Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Redundancy Explains Junk DNA, Redundancy Explains Junk DNA

From GilDogen, in a comment on: Jonathan Wells on Darwinism, Science, and Junk DNA.
Moran is particularly vicious concerning challenges presented by ID proponents. He’s a disturbed individual. (That’s not a personal attack, just an empirical observation, and I hope he gets over it somehow.)

Another factor in biology that should be considered is redundancy and backup systems, which are standard fare in human engineering. Redundant/backup systems ensure survival if one or more of the primary systems is disabled or compromised. In aviation, fly-by-wire systems (in which the pilot does not directly influence the aircraft’s control surfaces, but provides input to computer systems that execute the pilot’s commands) provide three or more redundant computers that process the pilot’s commands and vote about the outcome. If one computer disagrees, the majority wins.
I'll try really, really, hard not to be vicious or mocking in response to the redundancy argument. Instead, I'll just pose a few questions that occur to me.
  1. Almost all IDiots intelligent design proponents accept microevolution. Why don't the unused redundant systems accumulate mutations and become junk?
  2. Why would a truly intelligent, omnipotent, designer need to create redundant back-up systems?
  3. When we look at genome sequences we don't see any evidence of redundant back-up systems for DNA replication, the citric acid cycle, or lipid metabolism (or anything else). Why?
  4. Why are there so many genetic diseases if everything is backed-up?
  5. I can see why I need two kidneys, but how come I've only got one heart?
  6. Why didn't Wells mention redundancy in his book?
  7. Where is the theory of redundancy published?


  1. How is DNA supposed to be redundant if it lacks the structure necessary to perform the functions of the DNA we know *has* function ?

    That's like saying you have a bag of non-functional burned-out electronics parts as backup for your TV.

  2. Oh, one other thing: Dodgen calls you "disturbed," and *you're* the one who's vicious?

  3. Oh but Jud, 'vicious' wasn't a personal attack - after all Dodgen says so ... That makes it OK, doesn't it?

    Reminds me quite a little bit of this.

  4. I don't think redundancy is that common in human engineering, except in special, critical cases. Does your television have second screen in case the first fails, do bridges come with a second deck in case the first collapses, do automobiles come with second engines? Redundancy is a huge waste generally in human engineering, and of course shouldn't be expected in engineering by natural selection. Your point about a Creator (the Intelligent Designer) not needing redundancy in his/her/its designs is well taken, but logic won't go far with the ID/Creationist crowd will it?

  5. Redundancy explains junk DNA because there is a lot of redundant junk.

  6. Yes, good old redundancy. Whenever I write a computer program, I always make it 10 times bigger than it needs to be, stuffed with all manner of *&^*%*98334nn43843 keyboard thumps, just in case some of the functional lines break... [Riffles through massive listing, pages spilling everywhere] ... I'm sure there was something in here somewhere ... [camera swoops in on a few pages , covered in the repeated text - "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". Music, fade, cut]

  7. Although I fail to understand why evolution is so difficult an issue in the USA, and it worries me that all the scholarship about the origins, history and purposes of more or less ancient documents is discarded in the case of texts such as the Bible (which one, by the way?), I am moved on this issue of redundancy to point out that a very good example of the microevolution of redundant sequences is found in the human SMN genes. A relatively recent chromosomal inversion endowed humans with two copies of the SMN gene. SMN1 is functional. However, about 1:50 of the population carry disabling mutations in the gene. Inevitably, this means that some offspring carry no functional SMN genes (about 1:6000 live births). Since there is an SMN2 gene, which encodes an identical protein, it ought to provide a back-up. SMN2 has only a few single base changes compared with SMN1. Unfortunately, these affect the splicing of exon 7, which means that most of the mRNA produced by SMN2 lacks exon 7 and does not express a useful protein. The consequence is dreadful. Most of the children suffer and die from severe spinal muscular atrophy. Evolution can account for this (no selection for maintenance of function of a back-up gene), of course.

  8. @Gary

    I don't think redundancy is that common in human engineering, except in special, critical cases.

    In my experience this is the case.

    The only redundant mechanical system I am familiar with is the dual magneto/spark plug system in small aircraft such as the Cessna C172.

    Even in computer systems, redundancy is usually achieved by running multiple identical copies of the same software on isolated hardware with a protocol for passing control of the system on the event of a single point failure.

    Only organizations with serious money and resources to burn such as NASA and the military can afford to run different implementations of the same software in order to handle logic failures within the software itself.

    It's just too expensive and quite often results in more failure modes than the original non-redundant system (in my experience).

  9. Here's an intelligent comment on "the helmet" as an example of intelligent design:

    Jerry Seinfeld on the helmet on Youtube

  10. It's pretty impressive how much the IDists hate Prof. Moran. I don't think anyone gives ID the fair shake that he does; Prof. Moran's criticisms are harsh and destructive, but MOST people just LAUGH at ID.

    So, it looks like, if you take ID seriously, even the IDers call you an idiot!

  11. The IDiots are certainly redundant in their inability to produce any positive evidence that supports their ID claims. They're also redundant in their endless whining and bitching about science, Darwin, and the ToE, and gildo is in no position to call anyone else "disturbed". That guy is nuts.

  12. @The whole truth:

    ID has no positive, substantive claims.

    It is thus no surprise that they don't talk about the positive evidence for claims.


  13. "The only redundant mechanical system I am familiar with is the dual magneto/spark plug system in small aircraft such as the Cessna C172."

    Would that be the very system Salvador Cordova once used to "explain" how junkDNA is redundant?

    What a coincidence....