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Successful predictions from DNA


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Most scientists say "alternative" to evolution isn't a theory at all


When scientists announced last month they had determined the exact order of all 3 billion bits of genetic code that go into making a chimpanzee, it was no surprise that the sequence was more than 96 percent identical to the human genome. Charles Darwin had deduced more than a century ago that chimps were among humans' closest cousins.


But decoding chimpanzees' DNA allowed scientists to do more than just refine their estimates of how similar humans and chimps are. It let them put the very theory of evolution to some tough new tests.


If Darwin was right, scientists should be able to use a mathematical formula to predict the number of harmful mutations in chimpanzee DNA by knowing the number of mutations in a different species' DNA and the two animals' population sizes.


"That's a very specific prediction," said Eric Lander, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., and a leader in the chimp project.


Sure enough, when Lander and his colleagues tallied the harmful mutations in the chimp genome, the number fit perfectly into the range that evolutionary theory had predicted.


Their analysis was the latest of many in such disparate fields as genetics, biochemistry, geology and paleontology that in recent years have added new credence to the central tenet of evolutionary theory: that a smidgen of cells 3.5 billion years ago could — through mechanisms no more extraordinary than random mutation and natural selection — give rise to the astonishing biological diversity that today thrives on Earth.




A lengthy article on the application of scientific method to the genome in testing the theory of evolution through predictions and why the same lack of testable predictions excludes ID and creationism as valid scientific theories.

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This is a pretty odd article, C1. It seems to suggest (although the article is a vague synopsis of the source) that the "predicted" number of mutations is evidence of something, presumably speciation. I sincerely hope they did not make the leap that larger population=more mutations (true)=more speciation (conjecture).


This write-up in the popular press says more about non-scientists' misconstruction of underlying data than about support for evolution.

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