It's pretty hard to ignore the ENCODE papers if you're selecting the top ten science stories of 2012. This doesn't mean it's a “breakthrough” as Science magazine claims [Science Magazine Chooses ENCODE Results as One of the Top Ten Breakthroughs in 2012]. And it doesn't mean that the results overthrow Darwinian evolutionary theory as implied by the Intelligent Design Creationists [Intelligent Design Creationists Choose ENCODE Results as the #1 Evolution Story of 2013].
The Scientific American article was written by Bora Zivkovic, a long-time blogger who knows the difference between hype and reality. He apparently knows which scientists to believe and which ones to ignore [The Top 10 Science Stories of 2012: Publication of the ENCODE Encyclopedia: A Milestone in Genome Research]. <
Unfortunately, much of the discussion surrounding the publication of ENCODE failed to focus on the usefulness of the catalogue and the techniques that built it. Instead, much of the debate centered on the failure to understand that transcription does not necessarily imply meaningful biological function. Cells are messy biological entities, with lots of gunk and goo floating around, so mistakes happen all the time. Many DNA sequences get translated into RNA, only to have the cell degrade that RNA. Much, perhaps most, of the DNA in our genomes—despite being occasionally transcribed, and thus recorded in ENCODE—is still functionless “junk DNA.” That is actually not surprising; it is in fact expected from evolutionary theory. Thanks to ENCODE, though, we should eventually learn which sequences are the junk and which are the gems of cell activity.
This is a very different take on the subject than that published by the editors of Science and the Intelligent Design Creationists.
I wonder why?