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Monday, January 29, 2024

"People also ask" about junk DNA

I'm interested in the spread of science misinformation on the internet. The misinformation about the human genome is a good example that illustrates the problem. There are many other examples but I happen to know a lot about this particular one.

Anyone trying to find out about junk DNA will find it impossible to get a correct answer by searching the internet. The correct answer is that the amount of junk DNA in the human genome is controversial: some scientists think that most of our genome is functional while others think that as much as 90% is junk. The scientific evidence strongly favors the junk side of the controvesy and that's very well explained in the Wikipedia articles on Junk DNA and Non-coding DNA.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Benjamin Lewin's new book and his view of the human genome

I was a big fan of Benjamin Lewin. Back in the 1970's he published the first volumes of what was to become Genes, the authoritative textbook of molecular biology. I admired his ability to understand the latest experiments and put the results in the appropriate context.

Later on, when he founded the journal Cell, his editorials and other writings were always insightful. His editorial judgement was impeccable—he always published the very best papers in molecular biology.1

Saturday, January 06, 2024

Why do Intelligent Design Creationists lie about junk DNA?

A recent post on Evolution News (sic) promotes a a new podcast: Casey Luskin on Junk DNA’s “Kuhnian Paradigm Shift”. You can listen to the podcast here but most Sandwalk readers won't bother because they've heard it all before. [see Paradigm shifting.]

Luskin repeats the now familiar refrain of claiming that scientists used to think that all non-coding DNA was junk. Then he goes on to list recent discoveries showing that some of this non-coding DNA is functional. The truth is that no knowledgeable scientist ever claimed that all non-coding DNA was junk. The original idea of junk DNA was based on evidence that only 10% of the genome is functional and these scientists knew that coding regions occupied only a few percent. Thus, right from the beginning, the experts on genome evolution knew about all sorts of functional non-coding DNA such as regulatory sequences, non-coding genes, and other things.