Commentary on the so-called Creation/Evolution/Intelligent Design Debate and Right-Wing nuttery in general - and please ignore the typos (I make lots!)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

David Pogge, creationist engineer, at it again

And this time, it is personal.

Creationist engineer David Pogge wrote an essay in 2003 titled "More Monkey Business."
In it, Pogge displays the traits I have come to expect from him - and none are very endearing.

I say the essay is personal because Pogge's target is a person I have met and admire, Morris Goodman.

Pogge's sleaze machine cranks up as follows:

Shortly after we published our January, 2003, 98% Chimp essay,there were more claims that there is practically no difference between humans and chimpanzees. Since we had just dealt with the issue, we let the following article pass without comment.

I dealt with Pogge's "98% Chimp" article here.

Humanity’s pedestal lowered again?
People and chimpanzees share an even closer genetic kinship than is usually assumed, according to a new study. So close is the connection that living chimp species belong to the genus Homo, just as people do, contend Morris Goodman of Wayne State University in Detroit and his colleagues. … People and chimps exhibited the closest genetic relationship, sharing 99.4 percent of the sequences at functional mutation sites. 1

In our 98% Chimp essay we quoted the actual numbers in a January, 2002, report in the peer-reviewed journal, Science....

No, you distorted and misrepresented the numbers, as so many internet creationists are wont to do.

Morris Goodman has found a 99.4% correlation at “functional mutation sites.” But what about all the “non-functional” mutation sites.

What about them?
As I demonstrated in my demolition of Pogge's "98% Chimp" propaganda, it appears that Pogge has an aversion to doing simple literature searches.

For example, Pogge does not bother to link to - and probably did not bother to read - the original article, which is available for free.

Implications of natural selection in shaping 99.4% nonsynonymous DNA identity between humans and chimpanzees: Enlarging genus Homo
Derek E. Wildman,† Monica Uddin,†‡ Guozhen Liu,† Lawrence I. Grossman,† and Morris Goodman†‡§

Furthermore, Goodman and his collaborators have in fact been looking at 'nonfunctional mutations' in many loci for many years. We should not expect someone like Pogge to know this of course - internet creationists with engineering backgrounds seem to rely preferentially on news releases and keyword searches rather than primary source material.
However, had Pogge done what any rational scientist might have done, he could have found plenty of Goodman's papers in which noncoding DNA sequence data are analyzed, a small sampling of which I offer here:

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 1999 Nov;13(2):348-59.
Molecular phylogeny of Old World monkeys (Cercopithecidae) as inferred from gamma-globin DNA sequences.Page SL, Chiu Ch, Goodman M.

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2001 Jan;18(1):14-25.
Catarrhine phylogeny: noncoding DNA evidence for a diphyletic origin of the mangabeys and for a human-chimpanzee clade.Page SL, Goodman M.

Genome. 1989;31(1):316-35.
Molecular phylogeny of the family of apes and humans.Goodman M, Koop BF, Czelusniak J, Fitch DH, Tagle DA, Slightom JL.

J Mol Evol. 1990 Mar;30(3):260-6.
Primate evolution at the DNA level and a classification of hominoids.Goodman M, Tagle DA, Fitch DH, Bailey W, Czelusniak J, Koop BF, Benson P, Slightom JL.

There are many, many more.

Which, not coincidentally, all produce similar results.

He only compared sites that he thinks are important. Unfortunately, his study is being repeated again in the popular press.

Actually. Mr.Pogge, his team chose only those that were deemed functional, for which the sequences were available for both human and chimpanzee, and those considered not to be paralogs:

Sequences are primarily from GenBank. The genes representing chimpanzees are, in most cases, from the species Homo (Pan) troglodytes, but in a few cases are from Homo (Pan) paniscus. If a gene appeared from its sequence to be nonfunctional, i.e., a pseudogene, it was discarded. In choosing the nonhuman genes to compare with a human gene and to one another, we also discarded any suspected of being paralogously related to the human gene, i.e., in this case, suspected of being related by a last common gene ancestor that duplicated long before the most recent common species ancestor. Our aim was to compare functional coding sequences that are orthologously related; i.e., each interspecies pair traces back to a single last common gene ancestor that existed in the most recent common species ancestor. However, without transcriptional data on many of the loci it is possible that some pseudogenes and/or paralogs were inadvertently compared.

These are simple facts that could have been learned by Mr.Pogge by simply reading the paper in question. Instead, as is so often the case, Pogge decided to jump to erroneous conclusions and engage in thinly veiled insults.

Chimp Relatives
The most sophisticated analysis of DNA ever undertaken has concluded that humans and chimpanzees are more closely related than previously believed. Researchers at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit found a 99.4 percent genetic match. On the basis of this finding, they say, chimps should reside on the same branch of the evolutionary tree as humans. 2

Should you believe a study done by someone who claims to be 99.4% chimpanzee?

Why should you not, Mr.Pogge? Do you believe there was something wrong with the methodology of the study? Or do you just dislike, due to religious reasons, the conclusions?
Is the best you can do is insult a member of the National Academy of Sciences? Denigrate a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences? Who are YOU again?

A better question might be:

Why should anyone put stock in the sour grapes ranting of a creationist engineer with no relevant background and who has repeatedly demonstrated incompetence in interpreting scientific studies outside of his limited sphere of knowledge, and whom, afterall, believes humans came from dirt?

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