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At Evolution News: Darwin in the schools campaigner got it all wrong on pseudogenes


Readers may remember Eugenie Scott, who for many years spearheaded the Darwin-in-the-schools lobby, National Center for Science Education. As Casey Luskin tells it:

In 2007, Eugenie Scott, a leading anti-ID activist, gave a lecture at the American Museum of Natural History titled “What Do Creationists Believe about Human Evolution?” …

“Perhaps the best rebuttal to the design argument is the existence of something called pseudogenes,” Scott states. “Pseudogenes are screwed-up genes,” she says in her first argument. She then proceeds to cite the beta-globin pseudogene — the example used by leading theistic evolutionist biologist Kenneth Miller in the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial.

Scott confidently asserts that because of mutations the beta-globin pseudogene “isn’t going to do diddly. It’s just going to sit there” and “not do a thing.” She goes on to say this pseudogene is “not going to function. It’s not going to do anything” because it is an “inert gene.” Her slide, which she borrowed (with permission, she notes) from Ken Miller’s slide deck at the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, calls the beta-globin pseudogene “non-functional.” …

It’s a nice tidy story. But a 2013 study in Genome Biology and Evolution showed it is false. Titled, “Evolutionary Constraints in the β-Globin Cluster: The Signature of Purifying Selection at the δ-Globin (HBD) Locus and Its Role in Developmental Gene Regulation,” the paper reported the beta-globin pseudogene is functional. And as we’ll see below, a 2021 paper in Developmental Cell found that this pseudogene—which Dr. Scott claimed does “diddly”—has “essentiality” and “indispensability” for human red blood cell formation.

Casey Luskin, “Blast from the Past: Eugenie Scott’s Failed Prediction on Pseudogenes” at Evolution News and Science Today (January 20, 2022)

When you think about it, it’s a better long-term strategy to predict that something has function than that it doesn’t.

You may also wish to read: At The Scientist: Giving jumping genes their due Subtitled “Long lambasted as junk DNA or genomic parasites, transposable elements turn out to be contributors to adaptation.” (Times change.)

We could formulate a new law of biology:
Every proof of Darwinism incorporates an error of fact or logic.
The only question remaining is that of the person after whom this law should be named. The law is probably a corollary of what we could call the First Law of Theology: "Every attempt to prove atheism incorporates an error of fact or logic." EvilSnack

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