DNA and science and such

Continuing the discussion from What's one positive/neutral thing that's happened today?:

Regarding scientists ridiculing that (female) DNA revolutionary: Scientists are nearly as narrow-minded as normal(?, non-scientist) people. [Think for example of the discussion where illnesses come from. “It’s the milieu” versus “It’s the body”. It’s both, you dumheads!] Of course that DNA researcher was even more ridiculed because she was a woman.

Do you happen to know a science thriller book about non-proteine DNA?

I found the statement by a DNA research organization some years ago rather bold: “We have decrypted the human DNA completely.” I don’t think they have.


Scientists can be some of the most narrow-minded people I’ve ever met. Just like in any field, there are those capable of great leaps and those who cling to outdated ways of thinking. It’s always hard to change people’s minds about anything.

McClintock was a rare female in a majorly male-dominated field and the misogyny she encountered was pretty vicious. But to be fair to the scientific community at large, what she was proposing-- genes that jumped around the genome-- sounded absolutely ludicrous since everybody knew that DNA didn’t behave that way. Except now we know that it absolutely does behave that way. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize without sharing it with a man, and her contributions to genetics were jaw-dropping. An absolute genius.

I used to read a lot of pop-sci books when I was teaching, but I haven’t kept up with it and now I only read journal literature, which can be very dense and hard to understand, and it assumes the reader has a solid professional grasp of genetics. But on Googling it, I see that there are lots of popular science articles about it. If you pick fairly recent articles (since 2010 or so) they should give you a decent overview.

It’s all sequenced and we know an awful lot about coding DNA, which is a relatively small subset of the human genome. But there’s a lot of it that, while we know exactly what the DNA looks like and how it reads, we don’t understand much at all about why it’s there or what it does. So in a way this is true and in another way it’s not.


Yeah, that sounds literally incredible. Cool stuff.

The wikipedia article about Barbara McClintock mentions several genetical articles/books and two biographics. Maybe I will read one of them.


That’s a big truth, for example in politics and philosophy, but in any other field, too.


Dr. Stine, the one that I mentioned in the other thread, was quite the womanizer. At times he went beyond the bounds. He was a brilliant scientist but didn’t achieve tenure for a time due to his behavior.

PS. Watson and Crick owe a big part of the Nobel Prize to Rosalind Franklin!


Franklin gets second place, I think, for the “biggest screw-over in science history” award, since she was the one who did all the actual research and W & C used it without her permission to prove their theory. Then she died and never got to share the glory, since Nobels are not awarded posthumously.

First place goes to Alfred Wallace, the other guy who came up with the theory of evolution.


Well… He put forward the mechanism of natural selection concurrently with Darwin. Without the mountain of evidence and arguments collected by old Charles, his proposal probably would have been dismissed.

In the later development of his thoughts on evolution, Wallace subscribed to some form of hyperadaptationism, where each and every trait must have a beneficial use for the organism, which made him unable to see the royal blunders and weird side-effects of nature’s blindly searching ways. His adaptationism, combined with the observation that the human mind was clearly overqualified for the simple tasks the environment would have posed during human evolution made him exempt the human mental faculties from evolutionary forces and propose a more “spiritual” origin.

But Wallace’s biggest error was that he was off doing field-work most of the time, galavanting around the jungle islands of the Malay Archipelago looking at the pretty flowers and animals there, while Darwin took the grave responsibility of remaining in rainy England with the boring bearded men of power.

And then there’s Patrick Matthew, who proposed the mechanism of natural selection independently in the appendices of his 1831 book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture.
On Naval Timber and Arboriculture - Wikipedia