Transposable elements (revisited), in context: A New Scientific Truth

By: James V. Kohl | Published on: October 10, 2013

Comments by the science journalist, Carl Zimmer, and by distinguished secular scientist, Dr. Paul Braterman encouraged me to revisit this topic only a day after my first posting about transposable elements. As often happens, their comments helped me to tailor my responses to the questions they raise. The late Elaine Morgan once mentioned the fact that most theorists do not ask questions about new evidence, especially when it suggests their theories are wrong. That fact exemplifies a subtle form of academic suppression. Of course, she cited Thomas Kuhn, who included a pertinent quote from Max Planck, who was one of Einstein’s colleagues.

  • A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
    • Wissenschaftliche Selbstbiographie. Mit einem Bildnis und der von Max von Laue gehaltenen Traueransprache., Johann Ambrosius Barth Verlag, (Leipzig 1948), p. 22, as translated in Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers, trans. F. Gaynor (New York, 1949), pp.33-34 (as cited in T.S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions).


Transposable Elements: [are] Targets for Early Nutritional Effects on Epigenetic Gene Regulation. They are the Transposable Elements [placed into the context of], Epigenetics, and Genome Evolution in the 2012 AAAS presidential address, which extended from plants to moths and to butterflies the concept of Transposable element evolution in Heliconius [that] suggests genome diversity within Lepidoptera is controlled by the metabolism of nutrients to species-specific pheromones. Pheromones, as many people may already know, control the nutrient-dependent physiology of reproduction, which is how adaptive evolution is controlled in species from microbes to man.
I just incorporated the titles from three citations to construct a somewhat cohesive statement that accurately reflects what is currently known about the molecular epigenetics of adaptive evolution. That was easy! I merely ignored mutations “theory” and classic ‘examples’ of mutation-initiated natural selection for color, such as the peppered moth. Instead, as I always have, I focused the biological facts that evolutionary theorists have ignored. For example of those ignored facts, see the section on molecular epigenetics in our 1996 Hormones and Behavior review article: From Fertilization to Adult Sexual Behavior and my 2013 monograph Nutrient-dependent/pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution: a model.
In the 2013 monograph I included this example, among examples from nematodes, other insects, other mammals, and a human population: “In Ostrinia moth species, substitution of a critical amino acid is sufficient to create a new pheromone blend (Lassance et al., 2013). In the ‘peppered moth’ example of rapid response to human-induced environmental changes, which were heretofore considered to be driven by selective predation, some evidence now suggests the migration pattern of 2 km per evening is consistent with the male moth’s ability to detect the nutrient-dependent pheromones of the female from 2 km upwind (see for review Cook & Saccheri, 2013).” All the examples I mentioned, establish a link from nutrient-dependent alternative splicings (in our 1996 review) to pheromone-controlled reproduction
For contrast, no experimental evidence suggests that mutations are fixed in the DNA of any organized genome of any species that has adaptively evolved. No experimental evidence suggests that natural selection for morphogenesis occurs, except via the association of phenotypic expression, including color changes, with selection of nutrients that metabolize to species-specific pheromones.
If not for successful attempts by experts like Dr. Braterman to continue to tout their theories via obfuscation of cause and effect or by cursing anyone who doesn’t agree with the label of creationist, scientific progress would be decades further ahead than what most people can imagine — if only because they, too, were taught that mutations initiated natural selection, which led to the diversification of species from microbes to man.  Simply put, they were taught a ridiculous theory.
Max Planck also said:

  • New scientific ideas never spring from a communal body, however organized, but rather from the head of an individually inspired researcher who struggles with his problems in lonely thought and unites all his thought on one single point which is his whole world for the moment.
    • Address on the 25th anniversary of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Gesellschaft (January 1936), as quoted in Surviving the Swastika : Scientific Research in Nazi Germany (1993) ISBN 0-19-507010-0

My whole world for this moment is the focus on transposable elements. I am not an expert on them, and may never be. But I am an expert on biologically based cause and effect.
Carl Zimmer admitted elsewhere that he can merely take what the experts say and make it easier for more people to understand. What must now be understood in the context of “Evolution in Color,” is what this phrase means: “The carbonaria region coincides with major wing-patterning loci in other lepidopteran systems, suggesting the existence of basal color-patterning regulators in this region.”
It means the presence of color-patterning regulators in that region is nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled. That means that color-patterning is not mutation-initiated and that color is not, in Darwinian theory, naturally selected via predation. Color is selected, like all phenotypic variation in morphogenesis is selected. Color is selected via its association with olfactory/pheromonal input and the de novo creation of olfactory receptor genes, not mutations. It is the epigenetic effects of olfactory/pheromonal input that enable conspecifics to naturally select beneficial nutrients that metabolize to the species-specific pheromones that control the physiology of their reproduction. And, there’s a model for that!

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