May 18, 2009

More William Henry

UPDATE: I'm going to bump this back up to the top, because more videos have been added to this series, and I have updated the playlist accordingly. The newly posted material is mind-blowing. I think some of Strieber's comments need more explanation, so I have added some clarification. See below.

Hot off the... whatever YouTube videos are formatted on, an interview from 2005. Interviewed here by Whitley Streiber, he discusses his book Mary Magdalene: The Illuminator. On a note of sheer hilarity, if you want to view the videos on YouTube, you have to confirm that you are over 18. Apparently the graphic sexuality of 19th Century French painter Jules-Joseph Lefebvre's "Mary Magdalene in the Grotto" was just too much for YouTube users to bear, so the following warning comes up.

This video or group may contain content that is inappropriate for some users, as flagged by YouTube's user community.

By clicking "Confirm", you are agreeing that all videos or groups flagged by the YouTube community will be viewable by this account.

Yes, artistically rendered breasts are terrifying. Run away! Run away!


On Junk DNA: In the second segment of his interview with William Henry, Whitley Strieber makes reference to the discovery that junk DNA has been proven to be a language. He doesn't give a lot technical explanation, on that, and I think it requires more background. I read about this discovery in Graham Hancock's Supernatural (pp. 484-487).

All human languages have a strange and most unexpected secret in common. It is called Zipf's Law, after the linguist George Zipf, who discovered it in 1939. He studied texts in many different languages and ranked the words in order of frequency. What he found, which has since proved to be true whether the language is English or Inuit, Japanese or Xhosa, Arabic or Urdu, is that a direct, exact, unvarying and utterly counter-intuitive mathematical relationship exists between the rank of a word and the actual frequency of occurrence of that word. No matter which text he selected, when Zipf created a histogram that plotted word frequency against word rank, the surprising result was a straight line "with a slope of -I for every human language."

Researchers from Boston University and Harvard Medical School, in the 1990s, applied some linguistic tests to DNA strands. They found that our coding DNA, the 3-10 percent, whose purpose we basically understand, conformed to no known linguistic pattern. The "junk" DNA however...

So far so predictable, and so reassuring. Of course our DNA doesn't contain intelligent messages and isn't trying to communicate them to us in a language! If it did, all the basic principles of modern evolutionary science would be turned head over heels! Still, what happened next was most unexpected -- "really remarkable," in Eugene Stanley's appraisal: "There's no rhyme or reason why that should be true." This really remarkable and totally unexpected discovery was that in every case where non-coding regions of DNA have been evaluated, they turned out to demonstrate a perfect Zipf Law linear plot. If these DNA sequences had been books filled with pages of indecipherable printed letters, then this result would oblige us to conclude that the letters were not random alphabet soup but words in an organized language. Stanley didn't shy away from the implications of this. In his opinion, the non-coding DNA sequences do contain "a structured language fundamentally unlike the coding in genes." Even though it doesn't code for proteins, we therefore need to consider the possibility that "the 'junk' DNA may carry some kind of message."

Such a daring proposition receives further support from the second linguistic test that the team also applied to the DNA sequences. Developed in the 1950s by information theorist Claude Shannon, this test distinguishes texts written in true languages from texts written in alphabet soup by quantifying the "redundancy" of any string of characters. The test works, and is universal, because "languages are redundant sequences... You can fill in a typographical error by noting nearby characters. A random sequence, in contrast, has no redundancy."

Again, when the test was applied to coding regions of the DNA, these were shown not to have the properties of a human language -- as we would predict. The genetic code is not, and cannot be, a redundant sequence in which errors can be corrected with reference to the general context; on the contrary, geneticists are well aware that even a single mistake involving a single base pair on a single gene can scramble the code and produce catastrophic abnormalities. By contrast, the researchers found that the non-coding sections of DNA "revealed a surprising amount of redundancy -- another sign that something was written in these mysterious stretches."

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