Friday, August 23, 2013

Some Questions for IDiots

Here's a short quiz for proponents of Intelligent Design Creationism. Let's see if you have been paying attention to real science. Please try to answer the questions below. Supporters of evolution should refrain from answering for a few days in order to give the creationists a chance to demonstrate their knowledge of biology and of evolution.

The bloggers at Evolution News & Views (sic) are promoting another creationist book [see Biological Information]. This time it's a collection of papers from a gathering of creationists held in 2011. The title of the book, Biological Information: New Perspectives suggests that these creationists have learned something new about biochemistry and molecular biology.

One of the papers is by Jonathan Wells: Not Junk After All: Non-Protein-Coding DNA Carries Extensive Biological Information. Here's part of the opening paragraphs.
James Watson and Francis Crick’s 1953 discovery that DNA consists of two complementary strands suggested a possible copying mechanism for Mendel’s genes [1,2]. In 1958, Crick argued that “the main function of the genetic material” is to control the synthesis of proteins. According to the “ Sequence Hypothesis,” Crick wrote that the specificity of a segment of DNA “is expressed solely by the sequence of bases,” and “this sequence is a (simple) code for the amino acid sequence of a particular protein.” Crick further proposed that DNA controls protein synthesis through the intermediary of RNA, arguing that “the transfer of information from nucleic acid to nucleic acid, or from nucleic acid to protein may be possible, but transfer from protein to protein, or from protein to nucleic acid, is impossible.” Under some circumstances RNA might transfer sequence information to DNA, but the order of causation is normally “DNA makes RNA makes protein.” Crick called this the “ Central Dogma” of molecular biology [3], and it is sometimes stated more generally as “DNA makes RNA makes protein makes us.”

The Sequence Hypothesis and the Central Dogma imply that only protein-coding DNA matters to the organism. Yet by 1970 biologists already knew that much of our DNA does not code for proteins. In fact, less than 2% of human DNA is protein-coding. Although some people suggested that non-protein-coding DNA might help to regulate gene expression, the dominant view was that non-protein-coding regions had no function. In 1972, biologist Susumu Ohno published an article wondering why there is “so much ‘ junk’ DNA in our genome” [4].
  1. Crick published a Nature paper on The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology in 1970. Did he and most other molecular biologists actually believe that "only protein-coding DNA matters to the organism?"
  2. Did Crick really say that "DNA makes RNA makes protein" is the Central Dogma or did he say that this was the Sequence Hypothesis? Read the paper to get the answer—the link is below).
  3. Is it true that, in 1970, the majority of molecular biologists did not believe in repressor and activator binding sites (regulatory DNA)?
  4. Is it true that in 1970 molecular biologists knew nothing about the functional importance of non-transcribed DNA sequences such as centromeres and origins of DNA replication?
  5. It is true that most molecular biologists in 1970 had never heard of genes for ribosomal RNAs and tRNAs (non-protein-coding genes)?
  6. If the answer to any of those questions contradicts what Jonathan Wells is saying then why do you suppose he said it?

Crick, F. (1970) Central Dogma of Molecular Biology. Nature 227:561-563. [PDF]

17 comments :

  1. "Objection, Your Honour. Dr. Moran is leading the witness." :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Larry asks,

    "Crick published a Nature paper on The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology in 1970. Did he and most other molecular biologists actually believe that "only protein-coding DNA matters to the organism?"
    Did Crick really say that "DNA makes RNA makes protein" is the Central Dogma or did he say that this was the Sequence Hypothesis? Read the paper to get the answer—the link is below).
    Is it true that, in 1970, the majority of molecular biologists did not believe in repressor and activator binding sites (regulatory DNA)?
    Is it true that in 1970 molecular biologists knew nothing about the functional importance of non-transcribed DNA sequences such as centromeres and origins of DNA replication?
    It is true that most molecular biologists in 1970 had never heard of genes for ribosomal RNAs and tRNAs (non-protein-coding genes)?
    If the answer to any of those questions contradicts what Jonathan Wells is saying then why do you suppose he said it?"

    There is a lot of different beliefs among topnotch scientist, it seems. I thought that science was based on evidence and not on what someone chooses to believe?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apparently the witness needs a bit more leading.

      Delete
    2. Excellent point, Quest. You're quite right, science should be based on evidence, and not what someone chooses to believe.

      So why, then, does Wells build an argument in favour of design entirely on what he claims scientists believed?

      And what would the further implications be if, in fact, Wells is incorrect about what he claims those scientists believed?

      OK, enough hints....

      Delete
    3. I'm not Wells' supporter. So, does that make your statements true now?

      Delete
    4. I'm not Wells' supporter. So, does that make your statements true now?

      Is that meant to be a response to my post just above yours?

      Delete
    5. I base all my beliefs on evidence. Why can't I do it with the most popular theory in the world that is also a fact??? Why??? What is missing? I mean what? Do I, simple man have to list the gaps? People!!! This is your life and future we are talking about at.. Why or for what reason you have decided believe this way? Why???

      Delete
    6. You're becoming more incoherent than usual. Dial it back.

      Delete
    7. Quest said:

      "I base all my beliefs on evidence. Why can't I do it with the most popular theory in the world that is also a fact??? Why??? What is missing? I mean what? Do I, simple man have to list the gaps? People!!! This is your life and future we are talking about at.. Why or for what reason you have decided believe this way? Why???"

      Some of what people (like you?) see as "missing" in evolutionary theory is the religious propaganda that humans (or at least some christian god pushing humans) are specially created and exceptional, with a divine purpose that extends beyond death to infinity.

      And not missing, but instead included in evolutionary theory, is the evidence of the evolution of humans from what god pushers would call 'lower life forms'. For people who believe that they are 'specially created in God's image', accepting that they are descended from icky, inferior, lower life forms is too disgusting to take seriously. Human arrogance and fear of reality (especially death) are the main drivers for denying evolution and believing in religious fairy tales.

      Delete
    8. @Quest:

      I base all my beliefs on evidence. Why can't I do it with the most popular theory in the world that is also a fact??? Why??? What is missing? I mean what? Do I, simple man have to list the gaps? People!!! This is your life and future we are talking about at.. Why or for what reason you have decided believe this way? Why???

      Again: Is that meant to be a response to my post just above yours?


      A simple "Yes" or "No" will suffice....

      Delete
  3. You forgot to say "Checkmate!"

    It's far easier to knock over the pieces, shit on the chessboard and fly back to the flock claiming victory.

    (with apologies to Scott D. Weitzenhoffer)

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  4. I feel emboldened by Quest's swing and a miss (six misses?) to take my own shot at answering one of Larry's questions:

    #6: Because Wells is a pathological liar.

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  5. What about the first 5 points? Yeah, they are not that important if number you believe in number is #6 The whole science is based on it ...the first number five

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    Replies
    1. Is this practically incoherent statement directed me? (What does "if number you believe in number is #6" mean?)

      It should be easy to infer what the answers are to #1-5 are from my answer to #6: "Jonathan Wells is not telling the truth about any of these points."

      Delete
  6. In defense of Quest, he is not swinging and missing.
    For he appears to not have a bat, and cannot see the balls.

    A fine case of "he is not even wrong".

    ReplyDelete