Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

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Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby ShawnMiller » Wed Aug 19, 2015 7:49 pm

Summarize the Griesemer article in 10 sentences. Then write a three sentence response to the Griesemer article from the point of view of Dulbecco or Gilbert.

This is due by Sunday, Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m. Your post will not appear until sometime Monday.

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby twilliams » Thu Aug 20, 2015 7:50 pm

Summary :
There are two types of explanations in biology regarding human nature: proximate, and ultimate. Proximate explanations are those that explain mechanics, which has an underlying assumption that all humans are essentially the same. Ultimate explanations are those that explain why humans are the way they are within a historical context, which has the underlying assumption that all humans are essentially different. There is a current tendency to favor one type of explanation over the other, even though it would be more prudent to solving human problems by taking both types of explanations into account. A failure to understand this has caused problems within science, such as in the Weismanism case, which attempted to separate the problems of heredity and development.

Because molecular biologists tend to think in terms of proximate explanations without regard to ultimate explanations, social problems the Human Genome Initiative proposes to solve will not be effective. The reason for this is by disregarding ultimate explanations, molecular biologists are dismissing population biology and demographics. The inherent nature of social problems requires an evaluation of the context of said problems, such as demographics. However, molecular biologists do not have the expertise in matters of demography. Therefore, molecular biologists do not have supreme authority in answering the questions of social problems, which empowers nonscientists in these discussions.

“Response” from Gilbert:
Context is important, such as in personalized medicine, where an individual’s metabolism is to be taken into account. Thus the ultimate explanation is important by emphasizing how each of us are different. However, the argument undermines the importance of genetics in solving social problems; since many problems can be traced to genetics as the root, our ability to fix the root can solve social issues in the long term, disregarding temporary contexts subject to rapid change.

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby uwogisele » Thu Aug 20, 2015 8:02 pm

Historically human “nature” has been described in terms of “how” and “why”. Scientists’ research on human “nature” varies depending on what perspective they focus on, some focus on variation and others focus on evolution. These differences portray the result and interpretation of the Human Genome Initiative. Most scientists that worked on HGI were molecular biologists, but there are also evolutionary biologists. The “how” question is answered in terms of our genetics, and the “why” question is answered in terms of our differences. And even though it may seem that these two explanations are in conflict, they actually work together. August Weismann stressed the continuity of the germ plasm and the separateness of the germ cells and soma. His theory of heredity proposed that characteristics are transmitted by the reproductive cells and that those characteristics acquired are inherited. But who gets to interpret the future outcomes of HGI, molecular technologists or other scientists? Because the genetic explanation divides the world into simpler terms but it doesn’t give an explanation for social problems. The future of HGI offers two interpretations. A better clinical research because we will have a complete book on human “nature”, and also it will change how we see ourselves. And consequently, the way scientists will interpret the HGI complete book will not be the way the public will interpret it.

Regarding the promise of collection of genes and diseases, Walter Gilbert would respond to Griesemer that even though it may be beneficial to collect and analyze the relationships between genes and diseases, the problem is we don't know to interpret that data. This collection of data may be beneficial statistically but biologically, it's not going to change how we do science.

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby euriekim » Sat Aug 22, 2015 11:10 am

In this article Griesemer covers three main topics. He first talks about how people shouldn't be content with just knowing the answer to either "how" or "why" questions and not both. He uses evolution as an analogy to proximate ("how"/"what") and ultimate explanations ("why") by stating that in order for evolution to occur, the offspring must differ from their parents but also resemble them in some way. Next Griesemer relates proximate and ultimate explanations to germ and soma (body) cells. In this section, he also brings attention to August Weismann and "Weismannism", the belief of the continuity of germ cells and the discontinuity of somatic cells. He also includes a series of Weismann's cause-effect diagrams that depicts a representation of "Weismannism", the central dogma of molecular biology, and a visual representation of the continuity of a zygote through cell generation. Finally, he reveals the social dangers of the Human Genome Initiative by early eugenicists oversimplifying the process of removing genetic defects. He emphasizes the fact that most genetically caused diseases are recessive-- meaning that there are much more people who are carriers of a disease than people who are afflicted with them. Removing the genetics defects from people who are afflicted with diseases can at best only potentially lower the frequency of the disease. This means that it is impossible to eliminate these disease-causing genes altogether.

I think Griesemer would consider Dulbecco as one of the naive eugenicists mentioned in his article. Dulbecco oversimplified the cure for cancer by having more knowledge of DNA and genes. Understanding cancer and other diseases at a molecular and genomic level doesn't guarantee a panacea.

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby herrerajen » Sat Aug 22, 2015 10:27 pm

In his article, Tools for Talking Human Nature, Weismannism, and the Interpretation of Genetic Information, Griesemer scrutinizes the fixed methods for researching biological ‘facts’ and their historical and current implications with retrospect of the Human Genome Initiative (HGI). Drawing on the vocabulary used by Ernest Mayr, Griesemer argues that biological findings are peculiarly framed by either proximate or ultimate explanations. On the one hand, proximate explanations, which embryologists, anatomists, physiologists and geneticists uphold, ask “how” and “what” questions. These biologists problem solve by dividing the world “into a relatively simple ‘system’ and a relatively complex,” while simultaneously ignoring the surrounding environments (p. 82). On the other hand, ultimate explanations, which evolutionary biologists espouse, ask “why” questions. They problem solve by “comparing multiple entities, whether simple or complex” (p. 82). These “either/or,” polarized, and diverged methods of analysis create tension as they draw different conclusions for distinct biologists; yet Griesemer proposes “they must work together, since they explain the same entities “(p. 73). To further express the divisions of scientific perspectives, Griesemer turns to nineteenth century biology, Weismannism, which was heavily influenced by “why” questions and evolutionary perspectives. Meanwhile the biological theory Weismannism expresses the “continuity of the germ cells and the discontinuity of the body cells, or somata” in its diagram form it represents a false depiction of its theory and “straightjackets…modern talk about biological causation and agency”
(p. 76, 78). This is because Weismannism is discussed in an ultimate biological context when it it should be a concern for proximate and ultimate biological matters. Ultimately, Griesemer’s concern is that the HGI will create a platform whereby only molecular biotechnologists will be given the privilege and opportunity to solve health problems because of their established authority. The overarching issue, he finds, lies in the decision of who can sequence the genetic data and most importantly, interpret it.

I would like to focus on your first argument: “the historical division of biology into sciences answering ‘how’ or ‘why’ questions lends the false impression that only one or the other kind of solution to a given problem is needed.” To begin with, my focal point is to examine the cellular genome and its context to cancer for “the classification of the genes will facilitate the identification of those involved in progression.” (p. 2). Although this approach might seem as a ‘proximate approach,’ I would argue otherwise given that this initiative should “not be undertaken by any single group” for it calls for a “national effort” (p. 3). That is, I do not intend for molecular biologists to solely work on this project, but rather the collective contributions of evolutionary biologists, geneticists, anatomists, and so on.

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby fdtran » Sun Aug 23, 2015 3:03 pm

Griesemer’s article is divided into three sections. The first section discusses how science is torn between two conflicting ideologies: the “proximate” (how questions) and the “ultimate” (why questions) insights. Griesemer uses the Human Genome Project as an example to explain these two differing views; a molecular biologist hopes the HGI will find the essence of what it means to be human while an evolutionary biologist hopes to find diversity to explain the process of evolution. Grisemer argues that often times these two perspectives have authority over another depending on the context of the subject, and when they are intertwined the hybrid of these two ideologies leads to complicated discussions about human nature.
In the second section Griesemer uses biological theories to explain the reasoning of human nature. He uses the example of Weismannism, the theory that genetic information is irreversibly passed from genes to body cells, to explain that the simplication of a complex theory leads to consequences such as a gap between comprehension and applicable technology. Grisemer explains that a scientist named E.B Wilson failed to explain Weismann’s complex theory of Weismannism when he oversimplified his theory into a diagram and didn’t explain in the biological language of causality. Griesemer also uses the Human Genome Project as an example to explain the increasing gap of understanding as genetic technology becomes more and more complex which causes difficulty in how to impose social policy with scientific innovation, especially since many do not have a scientific background. Griesemer also points out that allowing specialized scientists having more authority in social policies when it comes to the Human Genome Project and its application is rather dangerous because of the comprehension gap between the complicated technological innovations and modern society and its values.
In the third section, Griesemer discusses who should have the authority to evaluate the social contexts of scientific data: the scientific experts or others in society. Grisemer uses the example of eugenists’ wrongful social policy on genetic disorders to explain that specialized scientists often impose their beliefs on society, which they do not have expertise in. Grisemer also explains that the Human Genome Project will have different interpretations on the data that is collected amongst the scientific community and in modern society. He also warns non-scientists about the appeal to authority fallacy and that they should not allow molecular biologists to have sole authority over social policies on scientific technology. Grisemer ends the article, suggesting that scientists should better communicate and explain scientific innovation to the rest of society in order to have more informed and individual opinions.
I think that Gilbert would very much agree with what Grisemer had to say about the Human Genome Project. Based on the Gilbert’s interview, it is clear that he wants our generation to be wary of what we read in scientific journals because they often present science in a one sided point of view. Because of Gilbert’s introspective nature, I think that he would agree with Grisemer about the conflict of the comprehension gap between specialized scientists and the rest of society. I also think that they would share similar views because they both agreed that the Human Genome Project may not be what many scientists are making it out to be.

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby SamGarcia25 » Sun Aug 23, 2015 4:40 pm

In this article, three main points are made about the Human Genome Initiative concerning its goals, interpretation, and social consequences. The author claims that human nature should not be described by one sole perspective. Proximate and ultimate explanations attempt to answer the “how” and “why” questions, respectively. Proximate and ultimate explanations have a dependent relationship with each other and both should be incorporated into the reasoning of this discussion topic. Trying to explain these future potential issues in regards to molecular genetics or evolutionary genetics alone gives an incomplete thought process. Looking back at the history of biological theory, one can follow its divisions and identify the point where the explanation became less than satisfactory. An example given is Weismann’s description of germ cells versus somatic cells that leads to the misconception of reproduction as a continuous flow of genetic information. The simplicity of Weismann’s diagram is not enough to describe the complex problems surrounding the topic. The “guiding metaphor” pertaining to human nature needs modification or redefining. There is a lack of communication among the different divisions of biology and this will make it more difficult to solve these problems. Attempting to resolve social problems with biotechnological solutions is not the answer. The first step in the right direction according to Griesemer is abandoning Weismannism and not allowing scientists control of the fate of social decisions implicated with the HGI.

It is impossible to describe human nature in multiple contexts. The explanations will always be seemingly different depending on who is asking the question. Modifying the “guiding metaphor” would be simpler than starting over from scratch due to time constraints and the status and progress of the project so far; for the sake of the HGI in regard to fulfilling promises and avoiding a bigger comprehension gap, pace of the project must be maintained.

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby tschristoffel » Sun Aug 23, 2015 7:15 pm

Explanations of biological phenomena have been reduced to two types: Proximate and Ultimate. Proximate explanations address the “how” question, explaining the physical mechanisms that cause a biological phenomenon. An example of this would be the fields of genetics and anatomy. Ultimate explanations address the “why” questions, explaining the more historical reasons behind a phenomenon. An example of this would be the field of evolutionary biology. Scientists have a tendency to use only one type of explanation, despite the fact that both are important. For example, according to modern proximate interpretations of Weismannism, germ cells pass information to both other gem cells and somatic cells, while somatic cells do not pass information to other soma. This is incorrect, as ultimate explanations tell us that soma affect other soma, and thus both types of explanation are needed. The problems stemming from this issue could plague the Human Genome Initiative, because it operates from a strictly proximate perspective of an individual’s genes without regard to the population at large. If scientists are unable to use this information to solve social problems, then they lack any “political, social, or moral authority” over nonscientists.

Dulbecco’s hypothetical response:

While Griesemer is technically correct about the influence of the whole population at large on the human genome, he does not consider that even this is reducible to the genetic composition of individuals. The actions of individuals, for example, can often be traced back to their thought processes, which are affected by hormone levels, thus can be determined by the genes they possess. Secondly, the Human Genome Initiative, while mostly a project of molecular biologists, does not necessitate the exclusion of evolutionary, or “Ultimate,” biologists.

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby eridolfi » Sun Aug 23, 2015 7:15 pm

The Grismer article can be roughly summarized in three basic points: “how” and “why” explanations can cause a misunderstanding of a process, that there is a distinction between genetic material and the body and that the lack of understanding can misinform society and deemphasize population genetics. When describing human nature, one can think of either form and function or origin. Essentially this encapsulates Mayr’s battle with proximate (how) and ultimate (why) science. One of the dangers of holding these as separate entities is the medicalization of human behavior and the reduction to biology. While reductionalized thinking is key to understanding certain sciences, it can also lead to flaws in understanding. Genetics is the most successful example of proximate science. The one unfortunate side effect of this is that problems are solved in the order of “doablility”. Another unfortunate side effect is that there is a lack of realization that biology is a combination of theories. Cause and Effect can cause a simplification error because these relationships are not always clear cut. Genetics and reproduction can then be reduced to a flow of information illustrating the issue that exists with reductionist metaphors.
Dulbecco would struggle with this article, solely because much of his article and argument is based of genetics as a proximate science. Dulbecco also operates under the assumption than all humans have a shared genome and there are few other factors in control of biological expression. He would also extol the reductionist way of thinking for ease of solving problems.

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby eugenekim » Sun Aug 23, 2015 7:17 pm

Griesmemer is worried about what the implications of the Human genome Initiative (HGI) has to offer from “social, ethical, political, and philosophical” dilemmas. The controversy surrounding the HGI depend on these interpretations on the “how” and “what” questions (proximate) and others dealing with “why “questions (ultimate). The molecular biologists who are mostly responsible to the contribution for the HGI are concerned with the “how” questions instead of a more complete picture, which limit the scope of its implication. Therefore, it’s important for outside perspectives such as philosophers to interpret the biological underpinnings of huge technological programs such as the HGI. Consider the notion of genes as “master molecules”; They are regarded as important they are the central to the “how” and “why” explanations, but historically they were not always regarded as such. Weismann wanted to come up with a theory to explain how organism’s characters and forms are created and transmitted from one generation to another and is the basis for casual talk in biology. However, the problem is that simple explanations like Weismann’ are used to explain complicated theories. What occurs is a misbalance between the ability to express concepts and a lag in innovations. Furthermore, greater complications occur such as when scientists try to explain why the simple picture of Weismann is wrong while still using Weismann’s basic frame. The real issue when dealing with the HGI is not whether or not any result will occur but rather how that information will be put to use and interpreted. Will the molecular biologists input be limited in scope because they will not be dealing with the expertise of evolutionary biologists and other scientists? Therefore, by reshaping what is the “guiding metaphors” in interpreting the HGI with an understanding of an evolutionary framework to Weismannism may be the correct solution. Similar to what Griesmemer states, Gilbert seems not too worried about following through with the HGI, he is more worried about its implication. Is there enough of a technological understanding in order to put sequencing the genome to use? Moreover, his advice to student seems to follow suit as hell tells them that they should not be believing everything that they read.

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby nyonan » Sun Aug 23, 2015 8:58 pm

Griesemer Reduced

There are a few problems with the idea of HGI that are often overlooked due to the conventions and assumptions of modern day sciences. Mainly, it is the idea that so called “how” or “why” questions must be looked at separately and how that causes a rift in thinking which causes narrow viewpoints. Thinking that only one way is the correct way to look at a scientific query is mistaken and causes such oversights. There are numerous occasions where knowing the “how” without the “why” helps us little to none in solving a problem, and vice versa. The issues with HGI arise when different schools of thought (i.e. sociology, psychology, philosophy, etc.) are seen as unnecessary and that biology is the only purview which holds the key. While biology plays an immensely important role in understanding the human genome and piecing together the answers to the “how” and “why” questions, it does not hold an ultimate understanding over all. There is too much stock being placed in a specific interpretation of biology (i.e. molecular vs evolutionary) holding all the answers to the questions regarding HGI. Such a belief will cause major oversights and problems, thus it is necessary to not separate viewpoints but apply them all. Even then, there are questions outside of the scope of just biology with regards to HGI. For such a project to be beneficial to human beings as a whole, we must not narrow our views due to our conventions and obstinance alone.

Gilbert Response

I would agree that the common conventions of science and scientists alone do not help with understanding data we may receive. In fact, there is a ton that we just plain do not know. I believe it is important to continue pushing forward with research and collecting data, but not jump the gun in thinking we have found the answer to all our problems; we need to keep an open mind.

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Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby Selestine » Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:15 pm

Griesemer addresses three main points; he speaks of the historical division of biology into sciences. He provides answers to “how” or “why” questions, lead to incorrect impression that only one or the other kind of solution is needed to a given problem. “How” questions are result whenever complexities are relegated to “context”. And “why” questions in biology always compare things, without avoiding descriptions environment for long. Also he explains the difference between germ and soma or the body cells. And how they are misinterpreted regarding reproduction. He also states a fact that the difference that occurs when germ cells differentiate in the soma is an evolved property that is significant to the evolution of individuality. Moreover, he states out a crucial social danger of the Human Genome Initiative (HGI). That it may have impact quite a little on the role of organismal and population biology in understanding molecular mechanisms. And once such mechanisms are mastered they will help to provide hope to the problems of human health.

From Gilbert’s point of view, he does agree with Griesemer when it comes to the roles of molecular biology in medicine and human health. Griesemer once states that, as we push toward molecular technological solutions to health problems we will need to give up authority to specialized scientist to handle the sequencing of genes. This is because when a non-specialized scientist sequences the genomes, he might miss it local re-arrangements and result into inaccurate results. Also the applications of the molecular biology in the medicine field will result into personalized medicine that will help cure diseases more effectively.

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby sarahsilverman » Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:40 pm

Biology as a discipline has always been concerned with proximate ("How?") and ultimate ("Why?") questions about the origins, organization, and purposes of living things. There has been a historic "compartmentalization" of these two categories, with different disciplines attempting to answer either "how" or "why" questions, but rarely both. With the discovery of the structure and function of DNA, and with the initiation of the human genome project, many biological questions have been "medicalized" and reduced to simple, digestible, "how" questions. An example of such reductionism is the oversimplification of Weismann's concept of the one-way flow of genetic information from germ cell to soma in Wilson's diagram. Wilson's diagram suggests that there is no interaction between soma, when in reality these interactions are among the most important for the "how" and "why" questions of the flow of genetic information. Going forward, such oversimplifications by those geneticists only interested in the "how" questions could have drastic consequences. In the aftermath of the HGP, for example, there could be calls for the eradication of harmful alleles, or the legislation of who can reproduce with whom by those technologists who do not think about the "why" problems in biology. Certainly those who are only concerned with "how" questions are not qualified to make decisions about the social applications of the HGP. If biologists begin to balance the importance of "how" and "why" questions (and perhaps even cease to distinguish between them), then the myth of the one-way relationship between genes and body will also begin to fall away. This shifting of metaphors also has the potential to grant more non-biologists and non-scientists authority in interpreting and discussing genetic information.

Response from Gilbert's perspective:
Those who are too focused on proximate questions may have actually overstated the importance and utility of the HGP. With more powerful technologies comes the power to analyze bigger data sets, and sequence more genes, but most of the questions being asked are superficial, "low-hanging fruit" types of questions. Top journals have started to prefer studies that solve immediate problems, and so researchers have little incentive to pursue bigger picture, "why" type questions.

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby lksalinero » Sun Aug 23, 2015 10:09 pm

In his article “Tools for Talking,” James Griesemer addresses the philosophical implications of the Human Genome Initiative (HGI). The field of biology can be divided into two broad categories: the study of “how” and “what” questions and the study of “why” questions. Proximate (“how” and “what”) explanations have come to dominate biological research, to the detriment of our understanding of life and society. The HGI, molecular biology, and many other areas of biology seek only to provide proximate explanations, but we must remember that both proximate and ultimate explanations are necessary to fully understand a phenomenon.

Griesemer goes on to describe how the modern concept of heritability as a one-way flow of information from DNA to the rest to the organism is hindering our ability to understand reproduction and accurately express new innovations and discoveries. This widespread misconception is the legacy of an oversimplified version of Weismannism, a theory of germ and soma predating the discovery of DNA. The central dogma, or the idea that information flows from DNA into proteins, but not the other way, also represents this flawed thinking and leads us to mistakenly regard DNA as the “master molecule.”

Finally, Griesemer points out that the HGI was touted for its potential to cure disease without taking into consideration the valuable contributions population biology and social factors make towards health and disease. Problems of health and disease are not just problems of the individual, but of society, and are caused just as much by social factors as molecular ones. We ought not to assume that the best and only solution to a public health problem will come from genetics. If we accept the idea that genes cause everything that occurs in biology, then we are granting the gene too much credit and giving geneticists too much power.

Dulbecco would agree that ultimate explanations are certainly valuable; however, he would contend that proximate explanations are of more immediate use to us and can be applied for our immediate benefit, and as such, the fact that the HGI doesn’t provide ultimate explanations shouldn’t devalue it. As for Griesemer’s third section, Dulbecco would argue that while cancer is indeed a social problem, no one would suggest that cancer could be cured through purely social means. Furthermore, in the case of cancer, Dulbecco would argue that the only significant advances left to be made are in the field of genetics and molecular biology.

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby JustinN » Sun Aug 23, 2015 10:23 pm

The "Tools for Talking" article by James Griesemer reveals the unanswered social implications that are brought up by the Human Genome Project. In order to understand how the social implications came to be neglected, Griesemer distinguishes between "how" and "why" sciences. "How" sciences, like genetics, look to answer mechanistic questions and thus takes upon a mechanistic approach when solving problems. "Why" sciences, like evolutionary biology, look to answer questions about why natural phenomena exist and are therefore context dependent and reach into other sciences as resources.
Griesemer uses this distinction to explain why there tends to be a mechanical explanation in the core of the biological sciences. He explains how Weismannism uses mechanical expressions in the form of diagrams to inaccurately and incompletely describe the flow of heritable information in the central dogma of biology. He asserts that mechanistic thinking led to the misguided belief that the genes contained in germ cells are the only contributing factors involved in heritability.
With an essential root of biological thinking established, Griesemer asserts that the intrusion of mechanistic thinking leads to the adoption of this thinking for social issues. He suggests that the dominance of "how" thinking will lead to "how" answers for highly context and foresight dependent situations. Overall he hopes that, "Empowerment of the non-scientist follows from a denial that the scientist has sufficient knowledge to decide social questions."

From the view of Gilbert:
I generally agree with Griesemer's claim about the distinction with "how" and "why" sciences. I think that the entrenchment of mechanistic thinking in biology is pressuring new scientists to make hasty conclusions without thinking about the complexities of scientific issues. Maybe we need to do some more considerations before we make large claims in the name of "big science."

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby pkshah » Sun Aug 23, 2015 10:29 pm


Section (1) starts off by talking about the various subsections of human nature. Furthermore, Griesemer talks about how these various subsections of human nature need to be taken into account. It seems as if the only section that is accounted for is the functional aspect of it when the historical basis for it is important for different reasons. In section (2), Griesemer talks about how the different implications for biological theories can affect the perception of the Human Genome Project. For example, the ways molecular and evolutionary biologist would treat an issue are vastly different. In order address the social implications of an issue you need to address the contextual and functional parts of that issue (this is akin to Lloyd’s opinion). Section (3) talks about the future implications of the Human Genome Project. Griesemer argues that the real issue of the future of the HGP resides, not in the fact that we are sequencing DNA to any particular end, but in the social implications of that sequencing. After that, Griesemer goes on to describe some social phenomena and implications as a result of sequencing individual strands of DNA. Furthermore, he makes the important declaration that social problems are not solved by manipulation of the various systems of the world. Furthermore, Griesemer talks a lot about Weismannism and its implications for the human genome project. Additionally, Griesemer talks about how reshaping the metaphors, diagrams, and common assumptions about the HGP and genetics is important for having an enlightened perspective.

From the Perspective of Dulbecco:

Dulbecco is seems to be a hard-core molecularist. He believes that the HGP is pivotal with regards to everything from disease to understanding why we are the way that we are. Therefore, Dulbecco might say that even if the social implications of the project are important, it does not change the fact that everything can be broken down to the human genome. Furthermore, historical context may be important from an evolutionary sense; however, with regards to the future of medicine, understanding the whole human genome is extremely important. Selective editing of the human genome can provide massive benefits for the future of curing diseases as well as the progression of the human race. Basically, all of these points don’t change the fact that DNA truly is the master molecule and we must learn how to completely harness its properties in order to enhance our abilities.

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby jjquintanilla » Sun Aug 23, 2015 10:53 pm

The Griesemer article focus on three specific points. It brings into light the various complex backgrounds of biology and its correlation to society. The first section focuses primarily on the dynamics of biological science in terms of molecular and evolutionary biology. It briefly mentions how these two field of biology are separated to each other because of their methods of providing a solution to a biological question; as in, Molecular biology answers a "how" question, while the evolutionary aspect answers a "why" question which brings a sense of purpose to the existence of such answer. The second section of the article conveys information on the concept of heredity. It brings into light interesting questions regarding the differentiation of somatic cells and gametes, and it also mentions the use of diagrams and scientific language as perhaps misinterpreting to a larger audience. The third section of the article focuses on the consequences that may be brought about as a result to the HGI. It brings into question the function of biotechnology and its role in society and the expectation of which such technology requires of people. One example would be how such technological innovation perhaps influences the reproductive patterns of people; as in, with regards to individual who are carriers of genetic disease which can manifest in a child. The main argument behind this section merely conveys the point that while technology exist which may help us progress as a society and as a species, it cannot simply disregards all the parameters which do not deal with genetics.

With regards to using Dulbecco article, I believe Dulbecco correlated nicely with the article of Griesemer because the information of Dulbecco focuses on the problems of society which in this case is cancer, and then mentions that by sequencing the human genome an understanding of cancer would bring into light possible treatments for cancer. Which ties to Griesemer argument that although advancements in biotechnology has brought us long way, it has given us understanding, but it does not provide us with a cure to any ailment, all together.

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby msnelmida » Sun Aug 23, 2015 11:08 pm

Problems related to biology are often difficult to understand and find solutions for due to the way which the understanding of biology historically was build up. In biology the interpretations of human nature or behavior are interpreted into two ways which is proximate causes or "how" and ultimate causes or "why". The problem with such interpretation is that people only look at one of the two when explaining biological facts instead of combining the two "how" and "why". One example is the HGI in which promises "medicalized" society in terms of gene information by molecular biologists. Some problem arises from the perspective that only the "how" is given in perspective when referring to medicine. This only serves on solving 'simple' phenomena but since human health also involve complex social issues of human nature then "reduced" medicine cannot truly solve problems of human health in global proportions. Since genes is one of the major part of diagnosing a person's 'health' it is often mistaken by biologists or geneticists that it can be solve only through the understanding of gene transmission at molecular level or reduced level or it can be the one objective solution for human health issues. The "intertwined" concept in biology between the proximate and ultimate interpretations fits well with understanding evolution which is a large part of biological theories thus finding solutions require an explanation from both perspective is important to solve complex phenomena. This viewpoint of looking at just the "how" in biology also leads to some misunderstanding in theories to how gene information is processed. Interpreting solutions through simpler terms from simpler systems that in actuality represents a more complex system such as human health will only solve simple problems but the complex phenomena that complex environments are actually represented by thus the answer for human health issues cannot be solved only through simple genetic concepts.

A possible response through Walter Gilber's point of view:
I do agree that knowledge of just gene information in general does not accurately reflect human health issues but it is a big part of it and people are affected by their environment in one significant way or another. Understanding the "how" is very important although it cannot solve bigger issues in human health it can still solve smaller personalized problems in human health. I think a solution is to just be open to possible solutions even outside of science or biology itself while we gather more understanding to such knowledge in genetics as well as social issues like how to prevent contamination.

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby anjames » Sun Aug 23, 2015 11:14 pm

Griesemer's article criticizes the common perceptions of implications of the Human Genome Initiative (HGI) in 3 parts discussing the problem in compartmentalizing biological sciences, the false causal role of genes, and how these two problems and his solution affect the HGI. The first part focuses on the mentality that there is one mechanistic solution to a problem (e.g. eradicate a disease by finding a vaccine). Griesemer argues that applications of the HGI have focused on proximate (how) explanations of human nature rather than also including ultimate (why) explanations. The separation of molecular biology and evolutionary biology is false because really (1) "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" (Theodosius Dobzhansky) but also (2) evolution (largely ultimate) needs "genetic, embryological, physiological and morphological" (proximate) explanations of lineage in order to make sense. The second part of the article explains that this mentality came out of a misinterpretation of Weismannism and Weismann's cause-effect diagram of his theory. Weismann did not intend to express that germ cells make themselves and soma (soma having no causal role), but instead that somatic intermediate cells and germ cells pass on germ plasm (i.e. the causal role of genome and person is one-way). The third and final part of the article gets back to what all this means for the HGI: focusing on the molecular biology view has been and continues to be misleading. Recessive genes persist when attempting selective breeding, populations are neither simple nor isolated (genes flow, which is more of population biologist’s job to explain than a molecular biologist’s) and the public needs to be able to make decisions too. If only the molecular biology view is getting communicated, the necessary information to make health or reproductive decisions does not exist. Correcting the causal role of genes and which scientists get input will give a more realistic take on the HGI and science in general.

To Dulbecco, Griesemer might be complicating the HGI because Dulbecco is looking at cancer as a genetic disease that is treated in individuals regardless of population frequency. His evidence for HGI helping cancer research and treatment development is based on the study he cited in detail and the other evidence he referenced, which ruled out the environment as a cause. The social implications of developing probes for disease would be another issue entirely out of bounds for the HGI as the point is discovery (likened to the "conquest of space").

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby ktoporovskaya » Sun Aug 23, 2015 11:38 pm

The Griesemer article talks about philosophical controversies when it comes to answering how and why questions. He believes that how questions are answered by focusing on mechanisms like genetics and development and physiological research. The how questions are answered by an evolutionary biologist, where variation is the mechanism to answering questions. The author believes that Human Genome Project only focused on answering the how and not the why question. He warns of the dangers of only applying how questions when in comes to organismal and population biology and interpreting observation which impact human health. If we try to treat some genetic diseases we could discriminate against carriers and persuade people to make certain decision they would not normally make. He also brings up previous mistakes that lead to bias views. This could also occur in genetic screening and treatment. This could lead to unpredicted outcomes and can be dangerous to humanity. We need to include evolutionary points of view to answer why questions as well as how. Though Gilbert would agree that Human Genome Project could be dangerous, there is a lot of how questions that are being answered. And he believes that the research is good for the society. Things like personalized medicine and cheaper DNA sequencings are going to benefit the society. This progress is very important and should continue.

Michelle Tarango
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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby Michelle Tarango » Sun Aug 23, 2015 11:42 pm

In his article, Griesemer addresses three main points: how biology has been divided into different sciences seeking to answer different questions, the misconception that reproduction is simply the flow of information, and that the Human Genome Project may further alienate organismal and population biology in interpreting human health. Biologists have tried to classify human nature in two ways, by answering “how” and “why” questions about human behavior. These explanations are split into ultimate (evolutionary biology) and proximate (the other branches of biological sciences) explanations, which can lead to conflicts between scientists of different specialties. Griesemer also describes the concept proposed by August Weismann, which states that somatic and germ cells are different, and that the continuity of germ cells is necessary to explain heredity. He explains that our technological advances often outpace the complete understanding of how these technologies work and how this may result in ethical, social, and political conflicts down the line, which ties in with the Human Genome Project. The most influential aspect of Weismannism is the cause-effect diagram, which shows the relationship between biological causality and attributing causal responsibility. Griesemer argues that reproduction is incorrectly classified as passing information, and instead passes only information-bearing matter. In the third section, Griesemer warns about the risk of interpreting biological information in only one context, and states that the social context of an outcome also becomes important in deciding the implications. Although the HGP is seen as the “book of human nature,” it is important to understand that it will mean different things to scientists of different fields and the non-scientific public. Griesemer concludes the article by stating that ways the HGP is interpreted can have potentially enormous significance on how the genome’s causal significance is interpreted.

I believe that Gilbert would largely agree with many of the arguments presented in Griesemer’s article. Gilbert also cautions that genome sequencing is not fool-proof, nor may it be usable for “creating” babies with specific traits. Gilbert agrees with Griesemer that a problem facing science is creating new technology without fully understanding the consequences, which may create problems in the future. In addition, Gilbert cautions against blindly believing things you read about science, and instead believes that everyone should make informed decisions about science after learning the material.

Bowen Tan
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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby Bowen Tan » Sun Aug 23, 2015 11:58 pm

Proximate and ultimate explanations focus on how and why questions which are based on mechanisms and the province of evolution separately.

The central sight of why explanations is a view of historical and social factors, while the crucial sight of how explanations assume there is a native genetic system which only offers simple solvents.

Such conflict contributes to the HGI through the consideration of both proximate and ultimate biological sciences which becomes the light of human nature.

Because it is essential to realize that the molecules are the masters of the body and genes are central players both in how and why explanations, interpreting the effects of biological theories is a way to address the HDI.

Weismannism rejecting the inheritance of acquired characteristics is a historical fact which may contribute on the future solutions to human health problems by genetic technology.

The continuity of the germ and the discontinuity of the soma summarized in Wilson’s diagram became a modern form in Crick’s central dogma of molecular biology.

The abstract heredity relation may be more than a flow of information, it relates to both the population change in the distribution of genes and developmental control of gene expression.

The real issue we likely ignore is whether authority to define those parameters of evaluation especially the social contexts in which the data will be interpreted.

Other issues regarding the social context in which genetic information are not clear if we ignore the perspectives of organismal and population biology.

There will be a significant social danger of the HGI undergoing if both organismal and population biology which is related to human health are slighted.

Point of view of Gilbert

It is essential for us to understand both how and why explanations of the HGI, for each one of us has different metabolism and even each one of us has different symptoms of the same disease.

Both proximate and ultimate biological explanations are important for science, we are forced a lot to stand on the level of instant standing but not the proximate things we don’t know.

One issue is, although we test the human genome data, we still can’t interpret it, because it relies not only on the sequence data, but also a perception of the variation of the genes.

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Re: Second prompt (due Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m.)

Postby dianalee » Sun Aug 23, 2015 11:58 pm

Griesemer presented “Tools for Talking” in three sections. He described two fundamentally different ways of interpreting human “nature.” Molecular biologists use proximate explanations to answer “how” and “what” questions of organisms function on the basis of material and organization. Evolutionary biologists use ultimate explanations to answer “why” questions through historical reasons. Furthermore, he explained and gave many examples and reasons of human nature cannot be explain by just one biological perspective. Molecular biologists, who contributing to HGI, see differences between people as anomalies or defects while evolutionary biologists see differences as the variation that fuels evolution. Since societies are becoming increasingly medicalized reduced to biology, it is important to use both molecular biology and evolutionary biology approach to explain human nature rather than two different approach. Griesemer also discussed the prediction of increased in genetic diseases over time as mutation rate increased in older mothers. Although delaying reproduction may increase the risk of having genetic defects fetus in individual mother, the rate of genetic defect children in a population will not necessarily increase. So in order to understand the human nature and interpret biological phenomena, we must use molecular and evolutionary biology hand in hand better understanding.

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