The insolent, arrogant Michael Balter wrote:

>It is rare that one sees as many factual and conceptual errors in 
>one place as Robert has provided us in his post, but let me focus on 
>just one: In terms of DNA polynucleotide sequence, individual humans 
>vary by less than one base-pair per thousand.

	Michael implies this is a negligible proportion.  But 10^-3, 
in a total of 10^9, is not obviously neglible, is it?

>   Neither Venter nor anyone else involved in the human genome 
>project pretended that the sequence they produced was the only 
>sequence that existed, ie that it was anything more than a reference 
>sequence.  But producing such a reference sequence was a huge 
>accomplishment, and it is now possible to sequence part or all of 
>the genome of any particular individual because of the new 
>methodologies that were developed and continue to be improved upon.

	The fact remains unchallenged  -  J. Celera Venter & key 
other operatives used the term "the human genome" in a knowingly 
deceitful way, implying that some useful generality about all humans 
was being produced.

>  And the sequence provided a huge amount of new information as 
>anyone who has paid any attention will know, ranging from a reliable 
>estimate of the number of genes

	And why should we believe that figure is now stable, settled? 
It went down by a factor of several during "the human genome project".

>, a new ability to identify previously unknown genes, the ability to 
>compare our genome with that of chimps and other animals, and of 
>course the HapMap project would not have been possible without it.
>Oh, one more thing: horizontal gene transfer was probably important 
>in bacterial evolution, but I wouldn't count on it having much to do 
>with human evolution--unless Robert wants to provide us with a 
>scenario of how Neanderthal genes made their way into the human 
>genome other than by interbreeding.

	Not much support for that first fine insolent outburst, eh? 
No denial, indeed, that HGT may have occurred between Neanderthal & 
human  -  which is all I suggested.  I made no implication of HGT 
having 'much to do with human evolution', nor of any frequency, even 
vaguely.  I merely suggested the possibility.  Without contradicting 
that, Balter issues insults.  Goebbels wouldn't have hired you, 
Michael  -  you're too crude, too obviously stupid.


>On Tue, Aug 12, 2008 at 9:20 AM, Robt Mann 
><<mailto:[log in to unmask]>[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>From the Los Angeles Times
>Neanderthals, modern humans share ancestor, scientists say
>Researchers find a DNA link between the two species.
>By Karen Kaplan
>Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
><mailto:[log in to unmask]>[log in to unmask]
>>August 9, 2008
>>Neanderthals and modern humans shared an ancestor that lived about 
>>660,000 years ago, according to scientists who have pieced together 
>>the first complete sequence of maternal DNA from humanity's closest 
>>The DNA evidence also verified that the two species did not 
>>interbreed during the 10,000 to 20,000 years they coexisted in 
>>Europe and western Asia after humans migrated there from Africa. 
>>The last of the Neanderthals died out about 30,000 years ago, 
>>though some scientists speculate that at least a few of their genes 
>>live on in humans.
>>"Neanderthals made no lasting contribution to the modern human 
>>[maternal] DNA gene pool," a team of German, American, Croatian and 
>>Finnish researchers wrote in Friday's edition of the journal Cell.
>The team focused on mitochondrial DNA, a relatively short string of 
>16,565 As, Ts, Cs and Gs that spell out 13 genes for controlling the 
>energy sources of cells.
>         Let's pause here to note that the 'Dolly' and other 
>"cloning" con-artists base their racket on ignoring this DNA in the 
>cytoplasm which very largely remains after the nucleus has been 
>sucked out of the target cell.  The foreign nucleus then inserted 
>(containing e.g added DNA to code for a human protein of no proven 
>therapeutic use) can certainly not define the genome of the target 
>cell, if only because thousands of mitochondria remain in the target 
>cell's cytoplasm.
>         Estimates of the number of genes in a mitochondrion have 
>ranged as high as 300, illustrating inter alia the surprising range 
>(unknown to lay folk) of defns for 'gene'.  But whether only 13 in 
>number, these genes are agreed to be important, indeed crucial, for 
>the cell (mainly in aerobic metabolism).
>         It is that easy to see why the "clone" sheep, goats, cows 
>etc of e.g AgResearch® cannot be clones, cannot be as similar as 
>identical twins.  What is not so easy to see is why so many 
>venture-drongos, and governments, have allowed themselves to be 
>conned by this "clones" furphy.  These gene-jockey racketeers make 
>the nookuluh pushers look honest!
>>   Unlike nuclear DNA, which is unique for every person
>         Let's pause again to note that this statement is true (aside 
>from the presumed identical DNA in identical twins), giving the lie 
>to the "the human genome" furphy.  I have heard J. Celera Venter 
>tell a large audience that the draft he had published was for "the" 
>sequence from some sort of blend of several individuals.  There was 
>even a rumour at one stage that one of those DNA donors was 
>non-white.  Numerous DNA sequences, even within a given gene (e.g 
>for cystic fibrosis) differ between individuals.  There can be no 
>such thing as "the" human genome.  Yet a con-man like J. Celera 
>Venter can be admired by Pres. Clinton and many other important 
>people.  This deceit far outstrips the nookuluh racket.
>         What will happen to a society in which such drastic 
>degradation of truthfulness has become not only tolerated but also 
>heavily rewarded & prestigious?  Ask the Germans  ...
>>, mitochondrial DNA is passed virtually unchanged from mother to child.
>Members of the research group are engaged in a two-year effort to 
>decode the roughly 3 billion letters of nuclear DNA contained in a 
>38,000-year-old Neanderthal bone fragment discovered in a Croatian 
>In the process, they collected enough maternal DNA to sequence that 
>genome with a high degree of certainty, said lead author Ed Green, a 
>postdoctoral scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary 
>Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.
>Comparison of the Neanderthal sequence to 10 human sequences 
>suggests that the species diverged 520,000 to 800,000 years ago -- 
>earlier than the 400,000 years scientists had previously estimated 
>using fossil finds.
>Scientists have sequenced maternal DNA from thousands of people 
>around the world to study the history of human migration out of 
>Africa. All of them are distinct from the Neanderthal version, Green 
>Most scientists accept the view that there aren't any Neanderthal 
>genes in the human genome, but evolutionary geneticist Jeff Wall of 
>UC San Francisco said that only "large amounts of high-quality 
>Neanderthal nuclear DNA sequences" will resolve the issue once and 
>for all.
>         Some could even have got in by non-sexual means of 
>horizontal gene transfer (a process of which eminent gene-jiggerers 
>denied the existence only a few y ago).
>Michael Balter
>Contributing Correspondent, Science
>Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
>Boston University
>Email: <mailto:[log in to unmask]>[log in to unmask]
>Website: <>
>Balter's Blog: <>