Saturday, November 05, 2011

Advice from Jonathan Wells on Junk DNA

 
Copied from Uncommon Descent (Denyse O'Leary): What advice, on junk DNA, would Jonathan Wells give Francis Collins or Richard Dawkins?.
From the Salvo Magazine interview with Jonathan Wells, by Casey Luskin. Wells is the author of The Myth of Junk DNA:
If you could have lunch with Francis Collins and Richard Dawkins, what would you say to them about their use of the “junk DNA” argument? [that there is no design in life]

Actually, Collins no longer relies on “junk DNA.” In 2007 he announced in an interview for Wired magazine that he had “stopped using the term.” In 2010 he wrote that “discoveries of the past decade, little known to most of the public, have completely overturned much of what used to be taught in high school biology. If you thought the DNA molecule comprised thousands of genes but far more ‘junk DNA,’ think again” (The Language of Life, pp. 5–6). Unfortunately, his followers at the BioLogos Institute (which he founded) seem to be unaware of this, because they continue to promote the myth that most of our DNA is junk. I would encourage Collins to set them right.
UD News does not think Collins would succeed. They are not Collins’s followers, they are Darwin’s men. They do not seek more knowledge than Darwin had. They seek to make what he knew part of the bedrock of Christianity.
Unlike Collins, Dawkins seems utterly oblivious to recent developments in genomics. I would encourage him to read some of the scientific literature.
Why? Dawkins can command international attention for not keeping up to date – because millions of tax burdens feel he speaks for them – and they don’t need to keep up to date either. Their champions are fronts for the dead orthodoxies that keep them in place.
Dear Jonathan Wells and Denyse O'Leary,

I have read The Myth of Junk DNA and I have read the scientific literature. What advice would you give me?

Why don't you respond to my review of The Myth of Junk DNA? What are you afraid of?


16 comments :

  1. "because millions of tax burdens feel he speaks for them"

    Did I read that correctly? It almost looks like he's calling scientists tax burdens, but then again, I've never done stellar on reading comprehension exams...

    Gotta get this interpretation peer reviewed prior to going completely ballistic ;-)

    (and don't even get me started on the rest...)

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  2. "What advice would Jonathan Wells give Francis Collins or Richard Dawkins?"

    LOL. Why would Francis Collins or Richard Dawkins ever ask an advice from a scientifically semi-literate Jonathan Wells??? Denyse O'Leary might make a decent stand up comic, it seems. Would be a welcome change from a boring blogger.

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  3. Oh the irony.

    Also, creationists like the IDiot J. Wells think that conclusions can be reached by quoting an opinion (such as the apparent opinion, if not misquoted, by Collins), and research consists on quoting whatever some authors said, rather than looking and judging the data. If Collins did say what he is quoted as saying, he probably was fooled by that study "showing" transcription of "everything" in that infamous 1% of the genome analyzed by whatever huge group whose initials I don't remember. Data that was severely criticized by demonstrating that the transcription "reads" were so low-level and limited that they could easily be explained as noisy transcription rather than as function.

    But looking at the data is not something a creationist wants to do (even when they claim to be pushing for a scientific idea). Quoting (and misquoting) whatever seems to go with their inclinations, while ignoring anything against, is considered research and to be "up-to-date" by creationists. Not that I am surprised.

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  4. "because millions of tax burdens feel he speaks for them"

    Yeah ... I've just Googled that, and the only other place I see that phrase in this context is also on Uncommon Descent. They use it a fair amount. Google 'tax burden uncommon descent'.

    I think it's often a reference to the BBC, foul purveyors of unbalanced nature documentaries that push the fanatical Darwinian line without ever mentioning Noah's Ark.

    "This is what tax burden media do for you."

    "these people will continue to star on Brit tax burden TV"

    But then there are references to scientists at universities:

    "This should bring the science tax burden mediocrities out"

    "Fortress Tenure trolls commanded by tax burdens"

    I think the idea is that evolution only survives as an idea because the government subsidize those who promote evolution.

    These people are just mentally ill, aren't they?

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  5. Oh hang on, I've found his definition (at http://www.uncommondescent.com/evolutionary-biology/why-anyone-takes-evolutionary-biology-seriously-after-this-i-will-never-know/ )

    "*tax burden – a legacy from the days when being a professor meant that a guy knew something, so people helped pay his salary through their taxes. It is becoming less and less obvious that this is a good proposition."

    Scratch the surface of any of the this creationist shit, and you end up in libertarian la-la land very quickly, don't you? 'Who are you to tell me what the facts are, you elitist know-something-about-the-subject guy?'

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  6. And another thing:

    "They do not seek more knowledge than Darwin had. They seek to make what he knew part of the bedrock of Christianity."

    OK, let's play Jeopardy. I'm going to go with 'what's the exact opposite of what scientists want?'.

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  7. Scratch the surface of any of the this creationist shit, and you end up in libertarian la-la land very quickly, don't you?

    While I wouldn't be after scratching creationist shit without an isolation suit, I'd have to say that there does appear to be a correlation - I guess it's the Religious Right factor. If you are Religious/Right you are more likely to see climate change as a leftist plot to raise taxes and form global coalitions, and scientists as liberal parasites bleeding the country dry (and who bite the hand by discovering things that make us uncomfortable - it's our dollar, dammit!).

    Which of course, since everything has to add up to 100%, forces the more left-leaning portion of the population into correlation with support for AGW alarmism and science funded from the public purse for its own sake...

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  8. Attempting discussion of junk DNA on the Uncommon Descent thread about Wells.

    Not holding breath.

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  9. Attempting discussion of junk DNA on the Uncommon Descent thread about Wells.

    Not holding breath.


    Aye, good luck.There are one or two real characters. I attempted to explain to one how SINE data provides almost artefact-free trees of relationship in the Artiodactyl-Whale clade that map well on to the 'noisier' homology and multigene sequence trees. His response? Convergence. Apparent Common Descent (of Deer, Hippos and Whales, for example, on the resolution of multiple independent trees) is due to convergence ... and SINEs, of course, are functional sequences ... just because we don't know their function doesn't mean ...

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  10. Well at the moment the UD thread seems to be all about computer programming analogies (if you open a word document in notepad, it looks like gibberish too but its actually full of information) and sidestepping the inconvenient biological data as much as possible.

    I was also just told that because we weren't there to observe mutations happen so we can't draw conclusions. Seriously.

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  11. Well at the moment the UD thread seems to be all about computer programming analogies (if you open a word document in notepad, it looks like gibberish too but its actually full of information)

    Yes, they love a bit of informatic bluster. I've done a lot of programming, and know a fair bit about DNA/RNA/protein, and I think they stretch that analogy well beyond breaking point. No software design I ever saw stuck a few million copies of the same line in various places 'just in case'!

    They can spend a week just arguing with you about 'information' and what it means. The insistence is that there has to be a sender and a receiver - we are the receivers; Guess Who's the Sender!

    and sidestepping the inconvenient biological data as much as possible.

    sidestepping for some, belligerent denial for others, a flurry of irrelevant here's-something-I-prepared-earlier for others. The longer the post, the less information it conveys!

    I was also just told that because we weren't there to observe mutations happen so we can't draw conclusions. Seriously.

    Ah yes. Welcome to Denial. Don't even bother asking the obvious equivalent question about the Designer - they will just say it again, only louder!

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  12. Anon: "a flurry of irrelevant here's-something-I-prepared-earlier for others"

    I see someone's been chatting with bornagain77...

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  13. "No software design I ever saw stuck a few million copies of the same line in various places 'just in case'!"

    Well, apparently because factories have some contingencies for breakdowns, it follows that a million broken Alu repeats are not at all junk, and it would be naive and shortsighted to think they were. In fact, such repetitions and redundancies are the designer's way of frontloading future fixes into the human genome for later use. It's actually just very good planning. Apparently.

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  14. I see someone's been chatting with bornagain77...

    Ah yes. Mr "irrelevant linkfest" :0) And a tune to finish off! I was rather gobsmacked the first time I prompted one completely OT megapost, immediately followed by "further notes" as long again, and then another... I did suggest that less might be more.

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  15. This just in:

    materialistic neo-Darwinism is now falsified of a coherent foundation in reality (and thus science) since transcendent quantum information is now found in molecular biology on a massive scale. To put it simply, it is impossible for the within space-time material processes of neo-Darwinism to be the cause of the outside of space-time effect of quantum entanglement/information in molecular biology

    I'm glad he put it simply. Last one out, turn out the lights; we've been rumbled.

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  16. Anonymous said...
    "This just in:"

    No fair! They get to use LSD when making their theories ;-)

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