Darwinism horizontal gene transfer News

Dispatches from the phoney war on science

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From Forbes:

“How The War On Science Affects Us All”

The reason is that Darwin’s theory is science—a subject taught in public schools—while intelligent design is a matter of faith, which is not. Darwin’s theory produces testable hypotheses that can be falsified through experiment. Creationism does not. It is a matter of belief, not a subject for investigation.

There is also a practical consideration. We expect our schools to prepare students so to contribute to future society. If we want our kids to be able to develop new antibiotics that can treat resistant infections or to improve the genetic algorithms that make our economy more efficient, then Darwin’s theory, not creationism, is something they have to know. More.

This is a good example of the science writing vice of waving pom poms for science. Horizontal gene transfer, not natural selection acting on random mutation (Darwinian evolution), may well be the major way that bacteria acquire antibiotic resistance. It is much quicker and easier, for one thing, to borrow existing information than to develop it oneself. And nature offers little copyright protection and enforces no rules against plagiarism.

See, for example, Bacteria develop antibiotic resistance by using DNA from dead bax

Bacteria use small spear to acquire antibiotic resistant genes

Horizontal gene transfer: Jumping gene jumped to all three domains of life?

Horizontal gene transfer goes big time (“The fact that horizontal gene transfer happens among eukaryotes does not require a complete overhaul of standard evolutionary theory, but it does compel us to make some important adjustments. …” No. It really IS a big overhaul.)

But, you know, it is no use asking some people to lose the pom poms. They’d just waste police time getting arrested for public nudity.

Here’s the frustrating part: There really is a war on science. See, for example, Boko Haram (Western education is forbidden). But you won’t be hearing anything about that war on science from the pom poms because it is a real war, not a half-time show.

Note: Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is an unwelcome discovery for Darwinian evolution because 1) In any given case where a change can be identified, the possibility that HGT is the cause must be investigated.  (Cheerleading for Darwin instead feels good but isn’t science.)  2) HGT doesn’t claim to answer the question of where the information originally came from; it just identifies places it has reached.  3) HGT wasn’t developed, as Darwinian evolution was, to provide a naturalist account of origins, and doesn’t particularly contribute to one. It only attempts to account for evidence by tracking the transfer of  genetic information.

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14 Replies to “Dispatches from the phoney war on science

  1. 1
    rvb8 says:

    “Horizontal gene transfer….may well be the major way bacteria obtain resistance.”

    Firstly, “may be”, well that is a good hypothesis, now develop a rigourous test, and testing schedule, to prove this. The ‘Biologic Institute’ with its access to capitol, expertise, and time, seems the ideal resource. Publish, anywhere, and if the idea bares fruit claim some success.

    However, HGT contributed to genetic diversity as life was just emerging. It sifted, mixed, and helped select successful very early single celled life.(Hence the importance of knowing how this evolutionary mechanism works in bacteria, and viruses today.) Its importance today is still mainly at the cellular level. (I am not qualified to explain its importance to multi-cellular life.) However, I am aware that this field was also discovered by, investigated by, developed by, and continues to be analyzed by, evolutionary biologists.

  2. 2
    Cross says:

    rvb8 @ 1

    “HGT contributed to genetic diversity as life was just emerging. It sifted, mixed, and helped select successful very early single celled life”

    “well that is a good hypothesis, now develop a rigourous test, and testing schedule, to prove this.”

  3. 3
    rvb8 says:

    Cross,

    Today we observe that HGT occurs almost entirely within single celled life forms. Single celled life is the oldest life form on earth. How they behave today is a good indicator of the past. What’s your hypothesis?

  4. 4
    DillyGill says:

    rvb8 says ‘How they behave today is a good indicator of the past’

    Well we do not see them (single cell organisms) spontaneously generating no matter what conditions are set, does that mean we can throw your naturalistic, materialistic theory in the bin now? (by your own standard)

  5. 5
    DillyGill says:

    rvb8 says ‘Firstly, “may be”, well that is a good hypothesis’

    Evolutionary biology is full of just so stories that with the phrase ‘may have’ Double standards. Blinded by your zealousness?

  6. 6
    Mark Frank says:

    1) As rvb8 says, HGT has been known to happen for decades and is being discovered and explored by those self-same evil Darwinists. It was covered in an introductory course on genetics I did in the 80s. I have the material on my book shelf. It is not an unwelcome discovery. It is another line of scientific enquiry. There’s no one campaigning to have it suppressed.

    2) HGT is bad news for ID as it shows the diversity of unguided mechanisms around. To put it in ID language – it is another chance explanation.

    3) Over here the media provides extensive coverage of Boko Haram and other extreme Islamists suppressing education (including science) – far more than there is on creationism as a threat to science. I am pretty sure the same is true in North America.

  7. 7
    Joe says:

    HGT is hardly bad news for ID. It is bad news for unguided evolution as unguided evolution cannot explain it. Unguided evolution can’t explain much beyond disease and deformities.

    Saying HGT is an unguided mechanism is based on nothing but hope and ignorance.

  8. 8
    News says:

    Don’t know why Mark Frank thinks HGT is bad news for ID. For one thing, we don’t know that it is an unguided mechanism or even how common it is.

    We know only this: When someone starts shrieking that Darwinian evolution accounts for all or most of the changes in life forms over time, they have lost the plot. But they may win a textbook hearing or a court case.

    If it took Ken Miller all this time to insert a brief mention of HGT in his recent Darwintext – material that “was covered in an introductory course on genetics I did in the 80s” – well, frankly, there is no need for a campaign to have it suppressed. There is clearly a consensus in suppressing it.

  9. 9
    Mark Frank says:

    HGT is bad for ID because the ID argument is basically the explanatory filter: Not necessity, not chance, therefore design. This relies on being able to dismiss all the chance hypotheses. HGT is a chance hypothesis that is an alternative to hereditary mechanisms and has not been attacked by the ID community. So they need to dismiss that one as well (or somehow show it is guided). It also suggests that their might be an indefinite number of other chance hypotheses out there that have not been considered.

    As you say we don’t know how common HGT is. There is no plausible mechanism I aware of for passing genes horizontally between animals. Whereas hereditary mechanisms confront us all the time. Which explains why it does not get a high profile – but no one has been suppressing it. After all it is “Darwinist” scientists who discovered it, announced it and in some cases taught it.

  10. 10
    Joe says:

    Mark Frank:

    HGT is bad for ID because the ID argument is basically the explanatory filter: Not necessity, not chance, therefore design.

    That is incorrect. We do NOT infer design just by eliminating necessity and chance.

    HGT is a chance hypothesis that is an alternative to hereditary mechanisms and has not been attacked by the ID community.

    How is HGT a chance hypothesis?

  11. 11
    DavidD says:

    Just an interesting side note and some possible inclusion into the discussion which could be of interest to some. Someone posted this to me yesterday.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/n.....38;ref=rss

    .

  12. 12
    wd400 says:

    We know only this: When someone starts shrieking that Darwinian evolution accounts for all or most of the changes in life forms over time, they have lost the plot.

    With all due respect, how would you know?

    I find it very hard to see the problem for mainstream evolutionary biology you keep claiming. For one, HGT could only be discovered by the methods of evolutionary biology (principally phylogeny which is a constant target of misguided attacks here). Moreover, horizontally transfered genes are still subject to the same evolutionary forces as single nucleotide variants. They enter genomes random (at an exceedingly low rate), once one makes it it’s at an extremely low frequency (1/population size), and will probably only fix in a population if it’s selected for. Finally, most ID folks are obsessed with the discovery of “information” in proteins, and HGT is irrelevant to that question (the difference between HGT and Mendelian inheritance is the path a gene takes through time, not the processes that go on in the evolution of the gene sequence)

  13. 13
    Joe says:

    wd400 is just another grand equivocator. Unguided evolution didn’t have anything to do with the discovery of HGT.

  14. 14
    Cross says:

    rvb8 @ 3

    Today we observe that Information is produced by Intelligent Agents. Single celled life is the oldest life form on earth and its DNA contained Information. How information is produced today is a good indicator of the past.

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