ID Prediction #6

“Sophisticated imaging techniques will reveal nanomachines (turbines) in centrioles that play a role in cell division. Other evidence will show that malfunctions in the regulation of these machines are responsible for chromosomal damage.”

This prediction essentially involves experimental confirmation of the hypotheses proposed by Jonathan Wells of the role of centrioles in cell division. Meyer quotes from an abstract that Wells wrote for a scientific article. “Instead of viewing centrioles through the spectacles of molecular reductionism and neo-Darwinism, this hypothesis assumes that they are holistically designed to be turbines… What if centrioles really are tiny turbines? This is much easier to conceive if we adopt a holistic rather than reductionistic approach, and if we regard centrioles as designed structures rather than accidental by-products of neo-Darwinian evolution.”

What is the significance of turbines in centrioles playing a role in cell division? What does it mean to “play a role?” This prediction is not very specific. Nor is it clear how “playing a role in cell division” is connected to the claims of ID.

It seems that the argument relates to the origin of the idea. Wells writes that a holistic, or system-based, approach, in contrast to a reductionistic approach, leads one to seek a functional role for centrioles. Let us suppose that this is confirmed, however that might be accomplished. To what extent would this confirm or deny the validity of the claims of ID. It would indeed confirm a prediction that was developed by someone who was working from the ID paradigm. But before this confirms the validity of the paradigm, it must also be shown that the result is a unique consequence of the claims of ID. Is a role of centrioles in cell division a repudiation of alternative explanations? Is it a necessary and unique implication of ID?

In favor of the ID perspective, a positive result of this type can show how ID-based thinking may lead to some fruitful results. It is not clear that those results can only be the effect of ID processes. Unless the prediction is a differentiating prediction that can occur only if the ID paradigm is correct, the success of the prediction will again fail to settle any arguments.

2 comments to ID Prediction #6

  • Charles Austerberry

    Good analysis, Randy.  Marshall Wallace’s article “Centriole Evolution” published last year in Current Opinion in Cell Biology became freely available last week on PubMedCentral.  Here’s the abstract:
    And here’s the article:
    He uses information science concepts, and distinguishes between informational complexity and algorithmic (Kolmogorov) complexity.

    I think centrioles are more important for assembly of cilia or eukaryotic flagella than for mitotic spindle formation.

  • Charles Austerberry

    I initially ignored the parenthetical word “turbine” in the quote from Meyer’s book.  Now that I’ve done a little searching, I see that Wells suggested that centrioles might spin like turbines because he thinks that they resemble turbines in their appearance.
    I don’t think anyone very familiar with centrioles, basal bodies (essentially centrioles, but in a different location and serving a different function), and eukaryotic flagella or cilia would have made such a suggestion.  If centrioles did spin, I suspect that motion would have been observed many years ago.
    Prokaryotic flagella do spin, and the base of a prokaryotic flagellum is indeed a miniature turbine of sorts, but eukaryotic flagella and cilia are very different from prokaryotic flagella.
    In any case, I know of no evidence to support Wells’ proposal or Meyer’s prediction based on that proposal.  There is already abundant evidence to suggest that the problem Wells was attempting to solve (identifying the mechanism behind the “polar ejection force”) has been solved in other ways.  One overview of the topic is at Steve Matheson’s blog:

March 2010
« Feb   Apr »