Can someone comment on this article which claims that biologists have been misleading the masses when they compare the genome of humans and chimps https://yaqeeninstitute.org/daniel-haqiqatjou/can-islam-object-to-evolution/
I can comment.
From your article:
Is 99% human-chimp genome similarity less impressive in light of the fact that domestic cats share 90% of their genes with humans and yeast share over 30% of their genes with us, etc.? What should we make of these various quantitative comparisons? In reality, it is difficult to make sense of these percentages without a uniform metric to reference. Unfortunately, the biological sciences do not provide one.
The public has not been misled. The fact is that chimps and humans share 99% of their genes. The rest is interpretation. The rest is extrapolation. The rest is philosophy.
As a biologist, it's absolutely no surprise to me that we share a lot of our genome with cats, earthworms and even yeast. We do presumably because successful life on the planet Earth takes particular biological processes which are shared. We live in a Nitrogen-Oxygen atmosphere; we have carbon-based energy sources; we need to have similar enzymes to use oxygen and carbon, etc.
Beyond that, scientists have opinions they share. But no one is forcing you to believe a particular interpretation. I happen to believe in what makes the most sense. You can believe in what makes less sense if you prefer. Have there been misrepresentations? Absolutely, but that is often because journalists sharing the information misunderstand it. One of the most misunderstood papers I've seen is Sex Differences in Brain Gray and White Matter in Healthy Young Adults: Correlations with Cognitive Performance by Ger et al. It has been repeatedly and widely inaccurately represented in the lay press, partly (or perhaps wholly) because it is not a particularly well-written paper though the science in it is sound.
Don't assign blame for any belief to science just because you want it to say something different.
Well. Science is a funny thing compared to say the Koren, the Bible or any other religious text. As Scientist learn more, the narrative in Science will change. For instance, in the 1800, there were ideas that there was free following water on Mar... channels and ditches and such. In the 1960s, Mars was considered bone dry. No water ever. A desolate waste land. In the 1990s, Mar considered to have water, but only in the distant past 3 billion years ago. No water now. Then in the 2010s it is now considered to have subsurface water ice, that may occasionally turn into free flowing water under rare conditions. And worst yet, until recently... perhaps all those features of recent running water way have been caused by out gassing of CO2... Conflict over basic interpretation.
Now in that time, religion text, while silence on the matter of Mars, has not changed much if at all. Religious text has stayed the same.
So has Science been misleading the masses on Mars? Does Mars have water? Yes or No? Science keeps flip flopping.
In some ways yes, Science has been misleading the public. It has not been on target with a singular message, unlike say a religious text book, which has been delivering the same unchanging message for a thousand years or so.
So if you are looking for a consist message, well Science way not the thing for you. Science tends to tell different stories as scientist learn more, learn new techniques, re-evaluate ideas and generally fight with among themselves. The holy men Science like to review, rewrite their holy text rather often and fight. And the common man may find that dissatisfying and perhaps worrisome. If holy men keep changing the holy text, how will the common people worship? Is the Science real? Given it changes when the holy text of many world religions have not changed in centuries or even millennia.
So back to article... the percentage similarity of human to chimp genome changes as techniques improve. If you look at the actual age of the citations used in said article.. we run from papers in the 1970s, before genome sequencing was available, and the ideas of one gene-one protein was how Science thought DNA worked, and karyotyping and chromosome banding was about the only means to make large scale chromosome comparison... to papers in the 2014. Where we know DNA does more than just encodes proteins, and non DNA coding are not junk but can encode RNA with biochemical activity (gene regulation, transcription factor regulation etc). And whole human genomes can be sequenced for less than USD 1,400 when it originally cost USD 2.7 billion.
This is nearly 50 years of change and development. Going from the time before the internet and calculators were serious business machines worth thousands of dollars to a time you can have a a 1980s super computer as a wrist watch.
So yes... the message changes. Science progresses, techniques that could only be imagined by previous generations of scientist have become routine. We have learned more.. RNA isn't just a middle man between DNA and protein. One gene can give rise to many proteins.
Have the masses been mislead?
Scientist are telling the Masses information that is to the best of their knowledge. And if the current generation of scientist (2014 scientist) say the past generation (1970s scientist) had it wrong or not quite right.... If scientist right now disagree on the best matrix... is that misleading?
A science book is not as safe as a religious text. And one of the worst offenders is biology. A biology text book book from the 1980s looks very different from 2010s, even if they are from the same series. Is that misleading or is that scientific advancement?
PS: Common genes and sequence identity is not the same. There is a bit of confusion in the article. A cat and a human may share many many genes. But those shared genes may have sequence difference between them. So you can say humans and cat share 90% (made up example) of their gene (ie both cat and human have the PTEN gene) but have only 70% (made up example) sequence identity (ie there are several DNA difference between the human PTEN gene and the cat PTEN gene). It is easy to confuse the two.
Also are you only only considering gene coding DNA? Or are you also considering the non coding DNA (which until cheap genome sequencing in the 2010s was extremely difficult to capture and sequence)