Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Readings will be posted here. This is also where you will write most forum posts. If you aren't sure which readings are required, just check the schedule.
User avatar
ShawnMiller
Site Admin
Posts: 123
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2015 2:59 pm
Contact:

Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby ShawnMiller » Mon Aug 10, 2015 12:06 pm

Tools for Talking: Human Nature, Weismannism, and the Interpretation of Genetic Information by James R. Griesemer (1994)

James Griesemer's website

Because we will be covering this reading over two days, you will need to post twice -- once prior to the Aug. 18 class and once prior to the Aug. 19 meeting. Both posts will be done here.

twilliams
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 10:36 am

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby twilliams » Fri Aug 14, 2015 11:27 pm

The entirety of section 2 has me lost. If what little I'm understanding is correct, Weismannism is the theory that only germ cells are involved in passing genetic information from parent to child, and not somatic cells. And this is either wrong or oversimplifying the matter? Or is that what Wilson's diagrams are doing (which I cannot make out what they are trying to show) by misrepresenting Weismannism? I get the author's point that simplifying the science can cause the public to misunderstand what's really going on, and those small misunderstandings can have profound negative effects. But I'm not getting the example.

User avatar
KelseyBS
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:56 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby KelseyBS » Mon Aug 17, 2015 10:50 pm

I don't know if I'm just having a bad day and my dyslexia is worse than normal, but this was the most difficult read I have had in a long time. From what I can muster, this paper discusses the conflicts not only between media, public and the scientific community, but also the sub-communities in the scientific communities. Biologists, physicists, geneticists, doctors, etc. all have different views on the HGP. Doctors might argue for the HGP based on the health benefits that it could create, while biologists may show concern for human evolution.

ktoporovskaya
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 10:44 am

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby ktoporovskaya » Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:16 am

The critique the authors present us with is that science has compartmentalized thinking into two questions: “how” and “why”. Genetics is an example of proximate science where only the question of “how” is being addressed. This leads to a social problem, for example the genetic screening. For it to become a large scale and effective to reduce genetic disease, the population must be screened and counseled. We need social engineering, affordable screen kits, and an establishment of social instructions and education. Another issue that comes up is variability in our genome and depending how you look at it, it could be good or bad. Both of the questions of why and how must work together to explain the human nature and evolutionary change. The article also warns us to be careful no to let the role of genes and consequent authority of genetics over biological specialist be interpreted as justifying a moral and political authority. This idea is new to me, I always assumed that those two questions went hand in hand and never saw such a divide.

uwogisele
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 11:50 am

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby uwogisele » Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:03 am

The "how" and "why" are two perspective kind of questions. And each give difference answers. As I was reading this article, my first question was, "is it possible to answer a why question without explaining the how first?" if the question "How does the heart pump blood?" becomes why does the heart stop pumping, can we answer this question without first thinking about how the heart pumps blood?

kgbaidoo
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 4:56 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby kgbaidoo » Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:04 am

This article is very difficult to read and comprehend at the same time but from what I have read so far what the author is trying to put across is that biologist are able to solve problems in their field by using a much brief and simple approach instead of relying complex methods. Griesemer explains this to his audiences by using the Ultimate (why) and the Proximate (how) explanations. He explained this by stating that biologist who rely on the (HOW) questions are able to contribute more to the human genome projects because they use simple method to provide a complete description of the human genome. He also explained that the biologists that use the proximate are more successful in their fields because they identify problems that concern relatively simple phenomena and require relatively simple solutions. Biologists that rely on the ultimate explanation on the other hand fail to succeed in their work on the human genome projects and other scientific enquiries because they rely on my complex explanations and they are always comparative and they never avoid the use of complex description of terms or context.

eridolfi
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 1:07 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby eridolfi » Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:16 am

If the author was trying to convince me of anything or convey information, it didn't accomplish its task. I was more confused after reading the article than I was before. The how vs why part of the article was the only part I even began to understand.

sarahsilverman
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:59 am

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby sarahsilverman » Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:22 am

I appreciate that the author turned the adage "nothing in biology makes sense in the absence of evolution" on its head. It is true that the discovery of the structure and DNA and the process by which mutations arise has actually helped to clarify the theory of evolution by natural selection. But I was also interested by the author's remark that in the case of genetic variation and evolution, the "why" questions were asked before the "how" questions, in an apparent reversal of the expected order. I was a little unclear on whether the author thinks there is some necessary or preferred order, and hope to discuss that in class today.

pkshah
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 11:59 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby pkshah » Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:36 am

eridolfi wrote:If the author was trying to convince me of anything or convey information, it didn't accomplish its task. I was more confused after reading the article than I was before. The how vs why part of the article was the only part I even began to understand.


I totally know how you feel. I honestly didn't understand all of his 3 conditions in entirety either. Can we go over these conditions in class?

The way I understand premise (1) of this paper is that we are starting with our conception of human nature. This branches out into form and function as well as the origins of our species. There are two subsections in the form and function category as well as the origins category (Proximate and Ultimate). The proximate and the ultimate categories are reflective of how and why respectively. These different distinctions cause various different types of biologists to lead to conflict about human nature and the Human Genome Project. Furthermore, it seems that the questions of "how" or the medicalized/practical purposes of the human genome project are focused on while the evolutionary implications of the human genome project are ignored.

After this, there is some description of how genetic technological fixes don't eliminate social issues, they only refocus them. This is something that I do not really understand. Does this mean that even if you fix one problem genetically, then another problem will arise socially as a product of that genetic enhancement?

I did like how at the end of premise (1) he succinctly and discernibly explains how we are and are not slaves to our "molecular masters" based on the type of biologist we are and what we are looking for. I could see the distinct connection between the end of yesterdays lecture and the end of premise (1) in the article.
Last edited by pkshah on Tue Aug 18, 2015 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

herrerajen
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 9:15 am

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby herrerajen » Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:45 am

On page 82, Griesemer argues that "Understanding the flow of genetic information should therefore be a joint concern of proximate and ultimate biology, not the exclusive province of one sort of science or scientists vested with sole authority for interpretation." Here, Griesemer argues that it is necessary to ask the combination of not only 'what,' and 'how' questions, but also 'why.' This is vital given that the merging of such different types of questions influences the way scientific research is approached. Although he states this is in the context of HGI, I think the combination of these questions are necessary for all scientific embarkations. I found this quote interesting given that later in the article he argues that practices such as HGI are treated a 'simple system in a complex context.' If I'm understanding this correctly, is he saying that in order to deviate from 'simple system' thinking in science, it is important to use both ultimate and proximate approaches?

euriekim
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 6:54 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby euriekim » Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:59 am

"One must take into account, explicitly or implicitly, both system and con- text; and molecular biologists have not the expertise, nor should they have the authority, to impose their beliefs and assumptions about context in a social evaluation of the HGI." (Griesemer, 85)

I'm glad that Griesemer stated this. Just because molecular biologists have studied the Human Genome Initiative, doesn't mean that they should have complete authority. Like it was stated in the CRISPR article, there are unintended and unknown outcomes and we shouldn't give full authority to molecular biologists to solely make the decisions especially if it is going to affect our society as a whole.

dianalee
Posts: 19
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 8:39 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby dianalee » Tue Aug 18, 2015 12:08 pm

I author brought out a good point of different biological sciences addresses different perspective to interpret biological research projects. Molecular biologists take on “how” genetic system in human approach while evolutionary biologists take on “why” base on variations within genetic system in human.

fdtran
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:49 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby fdtran » Tue Aug 18, 2015 12:59 pm

I am glad to see that I am not the only one who is struggling with the reading. The biological examples that they gave were not sufficient in explaining the argument. For example I wasn't quite sure about the 'how' and 'why' examples.

tschristoffel
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 7:37 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby tschristoffel » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:06 pm

I think Griesemer made some interesting points (at least based on what I could understand from the reading). The "How" and "Why" distinction is one I've never really thought about. However, I'd like to know about other problems he is referring to when he states that this distinction leads to either one type of explanation or the other being used. For most problems related to biology that I've encountered, I have witnessed both types of explanation being used.

As for part II, I am a bit lost on his point and need to stare at my computer screen a bit longer.

For part III I somewhat see his point, and agree, that we must be careful not to let the HGI give geneticists a false sense of authority over other biologists and consumers.

nyonan
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 11:47 am

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby nyonan » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:07 pm

Personally, I do not think the author is terribly good at writing in a way to convey ideas. He kind of just blots down thoughts here and there and didn't really organize anything. That being said, I think it is interesting because he goes over a few thoughts I have had towards genetic modification and how there are social implications and other realms of science that have a different view on the matter. I put this as one of the possible topics I plan to cover for my writing assignment. Yet, he still seems to segregate the different schools of science and even the specializations in biology (evolutionary and genomic) because, as he says, conflict arises from the differing interpretations and perspectives. The problem I have with this is the idea that "only one perspective is right" as opposed to an aggregate of all perspectives. He seems to be explaining the differences in views between certain sciences and what exactly they are looking at. I suppose he is saying they look at different things (with his "how", "what", and "why" statements) but I see that still as a tad flawed. As opposed to conflicting, each "side" if you will should try to look at it from another's view in order to make them all work in tandem. I think the mentioned realms of science are all looking at HGI the way they want to see it as opposed to the way it really is.

Bowen Tan
Posts: 26
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:57 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby Bowen Tan » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:19 pm

I think the conflict is the main idea of demonstrating 'how' and 'why'. It's a bit taste like dialectic. Whatever the difference between how and why, they are two aspects for one thing. For human beings, proximate and ultimate biology are both to decipher the mystery of nature, although they are from quite a different view. I like the example raised in the passage which clarifies the optimizing reproduction. It seems that Plato favors for optimizing reproduction and then demonstrated his theory in the book 'The Republic'. But today it is related to many factors and social systems, not just an activity governed by the government. And the crucial factor is, we even don't know the effects to the whole ecological system if we eliminate any negative genes for next generation.

Michelle Tarango
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:59 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby Michelle Tarango » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:21 pm

This article was extremely boring, and the reading was very difficult to understand. The article seemed to jump around a lot and did not convey a cohesive message. I also had a hard time understanding the "conflict" between the proximate and ultimate explanations of human nature.

lksalinero
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 7:01 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby lksalinero » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:30 pm

I also found this reading especially hard to comprehend, though I did find the section about Weismannism particularly interesting. I had never heard of Weismannism before and I had never really given much thought to the theories of inheritance that were widely accepted before the discovery of DNA and RNA’s functions. The similarity between the central dogma and a simplification of Weismannism was also intriguing (genes/germ cells as copying themselves as well as producing the matter that composes the body/somatic cells).

pattyt
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2015 12:00 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby pattyt » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:32 pm

It is interesting how he separates the issue into"how" and "why", but the article is confusing. It seems as though he is concerned with the ramifications of only concerning one's self with the how and not the why. I'm still unsure what exactly he was trying to accomplish.

jjquintanilla
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 1:18 am

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby jjquintanilla » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:38 pm

After reading this entire article, will admit that I find it utterly perplexing. I found myself confuse throughout the entire reading, but I will admit that the most interesting part of what I understood was the fact that there is a difference in the view of the HGP between Molecular and Evolutionary biologists. From the section dealing with these two parties, I understood that their backgrounds provides them with certain type of understanding which makes it seem as though one way is the right way. In other words, one views that a difference in the human genome as a defect and ultimately a ailment, while the other views it as a promoter of change which is expected and is part of the natural order of evolutionary biology.Nonetheless, I found this article confusing and hope that clarification will be brought about in class.

JustinN
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2015 2:17 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby JustinN » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:53 pm

I think the point Griesemer is trying to make is shown when he says, "Empowerment of the nonscientist follows from a denial that the scientist has sufficient knowledge to decide social questions." I think he's trying to say that scientists have the means to solve scientific problems but it's the whole society's responsibility to make authoritative decisions involving social problems. The social problem we made now spawns from the deterministic view of genetics "sponsored" by the HGI. Overall I thought the reading required more of a science background than what is required in this class.

SamGarcia25
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 10:17 am

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby SamGarcia25 » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:59 pm

I like how awareness is raised concerning the ability of biologists to gauge how complex social problems can be to answer, especially when most of the time they can only do so from a biological perspective. This adds to the vagueness of how the issues will be handled, especially if biologists have no true sense of how they will go about it. The gap between the quick formulation of social problems and the time-consuming problem solving of biologists should be a major concern, especially if policy makers will attempt to discuss them with biologists. How can progress be made to solve them if they are not at the same pace?

eugenekim
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 6:59 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby eugenekim » Tue Aug 18, 2015 4:48 pm

I think, as others have noted, that the article is too ambitious in trying to convey what it's trying to actually get at, but fails to do so. This is especially apparent in the author's description of Weismann's attributes to somatic and gene structure. Instead of going to explicit detail about the problems of Weismann or how it hinders "developmental processes", it would usually briefly explain complicated information into one sentence, then move onto another topic related without much transition. I was able to understand, however, that past belief of the Weismann theory has lead scientists to question what was wrong with it, within the Weismann framework, which has lead to more complicated issues then an actual resolve. Therefore, the question I want to ask is how often, do scientists get held back from general ideals from the past, which may not even be correct?

lksalinero
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 7:01 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby lksalinero » Tue Aug 18, 2015 8:44 pm

Griesemer raises many concerns about the trend towards proximate and “medicalized” explanations in biological research as well as the impact the HGP might have on our management of social problems. I wonder if now, over a decade since this article’s publication, the author would consider anything to have changed in the field of biology with regard to these concerns (for better or worse). It seems to me that “how” questions have been much more common than “why” questions in my studies so far, but I haven't really encountered many efforts to apply findings from the HGP to solve social issues.

tschristoffel
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 7:37 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby tschristoffel » Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:00 pm

After reading more carefully the second section, I see his point, but it seems to be very mundane. There is in my opinion a very small difference between "information" and "information-bearing matter." I think, like Griesemer, that the latter term is more accurate, but I also think that the former is merely a simplification used to enlighten those who are not as used to biology as scientists such as himself. The main idea holds true regardless of the words used: cells transfer information (contained in DNA, RNA, and proteins) to other cells via replication. It just so happens that, in this process, the information is not always transferred without errors or changes (i.e. mutations). When such changes occur, they are usually rare enough that most of the information being transferred is the same over a small time period. The more accurate term is thus only necessary in the long run, when the information is radically different from its original form.

twilliams
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 10:36 am

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby twilliams » Wed Aug 19, 2015 8:15 am

I really like his arguments in section three concerning why non-scientists (or rather society as a whole) need to have a voice in the issues genetics plays in social contexts, and also where he says the perceived role of genes does not imply geneticists have the ultimate authority over social implications of "the products of genetic research." It's a personal bias of mine that I just *hate* when people go "well so-and-so said this and they're an expert in their field, so it must be true." That's obviously fallacious argument. Of course expert testimony matters, but it is not the end-all of an argument. The flip side to this, if non-expert testimony is to be accounted for, the public has to have some degree of education on the matter. This is where things get tricky because the questions arise "how much do they need to know in order for their opinion not to be nonsense?" and "how do we educate people on these matters?" The public school system can only go so far with regards to the latter question, and also people who are already way into adulthood and done with school must be addressed as well, as they are the majority of the population.

ktoporovskaya
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 10:44 am

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby ktoporovskaya » Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:42 am

In the third section Griesemer warns us about the unanticipated outcomes. He emphasized the assumptions we make about the social contexts in which the sequence data will be interpreted. He questions if the scientist be permitted to decide the relation between the gene, body, population and how science will advance. The problem here is that evolutionary biologist are overlooked which can be dangerous. He gives an example of eugenicist, which I think is a little over dramatic but brings his point home. He warns us about the selection against carriers suggesting “correct” reproductive decisions.

eridolfi
Posts: 25
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 1:07 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby eridolfi » Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:44 am

twilliams wrote:I really like his arguments in section three concerning why non-scientists (or rather society as a whole) need to have a voice in the issues genetics plays in social contexts, and also where he says the perceived role of genes does not imply geneticists have the ultimate authority over social implications of "the products of genetic research." It's a personal bias of mine that I just *hate* when people go "well so-and-so said this and they're an expert in their field, so it must be true." That's obviously fallacious argument. Of course expert testimony matters, but it is not the end-all of an argument. The flip side to this, if non-expert testimony is to be accounted for, the public has to have some degree of education on the matter. This is where things get tricky because the questions arise "how much do they need to know in order for their opinion not to be nonsense?" and "how do we educate people on these matters?" The public school system can only go so far with regards to the latter question, and also people who are already way into adulthood and done with school must be addressed as well, as they are the majority of the population.


That is one of my biggest pet peeves too. Correct me if I am wrong but did it seem like the author was trying to convince readers of his argument by confusing the h-e double hockey stick out of them so they would agree from mental exhaustion. School children and students are not who need the education. One of the biggest issues are scientifically illiterate adults many of whom have created a false dichotomy with aspects of science and religion or who for some reason do not believe in or trust science. While everyone has the right to make their own choices based on opinions of presented information, if a knowledge gap exists these opinions might not be as informed as they could be.

herrerajen
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 9:15 am

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby herrerajen » Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:19 am

The breakdown of the text in class was very helpful! I feel as though I have a MUCH better understanding of the text, although I am still particularly stuck on the Weismannisms argument.

After thinking about the approaches Griesemer encourages to have in scientific research (asking how, what, and why questions) I'm interested in knowing whether he intends to achieve pluralism or pluralistic solutions/answers/findings. When he discusses the way compartmentalization of thinking works, it seems as though it is a monistic approach--hence his pivotal quote "disease? eradicate it. how? find a vaccine." (p. 71). Could it be argued that he tries to get at the way monistic thinking and pluralistic thinking is incorporated in scientific research?

Bowen Tan
Posts: 26
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:57 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby Bowen Tan » Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:35 am

Although HGP brings a lot of promises, it relies on a complex social contexts. It is not such a pivotal matter as we thought before. And the real problem is whether the authority to redefine notions of the whole community should be granted to geneticist. Those findings in the genome change people's traditional value notions drastically. However, the framework of our community doesn't only rely on biological science, there are cultural and historical backgrounds, and there are professional people who are working as a part of the system.

Another issues is, if we want to decrease diseases risks thoroughly, we should execute optimized reproduction. It means we should eliminate some 'bad' genes. However, Is the quality of genes defined by geneticists? Does it matter human beings power to restrict people's reproduction?

lemacias
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 9:04 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby lemacias » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:45 am

I really enjoyed reading this lecture and one of the main points that captured my attention was the one related to the compartmentalization of the why's vs the how's. As the author suggested, our quest to find a simple or easy solution that contemplates all of the pieces of the puzzle it's almost impossible and it relies on the question asked. if we think in reductionist terms (or the what and how) that x disease was cause because of x specific factor without any context then as biological beings we end up avoiding the causes and the why's of how this disease in the first place was acquired or transmitted. But if we just focus on the why's, we end up ignoring the specific mechanisms that trigger that disease. A holistic approach is definitely necessary to figured out how and why all this pieces match together. I think that the HGP can help in a substantial way to understand ourselves in a molecular basis but the information that this project brings should be confined to merely its primary purpose. The social implications that this lecture mentions as going back to the eugenics perspective doesn't sound too crazy. In fact, a project like this can bring a lot of social, economical, and cultural advancements as well as to retreat them. The main concern should be, is the audience or general public ready for such as a powerful project like this? and if they are not, should we start educating our people so we can all ( or most of us) be on the same page to take reasonable decisions for a project like this?

eridolfi wrote: "School children and students are not who need the education. One of the biggest issues are scientifically illiterate adults many of whom have created a false dichotomy with aspects of science and religion or who for some reason do not believe in or trust science" Wow! this is such a powerful statement, completely agree!!!
Last edited by lemacias on Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

nyonan
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 11:47 am

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby nyonan » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:51 am

herrerajen wrote:The breakdown of the text in class was very helpful! I feel as though I have a MUCH better understanding of the text, although I am still particularly stuck on the Weismannisms argument.

After thinking about the approaches Griesemer encourages to have in scientific research (asking how, what, and why questions) I'm interested in knowing whether he intends to achieve pluralism or pluralistic solutions/answers/findings. When he discusses the way compartmentalization of thinking works, it seems as though it is a monistic approach--hence his pivotal quote "disease? eradicate it. how? find a vaccine." (p. 71). Could it be argued that he tries to get at the way monistic thinking and pluralistic thinking is incorporated in scientific research?


I think it's a bit of him getting at how both types of thinking are incorporated in scientific research like you said, but also I think he thinks there is one correct answer. Much like most conventions in science, it is only accepted once agreed upon by most of the scientific community. This is the problem he mentions when he says different scientific views conflict. I think, however, each view simply has a part of the answer to such problems, and no one is really more right than another but looking at a different face of an issue. So I don't think there even is a monistic approach.

SamGarcia25
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 10:17 am

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby SamGarcia25 » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:02 pm

Despite the author's ambiguity in explaining this, I like how he attempted to discover where things might have gone wrong with Weismannism by tracing the threads of biological theory throughout scientific history. One of the author's points that I think has come up after analyzing previous articles in class is that this reductionist way of describing human nature in biological terms is not sufficient alone to answer the social problems and consequences that may arise. Evolutionary perspective or "ultimate" explanations are also needed apparently in addition to the "proximate" explanations of the biologists working on HGI for full, encompassing answers. I like how he made a point to the reader at the end stressing how important it is to not let the characterization of human nature be decided by scientists alone, and identifies their limits of knowledge by asking whether they'd know how to handle these complicated social issues any better than non-scientists.

euriekim
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 6:54 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby euriekim » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:12 pm

I really enjoyed the third part of his article. I liked that he stated that "nonscientists must be careful... not to let the perceived casual role of genes and the consequent authority of ge- neticists over other biological specialists be interpreted as justifying a moral or political authority on the part of geneticists over public consumers of the products of genetic research." He makes sure to include "nonscientists" to the debate of the HGI. I think it is a good thing for the general public to be in the know, but it can also conduct difficult situations if some people are swayed to think a certain way and hidden from the complete truth-- as some people are with political elections.

pkshah
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 11:59 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby pkshah » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:20 pm

In section (2) he starts by talking about the interpretation of biological theories and how the interpretation of them can affect mentalities regarding the HGP.

Question 1) What does it mean that biological theory is taken as a "whole"? Does this mean something along the lines of the fact that genes are seen as a master molecule and the only thing that matters? This is as opposed to having the two different aspects that are important in determining heredity (history and genetics).

Question 2) How is history important because it is an antidote to "facile conceptions" of scientific knowledge? I get that the Weismannism is important in the implications of how history is important; however, his rhetoric is impossible to understand for someone who has no background in genetics. The whole Weismannism thing kind of really confused and, consequently, frustrated me.

I understood his point about comprehension lagging behind innovation. This point was similar to what we read in the CRISPR article a couple of days ago. This seems to be a common point and concern among those with high hopes for the HGP through CRISPR and various other methods of genetic manipulation.

Question 3) We cannot even do anything with these techniques yet that has a huge tangible benefit from what I am reading. Why are we talking about social policy in this article right now as opposed to innovation? And as a result, why does it matter that comprehension is lagging behind innovation right now? I understood yesterday when the professor mentioned that you cannot have people that don't understand truly what is going on to be behind the wheel on something like this; however, aren't there experts that are proficient at these techniques? Furthermore, aren't these experts the ones that are going to be learning and testing the HGP and the CRISPR method? So why does it matter if the layman, sometime in the future, does not have all of the education behind the uses of this tool? We all don't have knowledge of how pharmaceutical drugs truly affect us but we take them at the recommendation of physicians. In the same way, gene therapy would be treated as such for the layman. For that reason, I dont really understand why the lack of comprehension is such a common view. If the lack of comprehension is in the people that are testing the techniques then I understand that; however, what I do not understand is how the researchers would test a technique and its uses without a full and complete knowledge of what they are testing. I am confused as to wether both Grieseman and the UCSF researcher in the CRISPR article are talking about researchers or the layman of the future.

I didnt understand one of his main contention in section 2 about Weismannism and how it rejects the inheritance of acquired characteristics. I did not like how there was so much discussion about how diagrams used in this sense are useful for his proof; however, the diagram was more confusing than his jargon.

lemacias
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 9:04 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby lemacias » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:24 pm

I think that the weight that we have put on genes as the causative agent of diseases and other health problems makes me wonder if we may be ignoring something else. As I understood in the lecture, depending on the question asked is the type of answer we will get, so maybe the scientific community and the general public can agree that the questions and concerns of how human beings function are not part of a binary system. It is impossible to catalog this issues as right or wrong, and maybe our next step is the change in our consciousness of realizing that we are all interconnected and by truly knowing this we can move forward to different type of questions and solutions?

JustinN
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2015 2:17 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby JustinN » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:42 pm

pkshah wrote:In section (2) he starts by talking about the interpretation of biological theories and how the interpretation of them can affect mentalities regarding the HGP.

Question 1) What does it mean that biological theory is taken as a "whole"? Does this mean something along the lines of the fact that genes are seen as a master molecule and the only thing that matters? This is as opposed to having the two different aspects that are important in determining heredity (history and genetics).

Question 2) How is history important because it is an antidote to "facile conceptions" of scientific knowledge? I get that the Weismannism is important in the implications of how history is important; however, his rhetoric is impossible to understand for someone who has no background in genetics. The whole Weismannism thing kind of really confused and, consequently, frustrated me.

I understood his point about comprehension lagging behind innovation. This point was similar to what we read in the CRISPR article a couple of days ago. This seems to be a common point and concern among those with high hopes for the HGP through CRISPR and various other methods of genetic manipulation.

Question 3) We cannot even do anything with these techniques yet that has a huge tangible benefit from what I am reading. Why are we talking about social policy in this article right now as opposed to innovation? And as a result, why does it matter that comprehension is lagging behind innovation right now? I understood yesterday when the professor mentioned that you cannot have people that don't understand truly what is going on to be behind the wheel on something like this; however, aren't there experts that are proficient at these techniques? Furthermore, aren't these experts the ones that are going to be learning and testing the HGP and the CRISPR method? So why does it matter if the layman, sometime in the future, does not have all of the education behind the uses of this tool? We all don't have knowledge of how pharmaceutical drugs truly affect us but we take them at the recommendation of physicians. In the same way, gene therapy would be treated as such for the layman. For that reason, I dont really understand why the lack of comprehension is such a common view. If the lack of comprehension is in the people that are testing the techniques then I understand that; however, what I do not understand is how the researchers would test a technique and its uses without a full and complete knowledge of what they are testing. I am confused as to wether both Grieseman and the UCSF researcher in the CRISPR article are talking about researchers or the layman of the future.

I didnt understand one of his main contention in section 2 about Weismannism and how it rejects the inheritance of acquired characteristics. I did not like how there was so much discussion about how diagrams used in this sense are useful for his proof; however, the diagram was more confusing than his jargon.


I think I can answer some of these questions.

(1) When he's talking about biological theory taken as a whole he means that the general perception of biology is that all biologists have been working together to create the theories that we have today which isn't true. We have the theories that we have because of a long history of contradicting theories that needed refining.

(2)thus, history becomes important because it shows it shows the complexities behind biological theories when biology seems like a united front at the surface.

But as far as your third question goes, I'm just as confused.

fdtran
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:49 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby fdtran » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:18 pm

After going through the discussion in class and seeing the discussion on the forums, the reading makes a bit more sense to me. I liked the author's analysis on the role of nonscientists. The author argues that people outside the scientific community must not fall for the appeal to authority fallacy. I see this most applicable to how we will perceive CRISPR in the future. Like many others have said, the expert's opinion certainly do matter, but we must try our best to understand the scientific subject to make our most informed opinion.

Michelle Tarango
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:59 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby Michelle Tarango » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:30 pm

The in-class discussion really helped to make the text easier to understand. After skimming through the reading once again, I feel that I was more able to break down the main points. Something I really enjoyed is the third section, where Griesemer questions who should be able to determine "what assumptions to make about the social contexts in which the sequence data will be interpreted." It makes sense that people in different scientific fields, and the general population with little scientific training would have differing views on the implications of the HGP.

jjquintanilla
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 1:18 am

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby jjquintanilla » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:34 pm

Reading this for a second time, I find it quite fascinating the section that brings into light the interaction that the HGI will have with other aspects of society. For example, the section deals a lot with the understanding of genetics and making the right choices when it comes to having children. For example, it ties this into this notion of people who are not afflicted with a genetic disorder,but are the carriers and so there is this notion that the HGI may have certain pressures upon these individuals who are at a higher risk of having children with defects. However, I think that a main point that this section of the reading focuses on is the fact that social aspects are not fully correlated with what the HGI has installed.

anjames
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:51 am

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby anjames » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:39 pm

I thought I'd submitted my post for yesterday, but I hadn't. Oops. Lesson learned that the submit button won't instantly submit if someone has posted while forming a reply myself.
Before class, I was confused by this article. I felt like my animal behavior professor was reminding me to never forget Tinbergen's Four Questions (2 of which are proximate and 2 of which are ultimate) for a section there. It's not really irrelevant, but that's how I got distracted until section II. I had a hard time keeping the 3 points in mind as the sections seemed to drag on. I didn't understand why we were reading this unless it was to go into depth on causality, which we had touched upon. I also had forgotten the main points that were supposed to have been made by the end. Definitely not fun at first.

After yesterday's lecture, I feel a little better about the essay. I went more slowly when I read through it again. I think Griesemer's essay is another argument for questioning the cost of the HGP/HGI. Without the right understanding of causation, the applications are overstated, which might mean the cost is too high in reality. Although a molecular solution might be more appealing and possibly easier to communicate, it may not be cost-effective or even time-effective. Also, Weismannism seems to support that we're more than just our genes, an important complication. Griesemer says that the HGI needs to deliver on its "promise of completion" (paraphrasing a bit from page 86). Despite its expense if it did that and people support it, I don't see why he wouldn't support it being done. There was going to be an outcome regarding that. Getting that complete genome seems to be important for making sense of what's our genes and what's the rest. Not that Griesemer knew it at the time, but we have gotten more of an understanding about that causal role of genes being not quite true. Basically, I think I agree with the argument, but in the end there was a hope the HGI/HGP would deliver on all its predictions and that hope I think was always going to be a stronger motivator than evidence to the contrary.

kgbaidoo
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 4:56 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby kgbaidoo » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:40 pm

I am very curious about the issue about the genetic diseases in children and the age of their mothers.Is there a gene that cause mothers to have genetically deformed babies at old age or is there a particular gene that get mutated when women reach a certain age? I know people who perfectly fine children at the age of fifty.I am also aware most children with genetic diseases were produce by older mothers but I just want to know what causes this effect in women as they age

kgbaidoo
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 4:56 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby kgbaidoo » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:40 pm

I am very curious about the issue about the genetic diseases in children and the age of their mothers.Is there a gene that cause mothers to have genetically deformed babies at old age or is there a particular gene that get mutated when women reach a certain age? I know people who perfectly fine children at the age of fifty.I am also aware most children with genetic diseases were produce by older mothers but I just want to know what causes this effect in women as they age

User avatar
KelseyBS
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:56 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby KelseyBS » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:44 pm

dianalee wrote:I author brought out a good point of different biological sciences addresses different perspective to interpret biological research projects. Molecular biologists take on “how” genetic system in human approach while evolutionary biologists take on “why” base on variations within genetic system in human.


Exactly! And just as one our colleagues above mentioned that it is sometimes difficult to answer how and why separately, I think it is also difficult to answer certain scientific questions using only one kind of science. Often you can explain how blood carries oxygen throughout the body, but you will not fully understand this process unless you under stand the structures of blood cells.

sarahsilverman
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:59 am

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby sarahsilverman » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:48 pm

Again, I must point out that the author seems to think that all molecular biologist understand the genome as the "complete book of human nature." The "nature vs. nurture" debate is widely recognized as a false dichotomy within the scientific community (in fact if was explicitly labelled as such to me in a recent course here at UC Davis). It is possible that this piece was written before the completion of the HGP, and that general attitudes within the scientific community have changed though (perhaps are a result of the findings of the HGP). I will also note that the emerging field of epigenetics does seem to support Griesemer's assertion that genes are not the ultimate and only agents of our biological fates.

eugenekim
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 6:59 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby eugenekim » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:49 pm

Griesemer seems to be somewhat contradictory in discussing the work of Dna sequencing. He asserts, " [dna sequencing and mapping] it's results being only intermediate steps on the way to interesting and important questions about fundamental biology and human health." While he calls it an intermediate step, he noted that for the public it would be a "summation of world knowledge". On the other hand, he makes a valid point that the challenges of being objective in knowledge and hoping to solve social problems will bring interesting moral dilemmas to the "biotechnological approach". To the point where something like Weissman's diagram, which has plenty of errors still guides the current scientific diction.

uwogisele
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2015 11:50 am

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby uwogisele » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:51 pm

While reading this statement "Scientifically, complete genetic information will enable basic, applied, and clinical research in a degree of detail and precision not possible with incomplete information" I kind of thought of the Nobel Laureate article that we read. In one of the questions that he was asked is about personalized medicine. In his answer He gave an example of how we have different metabolism and how "my cancer is not your cancer" example. In that statement I thought Griesemer reinstated the importance of personalized medicine but approached it from a different angle.

dianalee
Posts: 19
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2015 8:39 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby dianalee » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:57 pm

In order to fully understand and interpret human genomes, scientists must used both molecular biology and evolutionary biology?

pattyt
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2015 12:00 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby pattyt » Mon Aug 24, 2015 1:48 pm

I find it interesting how he makes some really strong points but then follows them up with vague or qualifying statements. Overall his argument is interesting and poses good questions. The scientists who have this information hold a lot of power but they must also be careful in how they choose to disseminate that information.

lgomez
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2015 1:13 pm

Re: Aug. 18 & 19: Tools for Talking (required)

Postby lgomez » Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:27 pm

I think I have trouble delineating between proximate and ultimate problems in a scientific context? Like just where to draw the line between an explanation solely concerned with the system and one thoroughly embedded in context. I'll probably need more examples.


Return to “Readings”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest