Back when we wrote the Unified Theory of the Crank one of the main things we discussed related to crankery is their inability to recognize competence in others. As a result, cranks tend not to mind the crankery of others, since they see themselves as opposed to a scientific orthodoxy. Consistency be damned, they just want to see science with egg on its face so they can prove that they are being persecuted.
Well lately, Uncommon Descent has been doing a pretty incredible job of sticking to this script. First we have Dembski, insisting upon the persecution of ID abroad, because the Germans jailed a holocaust denier who happened to be a creationist. Dembski, not being the sharpest tool in the drawer, didn’t think to look to closely at the story and, well, played the persecution card a little too soon.
Now Uncommon Descent, aiming for a trifecta of denialism, is using HIV/AIDS denialist Peter Duesberg to attack the orthodoxy. It really is true, cranks are so incompetent at reason and logic they simply can’t see that they’re making a terrible case. In this instance, they’re using Duesberg’s Chromosomal Chaos hypothesis to suggest that science is so addicted to Darwinism we’ve been getting not just cancer research, but bacterial resistance wrong for decades.
The obvious problem is that Duesberg, in what appears to be characteristically black-and-white mode of thought, has decided that since chromosomal disorder may explain some cancers (and he got in on the ground floor) that all cancer is from chromosomal disorder, despite many examples of genetic causes from retinoblastoma to the existence of known cancer susceptibility loci like BRCA.
But what matters to a crank reading this? It’s proof! Proof at last that Darwinism hurts science! Scientists have been missing the point on cancer (assuming immediately that co-crank Duesberg is correct) because they’re so obsessed with evolution! All it took was mention of a “gene-mutation theory” being wrong and it’s a new proof for ID (god must have designed in chromosomal chaos – what a nice fella). And in a bizarre leap of logic PaV suggests that Duesberg’s chromosomal chaos hypothesis shows that “darwinism” led us down the wrong path in cancer.
Think of the number of people who die each year of cancer as compared to the number who die from bacterial infection, and one can easily see that all the chest-slapping by the Darwinists about how RM+NS has given us anti-bacterial drugs can know pound their breasts in remorse at the “wrong path” mutational theory has led cancer researchers. This isn’t just a battle between the God-denying and the God-affirming segments of our global society, it’s about good science versus bad science, about reason versus myth.
Holy freaking cow! This is how intelligent design advocates think biology works. If someone disparages the role of gene mutation in one process – in eukaryotic cells no less – it’s proof ID is correct about drug resistance in bacteria which are prokaryotes. In other words, this twit is suggesting bacterial drug resistance must emerge from chromosomal rearrangement because Duesberg has supposedly proven gene mutation doesn’t cause drug resistance!
Bacteria don’t even have chromosomes in the same sense as eukaryotic cells. Eukaryotes have long linear chromosomes and our DNA replication is initiated at random throughout the genome. Bacteria usually have one or two circular chromosomes (rarely a linear) with specific origins of initiation – they don’t undergo rearrangement like eukaryotic chromosomes (although individual genes can) and still have the ability to divide and reproduce.
Further, the mechanisms of cancer drug resistance and bacterial drug resistance are completely and totally different. Bacteria actually develop resistance genes that allow them to deactivate the attacking antibiotic after millions of reproductive cycles. Cancer develops resistance to drugs by finding independent pathways to allow the cells to continue to divide in the presence of a chemotherapeutic agent – or by managing to increase drug efflux. This is comparing apples to atom bombs. Not just the cells and the types of genomes involved, but the two mechanisms themselves.
Sigh. Duesberg’s argument is full of holes – as Orac shows best, and while actually based on science and an interesting hypothesis, he is once again unable to distinguish between what is well-proven and what he wants to be true. PaV at Uncommon Descent falls for it, of course, hook, line and sinker because it says the magic words about drug resistance and gene mutation.
There you have it. Uncommon Descent intelligent design creationists can’t figure out the difference between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, and bacterial drug resistance and cancer drug resistance. They jump on the arguments of fellow cranks – because cranks are magnetically attracted to other crank arguments, and in the process show how shallow their understanding of science and nature truly is.
**Update** Someone pointed out that I read this backwards. I apologize. Sometimes statements that are particularly stupid are difficult to wrap one’s mind around. The interpretation appears to be that scientists inferred cancer drug resistance is the same as bacterial drug resistance – we’ve caused excess deaths from traveling down the primrose path. This is equally stupid. As you can see, we appreciate the mechanisms are different. Further, there is no good evidence this is a “wrong path” or that chromosomal rearrangement has usurped the mutational theory of oncogenesis. They completely fell for Duesberg’s hypothesis – which as Orac’s post shows – is way overblown.
We have not gone down the wrong path in cancer, and bacterial resistance has very little to tell us about cancer resistance – they are totally different mechanisms. This is completely idiotic.