'Junk DNA' Intelligent Design

Researchers: “Junk DNA” lowers risk of heart disease

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From ScienceDaily:

Gene therapy using ‘junk DNA’ could lower risk for heart disease

Scientists from UCLA and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute successfully used a gene that suppresses cholesterol levels as part of a treatment to reduce plaque in mice with a disorder called familial hypercholesterolemia. In a preclinical study, researchers found that the gene, LeXis, lowered cholesterol and blockages in the arteries, and the treatment appeared to reduce the build-up of fat in liver cells.

Familial hypercholesterolemia is an inherited condition characterized by extremely high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol”) and an increased risk of early heart disease.

The LeXis gene belongs to a unique group of genes that until recently were considered “junk DNA” because scientists believed they served little purpose. However, evidence from the human genome project led to the discovery that genes like LeXis are actually active. The study of these genes, now referred to as long noncoding ribonucleic acids, or lncRNAs, is a rapidly evolving area in biology. Paper.(paywall) – Peter Tontonoz, Xiaohui Wu, Marius Jones, Zhengyi Zhang, David Salisbury, Tamer Sallam. Long Noncoding RNA Facilitated Gene Therapy Reduces Atherosclerosis in a Murine Model of Familial Hypercholesterolemia. Circulation, 2017; 136 (8): 776 DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.029002 More.

<em>Teapot</em> Cobalt Blue Molecular evolutionist Dan Graur announced in 2013, if ENCODE is right [not much junk in our DNA] then evolution is wrong.

The UD News coffee room has come up with a tiebreaker: Encode is okay. Evolution is okay. Dan Graur is wrong-(headed).

See also: Nothing makes sense in evolution except in the light of junk DNA?

Junk DNA: Dan Graur (junk!), ENCODE team (not junk!), and the science media

Function of circular RNA in animals discovered

“Junk” RNA helps regulate metabolism

Junk DNA defender just isn’t doing politeness any more.

Anyone remember ENCODE? Not much junk DNA? Still not much. (Paper is open access.)

Yes, Darwin’s followers did use junk DNA as an argument for their position.

Another response to Darwin’s followers’ attack on the “not-much-junk-DNA” ENCODE findings

17 Replies to “Researchers: “Junk DNA” lowers risk of heart disease

  1. 1
    Dionisio says:

    Gene therapy using ‘junk DNA’ could lower risk for heart disease, because it isn’t functional.
    🙂

  2. 2
    LocalMinimum says:

    Dionisio:

    Surely, this is neutral theory in action. What we are seeing is a new functionality that evolution had been building up some pile of junk towards (because it felt right) sitting on the verge of selective significance, pulled over the threshold by helpful organisms (biologists). #4thway

    Science helping evolution; as evolution produced science, is science, and wields science.

  3. 3
    critical rationalist says:

    As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, ID’s designer is abstract and has no defined limitations. As such, the theory itself icannot necessarily predict the lack of a significant amount of junk DNA in the genome of organisms.

    Without cognitive limitations, ID’s designer would have no problem designing around with extra “junk” like we currently would. And even then, computers exponentially more powerful that ours will make it irrelevant for us as well, in the future. So, eventually, that observation will not hold, either.

    IOW, a necessity prediction of the lack of junk DNA would come from limitations of the designer, not it lack there of, and ID’s designer has none. So, what gives?

    Oh, that’s right. ID’s designer is actually God and you’re offended by the idea what God made “junk”.

    What other explanation is there?

  4. 4
    ET says:

    Without cognitive limitations, ID’s designer would have no problem designing around with extra “junk” like we currently would.

    You don’t know that. You are just posting without thinking.

    IOW, a necessity prediction of the lack of junk DNA would come from limitations of the designer

    That is your opinion and it isn’t based on anything but your personal views.

    ID’s designer is actually God and you’re offended by the idea what God made “junk”.

    Why is that? Please try to make a case.

    If we are the only peoples in the universe then it seems that most of the universe is junk. Is anyone offended by that? No.

  5. 5
    LocalMinimum says:

    CR @3:

    So, you’re saying that “junk DNA” doesn’t support the notion of naturalistic, unguided evolution, as there’s no reason to expect it wouldn’t be present even with a designer?

  6. 6
    critical rationalist says:

    @ET

    CR: Without cognitive limitations, ID’s designer would have no problem designing around with extra “junk” like we currently would.

    ET: You don’t know that. You are just posting without thinking.

    I’d suggest it’s the opposite. I’m trying to take your theory seriously, which means, thinking about it. You can’t get there from here.

    What exactly is it that I do not know?

    – ID’s designer is abstract and has no defined limitations
    – Without cognitive limitations, a designer wouldn’t have problems designing around junk DNA, like we would.

    Which am I mistaken about?

    By not defining any limitations on ID’s designer, Junk DNA simply isn’t a problem like it would be for us. “The designer” would have no motivation to keep junk at a minimum so it could make improvements or fixes.

    ID can’t even say that its designer wants us to know it designed anything, so it could choose to leave junk there to obfuscate its involvement. Right?

    To assume otherwise, ID must say something about the designer, which it supposedly does not do. So, there are no necessary consciences of ID’s designer that it must predict.

    CR: IOW, a necessity prediction of the lack of junk DNA would come from limitations of the designer.

    ET: That is your opinion and it isn’t based on anything but your personal views.

    It is? Then, by all means, please elaborate on what that supposedly necessary prediction is based on. Please be specific. I won’t be holding my breath.

    CR: ID’s designer is actually God and you’re offended by the idea what God made “junk”. What other explanation is there?

    ET: Why is that? Please try to make a case.

    If we are the only peoples in the universe then it seems that most of the universe is junk. Is anyone offended by that? No.

    First, if I got it wrong, then why the prediction of so little junk?

    Second, most theists do not think most of the universe was the special creation of God with some special role to play. However, human beings supposedly are. So, you’re comparing oranges and apples.

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    critical rationalist was recently complaining that the theories of physics, chemistry and biology were explicitly designed so as to not deliberately exclude God as the Physicist/Chemist/Biologist.

  8. 8
    Mung says:

    ID’s designer is actually God and you’re offended by the idea what God made “junk”.

    huh? no one has to make junk. visit a junkyard.

  9. 9
    critical rationalist says:

    @localminimum

    So, you’re saying that “junk DNA” doesn’t support the notion of naturalistic, unguided evolution, as there’s no reason to expect it wouldn’t be present even with a designer?

    I don’t think any evidence supports any theory. Rather, evidence can only be used in a critical way.

    I’m saying that by carefully and intentionally defining ID’s designer in such a way as to not exclude God, ID’s designer has no necessary consequences for the current state of the system, by which to make predictions, such as the lack of a significant amount of junk DNA.

    IOW, I’m trying to take ID seriously, in that it supposedly doesn’t say anything about the designer. Yet, ID proponents continue to make predictions. So, something doesn’t add up.

    For example, human beings are currently good explanations for human designed things because of our current limitations. However, ID’s designer doesn’t have any defined limitations. And, even then, those human limitations will not necessarily hold in the future. So, even future human beings will be bad explanations for things human beings design today.

    Evolution, with it’s limitations, does have necessary consequences. As such, it a better explanation for the specific features of our biosphere.

    For example, Neo-darwnism says the knowledge of what transformations of matter cells use to make copes of themselves was genuinely created over time. Nature necessarily cannot construct something it does not yet know how to build. This explains the appearance of least complex to most complex organisms we observe.

    On the other hand, ID’s designer has no limitations on what it knew, when it knew it, etc. As such, it could have created organisms in any order, including most complex to least complex, or even all at once.

    Apparently, ID’s designer just decided to create organisms in the order that evolution must have for no reason at all, other than “it just wanted to”, which explains nothing.

    So, it’s not that evolution is positively supported by evidence, but it is the best explanation for that evidence.

  10. 10
    critical rationalist says:

    @mung

    The question is open to you as well…

    …if I got it wrong, then why the prediction of so little junk?

    Again, something doesn’t add up.

  11. 11
    ET says:

    I’m trying to take your theory seriously, which means, thinking about it.

    You have sloppy thinking.

    – ID’s designer is abstract and has no defined limitations

    ID isn’t about the designer. And evolution isn’t about the origin of life. Most scientific endeavors have limitations that have to be understood before you can understand them.

    First, if I got it wrong, then why the prediction of so little junk?

    Histone octamers and the spooling issue

    Second, most theists do not think most of the universe was the special creation of God with some special role to play.

    Reference please. No way I am just taking your word for it.

  12. 12
    ET says:

    Evolution, with it’s limitations, does have necessary consequences.

    ID is not anti-evolution so please stop with the equivocation already. But yes evolution does appear to have limitations and as such couldn’t have produced protein machines without guidance.

    Heck given starting populations of prokaryotes your “evolution” doesn’t even have a mechanism to get beyond more populations of prokaryotes.

  13. 13
    Mung says:

    …if I got it wrong, then why the prediction of so little junk?

    It’s not a prediction I made or a prediction that I would make. I have no idea why “junk” could not accumulate in a genome. I don’t have any issue with “junk” dna. You’re simply talking to the wrong guy. 🙂

    Even young earth creationists can accept junk in the genome, attributing it to “devolution” or some such after the fall.

    But you go right on riding that hobby-horse.

  14. 14
    ET says:

    I agree with Mung. What IDists are saying is only our ignorance says that 90% of our genome is junk so perhaps we should table that until we understand more. That is because saying something is junk may mean we fail to observe somethings that it does as a vital function.

    Then add to that the histone octamers and the spooling issue- which means the DNA isn’t junk but well planned spacers

  15. 15
    LocalMinimum says:

    CR @ 9:

    I don’t think any evidence supports any theory. Rather, evidence can only be used in a critical way.

    So identifying/refuting the relative weight of implications of evidence between theories is not using evidence in a critical way?

    For example, Neo-darwnism says the knowledge of what transformations of matter cells use to make copes of themselves was genuinely created over time. Nature necessarily cannot construct something it does not yet know how to build. This explains the appearance of least complex to most complex organisms we observe.

    So, you’re presenting a separate evidence based implication, and admitting it remains non-exclusive. So, are you weighing an implication here towards Neo-Darwinism, or not?

    On the other hand, ID’s designer has no limitations on what it knew, when it knew it, etc. As such, it could have created organisms in any order, including most complex to least complex, or even all at once.

    If the fossil record, as presented, were the only issue of consideration…well, you still wouldn’t have a point if you weren’t willing to offer that the fossil record’s implication of Neo-Darwinism had greater weight than its implication of a designer.

    Apparently, ID’s designer just decided to create organisms in the order that evolution must have for no reason at all, other than “it just wanted to”, which explains nothing.

    So, it’s not that evolution is positively supported by evidence, but it is the best explanation for that evidence.

    So, your argument seems to boil down to what a theory can admit, with it admitting a specific piece of considered evidence making it superior independent of how well it admits that evidence.

    Interesting thing. If I find a tire on the side of a long abandoned, no longer traveled road, I can make a pretty strong assertion it was thrown by a car. There are many possible makes and models of cars that could have thrown it along many different trajectories, many or even most of which I couldn’t even identify; and, funny enough, these do nothing to make my explanation “worse”. If the nearby terrain only admitted foot traffic along a specific, narrow path, it wouldn’t make an explanation based on someone carrying it there any “better”.

    I think your problem with ID isn’t its (lack) of identification or description of potential designers, but rather the evidence you’re willing to consider. You’ve built an approach to specially frame and exaggerate those few considerations you have decided to cling to.

  16. 16
    critical rationalist says:

    So identifying/refuting the relative weight of implications of evidence between theories is not using evidence in a critical way?

    Supports implies bolstering a theory in a positive way, like foundation of some sort. However, our current best explanation for how knowledge grows is that theories start out as educated guesses. One will survive criticism better than others. So, when I say critical way, I mean to find errors in theories, not to confirm theories, as confirmations are easy to find. Good criticism is not.

    So, you’re presenting a separate evidence based implication, and admitting it remains non-exclusive. So, are you weighing an implication here towards Neo-Darwinism, or not?

    We start out with a problem, conjecture theories about how the world works, in reality, to solve them, then criticize those theories. One such criticism is whether it solves the target problem. “That’s just what some designer must have wanted” is a bad explanation. What most of us want from theories are the content, not their providence.

    However, if what you actually want is to merely justify something, rather than explain it, because you believe in a inexplicable mind that exists in an inexplicable realm and operates using inexplicable means and methods, ID fails at that as well, because justification is impossible. This is not unique to ID. But, by all means, feel free to explain how that would work, in practice.

    If the fossil record, as presented, were the only issue of consideration…well, you still wouldn’t have a point if you weren’t willing to offer that the fossil record’s implication of Neo-Darwinism had greater weight than its implication of a designer.

    See above. If we want to explain the biosphere, this includes why organisms have etc concrete features they have, as opposed to some other concrete features. “Some designer must have wanted it that way” doesn’t add to the explanation.

    Out of all the phenomena in question, which represents the target problem multiple conjectured theories are designed to solve, some theories will explain significantly less of that phenomena. And If the theory cannot be modified in non-ad-hoc way, then it explains less than other theories. We discard it because it failed to solve the problem it purports to solve. What’s left over isn’t positively justified or supported by the evidence. It’s what has survived criticism. All knowledge is incomplete and contains errors to some degree. Some might not be corrected for decades, if even at all, should we decide to stop criticizing it.

    “Idea X is not justified” is a bad criticism because it is applicable to all theories.

    So, your argument seems to boil down to what a theory can admit, with it admitting a specific piece of considered evidence making it superior independent of how well it admits that evidence.

    If theories start out as guesses, how might we go about finding ID, the supposedly scientific theory, contains errors? What hard to vary explanation does it provide from which we can criticize it?

    For example, “An abstract designer did it” is a bad explanation, in that it’s similar to the Greek myth of the seasons: Persephone, the goddess of spring, is kidnapped entered into a forced marriage contract with Hades. She escapes, but is magically forced to return to the underworld every year. When she returns, this makes Demeter, goddess of the earth, sad, which causes winter.

    However, we could just as easily come up with some other permutation of these charters, which describes the same thing, but is every much the opposite of the original myth.

    For example, rather than being magically compelled to return, one could claim that Persephone returns every year to take vengeance on Hades, banishes heat from his domain, which rises and causes summer. This explains the same thing, but describes opposite state of affairs as found in the original myth. And since the characters are only connected to seasons though the myth itself, it’s easily varied.

    This is in contrast to our current explanation of the seasons, which represents a long chain of hard to vary explanations across multiple fields. The earth’s rotation is titled in respect to it’s orbit around the sun. A spinning sphere retains it’s tilt. Surfaces titled away from radiant heat are headed less. The origin of star light (nuclear fusion), etc. If we break any part of this chain, there is no easy way to vary this explanation without significantly impacting it’s ability to explain the seasons. There is no where go. Furthermore, these links were formed independently of each other.

    Our explanation for the seasons is good not only because it’s falsifiable, but because it’s hard to vary. A criticism of a conjectured theory is that it can be easily varied in the face of criticism.

    Had the Greeks known it was summer in Australia, while they experienced winter, they could have easily varied their theory to account for it. For example, when Demeter was sad, she could have banished heat from her vicinity, pushing it elsewhere causing summer there. That wouldn’t have got the Greeks one jot closer. Because it was easily varied without reducing its ability to explain the phenomena in question.

    Some abstract designer with no defined limitations merely wanted it that way is easily varied. It’s unclear how you can find errors in it.

    Interesting thing. If I find a tire on the side of a long abandoned, no longer traveled road, I can make a pretty strong assertion it was thrown by a car. There are many possible makes and models of cars that could have thrown it along many different trajectories, many or even most of which I couldn’t even identify; and, funny enough, these do nothing to make my explanation “worse”.

    Again, human beings are good explanations for human designed things. This because of our human limitations. They represent necessary trade offs based on the knowledge that we have currently created.

    Cars having tires are a necessary consequence of our current limited knowledge. With exception of mag-lev trains, hover craft, etc. we currently lack the knowledge to cost efficiently make a vehicles that do not *necessarily* need tires. Automative makers must make vehicles that customers cam afford to purchase and operate. They have competition from other vehicle manufacturers. They must operate on existing roads. They have limited budgets, engineering resources, etc. If some advanced alien civilization (that kept a detailed history of their own progress) came across tires in some abandoned city, they would realize they were present there because the limitations of the designers at the specific stage when they were built.

    But ID’s designer has no defined limitations. It doesn’t have customers, engineering or R&D budgets, etc. It doesn’t need to do or travel anywhere. After all, ID’s designer is carefully designed not to exclude God, which doesn’t have “go” anywhere, let alone go somewhere in a car with tires.

    IOW, the analogy of “many possible makes and models of cars” isn’t remotely similar to ID’s designer which is supposedly completely abstract and has no defined limitations.

    Apparently, ID proponents doesn’t have much of an imagination? Or perhaps the don’t bother trying to take their theory seriously because they supposedly know it’s true via some other means, so doesn’t need to be criticized?

    And, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, ID’s designer will never be constrained in any such way to exclude God because, well, everyone knows ID’s designer is God.

    If the nearby terrain only admitted foot traffic along a specific, narrow path, it wouldn’t make an explanation based on someone carrying it there any “better”.

    It’s not “better” in the sense you’re implying. Failing to explain the phenomena in question is a criticism. Why should I keep it? However, as I’ve pointed out, it seems that you do not acutally want to explain phenomena. In fact, if you did, that is merely something unseen. God cannot be explained.

  17. 17
    LocalMinimum says:

    For example, “An abstract designer did it” is a bad explanation, in that it’s similar to the Greek myth of the seasons: Persephone, the goddess of spring, is kidnapped entered into a forced marriage contract with Hades. She escapes, but is magically forced to return to the underworld every year. When she returns, this makes Demeter, goddess of the earth, sad, which causes winter.

    However, we could just as easily come up with some other permutation of these charters, which describes the same thing, but is every much the opposite of the original myth.

    “An abstract designer did it” is a vague and non-specific scenario. The myth of Persephone is a very specific one, which is closer to what seems your primary demand for a “good explanation”.

    That, and is it not evolution that offers a prism of specific but unfalsifiable and often contradictory scenarios of questionable feasibility? Did flight evolve from running up hills, or falling out of trees?

    Our explanation for the seasons is good not only because it’s falsifiable, but because it’s hard to vary. A criticism of a conjectured theory is that it can be easily varied in the face of criticism.

    You fail to see any irony here? Can you give me the true Theory of Evolution; specific, complete, as it has been shown and will remain?

    Cars having tires are a necessary consequence of our current limited knowledge. With exception of mag-lev trains, hover craft, etc.

    My analogy relies on cars having tires, but it isn’t about cars having tires. It’s about knowing an agent of causation and making a perfectly plausible inference, and how the plausibility of that inference is not weakened by the degree of freedom in the form of the agent, nor is an inference’s plausibility improved by specification (as you just pointed out with the myth of Persephone). The vice versa could readily be argued in a Bayesian fashion, actually.

    It’s not “better” in the sense you’re implying. Failing to explain the phenomena in question is a criticism.

    The myth of Persephone most certainly does “explain” the phenomena better than “a designer did it”. Picking some permutation of evolutionary scenarios, you could produce an “explanation”. ID’s primary concern, however, is plausibility. I suppose if what you need is a good story, it is rather awful.

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