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« Robert Gallo on the Force of Ejaculation | Main | Dear Dr. Culshaw: Is Mathematical Modeling of HIV Infection Good for Anything? »

March 05, 2007


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An academic youth

The idea of there actually being a contemporary war on cancer is a farce. The prevailing paradigm of genomics has prevented any progress in this area of research. In fact, genomics can be blamed for many of the faults in modern-day science. This nasty field of study pervades all areas of academia, and brings with it a very sad conclusion – that correlation is the almighty statistic.
I find genomics’ influence saddening, and will never understand why researchers in this area are not expected to prove causation via the same mechanisms as infectious disease researchers. Although, I guess infectious disease researchers are not so rigorous anymore either (sigh).

Harvey Bialy

Academic youth,

Below is a taste of what the molecular biology that was, was like. Today's version bears no relation, as you so accurately and so sadly note.

"In molecular biology, structure and function go together like “love and marriage” in the song. And in the molecular biology in which Peter honed his scientific acumen—one without the option of material gratification—the only song anybody was singing was some version of “my brain’s bigger than yours.” This meant that no one would dare present as anything more than a working hypothesis a conclusion based on an incomplete demonstration that a particular mutation was responsible for a difference in function.

Ultimately this would mean having an x-ray crystallographic analysis of the protein (the gene in question’s product) in both the normal and mutant forms in which the particular difference (attributable to the mutation in the gene) is not only evident in an altered three-dimensional structure, but in which the altered form can be directly related to differences in the functional properties of the protein. It’s a tall order, and one that is rarely filled. It is (or was) known as a complete genetic analysis, and accomplishing it was the goal of every molecular biologist worthy of the name. Peter’s and my friend Alvin John Clark, who began teaching me bacterial genetics in 1966, has had a marvelously productive life in science doing just that. He completed a single genetic analysis, beginning in 1965 with the isolation of a mutant bacteria unable to recombine its DNA properly, and finishing almost thirty years later with completely satisfying explanations, from the biological to the atomic levels, of why this is, how it happened, and what it means.

But Peter was by no means presenting such a steep challenge in the review article. Short of the proof that comes with crystals, there are many steps that can be taken to show that the products of two genes are likely to have similar functions based on analysis of only the gene parts of the gene-protein totality."

Oncogenes, Aneuploidy and AIDS: A Scientific Life & Times of Peter H. Duesberg, pp. 11-12.

An academic youth

Dr. Bialy

The time of science has come and gone. I can only hope that it will return for the enjoyment of the few of my generation, who I know can actually participate in the thought process.

The majority are surrounded by technology, which they do not understand. Results are garnered and reported only if they look right. Those who actually understand the technology are a minority.

Sociology may be called a soft or pseudoscience, but a sociological understanding of the politics of the hard sciences is quite damning.

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