Atheist and Darwinian evangelist PZ Myers responded to my annotated transcript of our radio & podcast debate.
If one only reads PZ’s blog, skips past my transcript and doesn’t read Barbara McClintock’s work, one might form the impression that PZ gave that poor naïve engineer Perry Marshall a sound thrashing.
In actuality, while doing a credible job of explaining part of McClintock’s work (for which I happily give him props) he further misrepresented what I wrote…
…And the role of McClintock’s landmark discovery, transposition; and her views of the cell; and biological cause and effect.
PZ would have you think I slunk into his office to bemoan my bad grade, as though he’s the professor here. Au Contraire, PZ. I’m taking you and the other old-school Darwinists to the woodshed for promulgating a version of evolution that’s 70 years obsolete.
Nobel Prize winner and eminent scientist Barbara McClintock is the professor of this class. Not you, PZ.
Dear reader, I simply ask you to compare what PZ says she said to what she actually said. Let’s begin with PZ’s misrepresentation of me:
[Perry] claims that she was denying the existence of chance events in genetics — that everything was about patterned, engineered information, which is the damnedest interpretation of McClintock.
Nobody is denying the existence of chance events. Especially external threats. All kinds of disasters confront organisms: Heat, cold, genome damage, starvation, chemicals. Internal and external accidents, stimuli from foreign organisms: insects, bacteria, fungi, etc.
Most or all these events may be completely random with respect to what the cell was already up to that day.
What’s not random is the cell’s response to the threat. Damage is random. Repair is not.
That is the point of my book Evolution 2.0. McClintock’s discoveries play a key role in distinguishing real-world evolution from the 1.0 version that Darwinists have been teaching for decades.
What Barbara McClintock was interested in – what her Nobel Prize paper was all about – was a burning question:
“What does the genome do in response to shocks for which it is unprepared?”
Please understand that cells fixing broken DNA strands was a secondary topic in her Nobel Prize paper. The primary focus was: How is the genome restructured by the cell, for the purpose of maintaining, surviving and adapting to the threat?
She is speaking from background knowledge that cells restructure their DNA in specific, programmed, predictable ways to common threats like heat and DNA damage.
Notice this is also the wider context for transposition, the discovery for which she won the Nobel Prize – that cells re-arrange DNA in direct response to threats, stress, and shock. Transpositions are by their very description non-random patterns of DNA editing.
McClintock was a hacker. What she was most interested in was: “What happens when I throw the system a curve ball? What if I do something that the system is not pre-programmed to respond to?”
PZ’s blog implies that chromosomes break in random ways; cells repair them by haphazardly patching them back together, they break again in even more random ways, and you get variation. Variation gives natural selection stuff to work with, and presto, you get evolution.
The problem with that is, cells don’t just randomly stick stuff back together. All you have to do is examine the diagrams of transposon behavior to see that there are specific regions (donor DNA, target DNA, genes, transposons, telomeres) which have specific jobs, subcomponents, and start and end points.
Chromosomes have very specific structures, and cells re-assemble damaged genomes according to the rules of the structures. It’s the re-assembly according to rules that creates useful variation.
Barbara McClintock Says…
|McClintock talks about stress-induced reorganization of the genome, and [Perry] leaps to the conclusion that she’s describing a teleological phenomenon in which the genome reshapes itself directly to address the circumstances, when every process she actually describes is about increasing variation.
|The ability of a cell to sense these broken ends, to direct them toward each other, and then to unite them so that the union of the two DNA strands is correctly oriented, is a particularly revealing example of the sensitivity of cells to all that is going on within them. They make wise decisions and act upon them.
|For instance, he’s obsessed with transposition. He thinks this is engineering.
|Time does not allow even a modest listing of known responses of genomes to stress that could or should be included in a discussion aimed at the significance of responses of genomes to challenge.
|We can take advantage of that by making a gene of interest the ‘chunk’ and getting it to insert somewhere. Somewhere random. That’s the whole point. These are called jumping genes for a reason.
|In addition to modifying gene action, these elements can restructure the genome at various levels, from small changes involving a few nucleotides, to gross modifications involving large segments of chromosomes, such as duplications, deficiencies, inversions, and other more complex reorganizations.
|McClintock’s triumph was being able to explain random variation within an organism that by convention ought to be genetically uniform by mechanistic processes like transposition and bridge-breakage-fusion.
|The responses of genomes to unanticipated challenges are not so precisely programmed. Nevertheless, these are sensed, and the genome responds in a discernible but initially unforeseen manner.
|“Bridge Breakage Fusion Cycle”
|“Breakage Fusion Bridge Cycle”
|Most of us would read [McClintock’s paper] and understand that it was going to be about chance events — events without predictable, programmatic, mechanistic responses. Not Perry Marshall!
|A goal for the future would be to determine the extent of knowledge the cell has of itself, and how it utilizes this knowledge in a “thoughtful” manner when challenged.
|Junk, gibberish with occasional bits of translated codes that convert to proteins with regulatory elements.
(From an older blog post by PZ, it was online in November but not present now)
|Induction of such reprogrammings by insects, bacteria, fungi, and other organisms, which are not a required response of the plant genome at some stage in its life history, is quite astounding… It is becoming increasingly apparent that we know little of the potentials of a genome. Nevertheless, much evidence tells us that it must be vast.
|I get confused and lost every time I read a bioinformatics paper — but these are scientists paid in big money and prestige to study genome function who don’t have a grasp on the evolutionary constraints on genome function, which seems to be a rather critical omission. (From another blog post)
|The stimulus associated with placement of the insect egg into the leaf will initiate reprogramming of the plant’s genome, forcing it to make a unique structure adapted to the needs of the developing insect. The precise structural organization of a gall that gives it individuality must start with an initial stimulus, and each species provides its own specific stimulus. For each insect species the same distinctive reprogramming of the plant genome is seen to occur year-after-year.
PZ is telling you that transposons are genes that jump around randomly, for no apparent reason. What an impoverished view of science.
Transposons do not jump around randomly. McClintock is saying that mobile genetic elements move to change expression of genes in programmed ways in response to threats.
She is saying they follow predictable, precise, algorithmic patterns when known threats occur, and in far less predictable, but nonetheless orderly (ergodic), contextual ways when unpredictable threats occur.
PZ says, “Each daughter cell gets a random selection of the genes along that bridge. That’s the whole point. You’re trying to explain a random phenotype by looking for a randomization mechanism in the genome.”
Yes, the breaking of chromosomes is a random, damaging event. But the reconstruction of any chromosome is not! The cell is an editor given a text with broken fragments of sentences, which puts them back together in a semantically correct and functional way.
The Breakage-Fusion-Bridge cycle is a phase when the plant is struggling because the sentence is grammatically incorrect and thus useless to the reproductive system.
All you get by assuming the cell’s actions are random is: No reason to look deeper into anything. Randomness means “no pattern.” It is the end of the road, a declaration that there is no further structure or set of rules to discover and discern. A scientific brick wall.
Which is why Neo-Darwinism, with its outdated assumption of random mutations, is lazy man’s science.
(Neo-Darwinism is also a religion… but that’s a conversation for a different day.)
PZ wants to tell you how dumb the genome is. McClintock dares to ask how smart it is.
Which scientist is doing their job? Which scientist is pushing an agenda?
When you assume the cell doing that for a reason, the scientist has a reason to move forward. Instead of declaring its behavior random, let’s find out why. Let’s uncover the system behind the pattern.
McClintock did that and won a Nobel Prize. PZ, you might get more grant money if you don’t assume the genome is “gibberish.” Nobody’s gonna pay you to rummage through gibberish.
Barbara would vehemently disagree with you, PZ. She doesn’t use words like “wise” and “thoughtful,” or refer to the cell’s knowledge of itself by accident. She knows exactly what she’s saying. It was her elevated view of life that afforded her many of the insights she is now renowned for.
Are these white blood cells dumb and purposeless? Or are they trying to eat these bacteria?
I submit to you, dear reader, that PZ is quote mining Barbara McClintock and twisting her discoveries to serve his agenda.
But don’t take my word for it. Read McClintock’s Nobel Prize paper and decide for yourself.Download The First 3 Chapters of Evolution 2.0 For Free, Here – https://evo2.org/evolution/
Where Did Life And The Genetic Code Come From? Can The Answer Build Superior AI? The #1 Mystery In Science Now Has A $10 Million Prize. Learn More About It, Here – https://www.herox.com/evolution2.0