Context is everything to theorists who exclude biological facts

May 18, 2014 | James Kohl

Biophysical constraints that enable the intermolecular tethering of RNA to DNA also link the epigenetic landscape to the physical landscape of DNA via conserved molecular mechanisms in species from microbes to man. Similarly, nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled ecological adaptations link ecological variation to biodiversity with no need for any theories about mutations, natural selection, and evolution. Indeed, “Three [other] studies have characterized the full complement of RNA folding in cells. They find large numbers of secondary structures in RNA, some of which may have functional consequences for the cell.”

The functional consequences are manifested in cell type differentiation in individuals of species from microbes to man. So, why is the intermolecular tethering of RNA to DNA being ignored?

In Kohl (2013), I mentioned that “Evolutionary psychologists and other social scientists, for example, refused to tether their hypotheses to a new discipline called ‘neuroevolutionary psychobiology’, to neurogenetics (Zoghbi & Warren, 2010), or to any biologically based discipline whatsoever (see for review Panksepp, Moskal, Panksepp, & Kroes, 2002).”  Nothing that comes out of the mouths of social scientists has changed during the past few decades, and the influence of social scientists on serious scientists has become clearer.

In Roles of Mutation and Selection in Speciation: From Hugo de Vries to the Modern Genomic Era, the authors wrote: “…we will not consider geographical and ecological factors because of space limitation. Our primary purpose is to clarify the roles of mutation and selection in the evolution of reproductive isolation…” Apparently, the social scientists have convinced at least one geneticist to believe in their pseudoscientific theories. In Mutation-Driven Evolution, additional attempts were made to eliminate biophysical constraints and geographical and ecological factors from consideration so that only evolutionary theory is considered.

With the second edition of his book: Pheromones and Animal Behavior, Tristram Wyatt apparently will continue to divert attention away from biologically-based cause and effect and keep trying to interpret the epigenetic effects of food odors and pheromones in the context of evolution. “The aim of the book is to provide a synthesis of the subject, bridging the divides between chemists and biologists, between those studying vertebrates and invertebrates, between ecologists, molecular biologists and neurobiologists, and most importantly, giving the whole an evolutionary context.”  

Why is it important for Wyatt to place the entirety of what is known about nutrient-dependent ecological variation and pheromone-controlled ecological adaptations into an evolutionary context? The fact that no experimental evidence of mutations and natural selection suggests they could possibly lead to biophysically-constrained species diversity should be enough to eliminate the pseudoscientific nonsense of pheromones that somehow evolved or of species that somehow evolved.

For comparison to what Nei and Wyatt are trying to do, Denis Noble addressed biological facts in the context of evolutionary theory in a recent interview.

Replace the Modern Synthesis (Neo-Darwinism): An Interview With Denis Noble

I liked the part where people finally are told that Haldane, Fisher, Sewell Wright, Hardy, Weinberg et al., invented the theory of evolution and defined it, which led to the teaching of wish fulfillment based on unverified assumptions like the one about accumulated genetic mutations being “…enough to change one species to another….”

What amazes me is that many people accepted what they were taught about evolution and believed it was true. Finally, someone else is telling them that they were taught to believe in pseudoscientific nonsense: Denis Noble said: “…gradual mutation followed by selection has not, as a matter of fact, been demonstrated to be necessarily a cause of speciation.”

What does that fact tell you about Nei’s attempts to eliminate geographical and ecological factors from consideration and tout mutation-driven evolution? What does it tell you about Wyatt’s attempts to place what is known about pheromones into an evolutionary context? What Nei and Wyatt seem to be saying is that others should continue to ignore biologically-based cause and effect so that they can sell books that focus on evolutionary theories, which have never been supported by experimental evidence. However, Wyatt has taken the pseudoscientific nonsense further than anyone before him by commenting on the science of human pheromones:  “But sadly, these are fraudulent claims supported by dodgy science.” Let’s compare his claims about evolution and human pheromones to the claims supported by science, and see who is supporting the fraudulent claims of evolutionary theorists.

In 1996 we linked pheromones to alternative splicings of pre-mRNA and cell type differentiation in species from yeasts to mammals. (That’s why my question above arose about why the intermolecular tethering of RNA to DNA is being ignored.)

In 2000, others linked our model of hormone-organized and hormone-activated mammalian behavior to insects.

In 2001, we linked human pheromones to hormone-organized and hormone-activated behavior.

In 2005, others linked nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled hormone-organized and hormone-activated behavior to life history transitions in the honeybee model organism.

However, since the publication of our book on human pheromones in 1995, no experimental evidence of biologically-based cause and effect has linked mutations and natural selection to the evolution of biodiversity. Claims that the role of human pheromones should be viewed in the context of an invented theory of evolution should be viewed in the context of Wyatt’s definition of pheromones, and compared to the 1959 definition: ”Pheromones are defined as substances which are secreted to the outside by an individual and received by a second individual of the same species, in which they release a specific reaction, for example, a definite behavior, or a developmental process.”  Anyone who thinks that either food odors or pheromones should epigenetically effect the hormones that affect the development of behavior in insects and humans in the same manner is probably a theorist who knows nothing about conserved molecular mechanisms of cell type differentiation manifested in the morphological and behavioral phenotypes of species from microbes to man.

If context is everything to theorists, they may want to see: Nutrient-dependent/pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution: a model and Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors. As with anything I have published or presented during the past 3 decades, the context of my two most recent publications falls outside the pseudoscientific nonsense of evolutionary theory, and places the role of food odors and pheromones into what has been neuroscientifically established.

My review of Wyatt’s first edition of this book is here.

Mark Sergeant’s review of the second edition of my book (co-authored by the late Robert T. Francoeur) is here.



James Vaughn Kohl

James Vaughn Kohl

James Vaughn Kohl was the first to accurately conceptualize human pheromones, and began presenting his findings to the scientific community in 1992. He continues to present to, and publish for, diverse scientific and lay audiences, while constantly monitoring the scientific presses for new information that is relevant to the development of his initial and ongoing conceptualization of human pheromones.