PBS Slammed For Error-Laden 'Nova' Episode

A recent episode of Nova about the high-profile 2006 Kitzmiller v. Dover intelligent design trial has been cited for numerous false facts and false insinuations. The episode, entitled "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on trial," contains "blatant misrepresentations" and "misinformation," according to the Discovery Institute, the leading think tank of the intelligence design movement.Among the falsehoods:

5. PBS wrongly claims that the Type III Secretory System (T3SS) refutes the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum.PBS features flagellum expert David K. DeRosier repeating the testimony of Ken Miller, claiming that the flagellum is not irreducibly complex because the T3SS "is a structure that functions that is missing several" of the proteins of the flagellum. In fact, this is not the correct test of irreducible complexity. Behe properly tests irreducible complexity by assessing the plausibility of the entire functional system to assemble in a step-wise fashion, even if sub-parts can have functions outside of the final system.

Again, the complete list of errors is here.By the way ... In the case, Judge John E. Jones declared is his ruling that it was unconstitutional to read a statement about intelligent design in public school classrooms in Dover. However, following the case, the Discovery Institute released an eye-opening report with a startling finding about Judge Jones's decision:

90.9% (or 5,458 words) of Judge Jones’ 6,004-word section on intelligent design as science was taken virtually verbatim from the ACLU’s proposed “Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law” submitted to Judge Jones nearly a month before his ruling. Judge Jones even copied several clearly erroneous factual claims made by the ACLU.

Whoa! (Although what the judge did was not illegal, federal rulings have stated that the practice of copying texts from attorneys "verbatim or near-verbatim" is "highly disapproved of" (link). Read more here, if you wish.)There are many widespread misperceptions about intelligent design, and, unfortunately, PBS has further propagated them.Have you heard intelligent design (ID) "isn't science"? Have you heard that ID is just the same as creationism? Have you heard that ID is just an attempt to inject religion into schools? If so, you may want to read the excellent easy-to-read packet, "The Theory of Intelligent Design: A Briefing Packet for Educators" (pdf). There's also "Top Questions and Answers About Intelligent Design Theory." Check 'em out.Is ID getting a fair shake in the public arena, the courts, and the media? It doesn't look like it is at all. Certainly not at PBS.(See also the Discovery Institute's "What Nova Won't Tell You About Dover: The Truth About 'Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial'.")(HT: Stand to Reason blog.)

Dave Pierre
Dave Pierre is a contributing writer to NewsBusters and the creator of TheMediaReport.com.