Home » 'Junk DNA', News » Not only did Darwin’s followers believe in a “vast amount of functionless so-called ‘junk DNA’” …

Not only did Darwin’s followers believe in a “vast amount of functionless so-called ‘junk DNA’” …

… they taught their fans to believe it too.

Apparently, this post yesterday attracted attention from those who insist here that Darwin’s men never relied on “junk DNA” claims to buttress their theory. Someone should tell Stephen Cave who provides us with yet another clear example (and maybe Daniel Fairbanks?):

In “What we really know about our evolutionary past – and what we don’t” (Financial Times, August 17, 2012), Stephen Cave reviews three recent books on human evolution, Evolving: The Human Effect and Why it Matters, by Daniel J Fairbanks; Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins, by Ian Tattersall; and Homo Mysterious: Evolutionary Puzzles of Human Nature, by David P Barash), and notes:

Fairbanks, however, devotes most space to the newest, yet perhaps most important, source of evidence for our evolution: the story told by our genomes. If the theory of our evolutionary origins were true, we would expect species that split off from each other recently to have similar genes. And this is exactly what we find: we share 98 per cent of our DNA with our nearest living relative, the chimpanzee. This applies not only to the DNA that actually makes us work but equally to our vast amount of functionless so-called “junk DNA”, and even the remnants of ancient viruses that once worked their way into our genomes.

This raises two interesting questions: If Darwin’s men never educated their followers to believe in junk DNA as support for their theory, why is this stuff always turning up in popular evolution burbles? And if junk DNA is evidence for common descent, would Darwin’s men or any of their fans consider the falsification of junk DNA evidence against it?

No, we didn’t think so.

Cave also allows us to know,

As Barash points out, most books about science are accounts of what we know – threatening to give the impression that all the hard work is done. In doing the opposite and writing about the gaps in our knowledge, he hopes to inspire the next generation of Darwins and Dawkinses to take up lab coats in the pursuit of truth.

“Dawkinses”? When did we last see Dawkins in a lab coat? When was he last a useful figure in science, as opposed to new atheism? This one sentence provides a useful insight into one of the many things wrong with pop science writing today: Conflation of celebs outgassing science terms or claims with actual science.

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11 Responses to Not only did Darwin’s followers believe in a “vast amount of functionless so-called ‘junk DNA’” …

  1. News:

    I do not see anyone in the linked thread claiming that “Darwin’s men never relied on ‘junk DNA’ claims to buttress their theory.

    The only claim I see there in that regard is that many biologists have expected functions for non-coding DNA since the early days of their discovery. This is backed up by citations from the literature.

    Opinion appears to be divided regarding how much of the genome is functional. Here are the results of a 2008 survey asking “How much of our genome could be deleted without having any significant effect on our species?” (n=595):

    15% – None
    18% – less than 10%
    16% – between 11% and 49%
    12% – between 50% and 74%
    13% – between 75% and 89%
    23% – 90% or more

    Some have used “junk DNA” as an argument in favour of biological evolution. And some have predicted function for “junk DNA” and actively sought it out (and found it). Such is only to be expected in a diverse, global community of biologists.

    Cheers

  2. CLAVDIVS, this seems to be a common occurrence within TOE. I guess that just goes to show how hazy the predictive quality of the theory is. Point being …I can probably assume that 100 percent of ID advocates say that the genome is MOSTLY functional, that says a lot for me.

  3. If the theory of our evolutionary origins were true, we would expect species that split off from each other recently to have similar genes.

    And how do we know which species split from each other recently?

    Let me guess, similarity in their genes?

    Ain’t evolutionary science grand?

  4. And this is exactly what we find: we share 98 per cent of our DNA with our nearest living relative, the chimpanzee.

    That is not true. Some similar sequences are 98.x% similar. No one has done a complete side-by-each comparison.

    The only claim I see there in that regard is that many biologists have expected functions for non-coding DNA since the early days of their discovery.

    Yes, they were closet IDists.

    “How much of our genome could be deleted without having any significant effect on our species?”

    But that is a strawman. Designs can have redundant systems and stuff in place for future use. Things that can be removed without having any significant effect NOW, but future evolution would be adversly affected.

  5. Joe said this:

    “Designs can have redundant systems and stuff in place for future use.”

    I just want to be clear what you mean by that statement. Do you mean that the human genome contains base sequences that are designed to meet future phenotypic requirements (that is, the genetic sequences exist now to ensure the body has a means of doing stuff that it has never needed to do up until now)?

  6. Do you mean that the human genome contains base sequences that are designed to meet future phenotypic requirements (that is, the genetic sequences exist now to ensure the body has a means of doing stuff that it has never needed to do up until now)?

    Yes.

  7. timothya:

    Do you mean that the human genome contains base sequences that are designed to meet future phenotypic requirements (that is, the genetic sequences exist now to ensure the body has a means of doing stuff that it has never needed to do up until now)?

    And not just the human genome.

    You’re going to argue that genomes are not adaptable?

  8. Thanks, Joe.

    Mung: No.

    I’m trying to understand whether Joe thinks the stuff of future adaptations is already encoded in the genome. He says yes.

  9. timothya:

    I’m trying to understand whether Joe thinks the stuff of future adaptations is already encoded in the genome. He says yes.

    So Joe doesn’t believe God is out there inserting stuff into the genome so that species will adapt.

    You disagree?

  10. chirp

  11. Underneath the academEnglish verbiage…:

    Homo Mysterious is RNA nucleotides’ non-mysterious is intelligent life naturally selecting augmented energy constraint:

    Intelliget Life

    Life:
    mass format of evolving naturally selected RNA nucleotide(s), which is life’s primal organism.
    Natural selection:
    ubiquitous phenomenon of material that augments its energy constraint.
    Mass-Energy:
    inert-moving graviton(s), the fundamental particle of the universe, inert extremely briefly at the pre-big-bang singularity .
    Intelligence:
    learning from experience.

    Intelligent Life
    Life is an evolving system continuously undergoing natural selection i.e. continuously selecting, intelligently, opportunities to augment its energy constraint in order to survive i.e. in order to avoid its own mass format being re-converted to energy.

    Dov Henis
    (comments from 22nd century)
    http://universe-life.com/

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