Bad news for Behe

The unraveling of Mike Behe’s mutation math continues, with this common-sense finding:

Beneficial mutations in the bacterium Escherichia coli occur 1,000 times more frequently than previously predicted, according to research from a group in Portugal.

In a study of E. coli populations of various different sizes, Isabel Gordo and her collaborators at the Gulbenkian Science Institute in Oeiras, Portugal, found that thousands of mutations that could lead to modest increases in fitness were going unseen because good mutations were outperformed by better ones1. The authors say that the work could explain why bacteria are so quick to develop resistance to antibiotics.

“It’s changed the way I think about things,” says Frederick Cohan, a biology professor at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. He adds that although the principles involved were understood, no one expected to find such a high rate of adaptive mutation.

Oops. Never fear, the dominionist spin machine is already in high dudgeon, cranking out deflections and distractions on secret blogs as we speak.

2 thoughts on “Bad news for Behe”

  1. Those who believe in “irreducible complexity” should tattoo “I have a small mind” right across their forehead. Any good chemist will tell you that given enough time, molecules can self-assemble and dance around each other in infinite ways, mostly not doing much, but occasionally doing something totally unexpected and persistent.

  2. IC is also a pretty weak proof of god, as such things go. Let’s say there is a clearly designed biological system somewhere, as there will be in the near future thanks to genetic engineering. Does this prove anything more than that somebody somewhere is practicing genetic engineering occasionally? I don’t think so.

    So how comforting would it be to the fundamentalist religious types to know that life on Earth was created in a GE lab on some other planet? Not very, I’m guessing.

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