John Mattick and Jonathan Wells use the same arguments in defense of their position and they quote one another. Both of them misrepresent the history of the junk DNA debate and both of them use an incorrect version of the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology to make a case for the stupidity of scientists. Neither of them understand the basic biochemistry of DNA binding proteins leading them to misinterpret low level transcription as functional. Jonathan Wells and John Mattick ignore much of the scientific evidence in favor of junk DNA. They don't understand the significance of the so-called "C-Value Paradox" and they don't understand genetic load. Both of them claim that junk DNA is based on ignorance.
Both of them choose to emphasize selective examples of functional transposons and pseudgenes to make the case that most (or all) transposons and pseudogenes are functional. Neither one of them understands introns. Neither of them believes that lack of sequence conservation is an indication of non-functionality.
I could go on and on. The point it that we can't distinguish between the scientific arguments put forward by Jonathan Wells and those advocated by John Mattick. Yet one of them is considered to be a kook and the other was given a prestigious award by the Human Genome Organization.
What's the difference? In the case of Jonathan Wells, we know something about his motives. We know that he is an Intelligent Design Creationist and that he uses his arguments against junk DNA to support a creationist agenda. However, none of that appears in his book The Myth of Junk DNA. Shouldn't his arguments be judged on their merit and not on his motivation?
& Junk DNAIn the case of John Mattick, we know nothing of his motives. I don't know if he is an atheist or a fundamentalist Christian. He could be a member of any religion or of none. (I have my suspicions). We are forced to judge his "science" on its merits and not on his motivations. When we do that we reach the same conclusion we reach with Jonathan Wells who we don't hesitate to label a "kook" or a "loon." Is this fair? Shouldn't Mattick also be a kook?
[Mattick has been] a true visionary in his field; he has demonstrated an extraordinary degree of perseverance and ingenuity in gradually proving his hypothesis over the course of 18 years.
Hugo Award Committee This is an important question since I'm about to start teaching my course on scientific misconceptions and the controversy over evolution and creationism. In preparation, I'm reading an anthology on the demarcation problem where a number of prominent philosophers discuss the difference between science and pseudoscience (Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem). Many of them think that Intelligent Design Creationism is not science so that means that Jonathan Wells is not doing science when he writes his book. Many of these philosophers point out that "bad" science is not the same as pseudoscience. Presumably, they would label Mattick's writing as bad science but not outside the bounds of science.
I don't get it. I think that Jonathan Wells and John Mattick are both doing bad science but I see no reason to distinguish between them by claiming that Wells is not doing science but Mattick is.
What do the rest of you think? Would it be okay to promote Mattick's views in a science course but not those of Jonathan Wells? If so, why?
Posts about John Mattick
The Junk DNA Controversy: John Mattick Defends Design
The Dark Matter Rises
How Not to Do Science
John Mattick on the Importance of Non-coding RNA
John Mattick Wins Chen Award for Distinguished Academic Achievement in Human Genetic and Genomic Research
International team cracks mammalian gene control code
Greg Laden Gets Suckered by John Mattick
How Much Junk in the Human Genome?
Genome Size, Complexity, and the C-Value Paradox
Posts about Jonathan Wells
Oh, one last thing: “paulmc” referred to an online review of my book by University of Toronto professor Larry Moran—a review that “paulmc” called both extensive and thorough. Well, saturation bombing is extensive and thorough, too. Although “paulmc” admitted to not having read more than the Preface to The Myth of Junk DNA, I have read Mr. Moran’s review, which is so driven by confused thinking and malicious misrepresentations of my work—not to mention personal insults—that addressing it would be like trying to reason with a lynch mob.
Jonathan Wells Some Questions for IDiots
American Loons: #409 Jonathan Wells and #411 John West
A Dishonest Intelligent Design Proponent?
We Called Out IDiot Jonathan Wells, and He Folded
Jonathan Wells Sends His Regrets
Watch Jonathan Wells Screw Up
Jonathan Wells Talks About Sequence Conservation
The Myth of Junk DNA by Jonathan Wells
- 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