Friday, January 17, 2014

Casey Luskin's latest take on junk DNA—is he lying or is he stupid?

Some of us have been trying to educate the IDiots for over twenty years. It can be very, very, frustrating.

The issue of junk DNA is a case in point. We've been trying to explain the facts to people like Casey Luskin. I know he's listening because he comments on Sandwalk from time to time. Surely it can't be that hard? All they have to do is acknowledge that "Darwinians" are opposed to junk DNA because they think that natural selection is very powerful and would have selected against junk DNA. All we're asking is that they refer to "evolutionary biologists" when they talk about junk DNA proponents.

We've also pointed out, ad nauseam, that no knowledgeable scientist ever said that all noncoding DNA was junk. We just want the IDiots to admit that there were some smart scientists who knew about functional noncoding DNA—like the genes for ribosomal RNAs, origins of replication, and centromeres.

Somebody told Casey Luskin about the recent paper where some lincRNA genes were knocked out in mice and the mutant strains showed developmental defects [see On the function of lincRNAs]. This is powerful evidence that some of these lincRNAs are functional. They join a host of other genes that are known to produce functional RNAs.

Note that even if every single lincRNA gene was functional it would only account for less than 0.1% of the genome. This doesn't have anything to do with the debate about junk DNA.

But that didn't stop Casey Luskin from gloating on the IDiot blog Evolution News & Views (sic): Knockout Mice Study: Long Noncoding RNAs "Play Central Roles in Mammalian Development and Physiology".

Let's look at what he says in order to see if he's learned anything in the past few years.
A few years ago I wrote about challenges to the claim that "junk DNA" wasn't necessary for development. In experiments with mice, researchers had supposedly "knocked out" non-coding DNA, yet the mice themselves as they grew turned out to be healthy. Now a new study in eLife, "Multiple knockout mouse models reveal lincRNAs are required for life and brain development," shows that in fact noncoding DNA, in the form of long non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs), is vital for normal development in mice -- and researchers are suggesting that even when such "knockouts" don't produce nonviable mice, we should be very hesitant in claiming the noncoding DNA is unimportant.
It doesn't look like he's learned very much. He's still confused about the difference between noncoding DNA and important genes for RNAs that aren't translated. The study doesn't really have anything to do with the big picture view of junk DNA.

Maybe it gets better. He continues ...
These results are relevant to debates over the ENCODE project. Some have claimed that even where DNA is transcribed into RNA, that RNA might still be "junk." But this article suggests that human noncoding RNA may have important functions:
Nope, it doesn't get better. No knowledgeable scientist ever thought that all noncoding RNA genes were junk. And no knowledgeable scientist in the 21st century doubts that a substantial number of lincRNA genes are functional.

The Sauvageau et al. (2013) paper has nothing to do with ENCODE publicity hype and the idea that much of pervasive transcription is spurious. LincRNAs are genuine candidates for functional RNAs but they only make up a miniscule portion of the genome.

Casey Luskin concludes ....
After ENCODE's finding that the vast majority of our DNA is transcribed into RNA, many Darwinian biologists have comforted themselves with the belief that most of that RNA is still useless, and our cells are full of "junk RNA." But a few independent-minded folks sought out evidence of function for that RNA. And they've consistently found it. As Mattick says: "For many years, it was assumed that untranslated RNA molecules served no useful purpose but, starting in the mid-1990s, a small body of researchers, including the present author (Mattick, 1994), have been arguing that these RNAs transmit regulatory information, possibly associated with the emergence of multicellular organisms." Hurray for Dr. Mattick and others who have had the courage to challenge unfruitful Darwinian assumptions.
Given that Casey Luskin has been reading these blogs for years, I am forced to conclude that he actually knows the truth but chooses to lie when he posts articles written for IDiots, OR that he is too stupid to understand the science behind the junk DNA debate.

I'm leaning heavily towards lying 'cause nobody could be that stupid.

Sauvageau, M., Goff, L.A., Lodato, S., Bonev, B., Groff, A.F., Gerhardinger, C., Sanchez-Gomez, D.B., Hacisuleyman, E., Li, E. and Spence, M. (2013) Multiple knockout mouse models reveal lincRNAs are required for life and brain development. eLife 2. [doi: 10.7554/eLife.01749]


  1. Might I suggest that your title suggests a false dichotomy? Does it really have to be fully one and not a bit of the other too?

  2. Several years after the Dover trial Luskin kept re-enacting it and winning the case (in an alternative universe where his Kruger-Dunning fantasies were reality). He was completely unable to understand why the ID side had lost, and he produced twisted accounts of the trial to justify the defeat. Thus, given his previous record, it's probably a combination of stupidity and mendacity.

  3. Professor Moran. With all due respect, why do you insist on this JUNK DNA S..T? Do you know the consequences if you are happened to be wrong? Wish you to live a long time, but if you are wrong about this shit, you are going down.... big... I mean it. I have a very, very, very wealthy "friend" who got banned here, that will make it real for you.... Get ready, if you can

    1. Who is your wealthy "friend", and why is he in quotes?

    2. Veiled threats. Stay classy, LouiseG. Stay so very classy.

    3. What the hell is the meaning of that post? At first I thought it was bizarre but real threat then it occurred to me that the "very, very, very wealthy friend who got banned" might be god according to LouiseG. Which would of course make it a bizarre but unreal threat.

      Geez Louise, why are wingnuts always so f-ing crazy and hard to understand?

    4. @LouiseG

      Do you know the consequences if you are happened to be wrong? Wish you to live a long time, but if you are wrong about this shit, you are going down.... big... I mean it. I have a very, very, very wealthy "friend" who got banned here, that will make it real for you.... Get ready, if you can

      That's strike three.


    5. Larry, I love you!!! Don't ban me please I beg you! There must be something in evolutionary theory that includes forgiveness and mercy? Just look at your granddaughters. Don't they deserve it?

    6. Did Quest just admit to being LouiseG? And was he/she lying? Trolls are weird.

    7. If you are wrong in your honest interpretation of data, God kills you? God is weird.

  4. Off this subject. How many monkeys have been registered to be willing to die for their own kind? There must have been at least one registered who wanted to be at least a hero?

    1. I politely usher you back towards the subject of the post.

  5. Maybe the paper is not an official ENCODE one. Still, already its title says "Multiple knockout mouse models reveal lincRNAs are required for life and brain development". IMO the title was chosen to imply that a majority of what has been described as lincRNAs is functional and not just some transcripts carefully pre-selected for this paper. IMO, especially eLife’s summary points in this direction when it says

    "Mammalian genomes contain thousands of noncoding DNA sequences that are transcribed. Recent in vitro studies suggest that the resulting long noncoding RNA molecules can act as regulators of transcription, translation, and cell cycle. In vitro studies also suggest that these long noncoding RNA molecules may play a role in mammalian development and disease. Yet few in vivo studies have been performed to support or confirm such hypotheses.
    Now Sauvageau et al. have developed several lines of knockout mice to investigate a subset of noncoding RNA molecules known as long intergenic noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs). These experiments reveal that lincRNAs have a strong influence on the overall viability of mice, and also on a number of developmental processes, including the development of lungs and the cerebral cortex.
    Given that the vast majority of the human genome is transcribed, the mouse models developed by Sauvageau et al. represent an important step in determining the physiological relevance, on a genetic level, of the noncoding portion of the genome in vivo."
    (emphasis mine)

    I wonder if Rinn and his co-authors read this piece before and realized that the eLife author first implies that all non-coding RNAs are lincRNAs and later describes linRNAs as a subset of all non-coding RNAs.

  6. Wonder why Luskin never replies to Morans posts. Afraid to get into a debate with someone that actually knows the subject perhaps?

    1. It's probably not worth his time. He has nothing to gain by engaging with people who actually understand science and know how to think. His target audience is people like Andy Wilberforce and LouiseG/Quest, who'll swallow any stupid bullshit so long as it confirms their personal superstitions.

  7. @LouiseG

    This has always been my sentiment. If the evolutionists, who are so adamantly reluctant to be wrong about the junk DNA argument, are eventually proven wrong, their scientific and intellectual credibility will go down like the Hindenburg coupled with severe public embarrassment for countless generations to come.

    You would think men with such ridiculous egos would have enough sense to understand this possibility and not set themselves up for such an embarrassing fall. Especially since they know virtually nothing about how to design and build what they "expertly" critique

    "'What I cannot create, I do not understand" Feynman

    Logic dictates if you don't have the expertise to design and build something, you can't possibly have the ability to critique its design

  8. Can't this argument be settled very simply by deleting/ scrambling the 90% that is predicted to be junk and observe the long term consequences, if any?.

    Completely and thoroughly removing all of the predicted junk, (not knocking out 1% of it at a time), should have been the very first thing that was done to settle this argument

    Or could it be the "junk DNA" evolutionists quietly fear the outcome of knocking out 90% of our DNA all at the same time?