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Is Panda’s Thumb Suppressing the Truth about Junk DNA?

Casey Luskin

The best way to rewrite history is to delete the views of those who remember it personally. The Scientist‘s editor Richard Gallgaher’s recent article on “junk”-DNA mentions that Dr. Andras J. Pellionisz suggested that The Scientist publish an “obituary” for “junk”-DNA. Gallagher wrote:

Andras J. Pellionisz, to whom I am grateful for bringing this notable 35th anniversary to my attention, suggested that The Scientist publish an obituary to “formally abandon this misnomer.” Pellionisz’s objection is that scientific progress is being inhibited, and declaring junk DNA dead would align us with his own organization, the International PostGenetics Society (postgenetics.org), which disavowed the term on the 12th of October last year. Pellionisz is not alone.

(Richard Gallagher, “Junk Worth Keeping,” The Scientist, Vol. 21(7):15 (July, 2007).)

Dr. Pellionisz sent me an e-mail regarding his recent experiences at Panda’s Thumb. Pellionisz reports that Panda’s Thumb is refusing to print his stories about how he has personally witnessed how the Darwinian consensus rejected suggestions that “junk” DNA had function. Dr. Pellionisz’s e-mail recounts how some rogue Darwinian biologists have believed that “junk” DNA had function, but it also provides historical proof that this went against the prevailing consensus, and thus such suggestions that “junk”-DNA had function were ignored or rejected by most Darwinian scientists.

Darwinists at Pandas Thumb can rewrite history if they want, but as I noted, “The fact remains that the entire false ‘junk’ DNA paradigm was born out of the neo-Darwinian mindset, which taught that cells were constantly subjected to random evolutionary forces and genetic parasites that littered the genome with ‘junk.’ There is no denying that the whole dead-end concept of ‘junk’-DNA came from the Neo-Darwinian paradigm, and that’s what matters here.” The backpedaling at Panda’s Thumb is an exercise in stressing irrelevancies. We wouldn’t even be having this conversation about the death of “junk”-DNA were it not for the fact that Neo-Darwinism gave it life in the first place. With his permission, I reprint Dr. Pellionisz’s e-mail below:

—–Original Message—–
From: Dr. Andras J. Pellionisz
To: Casey Luskin
Subject: Integrity of Panda’s Thumb

Dear Casey Luskin,

Under the heading of “Unintelligent move” by Panda’s Thumb, obviously appearing as an attempt to “back-pedal” by citing claims that “a strict application of the Darwinian paradigm, also known as “panselectionism” or “adaptationism”, led many prominent evolutionary biologists to initially resist the idea that some DNA may be non-functional”

I tried to post my following note, as one of the first in the debate. I cited the case of my friend and fellow-pioneer Dr. Simons (a Darwinist) who bet his life more than one way since 1987 that “Junk DNA” was not junk at all.

My posting never appeared as the reply screen claimed “protection”. This was the *third* time that my opinion was suppressed in Panda’s Thumb.

Malcolm’ story, “a triumph and tragedy”, however is perhaps the strongest documentation of the ruthless oppression by Primitive Darwinists (who Malcolm is obviously not) of any view that might not be fully consistent with what they would like to dictate.

Since informing the public about facts is important, and so is the quest to scientifically investigate the algorithmic design of the Genome, such that people like Malcolm suffering from “Junk DNA diseases” could be helped, I hereby give my permission that my posting that I intended as a reply in “Panda’s Thumb” might appear in your column.

I would add to your statement that “for the scientific method (i.e. observation, hypothesis, and experimentation)” one need not (indeed, ideally should not) have any ideological predilection. Scientist must be free to have any belief that they might have, but must pursue the scientific method as you state.

“Those who can do the reseach to find out how 98.7% of human Genome works – just do it. Those who can’t, please get out of our way with any ideology – saving lives is much too important”.


Dr. Andras J. Pellionisz

On September 1, 2005 when I originated the International PostGenetics Society http://www.postgenetics.org and established PostGenetics (“Genomics beyond Genes”) we reached the edge of the “eye of the JunkDNA cyclone”; with an organization standing up against out casting 98.7% of human Genome as “Junk” the overwhelming wind was no longer blowing individual scientists into a junky direction. There appeared an organization led by scientists to provide anchorage of research of what this 98.7% of the Genome is actually doing. On the 12 of October 2006, on the “European Inaugural” of IPGS there appeared the first international organization that formally abandoned the “JunkDNA” misnomer as a scientific term.

On the 14 of June, 2007, with the publication of the NIH-led ENCODE-report(with $53 M tax-dollars spent), we have arrived at the dead-center of the eye of the cyclone. Yes, as appeared in The Scientist “Gallagher Editorial” “http://www.the-scientist.com/2007/7/1/15/1/“, in July, the discredited misnomer will liver forever as a memento of “framing” Genetics into an establishment where for the purposes of researching “Junk DNA” resources were denied, papers were rejected (ask e.g. Mattick and Taft of their excellent manuscript which was never accepted as intended, or even Rigoutsos whose breakthrough publication on pyknons sustained at least a year of delay). Worse, as I pointed out in my “comments” to The Scientist, and elaborated in more detail in my “Obituary of Junk DNA “http://www.junkdna.com/#obituary_of_junk_dna” uncounted millions of people died miserable deaths while scientists were looking for the “gene” causing their illnesses – and were not even supposed to look anywhere but under the lamp illuminating only 1.3% of the genome (the genes).

One person with a Junk DNA disease “http://www.junkdna.com/junkdna_diseases.html” is my dear friend and fellow-pioneer of Junk DNA scientific research; Dr. Malcolm J. Simons, the Honorary Chairman of IPGS “http://www.junkdna.com/ipgs_staged/founders.html
As documented in the full transcript of the video Genius of Junk “http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s898887.htm” award-winning science documentary (never aired in the USA, guess why), Malcolm, as a Darwinist voiced in the 2003 filming his 1987 conviction against the “Junk Frame” this way:

Under Darwinistic notions you would think that junk would drop off under the theory of natural selection just like species drop off if they hit ecological niches which is incompatible with survival. If they can adapt to those niches, then those that can survive and those that can’t die. There’s the notion. If you apply that to the DNA sequence, then the coding region genes which survived have a function and by the way the non coding sequences have survived as well. So the proposition would have to be that if they’re there, they’ve got a function [MJS]

How do you think his fellow-Darwinist scientists received his assertion (1987) that “Junk DNA” had a function?

When I showed the professional geneticists the data, which indicated to me that the 95% non-coding region wasn’t junk, and was ordered…The reaction was smiling disbelief at best – you’re off your friggin’ head and if you’re any good at squash – stick to your day job [MJS]

(For those asking, I may give you a copy for your personal perusal of the video that you would never in your life forget – especially if you or your loved ones encounter one the gezillions of “junk DNA diseases”. If you have gotten rich – and old enough that some of these regulatory diseases start popping up – your best investment may be to endow frantic research precisely for PostGenetics Centers. Probably unlike dear Malcolm himself, you might actually buy some years to live)

Thus, although when we are already re-entering the cyclone with an opposite wind building up with accelerating speed, “it is too easy” (and looks quite childish, though very human) to “back-pedal” in post-June 2007 on the issue of attributing function to “Junk DNA”. Most everything is on record, already.

Instead of engaging in a “blaming game” (that may not be the best use of time, unless one enjoys it), one may wish to drop shouting over some arbitrary ideological trenches and do actual R&D towards the “Algorithmic Design” of the Genome. We are all united on that one – Malcolm and myself even published (yes, in peer-reviewed science journal…) experimental support “http://www.junkdna.com/fractogene/05_simons_pellionisz.pdf” of quantitative predictions.

Yes, FractoGene even passes “the Onion-test” (of Panda’s thumb) at least as well as any competitor “Junk DNA theories”…

[Update 8:00 am, July 23, 2007: Unsurprisingly, Dr. Pellionisz now reports that after my post went live, he discovered that Panda’s Thumb chose to post his comment.]


Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.



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