Friday, June 22, 2007

Quote mining and worse

Jason Rosenhouse has a post at Evolutionblog in which he points to an extremely misleading use of a quotation by Michael Behe in his recent Intelligent Design book The Edge of Evolution. Quote mining has long been a standard tactic of Creationists and is an indication of their scholastic misconduct--the whole purpose of scientific writing is accurate communication of research. But, that's obviously not the whole purpose of Creationist writing, which appears to be the political advancement of the beliefs of particular religious sects.

Now CAD at VWXYNot? relates how she discovered that her research ("Endogenous Retroviruses and the Evidence for Evolution") has been misapplied by the anti-science folks at Reasons to Believe. A small percentage of the human genome consists of DNA derived from RNA of retroviruses, and, rather than having no function (inaccurately referred to as "junk" DNA), some of this stuff may regulate some gene, meaning it does indeed have a function. Some Creationists assume that the discovery that some "junk" DNA actually has a function somehow is evidence of Design (I know, it does not logically follow, but we're talking about Creationists here).

CAD's post clearly describes how the properties and working of this endogenous retrovirus material is evidence for, not against, evolution, including how it helps understand the timing of evolutionary splits. CAD has done the research. Creationists, to whom doing original scientific research is anathema, are happy to take yet another piece of science and thoroughly convolute it to produce a bit of logical origami and claim victory. And commit fraud yet again.



Anonymous VWXYNot? said...

Thank you (belatedly) for the link! I had a crazy day last week with over 3000 people reading my post. Thanks to people like you, I'm now at #14 if you Google Reasons to Believe!

Your reward? You're tagged. Sorry.

1:22 PM  
Anonymous VWXYNot? said...

Update: they took my paper off their website! Details at

Thanks again for the link!

7:27 PM  

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