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At Nature Heredity Mike Behe vindicated but not cited

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Readers will recall Michael Behe’s book Darwin Devolves, which posited that evolution consisted largely of breaking or blunting genes to secure an immediate selective advantage. It turns out others in the field agree with him without citing him:

Now Behe has been vindicated again by a 2021 paper in Nature Heredity, which agrees that “loss-of-function” mutations are prevalent in the evolutionary process:

“Views on loss-of-function mutations — those abolishing a gene’s biomolecular activity — have changed considerably over the last half century. Early theories of molecular evolution that emerged during the 1960’s and 1970’s saw little potential for loss-of-function mutations to contribute to adaptation (Maynard Smith 1970). Except in the case of inactivated gene duplicates, nonfunctional alleles were often assumed to be lethal, with adaptation being generally regarded as a process explained only by the fixation of single, mutationally rare alleles that improved or altered a gene’s function (Orr 2005). Only relatively recently, through discoveries enabled by the availability of molecular sequence data, were alternative views of adaptive loss-of-function alleles formalized, most notably with the “less is more” ideas proposed by Olson (1999). Classical paradigms of molecular evolution had by that time been challenged, for example, by evidence that natural loss-of-function variants of CCR5 lead to reduced HIV susceptibility in humans (Libert et al. 1998). Discoveries during the subsequent two decades have continued to support the idea that loss of function contributes to adaptation (Murray 2020), with cases of adaptive or beneficial loss of function being discovered across diverse organisms, genes, traits, and environments.” (MONROE ET AL., 2021, “THE POPULATION GENOMICS OF ADAPTIVE LOSS OF FUNCTION,” NATURE HEREDITY)

You might notice that the final citation in the quote above is to Murray (2020) — that’s the same Andrew Murray mentioned above, the Harvard geneticist I wrote about last year who similarly proposed that evolutionary adaptations frequently proceed by breaking functionality at the molecular level. Professor Murray’s paper was appropriately cited, but unfortunately this 2021 paper conspicuously avoids citing Behe’s 2010 paper in the respected Quarterly Review of Biology, “Experimental evolution, loss-of-function mutations, and ‘the first rule of adaptive evolution’.” There, Behe makes similar arguments. Nor does it cite Behe’s 2019 book Darwin Devolves. But it’s enough to accept the vindication even if we don’t get the citation.

Casey Luskin, “Vindicated But Not Cited: Paper in Nature Heredity Supports Michael Behe’s Devolution Hypothesis” at Evolution News and Science Today

Well, if one must choose, it is better to be vindicated than merely cited.

30 Replies to “At Nature Heredity Mike Behe vindicated but not cited

  1. 1
    Bob O'H says:

    Nature Heredity? There’s no such journal. Can someone pass this on to Dr. Luskin, in the interests of accuracy and him not looking like he has no idea what he’s on about.

  2. 2
    ET says:

    Bob, Heredity is a journal of Nature. See for yourself: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41437-021-00403-2

    It’s as if you just want to spew crap for the sake of spewing crap

  3. 3
    polistra says:

    As the saying goes, first they laugh at you, then they attack you, then they quote you. But they will NEVER give you credit for the quote. It’s just accepted wisdom.

  4. 4
    PaV says:

    There’s a similar conclusion reached in a paper at eLife. Just out.

  5. 5
    Belfast says:

    How about an apology, Bob?
    When a clock strikes 13, it not only tells a lie about itself, it casts doubt on the accuracy of previous strikes.

  6. 6
    Bob O'H says:

    ET – Yes, Heredity has been published through Nature Publishing Group for years (or Springer-Nature now). But it’s never been called Nature Heredity. It’s the journal of the Genetical Society, rather than a journal set up and run by NPG. The Nature X branding is used by NPG for some of their journals (e.g. Nature Genetics), but they are journals fully run by NPG, so are not society journals.

    Belfast – yes, an apology by Dr. Luskin would be nice, but I’m not going to demand it. Your clock comment summarises the problem rather succinctly.

  7. 7
    ET says:

    Wow. Bob’s semantic quibble is right up there with Cuomo’s denial that he was responsible for thousands of deaths in nursing homes.

    Heredity is part of the Nature portfolio. There isn’t anything wrong with “Nature Heredity”. Well, not unless you are a complete and desperate loser.

  8. 8
    Bob O'H says:

    ET – “There isn’t anything wrong with “Nature Heredity”. ” Well, unless you care about reality. As Belfast wrote “When a clock strikes 13, it not only tells a lie about itself, it casts doubt on the accuracy of previous strikes.” If Luskin is so sloppy he can’t even get the name of a journal right, how can we have any confidence that he’s able to get other things right?

    It’s not as if there is any reason for confusion: the webpage clearly labels the journal as Heredity, and nobody that I know calls it Nature Heredity. You have to actually work on getting the name wrong, it’s not just simple confusion.

  9. 9
    ET says:

    Grow up, Bob. “Heredity” is part of the “Nature” portfolio. And your cowardly quote-mine doesn’t bode well for YOUR credibility. You actually have to work on getting a quote-mine. It’s just pure dishonest cowardice.

  10. 10
    Bob O'H says:

    “Heredity” is part of the “Nature” portfolio.

    Thank you.

  11. 11
    ET says:

    And being part of the Nature portfolio it is OK to call it Nature Heredity. Duh

  12. 12
    Bob O'H says:

    No, ET, it isn’t. It really isn’t OK to use the wrong name for a journal.

  13. 13
    ET says:

    It is not the wrong name, Bob. Being in the Nature portfolio means that it belongs to Nature. And that means Nature Heredity is correct. It isn’t Luskin’s fault that you are too stupid to be able to follow along.

    As I said, grow up.

  14. 14
    asauber says:

    Evidently, Bob O’H is taking this naming thing pretty personally.

    I wonder why.

    Something beloved by him has been besmirched. lol

    Andrew

  15. 15
    jerry says:

    What’s missing is ” ‘s ” in the title. It should be Nature‘s Heredity.

    Problem solved.

    15 comments, 13 about a typo. What else is new.

  16. 16
    asauber says:

    Let’s send a vociferous group complaint to:

    Publishing staff

    The Publishing Manager of Heredity at Springer Nature is:
    Lucinda Haines
    Tel: +44 (0)20 7843 3634
    Fax: + 44 (0)20 7843 4839
    E-mail: l.haines@nature.com

    Bob O’H can put his John Hancock on it first.

    Andrew

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    Asauber how dare Lucinda Haines besmirch the good name of Nature like that.

    🙂

    Cancel culture warriors rise up and burn another victim on your alter of political correctness.

    🙂

    Now if Bob would only be equally indignant with the besmirching of hard science itself by Darwinian pretenders who are merely pretending to be doing hard science.

    Top Ten Questions and Objections to ‘Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics’ – Robert J. Marks II – June 12, 2017
    Excerpt: “There exists no model successfully describing undirected Darwinian evolution. Hard sciences are built on foundations of mathematics or definitive simulations. Examples include electromagnetics, Newtonian mechanics, geophysics, relativity, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, optics, and many areas in biology. Those hoping to establish Darwinian evolution as a hard science with a model have either failed or inadvertently cheated. These models contain guidance mechanisms to land the airplane squarely on the target runway despite stochastic wind gusts. Not only can the guiding assistance be specifically identified in each proposed evolution model, its contribution to the success can be measured, in bits, as active information.,,,”,,, “there exists no model successfully describing undirected Darwinian evolution. According to our current understanding, there never will be.,,,”
    https://evolutionnews.org/2017/06/top-ten-questions-and-objections-to-introduction-to-evolutionary-informatics/

  18. 18
    News says:

    One suspects that the journal editors don’t at all mind their publication being called Nature Heredity, as opposed to just Heredity (which could be a venue for cranks and crackpots, for all the rest of us know).

  19. 19
    Bob O'H says:

    Jerry @ 15 –

    What’s missing is ” ‘s ” in the title. It should be Nature‘s Heredity.

    Problem solved.

    You clearly haven’t understood my point – this makes it worse. Springer-Nature don’t own, in any sense, the journal (as they do for Nature Genetics, for example). It’s the journal of the Genetics Society.

    Asauber @ 16 & 17 – I’ve no idea what complaint you would want to make. What’s your point? Complaining to the journal that some people not associated with the journal or Spreinger-Nature can’t get its name right?

    News @ 18 – what grounds do you have for that suspicion? Those of us who work in genetics know it isn’t a journal for cranks, because we’ve read paper in it (and some of us have published in the journal).

  20. 20
    jerry says:

    Much ado about nothing

    You clearly haven’t understood my point – this makes it worse. Springer-Nature don’t own, in any sense, the journal

    No they publish it.

    Heredity is a scientific journal concerned with heredity in a biological sense, i.e. genetics. It was founded by Ronald Fisher and C. D. Darlington in 1947 and is the official journal of The Genetics Society. From 1996 the publishing was taken over by Nature Research whose major publication is Nature

    20 comments – 18 about a non-relevant typo. Nitpicking at its best.

  21. 21
    asauber says:

    Bob O’H,

    You would be complaining to someone at Nature that someone dared to use the word Nature in identifying a journal that Nature publishes.

    Andrew

  22. 22
    asauber says:

    And notice how Bob O’H doesn’t comment on the content of the post.

    What does that say about Bob O’H?

    Andrew

  23. 23
    Bob O'H says:

    Asauber – why? They don’t do that with Heredity.

    Jerry – I agree it’s a minor point, but it’s a bit more than a typo. It takes a bit of effort to make that mistake.

  24. 24
    asauber says:

    “They don’t do that with Heredity.”

    They do. I went to the online link to the journal. It was on Nature’s website.

    Andrew

  25. 25
    Bob O'H says:

    They don’t call it Nature Heredity though, do they?

    We don’t talk about Bloomsbury’s harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets do we? The publisher’s name isn’t part of the title. The same for Heredity. It’s used in Nature Genetics because of a deliberate decision to create a set of journals that would be seen as one step below Nature, and which would be under editorial control of the publisher. Heredity is different: it is run by a society, and they (not Springer-Nature) have editorial control. They also have the option of moving to another publisher, if they get a better offer.

  26. 26
    ET says:

    Bob O’H:

    We don’t talk about Bloomsbury’s harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets do we?

    We could. It wouldn’t be wrong if we did.

  27. 27
    asauber says:

    ET is right.

    If we wanted to present some context of who the publisher is, why the heck not include it?

    Andrew

  28. 28
    asauber says:

    In summary, Bob O’H is upset that some convention has been violated. His overwrought reaction to it has nothing to do with what the post is about. Sigh.

    Same as it ever was.

    Andrew

  29. 29
    Bob O'H says:

    Asauber – Overwrought? I’m not the one who wrote “It’s as if you just want to spew crap for the sake of spewing crap”, or ” There isn’t anything wrong with “Nature Heredity”. Well, not unless you are a complete and desperate loser.” or “And your cowardly quote-mine doesn’t bode well for YOUR credibility. You actually have to work on getting a quote-mine. It’s just pure dishonest cowardice.”

    FWIW, I’ve commented 8 times on this thread (well, 9 now). You’ve already commented 7 times. So evidently I’m not the only one who thinks this is worth comment.

  30. 30
    ET says:

    Yes, Bob, overwrought. My comments were in response to YOUR drivel and YOUR quote-mine.

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