One would think make-believe is for kids, and science is for adults. Some recent evolution stories, however, seem to portray a seamless continuum between imagination and testable scientific hypotheses. You be the judge:Darwin in cyberspace: If it happens in a computer simulation, is it really evolution? National Geographic reported on a new computer game that allows players to evolve any kind of creatures they want and pit them against each other in survival-of-the-fittest competition. The description makes no distinction between what happens in the game and what supposedly happens in the wild. The words evolution and natural selection appear in the article in both contexts. One of the proponents called this “natural selection at its best.” But if the selection takes place in software designed by programmers, is it really natural?Reverse-engineering contingency: Science magazine reported this week that engineers “evolved” a salamander-like robot that could swim to land and crawl ashore.1,2 This is a fine piece of clever engineering, but is it evolution? Again, the article made no distinction between the natural and the artificial. It implied that the robot is retracing steps taken by organisms in the unseen past. Notice what Frank Fish (West Chester U, PA) said about the experiment: “This is clearly an excellent fusion of biology and robotics to test neurological and evolutionary hypotheses. This paper will be a high-profile example of how robots can be used as surrogates for living and fossil systems.” He did not explain in what respects this man-made, designed robot, lacking DNA and the ability to reproduce itself, compares or contrasts with a biological organism in any significant way. The reverse comparison, that an intelligently designed robot might suggest the first tetrapod was similarly designed, was definitely not what the article intended to convey. This is clear from a write-up in Live Science, where Jeanna Brynner took the Darwinist line to the hilt: “Studies of the robot show that our fishy ancestors likely used their primitive brains to make the evolutionary leap from water worlds to terra firma.” Surprisingly, this sentence makes it sound like fish brains intelligently designed their own upward evolution, with purpose and a goal (teleology). Another example of the equivocation between natural selection and intelligent self-design can be found in Science Digest: “This four-legged yellow creature reveals a great deal about the evolution of vertebrate locomotion,” it claims. “It’s also a vivid demonstration that robots can be used to test and verify biological concepts, and that very often nature herself offers ideal solutions for robotics design.” Is this describing nature as a personified engineer? Teleology and intelligent guidance were the very principles Darwin was trying to avoid.Make believe: Playing “what if?” games might provide a brainstorming activity a scientist could employ while developing a hypothesis that could be tested by experiment. “What if” on the other hand, the make-believe exercise becomes an end in itself? This is apparently what a BBC News exercise for students encourages. The following “what-if?” exercise is not advertised in the fiction department; it is found in the “Science and Nature” department. To some evolutionists, apparently, the dream is the thing:It’s a palaeontologist’s dream: the chance to live in a world where dinosaurs are not something to be dug out of the ground but are living among us. It may sound far-fetched but dinosaurs were actually rather unlucky. The meteorite impact that doomed them to extinction was an event with a probability of millions to one. What if the meteorite had missed? Had dinosaurs survived, the world today would be very different. If humans managed to survive alongside them, we wouldn’t have the company of most, if not all, of the mammals with which we are familiar today. Giraffes, elephants and other mammals wouldn’t have had space to evolve. Would we be hunting Hadrosaurs instead of elk? Or farming Protoceratops instead of pigs? Would dinosaurs be kept as pets? And could the brighter dinosaurs have evolved into something humanoid? Clearly anything is possible if imagination is substituted for testable hypotheses. The writers of this exercise did not mention that the impact hypothesis for the extinction of the dinosaurs is itself controversial (e.g., 10/24/2006). If the impact turns out to be imaginary, then the exercise becomes imagination balanced on imagination. If the Darwinian theory of common ancestry by natural selection is also overturned someday (as advocates of intelligent design feel is inevitable), it becomes imagination balanced on imagination balanced on imagination. Without a foundation of testable theories anchored to observational evidence, exercises in the imagination are indistinguishable from turtles all the way down (see joke).1Ijspeert, Crespi, Ryczko and Cabelguen, “From Swimming to Walking with a Salamander Robot Driven by a Spinal Cord Model,” Science, 9 March 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5817, pp. 1416-1420, DOI: 10.1126/science.1138353.2Elisabeth Pennisi, “Robot Suggests How the First Land Animals Got Walking,” Science, 9 March 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5817, pp. 1352-1353, DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5817.1352aIntelligent reader, nobody needs to tell you how stupid these Darwin sideshows are. It would be insulting to hold rotten baloney in front of your nose and ask you if it smelt bad. Yet this kind of folly is presented monolithically in today’s science journals, museums, popular science media, and public schools (notice that #1 was promoted by the prestigious, historic National Geographic Society, #2 was published in the leading American journal Science, and #3 was devised for UK public education). It doesn’t matter that it is untestable, illogical, equivocating, vague, personified, analogical, reductive, subjective, self-contradictory, self-refuting, and completely out of touch with reality. Darwin’s little myth has become so sacred that no one dare question it – or even laugh. In fact, if you do question it, you are likely to be called a fascist or Nazi (see AIG) and threatened with a lawsuit (01/06/2007; see also the two meanings of “make believe” in the 10/11/2006 commentary). If you are sick and tired of the Darwin Freak Show and can’t take it any more, then join the noble Visigoths in their futuristic space fighters (see this Japanese cartoon) and help depose Charlie from his antiquated Castle of the Imagination (see 01/17/2007 and 12/22/2003 commentaries). Kick the rascals out and let science once again be a rational search for verifiable understanding about the natural world – the real world.(Visited 6 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
A biochemist examines imaginative claims about natural selection creating a new gene.Did a New Gene Arise by Darwinian Selection?by Dr Ross Anderson*Dr. Anderson critiques a paper by Zhuang et al., “Molecular mechanism and history of non-sense to sense evolution of antifreeze glycoprotein gene in northern gadids” (PNAS, 13 Feb 2019), which claims a new antifreeze gene in Arctic cod arose by ‘fortuitous’ chance events and natural selection.“This paper is a concrete dissection of the process of a de novo gene birth that has conferred a vital adaptive function directly linked to natural selection.”Summary: The authors report here the putative assembly (evolution) of a gene encoding an antifreeze glycoprotein (AFGP) in cod fish. Comparing DNA sequences of AFGP-producing gadids with sequences from non-AGFP-producing gadids the authors believe they have identified a sequence in the non-AFGP gadids that doesn’t appear to code for a protein, but with a little imagination can be made into a gene which encodes an AFGP.Starting with Something, Not NothingSo, let’s see, here we have a fully formed, functional AFGP gene. As such it has all the components necessary for expression and regulation. We want to try and understand just how this gene could have arisen from a non-coding sequence; i.e., how it arose de novo. The authors recognize that most genes supposedly have arisen from pre-existing genes, but that new genes from non-coding sequences is rare, but theoretically possible. Reported here is a possible example of such a de novo gene.Examination of extant AFGPs reveals that they are typically composed of a short sequence of amino acids repeated many times; e.g., the tripeptide, Thr-Ala-Ala (threonine, alanine, alanine), repeated n times. Some of the Thr residues have been glycosylated; i.e., they have sugars added to a side-chain.The paper is an interesting read in that it reveals the very creative imagination of some scientists.Proteins are coded by triplet codons of DNA “letters” A, C, T, and G. (Illustra Media)Let’s use our creative imagination and see if we can construct a gene that encodes such a protein. First, we find some DNA sequences in gadids that are somewhat similar, but do not encode a protein; they are non-coding sequences. Compare these sequences with the target AFGP gene sequence and see what is needed to make these non-coding sequences match the target AFGP sequence. We notice that what we need is for the coding region to encode a polyprotein composed of the repeated amino acid sequence Thr-Ala-Ala. We find the DNA sequence GCA, which is an Ala codon, repeated 9 times to generate a 27-nucleotide (nt) sequence. In the target AFGP gene the Thr-Ala-Ala repeat is found bounded by two 27-nt (nucleotide) repeats. So, let’s propose that the sequence of 27 nucleotides (GCA repeated 9 times) in the “ancestral” sequence underwent a chance duplication event to generate two 27-nt repeats. Then propose a second chance duplication event to generate four such repeats.Blindly Aiming for the TargetExamination of the target AFGP amino acid sequence shows we need a Thr codon in the midst of the 27-nt repeats. Suppose we substitute an ‘A’ for the ‘G’ in one of the GCA sequences. The new 9-nt sequence would then read ACAGCAGCA which, when translated, would generate the required Thr-Ala-Ala sequence. Now that we have the appropriate coding sequence, we need to have it repeated as the target amino acid sequence, Thr-Ala-Ala, is repeated many times. So, let’s propose that this new 9-nt sequence is also duplicated many times.We also notice that in the functional AFGP gene there are scattered arginine and glutamine codons. Presumably when translated these will provide signals for a protease to hydrolyze the polypeptide into many shorter peptides which are the antifreeze proteins. To generate these two amino acid codons in a sea of GCA codons would require at a minimum two strategically placed substitutions in a GCA codon to generate either an arginine codon or a glutamine codon. The authors provide no explanation for how these substitutions nicely provide codons for only these two amino acids when codons for many other amino acids could be generated more easily with just one substitution. The magic is all done by chance and natural selection in six fortuitous steps. Here is the summary diagram of their model from the paper:Fig. 4Evolutionary mechanism of the gadid AFGP gene from noncoding DNA. The color codes of the sequence components follow Fig. 1. (A) The ancestral noncoding DNA contained latent signal peptide-coding exons with a 5′ Kozak motif, adjacent to a duplication-prone 27-nt GCA-rich sequence. (B) The 27-nt GCA(Ala)-rich sequence duplicated forming four tandem copies. (C) A 9-nt in the midst of the four 27-nt duplicates became the three codons for one AFGP Thr-Ala-Ala unit and underwent microsatellitelike duplication forming a proto-ORF. A proximal upstream regulatory region acquired through a putative translocation event. (E) A 1-nt frameshift led to a contiguous SP, a propeptide, and a Thr-Ala-Ala-like cds in a read-through ORF [open reading frame]. (F) Intragenic (Thr-Ala-Ala)n cds amplification, fulfilling the antifreeze function under natural selection.Signalling the BlindNow we have essentially constructed the coding region, but we’re not finished yet. All AFGPs are secreted proteins and as such require that a signal peptide sequence be attached to the coding region. The DNA sequence which encodes this signal has to be added to our coding sequence. It just so happens that the “ancestral” sequence has such a sequence in just the correct place with respect to the coding region. Only one problem, there is a single nucleotide which does not allow the signal sequence to be in the proper reading frame to the coding region. Let’s propose that this one nucleotide was deleted causing a reading frame-shift which then directly linked the signal sequence with the coding sequence. Interestingly, the authors indicate that DNA region encoding the signal sequence somehow develops an intron-exon structure, but no explanation is given.Promoting Chance to Commander of the FortuitousWe’re still not finished. We need a promoter region added to our new gene. Without a proper promoter, a gene will not be transcribed into an mRNA, and thus no protein product. The authors propose that “fortuitously”, a translocation event took place and the promoter from another gene was added in the exact location where needed. This proposed translocation also provided a 5′-untranslated region (UTR) in perfect alignment with the signal sequence as to save the reading frame generated earlier.All functional AFGP genes also have a 3′-UTR. One species of gadid lacks a 3′-UTR and is a putative pseudogene, suggesting that sequences in the 3′-UTR are necessary for expression. In the paper the authors add a 3′-UTR, but do not explain where it came from as it is not found in the putative ancestral sequence.Imaginative Storytelling Masquerading as ScienceThe paper is an interesting read in that it reveals the very creative imagination of some scientists. It is likened to examining a functioning car noting was is needed and going to a junkyard and auto parts store looking for all the pieces that could be cobbled together to make another functional car.Now, sequence comparisons can provide valuable information, however, when trying to construct an evolutionary story of how a gene might have arisen de novo, one must bear in mind that all is hypothetical as there is no real way to experimentally test the conclusions of such hypothesizing. In short, it amounts to just storytelling.The authors may have been able to come up with a more realistic explanation for the loss of function rather than try to explain a gain in function, but that would not have been as interesting or as much fun, and it certainly would not have been published.Note: for those interested in this subject, Dr. Cornelius Hunter, another biochemist, has critiqued the PNAS paper at Evolution News & Science Today. A related, but different claim about gene evolution from 2011 was analyzed by Shaun Doyle in the Journal of Creation (CMI).*About the authorDr. Anderson’s expertise is in the area of biochemistry and molecular biology. He has taught Biochemistry and helped to direct research projects of graduate and medical students at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX. Dr. Anderson was a post-doctoral researcher in the Molecular Genetics Division of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Houston Neurosensory Center.Dr. Anderson was a member of both the undergraduate and graduate faculty at Lamar University, Beaumont, TX. There he taught and directed the research activities of undergraduates and Masters of Science degree candidates in Biology. Currently he is professor of biochemistry at The Master’s University in southern California.Dr. Anderson’s research interests include structure-function studies of DNA polymerizing enzymes and the synthesis and expression of synthetic human genes in bacterial hosts. He has authored or co-authored several publications in major, peer-reviewed journals. He is a member of the American Chemical Society and Sigma Xi Research Society.It’s an honor to have Dr Ross Anderson contribute this article to Creation-Evolution Headlines. Now, we end with a pictorial summary of Darwinian evolution by J. Beverly Greene. 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A baba, or faith healer, arrested in Guwahati on Thursday for allegedly raping and impregnating a 15-year-old last year has turned out to be the equivalent of an MLA in an autonomous council.The police on Friday produced Ghanashyam Das, referred to as babaji by his followers, before a local court, which ordered his judicial custody for 14 days. The man had been on the run after the minor girl, who he was to cure, delivered a girl on April 8 at a private hospital. The hospital reported the case to 181 Women Helpline.“We found out that he is an MCLA (Member Council Legislative Assembly) after arresting him on Thursday from the Noonmati area,” Pallav Tamuli, Assistant Commissioner of Police, told The Hindu.Das, in his mid-fifties, is one of 40 MCLAs in the Bodoland Territorial Council that administers four districts of north-central and western Assam. He represents the Dihira constituency in Baksa district for the Ana-Bodo Suraksha Samity, a front of non-Bodo (tribal) communities.“We have sought DNA profiling of the accused,” Mr. Tamuli said.Police said the victim, from Assam’s Sonitpur, was working as a domestic help at the house of a bank officer. She told counsellors that her employer had taken her to the babaji as she was unwell, where she was raped.Miguel Das Queah, a government-appointed support person for cases related to Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, said the victim’s employers admitted her to a private hospital in an advanced stage of pregnancy on April 7. The hospital discharged her on April 17. The girl and the baby have since then been staying at a State Home for Women.
Norwich defender Byram: Our team spirit is sky highby Freddie Taylora month agoSend to a friendShare the loveNorwich City defender Sam Byram is praising the chemistry and unity of the squad as they navigate the Premier League.The newly promoted side got a famous win against Manchester City at the weekend, despite several first team members being out with injury.Byram believes that aside from quality coaching and preparation, the camaraderie in the squad makes it easier for them to push to achieve their goals.”The character and spirit is definitely one of the best I’ve experienced,” he said to the club’s official website. “You can see from everyone, the players on the bench and the players that even weren’t on the bench, everyone wants the team to do well.”That’s the main thing for the unity. Not one player is bigger than the team and you can see that today with the work rate, everyone has got each other’s back.”We had a bit of luck throughout the game but we defended unbelievably well and also had spells in the game where we played some really good football.”We always have belief that we could win. It’s Manchester City and they are an unbelievable team but we’ve got a squad here which is very close-knit.”If someone drops out, someone else can fill in. You know exactly what your job is and I think we showed today the spirit we’ve got and how good we can be.” About the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Women made up just 18 per cent of all the directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and cinematographers who worked on the top 250 American films released last year, according to a new study.The 20th annual “Celluloid Ceiling” study on the behind-the-camera employment of women was released Monday by San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. The results show virtually no change in the last 20 years for women in Hollywood. In 1998, the same calculation of behind-the-scenes jobs for women was 17 per cent.The study found that in last year’s top 250 films, 25 per cent of producers were women, 11 per cent of directors were women and just 4 per cent of cinematographers were women.“The film industry has utterly failed to address the continuing underemployment of women behind the scenes,” said Martha M. Lauzen, the study’s author. “This negligence has produced a toxic culture that supported the recent sexual harassment scandals and truncates so many women’s careers.”Last week, a study published by the University of Southern California Annenberg found that among the top 100 films at the box office, the percentage of female directors rose from 4.2 per cent in 2016 to 7.3 per cent in 2017. But that number was still less than the 8 per cent in 2008.As they have in the past, the studies give statistical evidence to the widespread alarm about gender equality in Hollywood. More than 300 women in entertainment recently formed the initiative Time’s Up to push for equal female representation among executives and to help sexual harassment victims defend themselves.
Pier 1 Imports says its closing six of its stores in Canada.The company announced in April that it would close up to 25 North American stores during its 2019 financial year.The closures will allow the company to dedicate more resources to driving sales growth.Pier 1 Imports says six of the initial closures are in Canada, where the company has more than 65 locations, and will be effective August 4.It did not respond to questions about where the stores are located or how many employees will lose their jobs.Pier 1 Imports says employees who stay with the company through the closures will receive a retention bonus or severance based on years of service.
CARACAS, Venezuela — U.S. tire company Goodyear has announced it will no longer continue production in Venezuela as economic conditions in the South American nation continue to deteriorate.Spokesman Eduardo Arguelles confirmed to The Associated Press Monday that Goodyear-Venezuela has decided to stop producing tires.Arguelles said the company’s goal had been to maintop operations but that “economic conditions and U.S. sanctions have made this impossible.”Goodyear is the latest international corporation to cease operations in Venezuela, which is suffering hyperinflation and an economic contraction worse than the U.S. Great Depression.The Associated Press
Williams says he’ll wait to see “physical progress on the ground” before he commits to them.The Federal Court of Appeal last week reversed a cabinet decision to allow Trans Mountain construction to go ahead.A U.S. federal judge earlier ordered the U.S. State Department to conduct a more thorough review of the Keystone XL oil pipeline’s proposed pathway after Nebraska state regulators changed the route.Williams says that as a Canadian he found the delays “troubling” but not relevant to the company in the next three to five years.Suncor is officially opening its Fort Hills oilsands mine on Monday as it works to add 10 percent to its production output this year and again in 2019.It has been ramping up production and beat its guidance by delivering Suncor’s share at 71,000 barrels per day, at lower than forecast cash operating costs. Suncor owns a 43.11 percent interest in the open-pit and shovel mine, Total has 24.58 percent and Teck 21.31 percent. NEW YORK, N.Y. – The head of Suncor Energy Inc. says Canada’s largest oil and gas producer won’t move ahead with additional crude production expansions until there’s physical progress on getting pipelines approved.Chief executive Steve Williams told a Barclays investor conference in New York that recent judicial rulings affecting Keystone XL and Trans Mountain pipeline don’t have any short-term impacts on Suncor’s ability to get its product to market.But he says further production expansions won’t be approved next year and into 2020 until there is more clarity on the fate of pipelines.
Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has welcomed his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi’s greetings on the eve of its National Day, saying time has come to begin a “comprehensive dialogue” between the two countries to address and resolve all issues, including the “central issue” of Kashmir. According to official sources in New Delhi, Prime Minister Modi sent a letter to Khan, greeting people of Pakistan on the eve of its National Day and highlighting the importance of a terror-free South Asia. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details Modi, in his message, said it was time for the people of the sub-continent to work together for a democratic, peaceful, progressive and prosperous region, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence, they said. Khan, in a tweet, welcomed Modi’s message and said the time has come to begin a comprehensive dialogue between the two countries to address and resolve all issues, including Kashmir. “I welcome PM Modi’s message to our people. As we celebrate Pakistan Day I believe it is time to begin a comprehensive dialogue with India to address & resolve all issues, esp the central issue of Kashmir, & forge a new relationship based on peace & prosperity for all our people,” Khan tweeted on Friday. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday India has made it clear to Pakistan that cross-border terror attacks and talks cannot go hand in hand. India last year called off a planned meeting of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the annual session of the UN General Assembly in New York after blaming Pakistan-based entities for killing of three special police officers in Kashmir. Earlier, Khan also tweeted Modi’s message. “Received msg from PM Modi: ‘I extend my greetings & best wishes to the people of Pakistan on the National Day of Pakistan. It is time that ppl of Sub-continent work together for a democratic, peaceful, progressive & prosperous region, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence’,” Khan said. Modi’s message to Khan came in the midst of severe strain in ties between the two nuclear-armed neighbours following the Pulwama attack and the subsequent air strikes by India on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Pakistan’s Balakot. Significantly, India Friday boycotted a reception at the Pakistan High Commission here to mark Pakistan’s National Day, objecting to invites extended to several separatist leaders from Jammu and Kashmir for the event. The official sources in New Delhi said the prime minister sends a customary message on National Days to other heads of state and government and added that his message to Khan highlighted the importance of a terror-free South Asia. Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based terror group JeM killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district in February 14. India launched a counter-terror operation in Balakot. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured its pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1. Every year on March 23, Pakistan celebrates its National Day commemorating the Lahore Resolution passed on March 23, 1940 and the adoption of the first constitution of Pakistan on March 23, 1956.
New Delhi: With relatively less number of voters turning out for voting during the second phase of Lok Sabha polling, it seems electorates have given a thumbs-down to campaigning strategies of political parties.According to political experts, the low turnout indicated that voting pattern was conventional and there was no ‘extra’ enthusiasm among voters. “The low turnout reflects that cadre and regular voters have come out of the home to vote for candidates of their choice. It also shows that there was no such passion among voters that they have to vote to ensure the victory of candidates of their choice, which was there in 2014,” said political commentator Arvind Mohan. “The voting trend also suggests that the general election is all about local issues instead of national issues, which is against the voting pattern of previous Lok Sabha elections,” Mohan said, adding that there might be a possibility that ruling parties have not been able to disseminate their achievements at the remote level. “It seems are voters are making their choices on the basis of caste and local issues and not on national issues. It’s is so that some of the regional parties have slowed down their campaigning strategies,” the political commentator said, adding that the situation is worst in Bihar as the caste has taken a centrestage in the campaigning trail. The elections were held on 95 Lok Sabha seats across 11 states on Thursday. The original schedule was for 97 seats, but the election commission has cancelled polling in Vellore (Tamil Nadu) and Tripura East constituencies. The voter turnout of the second phase of polling for Lok Sabha elections 2019 stood at 61.12 per cent. The Voter turnout was highest in Assam with the state registering 73.32 per cent polling, while in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the highest polling percentage for the second phase was recorded at 82.5 per cent in Nagaland. The poll percentage in Bihar was 58.14 per cent, 68.70 per cent in Chhattisgarh, 43.37 per cent in Jammu and Kashmir, 61.80 per cent in Karnataka, 55.37 per cent in Maharashtra, 74.69 per cent in Manipur, 57.41 per cent in Odisha, 72.40 per cent in Puducherry, 61.52 per cent in Tamil Nadu, 58.12 per cent in Uttar Pradesh, and 75.27 per cent in West Bengal.