[tt] New Scientist: Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life

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Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life
[Editorial and comments on this article attached.]

21 January 2009 by Graham Lawton

IN JULY 1837, Charles Darwin had a flash of inspiration. In his
study at his house in London, he turned to a new page in his red
leather notebook and wrote, "I think". Then he drew a spindly sketch
of a tree.

As far as we know, this was the first time Darwin toyed with the
concept of a "tree of life" to explain the evolutionary
relationships between different species. It was to prove a fruitful
idea: by the time he published On The Origin of Species 22 years
later, Darwin's spindly tree had grown into a mighty oak. The book
contains numerous references to the tree and its only diagram is of
a branching structure showing how one species can evolve into many.
The affinities of all the beings of the same class have sometimes
been represented by a great tree. I believe this simile largely
speaks the truth...

The tree-of-life concept was absolutely central to Darwin's
thinking, equal in importance to natural selection, according to
biologist W. Ford Doolittle of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova
Scotia, Canada. Without it the theory of evolution would never have
happened. The tree also helped carry the day for evolution. Darwin
argued successfully that the tree of life was a fact of nature,
plain for all to see though in need of explanation. The explanation
he came up with was evolution by natural selection.

Ever since Darwin the tree has been the unifying principle for
understanding the history of life on Earth. At its base is LUCA, the
Last Universal Common Ancestor of all living things, and out of LUCA
grows a trunk, which splits again and again to create a vast,
bifurcating tree. Each branch represents a single species; branching
points are where one species becomes two. Most branches eventually
come to a dead end as species go extinct, but some reach right to
the top--these are living species. The tree is thus a record of how
every species that ever lived is related to all others right back to
the origin of life.
...The green and budding twigs may represent existing species, and
those produced during each former year may represent the long
succession of extinct species

For much of the past 150 years, biology has largely concerned itself
with filling in the details of the tree. "For a long time the holy
grail was to build a tree of life," says Eric Bapteste, an
evolutionary biologist at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in
Paris, France. A few years ago it looked as though the grail was
within reach. But today the project lies in tatters, torn to pieces
by an onslaught of negative evidence. Many biologists now argue that
the tree concept is obsolete and needs to be discarded. "We have no
evidence at all that the tree of life is a reality," says Bapteste.
That bombshell has even persuaded some that our fundamental view of
biology needs to change.

So what happened? In a nutshell, DNA. The discovery of the structure
of DNA in 1953 opened up new vistas for evolutionary biology. Here,
at last, was the very stuff of inheritance into which was surely
written the history of life, if only we knew how to decode it. Thus
was born the field of molecular evolution, and as techniques became
available to read DNA sequences and those of other biomolecules such
as RNA and proteins, its pioneers came to believe that it would
provide proof positive of Darwin's tree of life. The basic idea was
simple: the more closely related two species are (or the more
recently their branches on the tree split), the more alike their
DNA, RNA and protein sequences ought to be.

It started well. The first molecules to be sequenced were RNAs found
in ribosomes, the cell's protein-making machines. In the 1970s, by
comparing RNA sequences from various plants, animals and
microorganisms, molecular biologists began to sketch the outlines of
a tree. This led to, among other successes, the unexpected discovery
of a previously unknown major branch of the tree of life, the
unicellular archaea, which were previously thought to be bacteria.

By the mid-1980s there was great optimism that molecular techniques
would finally reveal the universal tree of life in all its glory.
Ironically, the opposite happened.

The problems began in the early 1990s when it became possible to
sequence actual bacterial and archaeal genes rather than just RNA.
Everybody expected these DNA sequences to confirm the RNA tree, and
sometimes they did but, crucially, sometimes they did not. RNA, for
example, might suggest that species A was more closely related to
species B than species C, but a tree made from DNA would suggest the

Which was correct? Paradoxically, both--but only if the main
premise underpinning Darwin's tree was incorrect. Darwin assumed
that descent was exclusively "vertical", with organisms passing
traits down to their offspring. But what if species also routinely
swapped genetic material with other species, or hybridised with
them? Then that neat branching pattern would quickly degenerate into
an impenetrable thicket of interrelatedness, with species being
closely related in some respects but not others.

We now know that this is exactly what happens. As more and more
genes were sequenced, it became clear that the patterns of
relatedness could only be explained if bacteria and archaea were
routinely swapping genetic material with other species--often
across huge taxonomic distances--in a process called horizontal
gene transfer (HGT).

At first HGT was assumed to be a minor player, transferring only
"optional extra" functions such as antibiotic resistance. Core
biological functions such as DNA replication and protein synthesis
were still thought to be passed on vertically. For a while, this
allowed evolutionary biologists to accept HGT without jeopardising
their precious tree of life; HGT was merely noise blurring its
edges. We now know that view is wrong. "There's promiscuous exchange
of genetic information across diverse groups," says Michael Rose, an
evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Irvine.

From tree to web

As it became clear that HGT was a major factor, biologists started
to realise the implications for the tree concept. As early as 1993,
some were proposing that for bacteria and archaea the tree of life
was more like a web. In 1999, Doolittle made the provocative claim
that "the history of life cannot properly be represented as a tree"
(Science, vol 284, p 2124). "The tree of life is not something that
exists in nature, it's a way that humans classify nature," he says.

Thus began the final battle over the tree. Many researchers stuck
resolutely to their guns, creating ever more sophisticated computer
programs to cut through the noise and recover the One True Tree.
Others argued just as forcefully that the quest was quixotic and
should be abandoned.

The battle came to a head in 2006. In an ambitious study, a team led
by Peer Bork of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in
Heidelberg, Germany, examined 191 sequenced genomes from all three
domains of life--bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes (complex
organisms with their genetic material packaged in a nucleus)--and
identified 31 genes that all the species possessed and which showed
no signs of ever having been horizontally transferred. They then
generated a tree by comparing the sequences of these "core" genes in
everything from E. coli to elephants. The result was the closest
thing yet to the perfect tree, Bork claimed (Science, vol 311, p

Other researchers begged to differ. Among them were Tal Dagan and
William Martin at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf,
Germany, who pointed out that in numerical terms a core of 31 genes
is almost insignificant, representing just 1 per cent of a typical
bacterial genome and more like 0.1 per cent of an animal's. That
hardly constitutes a mighty oak or even a feeble sapling--more like
a tiny twig completely buried by a giant web. Dagan dubbed Bork's
result "the tree of 1 per cent" and argued that the study
inadvertently provided some of the best evidence yet that the
tree-of-life concept was redundant (Genome Biology, vol 7, p 118).

The debate remains polarised today. Bork's group continue to work on
the tree of life and he continues to defend the concept. "Our point
of view is that yes, there has been lots of HGT, but the majority of
genes contain this tree signal," Bork says. The real problem is that
our techniques are not yet good enough to tease that signal out, he

Meanwhile, those who would chop down the tree of life continue to
make progress. The true extent of HGT in bacteria and archaea
(collectively known as prokaryotes) has now been firmly established.
Last year, Dagan and colleagues examined more than half a million
genes from 181 prokaryotes and found that 80 per cent of them showed
signs of horizontal transfer (Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences, vol 105, p 10039).

Surprisingly, HGT also turns out to be the rule rather than the
exception in the third great domain of life, the eukaryotes. For a
start, it is increasingly accepted that the eukaryotes originated by
the fusion of two prokaryotes, one bacterial and the other archaeal,
forming this part of the tree into a ring rather than a branch
(Nature, vol 41, p 152).

The neat picture of a branching tree is further blurred by a process
called endosymbiosis. Early on in their evolution, eukaryotes are
thought to have engulfed two free-living prokaryotes. One of these
gave rise to the cellular power generators called mitochondria while
the other was the precursor of the chloroplasts, in which
photosynthesis takes place. These "endosymbionts" later transferred
large chunks of their genomes into those of their eukaryote hosts,
creating hybrid genomes. As if that weren't complicated enough, some
early eukaryotic lineages apparently swallowed one another and
amalgamated their genomes, creating yet another layer of horizontal
transfer (Trends in Ecology and Evolution, vol, 23, p 268).

This genetic free-for-all continues to this day. The vast majority
of eukaryote species are unicellular--amoebas, algae and the rest
of what used to be known as "protists" (Journal of Systematics and
Evolution, vol 46, p263). These microscopic beasties have lifestyles
that resemble prokaryotes and, according to Jan Andersson of the
University of Uppsala in Sweden, their rates of HGT are often
comparable to those in bacteria. The more we learn about microbes,
the clearer it becomes that the history of life cannot be adequately
represented by a tree.

Hang on, you may be thinking. Microbes might be swapping genes left,
right and centre, what does that matter? Surely the stuff we care
about--animals and plants--can still be accurately represented by
a tree, so what's the problem?

Well, for a start, biology is the science of life, and to a first
approximation life is unicellular. Microbes have been living on
Earth for at least 3.8 billion years; multicellular organisms didn't
appear until about 630 million years ago. Even today bacteria,
archaea and unicellular eukaryotes make up at least 90 per cent of
all known species, and by sheer weight of numbers almost all of the
living things on Earth are microbes. It would be perverse to claim
that the evolution of life on Earth resembles a tree just because
multicellular life evolved that way. "If there is a tree of life,
it's a small anomalous structure growing out of the web of life,"
says John Dupré, a philosopher of biology at the University of
Exeter, UK.

More fundamentally, recent research suggests that the evolution of
animals and plants isn't exactly tree-like either. "There are
problems even in that little corner," says Dupré. Having uprooted
the tree of unicellular life, biologists are now taking their axes
to the remaining branches.

For example, hybridisation clearly plays an important role in the
evolution of plants. According to Loren Rieseberg, a botanist at the
University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, around 14 per
cent of living plant species are the product of the fusion of two
separate lineages.

Hybrid humans

Some researchers are also convinced that hybridisation has been a
major driving force in animal evolution (see "Natural born
chimeras", and "Two into one"), and that the process is ongoing. "It
is really common," says James Mallet, an evolutionary biologist at
University College London. "Ten per cent of all animals regularly
hybridise with other species." This is especially true in rapidly
evolving lineages with lots of recently diverged species--including
our own. There is evidence that early modern humans hybridised with
our extinct relatives, such as Homo erectus and the Neanderthals
(Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, vol 363, p

Hybridisation isn't the only force undermining the multicellular
tree: it is becoming increasingly apparent that HGT plays an
unexpectedly big role in animals too. As ever more multicellular
genomes are sequenced, ever more incongruous bits of DNA are turning
up. Last year, for example, a team at the University of Texas at
Arlington found a peculiar chunk of DNA in the genomes of eight
animals--the mouse, rat, bushbaby, little brown bat, tenrec,
opossum, anole lizard and African clawed frog--but not in 25
others, including humans, elephants, chickens and fish. This patchy
distribution suggests that the sequence must have entered each
genome independently by horizontal transfer (Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences, vol 105, p 17023).

Other cases of HGT in multicellular organisms are coming in thick
and fast. HGT has been documented in insects, fish and plants, and a
few years ago a piece of snake DNA was found in cows. The most
likely agents of this genetic shuffling are viruses, which
constantly cut and paste DNA from one genome into another, often
across great taxonomic distances. In fact, by some reckonings, 40 to
50 per cent of the human genome consists of DNA imported
horizontally by viruses, some of which has taken on vital biological
functions (New Scientist, 27 August 2008, p 38). The same is
probably true of the genomes of other big animals. "The number of
horizontal transfers in animals is not as high as in microbes, but
it can be evolutionarily significant," says Bapteste.

Nobody is arguing--yet--that the tree concept has outlived its
usefulness in animals and plants. While vertical descent is no
longer the only game in town, it is still the best way of explaining
how multicellular organisms are related to one another--a tree of
51 per cent, maybe. In that respect, Darwin's vision has triumphed:
he knew nothing of micro-organisms and built his theory on the
plants and animals he could see around him.

Even so, it is clear that the Darwinian tree is no longer an
adequate description of how evolution in general works. "If you
don't have a tree of life, what does it mean for evolutionary
biology?" asks Bapteste. "At first it's very scary... but in the
past couple of years people have begun to free their minds." Both he
and Doolittle are at pains to stress that downgrading the tree of
life doesn't mean that the theory of evolution is wrong--just that
evolution is not as tidy as we would like to believe. Some
evolutionary relationships are tree-like; many others are not. "We
should relax a bit on this," says Doolittle. "We understand
evolution pretty well--it's just that it is more complex than
Darwin imagined. The tree isn't the only pattern."

Others, however, don't think it is time to relax. Instead, they see
the uprooting of the tree of life as the start of something bigger.
"It's part of a revolutionary change in biology," says Dupré. "Our
standard model of evolution is under enormous pressure. We're
clearly going to see evolution as much more about mergers and
collaboration than change within isolated lineages."

Rose goes even further. "The tree of life is being politely buried,
we all know that," he says. "What's less accepted is that our whole
fundamental view of biology needs to change." Biology is vastly more
complex than we thought, he says, and facing up to this complexity
will be as scary as the conceptual upheavals physicists had to take
on board in the early 20th century.

If he is right, the tree concept could become biology's equivalent
of Newtonian mechanics: revolutionary and hugely successful in its
time, but ultimately too simplistic to deal with the messy real
world. "The tree of life was useful," says Bapteste. "It helped us
to understand that evolution was real. But now we know more about
evolution, it's time to move on."

Two species become one

It could be time to ditch the old idea that hybrids are sterile
individuals that cannot possibly have played a role in shaping the
history of life on Earth. Hybridisation is a significant force in
animal evolution, according to retired marine biologist Donald
Williamson, formerly of the University of Liverpool, UK. His
conclusion comes from a lifetime studying marine animals such as
starfish, sea urchins and molluscs, many of which lead a strange
double life, starting out as larvae and metamorphosing into adult

The conventional explanation for metamorphosis is that it evolved
gradually, with the juvenile form becoming specialised for feeding
and the adult for mating, until they barely resembled each other.
Williamson thinks otherwise. He points out that marine larvae have
five basic forms and can be organised into a family tree based on
shared characteristics. Yet this tree bears no relationship to the
family tree of adults: near-identical larvae often give rise to
adults from different lineages, while some closely related adults
have utterly unrelated larvae.


It's as if each species was randomly assigned one of the larval
forms--which is exactly what Williamson argues happened. He
believes metamorphosis arose repeatedly during evolution by the
random fusion of two separate species, with one of the partners
assuming the role of the larva and the other that of the adult.

If that sounds unlikely, Williamson points out that many marine
species breed by casting their eggs and sperm into the sea and
hoping for the best, giving ample opportunity for cross-species
hybridisation. Normally nothing comes of this, he says, but "once in
a million years it works: the sperm of one species fertilises
another and two species become one". The most likely way for this
biological mash-up to function is if the resulting chimera expresses
its two genomes sequentially, producing a two-stage life history
with metamorphosis in the middle.

This explains many anomalies in marine biology, says Williamson. His
star witness is the starfish Luidia sarsi, which starts life as a
small larva with a tiny starfish inside. As the larva grows, the
starfish migrates to the outside and when the larva settles on the
seabed, they separate. This is perfectly normal for starfish, but in
Luidia something remarkable then happens. Instead of degenerating,
the larva swims off and lives for several months as an independent
animal. "I can't see how one animal with one genome could do that,"
says Williamson. "I think the larval genome and the adult genome are

Natural born chimeras

The idea that microbes regularly swap portions of genetic code with
individuals from another species doesn't seem so far-fetched (see
main story). But could the same process also have shaped the
evolution of multicellular animals? In 1985, biologist Michael
Syvanen of the University of California, Davis, predicted that it
did (Journal of Theoretical Biology, vol 112, p 333). Back then
there was no way to test that claim, but there is now.

Syvanen recently compared 2000 genes that are common to humans,
frogs, sea squirts, sea urchins, fruit flies and nematodes. In
theory, he should have been able to use the gene sequences to
construct an evolutionary tree showing the relationships between the
six animals.

He failed. The problem was that different genes told contradictory
evolutionary stories. This was especially true of sea-squirt genes.

Conventionally, sea squirts--also known as tunicates--are lumped
together with frogs, humans and other vertebrates in the phylum
Chordata, but the genes were sending mixed signals. Some genes did
indeed cluster within the chordates, but others indicated that
tunicates should be placed with sea urchins, which aren't chordates.
"Roughly 50 per cent of its genes have one evolutionary history and
50 per cent another," Syvanen says.

The most likely explanation for this, he argues, is that tunicates
are chimeras, created by the fusion of an early chordate and an
ancestor of the sea urchins around 600 million years ago.

"We've just annihilated the tree of life. It's not a tree any more,
it's a different topology entirely," says Syvanen. "What would
Darwin have made of that?"

Graham Lawton is features editor of New Scientist


Editorial: Uprooting Darwin's tree
* 21 January 2009

"THERE is nothing new to be discovered in physics." So said Lord
Kelvin in 1900, shortly before the intellectual firestorm ignited by
relativity and quantum mechanics proved him comprehensively wrong.

If anyone now thinks that biology is sorted, they are going to be
proved wrong too. The more that genomics, bioinformatics and many
other newer disciplines reveal about life, the more obvious it
becomes that our present understanding is not up to the job. We now
gaze on a biological world of mind-boggling complexity that exposes
the shortcomings of familiar, tidy concepts such as species, gene
and organism.

A particularly pertinent example is provided in this week's cover
story--the uprooting of the tree of life which Darwin used as an
organising principle and which has been a central tenet of biology
ever since (see "Axing Darwin's tree"). Most biologists now accept
that the tree is not a fact of nature--it is something we impose on
nature in an attempt to make the task of understanding it more
tractable. Other important bits of biology--notably development,
ageing and sex--are similarly turning out to be much more involved
than we ever imagined. As evolutionary biologist Michael Rose at the
University of California, Irvine, told us: "The complexity of
biology is comparable to quantum mechanics."
It is now accepted that the tree of life is something we impose on
nature in an attempt to make the task of understanding it more

Biology has been here before. Although Darwin himself, with the help
of Alfred Russel Wallace, triggered a revolution in the mid-1800s,
there was a second revolution in the 1930s and 1940s when Ronald
Fisher, J. B. S. Haldane, Sewall Wright and others incorporated
Mendelian genetics and placed evolution on a firm mathematical

As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth, we await a
third revolution that will see biology changed and strengthened.
None of this should give succour to creationists, whose blinkered
universe is doubtless already buzzing with the news that "New
Scientist has announced Darwin was wrong". Expect to find excerpts
ripped out of context and presented as evidence that biologists are
deserting the theory of evolution en masse. They are not.

Nor will the new work do anything to diminish the standing of Darwin
himself. When it came to gravitation and the laws of motion, Isaac
Newton didn't see the whole picture either, but he remains one of
science's giants. In the same way, Darwin's ideas will prove
influential for decades to come.

So here's to the impending revolution in biology. Come Darwin's
300th anniversary there will be even more to celebrate.


All Comments--Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life
[Well, most of them. Some were purged by New Scientist. Others I removed 
as trivial or irrelevant.]

Science Is Dead
Wed Jan 21 18:21:59 GMT 2009 by Polemos
Darwin was wrong in all respects. The universal time itself is
nonlinear and forms a closed loop. The effect influences the cause
and thus eliminates determinism.
Science is dead. Intuitive pattern recognition is the only valid way
of studying the universe.
Science Is Dead
Wed Jan 28 01:21:44 GMT 2009 by Russell Willmoth
this has nothing to do with Darwin's Tree of Life
Science Is Dead
Wed Jan 21 22:06:08 GMT 2009 by Joker

Polemos, this article's about Darwin. It's Biology not Physics.
Can I point this out without getting ranted or insulted?
Science Is Dead
Wed Jan 21 23:21:35 GMT 2009 by Mike Gale
The curse of the commons the curse of the commons.
Somebody who goes completely of any target you wouls recognise
steals your time and eliminates your desire to debate.
Now to my point.
The article is framed as cutting down, eliminating, taking the axe
to "the tree". What a load of baloney.
The tree is valuable. It's a first approximate it now needs
decorating, refining and improving. It has always evolved.
In my mind that evolution is a tree that then grows "lianas" from
one twig to another resulting in a much more interesting structure.
Lets get away from sensationalist Darwin is Wrong headlines. Please
give us careful thought. Hopefully this is still science and not
journalism (which is often a fact free pursuit).
Otherwise the writers are not much different from Polemon.
Science Is Dead
Thu Jan 22 00:16:33 GMT 2009 by Heath
It's probably a fuzzy tree.
Science Is Dead
Thu Jan 22 03:01:12 GMT 2009 by N. Roberts
Oh dear...
While this is an excellent article, perhaps downplaying the central
twig of the web of life (or the thicket of life) a little, it
invites creationist lobbies to lampoon evolution (and science in
general) as well as misrepresenting science. When a scientist is
wrong about a detail of his theory (by the sounds of it, the tree
was the inferred form of interrelations between species, based on
all available evidence), it does not call for a triumphant 'HA!' at
the person's grave. Personally, I think he would respond with 'thank
you and congratulations.'
N.B. You know that wall of Science articles (mostly NS) at the
Creationist Museum NewScientist published an article about? This
cover will probably be the A1 sized, gilt and framed centerpiece
before the week is out.
This comment breached our terms of use and has been removed.

This comment breached our terms of use and has been removed.
Oh, Pass My Salts!
Wed Jan 21 18:41:39 GMT 2009 by bostonEddie

What? Some details of Darwin's theory were wrong? You mean science
has made new discoveries in the last 150 years and new data has led
to modifications of a minor detail of a well established scientific
theory? How unthinkable!
Why, science should never change any of it's theories! Every detail
of every scientific theory must be unchangable, true and immutable
in every way for all time if it is to be valid! Science should be
just like religion!
Geez, I swear, every time things get dull around the NS offices they
dredge out some half-assed half-understood article about evolution
or science in general and hype it up.
Oh, Pass My Salts!
Wed Jan 21 20:38:41 GMT 2009 by Jeremy
I tend to agree. And they hype up everything.
The notion of a traditional tree does not easily allow for
backbreeding or successful breeding between two closely-related
Still, the tree concept was once revolutionary and inspirational. It
still basically works. But horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is
something new to many people who never went beyond more basic
biology, and as the article says there is still a lot to find out:
how much has occurred, how it makes us what we are, and its
mechanisms of action.
Perhaps the concept of a trailing vine that periodically re-roots
itself into the soil (to get HGT from bacteria) and sequentially
dies off at its old roots is more apt.
Various models could be visualized and simulated with computer
graphics nowadays.
The part about the larvae was particularly interesting.
Oh, Pass My Salts!
Thu Jan 22 08:12:13 GMT 2009 by SDee
You miss the point.
The "tree view" or vertical gene transfer is what most people
intuitively see and regard as normal.
Although many people understand the science, this view of normality
causes a back lash against the ideas genetic engineering because
people feel it is "not normal" and so in some way not moral.
What the article is challenging is the residual belief in the model
we have been using and noting the surprising resistance to change
despite the plethora of evidence pointing towards a different model
The web view, with horizontal gene transfer as being almost as
important as vertical, challenges most lay peoples current way of
thinking about life.
This is of relavance to the scientific community because horizontal
gene transfer is in parts more akin to genetic engineering.
Getting people to switch their mental modal and understanding the
ubiquity of horizontal gene transfer, then getting them to accept it
as their world view is really a paradigm shift and worth of the
comment that Darwins model was wrong give or take a bit of
journalistic license.
Oh, Pass My Salts!
Thu Jan 22 19:25:08 GMT 2009 by Pete
Shameful cover! Your article may not support the headline, but
creationists aren't interested in the small print. If this debate
were calm and reasonable it wouldn't matter so much, but if that had
been the case this front page wouldn't have happened.
As for the article, it's about as useful as the insight that not all
organisms contain woody tissue.
Oh, Pass My Salts!
Fri Jan 23 19:16:14 GMT 2009 by Alan
I note that this is the first issue not to list the editorial staff.
Has the New Scientist been taken over by a creationist 5th column?
Oh, Pass My Salts!
Mon Jan 26 03:34:38 GMT 2009 by Jane
I am a social scientist and although I teach Darwin when dealing
with 19th century social theories, I have not followed many
developments in evolutionary biology. So this article, which I came
across on-line, was an eye-opener for me. My first thought was that
the Creationists would have a field day with it, but quickly
realized that it gave them no fodder whatsoever -- in fact, it's
even more problematic than Darwin's tree, given that species
dissolve as singular phenomena. And it quickly became apparent, as
others on this thread observed, that it undermined moral claims
regarding "natural" species inviolability by those who oppose the
creation of transgenic organisms. I'm sure to people in the field
this is old news, perhaps bowdlerized for a popular audience. But
being part of that non-specialist audience, I found it fascinating
and useful.
Oh, Pass My Salts!
Sat Jan 24 06:53:27 GMT 2009 by billisfree
Doesn't the bible say... "A wise man changes his mind--often?"
This is what scientists do. When a scientist modifies his theories
or observations--it is NOT proof the the scientist is an idiot.
Oh, Pass My Salts!
Sun Jan 25 08:21:31 GMT 2009 by gareth budden
Continually moving the goalposts to accomodate new ideas seems to be
creeping into science with increasing regularity. It may not mean
that the scientist is in idiot, but it is proof that the foundations
on which his scientific theory are built are completely inadequate
How Do We Define "species"?
Wed Jan 21 19:09:30 GMT 2009 by Maquiavelo
Which is the defining criterion for a species? Is it not that two
individuals that belong to the same species (and are not hampered by
unilateral health issues that cause infertitlity) are able to
produce fertile offspring? Whereas two individuals that can produce
fertile offspring with others, but not with one another, due to
their genetic divergence, are separated by the genetic boundary
between two different species?
Should the genetic ability to produce fertile offspring not count as
the (combining and isolating) criterion for a species, rather than
some anatomic similarities?
Which is the criterion used to distinguish between different
"species" of sea urchins, although they arise from "near-identical"
larvae? Can the adult larvae still interbreed? Then their
differentiation in several species seems superficial--aren't they
subspecies rather than species that are separated by a genetic
Can they not interbreed, or only in 1-in-a million random event,
when biochemical circumstances provide an exceptional fit? Then the
observed similarity between their larvae seems superficial.
The lateral gene transfer between monocellular organisms makes the
definition of "offspring" more difficult, though. Should the term
"species" be applied to organisms that swap chunks of their genetic
material in routine fly-bys? Some kind of genetic core must remain
stable between generations, though, or else there would be no such
characteristics as make certain archaea identifiable and
distinguishable from others. Since most monocellular organisms are
not dependent on a partner to procreate, it seems to find another
criterion for them, which is more fuzzy than the ability to
procreate with a partner organism: something like "replication
stability"? This means that organisms that can replicate without
having to merge gene material with a partner organism would morph
into a different "species", once they accumulate too many genetic
differences from their ancestor(s). The question of what defines
"too many" would be a matter of degree and open to case-by-case
assessments. So instead of the word "species", we should perhaps use
something like "geniton", borrowed from soliton (for waves that
remain stable for a time, but can interact with other solitons and
emerge from "collisions" unchanged but for phase shifts).
For organisms that cannot swap packages of genetic material other
than by mating, though--why should we not apply the sharp criterion
"ability to produce fertile offspring"with one another to group
individuals within one species and separate them from other species?
How Do We Define "species"?
Wed Jan 21 19:26:58 GMT 2009 by bostonCharlie
"For organisms that cannot swap packages of genetic material other
than by mating, though--why should we not apply the sharp criterion
"ability to produce fertile offspring"with one another to group
individuals within one species and separate them from other
(Despite Dr Asimov) There are fertile mules. The definition of
species, as with many Aristotelian definitions, is not as hard and
fast and all encompassing as is commonly imagined.
And how would you prove a Neanderthal and a modern H. sap is or is
not a similar species?
How Do We Define "species"?
Fri Jan 23 06:54:27 GMT 2009 by jerk
I am Neanderthal.
How Do We Define "species"?
Fri Jan 23 22:32:16 GMT 2009 by Freddie F.
I date your sister?
Simplification And Simple Choices
Wed Jan 21 19:15:47 GMT 2009 by JD
Science is constantly presented as simple all-or-nothing choices.
It's a tree. It's not a tree. That kind of debate is moronic. The
tree is a useful metaphor. That it happens to be an imperfect
metaphor just means you shouldn't have taken it too literally in the
first place, but by no means indicates you should discard it
completely and wander around in the dark.
It happens that our tree has blurry branches and is rooted in
unicellular dirt (a lovely metaphor if you ask me). Sure, no
The species concept itself has always been an exaggeration. When a
species splits into two species, it's generally not a magic moment
where they were once one species and the next day they are two. The
individual members of the two species may gradually lose or reduce
their ability to interbreed. Some individuals (remember that species
are made up of individuals who vary) may be better or worse suited
for interbreeding. If the two groups were not suddenly and
irrevocably separated by geology (e.g. the middle of the island
sinks into the sea), interbreeding (which is called hybridization if
the two groups are being called separate species and mating if they
are not) will happen less but not instantaneously become impossible.
When it does happen, it happens between species that are more
related. Horses and donkeys may produce mules, and dogs and wolves
easily produce hybrids, but you won't see horses and dogs producing
hybrid offspring. When we take a snap shot of modern "species", some
will be completely separated, some will be mostly separated (and in
the future may separate further or rejoin), some are similar enough
that we may not decide they are species without noticing genetic
differences, some will just be variation within a single species.
Looking at the historical record, the blurriness is inevitably
worse, because we are trying to make these species distinctions
between groups of individuals that aren't around at the same time.
If a species is changing over time, there is no magic minute when it
changes from one species (like Homo erectus) to another (like Homo
sapiens), those changes grade in over time and are inevitably
blurry. That doesn't mean the change never occurred, it just means
the labels are somewhat arbitrary because they are discreet
descriptions of a continuous process. Discreet descriptions are a
useful way of discussing things, so we use them, but we can't forget
their limitations either. When we do, we're back making nonsense
distinctions like "it's a tree" and "it's not a tree."
Simplification And Simple Choices
Wed Jan 21 20:17:06 GMT 2009 by Pat
Thanks, I was just about to give up reading the comments to avoid
grinding my teeth. Humanity's tree alone has six billion buds,
obviously it is a little simplistic to compare it to an oak.
Dramatic Headline = Magazine Sales £££
Wed Jan 21 19:31:29 GMT 2009 by Simon
Firstly, isn't a debate over a simple metaphor a little trivial even
to the most highly strung of people?
And secondly, THAT headline?... C'mon Newscientist that is blatant
sensationalism. We expect better from you.
Darwin Was Right!
Wed Jan 21 21:03:35 GMT 2009 by Liza
I do not think it is wise to start articles about evolution with
sensational titles like "Why Darwin was wrong" You only give the
creationists ammunition to shoot with. And he was not really wrong.
The tree idea only collapses on the level of bacteria and archae.
For sexually reproducing multicellular species it is still a good
metaphore, even if some horizontal gene transfer occurs.
Darwin Was Right!
Wed Jan 21 21:51:31 GMT 2009 by Jeremy
I never thought I would fully agree with you Liza but i do on this
one !
Have a good day
Darwin Was Right!
Wed Jan 21 22:02:39 GMT 2009 by Punter
Well put Liza.
This is what I love about science and scientists, changing the model
as the data comes in. It's a lovely journey that of discovery.
All the best. I enjoy most of your posts, especially when you grasp
something--usually we all grasp it too.
Darwin Was Right!
Fri Jan 23 04:03:25 GMT 2009 by Liza
>>usually we all grasp it too.
You are not being condescending, are you?
Darwin Was Right!
Wed Jan 21 22:05:04 GMT 2009 by Brad Anderson
I agree with you 100%, Liza. Lately, journalistic and scientific
integrity really seem to be falling by the wayside.
Darwin Was Right!
Wed Jan 21 22:49:40 GMT 2009 by Terry
Its more like a grenade, which they will invariably drop in there
pocket and blow a hole in there pants as they always do.
I have no issues with providing creationists ammunition, as there
often so poorly educated they only end up hurting there own
arguments through using quotes on science they don't understand.
Darwin Was Right!
Thu Jan 22 03:38:38 GMT 2009 by Ron
I agree,but you must admit that NewSientist are good at using the
right bate to reel in plenty of fish from time to time.
Evolution,Climate Change and Theories of the Universe seem to
attract the most posts,don't ya just luv em. I don't mean the
religious love,you know, the Evolutionary animal type love
Darwin Was Right!
Thu Jan 22 04:21:37 GMT 2009 by Karl
Liza, you are absolutely right except for one thing--it IS wise to
start articles that way if the intent is to drive web traffic.
Darwin Was Right!
Thu Jan 22 09:52:47 GMT 2009 by Graham Lawton
And I quote:
"Hang on, you may be thinking. Microbes might be swapping genes
left, right and centre, what does that matter? Surely the stuff we
care about--animals and plants--can still be accurately
represented by a tree, so what's the problem?
Well, for a start, biology is the science of life, and to a first
approximation life is unicellular.... It would be perverse to claim
that the evolution of life on Earth resembles a tree just because
multicellular life evolved that way.... More fundamentally, recent
research suggests that the evolution of animals and plants isn't
exactly tree-like either"
Darwin Was Right!
Fri Jan 23 03:28:19 GMT 2009 by Liza
Wow! It is almost a relieve to find someone disagreeing with me
after everyone even Jeremy agreed! All of you thanks for your
support, by the way! But to get to the point, yes, I know, if you
count being the most numerous, having the greatest biomass, and
having been the longest around, life is mainly unicellular. However,
multicellular organisms have been visibly dominant these last half a
billion years or so- and to most people except microbiologists they
are what matters. Anyway my point was not to attack Darwin on this
one- he had only little knowledge about microscopical organisms and
as far as macroscopic life goes his metaphore still stands. And it
is a METAPHORE, not meant to take literally. I really like the idea
someone mentioned about a tree with lianas connecting the branches.
Cheers, Liza
Please Don't Feed The Creationists
Wed Jan 21 21:50:02 GMT 2009 by Eugene
Simply claiming that Darwin is wrong is missleading, and simply
provides fodder for the creationists, who will most likely not
bother reading the rest of the article. He based his tree model on
the information available to him at the time. It was remarkably
insightful considering there was no way he could know about
micro-organisms or DNA etc. It is not wrong as such, it is just not
the complete picture.
HGT, and hybridization helps to explain how we could have arrived at
such great genetic diversity, in such a relatively short time. To me
it seems far more elegant than simply basing everything on random
mutation and natural selection.
Please Don't Feed The Creationists
Wed Jan 21 23:35:43 GMT 2009 by PCR
I suspect most Creationists will see the NS cover on a news stand
and use that as the basis for proving their point. For them there's
no need to buy it and read it let alone understand it, "there it is,
New Scientist says 'Darwin was Wrong!' Sez so on the front cover; we
were right all along".
I guess the headline might sell a few extra copies of NS this week
but how many readers are seriously considering not renewing their
subscription when it comes due to the increasing amount of "beat up"
stories in NS.
Please Don't Feed The Creationists
Thu Jan 22 00:38:11 GMT 2009 by Eugene
I must admit, I only buy the magazine if I need something to read on
the train etc. The propensity to sensationalise discredits it as a
reputable scientific magazine in my opinion, and hence I haven't
bothered to subscribe.
Apart from anything else, I think the title is a little insulting to
a man who contributed more to science and our understanding of the
world than virtually anyone else in history. Have a little respect
Other Questions Are More Intriguing
Wed Jan 21 22:43:42 GMT 2009 by Bartleby
Some interesting facts buried in a lot of hype.
Darwin wouldn't worry much about expanding his happily sprawling
diagram (nice pic!).
He would go on to think about how horizontal gene transfer affects
his theory of natural selection.
Is HGT as random as random mutations, or does it mean the most
successful genes will be swapped around?
Does it open a back door for the inheritance of acquired
Other Questions Are More Intriguing
Wed Jan 21 22:51:12 GMT 2009 by Punter
Well done, an allusion to Richard Shelldrake. N.S. published a few
weeks ago material about us being slightly chimeric with genes
carried via the placenta and mother's blood from even the
grandmother. Must serve so function.
Richard suffered much abuse at the hands of orthodox science as no
doubt people in diverse fields today are. Let's have a cheer for the
unsung heroes and heroines of the awkward squad. Not spammers
though, not that awkward. Gotta have some standards.
Other Questions Are More Intriguing
Wed Jan 21 23:07:48 GMT 2009 by Terry
HGT would explain much of the "clutter" genes we possess which
seemingly serve little purpose, though invariably some genes would
be beneficial to the organisms survival.
Viral genetic transfer amoung animals is in my mind likely a common
cause of beneficial gene transfer. Think about the difference
between the time it takes for a random genetic variance to occur
that provides an evolutionary advantage in one organism... multiply
that by a few trillion species, and then add HGT via inter-species
viruses and its easy to see why HGT could account for a heafty load
of beneficial gene selection.
I think its easier to see evolution as a tree because of the human
perception of species... Real biology is so much more fluid than
that, and even humans are really a diverse community of cells rather
than the single self determining entity we like to think of
ourselves as. We may start life as one fertilised egg, but the egg
is really just an instruction manual on how to make a huge range of
machines which all co-operate.
All multicelluar organisms should be seen as symbiotic cellular
communities rather than singular species. Once this perspective
becomes more widely taken it is easy to see how we are connected to
every other living thing on this planet, and how we can most
fruitfully co-exist in the eco-system that is the earths flesh.
Other Questions Are More Intriguing
Thu Jan 22 00:06:08 GMT 2009 by Eugene
Great post Terry, and you make some good points. For too long we've
considered ourselves as distinct and disconnected from the rest of
the life on the planet. I think it's very important to come back to
a more holistic understanding of life and our place in it.
Interestingly, the original concept of the Tree Of Life far precedes
Darwin. It appears in the mythology of many cultures. In the Celtic
tradition, the tree is usually represented with branches joining the
roots, forming a perpetual link between the heavens and the earth.
It symbolised the interconnectedness of all things.
Other Questions Are More Intriguing
Thu Jan 22 13:14:22 GMT 2009 by Mr Appletree
Was'nt the tree that Adam stole the apple from to give to Eve the
'Tree of Life'??
Probably where Darwin got the idea from eh!
He He.
Other Questions Are More Intriguing
Fri Jan 23 22:53:13 GMT 2009 by Jeremy
I think it DOES open a back door for the inheritance of acquired
With horizontal gene transfer, entire working genes can be inserted
and function immediately. Whereas with regular mutation, a mutated
gene (if it works at all) will often merely modify the original
function slightly.
Of course there are other genetic phenomena at work like repeat
length, inversions, methylation and so forth.
Makes you wonder how we got our genetic makeup, and for how long
there has been an unbroken chain of genetic transmission in some
organisms. I wonder how much of our human makeup has come from
insertions from viruses over the aeons.
We're not the best version of life on this planet, we're only the
current version.
Wed Jan 21 23:50:44 GMT 2009 by Rory
I'd just like to say that that must be the most amazing thing that I
have ever read, and like many of the best scientific breakthroughs,
so deceptively simple. After all, we've known for a long time that
Eukaryotes are a result of combining cells. So to think of
larva-adult metamorphosis as the ultimate in symbiosis is just
fascinating and ties up a huge unknown of evolution!
Tabloid Journalism
Thu Jan 22 00:04:01 GMT 2009 by O. Peavoy
Fascinating discovery put to declare that Darwin was wrong in such a
provocative manner is disingenuous. Is the recession hitting NS hard
I wonder? Or have they just employed tabloid journalists?
Tabloid Journalism
Thu Jan 22 00:26:32 GMT 2009 by Joker
Shock horror, Darwingate!
Darwin had my love child!
Pretty Samantha ,18 (page three stunna, cor) says 'ooh the old
rascal used to get me to play with his beard'. Yes, Darwin came to
the future using a Polemos time machine and sired three monkey
children with the gorgeous Samantha, 18 (page three). 'They're
driving me bananas' said the lovely Samantha, 18. And with her
lovely pair of bananas we can see why old Charlie boy went ape! eeer
Page 1: 'Charlie boy ate my hamster!'.
The Stun says:
Naughty Charlie boy who could blame 'im for naturally selecting our
stunna Sam but mate, leave our 'amsters alone you unevolved reptile!
This is Creationist a right stir, eeer eeer.
Tabloid Journalism
Thu Jan 22 00:52:39 GMT 2009 by Joker
RandyDarwinsTheoryFactoryReallyisAtrocious says luvely page 3 stunna
Sarah Palin, 44.
Gotcha! Howzat!
Why Did You Make Such A Misleading Title?
Thu Jan 22 00:21:27 GMT 2009 by Nyarlat
Why the title: "Darwin was wrong"? I really got a shock.
It should have been "Darwins tree not complex enough. Evolution
still valid."
Now the creationists will come out like pests and hopp on that
Non scientists will get only the message on your cover.
(Bad english? Sorry i am german.)
Has the NewScientist become the SUN for science?
Why Did You Make Such A Misleading Title?
Thu Jan 22 11:14:08 GMT 2009 by Julian
Evolution in progress I'm afraid... like the peacock's tail the more
absurd the adornment the more attention it gets, but the peacock has
to be fit enough to maintain a ridiculous display.
As long as NS remains "fit" in content, it can support the
absurdity, when the tail becomes too heavy to lift and the peacock
seems weak or the bird just looks deformed to the peahen fitter or
sleeker birds will be preferred.
In other words, I wish they'd stop it too, but I'll put up with it
as long as the work-out in the articles etc, but they've been
looking a bit tired lately, esp. the whitespaced web layout which is
like an unfit peacock pumped up with helium to stay upright.
Why Did You Make Such A Misleading Title?
Thu Jan 22 13:21:59 GMT 2009 by Pole vaulter Walter
No need to apologise for being German old boy..
Why Did You Make Such A Misleading Title?
Fri Jan 23 16:36:56 GMT 2009 by Valerie
"Darwin's tree not complex enough. Evolution still valid"
Yes, that's really going to sell magazines and get people clicking
on the website, isn't it?
Love The Article--Must Revise My Project
Thu Jan 22 00:40:50 GMT 2009 by Owen
As usual, science is amazing. Where else can we questions our belief
system and find out we need to revise once more to get to the core
answer !
The Irony of this article for me is that I was researching an art
Project based on the revised "tree of life" for Birds. Now I just
need to do more research ! Thats OK by me, the more crossing lines
and HGT related jumps I need to add, (when available) the better !!
Thanks ! Would love to see some relevant links if possible too.
A Tangled Bank Of Genes
Thu Jan 22 03:11:51 GMT 2009 by David Martin
Back in 1973, I got to hear Gareth Nelson explain cladistics. I (a
grad student in plant systematics) thought his approach wouldn't go
very far in plants, where hybridizations are common and phylogenies
might be reticulate rather than tree-like. It's somehow reassuring
to know that I was thinking of the correct sorts of problems with
creating trees of life.
It's interesting to see the same sorts of concerns returning to the
Evolutionary Tree Would Be A Fractal
Thu Jan 22 05:18:42 GMT 2009 by Richard
...unfortunately our 'limiting' environment prevents it from fully
I'm sure that if the tree of life as we understand it today were
visualised as a tree you would see that new twigs grow wherever the
environment permits it.
Just like taxonomy has a binary has/hasn't structure, the
visualisation could be the same. The difference between the 'crows
feet' structure of taxonomy and such a visualisation, i guess, would
be to understand what constitutes a 'bigger' evolutionary difference
that differentiates the trunk/branches/twigs.
If such a tree were to be drawn up correctly, the interesting part
would be if there was a missing section of the tree/fractal, perhaps
occupied by species that can't exist in Earth's environment ;)
I Must Add. . .
Thu Jan 22 05:36:55 GMT 2009 by Richard
I must add that the article slants towards a tree of life having to
be 'viewed' from the bottom up.
HGT and the like are akin to photosynthesis of a tree.
Information can be visualised/conveyed any way you like, it all
depends on the ratios/lengths/formats you choose to use.
This article could be encoded in HTML/ZIP/text/hebrew/the binary
number "1" for all intents and purposes.
Essentially the tree of life could be conveyed as a binary digit
"1", where 1 = alive :)
I think the idea of questioning the tree structure is a tad
ludicrous. "the tree of 1%" was looking at a twig, which is not
entirely disconnected from the trunk.
Thu Jan 22 11:05:44 GMT 2009 by Julian
Tree-trees... the term for the joining of the woody parts is
inosculation, which can occur between parts of the same tree,
between trees of the same species and even between trees of
different species. [roll on the semantic web--took me ages to pin
down the name for the concept...]
I thought/hoped that the mangrove provided good examples of this
(then I could have said we still have a Tree of Life, it's just been
been Mangal-ed), but can't find any discussion of it, though the
Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inosculation lists
many other tree types it's common in.
Bork's work was good, and Dagan and Martin's jibe about the Tree of
1% is a bit unfair--the thread, because it was conserved,
demonstrates the vertical route, which provides a useful reference
for the determination of HGT.
Oh, and re Polemos... WT* does "gravity looped back on itself"
actually *mean*? I'm all for stretching my brain but I don't want to
have to unpick it first... I've only just finished knitting it.
New Scientist Was Wrong
Thu Jan 22 11:22:17 GMT 2009 by Gary Smith
Really, was that absolutely necessary? The headline "Darwin Was
Wrong" will be jumped on by creationists and all the ID mob and they
almost certainly won't even bother to read the article. It implies
that everything Darwin did was wrong, instead of stating the case
that new discoveries, that he could not possibly have known about,
have moved the "tree of life" aspect of Darwinism on to a new level.
I expect better of this magazine than attention grabbing headlines
that mislead and are swill to the anti science swine. Shame on you.
In What Else Was Darwin Wrong?
Thu Jan 22 11:40:00 GMT 2009 by paul forsyth
First it was Marx that was proved to be nothing but a goat. Then
Freud that was toppled. Now, Gad Zooks! You even admit that hoary
old bugger was wrong about his tree-of-life. By Jupiter! Who would
have believed it?
Not Justified
Thu Jan 22 11:41:08 GMT 2009 by Raymond Katebaka
The article is not yet convincing!! I need to internalise it more
than that.
Thu Jan 22 12:21:02 GMT 2009 by novaya
this article is too exhausting to understand
Thu Jan 22 12:59:45 GMT 2009 by Awesom-0
I know what you mean. All that reading really makes me lose my
breath and concentration.
Darwin Was Half Wrong But Creos, Idiots And Alike Are 1000% Wrong.
Thu Jan 22 13:04:35 GMT 2009 by Roger Garcia-Marenco
The creos, IDiots and alike are happy, they think that saying Darwin
was wrong makes them right, poor prokayrotes easily and willfuly
will live in oblivion the next million years. What a crocks.
Gm By Virus
Thu Jan 22 13:20:27 GMT 2009 by Valerie Moss
What is the evidence that viruses can transfer DNA from one species
to another?
If viruses can 'cut and paste' DNA from one species into another,
why all the fuss about GM foods? According to this article, it's
been going on for years.
Gm By Virus
Thu Jan 22 13:40:07 GMT 2009 by Julian
How did man become susceptible to Ebola and why is it so lethal... a
little sideways movement of genetic material might have done that -
in fact, since being 100% quickly lethal is disadvantageous it's a
not-unlikely possibility.
We call it GM because it's "modification" and largely too primitive
to be dignified with the term "engineering".
In the beginning we took a shotgun to a grandfather clock and hoped
to find a Patek-Philippe in the debris. Now we use a rifle to try
and adjust the time. When we can predict with confidence the
outcomes of our GM efforts we can relax a bit...
[And FWIW, a really nasty celery that burnt the hands of pickers was
once produced by perfectly normal plant breeding techniques, IIRC...
tigers are natural and have been around for years, but they can
still eat you.]
What's The Problem?
Thu Jan 22 13:33:31 GMT 2009 by J Andersen
The only problem I can see here is that we have a tendency to
oversimplify things. The concept of species may be a handy
abstraction, but that is all it is; the only natural biological unit
is the individual. Sp waht if the tree of life is not a strict
linear graph of pure species? As I read this article, the reality
seems to be that it is nore like a network, but one that seen from a
distance looks a lot like a tree. It isn't as if we now have to
accept that humans are equally closely related to all other species;
the other apes are still closer to us than elephants, oak trees and
Reality is always going to be more complicated than our abstractions
of it--otherwise they wouldn't be abstractions. And that,
incidentally, is the joy of science: that we will never know the
full truth--there is always going to be more to discover. How dull
it would be if we knew all answers.
Darwinism Is False!!!
Thu Jan 22 14:20:11 GMT 2009 by nader
please reflect on the conceptual and logical meaning of this article,
that is instead of a distinct separate set of DNA instructions for
each species , we found a distributed pool of general instructions
for all species for all chemical aspects of life ,, and that DNA
does not dictate form or behaviour , and since morphology is a
direct result of cells behaviour , then we are forced to conclude
that the mechanism of evolution is utterly unknown and that the
darwinian explanation is completely false as we now know that
pattern formation is not a physico / chemical phenomena but a cell
behaviour one which is totally above and beyond what DNA + chemical
epigenetics can do .
Darwinism Is False!!!
Thu Jan 22 14:58:24 GMT 2009 by Julian
I have. You're on the wrong side of the mirror.
Darwinism Is False!!!
Thu Jan 22 15:39:47 GMT 2009 by nader
please J. dont just say a meaningless word and go , this is a very
serious matter , it is a world view -so i would like to read your
scientific refutation of what i said , and if you cannot then my
word to you is : those who cannot hear let them be forever mute.
Darwinism Is False!!!
Thu Jan 22 15:54:36 GMT 2009 by Polemos
"please J. dont just say a meaningless word and go"
Does "J" stand for "jackal"? "Yelp and run" is the usual tactic of
this type of creature. LOL
Darwinism Is False!!!
Thu Jan 22 15:11:06 GMT 2009 by Polemos
You are right. Darwinism is a dead branch of the tree of knowledge.
The universe is inside a black hole. Two accretion arms (analogous
to the arms of a spiral galaxy) are the reference and signal beams
of a holographic setup. The buffer zone between the tips of the two
accretion arms--the central black hole--is their interference
pattern (whose nodes are elementary particles, molecules, cells and
people). This interference pattern is a nonlocal property of the
whole holographic universe, just as Erwin Schroedinger and David
Bohm posited it.
Darwinism Is False!!!
Thu Jan 22 16:12:30 GMT 2009 by Joker
Polemos you are a great man but what will happen in the year 2209
when some future Polemos-type says 'Polemos is wrong, science is
dead'. I mean that would be sacrilegious! We all know Polemos was
the greatest scientific mind eclipsing Darwin, Einstein and Newton.
Darwinism Is False!!!
Thu Jan 22 15:36:02 GMT 2009 by Julian
I take it back. *I* must be on the wrong side of the mirror...
someone or something must have performed a CPT (that's Cognitive
Polemos Transformation) on me.
Oh look, a piece of cake with a label on it... what does it say...
"Bite me."
Darwinism Is False!!!
Thu Jan 22 15:57:48 GMT 2009 by nader
what mirror? what cake? what cpt? , why cant we be serious? again
i ask you to show your S/L/C refutation of the fact that :
1-darwinism = DNA mutations + N.S. 2- DNA does not dictate
morphology. 3- DNA is not related to behaviour ( ie. where are the
""catness"" form and behaviour in the cat dna--tell us ). 4-
conclusion : on what "something" darwinism is built???.finally this
"something" may prove darwinism is nonsense , i predict it WILL.
Darwinism Is False!!!
Thu Jan 22 16:16:53 GMT 2009 by Polemos
Two strands of the DNA molecule project the reference and signal
beams of a holographic setup. The interference pattern created by
the two DNA beams is the organism's morphogenetic field.
"The organization of any biological system is established by a
complex electrodynamic field which is, in part, determined by its
atomic physiochemical components. This field, in turn, determines
the behavior and orientation of these components. This dynamic is
mediated through wave-based genomes wherein DNA functions as the
holographic projector of the psychophysical system--a quantum
Dropping a level of observation below quantum biochemistry and
conventional biophysics, this holographic paradigm proposes that a
biohologram determines the development of the human embryo; that we
are a quantum bodymind with consciousness informing the whole
process through the level of information. They postulated DNA as the
possible holographic projector of the biohologram, patterning the
three-dimensional electromagnetic standing and moving wave front
that constitutes our psychophysical being--quantum bioholography.
Recent development
The Gariaev (Garyaev) group (1994)[7] has proposed a theory of the
Wave-based Genome where the DNA-wave functions as a Biocomputer.
They suggest (1) that there are genetic "texts", similar to natural
context-dependent texts in human language; (2) that the chromosome
apparatus acts simultaneously both as a source and receiver of these
genetic texts, respectively decoding and encoding them; (3) that the
chromosome continuum acts like a dynamical holographic grating,
which displays or transduces weak laser light and solitonic
electro-acoustic fields.[8]
The distribution of the character frequency in genetic texts is
fractal, so the nucleotides of DNA molecules are able to form
holographic pre-images of biostructures. This process of "reading
and writing" the very matter of our being manifests from the
genome's associative holographic memory in conjunction with its
quantum nonlocality. Rapid transmission of genetic information and
gene-expression unite the organism as holistic entity embedded in
the larger Whole. The system works as a biocomputer--a wave
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holographic_paradigm )
Darwinism Is False!!!
Thu Jan 22 16:28:50 GMT 2009 by nader
since darwinism is an naturalistic explanation for existance of life
on earth , then its foundation MUST rest on very firm ground ,
referring to my a/m conceptual demolition of that foundation based
on the most up todate scientific findings , i sicerely hope that a
true pro. scientist enter this discussion with only facts ; no might
, may , could have been , perhaps....etc. ---if no one respond then
1- scientists do not read this scientific magazine or 2- they have
no true scientific facts to prove the opposite of what i presented
as facts. i sincerely would be very glad to enrich this discussion ,
and please no jokes , no side-steps , no meaningless just talk , as
i mentioned this is a world view and only the most careless and
irresponsible person who does not take his world view seriously.
Darwinism Is False!!!
Thu Jan 22 19:30:24 GMT 2009 by Julian
Very well...
The mirror--you asked us to "reflect"; and I referred to Alice's
Looking Glass, which transported her to a completely different
reality. Hence the cake (though I may have got Through the Looking
Glass and Wonderland confused) on which the label should have been
"Eat me" but in this case became "Bite me"--similar semantics,
different meaning. I was suggesting, humourously, that our
respective realities barely make contact.
Obviously this was an at-least-partially-unsuccessful attempt at
As for the rest, you said
"DNA does not dictate form or behaviour"
If by that you meant DNA alone doesn't then, allowing for the
necessary influence of the environment and particular that of the
initial machinery (e.g. ovum) that implements the coding, it would
be hard to disagree. If you meant DNA is not a major influence on
form etc. then I would disagree vigorously. Where do instincts
originate if not from the form and structure of the neural system
laid down according to the code?
"morphology is a direct result of cells behaviour"
I'm not sure I know what that means. Cart and Horse spring to mind.
"...then we are forced to conclude that the mechanism of evolution
is utterly unknown"
I think you are confusing the process of evolution with the
mechanism of heredity. As for heredity, we have DNA and RNA, plus
methylation and maybe other epigenetic factors (an interesting
adaptation that potentially makes the phenotype more responsive to
shorter-term changes in the environment than mutation/HGT plus
"and that the darwinian explanation is completely false"
The only thing missing from the standard formulation of Darwinian
evolution (variability, hereditability, selection) is to make
explicit the assumption of a relatively stationary background...
apart from that Darwinian evolution is remarkably successful: even
the old "Biston Betularia" (peppered moth) issue has now been
resolved in favour of Darwin. Yes, ideas of HGT etc. improve our
understanding and broaden our concept of "inheritance" but it's
still the persistence of one or more coded factors because they
confer some advantage.
"as we now know that pattern formation is not a physico / chemical
phenomena but a cell behaviour one which is totally above and beyond
what DNA + chemical epigenetics can do"
Explain that.
Why can't we be serious? We are serious when we are presented with
serious, coherent, evidentially well-found, sound argument.
Nil points thus far unfortunately.
Ah. 'scuse me, I think the White Rabbit wants to know the time.
[and yes, I may have not quite dotted my i's or crossed by t's but I
think most people will be able to join the (missing) dots]
Why Darwin Was Wrong About The Tree Of Life
Thu Jan 22 16:22:37 GMT 2009 by Dale Kristensen
I must say that given the ongoing efforts of the scientific
community to dispel the upsurge in creationism, I was taken aback by
the provocative headline of your latest issue (Darwin Was Wrong). I
am quite certain that the nuances and subtleties surrounding the
argument that the "tree of life' may not accurately describe all of
life's genetic lineages will most certainly be lost amongst that
crowd. Instead, you have given them another banner to hold up to the
masses and say: 'See! New Scientist admits that evolution is wrong
too!' You have done a great disservice to biology and to science!
Shame on you for putting profit above knowledge.
Why Darwin Was Wrong About The Tree Of Life
Thu Jan 22 16:40:41 GMT 2009 by nader
please DK. forget now about darwinism vs. creationism , seek only
facts without any preconcieved ideas or prejudice, this article just
mentioned some latest scientific facts , why are you mad about that
? suppose one day FACTS proved without any doubt that darwinism is
false , would you then say : i made up my mind , dont bother me with
facts !!!!!
Why Darwin Was Wrong About The Tree Of Life
Thu Jan 22 17:06:36 GMT 2009 by Polemos
Darwinism is wrong. Read my comment here: (long URL--click here)
This comment breached our terms of use and has been removed.

This comment breached our terms of use and has been removed.
An Important Point
Thu Jan 22 18:26:18 GMT 2009 by Rich
The tree of life assumes that this LUCA isthe beginning of all
current life, but it seems silly to assume that a LUCA could exist
at all. Surley lifeforms are continuously being created and starting
off their own trees. Since they are created under similar conditions
(i.e. on earth) then it is likley that simialr genetic patters could
form (becasue other totally different ones would not survive).
It would be more akin to a garden of life, with many different
trees, grasses, mosses and vines all working together is nome sort
of symbiotic way.
Thu Jan 22 19:05:17 GMT 2009 by Tony Bennett
This article was written so badly I skipped most of it. A science
article should begin with a reasoned summary of its conclusions, but
this was more like a serial or cheap soap opera on television. Bad
writing this time, guys.
Fri Jan 23 10:23:24 GMT 2009 by Graham Lawton
Dear Tony,
Sorry you didn't like the article. If you want something on the same
topic that begins with a reasoned summary of its conclusions, can I
recommend reading a scientific journal rather than a popular science
magazine--perhaps this will be more to your liking
Sat Jan 24 02:33:22 GMT 2009 by Amy
Sorry for you Graham if you believe New Scientist is anything but a
collection of over hyped guesswork and fairytales nowadays.
Banyan Of The Prokaryotes
Thu Jan 22 19:51:38 GMT 2009 by Pat
Obviously the great botanist Darwin would have thought of a very
complicated, inosculating tree like the strangler fig/banyan Ficus
What About Viruses?
Thu Jan 22 20:39:28 GMT 2009 by MJ
I know that NewScientist published recently about viruses and their
roles in evolution, but it should have been mentioned again here...
What About Viruses?
Fri Jan 23 10:11:54 GMT 2009 by Graham Lawton
It is--there's a reference to it here
"In fact, by some reckonings, 40 to 50 per cent of the human genome
consists of DNA imported horizontally by viruses, some of which has
taken on vital biological functions (New Scientist, 27 August 2008,
p 38)."
What About Viruses?
Sat Jan 24 13:09:41 GMT 2009 by insomniac
Seems to me that horizontal transfer eliminates random mutation as
the driving force for evolutionary change. Mutations are routinely
eliminated by the immune system. Horizontal transfers involve a
viable string of code being recognized and moved to a new location
in another species, where it can function. That's a very precise
process, quite the opposite from random.
Thepurelogic 1
Thu Jan 22 20:41:21 GMT 2009 by george

i want to really and truly "congratulate" NewScientist for this very
logical and
insightful scientific publication.
It's Not Darwin's Tree
Thu Jan 22 21:23:48 GMT 2009 by Dr Milton Wainwright
Darwin's ideas were rarely novel.(Search "wainwright science on
Google for "It's Not Darwin's or Wallace's Theory"). Like most
everything else he is given credit for, Darwin did not originate the
idea of the evolutionary tree of life. (He also admitted that
Patrick Matthew and Charles Wells beat him to natural selection!)
Lamarck came up with a similar tree in 1809(See Mark
Wheelis,2007,"Darwin Not First to Sketch a Tree of Life" Science
315,597.Darwin then,did not get the tree of life wrong simply
because it is not his idea!
Dr Milton Wainwright,Dept.Molecular Biology and
Biotechnology,University of Sheffield,UK.
It's Not Darwin's Tree
Thu Jan 22 22:06:49 GMT 2009 by Polemos
Darwin owes much of his popularity to his beard. He is a surrogate
God to modern "atheists." Karl Marx was another "God."
It's Not Darwin's Tree
Thu Jan 22 22:16:49 GMT 2009 by Polemos
"Perhaps his worst blasphemy was to mock the cult of Karl Marx,
expressing a particular dislike for that "vast solemn woolly
uneventful beard that must have made all normal exercise impossible
... It is exactly like Das Kapital in its inane abundance." With
this picture in mind Wells planned, though never wrote, a debunking
book to be called The Shaving of Karl Marx." (A biography of Herbert
George Wells, http://www.ansible.co.uk/writing/ft-wells.html )
It's Not Darwin's Tree
Fri Jan 23 20:50:16 GMT 2009 by bostonEddie
I think it is quite appropriate that Polemos quotes H.G. Wells.
Wells was, after all, the author of that famous FICTIONAL work, "The
Time Machine."
Darwin's Poison Ivy
Thu Jan 22 21:35:00 GMT 2009 by Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry
Doesn't really seem too far fetched from the common explanation of
potions, symbioses, and feng shui.
Poor Journalism
Thu Jan 22 22:12:32 GMT 2009 by Thom
I'm frankly surprised to see this come out of New Scientist. For
years I've valued the magazine as one of the better sources of
scientific information that dispenses with much of the hyperbole.
This article has disappointed me. When I read it I quickly realised
that Darwin was wrong about ASPECTS of the tree of life, not the
whole thing in general. 'Darwin was wrong'? No, 'Darwin didn't know
some things'. It's despicable journalism and you should be ashamed.
Re: Why Darwin Was Wrong About The Tree Of Life
Thu Jan 22 22:16:21 GMT 2009 by 4w578i
It's more of a lawn.
Thu Jan 22 23:03:45 GMT 2009 by Mark
I think the way this article is framed is deliberately designed to
provoke responses rather than presenting a balanced commentary, i.e.
it's a beat-up.
As I recall, Darwin's contribution was the theory of evolution via
natural selection, and his assumption was that the diversity on
which natural selection could act arose from mutation. He also
assumed that heritable information was not exchanged across species.
The "tree of life" is a consequence of these assumptions, not a
theory in itself.
HGT (which I remember reading about 30 years ago, in connection with
"outbreaks" of Down's Syndrome) means that one of his assumptions
was incorrect, and a consequence is that the "tree of life" no
longer follows so easily. It says nothing about the important part,
evolution by natural selection.
In fact, HGT seems to offer a potential solution to a much knottier
problem within Darwinian evolution, which is how new species arise.
Isolation and mutation don't seem to offer the discrete changes that
enable new species to arise in a short period, without also leading
to the restricted diversity we associate in in-breeding and reduced
likelihood of survival. For example, a small group of a species
which is isolated and develops a favourable mutation can only have
it dominate if there is a degree of interbreeding, and the continued
maintenance of a separate species requires continued interbreeding -
this seems at odds with being "fitter".
No more beat-ups ("beats-up?")--look for the valuable implications
Thu Jan 22 23:38:10 GMT 2009 by Polemos
The foundation of Darwin's theory--randomness--has lost its currency
in modern physics. The universe's vacuum is a quantum gravity
computer. "A quantum gravity computer might be able to see its
result without having to run its algorithms." (long URL--click
That is why all mutations are intelligently designed. Let Darwin
rest in peace
Pattern Creating Active Information Field (aif).
Thu Jan 22 23:30:49 GMT 2009 by nader
all "holografic" speculations suffer from devastating facts : 1- any
dependence upon DNA is decieving , since DNA information depends
upon the speculated scheme (circular reasoning)--so no DNA before
the scheme and no scheme before DNA. 2- all assumed electrodynamic
laws are totally general ones , as such it need specification (
boundary conditions + constants + initial conditions....etc. ) for
each of the millions life forms , back to step 0 ; what is the
source of this specifications?------OK. let us follow the lead of
bohm ( active information) , sheldrake ( morphogenetic fields ) ,
hoffman ( conscious realism ) , and the main postulate of general
relativity ie. ; mass / energy distribution DICTATES space
morphology , then we can consider the existance of (AIF) which
dictate all living morphology under the directing causal power of
higher conscious agents , and here we reached the uppermost horizon
of empirical reality where the boundary of VEILED REALITY starts- (
refer to despagnat book " on physics and philosophy ) -in which no
human knowledge can ever penetrate. -----why all of this huge
structure? because we as humans have a very strong urge for
explanation and all material explanations utterly failed , if any
one in doubt ;please just try to imagine how sequences of DNA bases
could possibly dictate form , then try how DNA could do it , then
you will find that in principle NO concievable translation could
bridge the gap between DNA as a chemical molecule and morphology --
try before you write. thanks
Times Are Tough For Magazines . . .
Fri Jan 23 00:43:58 GMT 2009 by Pareidolius
"There's no such thing as bad publicity" or so the old saying goes.
However, I think your hyperbolic cover will bring you nothing but
praise from wackaloons and scorn from those of us who are trying to
promote some small degree of scientific literacy in the public
commons. I hope it was worth it.
Web Of Human Evolution
Fri Jan 23 01:07:44 GMT 2009 by Mark A Shuttleworth
This makes complete sense. A recent National Geographic program on
the First American (Indians), pointed out that their
morpholigal/skeletal, ancestors are from/like the Pacific Islands,
while the mitochondrial ancestors seem to be from Caucasians in
central Eurasia.
Web Of Human Evolution
Mon Jan 26 09:33:51 GMT 2009 by Stig Ronning
Perhaps semen from two men of different areas would adjust their
enzymes to each other so that a female egg would get genetic
materials from both--resulting in a hybrid?
If the offspring is a female and she also simultaneously copulate
with men of different areas this would enhance the difference
between other offsprings and her offspring again, and so on... soon
there would have been another Homo Smartus?
Many people are drawn to group sex--this is perhaps the reason?
A Curtain-fig Or Strangler-fig Metaphor
Fri Jan 23 01:25:00 GMT 2009 by Jase
More like a curtain or strangler fig tree metaphor, with many of the
branches overlapping and fusing together to some extent. (if a tree
metaphor at all).
A web metaphor is better, for what i think would be literally
perhaps called reticular (network) evolution, in the instances that
Just In Time For Darwin Day!
Fri Jan 23 03:19:45 GMT 2009 by J May
Hmm. Wasn't it just a few years ago that National Geographic came
out with their big magazine cover asking "Was Darwin Wrong?" Here is
your answer from the evolutionists themselves. Give 'em credit for
being willing to be honest--finally.
Some evolutionary bioligists are actually saying that our
fundamental view of biology has to change. Great, but the problem of
complexity and information remains. Horizontal gene transfer acts on
already existing information just like mutations. Somewhere we have
to get a mechanism to write the new code necessary for new
biological organs and abilities. Just imagine the amount of new
genetic information needed to create an eye or a wing. In the case
of a wing, there are so many simultaneous changes that need to take
place in the animals body to make flying a possibility. Horizontal
gene transfer, hybridization, and symbiosis cannot provide such a
The evidence is showing that the whole idea of the tree of life is a
fiction of Darwin's imagination. But of course, we all know there
are no weaknesses in evolutionary theory and that since it is called
a scientific theory, it is an unassailable fact. Looks like it is
time to go back to the drawing board. It is clear that the jury is
still out on this one in spite of the bluffing and boasting of the
Darwinites. Their faith has brought them a long way, but we need a
little bit of evidence to balance it out. These kinds of discoveries
will not help. Still congratulations to these scientists who are not
afraid to tell it like it is even though it is bound to be an
unpopular stance in the Darwinite community.
Just In Time For Darwin Day!
Fri Jan 23 03:46:14 GMT 2009 by Liza
>>Wasn't it just a few years ago that National Geographic came out
with their big magazine cover asking "Was Darwin Wrong?"
Yes, and inside the magazine they went on to answer their own
question- Darwin was NOT wrong.
Another case of a pop-science magazine using sensational headlines
to increase sales.
Darwin's Model
Fri Jan 23 03:40:39 GMT 2009 by Michael
Of course the tree is an approximation. If it were perfect it would
contain a picture of every organism that ever lived, its name and
address, and as a bonus it's genome, sequenced and stored on a USB
drive. You could draw special lines on the trees where suspected HGT
took place, or hybridizations, or nowadays, genetic manipulation.
Titling this "Darwin was Wrong" is just silly shock factor. How
could Darwin be "wrong" about DNA seriously??? That's like Newton
being wrong about String theory.
The Bigger Picture Of Evolution
Fri Jan 23 05:56:39 GMT 2009 by Darren
The cover title "Darwin was wrong" is a bit of over-kill. Charles
Darwin "branching tree of life" is still a part of the picture of
evolution on earth. Centuries have past since Darwins time and
technology has provided better means to observe and record the
natural world. Updating the theory of evolution was always going to
happen as more knowledge is attained. HIV is an example of HGT, in
this case it has produced a killer disease which mankind would love
to get rid of. Nevertheless the immuno-viruses are one well
documented virus which has inserted its genes across several species
. . . no Wonder
Fri Jan 23 06:00:43 GMT 2009 by ACB
No wonder my science students have problems understanding that
scientists get it wrong sometimes, but that's ok! Why did the
headline not say something like: "Significant evidence leads to the
expansion of Darwin's theory of evolution"?
Biology Is In Crisis
Fri Jan 23 06:27:34 GMT 2009 by P. A. Wahid
Biologyââ¬â¢s is mainly based on assumptions rather than facts.
Biological program is assumed to be constituted by genome (based on
molecular gene) and genetics is now in trouble; life is assumed to
have originated from non-life and so all the theories on origin of
life stay in the non-life domain without being able to enter the
province of life; biological species are assumed to have originated
through chance evolution, and so the results of every study in
evolutionary biology are interpreted to suit this assumption. The
consequence is shocking. Although biology is the science of life,
biologists do not know what life is; geneticists do not know what
the gene is; and evolutionists do not know what species is! This is
the plight of biology now. Biology literature continues to grow at
an alarming rate in these fields! Scientists never stop to think
whether science is advancing in the right direction but take an
adamant and religious attitude that all these theories are
scientific and correct.
Strong scientific arguments have been advanced against particulate
gene concept, theories of origin of life, and Darwinism-based theory
of evolution at my website http://www.islamicscienceforum.org
I have argued for the non-particulate gene concept originally
proposed by Wilhelm Johannsen in 1911 and accordingly a computer
model of the organism is developed. An organism is natural
biocomputer with hardware (all the chemical structures in the cell,
tissues and organs) and biosoftware (non-physical biological
program). The bioprogram is not constituted by genome but it may be
considered non-particulate like our computer programs. The
biosoftware is stored on the chromosomes, which is the memory
storage (hard disk), as information is stored brain memory. Life is
defined as the manifestations of the execution of the bioprogram,
and death as the deletion of the bioprogram from the cells. A dead
body is like a computer without software. The soul mentioned
Scriptures is nothing but the non-physical biological program stored
on the chromosomes. The forms of artificial life are our computers,
software-based toys, robots, etc.
Based on this concept, a theory of programmed organic evolution was
proposed to replace Darwinââ¬â¢s theory.
Tree Of Life / Dna
Fri Jan 23 08:00:28 GMT 2009 by Doon Boshoff
The Tree of Life was fist mentioned by the Sumerians many thousads
of years ago. According to the students of their cuneiform tablets,
the manipulation of DNA by the Anunnaki explains the Missing Link in
Darwin's theory. The evolving from homo erectus to homo sapiens came
about in too short a time.
Some scientists should get off their high horses and stop
disregarding these ancient writings as mythical. They might just
find some very interesting facts. A book by Michael Tellinger,
"Slave Species of god", could open up their eyes!
Someone Was Wrong
Fri Jan 23 08:06:04 GMT 2009 by Nik Walker
The obviously sensationalist tone of your title...
'Darwin was Wrong' by Graham Lawton
Is not only misleading it is blatant stupidity!
New Scientist used to deliver good science coverage...this type of
hyperbole will eventually consign the magazine to the landfill of
tabloid rubbish where this sort of cynical trashy headline
deserve...the actual article will only be regarded good enough to
see service in an emergency after first providing excellent wrapping
for the chips that pre-empted that emergency!
It was a crass and warped idea...New Scientist editors should be
thoroughly ashamed of themselves for allowing the article to proceed
under that misleading and disingenuous title!
Religious fundamentalists will be praising your stupidity to the
rafter tops...and their flagship the Discovery institute will be
quote mining and misquoting for many happy deluded hours on this
piece alone...
The actual article has been made totally unimportant...it matters
not a jot if it was well researched or well worded or indeed
actually had a point...all energies will be focussed on that
misleading title...
Well done you have done science and especially evolutionary theory a
great and bitter disservice...and that is unforgivable for a so
called science publication.
Extremely bad decision...one which all science will regret...
Someone Was Wrong
Fri Jan 23 09:30:29 GMT 2009 by Polemos
The positivistic belief in "objective reality" is dying. We are
entering the postscientific era of quantum nonlocality
(indeterminism, lawlessness) and self-referential concepts (myths).
Data Structures 101
Fri Jan 23 09:55:20 GMT 2009 by Richard Deasington
This reminds me of a discussion in a 'Data Structures 101' type
class in computer science many years ago. The tutor posed the
question--what dat structure would best be used to represent a
family tree for a geneological database.
Instant response--an n-ary tree--i.e. each node has a parent and
zero or more subsidiary nodes.
Then the problems start--what about second marriages, illegitimate
births, incest, adoption... and pretty rapidly you realise that
real-life isn't about n-ary trees--it's more like a mesh.
The essential problem here is the mixing of two concepts--that of a
structure to represent the data and that of the lineage. A tree is
nice because it provides both a structure and implies the lineage
However in the real world the data needs to be represented as a mesh
and that doesn't lend itself to illustrating lineage--at least not
when only two dimensions are used to represent the data. Solution -
separate the two requirements and accept that a more complex model
is needed--no big controversy.
Data Structures 101
Fri Jan 23 10:29:49 GMT 2009 by Polemos
You do not see the wood for the "tree." :)
The "tree" does exist, but each of its taxons is
self-referential--its appearance cannot be explained based on
natural culling of random mutations. According to modern physics,
the universe is a quantum gravity computer, and "a quantum gravity
computer might be able to see its result without having to run its
("Outside of time: The quantum gravity computer" (long URL--click
here) )
That is why the only possible explanation of the tree's growth is
teleological. By the way, a real tree, too, develops based on the
pre-existing blueprint encoded in the seed.
"what Would Darwin Have Made Of That?"
Fri Jan 23 12:40:46 GMT 2009 by Jim Macdonald
"What would Darwin have made of that?"
Sounds like a Strangler Fig. : -) Still a tree but not necessarily
one individual and certainly not one stem/root. The tree is an
analogy, like all analogies, they have to be discarded at some point
in our learning. It'll still be good for primary school classes.
Wrong? No, Merely Incomplete
Fri Jan 23 12:53:49 GMT 2009 by Paul Braterman
Horizontal gene transfer has been known for decades, and the most
spectacular horizontal gene transfer of all is the one that gave
rise to eukaryotes.
Among bacteria, especially ancient lineages, this makes the tree
more like a web, but it hardly calls into doubt the relationships
among multicellular organisms.
This comment would be mere pedantic nitpicking, were it not for the
well articulated and mischievous opposition to evolution science,
especially in the United States. If you were to lead with a story
that said " Dalton was wrong" (and he was) because he thought the
formula of water was HO, no great harm would be done. This case is
Science Will Survive Darwin's Death
Fri Jan 23 13:04:41 GMT 2009 by Mats
Like I said in another post, this is no surprose for Darwin critics.
The more science advances the less likely the evolutionary myths
Stay tunned for more scientific arguments against the theory of
Science Will Survive Darwin's Death
Fri Jan 23 13:41:29 GMT 2009 by DW
The issue for the Darwinists is that not only have they invested a
lot of emotion and public "salesmanship" into the Tree of Life, but
the twin-nested hierarchy pattern has been the best evidence they
have for evolution. The problem for sticking HGT and distant
hybridization into the theory is that there becomes no reason to
expect a hierarchy pattern. So it ceases to be evidence for
evolution. Now, it does solve the embarrassing problems of missing
intermediate forms, abrupt appearance, and unidentifiable phylogeny.
It becomes Gould's PE on steroids. But as Gould himself said: The
pattern is the problem for HGT. Besides, twin nested hierarchy has
been the best tool Darwinists have in their debate against
creationists, so don't count on them giving up on the tree without a
Braches Cross In Tress Why Not In Life
Fri Jan 23 13:07:25 GMT 2009 by Kristina
I don't see why people are freaking, it can still be a "Tree of
Life" its just in a different aspect. Branches and leaves cross in
trees, but they still form in a verticle way. if we all "started"
from the same microbs and all that, than i'm not surprised that we
can swap DNA with other species, we were all one or a few in the
And viruses, we all knew this, we all new that viruses could mutate
and transfer from one species to another.. nothing in this article
surprises me, but we need to stop trying to discredit past minds.
Darwin opened a whole new world for us, he was limited but he
understood the process better than most (still does) and you can't
just eliminate over a hundred years of science...
If you can have hybrid floras, why not the funa... this jsut seems
so commone sense.
Mutations in species is what causes evolution in the first place or
a need to survive with i still feel would be under mutations... i
agree with the study though, finding out which species "influenced"
others will be very important in understanding how certain traits
are associated to specific families, when theroretically that
mutation shouldn't of happened.
Tree Of Life Silliness
Fri Jan 23 14:16:18 GMT 2009 by Ron Seiden
Seems the whole argument is over details (how it happenned) vs. net
results (what happenned). Regardless of how new traits are acquired
(mutation, HGT, viral, cross-breeding), the net result is the
evolution of new traits. Besides, why get so upset over what's just
a simplified illustration to help explain evolution? Just because we
can now (better) understand how species change does not refute the
observed macro world.
Why Darwin Was Wrong About The Tree Of Life
Fri Jan 23 14:47:32 GMT 2009 by Shima K Gyoh
I find it hard to believe that the lateral gene transfer in
microorganisms nullifies the observable facts Darwin exposed and we
have verified over the last 150 years. LGT no more contradicts the
tree of life than quantum mechanics contradicts Newtonian mechanics,
they merely operate at different levels. LGT in multicellular
organisms amounts to infection, and if the occasional one results in
a type of hybridisation, it just proves that there are no hard and
fast rules in nature.
If there is a tree of life, it's a small anomalous structure growing
out of the web of life," says John Dupr̮̩̉̉, a philosopher of
biology at the University of Exeter, UK. This quotation from the
article is nearly correct, except that the tree of life is neither
small nor an anomalous structure. If this opinion is premised on a
game of numbers, then one celled fellow should be matched against
only one of the trillions of cells in the body of the multicellular
Every Scientist Is Wrong
Fri Jan 23 15:12:15 GMT 2009 by Alex Zakharov
In science any scientist is ALWAYS wrong, because his/her followers
will improve the primary idea, and after some time they will reject
even improved idea to suggest new one based on new principle.
Please, remember: Ptolemaeus --> Copernicus, Newton --> Einstain,
and many others. Science is a development of most convenient models
of world, not more.
During the theory development scientist is always limited by
opportunities of his/her time--already existing theory, experiment
technique, information about other scientists' achievements,
cultural traditions, etc.
Noone ought to blame Ch.Darwin that he didn't know about scientific
discoveries, which were made after him.
Words Words Words
Fri Jan 23 16:01:21 GMT 2009 by Sergio Stagnaro
Since I am born, 77 years ago, I have been told about Darwin's
theory, in positive or negative, of course. In the meantime, I knew
that milion of patients all around the world, even a lot of meine,
dead from diabetes complications and cancer, suffering tremendously.
They were not told if such as theory was either right or false, and
who was Auenbrugger and Josslin, neither!
Does this comment breaches website term of uses?
Good Progress
Fri Jan 23 16:59:53 GMT 2009 by pat
As a creationist, I was happy at the progress made by science, this
fits the model I had in mind regarding individual species forming
long ago and with the capacity to adapt, not just one or two species
being there originally.I have also found that when judged by
athiestic material evolutionist, they nearly always get me and my
kind wronghis comment
"As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth, we await a
third revolution that will see biology changed and strengthened.
None of this should give succour to creationists, whose blinkered
universe is doubtless already buzzing with the news that "New
Scientist has announced Darwin was wrong". Expect to find excerpts
ripped out of context and presented as evidence that biologists are
deserting the theory of evolution en masse. They are not."
As I said I felt some joy that science can be more adapteable, not
buzzing because part of it is being revised. Could there now be some
truth in the rumour that Darwin believed the species to be set?
Hgt Via Epidemic
Fri Jan 23 17:11:51 GMT 2009 by Edward Parilis
Are the epidemics a powerful tool to proliferate useful genes?
What Utter Foolishness
Fri Jan 23 17:19:27 GMT 2009 by Kismit
What utter foolishness this attempt at sensationalization is. The
author has forgotten that there still exists a great deal of debate
about how to define a species. As such, if we accept the authors
views we must say that a donkeys and horses are by definition the
same species because they can hybridize to form an infertile
offspring (a mule). This is clearly not the case, and as we look
more and more towards microbes it becomes even more difficult
because there are so many and we have so few tools to examine them.
Hence, by looking at the core elements we can very easily see a tree
like pattern. Many of the organisms that receive plasmids through
LGT are not considered separate species for quite simple it is the
core DNA that defines them not the additional DNA. If one was to
accept that this additional DNA necessitates the redefining of one
species into two, then one must also define people with down
syndrome as a new species due to the additional chromosome. In
short, Darwin was correct! He simply underestimated the complexity
of the tree. To be more accurate we would need to say the base of
the tree is LUCA and the roots and branches are eukaryotes and
prokaryotes, and the shadow or reflection of the tree is the
archaea. Last of all, the anomalies that occur such as endosymbiosis
is no different than any other real life occurrence. By which, I
simply mean that if a part of the root turns slightly and begins
growing into the trunk, it simply means the tree is warped from the
ideal view- Not that it is no longer a tree, as the author of this
article would have us believe.
One last thing:
Yes, I am a scientist and it is very clear that the author is not.
What Utter Foolishness
Mon Jan 26 10:01:31 GMT 2009 by Stig Ronning
What if semen from both a male horse and a male donkey are injected
simultaneously into a female donkey--and then a female horse?
Wouldn't that result in similar offsprings (mules) that later could
have offsprings among themselves?
I guess we should not underestimate that streams of semen are
adjusting their enzymes in competition with other streams of semen
to get a greater chance of fertilizing the egg.
Perhaps something similar between neandertals and erectuses to
produce prehumans--the explanation of the fact that many people are
drawn to groupies?
What Utter Foolishness
Mon Jan 26 12:41:37 GMT 2009 by Stig Ronning
To support my view:
Ns Wants The Templeton Prize
Fri Jan 23 18:47:12 GMT 2009 by Me
And they are getting closer to get it. Consistently, some time ago
readers wondered why a magazine like NS was accepting advertisement
from the Templeton Foundation?
Very Interesting
Fri Jan 23 20:30:20 GMT 2009 by Richie
Betty, perhaps as a science major you will find this quite
Of Course There Is Another, Simpler Explanation
Fri Jan 23 23:01:55 GMT 2009 by Kerry
Of course there is another, more simple explanation! (Anyone
remember Ockham's razor?) A Master Builder who assembles life forms
from parts of His choosing, (and reuses some DNA parts). How is it
that educated people insist that intelligent life exists beyond our
Solar System. (Many would even say some would have intelligence far
beyond our own.) Yet, if you call that superior Intelligence "God",
suddenly it is impossible and unscientific. NOW which is more
likely, evolving life forms swapping genes outside their own species
time and again, or new species introduced at just the right moments
in time by superior intellect? It looks like that "web of life" is
beginning to strangle a few biologists!
Nanos Gigantum Humeris Insidentes
Sat Jan 24 00:09:51 GMT 2009 by Wildlifeguy
While science does it's best to explain the world around us, we in
our feeble minds, think that we have a grasp on nature. Looking for
the truths of our world by ascribing truth to the works of man, we,
as scientist, are no different than the religious zealot/creationist
who feebly tries to find "God" or truth in other works of man.
This article proves that Nature doesn't care.
Oh Brother
Sat Jan 24 00:46:42 GMT 2009 by Dan
Same old same old, evolution the most disproven conjecture ever
thought of. The fossil evidence disproves the tree, so they come up
with punctuated equilibrium. A dinosaur has a rabbit. (only happens
once in a million years says the idiots in white robes. Now this:
The study of cells and DNA disprove evolutions ââ¬Åtreeââ¬Â so
they come up with ââ¬ÅHGTââ¬Â A water buffalo and a tiger have a
hyena. Hey happens once very million years, the idiots in white
robes say. Sorry guys, we have known scientifically for thousands of
years that what you are proposing cannot /does not happen.
Howââ¬â¢s this my Microsoft windows Xp Pro has small sections of
itââ¬â¢s code that matches the code of my kids world of war craft
game codes. Oh my gosh, the cpuââ¬â¢s are evolving new programs!!!
Sorry again white robed idiots, we already know they were designed
by intelligent creators. Why start from scratch with every species
as far as code is concerned. An intelligent designer would use the
same code as a basis for hundreds of species. Just like the creators
of games will start with the same basic code structures. The only
reason these ââ¬Åscientistsââ¬Â have a job is because they live
off the hard work of taxpayers, like parasites and con men
Oh Brother
Sat Jan 24 00:50:46 GMT 2009 by Dan
Same old same old, evolution the most disproven conjecture ever
thought of. The fossil evidence disproves the tree, so they come up
with punctuated equilibrium. A dinosaur has a rabbit. (only happens
once in a million years says the idiots in white robes. Now this:
The study of cells and DNA disprove evolutions ââ'¬Å"treeââ'¬Â½ so
they come up with ââ'¬Å"HGTââ'¬Â½ A water buffalo and a tiger have
a hyena. Hey happens once very million years, the idiots in white
robes say. Sorry guys, we have known scientifically for thousands of
years that what you are proposing cannot /does not happen.
Howââ'¬â"¢s this my Microsoft windows Xp Pro has small sections of
itââ'¬â"¢s code that matches the code of my kids world of war craft
game codes. Oh my gosh, the cpuââ'¬â"¢s are evolving new
programs!!! Sorry again white robed idiots, we already know they
were designed by intelligent creators. Why start from scratch with
every species as far as code is concerned. An intelligent designer
would use the same code as a basis for hundreds of species. Just
like the creators of games will start with the same basic code
structures. The only reason these ââ'¬Å"scientistsââ'¬Â½ have a
job is because they live off the hard work of taxpayers, like
parasites and con men.
Oh Brother
Tue Jan 27 00:41:58 GMT 2009 by Rory
Look at the bit where it says sections of DNA are transferred by
viruses. No one is suggesting the ridiculous, however, it is
perfectly acceptable and well documented for viruses to cause
mutations in bacteria within the lab, and for bacteria to pass on
genes to other bacteria this furthers those ideas.. The water
buffalo and the tiger will not interbreed, however, it is now
theorised as explained by the article above that viruses can aid the
recombination of a 'section ' of hyena DNA into the DNA of a water
buffalo. This would not necessarily lead to physical changes in the
animal, however, very occasionally it will. (we are talking millions
of years) and when that does occur, we see the changes represented
in an advantageous mutation, aiding evolution of the species. This
disproves none of Darwin's ideas of natural selection, and it
certainly provides no evidence for a divine creator because tests
have proven that random selection of genes will cause evolution to
occur within bacterial cultures in the lifetime of a human. e coli
for instance. Yes, it is possible that a being of far greater
intelligence than us aided the design of life on earth, using these
building blocks. But where is the proof? There is a vast amount of
proof for the processes of evolution and yet you say 'evolution the
most disproven conjecture' you mix this up with 'the fact of
evolution is evolving as we discover more about it. Religion is and
has always been disproved, i see no new evidence to the contrary
Darwin Anyone Could Come Up With That Theory Today.
Sat Jan 24 01:08:07 GMT 2009 by Daniel Coey
All he did was to take the source of all (created point) and said
there is no creation only evolution.
When you sart a project or grow a crystal structure it is created in
order to travel and be part of the present, the created evolves as
there are many physical obsticals to go through, the
underachievering objects are unworkable and so fail. Lifes natural
nature, is to survive so it alters to fit the influences and
situation in order to go on. Simple the micro oraganisims were
created in order to be free from its flat dimesional pool, to become
more evolved from the prevouis to be in the present. creation and
its result is perfect it fits the future by changing parts of form
to achieve the point of its exsistance. The faliures are mere
unachievable parts which fail, they have to they dont work its just
the unsucesful removed so the creation can develope winners for its
place in the healthy eco systems.
No point to a tree of life for this explenation as nature always
changes to allow future generations, life can be thrown into new
branches forever in no order to find its foothold, overwise life
would fail everywhere, expect everthing in its spontenous design
path. The tree is most likley ribbons or vines leaders, going in all
Infact tree of life is from the creation story in the bible and that
was knowledge or loss of unawreness (I have always found Darwins
theory, to be not his, it is just an victorian explaining the
unknown, e.g. fossils are in the bible they are the liethans at the
first part of the book did you know also that the lord says it took
seven earth days to create today, God states that one day in heaven
is thousand years on Earth so seven thousand years to form the mass
of dust which became big enough to snowball on, seven days for god
is seven thousand years for the days did not become a 24 hour period
untill the sun reached its present size and it took a long time, it
doesnt matter anyway because we and bological forms were not there,
today is the point of the aim a consinous that perceves time. And
its own near direction/ postion.. Adam was the first man to
undersatnd the awareness of the universe, and stopped crawling like
a animal and naked, to become able to make and adabt its life to
thier own direction, therefore first to be aware to talk with god
Darwin Anyone Could Come Up With That Theory Today.
Sat Jan 24 01:36:37 GMT 2009 by daniel
Species, there all life, humans seem to always want to create lists
of stock in order to have sense of it, for what point what was has
gone and the present form is the result of its success. Humans are
we flys no we are not yet we share alot genes with the fly, same
common ancestor so we are listed as insects, bzzzzzzzzz food bzzzzzz
sex buzzz, great pooh, buzzzzzzzz im food for a something, but I
don,t know why or how to avoid a web im a fly!, are you a fly, it
buzzed to the spider who didnt speak or feel sorry for the life of
the fly as your my food thats all, suck slurp does this taste nice?
I know nothing, but how to use my own resources to be a, something?
species is only great for seeing the amazing eveolution of its first
creation on Life on earth, science sounds so great for a viewer, who
learns from a scientist who is really saying isnt the history of its
creation amazing, How eveloved science is, how impressive for what
the chapters in the book or paper thats all, or a section to put
order of refernce in a musuem, so we can make more order through
layout plans and neatness. .
Phyletic Innovation
Sat Jan 24 02:55:11 GMT 2009 by Chandrasoma Rajapakse
Phyletic splitting is a potential built into an epigenetic system.
It is a feature of such systems to have a limited array of
'eigentransforms' or transformative potentials. The genes are mere
triggers and switches. A new approach to the 'Tree of Life' studies
would be to place the transformative potentials of developing germs
ahead of the shuffling of genes.
If You Truly Believe In God, Darwin Was A Prophet
Sat Jan 24 04:00:55 GMT 2009 by RickK
Why do some of you confine God to the Bible and deny everything
we've learned for 2000 years?
Evolution is a simple, elegant process that has resulted in age
after age of thriving, striving, fabulously varied life. Evolution
gave life the resilience to withstand some of the fiercest hammer
blows the cosmos could deliver. Evolution resulted in life than can
exist in every possible corner of our world: atop frozen mountains,
in the greatest ocean depths, in the darkest caves, in the lightest
air and the vacuum of space. And evolution's story is laid out in
the fossils of the Earth and in the very tissue of our cells, so
that we may look and learn and stand in awe.
A God that can create such a divine mechanism is so much greater
than a God who could only conjure a goat-herder's campfire story.
Lucretius, Al-Jahiz, Darwin, Wallace, Mendel, Watson, Crick,
Franklin--they all helped us see, if only we look with open eyes
and open minds.
Allow science into your faith, and learn the true meaning of glory.
This comment breached our terms of use and has been removed.
It's Still A Tree!
Sat Jan 24 09:10:48 GMT 2009 by anonymous
No he wasn't wrong. Just like everything else in science, his idea
has simply been ammended. The "Tree of Life" is certainly not a
strictly dentrically branching tree, no. But neither did Darwin ever
imply that its structure had to be everywhere throughout the
topological ideal either. As the basic scaffolding, speciation is
well represented by the basic bifurcating branch metaphor. It IS a
"tree"--a bushy one that contains a number of cross-member
connections between some branches. SO WHAT? This "View of Life" is
already a few decades old! The hypebole does not endear thee,
It's Still A Tree!
Sat Jan 24 11:17:45 GMT 2009 by anonymous
Looking over more of the (relevant but relatively scarce) comments,
I find it astonishing that anybody with a decent mind would fall for
the thesis presented by this article. Absolutely breathtaking.
Darwin's idea of the "Tree of Life" is made no more "wrong" by the
assertions of some DNA researchers than Newton's laws of motion and
gravity were rendered mistaken by Einstein. Newtonian mechanics is
STILL true under ordinary non-relativistic circumstances (allowing
mission controllers to navigate their spacecraft with amazing
accuracy, even when they DON'T utilize General Relativity).
Similarly, just because we are finding that the many species
branches are communicating with each other at spots other than their
branch points and that the canonical linear branch structure isn't
strictly true throughout the tree does NOT mean "Darwin was wrong"!
This is a ludicrous misunderstanding of the essence of science: ALL
science can't ALSO REFINE a model which remains emminently
serviceable. People who insist on exercising idiotic notions of
absolutism (as the author, some of the researchers, and the editors
of NEWSCIENTIST apparently do) ought to take up one of the many
religions that welcome that sort of nonsense.
Otherwise, be honest and do please try to be a little less
market-oriented (as in the blatant exploitation of this "issue"
SPLASHED on the cover as a means to further inflame an existing and
utterly fake controversy) and a tad bit more objectively scientific
in your reporting. You'll get more profits that way.
Is Dna A Blue Print?
Sat Jan 24 10:46:54 GMT 2009 by shamy
nader and julian failed to reach a conclusion because nader have no
proof yet and julian did not present even a single case of
physicochemical natural step by step for morphogenesis. ...so allow
me to present the following : the human body cotains 60 * 1000
billion cells , assume every 60 cells as one cell node then we got
1000 billion nodes , each node must be specified by three dimensions
ie. X-Y-Z. plus information for cell type plus information for cell
morphology , now a very direct question : can dna in principle
provide this order of information? please every one dont reject
what is contrary to your p.o.v. , study and evaluate it , any one
who would say the cell is a system and as such the whole cell can
contain this order of information is required to show where and how
the specification for 1000 billion nodes is stored + how it is
implemented in construction. in addition morphogenesis is a dynamic
process not a static one as we assumed so the riddle is much much
bigger in reality. i dont like objections where only general
irrelevant statements are presented , please every one if you can
show us a detailed specified case where physicochemical laws alone
built up a structure then present it for evaluation excluding of
caurse self-assembly as this is another category altogether. this is
not darwinism vs. creationism , this is truth seeking. so here we
are now facing one of the ultimate challenges to define the nature
of reality.
Is Dna A Blue Print?
Sat Jan 24 11:54:33 GMT 2009 by anonymous
"...please every one dont reject what is contrary to your p.o.v....i
dont like objections where only general irrelevant statements are
presented , please every one if you can show us a detailed specified
case where physicochemical laws alone built up a structure then
present it for evaluation excluding of caurse self-assembly as this
is another category altogether."
Ah, where have I seen this baloney before? Of CAURSE! I know who you
Of caurse, you realize that self-organized processes DO apply to
everything that interacts, INCLUDING (of caurse) "physicochemical
laws", andf even applies to such resoundingly oafish attitudes that
insist that the configuration of a thing must be divorced from its
antecedent precursor configurations.
I trust YOU will not reject what is contrary to YOUR P.O.V.--even
as a muddle-minded creationist. You point to spectacular complexity
then REFUSE to accept any explanation that applies cause and effect
in the outcome. (BTW, your analysis is COMPLETELY wrong and
scatterbrained, but I'll overlook that and agree that organisms are
indeed impressively complex. But you might as well point to the
extraordinary level of ordered complexity within a boiling pot of
stew never minding that the ingredients started out with an even
HIGHER higher state of order before the flame was applied.
Conclusion: you don't know what the HECK you are talking about).
You claim to want "an answer" but you want the answer to conform to
your preconceptions. I know you. You don't want an answer at all:
you figure you already have it. DON'T YOU?
Go away. You exhibit the stench of dishonesty as well as
Of caurse.
Is Dna A Blue Print?
Sat Jan 24 12:41:38 GMT 2009 by shamy
well .. bypassing the ignorance , rubbish , dishonesty , deciet ,
impoliteness ....etc. i still challenging with the same ID request :
forget about your stew ( its 100% out of scope) then prove -not to
me but- to readers that we have a materialistic explanation for any
single case you chose , but not just empty words , give a true
detailed scientific description for form formation , yes i am ID
creationist , and yes i am totally convinced of what i say based on
the logical fact that nature cannot do what needs intelligent agent
to do , so instead of total absolute ignorance here i am asking you
to refute on logic and science that any complex structure as the
human body need an order of magnitude of information that cannot in
principle be contained in dna or the cell..... this is not god of
the gaps argument as the true gap belongs to the atheists so
actually it is darwinism of the gaps -- try to read and understand
if you can antony flew's book ( there is a god) , you can never
claim that your intellect is superior to his , and from your comment
i can say its much more inferior to any logical minded person .
Is Dna A Blue Print?
Sat Jan 24 13:50:07 GMT 2009 by shamy
i just want to add a clarification ; its not that i am looking for
the answer that confirm my view , my view is based on a very strong
principle ie. utter lack of evidence = evidence / proof of the
opposite -- i want darwinians to see that there are no real
scientific evidence whatsoever of the claim that cell components can
explain morphology and intentional behaviour. the lack of evidence
here is even mainly conceptual ie no one can even imagine a step by
step procedure by which a complex detailed form can result starting
with only the ovum , try it ... use only dna + proteins + every
thing in the cell and from this build up by your imagination a
diatom shell for example. they say in the future we will know , i
say then how come you are atheists NOW? postpone you atheism till
that future comes , as all indications clearly prove that biology
becomes more and more in need of higher order principles , so what
we ID people predict is that lack of evidence will reach a final
proof status. so why most darwinians get so mad of our talk? take
it or leave it but then try to overcome your prejudice and
understand that by ignoring it you actually ignore your whole
Is Dna A Blue Print?
Sat Jan 24 22:12:29 GMT 2009 by RickK
Oh, by the way, Antony Flew is an 85-year old philosopher upon whom
Roy Varghese has worked for over a decade to "convert" Flew. Flew is
not a biologist. He is an aging man for whom the comfort of a deity
grows stronger as he approaches the end of his life. While it is
interesting to read about his change in philosophy, it has no
bearing whatsoever on the scientific validity of Intelligent Design.
However, answering your other challenge, we've seen genetic drift
result in beneficial mutation resulting in turn in natural
selection. THAT is a living example of evolution, pure and simple:
(long URL--click here)
Look, I understand the desire to believe in supernatural causation,
and I understand how people who don't understand the science can't
"imagine" a material explanation for life's diversity. But (1) the
fundamentals of evolutionary theory have been proven over and over
so many times that it's simply not worth fighting, and (2)
throughout history, in every single head-to-head confrontation
between material and supernatural causation, material has won.
If the only prediction you can make with ID is that we will know the
truth when we stand before "Him" in the end, then ID is clearly not
science, it is faith.
Is Dna A Blue Print?
Sat Jan 24 12:11:27 GMT 2009 by nader
very fine- did every one notice that julian's billion billion
billion ( 1027) blue gene super computers just to simulate the
total reaction in a single cell plus shamy's 1000 billion nodes
structure with its blue print just to construct the body are
irrefutable proof that life cannot in principle reduced to only ((
dna +proteins + lipids + .....etc.)) system , i totally agree with
sheldrake that there must be some higher causal influence that ties
all together and that control , direct , guide , evaluate ,
anticipate and crrect that wonderful unbelievable entity we call the
cell. opponents would shout ; m.-biology explaind almost every thing
..no .. m.- biology opened the door for a much wider view , but much
more serious questions face us now and all converge on one great
conclusion : life is much much more than cell's components , and
this ( much much more ) we know nothing about yet and it may happen
that some missing ultra physicochemical factor is needed without
which no final biological explanation can be reached. ........
please just think about what encode project told us and how all old
simplistic views are discarded now. so finally my point is ; as per
today no final stand can be adopted and we must wait till our
knowledge is more detailed then and only then we can decide if
darwinian natural explanations are true or its mere just so
nonsense. WAIT.
Is Dna A Blue Print?
Sat Jan 24 15:43:00 GMT 2009 by RickK
The ENTIRE basis for the Intelligent Design argument is "argument
from incredulity". "I can't imagine how nature could do this, so
there must be a higher cause."
Intelligent Design offers no mechanisms (how does a new "design" get
into an entity? do the tissues magically rearrange? did a bacteria
without a flagella divide into one with a fully-working flagella?)
ID is not falsifiable, it cannot be disproved, it is unobservable,
and it cannot make predictions. Therefore, it is faith, not science.
By contrast, evolution offers mechanism, it is falsifiable, it is
observable and it makes predictions. Therefore, it is good science.
Every single day we explain another piece of the puzzle. And every
single time it is attributable to natural causes. Throughout
history, materialistic causes have explained things that people at
the time believed were impossible to explain without divine help.
The Sun, Moon, stars, weather, tides, existence and habits of
animals, lightning, earthquakes, disease, human development, and on
and on. And not once, in all that investigation, have we encountered
an example of supernatural causation.
Unexplained does not mean unexplainable.
"To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been
premature, and it remains premature today." -- Isaac Asimov
Is Dna A Blue Print?
Sat Jan 24 20:54:47 GMT 2009 by nader
to R. : there are so many articles and books written by high
standard scientists of ID movement that can refute your points , so
i suggest you refer to ID litrature but without bias or preconcieved
ideas if you want truth not your prejudice satisfied..... then you
may say : well nader you are biased already , no sir i studied all
sides and came to my final conviction based on facts and logic......
your logical fallacy is ; ( scientific explanation demolish belief
in god ) , this is total nonsense since in reality there are three
levels of existance ie 1- idea 2- plan of execution 3- mechanism. ,
science can only explain mechanism but it can never reach any
explanation for the source of ideas and plans , so lets suppose that
every thing is explained meaning the "how" of operation , does this
explain the source of the idea and plan? never. so indeed all of
atheism is based on a very tiny scope of seeing existance for only
one reason ie ; to escape of any obligation to any higher power , ie
to animalize humanity. now look at our point of blue print :here
even the mechanism is totally unknown yet , it can be discovered in
the future but even then you must realize that before the mechanism
comes the idea and the plan where science has nothing to say. when
some day science tell us -if ever--how the ovum is transfered to a
human being does this deletes the design behind the whole system? i
assure you that when time comes every atheist will realize the words
of one thinker ( only an idiot can be atheist. ) why? because then
he deletes his own rationality and all his power of reasoning. some
times some peoples does not need refutation but they need
help.....and help we offer that they may reflect.
Previous Ns Article On This Topic
Sat Jan 24 13:22:18 GMT 2009 by Chris Heron
See NS 8 February 1992 pp 40--44 'Networks of Botanic Creation'
which raised similar points 17 years ago, mainly referring to
plants. Though appearing in New Scientist, this was not cited or
Previous Ns Article On This Topic
Sat Jan 24 15:23:38 GMT 2009 by nader
chris; i could't find this article in NS search or in net search-
would you please tell me how could i get it. thanks.
Previous Ns Article On This Topic
Sat Jan 24 17:59:32 GMT 2009 by Chris Heron
Type in 'new scientist networks creation' and it comes up. Or (long
URL--click here) Only the beginning, you have to pay a few quid to
read it all!
Darwin Sues!
Sat Jan 24 22:59:37 GMT 2009 by DiscoveredJoys
If I was Darwin I would sue New Scientist for the sloppy article.
I'm sure the old gent would have risen above the sensational title,
and I expect he would be thrilled to learn of scientific advances
since his death. But he would have been pretty miffed to have his
work misquoted so badly.
He only mentioned the tree of life once, as a simile, in the final
paragraph of chapter 4 of the On the Origin of Species (1st
edition). He did not make numerous references to it.
He certainly used the idea of species branching off their ancestral
species, he often talked of separate branches of his diagram. But
the Tree of Life, once, as a figure of speech comparing two unlike
things, not a concept.
That other people have used the tree of life as a concept hardly
makes Darwin wrong.
Darwin Sues!
Mon Jan 26 10:18:30 GMT 2009 by Ronald
I agree in a way: although I usually enjoy New Scientist very much
for its interesting articles and level of quality and accuracy, in
this case I regret the eye-catching and sensational, but somewhat
misleading title. For the superficial browser, the kind that only
reads big-letter titles but ignores content, particularly of the
creationist/IDiot type, this might be another false confirmation of
own rigid dogma's (ââ¬Åyou see, now even New Scientist admits
How To End This No End Talks?
Sun Jan 25 16:40:39 GMT 2009 by shamy
this battle between naturalists and IDists will never end by mere
arguments .... i believe in ID. and i see one sole way to settle
this battle once and for all : the empirical way ie since the main
levels of dispute are cosmos , biology , and consciousness , and
since biology is the most experimental then with just one experiment
they can direct a death blow to ID. from simple compounds existing
naturally and with all the power of minds and technology create a
life form without using any known dna sequences as this would be
immitation / simulation not creation .... ie if they do not believe
in god let them play god ..then and only then ID. will be dead. this
is the final confrontation....in the lab. not on paper. and untill
they do this--if ever- all of what they say are mere fact free
just-so fantasy with some irrelevant empirical facts as a smoke
screen to hide the weakness they feel
How To End This No End Talks?
Mon Jan 26 01:55:12 GMT 2009 by RickK
"then and only then ID. will be dead"
So we've now moved the goalposts to "create life and we'll believe
in evolution." That sounds a lot like Kent Hovind's offer of a cash
prize to anyone who can re-create the Big Bang.
You're playing games. Evolution = replication + variation +
selection, which in turn generates diversity in life. The story is
written in the fossil record, in living creatures today and in the
cells in your body. Evolutionary theory doesn't explain how the
first life started, but it's a solid working model for how life got
so diverse. It's a model with supporting evidence, something
Intelligent Design completely lacks. That's why a conservative,
religious, Bush-appointed federal judge wrote in strongest terms
that Intelligent Design is not science in Kitzmiller v Dover.
You said: "then and only then ID. will be dead"
That's a completely absurd statement. There are millions of people
who look at all the natural sciences: geology, astronomy, physics,
chemistry, Earth sciences, plate tectonics, genetics, paleontology -
they look at ALL the evidence of those sciences, and they still
believe God created the Earth from nothing 6000 years ago, and the
first woman sprung out of the first man's rib.
So to say that scientific demonstration of abiogenesis will stop
intelligent design is ridiculous. Nothing will stop ID ever because
it is not based on science.
Intelligent Design is just another faith, a belief based on no
evidence, no theory and no mechanism. Therefore, evidence alone
cannot stop it.
To put it another way. If the United States allowed the teaching of
Christian creationism in school science class, the term "Intelligent
Design" would never have been coined. There would be no need for it.
If you don't believe me, Google the rather odd term "cdesign
How To End This No End Talks?
Mon Jan 26 10:43:48 GMT 2009 by shamy
then R. allow me one question.. why are you adopting so hard a
position against god and devine creation? dont mention what some
ignorant people think or do or believe , give me one scientific /
logical reason for your position ...even atheism or naturalism must
be based on some sound foundation which for you is science , but as
it is well known science is only dealing with empirical reality and
it is completely out of its scope to deal with ultimate reality ---
let me give a suggestion : read despagnat book ( on physics and
philosophy ) then many of your prejudice concerning what science can
offer may be shaken then we may proceed with our no end talk.....and
there are a lot which you must read before we can end this no end
How To End This No End Talks?
Mon Jan 26 14:33:46 GMT 2009 by nader
If you say that ID is faith then how come you do not realize that
you have a much more wishfull thinking faith ie your god is nature ,
your book is science and your faith is scientism ignoring that
nature can never create , science can never give ultimate
explanations and scientism is just transferring millions of
discoverd molecular interactions level to the ultimate level of
final explanations....hopeless case indeed.-------debate closed .
How To End This No End Talks?
Tue Jan 27 00:19:34 GMT 2009 by RickK
I'm not speaking out against religion, I'm just saying (1) religion
isn't science, (2) Intelligent Design is faith, is religion, because
it has none of the prerequisites for science.
And science isn't religion because science is based on evidence.
Science makes predictions. Science saves lives. Science feeds more
people with less land. Science makes it possible for you to sit
here, warm and comfortable, and argue against science.
Science delivers the goods.
But, we're done here. You agree Intelligent Design is faith.
The United States doesn't allow the teaching of religion in public
school science classes.
So, my work here is done.
Where You And I Came Into The Movie. . .
Sun Jan 25 19:05:13 GMT 2009 by Melanie Reed
"We've just annihilated the tree of life. It's not a tree any more,
it's a different topology entirely," says Syvanen. "What would
Darwin have made of that?"
I find this an ironic statement of epic proportion considering the
Tree of Life story, as you might call it, written about the Garden
of Eden. Indeed, that is what happened in a sense, since Adam and
Eve were forever barred from this tree at the end of that story. And
wouldn't it be interesting if this 'discovery' of yours led us right
back, like a mobius strip, to where it all began: an explanation of
what happens to genetic material as a result of an attendant process
of degradation resulting from what God calls sin (missing the mark
of perfection). What if everything you and I are studying is just
the degrading pattern of what was once a completely perfectly
beautiful operating framework. I find it completely unscientific to
not allow for that possibility.
Darwin Was Completely Wrong, But!
Mon Jan 26 12:23:38 GMT 2009 by HallucinogeN
It is ABOUT TIME For our whole Civillization to REALIZE that our
views of DARWINISM and CReATIONISM is a thing of the PAST and are
DEAD WRONG, we must make completely new models and put aside our
silly ETHICAL ISSUES that act as limiting barriers in improving our
daily lives!
everything is explained in greatest detail there...
Good Science Journalism On Evolution. . .
Mon Jan 26 13:54:11 GMT 2009 by Allo V Psycho
....it contrast to the standard shown here by New Scientist, can be
found in the current Scientific American special issue on evolution.
It includes Darwin's 'tree of life' illustration, an account of its
historical competitors, a summary of its development, and a vivid
illustration of current thinking. There is no 'Darwin is wrong'
sloppiness (or misleading intent?). The rest of the issue is pretty
interesting too. Written by authors who know about science for
people who are interested in it.
I have no connection with Scientific American in any form, and no
interests, other than loving science, to declare
Mon Jan 26 14:32:06 GMT 2009 by Neil Hunt
Thanks a lot, guys. By going with the sensationalistic headline and
cover, you've just made life that much more difficult for everyone
who has to deal with educating young people about science in an
often hostile environment. Well done. Jerks.
Evolution Is Crazy!
Mon Jan 26 14:45:52 GMT 2009 by Darwin
Yea we all just popped out of thin air b ecause we all know
evolution wrong god thanks for opening my eyes! im so glad knowing
we all came from air! Peace out homes brosef!
Evolution Is Crazy!
Mon Jan 26 15:14:01 GMT 2009 by HallucinogeN
NO YOU SILLY Goose! It is VERY CLEAR That we came from OUTTER SPACE,
and it is EVEN MORE LIKELY that Aliens have Engineered our DNA and
helped to populate the Earth with biological Life and even perhaps
create a harmonic climate most suitable for life!
It is so simple! Aliens are out there... but what are they doing and
what were they thinking???
WERE WE ALL DNA-ENGINEERED as SLAVES? Because there are so many
faults in our DNA???
Plz Stop Talking About Creationism As Only Alternative!
Mon Jan 26 15:49:11 GMT 2009 by HallucinogeN
Because our MODERN Religionz are the BIGGEST JOKE in the world!
NOONE is supposed to take a Religion literally! It is a MERE
DRIVE FORWARD the Science as we know it, away from the silly
Because at our current level of intellectual progression, it is very
unlikely that we can become CIVILLIZED ENOUGH as to not escape the
You are now more enlightened! w00t!
Thanks For Giving The Id Crowd More Ammo
Mon Jan 26 19:05:21 GMT 2009 by Joseph Knapka
Given the circumstances under which Darwin developed the ToE, he was
about a right as he could possibly be. He was looking primarily at
macroscopic organisms, and for those organisms vertical transfer
seems to be, by far, the rule rather than the exception. Even if HGT
is a significant, or even dominant factor in the evolution of
unicellular life, headlines like "Darwin Was Wrong" appearing in a
"real" science publication serve only the likes of Michael Behe and
the rest of the ID loons.
The Pseudo Science Of Invention
Mon Jan 26 22:07:32 GMT 2009 by Jonathan Aprati
"'If you don't have a tree of life, what does it mean for
evolutionary biology?' asks Bapteste. 'At first it's very scary...
but in the past couple of years people have begun to free their
minds.' Both he and Doolittle are at pains to stress that
downgrading the tree of life doesn't mean that the theory of
evolution is wrong--just that evolution is not as tidy as we would
like to believe."
Certainly, it is scary when evidence crumbles the foundation of an
entire branch of science. I am just glad the scientific world is
creative enough to invent new narratives--to allow us to put all of
our fears to rest. HGT--what a great story.
This kind of thinking explains why an entire community of highly
educated individuals can entertain convicted belief in a largely
unproven avenue of thought. Intelligent people have a particular
talent for rationalizing anything that is convenient.
The Pseudo Science Of Invention
Tue Jan 27 00:25:58 GMT 2009 by RickK
So, some gene transfer "crumbles the foundation" of evolution? LOL
Evolution = replication + variation + selection
This article describes another mechanism for variation besides
random genetic mutation. BUT, we already knew that symbiosis and
other factors lead to variation.
*slams evolution with a hammer, then looks*
Nope, I see no crumbling here.
The Pseudo Science Of Invention
Tue Jan 27 04:16:11 GMT 2009 by Jonathan Aprati
Well it doesn't take an evolutionary scientist to know that the
concepts behind Darwin's tree of life form the structure of much of
Biology (as implied by the article). But here is the larger issue
that I was getting at: (1) The scientific community almost
universally embraced the "theory" of evolution when it was
introduced by Darwin, and it was largely accepted based on the
apparent tree of life that Darwin had observed. (2) Since the
acceptance of evolution, an incredibly complex narrative was
constructed, and scientific discoveries were understood in terms of
that narrative. (3) Meanwhile, researchers have tried to find more
concrete evidence of evolution, by making conjectures based on the
theory, and testing those conjectures. (4) In many cases, the
hypotheses that were intuitively based on the theory were proven to
be erroneous, such as the lack of missing links (the Lucy debacle),
and this most recent discovery in the strands of DNA.
Since the discovery of DNA, it has been the hope and assumption of
the scientific community that this would be the key to proving
evolution once and for all. Surely, since DNA is ground zero for
evolution, it would clearly show a palimpsest of evolutionary
history. Instead of having proof, scientist are left with more
What Is Everyone Talking About?
Tue Jan 27 20:39:57 GMT 2009 by Tony Marshallsay
What have all the comments about Asperger's Syndrome at the head of
this comments page have to do with an article on gene transfer in
This comment breached our terms of use and has been removed.

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