Friday, January 12, 2007

Another article from an ID supporter that raises my hackles

Recently (thanks to I came across this article in the Guardian from across the pond. Some of the article makes a degree of sense (as many of these ID articles do) but for someone who has supposedly worked in the field Mr. Buggs seems to make an awfuly lot of mistakes concerning evolution. Of course when I do a pubmed search for Buggs, R the results are a little slim. Three articles in pubmed and only one is truly in an evolution journal.

I think my "favourite" paragraph from the article was the following:

Science has turned lots of corners since Darwin, and many of them have thrown up data quite unpredicted by his theory. Who, on Darwinian premises, would have expected that the patterns of distribution and abundance of species in tropical rainforests could be modelled without taking local adaptation into account? Or that whenever we sequence a new genome we find unique genes, unlike any found in other species? Or that bacteria gain pathogenicity (the ability to cause disease) by losing genes?

Ok so for the first point on modeling species distributions and species abundance I'm not sure what models he is referring to, nor what they use as input parameters. And of course I am not an ecologist but I do know that those sorts of things follow probabilistic distributions of one sort or another, and I am willing to bet that input parameters for those models DO take adaptation/evolution into account somehow, even if it is via proxy. (For example if you are modeling the distribution of a predator one typically includes prey distributions in the model. That actually does take evolution/adaptation into account by proxy).

As for the second, bacteria losing genes to gain pathogenicity I have to wonder if Mr. Buggs has ever heard of Pathogenicity Islands. Those wonderful little groups of genes that get swapped via Lateral Gene Transfer like crazy among bacteria.

I am forced to conclude that Mr. Buggs credentials are either over sold in relation to the topic at hand, or like so many others in the ID posse, he deliberately bends the truth in order to sway public opinion.

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