g. streamlining of ocean predators, or island dwarfism. It has nothing to do with developmental pathways.