Friday, September 26, 2008


Garbage In ...

The Discovery Institute's Gofer General, Tour Guide and Custodian of Science Ignorance, Casey Luskin, has delivered himself of another dose of stupidity and/or dishonesty.

He claims that a Yale University news release from earlier this month threatens one of the "icons" of evolution: the notion that "junk DNA" demonstrates, as Michael Shermer put it, that:

Rather than being intelligently designed, the human genome looks more and more like a mosaic of mutations, fragment copies, borrowed sequences, and discarded strings of DNA that were jerry-built over millions of years of evolution.

Quite apart from the fact that Casey's crowing only applies, at most, to those "discarded strings of DNA," leaving the rest of the argument unanswered; ignores the fact that junk DNA is not a prediction of evolutionary theory (especially not the ultra-Darwinist, ultra-adaptionist version the DI keeps inveighing against) and commits the general stupidity of making an argument about science based on a press release, of all things; he is, as is par for his course, just plain wrong about the science. But to make sure the blind pig hadn't stumbled across an acorn of a point, I did what no DI drone would ever think of doing and asked an actual scientist, Larry Moran:

As usual, Casey Luskin illustrates the wisdom of Alexander Pope who said 300 years ago, "A little learning is a dangerous thing..."

Nobody who is up on this subject claims that all "non-coding" DNA is junk. We are well aware of the fact that genes have regulatory regions controlling their expression. We've known that for almost 50 years. Regulatory sequences are not junk DNA as I explain in [Junk in Your Genome: Protein-Encoding Genes]. A generous estimate is that 0.6% of our genome could be regulatory sequences controlling transcription.

Casey Luskin doesn't understand any of this. He thinks that the discovery of a tiny regulatory sequence is an Earth-shattering event. It may be to him, but then any little increase in his learning is a big improvement no matter how much he screws it up.

There is something to be said for someone who maintains perfection ... even if it is being perfectly wrong.

It's just not something that can be said in polite company.

P.S. Abby at ERV also fisks Casey in her inimitable fashion. OMG!

PVM at Panda's Thumb has also deconstructed Casey's nonsense.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

. . . . .


How to Support Science Education