RTB questions human chromosome 2

These thanks should go, not to me, but to Dave Wisker. He penned, not one, but four essays on The Panda’s Thumb that dealt very nicely with this issue. Links to these are here, here, here, and here.

This particular reply is both painful and a pleasure for me. Painful because Dave passed away a little more than a year ago, and these essays remind me of our friendship and his remarkable personality. A pleasure because I believe Dave would be pleased to see that his excellent work can still contribute to this discussion.


Give me a break. Dr. Rana is stonewalling. He has no model. Every new finding from genomics, fossils, anthropological artifacts on Neanderthals, Denisovans, H. Naledi, H. Erectus and other species destroys the RTB model. Dr. Rana continues to hold on to a failed hypothesis. At some point Dr. Rana needs to say that the RTB model is falsified for RTB have any kind of credibility.

Very astute commentary on the scientific response I offered. Ad hominem comments really help move the dialogue forward. And you wonder why he doesn’t take more time to engage the science here.


I agree @AJRoberts.

@Patrick I’m more curious to see @John_Harshman and @evograd’s response. @AJRoberts says they misread Rana, and this should be objectively resolved. If they made a mistake they should own up to it. If instead @AJRoberts did, and that can be made clear, I’m sure she will own up to it.

There is no need to make it personal. Let’s just get the facts straight.


Dr .Rana is not an expert on ancient genomics, paleontology, nor human fossils, He is an engineer. Whenever Dr. Rana reads about a new discovery in human origins he writes the same old stuff. He is very predictable. I have been watching him for years. He questions ancient genome work of real experts like David Reich. He dismisses real science accomplishments by saying the same old arguments - it can’t be true because he doesn’t want to accept the results. He is very much like AiG in this regard. He gives lame apologetic answers to new discoveries in science. I do question Dr. Rana honesty and professional integrity. He won’t engage here because he can’t handle real debate on new scientific discoveries. The RTB model has been falsified many times and nobody at RTB admits this. It is time for Dr. Rana to come here and back up his claims. What is he afraid of?

I’d love for him to come here. Posts like this make it less likely. Relax.

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Just to be clear, I did not say anyone misread anyone. I simply went to the primary literature and pointed out that the science they used to discredit Dr. Rana’s claim was incorrectly interpreted to favor an assumption of an ancestral fusion event in regard to human chromosome 2. Dr. Rana may have overstated some things or he may not have. I am not addressing his claims directly, I am simply setting the record straight about the inappropriate comparison of a presumed dicentric fusion event and Robertsonian fusion events in humans.


If I were him, I would have no interest in engaging in an echo chamber of repeated lies, false statements, and ad hominem comments. He has acknowledged previous failures of the RTB model and modified the model appropriately. This is a hallmark of science. Every model is modified over time in light of new data and discoveries. He is in fact a biochemist, not an engineer. Even simple facts aren’t stated correctly. Careless communication and ad hominem comments do not facilitate any genuine invitation to seek truth together in dialogue.


That is a cop out. RTB is in their own echo chamber playing to their evangelical christian base. Like AiG, DI, and Biologos, RTB is not a science think tank. RTB doesn’t do science. They read the current scientific literature and write comments to comply with their RTB model hypothesis which was falsified many years ago by mainstream science. Yet they keep the Christian apologetics going in the same way that AiG, DI and Biologos does. Tell Dr. Rana to stop bashing real work and accomplishments by real scientists. If he doesn’t like the results because they go against the failed RTB model, let him and RTB find contrary evidence.

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@Patrick Why in the world are you trying to kill the conversation before it begins? People have worked really hard to build bridges and create opportunities to get together and have conversations. You may have single-handedly undone all of that in a few moments. Is it okay if the rest of us would like to hear the dialog instead of your summary of the conversation before it has even taken place??


Sure, go ahead. Go listen to Aj Roberts. Should be very enlightening. Enjoy. Good night.


Thank you kindly. I was hoping to do so. It’s what we are about here. Peaceful Science, having discussions with people from differing views hoping to find commonality.


Yep, the community here is one of the least like an echo chamber of all online communities I’ve frequented. Let’s try to keep it that way. The results have been really promising so far: for example, Josh’s engagement with the latest version of ID espoused by Eric would be unimaginable most other contexts. Even if people still disagreed, there’s more clarity in all aspects of the argument.


2 posts were split to a new topic: Find Common Ground OR Call Out Woo Science?

I am by no means an expert on chromosomal fusions, but the definition of Robertsonian fusion seems to vary a bit in the literature, and human chromosome 2 is frequently said to be a Robertsonian fusion. Now, the fusion is not at the centromeres. The two separate ape chromosomes are acrocentric, but they do have short arms beyond the centromeres. The two centromeres (one degenerate) of human chromosome 2 are thus separated by a short distance, as the fusion is at the telomeres.

Now the question is whether the various fusions known to be polymorphic within populations are all what @AJRoberts refers to as true Robertsonian fusions, in which there is only one centromere. If they all are, she has a point. If at least one is not, i.e. closer in nature to the human chromosome 2, then those polymorphisms are relevant and refute Rana’s point that such a fusion would prevent reproduction and would be strongly selected against. I don’t know the answer to this. It’s going to require a search of the literature. I don’t even know if the answers are known; it seems that it might require sequencing of the regions to tell the difference. I’ll have to get back to you on that.

I also don’t know what Rana’s model is. I presume it involves separate creation of humans and apes. (Is that right?) If so, then we hardly need chromosome fusion scenarios to show that model wrong. Humans and chimps are close relatives, and there’s no way out of that. Given that conclusion, there is no way to avoid the further conclusion that there has been a chromosomal fusion in the human lineage. At the very most, one could claim that the fixation of that fusion would require divine intervention.

I also have a question for Rana or his proxies: what does the artificial fusion of yeast chromosomes have to do with the issue, as Rana makes a big deal of it?


@AJRoberts I want to emphasize that several people asked @Patrick to back down. This is not an echo chamber. You are and will be treated fairly here. Sometimes there will be mistakes and errors made. The goal is to settle it in dialogue.

@AJRoberts is absolutely right here. Rana has acknowledged places they had it wrong. A key example is Sapiens interbreeding with Neanderthals:

To their credit, they have changed their position based on evidence. Also, here, you can see another adjustment by @AJRoberts.

This was in response to a direct correction I made to a claim by Rana on @purposenation. I do disagree with many things in the RTB model. However, I also believe that there is a basic desire to get things right at RTB. To the extent that they will let me, it is my aim to help them in that goal. I’m sure there will still be disagreements at the end of the day. Those disagreements, however, might not be so large.

This is not clear to me either.

Sometimes it seems that there is a focus on making a negative case against evolution, rather than a positive case for how their model could make sense. The latter is more constructive than the former.

I’m well aware.

Do you think it was fair for me to accuse Dr. Rana of not being familiar enough with the literature to know that it doesn’t require “millenia” to inactivate a centromere in a fused dicentric chromosome? Do you think it was fair for me to accuse Dr. Rana of not being familiar enough with the literature to know that telomere-telomere fusion are usually associated with loss of telomere sequences?

I didn’t actually quote anything, I merely cited the article because it listed several primary sources documenting no decrease in fertility. I could have cited the articles directly, but why bother when one link would suffice? The blog also quotes the articles to give lay or casual readers the gist of what they’re about. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with linking to the blog post. I didn’t suggest that “quoting it should merit the response of a scientist”, although I think it’s pretty arrogant to brush it off as “beneath Dr. Rana”. Respond to the argument. It’s not as though Dave Wisker’s blog post was inarticulate or abrasive.

As @John_Harshman correctly points out, the term “Robertsonian translocation” is actually used a bit inconsistently in the primary literature, not that has anything to do with what I said.

Yes. Why are you telling me as though I don’t know this, even as you point out that my own source says it? Do you think I didn’t read the paper or something? If you look at my original post again, you’ll see that the very first thing I said on the subject was “It’s true that fertility can be reduced…” Unfortunately, there will always be a bias towards finding clinical problems associated with translocations - often the only reason to carry out a cytogenetic analysis is when a patient comes in with clinical problems. If a large sample of clinically “normal” people were to have their karyotype determined for the sake of it, I’m sure we’d find many more chromosomal abnormalities with no outward effects.

I’m not claiming that there are never any reductions in reproductive rate, I’m saying that there are at least isolated cases where there seem to be no reductions in humans. Combined with the more rigorous non-human animal data, the conclusion is pretty clear: a difference in chromosome number is not an iron-clad barrier to reproduction or to a given translocation/fusion spreading through a population.

I feel like I’m having to repeat myself a lot here: I never claimed that dicentric fusions in human chromosomes are not associated with various problems. I’m saying that those problems are not necessary consequences of a fusion, while Dr. Rana insists that they are.


@AJRoberts you are free to make any comments you want. All my comments about RTB is as an institution and not attacks on the people themselves. Everyone here realize that you, Faz, Hugh and others are paid staff members of RTB that work for your Christian Right donors, so we know that you have signed a statement of Faith that you must adhere to. That does effect RTB’s credibility by the general secular population. Like DI, RTB takes the results of evolutionary science and does one of two things with the new results:

  1. RTB will bash and attack real science inquiry and results if it doesn’t align with their Christian RTB model .
  2. RTB will find the Christian God in the new results just like Deb Haarsma found the Christian God in the multiverse after Stephen Hawkings death.

In doing number 1, RTB usually gets the science wrong as in the case of Chromosome 2 fusion and anything to do with any human species (especially Neanderthals) in the genius Homo. What it means to be human (language, culture, tool making,) has been going on at least since Homo Erectus and RTB has yet to amend their special creation model to reflect this. Sometimes they get the science right (Hugh Ross in astronomy) this is when RTB invokes number 2.

Remember RTB staff members are paid to do this. They are playing to their donors which are predominately Evangelical Christians who are caught between AiG, ID, Biologos and the ever advancing secular world of evolutionary science.

I have no ill will to you, Faz, Hugh, Jeff, or Ken, I just want you to know and everyone here that RTB is just another pawn in the wider culture wars we find ourselves in. Possibly a reluctant pawn but nevertheless a pawn.