Home » Intelligent Design » Demolishing Junk DNA as an icon of evolution

Demolishing Junk DNA as an icon of evolution

For many of us, an important characteristic of science is self-correction. We are proud of the way new findings catalyse re-evaluation and, if corrections are needed, the development of new knowledge. If you are like this, be prepared to be shocked when you read Jonathan Wells’ latest book. The concept of Junk DNA was widely held by evolutionary biologists during the 1990s, but only a few were prepared to expose the hypothesis to tests of its validity. Yet this is when publications started to accumulate that reported functionality in genetic material widely regarded as “nonsense”. Instead of alerting popularisers of science to be cautious, these writers treated the new data as unrepresentative exceptions. They pressed on with their claim that the bulk of the genome is useless. The trickle of challenging research findings became a stream, but the ‘consensus’ about junk DNA was not corrected. The stream became a river, but still the much-needed correction was lacking. Here is Richard Dawkins’ comment from The Ancestor’s Tale (2004, page 22):

“DNA differs from written language in that islands of sense are separated by a sea of nonsense, never transcribed. ‘Whole’ genes are assembled, during transcription, from meaningful ‘exons’ separated by meaningless ‘introns’ whose texts are simply skipped by the reading apparatus. And even meaningful stretches of DNA are in many cases never read -presumably they are superseded copies of once useful genes that hang around like early drafts of a chapter on a cluttered hard disk. Indeed, the image of the genome as an old hard disk, badly in need of a spring clean, is one that will serve us from time to time during the book.”

For more, go here.

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17 Responses to Demolishing Junk DNA as an icon of evolution

  1. notes:

    Vitamin C pseudogene refutation by Jonathan Wells – from appendix of ‘The Myth Of Junk DNA’ pages 109-114 by Jonathan Wells
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=18LV9Xp1RJv4k2KRQDOpN3_cjSCwBC_XXb8WGVNP4L8M

    Reference Notes For Jonathan Wells’ Book – The Myth Of Junk DNA – Hundreds of Studies Outlining Function for ‘Junk’ DNA
    http://docs.google.com/viewer?.....xHdM_e731g

    Jonathan Wells covers some of the material in his book here in this video:

    Jonathan Wells: On Francis Collins and Junk DNA – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hksGZcqJ5h4

    further note:

    Richard Sternberg (PhD Evolutionary Biology) discusses modern genomics and junk DNA – June 2011 – audio podcast
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....6_26-07_00

  2. 2
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Is your point that no DNA is junk?

    If not, what is your point?

  3. evolution is junk science…its also a science stopper, why investigate ‘junk’?

    evolution is also useless to science as skell says, and coyne admits. its nothing more than a racist atheist fairy tale

  4. Is your point that no DNA is junk?

    Well, as you know, all DNA contains information. So there is no non-informative DNA. And thus clearly no such thing as “junk DNA.”

  5. 5

    “If not, what is your point?”

    “Instead of alerting popularisers of science to be cautious, these writers treated the new data as unrepresentative exceptions. They pressed on with their claim that the bulk of the genome is useless.”

    I think he made it.

  6. 6
    Elizabeth Liddle

    So it is not David’s point that no DNA is junk?

    I hope not, because it seems that it isn’t true.

    Junk DNA is certainly a reasonable expectation in a Darwinian framework, although if DNA were organismically expensive, it might not be. However, it seems that it isn’t, and indeed we find it.

    Or do you disagree, junkdnaforlife?

    Given your username, I guess you have views on the subject :)

  7. 7

    You asked, “if not, what is your point?”

    I would think this is his point:

    “Instead of alerting popularisers of science to be cautious, these writers treated the new data as unrepresentative exceptions. They pressed on with their claim that the bulk of the genome is useless.”

    Try as you like to slither in the, “So is it not David’s point that no DNA is junk?” Spin away. However your strawman injection does not appear to exist in his point.

  8. Elizabeth Liddle:

    I hope not, because it seems that it isn’t true.

    Are you saying that there is DNA that does not contain information?

    Junk DNA is certainly a reasonable expectation in a Darwinian framework, although if DNA were organismically expensive, it might not be.

    DNA which contains no information is a reasonable expectation in a Darwinian framework?

  9. “Are you saying that there is DNA that does not contain information?”

    Mung, what would the information content of a completely random non-coding string of nucleotides be?

    Is this somehow different to you than that a random string of numbers?

    Perhaps you should first define what you mean by ‘information.’ It takes information to record a random string of letters, but they may not contain any meaning themselves.

  10. DrREC asks,

    what would the information content of a completely random non-coding string of nucleotides be?

    And yet Dr Tyler cites in this very article:

    “At the third level, the position of the chromosome inside the nucleus is important for gene regulation. In most cells, the gene-rich portions of chromosomes tend to be concentrated near the center of the nucleus, and a gene can be inactivated by artificially moving it to the periphery. In some cases, however, the pattern is inverted: rod cells in the retinas of nocturnal mammals contain nuclei in which the non-protein-coding pats of chromosomes are concentrated near the center of the nucleus, where they form a liquid crystal that serves to focus dim rays of light.” (p.94-5) TMOJDNA

    Thus DrREC, since unified functionality is found for the entirety of non-coding ‘Junk” segments in nocturnal mammals, why in blue blazes should we presuppose the non-coding sequences to be functionless junk??? This seems, once again, for you to be very unfair to the evidence!

  11. 11

    Elizabeth Liddle @ 6:
    The blog answers your question: “Wells hastens to say that ID advocates have never suggested that all non-coding DNA is functional, only that it is unlikely that most DNA is non-functional.”
    junkdnaforlife’s response is relevant – why are the champions of evolutionary theory not implementing the self-correction we expect of scientists.

    DrREC @ 9:
    “It takes information to record a random string of letters, but they may not contain any meaning themselves.”
    bornagain77 @ 10 gives a good response, pointing out that analogue information has to be considered. Even allowing the sequence to be random, we have examples of such sequences having functionality.

    The strength of Well’s book is that he looks systematically at each type of non-coding DNA and shows that the presumption of functionality is a fruitful research hypothesis. Also, that projects like ENCODE, although considering only a small part of the whole, nevertheless have implications far beyond the small part of the DNA that was investigated.

  12. 12
    Elizabeth Liddle

    David Tyler:

    What “self-correction” are you after? Who has said what that has turned out to be wrong?

    Specifically?

  13. 13

    Elizabeth Liddle @ 12
    “What “self-correction” are you after? Who has said what that has turned out to be wrong? Specifically?”

    I gave a quote from Dawkins – his words need correcting; Wells quotes Dawkins’ “Greatest Show” saying the same things after enough research had been published to show the message is plain wrong. Wells quotes all the people named in the blog – they all are writing things that cannot be defended from evidence. Look at Larry Moran’s blog – he’s also persisting in promoting the myth. Only Collins has demonstrated intellectual rigour – but it would be better if he pointed out that his peers need also to update their thinking in the light of research findings.

  14. DrREC:

    Mung, what would the information content of a completely random non-coding string of nucleotides be?

    It depends on who you ask :)

    Elizabeth has elsewhere asserted that she could flip a coin 100 times and get 100 bits of information. How is that any different from your DNA example?

    All I’m saying is, if it contains information then how can it be junk DNA?

  15. DrREC:

    Mung, what would the information content of a completely random non-coding string of nucleotides be?

    My own answer is none.

    But doesn’t a single DNA acts sort of like a template for it’s own replication?

    So surely each base contains enough information to match up to it’s mirror image in the double strand and to encode it’s own replication.

    Right?

  16. Mung..

    Elizabeth has elsewhere asserted that she could flip a coin 100 times and get 100 bits of information. How is that any different from your DNA example?

    So you’re saying a coin toss can contains the same type of information as DNA? That seems to go against the idea that DNA was intelligently designed.

  17. I disputed that tossing a coin generates any information.

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