Court testimony is evidence given by a witness who has made a commitment to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If the witness is later found to have lied whilst bound by the commitment, they can often be charged with the crime of perjury. Fortunately for Dr. Manolis Kellis, scientific articles and scientific pronouncements are not bound by the rules of sworn testimony.
In a telephone interview with a reporter from Nature, Dr. Kellis stated that the claim “80% of the human genome is functional and junk DNA does not exist” was “misunderstood & misreported.” This is the truth, but, of course, not the whole truth, because the “misunderstanding” and “misreporting” was done solely by the leaders of the ENCODE project. In a court of law, Dr. Kellis would have been found guilty of perjury.
I can vividly imagine a court session with Manolis Kellis on the witness stand.
Court clerk: Do you, Dr. Manolis Kellis, solemnly affirm that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, under pains and penalties of perjury?
Manolis Kellis: I have no problems with the “truth,” but “the whole truth” and “nothing but the truth” are somewhat problematic. Mind you, not only for me, but for every one involved in the ENCODE Project. Believe me, we have tried, but it is simply impossible to tell the whole truth and count 300 million dollars at the same time. It’s an NP-complete problem.