Science Daily reports that there is no such thing as Junk RNA

Story here on Science Daily. (H/T Darwin’s God via ECM)


Tiny strands of RNA previously dismissed as cellular junk are actually very stable molecules that may play significant roles in cellular processes, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI).

The findings, published last week in the online version of the Journal of Virology, represent the first examination of very small RNA products termed unusually small RNAs (usRNAs). Further study of these usRNAs, which are present in the thousands but until now have been neglected, could lead to new types of biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis, and new therapeutic targets.

In recent years, scientists have recognized the importance of small RNAs that generally contain more than 20 molecular units called nucleotides, said senior author Bino John, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Computational Biology, Pitt School of Medicine.

“But until we did our experiments, we didn’t realize that RNAs as small as 15 nucleotides, which we thought were simply cell waste, are surprisingly stable, and are repeatedly, reproducibly, and accurately produced across different tissue types.” Dr. John said. “We have dubbed these as usRNAs, and we have identified thousands of them, present in a diversity that far exceeds all other longer RNAs found in our study.”

Another prediction of Darwinism dashed to driftwood on the rocks of scientific progress. Put it on the pile with the eternal universe. Oh, but you might have to make room for it by moving the failed prediction of Junk DNA into a separate trash bin.

Flashback: Science Daily reports on the biological functions of Junk DNA

Here’s the Science Daily article. (H/T Evolution News)


…during early development, the proteins required for cell division come from the mother. The researchers speculate that the heterochromatin of the male D. melanogaster’s X chromosome has rapidly evolved, such that after mating, the machinery involved in DNA packaging from a D. simulans mother no longer recognizes the D. melanogaster father’s “junk” DNA, Ferree said.

Casey Luskin writes:

Basically, so-called “junk”-DNA is involved in helping to package chromosomes in the cell. If two species have different “junk” DNA, then this prevents the proteins in the egg from properly packaging the chromosomes donated by the sperm. The organism does not develop properly.

Darwinism fails again.

26 thoughts on “Science Daily reports that there is no such thing as Junk RNA”

  1. For future reference, the only thing that evolves about evolution is the theory itself, constantly swinging and swooping, nonsensically, from scrapped hypothesis to soon-to-be-scrapped hypothesis like a manic depressive deprived of his meds.


  2. I don’t see how this argues against natural selection. Scientists make predictions all the time. Some hypotheses are correct. Some are not and get weeded out.

    The basic showing of common descent by DNA is a great validation of Darwin’s theory, as Darwin had no clue about DNA. But whether its all operational or some is junk seems in either case consistent with Darwinism.


    1. Of course it is: that’s what’s great about Darwinism (in its myriad, shifting, forms)– It’s never wrong! Even when it is! Everything validates it and nothing is ever a disproof of it, even when it is because it accounts for everything (and nothing) depending on what the evidence is today! Oh to be a scientific theory that’s treated by its proponents as if it were some infallible god!


  3. Science is a process, not a collection of facts. So it does change over time. The general outline of ideas about evolution has remained stable since Darwin overturned Lamarckianism. But details have been filled in, some details found wrong and corrected.


    1. Science changes over time, but the blind faith in naturalism doesn’t.

      The pre-supposition of naturalism seems to be impervious to the origin of the universe, the reality of consciousness, cosmic fine-tuning, galactic fine-tuning, stellar fine-tuning, planetary fine-tuning, the sudden origin of animal phyla in the Cambrian, the origin of biological information, irreducible complexity, etc. Faith is impervious to facts though, and as long as naturalists stay clear of debates (watch for my 6 PM post) then they can keep their faith intact regardless of what science discovers.


    2. Except that, for the past three decades, evolutionists have been stating that so-called junk DNA is proof of Darwinian processes.

      Now, however, you’re sitting here and telling me that, no, actually, they’ve been saying the opposite all along?? That ‘non-coding’ DNA/RNA that actually does, as it turns out, code is actually evidence for the theory??

      So which is it: evolution theorists were right about junk DNA being non-coding or they’re right about it coding?? Or is it both? I imagine it’s both because, as I noted above, evolution is more malleable than Silly Putty–and twice as silly!


  4. I’ve never heard the argument that junk DNA in particular was proof of natural selection. Rather, I’ve always read that DNA that was operational and essential was likely to be conserved among species, but DNA that was junk could diverge without causing ill effects.

    If some strands of DNA are very stable across species, it would indeed be unlikely they are junk.


    1. “[Junk DNA] is essentially a parasite,” and “junk DNA is a puzzle only if we are clinging to the assumption that our genes are there to do something for us.”

      –Keith E. Stanovich, The Robot’s Rebellion: Finding Meaning in the Age of Darwin

      “Rather than being intelligently designed, the human genome looks more and more like a mosaic of mutations, fragment copies, borrowed sequences, and discarded strings of DNA that were jerry-built over millions of years of evolution.”

      –Michael Shermer, The Case Against Intelligent Design

      “Junk DNA” is “considered defective” and comprises “inherited sequences [that] perform no currently known ‘genetically useful’ purpose, yet they remain part of the chromosomes.”

      –William D. McArdle et al., Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance

      And, of course, the high priest of evangelical evolution/atheism, Richard Dawkins:

      “Most of the capacity of the genome of any animal is not used to store useful information” and “There are many nonfunctional pseudogenes and lots of repetitive nonsense, useful for forensic detectives but not translated into protein in the living cells.”

      –Richard Dawkins, The Information Challenge

      Now, what’s funny is that if you check the evo literature, post-2006 it, all of a sudden, turns on a dime and starts touting how, no actually, junk DNA drives evolution where before, as these quotes demonstrate, the general consensus was that it was a. useless and b. an argument against intelligent design and for evolution since it was all, err, junk. The reason for this sudden about-face? Err, well, that thing that Darwinists swear up and down that they practice with all the rigor of an aesthetic monk: science!

      Now, to me, that would seem to be a glaringly failed prediction of Darwinian evolution (and, I might add, something which ID actually accurately predicted) and, yet, now that the science overwhelmingly shows that ‘junk’ DNA is useful, well now, of course it’s important for evolution and just please ignore all that stuff we said about it counting as proof for evolution when it was still called junk (minus quotes) DNA.

      So again, my point is: evolution is the most immensely flexible theory every devised by man as it is always right, even when it’s been spectacularly wrong, and there isn’t anything it can’t predict, that turns out incorrect, that can’t be rehabbed in half a jiff as the driving force behind evolution. (Being someone that’s clearly on top of one side of the argument, some what, you must know just how important ‘junk’ DNA now is for evolutionists.)

      Note: by all means do your own Google-mining for supporting material and you will find that, by and large, the evo community was pretty much agreed that junk DNA was just that until mid-decade. (You should very easily find the evidence that really started to accumulate against the junk–or selfish DNA–theory during those searches.)


  5. I will grant that Shermer’s argument loses a bit of its effectiveness if there is no junk DNA. However, I think you can still find plenty cases of inelegance in the design of humans. What comes to mind for me is that when we find something to be disgusting (e.g. beheadings by jihadists) we can feel nauseated. I believe that this form of emotional disgust is an adaptation of the original purpose of disgust to purge toxic substances that we’ve ingested. There is good design reason for wanted to puke when we see something horrific, but we do anyway.


      1. France used the guillotine up through the 1970s. The English used to chop people’s head off in the Tower of London. I wouldn’t say that beheading is necessarily much worse than any other form of capital punishment, but it is wrong when done illegally and without the benefit of due process. As a mutiliation of the body, it’s inherently more digusting that execution by lethal injection.


        1. Rick, I’m just trying to help.

          I think he was asking whether there is a moral prescription against murder independent of personal preferences or arbitrary cultural fashions that vary by time and place. And he further asked whether people have free will to comply with moral duties such as the duty not to murder. It seems to me that on your view (humanism) you would have to say that morality is personal preference or cultural fashion, and that humans, as pure material, would not have the capacity to free choose moral actions as opposed to immoral actions. I.e. – on humanism, morality is meaningless. No one ought to do anything, and even if they ought to do X, they don’t have the capacity to choose X or to refrain from choosing X.

          Additionally, he could have mentioned objective moral values (what counts as valuable and what isn’t valuable), moral significance (what does it matter to me if I act morally), and moral accountability (if a person is sufficiently powerful, why should they care about acting immorally if they can avoid the consequences). None of these are justified by humanism either.

          Thanks so much for all of your fine comments. I apologize if I’ve been mean.


  6. I tried to keep my response narrow so as not to hijack the thread in an off-topic direction. But since the distinguished author of the blog post has invited me to go off-topic, I will broaden my response.

    Evolution does indeed subvert morality. I saw a really good nature movie that showed a pride of lions trying to eat baby elephants, and it was kind of shocking. The lions were acting like a bunch of gangbangers!

    Doubting a divine moral framework, we humanists can only create one on the model of science–provisional and subject to updating. To me, the lack of development in Muslim countries, aside from those with the windfall of oil wealth, suggests that the radical Islamist idea of beheading people who don’t agree with them is wrong. I can’t prove it absolutely, but it seems that societies that encourage religious violence experience more suffering and less prosperity.


  7. Rick,
    If morals are “provisional and subject to updating” then beheading someone is never objectively wrong and never has been and never will be.

    Further you refer to the “model of science” to help in figuring out morals. How is science able to measure something immaterial?


  8. I think you have to start out with certain values, that you arrive at intuitively. For instance, the goal should be the greatest happiness for the greatest number, and the dimunation of suffering. Once you’ve arrived at those values, you can then use science to try find the best way to achieve that goal. But no, science can’t determine the ultimate values.

    I think that a majority of secular people can get behind such utilitarian goals. For those who are nihilistic, if they break the law, they would have to be incarcerated.


    1. Rick, thanks for stating the moral standard that you find personally appealing, arrived at by using your intuitions, namely classical utilitarianism. I am sure you are quite familiar with the flaws of utilitarianism, e.g. – it allows the violation of minority rights to improve the happiness of the majoity. (There are no objective human rights on atheism) This means that things like abortion and slavery and killing fields would be rationally justified by utilitarianism. You can even see that today as secular leftists push taxpayer funding of abortions on pro-life taxpayers, and force pro-life doctors to perform abortions.

      Suppose an atheist comes along who does not like your view but can augment his own happiness by imposing his view on you, with impunity. Why should he lay aside that power and submit to your opinion about what he ought to do? After all, utilitarianism is just YOUR VIEW and he has his own view. Both views are arbitrary personal preferences. In short, how would you impose your personal standard of morality on others in order to get them to abandon their own opinions and accept yours instead? You can’t argue for your morality rationally – you don’t believe in object morality. So you would have to push your view by force. How can you do that? Well, one way would be by using government power.

      Suppose you wanted to impose the idea on everyone that chastity and traditional marriage were oppressive, and that the majority would be “happier” with a sexual revolution, including contraceptives, anonymous hook-up sex, no-fault divorce, cohabitation and abortion. You could ban homeschooling, manufacture myths that favored your position with research grants, create government-run schools to teach evolution and sex education, nationalize mainstream media to force them push your point of view, tax families so that both parents had to work, and impose mandatory schooling on children from cradle to cubicle. You could keep taxing a minority of productive traditional families to pay for the results of your plan: mental illnesses, sexually-transmitted diseases, welfare, broken homes, increased crime, divorces, increased health care costs, abortions, etc. And you could say that you had provided “happiness” to the majority of people.

      The only question left is to decide who gets to say what counts as happiness for the majority of the people. Will it be just one leader? Or an oligarchy? Whose personal preferences are we going to impose in order to promote the majority’s “happiness”? To me, secular humanism is just might makes right, using the power of government coercion to stifle the rights of those who would dissent. My purpose is to find the truth and to share it with others, not to be happy in this life. But secular humanists would probably not be happy with that goal since it diminishes their happiness-seeking in the here and now.


    2. Rick,
      Why should the goal be the greatest happiness for the greatest number? If your answer is that suffering is bad, I’ll want to know why suffering is bad.

      You seem to be arguing for subjective morals but then you keep offering objective ones.

      Further, you are presupposing that everyone has the same idea of what happiness is. Marquis de Sade had an interesting idea of “happiness”. I doubt you’d approve of his actions. So, on your view, why is Marquis de Sade and his idea of “happiness” wrong?


  9. I’m interested in neuroscience, and I think our basic motivational circuit is one that seeks pleasure (but not just the physical ones; there are also higher or abstract pleasures like intellectual understanding, service to others, etc) and avoids pain (both physical and emotional)

    In the absence of scarcity, which makes people predatory, I think the golden rule is fairly intuitive. Let’s try to create a system where people can pursue happiness and avoid pain.

    The way to deal with conflicts is by voting and democracy. How should schools be funded? Put it to a vote.

    I can’t say that I know how one would determine constitutional rights that are so basic that the majority shouldn’t be able to overrule them. That’s a bit beyond me–but freedom of speech is not in the Bible, so its source is not religion; it’s philosophy.


    1. Again Rick,
      I don’t think you are answering the challenge. Why should the goal be the greatest happiness for the greatest number?

      Marquis de Sade had an interesting idea of “happiness”. I doubt you’d approve of his actions. So, on your view, why is Marquis de Sade and his idea of “happiness” wrong?


    2. One more thing. You said “freedom of speech is not in the Bible, so its source is not religion; it’s philosophy.”

      The whole concept of freedom of speech is based on the idea that God created all equal. Therefore we all have the right to have our voices heard.

      It would actually be your worldview that could not possibly substantiate the claim of freedom of speech without being arbitrary.


      1. I will concede that Christianity provides a stronger foundation for morality than secularism, but ONLY if Christianity is true. If it is not true (as I hold), then it is no better and arguably inferior to secularism.

        The line about God creating us all equal and the first Amendment are attributable to Jefferson, who was a Deist or Unitarian but definitely not a Trinitarian. Jefferson attributes this notion of equality to being ‘self-evident’ which is an appeal to intuition. Ultimately, I too appeal to intuition and self-evidence. I think most people are not like the Marquis de Sade, and the goal of creating a society that strives to eliminate suffering (while still allowing for striving) is intuitively appealing.


        1. Rick,
          Thanks for your response.

          You said, “I will concede that Christianity provides a stronger foundation for morality than secularism”

          The problem for your viewpoint is that you don’t have a foundation for morality at all. You couldn’t argue that you have a weaker foundation but only that there is no foundation whatsoever for morals. Morals are ultimately meaningless. Just matter in motion. That’s it.

          Further, evaluating whether or not Christianity is true implies that you have standards for reasoning and logic. What is that standard and what is it based on? How did time and chance acting on matter produce intelligent thought?

          Even further, when you say that Christianity is inferior, you must already have a standard set in place. What is that standard and what is it based on? Intuition? What happens when the majority of people intuitively decide that Christianity is true?

          I assure you I’m not just being sarcastic or “cute”. These are super-important questions.

          Claiming that you “just know” what happiness is and that Marquis de Sade was wrong is simply begging the question. I don’t suppose that if a Christian told you that they “just know” that God exists intuitively that you would somehow be convinced. Much the same, I’m rather unconvinced with your “intuition” argument.

          Regarding the equality of all humans, Jefferson certainly didn’t come up with this concept on his own. Look no further than Genesis 1:27. Being created in the image of God has multiple implications but most importantly means that God created humans with value. To claim that philosophy invented the claim of human equality is certainly mistaken.


          1. Logic is only a method of getting from premise to conclusion. The original premises must be derived in another way, either by intuition or by faith. The best analog is geometry, where some things, like a line being the shortest distance between two points, must be postulated as self-evident and cannot be proved.

            So no, I don’t think one should accept a complex system like Christianity, Communism, Atheism or whatever based on intuition. The intuitions need to be very simple, like the idea that suffering is bad. This is very basic, immediately graspable to most people, but some, like the de Sade might say that their intuition differs.

            I don’t think that Christianity has for most of its history believed in the equality of all humans. The Catholic Church supported hierarchy. I will grant that the Protestant Reformation sowed some of the seeds of liberty by allowing everyone to interpret the Bible directly outside of the priestly hierarchy. But for that, I’d credit Martin Luther rather than St. Paul.


          2. I like your use of intuition — I agree that there is a place for it but that full blown Xy exceeds a simple intuitive grasp. Based on some available facts, I intuited that there is a God, became an unformed theist, and went from there. No one was more surprised than me to find that at the end of my intellectual free inquiry was Christ, and orthodox Xy.


  10. The problem lies deeper than objective morality. The problem in an uncreated world is that there should be an embedded moral sense at all. Moral sense emerging from dust and water? Good and evil somehow popping into existence at some point in a seamless cause-effect evolutionary chain? It’s nonsensical. It’s absurd. Good and evil cannot exist. They can be nothing more than artificial human constructs overlaid upon the drab dreary reality of mindless, dead molecules in motion. The choice is simple: either an intelligent creator — God — or the utter absurdity of human experience and thought.

    Furthermore, “higher or abstract pleasures like intellectual understanding” [as in “an intellectually fulfilled atheist” (Dawkins)], are likewise absurdities. To think that a mindless process, with no goal in mind whatsoever, and zero positive creative abilities — just, at base, matter in motion — should produce something as sublime as abstract pleasures, and also produce self-conscious beings capable of self-awareness of such pleasures. Absurd!

    Absurdity of absurdities says the Preacher — all is absurd.

    Unless. God.


  11. Every time evolution theory’s prediction/hypothesis/etc is proven wrong, her faithful claims the beauty of science that it is self-correcting.

    Uh huh, while science is self-correcting and becoming more and more beautiful … evolution is becoming uglier and uglier by the day


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