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Trees in conflict: Fabled Darwinian tree of life like a “contentious wiki page”?

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File:Tree of life by Haeckel.jpg
Haeckel’s tree kind of looked like one.
File:Tree of life SVG.svg
current model interesting, not a tree/Ivica Letunic

Trees in conflict: Fabled Darwinian tree of life like a contentious wiki page?

So we learn from Wired Science:

The current version of the tree of life is more like a contentious wiki page than a published book, with certain branches subject to frequent debate. Indeed, just as the spinal column and limbs created contrasting maps of primate evolution, scientists now know that different genes in the same organism can tell different stories.

While evolutionary biologists have been grappling with these issues for years, the new study is the largest-scale effort to date to explore the level of conflict among individual genes. “People will have two reactions: There is a lot more conflict than I thought, and we need to do a better job of analyzing it,” said Donoghue, who is interested in applying the new method in his own work. However, he also points out that it’s difficult to confirm the accuracy of the new approach. Even though the revised tree matched one built using alternative genetic information, the latter may harbor its own inaccuracies. “I am not so sure we know what the true relationships are,” he said. “If we aren’t sure what the truth is, we can’t tell if we have the right tree.”

Guess not. From the big yeast study:

The result, published in Nature in May, was unexpected. Every gene they studied appeared to tell a slightly different story of evolution.

“Just about all the trees from individual genes were in conflict with the tree based on a concatenated data set,” says Hilu. “It’s a bit shocking.”

The only certainty, it now seems, is orthodoxy: The evolutionary biologists are right, whatever they say, even when they are in conflict.

5 Replies to “Trees in conflict: Fabled Darwinian tree of life like a “contentious wiki page”?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Related posts:

    That Yeast Study is a Good Example of How Evolutionary Theory Works – Cornelius Hunter – June 2013
    Excerpt:,,, The evolutionists tried to fix the problem with all kinds of strategies. They removed parts of genes from the analysis, they removed a few genes that might have been outliers, they removed a few of the yeast species, they restricted the analysis to certain genes that agreed on parts of the evolutionary tree, they restricted the analysis to only those genes thought to be slowly evolving, and they tried restricting the gene comparisons to only certain parts of the gene.
    These various strategies each have their own rationale. That rationale may be dubious, but at least there is some underlying reasoning. Yet none of these strategies worked. In fact they sometimes exacerbated the incongruence problem. What the evolutionists finally had to do, simply put, was to select the subset of the genes or of the problem that gave the right evolutionary answer. They described those genes as having “strong phylogenetic signal.”
    And how do we know that these genes have strong phylogenetic signal. Because they give the right answer.
    This is an example of a classic tendency in science known as confirmation bias.,,,
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....f-how.html

    Darwin’s Tree of Life is a Tangled Bramble Bush – May 15, 2013
    Excerpt: ,,, One whole subsection in the paper is titled, “All gene trees differ from species phylogeny.” Another is titled, “Standard practices do not reduce incongruence.” A third, “Standard practices can mislead.” One of their major findings was “extensive conflict in certain internodes.”
    The authors not only advised throwing out some standard practices of tree-building, but (amazingly) proposed evolutionists throw out the “uninformative” conflicting data and only use data that seems to support the Darwinian tree: “the subset of genes with strong phylogenetic signal is more informative than the full set of genes, suggesting that phylogenomic analyses using conditional combination approaches, rather than approaches based on total evidence, may be more powerful.”,,,
    ,,,tossing out “uninformative” data sets and only using data that appear to support their foreordained conclusion. Were you told this in biology class? Did your textbook mention this?
    http://crev.info/2013/05/darwi.....mble-bush/

  2. 2
    Johnnyfarmer says:

    It must be frustrating for those artists who illustrate by conceptual drawings how one specie evolved into another. Can’t you just hear them screaming as they are pulling out their hair “why can’t these scientists just make up their minds”

    While it is good to never say never, searching into eternity for a tree that may have never existed is just plain foolishness.

    At one time an unfalsifiable hypothesis was considered proof enough to explain away evidence contradicting a paradigm …. now just sweeping it under the rug is acceptable scientific method. Who would have ever thunk?

  3. 3
    News says:

    Johnnyfarmer, yes, the problem for some of us is not that scientists don’t know. No shame in not knowing. At one time there were many competing theories of gravity. The problem comes when the uncertainty is marketed as some kind of unassailable proof that evolution is true when – absent clear information about what happened – that’s inconsequential.

  4. 4
    sagebrush gardener says:

    The result … was unexpected.

    That seems to happen a lot with these guys.

  5. 5
    tjguy says:

    “Just about all the trees from individual genes were in conflict with the tree based on a concatenated data set,” says Hilu. “It’s a bit shocking.”

    Hmm. And they claim that only creationists have faith!

    Darwinism is a nice theory until you get down to the nitty gritty and see if it actually works.

    scientists now know that different genes in the same organism can tell different stories.

    And now we see the huge role that interpretation must play in evolutionary theory!

    Evolution is quite different than real every-day dependable experimental science!

    Donohughue

    “I am not so sure we know what the true relationships are,” he said. If we aren’t sure what the truth is, we can’t tell if we have the right tree.”

    And this is the problem! If they knew the right relationships to start with, they could come up with a more believable and dependable explanation, but they don’t know! So this has huge implications for the dependability of any of the various explanations they decide on!

    This is the justification for biblical creationists starting with God’s Word as their starting point. An evolutionist has no firm dependable starting point. The Creator gives us some invaluable clues in the Bible that we need to know in order to come up with an accurate interpretation of the evidence we do have.

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