Susumu Ohno did not coin the term “junk DNA” — a must-read by Dan Graur.


Anyone interested in the topic of “junk DNA” should go and read this fine piece of detective work by Dan Graur immediately!


80%* of the genome is functional*!

You’re going to be hearing a lot about the ENCODE project for the next little while. 30 papers were released today, and there is plenty of media attention already. Lots of it is of the standard “it’s not junk after all!” variety. Of particular note in most reports is the claim by the ENCODE […]

The Platypus Fallacy.

I see, with rather alarming frequency, a major fallacy creeping in to discussions of human evolutionary history and how one may infer details about it. Specifically, there is a tendency to examine the traits of one or a few non-human species and to draw conclusions about the origin of human traits purely from these […]


For some time, I have wanted a new term for the broad category of DNA otherwise commonly referred to as “junk DNA”, i.e., everything other than genes and gene regulatory elements. “Non-coding DNA” is about the best option I have seen, in that it refers to DNA that does not encode a protein relevant […]

Professional, scientist, and bait-and-switch.

The discussion about my usage of the term “professional scientist” has raised a lot of objections. Mostly I think these have been emotional, and in fact it’s pretty clear what is happening. People are using equivocation to take advantage of the different narrow vs. broad definitions of “professional” and “scientist”.

The narrow definitions […]

Who is a scientist?

The discussion about the definition of “professional scientist” has been interesting, with a range of opinions shown. But this raises the question — what criteria make someone a “scientist”, or even a “professional scientist” if such a distinction is necessary?

Here are the criteria I threw out off-handedly for the purpose of discussing the […]


Sometimes it is helpful to have a catchy word to describe one’s type of research. I think that’s why “omics” words are so popular — they encapsulate a complex combination of approaches (usually something + genomics, or something-more-than-genomics) in a memorable way that immediately conveys the gist of the field. “Metagenomics” is a good […]

Talkin’ Terminology: "parallel" vs. "convergent" evolution.

Ok, here are two terms that are sometimes used interchangeably, sometimes not, and when they’re not, they are used in various ways.

Parallel evolution

Convergent evolution

For this installment of Talkin’ Terminology, do you consider these to be the same, or how do you differentiate them?

Primitive versus [blank].

Wilhelm Johannsen, who coined such terms as “gene”, “genotype”, and “phenotype”, noted in 1911 that, It is a well-established fact that language is not only our servant, when we wish to express – or even to conceal – our thoughts, but that it may also be our master, overpowering us by means of the […]

What is a just-so story?

As I and others have noted many times, facts, theories, and hypotheses are independent elements in the scientific process. Contrary to their vernacular meanings, they are not ranks indicating differential degrees of certainty in some claim.

Evolution is scientific fact, meaning that the numerous types of evidence point so overwhelmingly to shared ancestry that […]