Genetics Intelligent Design News

A Mendelian myth tested, and flunks

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Further to Philosopher of science: Schoolbook Darwinism needs replacement (Witzany: All these concepts that dominated science for half a century are falsified now), we read:

Debunking the biggest genetic myth of the human tongue

In 1940, the prominent geneticist Alfred Sturtevant published a paper saying the ability to roll one’s tongue is based on a dominant gene. In 1952, Philip Matlock disproved Sturtevant’s findings, demonstrating that seven out of 33 identical twins didn’t share their sibling’s gift. If rolling the tongue was genetic, then identical twins would share the trait. Sturtevant later acknowledged his mistake.

But, of course, it stayed in the textbooks. Apparently, the skill can be taught to some people, but …

This doesn’t mean tongue rolling has no genetic “influence,” McDonald says. More than one gene could contribute to tongue-rolling abilities. Perhaps the same genes that determine the tongue’s length or muscle tone are involved. But there isn’t a single dominant gene that’s responsible. More.

In short, nobody knows, and—happily—it doesn’t matter. No medical disorder is involved.

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG Fun but true: I, O’Leary for News, 65, just tried tongue rolling in front of a mirror in the elite and highly sophisticated offices of Uncommon Descent News a couple minutes ago. For the first time in my life. I have never heard of the “skill” before; people used to work for a living at one time and some of us still do.

And I discovered that I can do it. But have no intention of ever asking kinsfolk to try. Or asking anyone anywhere to take lessons in it.

Just as Darwinism is due for a shakeup, maybe Mendelian genetics is too.

I used to sit in classrooms hearing Mendelian genetics expounded that really didn’t make sense to me, unless one was trying to grow beans, as Gregor Mendel was—quite properly and honourably—doing.

You see, the classroom example I was taught involved brown vs. blue eyes. Brown eyes were supposed to be dominant over blue eyes. But in my own environment, when people with blue eyes married people with brown eyes, all the children could end up with blue eyes.

However, I quickly learned to shut up and pass.

Not any more, though. It sounds like a lot of people need to talk, seriously for once.

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15 Replies to “A Mendelian myth tested, and flunks

  1. 1
    wd400 says:

    You see, the classroom example I was taught involved brown vs. blue eyes. Brown eyes were supposed to be dominant over blue eyes. But in my own environment, when people with blue eyes married people with brown eyes, all the children could end up with blue eyes.

    I sometimes wonder if the News account is not some kind of elaborate joke. This pattern can only happen if brown eyes are dominant to blue.

  2. 2
    mahuna says:

    Father Mendel took the time to carefully observe his garden and make notes about the Wonder of it. When he was selected as abbot, the notes were stored away since they were only a hobby, and abbotting was serious work. Only many years later did anyone read his notes and realize he’d done an important piece of Science, at least for other growers of beans.

    It’s also useful to note that Father Mendel based his original explanation of his theory on holding decades of his rosary side by side to represent the sets of genes from the male and female plants. Visualizing the sets without a rosary handy would have made the explanation much less understandable.

  3. 3
    Seversky says:

    So a finding published by a geneticist 75 years ago was disproven in a study published 63 years ago? Hardly news.

    You’re right, of course, in that the textbooks, if they are still current publications, should have been corrected by now.

  4. 4
    daveS says:

    wd400,

    Is your reasoning here probabilistic? By that I mean if we assume blue is dominant to brown, then the genotype of the brown-eyed parents must be BrBr. Therefore in any reasonably large sample, some of the blue-eyed parents will have genotype BlBr, which will result (half the time) in brown-eyed children.

  5. 5
    ppolish says:

    Brown eyes. Blues eyes. Just an illusion. Unguided atoms spinning purposelessly through the void. I like it when people wear sunglasses.

  6. 6
    wd400 says:

    Come to think of it Dave, I shouldn’t have said “only” That’s only true it you start with the assumption that blue-eyed children and blue-blue homozygotes, so that’s my mistake.

    The pattern remains entirely possible given browns’ dominance over blue. (And you have it right Brown/Blue x Blue/Blue will give blue eyed children and 100% blue eyed offspring happen with odds 0.5^(n.children) )

  7. 7
    daveS says:

    Thanks, wd400, that’s what I thought initially.

  8. 8
    News says:

    Doubtless, the actual explanation will turn out to be far more complex than what was taught in school in the 1960s.

    But the point is, that it WAS taught in school, and believed to be the correct explanation. Probably isn’t.

    The local populations were often very mixed and likely provided mixed results.

  9. 9
    wd400 says:

    What? You were presumably taught that brown eye colouration is dominant to blue, which is true.

    Eye colouration is slightly more complex than a few alleles at one gene, but it’s not less wrong to teach “brown eye colour is dominant” than “Males have Y-chromosomes” — there are interesting exceptions to both but you probably wouldn’t spend much time on them in high school bio.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Blue eyes, as well as light skin and blonde hair, contrary to what the Darwin and the Nazis thought, are the result of a loss of genetic information, not a gain.

    “At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla”
    ? Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 1874, p. 178

    In other words, Darwin and the Nazis thought that Africans were less evolved than white Europeans, but the fact of the matter is that Europeans are actually less genetically robust than Africans since they have lost genetic information in their adaptations away from Africans:

    Daily thought: blue eyes and other gene mutations, April 25, 2013
    Excerpt: “Research on blue-eyes has led many scientist to further affirm that humans are truly mere variations of the same origin. About 8% of the world’s total population has blue eyes so blue eyes are fairly rare. In fact, blue eyes are actually a gene mutation that scientist have researched and found to have happened when the OCA2 gene “turned off the ability to produce brown eyes.”
    http://www.examiner.com/articl.....-mutations

    Melanin
    Excerpt: The melanin in the skin is produced by melanocytes, which are found in the basal layer of the epidermis. Although, in general, human beings possess a similar concentration of melanocytes in their skin, the melanocytes in some individuals and ethnic groups more frequently or less frequently express the melanin-producing genes, thereby conferring a greater or lesser concentration of skin melanin. Some individual animals and humans have very little or no melanin synthesis in their bodies, a condition known as albinism.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanin#Humans

    The Genetics of Blond Hair June 1, 2014
    Excerpt: ,,,When he and his colleagues studied this regulatory DNA in human cells grown in a laboratory dish, they discovered that the blond-generating SNP reduced KITLG activity by only about 20%. Yet that was enough to change the hair color.“This isn’t a ‘turn the switch off,’ ” Kingsley says. “It’s a ‘turn the switch down.’ ”
    “This study provides solid evidence” that this switch regulates the expression of KITLG in developing hair follicles,
    http://news.sciencemag.org/bio.....blond-hair

    The loss of genetic information/diversity in Europeans, (and other races), is found to be ‘across the board’:

    “We found an enormous amount of diversity within and between the African populations, and we found much less diversity in non-African populations,” Tishkoff told attendees today (Jan. 22) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Anaheim. “Only a small subset of the diversity in Africa is found in Europe and the Middle East, and an even narrower set is found in American Indians.”
    Tishkoff; Andrew Clark, Penn State; Kenneth Kidd, Yale University; Giovanni Destro-Bisol, University “La Sapienza,” Rome, and Himla Soodyall and Trefor Jenkins, WITS University, South Africa, looked at three locations on DNA samples from 13 to 18 populations in Africa and 30 to 45 populations in the remainder of the world.-

    New analysis provides fuller picture of human expansion from Africa – October 22, 2012
    Excerpt: A new, comprehensive review of humans’ anthropological and genetic records gives the most up-to-date story of the “Out of Africa” expansion that occurred about 45,000 to 60,000 years ago.
    This expansion, detailed by three Stanford geneticists, had a dramatic effect on human genetic diversity, which persists in present-day populations. As a small group of modern humans migrated out of Africa into Eurasia and the Americas, their genetic diversity was substantially reduced.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-10-a.....nsion.html

    Human Genetic Variation Recent, Varies Among Populations – (Nov. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: Nearly three-quarters of mutations in genes that code for proteins — the workhorses of the cell — occurred within the past 5,000 to 10,000 years,,,
    “One of the most interesting points is that Europeans have more new deleterious (potentially disease-causing) mutations than Africans,”,,,
    “Having so many of these new variants can be partially explained by the population explosion in the European population. However, variation that occur in genes that are involved in Mendelian traits and in those that affect genes essential to the proper functioning of the cell tend to be much older.” (A Mendelian trait is controlled by a single gene. Mutations in that gene can have devastating effects.) The amount variation or mutation identified in protein-coding genes (the exome) in this study is very different from what would have been seen 5,000 years ago,,,
    The report shows that “recent” events have a potent effect on the human genome. Eighty-six percent of the genetic variation or mutations that are expected to be harmful arose in European-Americans in the last five thousand years, said the researchers.
    The researchers used established bioinformatics techniques to calculate the age of more than a million changes in single base pairs (the A-T, C-G of the genetic code) that are part of the exome or protein-coding portion of the genomes (human genetic blueprint) of 6,515 people of both European-American and African-American decent.,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....132259.htm

    Geneticist John Sanford rightly asks, “where are the beneficial mutations?”

    Critic ignores reality of Genetic Entropy – Dr John Sanford – 7 March 2013
    Excerpt: Where are the beneficial mutations in man? It is very well documented that there are thousands of deleterious Mendelian mutations accumulating in the human gene pool, even though there is strong selection against such mutations. Yet such easily recognized deleterious mutations are just the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of deleterious mutations will not display any clear phenotype at all. There is a very high rate of visible birth defects, all of which appear deleterious. Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Why are no beneficial birth anomalies being seen? This is not just a matter of identifying positive changes. If there are so many beneficial mutations happening in the human population, selection should very effectively amplify them. They should be popping up virtually everywhere. They should be much more common than genetic pathologies. Where are they? European adult lactose tolerance appears to be due to a broken lactase promoter [see Can’t drink milk? You’re ‘normal’! Ed.].
    African resistance to malaria is due to a broken hemoglobin protein [see Sickle-cell disease. Also, immunity of an estimated 20% of western Europeans to HIV infection is due to a broken chemokine receptor—see CCR5-delta32: a very beneficial mutation. Ed.] Beneficials happen, but generally they are loss-of-function mutations, and even then they are very rare!
    http://creation.com/genetic-entropy

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    As well it is interesting to note that Darwinists originally strongly opposed Mendelian Genetics:

    podcast – On this episode of ID the Future, Casey Luskin talks with geneticist Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig about Gregor Mendel’s laws of inheritance and how they opposed the thinking of Darwin.
    podcast – Mendel Vs. Darwin – part 1
    http://www.discovery.org/multi.....vs-darwin/
    Mendel Vs. Darwin – part. 2
    http://www.discovery.org/multi.....rwin-pt-2/
    Mendel Vs. Darwin, part. 3
    Dr. Lönnig discusses how Darwinian evolutionary biology held back the acceptance of the laws of inheritance, discovered by the famous monk Gregor Mendel. (Darwinists orginally tried to censor Mendel’s work)
    http://www.discovery.org/multi.....rwin-pt-3/

    Scientific Consensus? You’ve Got to Be Kidding, Right? – May 4, 2015
    Excerpt: In 1999, Darwinist Bruce Alberts claimed that Darwinism is “at the core of genetics.” Yet Mendel had no need for Darwin’s hypothesis. How can Darwinism, which contributed nothing to the origin of genetics and resisted it for half a century, now be at its core? It is Darwinism that needs genetics, not genetics that needs Darwinism.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....95761.html

    Moreover, the term ‘Gene’, according to ENCODE research, is not really even that useful of a concept for molecular biology anymore:

    In the following podcast, Dr. Sternberg, who has a PhD in evolutionary biology, discusses ENCODE research, and how that research has now overturned the ‘central’ importance of the gene as a unit of inheritance.
    As well Dr. Sternberg reflects on how that loss of the term ‘gene’ as an accurate description in biology completely undermines the modern synthesis, (i.e. central dogma), of neo-Darwinism as a rational explanation for biology.

    Podcast – Richard Sternberg PhD – On Human Origins: Is Our Genome Full of Junk DNA? Part 5
    http://www.discovery.org/multi.....-dna-pt-5/

    Landscape of transcription in human cells – Sept. 6, 2012
    Excerpt: Here we report evidence that three-quarters of the human genome is capable of being transcribed, as well as observations about the range and levels of expression, localization, processing fates, regulatory regions and modifications of almost all currently annotated and thousands of previously unannotated RNAs. These observations, taken together, prompt a redefinition of the concept of a gene.,,,
    Isoform expression by a gene does not follow a minimalistic expression strategy, resulting in a tendency for genes to express many isoforms simultaneously, with a plateau at about 10–12 expressed isoforms per gene per cell line.
    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....11233.html

    Duality in the human genome – Nov. 28, 2014
    Excerpt: The gene, as we imagined it, exists only in exceptional cases. “We need to fundamentally rethink the view of genes that every schoolchild has learned since Gregor Mendel’s time. Moreover, the conventional view of individual mutations is no longer adequate. Instead, we have to consider the two gene forms and their combination of variants,”,,,
    “Our investigations at the protein level have shown that 96 percent of all genes have at least 5 to 20 different protein forms.,,,
    http://medicalxpress.com/news/.....enome.html

  12. 12
    Roy says:

    I sometimes wonder if the News account is not some kind of elaborate joke. This pattern can only happen if brown eyes are dominant to blue.

    Sure?

  13. 13
    Zachriel says:

    bornagain77: Darwin and the Nazis thought that Africans were less evolved than white Europeans

    Hitler.

    bornagain77: the fact of the matter is that Europeans are actually less genetically robust than Africans since they have lost genetic information in their adaptations away from Africans

    Less genetically diverse, at least. That’s true of all founder populations. This is consistent with the ‘out of Africa’ theory of human origins.

    bornagain77: where are the beneficial mutations?

    Humans experienced a population bottleneck in the recent past, so tend to have low genetic diversity compared to many other organisms, especially considering their current high population. Nonetheless, some humans have relatively recent beneficial mutations. For instance, about 10% of Europeans are resistant to HIV; Tibetans have the ability to oxygenate at higher altitudes; indigenous Siberians have a natural resistance to cold due to a high basal metabolic rate; and the Moken people have improved underwater visual acuity.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    The singular person of Zachriel, do you really need me to hold your hand and lead you through the refutation of your examples of supposed gains of functional information or do you think you can finally do the refutation all by yourself by now?

    Of related interest:

    Potty training in 3 days
    http://www.babycenter.com/2_po.....0388101.bc

  15. 15
    Zachriel says:

    bornagain77: do you really need me to hold your hand and lead you through the refutation of your examples of supposed gains of functional information

    You asked for examples of beneficial mutations in humans, which were provided. They are functional information by any reasonable measure.

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