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Creationist fraud - the Kuznetsov case

Creationist fraud - the Kuznetsov case

 

In 1989 a paper was published by Dmitrii A. Kuznetsov in the International Journal of Neuroscience claiming to have found scientific evidence against evolution. I became aware of this paper in 1993 when it was cited by Swedish creationists. I immediately noticed several remarkable features suggesting that the article was fraudulent. Here I present Kuznetsov's claims and my critique.

 

Title of Kuznetsov's paper:

In vitro studies of interactions between frequent and unique mRNAs and cytoplasmic factors from brain tissue of several species of wild timber voles of northern Eurasia, Clethrionomys glareolus, Clethrionomys frater and Clethrionomys gapperi: a new criticism to a modern molecular-genetic concept of biological evolution.

Dmitrii A. Kuznetsov, Comparative Biochemistry Group, DELFISON Division Laboratories, Inc., Moscow, USSR

Int J Neurosci 1989 Nov;49(1-2):43-59

PMID: 2691420

Abstract: As a result of the complex comparative neurochemical study of the translation machinery functioning in the brain cells of three conventionally "phylogenetically related" species of wild timber voles (Clethrionomys glareolus, Clethrionomys frater and Clethrionomys gapperi), it has been found that the cytoplasm of brain cells of the latter contain an oligonucleotide (oligoribonucleotide) factor(s) with mol. weight below 1.0 KD which is able completely and highly selectively to inhibit the translation directed by mRNA which are species-specific templates and which were isolated from analogical tissue (brain) of "closely related" organisms. This phenomenon was found for the first time using special Cell-Free Translation Systems (CFTS) of very different variants of their composition consisting of the following main components: Post-Mitochondrial Supernatant (PMS), total cytoplasmic poly(A)+ mRNA or a species-specific poly(A)+ mRNA isolated form the PMS by affinity chromatography on the columns with the anti-mRNA1-FAB-(CNBr)-Sepharose, or purified 9S or 11S globin or histone specific mRNAs, respectively, and, finally a few samples of the CFTS used contain the additions of high or low molecular weight cytosolic compounds isolated from S150 fraction by ultrafiltration on Diaflo UM2 membrane with an exclusion limit of 1.0 KD. All CFTs components listed were isolated separately from the brain tissue of each organism studied. A new complex way for construction and using of the CFTS leads to an adequately documented conclusion which suggested the existence of special, so far uncharacterized in detail, cytoplasmic oligoribonucleotide factor(s) for efficient blocking for the cytoplasmic expression of "evolutionally renovated part" of genome; i.e., these factors seem to be sufficiently powerful suppressors of the translation of every mRNA template if the latter is not usual for the cell type containing the cytoplasmic suppressors mentioned in the case of a "so-called" newly found (perhaps, due to spontaneous but nonlethal mutagenesis) genes expression at the level of mRNA functioning in the cytoplasm. All findings and ideas of the paper are under discussion.

My summary of Kuznetsov's paper: Briefly, messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) was isolated from three species of wild timber voles considered to belong to the same genus and therefore to be evolutionarily closely related. It was found that each of these species has a small ribonucleotide that inhibits translation of mRNA from the two other species (but not mRNA from the same species that the ribonucleotide was purified from). In contrast, the ribonucleotide did not inhibit translation of more distantly related rabbit globin mRNA or human histone mRNA. Kuznetsov interpreted his results as "a new criticism to a modern molecular-genetic concept of biological evolution" (see title) and expressed his belief that the inhibitory factor serves to maintain constancy of species (p. 55). This may be used as an argument supporting "the general creationist concept on the problems of the origin of boundless multitudes of different and harmonically functioning forms of life" (p. 45). In fact, Kuznetsov explicitly claimed that his experiments adressed the phenomenon of evolution: "...to assess the possibility for the translation control to be as an evolutionary or antievolutionary factor." (p. 45).

Kuznetsov's article has also been published in the creationist journal Creation Research Society Quarterly, 27 (4), March 1991, 128-35:

A NEUROCHEMICAL CREATIONIST CONCEPT BASED ON IN VITRO STUDIES OF BRAIN mRNAs OF THREE LUMBER VOLE SPECIES: Clethrionomys glareolus, Clethrionomys frater and Clethrionomys gapperi.

DIMITRIJ A KUZNETSOV

I observed several methodological complications suggesting that the data might have been fabricated. Furthermore many of the cited articles and journals did not seem to exist. I tried to reach Dr. Kuznetsov at his address in Moscow, but in vain. I contacted the editor of the journal who invited me to submit a letter-to-the-editor with my critique. This was published in 1994:

Lack of experimental support for Kuznetsov's criticism of biological evolution.

Dan Larhammar, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

Int J Neurosci 1994 Aug;77(3-4):199-201

PMID: 7814213

The complete letter with my critique can be downloaded as a PDF file which is made available here with permission from the publisher Taylor & Francis: Kuznetsov critique IJN.pdf

Final paragraph of article: To summarize, Kuznetsov's experimental concept is obscure, his approach goes against established scientific experience and his claimed results are not qualitatively demonstrated. The key methodological references cited by Kuznetsov have not been published in journals listed in Medline or CASSI. These, as well as many other, references are afflicted with complications: some authors could not be found, one author has not written the article ascribed to him, many articles have obvious grammatical errors in their titles, etc. I conclude that Kuznetsov's critique of "a modern molecular-genetic concept of biological evolution" has no scientific basis whatsoever.

 

I have also summarized my critique in less technical language:

Severe Flaws in Scientific Study Criticizing Evolution.

Dan Larhammar

Published in:

1) Creation/Evolution 1994, issue 35, 1-3. This can be downloaded as a PDF file Kuznetsov critique Cre-Evol.pdf made available here with permission from the National Center for Science Education.

2) Skeptical Inquirer 1995, March/April, 30-31.

3) Encounters with the paranormal. Science, knowledge, and belief. 1998. Ed. K. Frazier. Prometheus Books, Amherst, N. Y., 105-106.

Final paragraph of article: In conclusion, Kuznetsov's obscure experimental approach, qualitatively undocumented results, and incomplete evaluation undermine all his conclusions. All key methodological references seem to be nonexistent. Thus, Kuznetsov's critique of evolution has no scientific basis. That his anti-evolutionary article was simply a bad joke is unlikely since it is indeed included in his list of scientific publications.

 

In Swedish:

Brister och bluff i vetenskaplig studie som kritiserar evolutionen.

Dan Larhammar

1) Folkvett 1994, nr 3-4.

2) Fritänkaren 1995, nr 4.

 

Dr. Kuznetsov has never responded to my critique. Creationist organizations have detached themselves from him.

 

More on Dr. Kuznetsov, including an interview, in Talk.Origins: Creationist Dmitri Kouznetsov: Scientist?

The full interview, done by Carl Wieland, is at this web site, made available by the Institute for Creation Research in El Cajon, California

An investigation has also been carried out by Dr. Gian Marco Rinaldi (zzpuy@tiscalinet.it) and has been published in Italian in Scienza & Paranormale issue 43 May/June 2002, pp 20-64, the bimonthly journal of CICAP (Comitato Italiano per il Controllo delle Affermazioni sul Paranormale, the Italian skeptic organization).

A summary of Rinaldi's investigation was published by Massimo Polidoro in Skeptical Inquirer March 2004: "Notes on a Strange World - The Case of the Holy Fraudster".

Kontakt

Dan Larhammar

Gruppledare:

Prof. Dan Larhammar

e-mail: dan.larhammar@neuro.uu.se

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