July 25, 2012 | David F. Coppedge

Humans by Mistake

Scientists from Scotland claim to trace our origins to a genetic mistake 500 million years ago.

In large bold print on Live Science, reporter Jennifer Viegas announced this headline: “500 Million-Year-Old ‘Mistake’ Led to Humans.”  The opening tried to dramatize claims made by scientists at the University of Dundee about a marine creature named amphioxus:

Over 500 million years ago a spineless creature on the ocean floor experienced two successive doublings in the amount of its DNA, a “mistake” that eventually triggered the evolution of humans and many other animals, says a new study.

The good news is that these ancient DNA doublings boosted cellular communication systems, so that our body cells are now better at integrating information than even the smartest smartphones. The bad part is that communication breakdowns, traced back to the very same genome duplications of the Cambrian Period, can cause diabetes, cancer and neurological disorders.

It’s a long way from amphioxus, indeed.  PhysOrg called this an “evolutionary upheaval” that resulted in an “evolutionary leap” over 500 million years.  One of the scientists justified this storytelling by claiming it sheds light on the origin of disease: “Analysis of these gene families from an evolutionary point of view helps to navigate through the increasingly large data sets on protein interactions in a more focused and productive way, speeding the way towards establishing the links between particular proteins and diseases as well as highlighting new potential disease targets.”  He did not explain why comparative genomics requires the assumption of evolutionary common ancestry, nor did he give any measure of focus and productivity using the evolutionary point of view.

Let’s be logical, here.  Professor, if we are the result of a mistake, then you are the result of a mistake.  Ergo, unless you can explain the evolution of truth, your claim about our origins is mistaken.  Consequently, it is a mistake to pay your theory any attention.  Q.E.D.

This is a good one to keep for the day the Darwin idol collapses.  Enlightened philosophy of science teachers will have fun showing their students what professors with PhD’s once claimed was solid science.  The professor will hear gasps from the class when he explains that the media reported these things uncritically, and nobody laughed.


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  • rockyway says:

    This (toothless) claim depends on assuming the truth of evolutionary theory so as to ‘prove’ it. i.e. the ‘idea’ that fish, over time, became humans.

    Evolutionary theory allows scientists to study a creature alive today and then claim to know what happened 500 million years ago to a ‘similar’ one. The claim in this story thus depends on a series of unproven, unprovable assumptions.

    The irony here is that a mistake is something a personal agent makes. i.e. a random, chance event cannot be a mistake.
    Mistake; ‘To err in knowledge, perception, opinion, or judgment.’

  • Ian P. says:

    “… our body cells are now better at integrating information than even the smartest smartphones.”

    And all in a space smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. This article provides more evidence for ID science and the existence of a Creator, than it does for evolution.

  • webweb says:

    When I read these words, “that our body cells are now better at integrating information than even the smartest smartphones.” The only thing that came to my mind was – sounds like the work of an all wise Creator – but not ooops

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