Saturday, December 26, 2009


Debunking Monkey mentioned ERV's and used them as evidence for common ancestry with apes.

Well, I thought I would play the skeptic and see what I could find which had an opposing side to what DM claimed. I am not knowledgeable in these areas but there is always time to learn. I actually thought it was quite interesting what DM brought, but I found this link which questioned whether ERV's are actually good evidence for common ancestry. I found it rather interesting and made sense to me...the guy brought forward some experiments so he wasn't all "talk", he seems well qualified with a BSc in Biology (as claimed).

ERV's Debunked

Here is a bit from his profile which I thought qualified him quite well:

Hello, and welcome to my channel.
This channel was meant for intelligent Atheists/agnostics and Christians who want to debate their beliefs in a rational and civilized manner. A bit about me:
I am currently "sitting on the fence" when it comes to accepting the theory of evolution. I am not specifically against evolution, I am against bad science. I don't think there's enough evidence as of yet for me to fully accept the theory of evolution.
In this channel, I will post videos of what and what I do not consider evidence of evolution, as well as various videos dealing with faith, religion and atheism.

My qualifications:

BSc Molecular Biology 2004
M.D. (2009)




  1. Right off the bat he makes a mistake in limiting ERV's to noncoding DNA, why? I'm reasonably sure I have already given at least one example here of ERV's being co-opted into new features.

    Well his arguments are essentially strawmen.

    I wish he actually linked to the papers so I could actually look at the results, he doesn't say much specific about them.

    Insertion is not Random.

    Ok then, can you predict where an ERV will insert itself?


    In the one example he does give he mentions 'a couple of thousand insertion points'.

    It's not news that some ERVs might have preferences towards areas that they might like.

    But it's like dropping something from space and saying 'it should land in NZ' and comparing it to saying 'it will land at 150 willis street'.

    "ERVs are Species specific"

    I have never ever heard anyone make that claim.

    Wait, wait, wait...what?

    He totally makes up numbers of what he thinks should be the common number of ERVs between Humans and Chimps and he's ignoring the rest of the family tree.

    The point isn't that there are only X common ERVs between Chimps and Humans. It's that a distinct family tree can be made from them.

    And this same family tree can be made over and over again depending on what you measure from. pick a gene and make a family tree from it (Gulo/Vitamin C for example) and it will make the exact same family tree.

  2. Ok this guy is blatantly lying. I found the first paper.

    Retroviral DNA integration: ASLV, HIV, and MLV show distinct target site preferences.

    "The completion of the human genome sequence has made possible genome-wide studies of retroviral DNA integration. Here we report an analysis of 3,127 integration site sequences from human cells. We compared retroviral vectors derived from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), avian sarcoma-leukosis virus (ASLV), and murine leukemia virus (MLV). Effects of gene activity on integration targeting were assessed by transcriptional profiling of infected cells. Integration by HIV vectors, analyzed in two primary cell types and several cell lines, strongly favored active genes. An analysis of the effects of tissue-specific transcription showed that it resulted in tissue-specific integration targeting by HIV, though the effect was quantitatively modest. Chromosomal regions rich in expressed genes were favored for HIV integration, but these regions were found to be interleaved with unfavorable regions at CpG islands. MLV vectors showed a strong bias in favor of integration near transcription start sites, as reported previously. ASLV vectors showed only a weak preference for active genes and no preference for transcription start regions. Thus, each of the three retroviruses studied showed unique integration site preferences, suggesting that virus-specific binding of integration complexes to chromatin features likely guides site selection"

    Compare that to "highly specific", his words.

    They looked at current insertions and did a statistical analysis on where they were found.
    And they found that some appear to like certain areas, and some really don't seem to care.

    He completely misrepresents the paper is as if they are infecting cells over and over again only finding the same few sites infected over and over again.

    ERV (Abbie Smith) A postgrad student who actually researches ERVs does havesomething to say on this paper specifically

    "The first paper simply states that some retroviruses like to insert in genes, some like to insert near promoters of genes, and some like to insert in the middle of no where. The specific insertion sites, what base pairs on on the left, which ones are on the right, is random."

    No wonder he doesn't link to the actual study itself.

  3. So it is not that he was completely wrong, but you are claiming that he exaggerated a fact.

  4. No I am saying he was outright lying.

    Read the abstract again and then ask yourself how any honest person could then summarize the results as "ERV insertions points are highly specific"

  5. Remember he's apparently an MD.

    And he's waving around the term 'highly specific' as if ERV insertion points are predictable down the to the base pair. Remember that's what this is all about. That the same ERV has infected every mammal in exactly the same place. And then another ERV did this to every tetrapod species in exactly the same place.

    And did this apparently magically happens over and over and over again. Remember something like 8% of your Genome is made of virus remnant.

    What is much more likely is that he got the paper from a creationist site and swallowed the description hook, line, and sinker that it said 'ERV insertion is highly specific' and didn't even bother to read the abstract, let alone the actual paper.

  6. Read the abstract again and then ask yourself how any honest person could then summarize the results as "ERV insertions points are highly specific"

    I have to say that I am probably out of my depth, but to my limited knowledge I do understand what you are saying.
    So you and DM claim that the places where ERV's have affected apes and people in their genome appear to be in specific places rather than broadly specific? Signifying that we are related, rather than ERV's choosing a common place in a similar genome (though not related).

    Would you have a link to the paper where you got that quote from?

    Huh, I just found a new site Creationwiki which DM linked to. Sounds fascinating.


  7. Ask yourself why he didn't link to the paper? Click on any relevant cdk007 video and he includes a link to download the papers.

    He is inferring that the results of the experiment were that if 2 different species were infected with the same ERV that they would be infected at the exact same base pair. When the paper says no such thing.

    If that was true they would only have 3 insertion points to study rather than 3,000.

    Again as I was saying the results are that SOME ERVs prefer certain areas (like you are more likely to find it in gene X rather than Gene Y), while some don't care at all.

    Yeah CreationWiki is 'interesting' it's basically grown out of an attempt to respond to TalkOrigins, which is like the Granddaddy of Creationism Debunking Websites.

  8. Thanks for all the ERV resources guys, always an interesting topic!

  9. Hot off the Presses, a whole new class, 'Endogenous NON-retroviruses' EBLNs (or "endogenous Borna-like N" elements). Just rolls off the tongue doesn't it.

  10. Thanks Bathtub,

    Interesting articles.

    Even though I found the articles a good read, I found this funny.

    There is no way. There is just no way, man, for Creationists to deal with this:

    Generalizing again. Not all "creationists" are threatened by this at all. It really depends on what is meant by "creationist".

    Well I could think of an explanation off the top of my head so technically he is wrong...but then again I don't know much so I can only hatch a theory based on my understanding :)
    Why do guys have nipples? Because God used the blueprint of the female to make males...correct?
    Well we know that ERV's are useful for the most part...why can't God have used an ape-like creature's blueprint for us and yet alter it to create us in His "image" depending on the interpretation of that word "image"?

    Food for thought


  11. Heh I know, ERV (as in the person) is funny, she's actually not that experienced with debating Creationists. More experienced people know that NOTHING is a problem for Creationists when you can just say 'God wanted it to look like that'. :)

    I don't pretend to fully understand ELBNs are yet, that name will never catch on! But basically it appears to be another source of code insertions that are inherited. And can be traced back quite a bit amongst mammals.

  12. More experienced people know that NOTHING is a problem for Creationists when you can just say 'God wanted it to look like that'. :)

    Well if its a possibility then why not look at it?

    Yeah, that name doesn't catch on like "ERV" does.

  13. Because it "Answers everything, Explains nothing".

  14. LOL,

    Or is it more like "Answers everything, Explains everything".
    It answers why and how we may not be descended from apes. But in a way would would be :)

  15. That type of completely meaningless non-answer is only useful to the faithful.

  16. I think you look at things completely differently.

    I'll see if I can draw a comparison between our worldviews.

    Christians believe the Bible is the Word of God. We have reasons why we believe it. But like all truth, there are questions about it's make up and one of those things for the Bible are man's origins. Christians believe the Bible is the Word of God so they find explanations that explain a part of the truth we know to be real.

    What is an example I can give for a circumstance you are in where you find explanations for a part of a truth you believe.
    Take evolution. Evidence of common heritage exists but there are still questions. Some people accept it as rubbish, others like yourself accept it as true (from what I know) and some others in part.
    The same with the Bible, I believe it all, some people accept it as rubbish and some people accept only part.

    There are points to evolution that people have to have an answer that "Answers everything, Explains Nothing".

    The fossil record is not in huge support of common ancestry as a whole and inferences have to be made and the holes filled in regarding the "truth" of the belief of evolution of common ancestry.

    I am sure that somewhere down inside believers of common ancestry give an answer to problems saying something like "evolutiondidit" without realizing the leaps they have taken.
    People accept a whole truth "evolution" (from my understanding) but have to "evolutiondidit" parts of the they believe in.

    That type of completely meaningless non-answer is only useful to the faithful.

    So I am sure that people find "evolutiondidit" answers quite useful also.



  17. What you don't appear to be getting is that the "Answers everything, Explains Nothing" use of goddidit, closes doors on enquiry. There is nowhere to go from 'It's Magic!'

    'evolutiondidit' doesn't.

    What do you think the millions of scientists (again of all religions) are doing if they just fall on the answer 'evolutiondidit'? Clearly wasting their time.

    Do you think any scientist would get their work published if that's all it said?

  18. "Because God used the blueprint of the female to make males...correct?".

    I was under the impression that the man came first...

  19. I was under the impression that the man came first...


    Of course! But when it comes to child birth, the child whether male or female takes the blueprint of the female.

    What was your problem?

  20. Hmm strangely enough the video is gone.

  21. The video I used in the post?
    Sorry I don't have access to running videos at the moment.