Today I sent an email to Jay Labov, cc. Francisco Ayala, of the National Academy of Sciences, asking them to correct a misleading statement on molecular evolution.
I find it sad that a group of scientists of the NAS caliber simply cannot make a true statement in the field of molecular evolution.
I have written to you in 2005 about a misleading (part truth part lie) statement in the 1999 booklet 'Science and Creationism, A view from the National Academy of Sciences, 1999.' This statement is: “The more closely related two organisms are, the less different their DNA will be.” The reality is that vastly different species differ little in DNA and similar species differ vastly in DNA. Hippos should be more related to pigs in morphology, but hippos are more related to whales in DNA/protein than to pigs. Crocodiles are similar to lizards in phenotypes but are more related to birds in DNA/protein. The variation in brain power and gross phenotype between human and chimpanzee is much greater than between the mouse species Mus musculus and Mus spretus, although the sequence difference in the two cases is similar.
I am glad to see that the expert panel has now deleted this misleading statement in the 2008 edition “Science, Evolution, and Creationism, A view from the National Academy of Sciences, 2008”. But I am also sad to see that they again made a misleading statement that is part truth part lie. This statement is : “If two species have a relatively recent common ancestor, their DNA sequences will be more similar than the DNA sequences for two species that share a distant common ancestor.”
Here are just three examples of the factual contradictions to this statement. Two different mice strains that separated no more than 12 million years ago had more dissimilarity in DNA than human and monkey that shared a common ancestor 20-30 million years ago. (see Xiang et al., Human Molecular Genetics. 17(1):27-37, 2008.) At the DNA sequence level, Apodemus and Mus differ by 18% as estimated from neutral sites of genes. In comparison, genome divergence is 8% between human and the Old World monkeys. Two madaka fish populations that separated 4 million years ago had more dissimilarity in DNA than human and chimpanzees that separated 5-7 million years ago. (see Nature, 447:714-719, 2007, June 7). Two flowering plants (Arabidopsis and apple tree) that shared a common ancestor no more than 125 million years ago have more dissimilarity in DNA than humans and birds that shared a common ancestor 310 million years ago. (see my paper, submitted, preprint available at http://precedings.nature.com/documents/1733/version/2)
Why cannot the experts just make a truthful statement that has no factual contradictions? I have given the question some thoughts. My answer is simple. The experts simply have not understood molecular evolution well enough to be able to teach it.
Please make a quick revision to your booklet, deleting the part on molecular evolution. After repeated tries, the experts have shown that they are incapable of stating truth without also stating lies. The only way out is to say nothing on something you don't really understand.