Haarsma Makes First Round of Corrections at BioLogos

It is good to see, for the first time, a clear public correction from BioLogos. For now, I will withhold comment on the particulars, except to note that even this article re-asserts consequential errors. I hope these errors are corrected. I hear that this the first of many corrections to come, and perhaps this mistake will be fixed.

To conduct science at all involves accurately recognizing the edge of what we know and what we don’t yet know. Understanding that edge is rewarding because it brings the possibility of extending that edge. Clarity about the edge of knowledge is important, not only among scientists, but when teaching students or speaking to the public.

Note: originally, I called this a round of “retractions”, and that might not be right. Here, Haarsma only notes corrections, and then there were silent deletions of at least two articles, along with reassertion of some false claims. That is not retractions. Thanks to @sfmatheson for pointing this out.

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A note added to this article:

Construction Zone! Note added January 2020. This piece is under revision and will be updated over the next few months to reflect current research. The main conclusion of the piece is correct: all the genetic evidence to date says that the average breeding population of our ancestors has been larger than a single couple for at least the last 200,000 years, and there is no plausible model affirming a single, unique pair of progenitors less than 500,000 years ago that also accounts for the data we see in the genes of people alive today. Although much of the piece is good, it includes some overstatements and inconsistencies, and needs updates to reflect scholarship since 2014. Population genetics measures the average population, not a minimum population; it measures the breeding population, not the census population; and current methods cannot speak to times more than 500,000 years ago.

This note is in error. Some of the errors in this document were never consistent with mainstream science and should have been known to be in error in 2014. Moreover, some of these errors are repeated in the Adam and the Genome book. I wonder if there will be retractions or correction of the errors in that book. Likewise, there are many examples of plausible sole-progenitor models that have very recent dates, including, for example, the Young Adam Creation (YAC) speculation in the GAE.

Some of the same errors, also, have been found here, in this historically important article from 2010, which was silently deleted this week. Deleted: Does Genetics Point to a Single Primal Couple?

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It was historically important because it provoked the controversy that led to this article in CT:

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Venema’s article on nylon eating bacteria is no longer accessible at Biologos? Is that a silent retraction? The problem here is this will result in modification in Venema’s book since he refers to nylon eating bacteria as his favorite example!

Even evolutionary biologist John Harshman agrees with me that Venema was wrong. Editor-in-Chief of Cell Reports, Steve Matheson believes the 1984 paper by Ohno that Venema says is his favorite example – this 1984 paper by Ohno is wrong.

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You are right. It should be here, https://biologos.org/articles/intelligent-design-and-nylon-eating-bacteria, but it is not there any more. I don’t have the original version of that one, and they removed all their articles from WebArchive.

Years ago, Venema had noted this error on the forum already: De novo evolution of Nylonase? - Open Forum - The BioLogos Forum. It would be helpful if he kept an official errata for his book to clear up misunderstanding about the errors we have found so far.

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BioLogos edited their response to Keller again: BioLogos Edits Their Response to Keller. There remain important problems with this article nonetheless.

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