So let’s take a look at the Raelian PCR results that Jerry Coyne promoted as “science”:
Here is how the Raelians explained it:
Negative controls (water as template, lanes NC) show no amplification product, indicating that PCR reagents were free from human or wheat DNA contamination. Human controls (lanes HC) show the expected 411 bp amplification product with human primers and no amplification with wheat primers, confirming that human DNA can be detected using the selected human primers. Wheat controls (lanes WC) show amplification products with both pairs of primers, with a more intense band with wheat primers. The human DNA detected in the wheat control was likely introduced during handling of the bread sample.
Here is Jerry Coyne echoing their explanation:
WC is the unconsecrated wafer control. As you see, it amplifies with both human and wheat primers (two bands on the “WC” lane in the left amplified with human primers), indicating the presence of some human DNA in the wheat control. This suggests, and it seems likely, that the purchased unconsecrated wafers were contaminated with human DNA when they were being handled. This happens sometimes: it doesn’t take much foreign DNA to show up as a strong band indicative of contamination; this happened to me when I was amplifying Drosophila DNA during an ancient sabbatical in Princeton, and got my own DNA instead).
Here is one reason this Raelian “research” would have never been published in a mainstream, peer-reviewed scientific journal (unless, I suppose, Coyne was the reviewer). The reviewer would have commented as follows:
Given that your wheat control was contaminated with human DNA, you need to repeat the experiment with a wheat control that is not contaminated. The WC is supposed to serve as the negative control, but because you contaminated it, it fails as a negative control. As the data stand, and because you have no negative control, it is not clear that you are working with a human-specific primer. Also, you need to indicate the base pair size of your markers (see here for how it is done). And you need to clarify whether Figure 1 is the only experiment you did or represents a typical result of x number of experiments.
Since Figure 1 is the only experimental result, and it is flawed, the paper would be rejected.
Furthermore, if the Raelians are trying to show the wafers have no human DNA, then how would they know if they had a positive result given that any positive result would be interpreted as human contamination? They need to devise a method to tease apart human contamination from a truly positive result.
Anyway, here is a even more serious problem with their data. When you look at the WC lane on the left side (doing PCR with human-specific primers), you’ll notice that there are 4 bands. There is the dark band on the top, a faint band below it and two more faint bands further down. Now, look at the HC (human control) lane – the three faint bands are not present. Human contamination can explain the large, dark band in the WC lane, but doesn’t explain the existence of the three faint bands in the WC lane. If those 3 bands are supposed to represent DNA from human contamination, why are they missing in the lane that amplified human DNA?
So what’s going on? One possibility is that the Raelian’s human-specific primer is not as human-specific as they think. Those three faint bands may represent something known as non-specific priming. Put simply, it may be that the human primers can weakly bind to spots on the wheat chromosomes and the three bands actually represent wheat DNA. That would explain why the three bands are not seen in the HC lane, where human DNA is being amplified.
But…..if this is the case, then why are those three bands missing from from lanes 1-4?
Okay, there are even more serious problems with what Jerry Coyne calls “science.” We’ll look at that next.