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

Thursday, July 27, 2006

My nomination for stupidest statement by a non-biologist about biology

"...An observed correspondence or correlation between some DNA codes and some amino acids, is not and will never be a causal relationship. "


Emphasis mine.

I hate to spoil it for the reader, but the writer of that uninformed nonsense is - are you ready? - anti-Darwinist computer-model maker Warren Bergerson...

10 comments:

Doppelganger said...

I spoke too soon - later in that thread, Bergerson writes:

"All you pointed out was the the analysis presented was not consistent with your unsupported, unscientific ideology. "

Wow...

Andrey Fedorov said...

He also defended his comment, saying:

The amino acid sequence may be predicted or scientifically determined by a DNA sequence but this is an example of teleological determinism, not an example of the simple causal or functional determinism recognized by biology. DNA codes may contain stored information that is used in assembly of proteins and that stored information may predict or determine the amino acid sequence in the protein, but that is not the same as saying the DNA code causes the protein.

When biologists talk about DNA 'determining' or causing proteins and the complex structures and functions built from proteins, they are engaging in two types of intentional misrepresentation. First, they are suggesting or implying causal relationships far beyond anything supported by the evidence. The fact that a set of DNA is one component in one feature of protein assembly is very, very, different than suggesting that DNA is causing complex phenotypes and complex behaviors. Second, in claiming that DNA sequences determine protein sequences, they are implicitly using teleolgical intelligence based theories without admitting or recognizing what is being done.

RBH Third said...

Warren is a retired actuary, not an engineer or computer scientist. On ISCID's Brainstorms he once complained that he didn't have access to PubMed and thus couldn't cite scientific papers. PubMed, of course, is freely available on the Web.

jeebus20 said...

There is a lot more information and processing required for successful assembly than could possibly be stored in the DNA.

Simply a misunderstanding of Evolutionary theory.

Only those genes (ie. DNA) that lead to the formation of amino acid chains which then fold into functional proteins, will get passed onto future generations.

Presumably, protein assembly is due to the quantum interactions amongst chemical groups of each respective amino acid. These are already present in the chemistry, before evolution even began.

Thus, DNA was given information rich tools with which to work (ie. pre-biotic macromolecules with reactive functional groups). This made it possible for all the information necessary for protein assembly to exist in the linear form of the amino acids, which were caused by the RNA which were caused by the DNA.

By the way, some would say that DNA actually causes external phenotypes.

Not me, though. :)

melior said...

Don't it make your brown eyes blue?

jeebus20 said...

Yes, I think that (many) genes are the primary cause of eye color. But they do need some help along the way as well. :)

I guess by "external" phenotype I meant outside of purely physical characteristics. For example, certain complex behaviors in humans.

Aaron Agassi said...

"The amino acid sequence may be predicted or scientifically determined by a DNA sequence but this is an example of teleological determinism,"

Not so. It need not be, and indeed, is not. And the failure to perceive any allowable alternatives is nothing but argument from failure of imagination.


"not an example of the simple causal or functional determinism recognized by biology."

Again, false.


"DNA codes may contain stored information that is used in assembly of proteins and that stored information may predict or determine the amino acid sequence in the protein, but that is not the same as saying the DNA code causes the protein."

False! Tautologically, if the information that is stored indeed determines sequence in the protein, then said stored information is at very least a contributing cause, unless sheer coincidence!


"When biologists talk about DNA 'determining' or causing proteins and the complex structures and functions built from proteins, they are engaging in two types of intentional misrepresentation. First, they are suggesting or implying causal relationships far beyond anything supported by the evidence."

What said biologists are actually doing is making inference. And ultimately, all use of evidence is inference, one way or another. And the validity of any inference may be examined critically, in quest of truth.


"The fact that a set of DNA is one component in one feature of protein assembly is very, very, different than suggesting that DNA is causing complex phenotypes and complex behaviors. Second, in claiming that DNA sequences determine protein sequences, they are implicitly using teleolgical intelligence based theories without admitting or recognizing what is being done."

False! The failure to perceive any allowable alternatives to teleology is nothing but argument from failure of imagination and ignorance of how natural selection results in survival mechanisms entirely without intention of consciousness, no less applicable on the biochemical level.

Doppelganger said...

Hi Andrey,

I know what Bergerson wrote - but writng a bunch of irrelevant mumbo-jumbo to back up a stupid claim is not a 'defense', as far as I am concerned. Bergerson is truly clueless.

Doppelganger said...

Hi RBH,

Bergerson has claimed to be engaged in 'writing' models of human behavior. I had always thought he was an actuary, but he had 'dropped hints' that he had an engineering background. He has also alluded to his "undergraduate classes" in which he claimed that he remembered discussing 'hard science principles' and 'predictive theories' and his usual mumbo-jumbo. He would never, of course, say where he went to college, or what he actually did/does. I think in addition to thinking that computer modeling lingo and concepts (e.g., 'predictive theories') apply directly to things he does not understand, he also has a bit of an honesty problem.

Doppelganger said...

Jeebus -

Good point (re: genotype not equal to phehnotype), however, I think that unless one has the genetic 'predisposition' for trait X, one will not exhibit trait X.


Aaron -

Good points. If you have not encountered Bergerson before, I think you can see what sort of nonsense one has to put up with from that guy. As RBH can attest to, he NEVER provides any sort of support for ANYTHING he claims, declares that asking him to support his lies and false claims is 'political', says that anyone who points out flaws in his attempts to apply his math to biology is simply ignorant of the math, etc.

A kook, to be sure, but a kook that gets around on the net and needs to have his false claims countered.