Most of the IDiots at the Discovery Institute feel threatened by the existence of large amounts of junk DNA in some eukaryotic genomes, including our own. That's why they are determined to refute this idea by showing that most putative junk DNA actually has a function. Jonathan Wells feels confident enough about his reading of the scientific literature to announce that junk DNA is a "myth" and he's written a book to promote this idea.
Wells never defines "junk DNA" correctly. The correct definition of "junk" is DNA that has no known function. Wells pretends that the original definition of junk DNA was "noncoding" DNA. Thus, all those bits of noncoding DNA that have a function are evidence that refutes the notion of junk DNA.
The truth is that no knowledgeable scientist ever suggested that regulatory regions, origins of replication, centromeres, telomeres, genes that produce functional RNA molecules, and chromatin organizing regions were ever classified as junk DNA. They all knew that there was lots of noncoding DNA that had a well-defined function. Right from the beginning of his book, Wells is attacking a strawman and misleading his readers.
That's not the only example of deception. Wells also claims that the existence of large amounts of junk DNA was a prediction of Darwinism and is promoted as proof of Darwinian evolution. This is a lie. Junk DNA actually represents a serious problem for Darwinism (evolution by natural selection) and it certainly was never "predicted" by adaptationists. Having set up this second strawman he proceeds to knock it down (in his mind) thus challenging the very idea of evolution.
I believe that 90% of the human genome consists of junk DNA (DNA with no known function) [What's in Your Genome]. There is excellent scientific evidence to support this claim but you won't find very much of that evidence in The Myth of Junk DNA.1 Instead, you'll find after page of page of evidence that tiny bits of DNA here and there in various species have a function that we may not have known about twenty years ago. If you add up all the little bits, it doesn't amount to more than a few percent of the genome.
& Junk DNAAlmost 50% of our genome consists of defective transposons and viruses (junk) but Wells never tells his readers why that huge amount of DNA has a function.
There are many scientists who don't believe that most of our genome is junk. I think it's fair to say that the consensus is swinging against them. More and more scientists are starting to accept the idea that junk DNA is supported by evidence and, more importantly, consistent with modern evolutionary theory. Wells gives the opposite impression in his book and he goes out of his way to discredit the reputations of scientists who disagree with him.
The really sad thing about this book is that it could have discussed a real scientific controversy and presented both sides of the scientific case, for and against junk DNA. It's the same problem that we saw in Wells' first book, Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth?. Instead of discussing genuine scientific controversies, Wells chooses to misrepresent science in order to discredit evolution and impugn the reputations of "Darwinists."
- Jonathan, Moonies, and Junk DNA
- Junk & Jonathan: Part I—Getting the History Correct
- Junk & Jonathan: Part 2— What Did Biologists Really Say About Junk DNA?
- Junk & Jonathan: Part 3—The Preface
- Junk & Jonathan: Part 4—Chapter 1
- Junk & Jonathan: Part 5—Chapter 2
- Junk & Jonathan: Part 6—Chapter 3
- Junk & Jonathan: Part 7—Chapter 4
- Junk & Jonathan: Part 8—Chapter 5
- Junk & Jonathan: Part 9—Chapter 6
- Junk & Jonathan: Part 10—Chapter 7
- Junk & Jonathan: Part 11—Chapter 8
- Junk & Jonathan: Part 12—Chapter 9
- Junk & Jonathan: Part 13—Chapter 10
1. The genetic load argument is never mentioned. The significance of the C-value "paradox" is never explained. Evidence for the defective nature of pseudogenes isn't presented. Variation in deletions and insertions within a species isn't discussed. No interpretation of gene replacement and knockout experiments in mice is given. The nature of modern evolutionary theory is ignored.