Category Archives: Evolution

Discoveroids Admit that Some Junk DNA Is Junk

Now that Casey is gone from the Discovery Institute, there’s no one was left to carry on his lonely crusade against junk DNA. As you know, the Discovery Institute has been claiming that there’s no such thing as junk DNA. They insist that the genome is perfectly designed, without flaws, and every little scrap of it is designed to be functional. That’s because their transcendental designer — blessed be he! — wouldn’t do it any other way.

The Discoveroids went bonkers over the ENCODE project. Casey posted Our Top 10 Evolution-Related Stories: #1, ENCODE Project Buries “Junk DNA”. We wrote about it here: The Discoveroids’ Top Story for 2012. Since then there have been studies that continue to confirm the fact that most of our genome is junk (see Hey Casey! Our Genome Is 93% Junk), but the Discoveroids have never abandoned their fantasy that the genome is perfect, from beginning to end.

As research into our genome continues, some regions of non-coding DNA have been found to be useful, but not very many. Each time that happens, the Discoveroids claim they were right all along. Today is different, however. Although some new research has found another functional tidbit in our junk DNA, and the Discoveroids are crowing about it, they seem to be receding from their original claim that our genome is perfect.

Their post, which has no author’s byline, is Junk DNA: Is Preventing Breast Cancer a Function?. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Each time a function is found for a piece of non-coding DNA, the “junk DNA” myth gets more mythological.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Let’s read on:

Here’s a function that has been revealed for a certain long, non-coding transcript of DNA into RNA (lncRNA). It helps prevent breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

They’re talking about this, from the University of Bath: ‘Junk’ DNA plays role in preventing breast cancer, which says:

Now a team of scientists from Bath, Cambridge and the USA has identified a piece of non-coding RNA – transcribed from a stretch of DNA that doesn’t code for a protein – that stops cells turning cancerous.

That’s very nice, but: (a) statistically, it’s trivial compared to the Discoveroids’ claim that all DNA was designed to be useful; and (b) like all useful research, it wasn’t done by the Discoveroids.

We’ll skip over the technical details of this research, and the Discoveroids’ retelling thereof, to focus on their reaction to the news. They tell us:

As we have reported often, some members of the evolution side of the debate expect most of the DNA is junk. The design side expects that much of it (but not necessarily all) is functional. Thanks to this research, we have a new case that may point the way to future discoveries.

That “not necessarily all” phrase tucked into parentheses is what we found particularly interesting. The Discoveroids are retreating from their original claim that our DNA is perfect. Now they are willing to accept that much of what has been considered junk may indeed be junk. That’s a very big concession, and it leaves open the question of why the designer put any junk in our genome.

It also leaves us with the question of why there are other organisms — regarded as less complicated that we are — that have genomes far larger than ours. Consider the Polychaos dubium. The genome of that amoeba has 200 times more base pairs than ours. And then there’s the humble onion, which has a genome that is five times larger than ours. What does that say about the work of the designer?

Okay, back to the Discoveroids’ post for one last excerpt:

It has become increasingly clear that non-coding parts of the genome play vital roles in regulating the coding parts. … How cool is it to find a code that codes for products that regulate the amount of products in other parts of the code? Not only do we see function emerging for the non-coding regions, we see design on a more colossal scale than anyone could have imagined.

How cool is it? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! And how about their claim that “we see design on a more colossal scale than anyone could have imagined.” Hey — that’s cool!

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Creationist Wisdom #653: On Your Knees!

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in The Buffalo News of Buffalo, New York. It’s titled Embracing biblical values is only way to save America. The newspaper has a comments feature — with 76 comments so far.

Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name, but this time we’ve got a preacher. It’s The Rev. Daren Drzymala, founder of Straight Path Music Ministries. Excerpts from the rev’s letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

Now that the Iowa caucus is over and the rest of the primaries have begun, the question is: Do the Republicans or Democrats have the answer? As a conservative and fundamentalist preacher, I state: No.

No? Then what’s the answer? The rev tells us:

What America needs is a Bible revival for survival.

Thrilling, huh? Let’s read on:

America needs to return to biblical values: the sanctity of life for unborn children, a return to traditional marriage between a man and a woman, teaching young people “saved sex” till marriage, not “safe sex” and

Sorry to interrupt that sentence, but we couldn’t control ourselves. “Saved sex,” not “safe sex” That’s fantastic, and the rev is right! You gotta save it!

Okay, what else does America need? The rev’s sentence continues:

and the need to teach scientific creationism, not secular humanism, or atheism, or socialism.

He’s right again — creationism is the answer to socialism! It’s so obvious!

The rev’s letter is short and sweet. Here’s the rest of it:

America needs to fall down on its knees and turn to Jesus Christ. If we don’t do this, we will cease as a nation of “greatness.”

Okay, dear reader. You heard the rev. On your knees!

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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John West and the Methodists, Yet Again

Buffoon Award

The Discoveroids’ collective tantrum, which we last reported in Discovery Institute vs. Methodists, Continued, shows no sign of abating. Oh wait, we made one later post: A “Poll” on Discovery Institute vs. Methodists.

We’ve lost track of how many times the Discoveroids have written about the situation — at least 15, possibly 20 or more. Well, today they’ve done it again. Their creationist blog has a new article written by John West,whom we affectionately call “Westie.” He was an early winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award, thus the jolly logo above this post. Westie is vice President of the Discovery Institute, which makes him one of the chief Keepers of their wedge strategy.

Westie’s article is Official United Methodist News Service Implies Intelligent Design Is … Satanic? Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The United Methodist News Service (the official news service of the denomination) has published an article about the UMC’s ban on Discovery Institute from having an information table at its upcoming General Conference. I give a lot of credit to reporter Heather Hahn for being willing to talk with me to get Discovery Institute’s side of the story.

This is the article Westie’s talking about: Denial of GC2016 booth sparks protest. Westie quotes selectively from it, but he doesn’t mention a few things it says that we think are relevant, so we’ll present them here:

General Conference planners last month denied a group’s request to have a display at the 2016 legislative assembly, saying the group was not in line with the church’s social teachings.

[…]

The Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which promotes intelligent design, argues church leaders are ignoring the denomination’s motto of “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.” The group has set up a website urging people to email various United Methodists seeking a reversal. The Commission on General Conference has a vetting team to ensure exhibitors conform with the Social Principles, the denominational teachings contained in both the United Methodist Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions. The Discovery Institute did not quite meet this test, a commission leader says.

[…]

Intelligent design proposes that life is so complex that nature must have had an intelligent designer. After the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987 [an obvious reference to Edwards v. Aguillard] struck down creation science in public schools as unconstitutional, intelligent design gained popularity as an alternative to the study of conventional evolutionary biology. The Discovery Institute, a public policy think tank founded in 1991, explicitly seeks to champion intelligent design in academia.

However, according to its Social Principles, The United Methodist Church does not see conflict between faith in God and the study of biological evolution.

[…]

General Conference in 2008 [that was after the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District] approved a resolution “opposing the introduction of any faith-based theories such as Creationism or Intelligent Design into the science curriculum of our public schools.” The commission cited the resolution specifically in declining the Discovery Institute’s exhibit application.

In other words, the Methodists know exactly what the Discoveroids are up to, and they want no part of it. The Discoveroids’ natural constituency is comprised of (1) idiots who think their “theory” really is science; and (2) hard-core creationists who don’t care about that, but who recognize that the Discoveroids are fellow creationists. The Methodists don’t fit either description.

Okay, back to Westie’s post. He doesn’t quote that stuff — it’s too revealing. Instead he focuses on other things. He says:

But there are some rather strange passages in the article. Take the following sentence:

[Westie’s quote from the UMC article:] Because intelligent design starts with belief in a designer, who as Jesus said should not be put to the test, it doesn’t offer testable hypotheses the way evolutionary biology does.

Westie doesn’t mention that his quote was described in the UMC article as coming from Jory Weintraub an immunologist “at United Methodist-related Duke University,” even though that link to Weintraub’s page is in the UMC article. Anyway, he claims that it’s wrong:

First and foremost, intelligent design does not start with “belief in a designer.” It starts with the empirical data of nature, and from this data it infers the existence on an intelligent cause.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Let’s read on:

Second, intelligent design most certainly does offer testable hypotheses. Casey Luskin and William Dembski have both offered good discussions of this issue, as does Stephen Meyer in Appendix A of his book Signature in the Cell.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Westie continues:

Finally, there is the appeal to the authority of Jesus. The reference is to a passage in the New Testament where Jesus is tempted by Satan to prove himself the Son of God and Jesus responds: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (Luke 4:12). The implication seems to be that intelligent design is not only wrong, it’s a temptation straight from Satan! Wow.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! “Wow” indeed! Here’s more, and now Westie gets around to picking on Jory Weintraub, with whom he had some email exchanges:

Dr. Weintraub also wouldn’t disclose whether he himself is a United Methodist, or what his own religious affiliation might be. Of course, he has every right to weigh in with his opinion regardless of religious affiliation. But the article makes a point to highlight that Weintraub works for the “United Methodist-related Duke University,” as if that gave him special authority to speak for the UMC. Given the context, I thought readers might want to know what his own religious views are.

Gasp! Could it be that Dr. Weintraub isn’t a Christian? That would certainly discredit everything he says. Egad — he might even be Jewish! How dare he — of all people! — suggest that the Discoveroids are Satanic? Good point, Westie!

The Discoveroid article babbles on, but this is long enough. You get the picture. Westie has once again demonstrated that he is a worthy recipient of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Klinghoffer: Science Is Evil

Slasher

A truly twisted item was just posted at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog: Sexual Harassment in Academic Science Offers an Unexpected Lesson About Censorship on Evolution.

It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. The graphic above this post is in his honor. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis. He begins with a timely reminder:

Tomorrow at close of business we will close nominations for this year’s Censor of the Year (COTY) award — send your nomination today by clicking on the orange Email Us button at the top of this page. The award, to be announced in time for Darwin Day on February 12, is of course intended in a somewhat lighthearted spirit. But serious matters lie behind it.

Klinghoffer mentions that award at the end, but his post is primarily about other things. He says:

Young and vulnerable researchers with iconoclastic ideas about Darwinian evolution can face threats of career devastation if they open their mouths imprudently.

Klinghoffer is reminding us of the horrors revealed in Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Ben Stein’s shabby, anti-evolution and pro-creationism “documentary.” That Wikipedia link discusses a lot of the well-deserved criticism the film received, and its eventual sale by a bankruptcy court. For more information, see Expelled Exposed, a superb source of information maintained by our friends at the National Center for Science Education.

Klinghoffer doesn’t mention that wretched film, but the “evils” he’s talking about are dealt with there, so we had to refer to it to put his post in its proper context. We’re reminded of what Michael Corleone said: “Just when I think I’m out, they drag me back in again!” Anyway, let’s read on:

If you wonder why academia is so perilous for free thinkers on evolution, the answer is complicated. One part of the answer, though, gets short shrift. It has less to do with philosophy or ideology — obvious things — and more to do with power and privilege.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Like theocracies, academia is “perilous for free thinkers.” That’s because, in the Western world, “power and privilege” has passed from preachers to teachers.

Then Klinghoffer talks about some article he found that doesn’t mention the Darwin debate, but it talks about scientists harassing their students. He gives us what he says is a quote from Katie Hinde, an evolutionary biologist at Arizona State University, “whose research usually focuses on lactation biology, but she’s done some work on sexual harassment in the sciences.” She’s clearly unbiased. Klinghoffer says she wrote about “an entire academic culture organized around professional privilege and imbalances of power and multiple harassers and assaulters are navigating these landscapes targeting vulnerable trainees.”

Sounds horrible. Klinghoffer tells us:

Of course this set of circumstances is not unique to science — it may help to account for parallel problems in the clergy, for example.

That was surprisingly even-handed; however, it was only a brief lapse. Klinghoffer continues:

But there is something about entrenched rank, pecking orders, and privilege as you find them in academic life that leads to some very unhealthy results. One side of the coin is sexual, but only one. The “culture of quiet” extends to protecting ideas, the ideas that fueled the careers of the scientists at the top.

Aha — those professors are protecting their ideas and careers. Here’s more:

This is a reality we deal with constantly at the Center for Science & Culture — that enforcers wish to hurt dissenters, who, unless they’re very lucky and somehow protected, are well advised to self-censor at least until they’ve made it to the top themselves. To call the phenomenon sadistic would not, in certain cases, be too far off the mark.

Egad — it’s sadistic! Then he tells a chilling tale, but it’s one that can’t be verified:

Even having reached a seemingly untouchable level of acclaim, many remain quiet. Several years ago I happened to meet a very distinguished scholar in a field relevant to evolution — not biology but still relevant — a man well on in years and heaped up with professional praise. I’ll say no more by way of identifying him. It emerged from the conversation that he was a Darwin doubter and I asked him to give me a statement to that effect that we could publish here. He refused. Even he, a man nobody was going to hurt, was afraid to be candid. It’s that entrenched.

What a ghastly situation! In his final paragraph, Klinghoffer returns to the topic of the Discoveroids’ censorship award:

An irony of our Censor of the Year award is that some egregious censors cannot be publicly identified — precisely because we protect the innocent and their identities. It occurs to me that as a nominee, perhaps, the culture of academic science itself would not to be inappropriate. Just a thought.

So there you are, dear reader. We mentioned before that your Curmudgeon’s nomination is reality. That’s because reality — when properly studied without interference from religious fanatics — always censors nonsensical beliefs. But Klinghoffer says that “science itself” is the problem. That’s why they struggle so heroically to destroy it.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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