Eugene Koonin – Evolution Skeptic?

The edifice of the Modern Synthesis has crumbled, apparently, beyond repair.

– Eugene Koonin (2009)

Does this make Eugene Koonin an evolution skeptic?

The summary of the state of affairs on the 150th anniversary of the Origin is somewhat shocking: in the post-genomic era, all major tenets of the Modern Synthesis are, if not outright overturned, replaced by a new and incomparably more complex vision of the key aspects of evolution. So, not to mince words, the Modern Synthesis is gone.

I’m still struggling to incorporate Alan Fox’s allegation that I am an evolution skeptic. I still don’t really know what it means to be an evolution skeptic. Eugene Koonin rather obviously rejects the view of evolution held by Alan Fox. Is Eugene Koonin an evolution skeptic?

Or is this just another example of Creationist quote mining. Maybe it’s both.

What say you, “skeptics”?

The Origin at 150: is a new evolutionary synthesis in sight?

115 Replies to “Eugene Koonin – Evolution Skeptic?”

  1. colewd
    Ignored
    says:

    John Harshman,

    Hey, have you ever noticed that you only believe the scientific literature when it tells you something you want to hear? You totally ignored the bit about the lowest observed mutation rate in any organism.

    Not ignoring, still looking at it. Also your point of the probability of a catastrophic mutation is valid I have been looking at this but don’t know yet.

  2. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: No, they can fly, but only because there are tiny little pixies providing them with additional lift.

    Your position does not provide evidence for tiny pixies

  3. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    newton: Your position does not provide evidence for tiny pixies.

    Without them, bumblebees could not fly.
    Bumblebees do fly.
    Therefore, pixies.

    or, you could take the keiths approach and claim that is the absence of pixies that explain why bumblebees fly.

  4. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: Without them, bumblebees could not fly.
    Bumblebees do fly.
    Therefore, pixies.

    or, you could take the keiths approach and claim that is the absence of pixies that explain why bumblebees fly.

    I don’t think I ever could take keiths approach but we are still waiting for those testable explanations and predictions borne from evolution that a bumblebee can fly.

  5. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Of interest, the mutation rate in the germ line is significantly lower that that in the soma. This makes sense. There is less need to control for mutation in a somatic lineage that is only going on for a few dozen more replication events, cancer notwithstanding.

    I don’t know how this is implemented, mechanistically. But the rates observed – observed – are nowhere near those calculated as necessary by counting every single replication event.

  6. colewd
    Ignored
    says:

    colewd,

    Hey, have you ever noticed that you only believe the scientific literature when it tells you something you want to hear? You totally ignored the bit about the lowest observed mutation rate in any organism

    I have looked through your paper and others and have 2 comments.
    1. The paper you cited was for single cell organisms
    2. The measurement accuracy at this point maybe an issue
    All that being said I agree this is a good point.

    At this point I have found 9 proteins that if a premature stop cordon was initiated run away cell growth could happen. These include the 5 proteins in the beta canteen distraction mechanism. DKK protein which triggers the destruction mechanism. The target protein of DKK and e cadherin protein that is mission critical in cell adhesion. If we say there is one in 3 chance of this happening if one of these targets are hit (one of three T substitutions) and 3 billion nucleotides the odds are one and one billion of having this event.

    Overall accuracy of 10^9 or even 10^14 appear to be problematic because the latter would trigger 55 billion opportunities to find one of these mutations.

  7. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    colewd: I have looked through your paper and others and have 2 comments.
    1. The paper you cited was for single cell organisms
    2. The measurement accuracy at this point maybe an issue
    All that being said I agree this is a good point.

    At this point I have found 9 proteins that if a premature stop cordon was initiated run away cell growth could happen. These include the 5 proteins in the beta canteen distraction mechanism. DKK protein which triggers the destruction mechanism. The target protein of DKK and e cadherin protein that is mission critical in cell adhesion. If we say there is one in 3 chance of this happening if one of these targets are hit (one of three T substitutions) and 3 billion nucleotides the odds are one and one billion of having this event.

    Overall accuracy of 10^9 or even 10^14 appear to be problematic because the latter would trigger 55 billion opportunities to find one of these mutations.

    Bill, the lowest ever observed mutation rate in any organism is orders of magnitude higher than your “required” mutation rate. That means your “required” mutation rate doesn’t happen in any known life form. What does that tell you? Could you be wrong about your mutation rate being “required”?

  8. John Harshman John Harshman
    Ignored
    says:

    colewd: At this point I have found 9 proteins that if a premature stop cordon was initiated run away cell growth could happen.

    I like “stop cordon”, but it isn’t as good as “delirious mutation”. The one you used in email, “single early stop condom mutations” is the best yet. Is this autocorrect, or is it all you?

    Whoa, I hadn’t even noticed “beta canteen”.

  9. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    Cells have a distraction mechanism? I’m guessing autocorrect, since all the individual words are spelled correctly, they’re just wrong 😀

  10. colewd
    Ignored
    says:

    Rumraket,

    Bill, the lowest ever observed mutation rate in any organism is orders of magnitude higher than your “required” mutation rate. That means your “required” mutation rate doesn’t happen in any known life form. What does that tell you? Could you be wrong about your mutation rate being “required”?

    Of course, but the lower levels of accuracy don’t make sense or we would see lots of problems at birth. A possibility is that the immune system is able to take out these events and eliminate the catastrophic cells.

  11. John Harshman John Harshman
    Ignored
    says:

    colewd: Of course, but the lower levels of accuracy don’t make sense or we would see lots of problems at birth. A possibility is that the immune system is able to take out these events and eliminate the catastrophic cells.

    Congratulations. That’s the first sensible thing you have said. Instead of doubting that observed mutation rates are real, you suggest a way for certain rare mutations to be removed from the cell population. That hypothesis has the virtue of not being directly contradicted by data. There may even be evidence for it.

  12. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    John Harshman,

    Whoa, I hadn’t even noticed “beta canteen”.

    I was going to strenuously advise against taking anything from a beta canteen.

  13. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Bill – imagine a somatic lineage allowed to replicate unrestrained for 20 generations. In which generation are ‘catastrophic’ mutations most likely to occur?

    It is a fact of our kind of life that, the longer a lineage persists, the more likely it is to become cancerous, somewhere. This is not a major problem*** if that threshold is closer to the end than the beginning of the soma’s life.

    *** It is a problem to the deceased, of course. But not to evolution.

  14. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller: I was going to strenuously advise against taking anything from a beta canteen.

    A 10 hour version of the The Star Wars cantina song seems strangely appropriate for this discussion.

  15. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    Another curious fact to consider: A large proportion of pregnancies are naturally terminated (result in a miscarriage) by the body because something is detected as going wrong. It often takes multiple attempts for many many people to give birth to a healthy baby.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.