I know. I promised no more Behe posts for a while. But a couple of commenters left questions relevant to a Behe excerpt, now posted in an article from Jerry Coyne here:
"HIV has killed millions of people, fended off the human immune system, and become resistant to whatever drug humanity could throw at it. Yet through all that, there have been no significant basic biochemical changes in the virus at all." Ya know, I try very hard not to take Creationist comments personally. Its bad enough that I have a short fuse with Deniers (especially female math/science/engineering Deniers), and I know I simply dont have the energy to get worked up in a fury every time a Creationist says something dumb. But for the love of Pete, its getting harder and harder not to take Behes new bile, I mean new book, personally, considering his choice of topics, and my choice of research.
Look, I do not expect everyone to be an expert on HIV or fitness landscapes. I hope Ive made it perfectly clear on this blog that if I say something wrong, or something you dont understand, or something youd like to learn more about, I really really want you to say something! I will never, EVER ridicule someone for learning, or telling me Im wrong when Im wrong.
I just expect someone writing a book on HIV or fitness landscapes, pro or anti-evolution, to take 30 damn seconds to do a PubMed search.
30 goddamn seconds. Shit.
Behe is purposefully reaching out of his area of expertise to confuse Average Joes for his own monetary or psychological gain. Every time you start to feel a bit of pity for the wretched creature, as the negative reviews of Behes Bile keep piling up, remember that fact.
Okay, the excerpt. One sentence, but enough to send me into a rage. Remember that YEC segment from 'ID vs ERVs Part 12'?
This example is particularly funny because the author is attempting to make a joke at the expense of Evilutionists, but the author is the one that looks like an idiot:Behe pulls this same crap in his book! On one hand, he wants to say that 'peaks' on fitness landscapes are traps, or some peaks are unreachable-- yet on the other hand he wants to say that HIV can 'only' mutate to traverse valleys in fitness landscapes when people take anti-retrovirals-- and he pulls a third hand out of his ass to assert HIV hasnt/cant make 'significant biochemical changes,' and you dont want to know where he got the fourth hand to say malarias resistance to drugs is evidence of Design. Heads Behe wins, tails we lose....Contrary to being “junk” DNA, HERVs are thought to play at least three major roles...Did you catch that? Mammals gained the function to generate a placenta with an ERV so Creationism is true... but ERVs cant allow a gain of function so Evilution is false. Heads they win, tails we lose.
...It was recently reported that an endogenous retrovirus in sheep was necessary for maintaining pregnancy, as it was important in the formation of the placenta...
...This means that retroviruses jumping in and out of the genome caused changes that were selected for, supposedly resulting in microbes becoming microbiologists. This type of evolution requires a gain of information that is not accomplished by retroviruses jumping around in the genome.
Coyne points out the obvious error in Behes logic, paraphrased, "What does Behe expect HIV to do? Grow legs and start tap-dancing?"
And Behe knows damn well that hes being coy-- thats why he used soft language and didnt operationally define his terms. Operational definitions, covered in undergrad Freshman Psychology. Psychology. Common, Behe, what do you mean by 'significant'? What do you mean by 'basic'? What do you mean by 'biochemical changes'? What do you mean by 'changes in the virus'? Structure? Genome? What?
Soft statements so that when someone who knows jack about HIV comes and corrects him, he can backpedal to 'Oh, thats not significant.' 'Thats not the kind of biochemical change Im talking about.'
Then theres that nasty bit about him being totally and irredeemably wrong about the evolution and biochemistry of HIV, no matter how he wants to dance around it. "No significant basic biochemical changes." You sure about that? You sound pretty sure with "THERE ARE NOSIGNIFICANT BASIC BIOCHEMICAL CHANGES, BWA!"
What do you call vif?
Modern lentiviruses sure think vif is a 'significant biochemical change', as it let them be resistant to our APOBEC3G, a cellular antiretroviral. A recently discovered ancient rabbit lentiviral ERV doesnt have vif. I bet its kinda jealous of HIV.
"RAWWRG!" Behe might drool "You just said that all lentiviruses have vif, so omgz Im still right!"
Omgz, drooly Behe. Omgz indeed.
Thus, innate cellular defenses that likely evolved to restrict retroviral replication might have been usurped by HIV to accelerate viral sequence diversification and escape from immune control and inhibition by antiretroviral drugs.Shit, they talk about fitness variations in that paper, too. Poor drooly Behe viciously rattles his IDC cage, "RAWG! They said MIGHT! MIGHT! JUST SO STORY! RAWG!"
Hes also showing a rather retarded understanding of viruses, and retroviruses in particular. If youll humor me as I personify viruses for a second-- lentiviruses dont *want* to kill you. They are hit-and-stick viruses, as opposed to hit-and-run viruses like influenza. HIV, in particular, wants to be at a happy medium with you because thats how it is most fit. "WWARG! NOOOO! NOOOOOO! More virus equals more pathogenic equals more fit!" squeals Behe, bouncing up and down. "Why doesnt HIV evolve to use a coreceptor found on lots of cells! Infect more! More virus! More fit! WAAAAARG!"
Thats extremely short sighted. Which is more fit, a virus that produces a ton of virus and kills its host before being transmitted, or one that is relatively non-pathogenic, still keeps a high viral load in the host, and is transmitted horizontally AND vertically?
See, if HIV gives you AIDS, youre too sick/too dead to spread the virus. You become a dead-end host. HIV wants you to have babies, and your babies to have babies, so it can be spread vertically as well as horizontally just like it acts in other primates (SIV). It wants to be at a happy medium with us, like it is in other primates. It just wants to cull a few million of us to reach that happy medium, and we arent happy with that 'resolution' to the HIV/AIDS problem. We dont want to co-evolve with HIV because it will kill millions more. So we try to stop it.
And since Behe insists upon blubbering about co-receptor usage-- Ive got a question for him. How do you know there is not a significant biochemical difference between HIV Subtype B env (CXCR4) and HIV Subtype C env (CCR5)? We dont know what Subtype C env looks like, and from preliminary biochemical and genetic analysis, it is vastly different from Subtype B env.
THATS WHAT IM RESEARCHING RIGHT NOW! BIOCHEMICAL EVOLUTION OF HIV. RIGHT NOW. WELL, NOT *NOW*, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.
Hes saying HIV hasnt 'changed', yet we're still in the process of studying HIV. So why is Behe saying this?