Saturday, December 12, 2015

Discovery Institute Lies Again!

Oh, look! The Dishonesty Discovery Institute is out with yet another video. What a thrill.

Don't bother watching it, though. There are no new arguments at all. It's just the same lies as usual, repackaged for the nth time. You wonder why their spokesmen don't get just a little bit bored repeating the same misinformation, practically verbatim, over and over. It's more like they are evangelical hucksters than scientists. Why would that be?

  • Citing the 1966 Wistar Institute Symposium -- and pretending it was an important and influential scientific meeting, when in fact it had basically no influence on biology at all. And then pretending that the questions raised haven't been answered since then. Misrepresenting the symposium has a long history among creationists.
  • Doug Axe citing his 11-year-old 10-77 claim, long debunked. As far as I can see, Dougie hasn't gotten anything published in a real scientific journal since 2008. All his recent publications seem to be in the intelligent design vanity journal Bio-Complexity or similar crappy venues. I wonder why the Ahmansons continue to fund this embarrassment.
  • Stephen Meyer repeating his lie once again that "Whenever we see information, especially when we find information in a digital or typographic form and we trace it back to its ultimate source, we always come to a mind, not a material process." Of course, that's not true. The environment is full of information, or how would we able to do weather prediction? (I don't buy the implicit claim that the mind is not a material process, either.)
Intelligent design is so over. Get a life, guys. Do some actual work, or give up and stop pretending this charade is real science.


lukebarnes said...

The two links about Doug Axe ("long debunked") point to the same website.

Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen said...

It's even worse with Axe's 10^-77 claim. It was functionally debunked before he made the claim, by the Szostak lab, in 2001.

The claim has thus stood experimentally proven false for 14 years. Which means that direct, concrete, real-world evidence that the claim is false predates Axe's claim.

Functional proteins from a random-sequence library
Anthony D. Keefe & Jack W. Szostak
Functional primordial proteins presumably originated from random sequences, but it is not known how frequently functional, or even folded, proteins occur in collections of random sequences. Here we have used in vitro selection of messenger RNA displayed proteins, in which each protein is covalently linked through its carboxy terminus to the 39 end of its encoding mRNA1 , to sample a large number of distinct random sequences. Starting from a library of 6 x 1012 proteins each containing 80 contiguous random amino acids, we selected functional proteins by enriching for those that bind to ATP. This selection yielded four new ATPbinding proteins that appear to be unrelated to each other or to anything found in the current databases of biological proteins. The frequency of occurrence of functional proteins in random sequence libraries appears to be similar to that observed for equivalent RNA libraries2,3."

80 random amino acids strung together into a protein. Generate 6x10^12 different, random copies, test them all for a single (and extremely biologically important) function: Bind ATP.

Among that starting pool of random proteins 80 amino acids in length, there were four (4) different, unrelated proteins found that could do it. That gives about 1 in every 10^11 proteins capable of binding ATP. Which strongly indicates that as an absolute minimum there is at least one biologically relevant function in every 10^11 80-amino-acid long proteins. (I could stop here already, this is enough to render all of creationism bunk).

Notice how only a single function was tested for for that pool of random proteins. They could have tested millions of different functions (bind other biologically important molecules, tested for catalysis of thousands of different chemical reaction, stabilize phospholipid membranes etc. etc.) - but they only tested for one and found it already to begin with.

Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen said...

The Discovery Institute paid their liar propaganda laboratory to mutate a functional protein until it stopped working (at what it was doing), then they tried to derive a general rule for the rarity of function in protein sequence space on this stupid experiment. It's true, it only required relatively few mutations to destroy the function of the protein in question, and as a result they computed that functional proteins are supposed to exist at a rate of approximately 1 in every 10^77, 100-amino-acids-in-length proteins. Which if true, would entail that functional proteins were exceptionally rare. But does their experiment really warrant that kind of conclusion? They mutated a protein until it stopped working (again, at what it was doing). Even then, that is still not any guarantee that the protein in question is entirely nonfunctional. It is entirely possible that you can mutate a specific protein fold that, say, catalyzes some chemical reaction until it stops catalyzing that chemical reaction. But who's to say that protein can't do something else now? It might be able to catalyze a different but related chemical reaction now. You actually have to test for that, you can't just declare it nonfunctional and then extrapolate from a test of your single fold into every function for every protein in every environment ever.Obviously.

But we know, we already know that it isn't true. The Szostak lab experiments proved it directly. They picked a single arbitrary and biologically important function, generated random protein sequences and found the function already in the very first pool of random proteins. Furthermore, these proteins could be significantly improved with sequential rounds of selection, both so their binding affinity improved and so they could reliably discriminate between similar substrates (the protein ended up being able to bind ATP but not ADP or AMP). Which means the function was not an isolated lucky spike in protein sequence space, it was sitting in a sea related functions.

The particular claim about 100 amino acid proteins is also immediately nonsensical seen in the light of the results from the Szostak Lab.

Why the hell would the probability go from 1 in 10^11 for 80 amino acids, to 1 in 10^77 for 100 amino acids? Why would that confer a jump in improbability of FIFTY ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE? That's absurd already on the face of it. The absolutely most rudimentary and basic knowledge of protein biochemistry utterly sinks that inference. With another 20 amino acids you can add another 1 or two alpha helices or beta sheets to the protein. There's simply no conceivable reason why this should make it FIFTY ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE LESS probable to find a functional protein.