The Very Angry Evolutionary Biologist


Guest:

Dan Graur, PhD, Professor, University of Houston Bio and Contact Info

Listen (3:09) Study of biology overtaken by hype

Listen (4:55) Scientist vs. technician

Listen (6:34) Public unaware that all they eat are GMOs

Listen (3:58) Do you have a role as a scientist to reach out to the lay audience?

Listen (2:27) What was your reaction to gene patent decision?

Listen (1:43) Thoughts on clinical genomics

Listen (2:04) Twitter and the Very Angry Evolutionary Biologist

We're happy to welcome Dan Graur, Professor of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Houston, back to the program. Dan and his colleagues caused a stir in the world of genetics with their publication "On the Immortality of Television Sets," a sarcastic and witty criticism of the ENCODE Project and ensuing claims about the death of "junk DNA."

In today's interview, Graur says that he's always been a critic of bad science. He sees a trend where technicians and tools folks are masquerading as scientists.

"What happened in recent years," he says, "is that we have a huge influx of people who are not versed in the basics of population genetics and molecular evolution, and such. They are all essentially people who know how to write computer programs, who believe that science is not driven by questions, but it's driven by a sort of high tech natural history--the data will tell us what is in there."

Is not biology an information science? Does not the new biologist need to be a bioinformatician as well? Graur says we do not need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to basic science. (We'll be pursuing this question in an upcoming series, "The Bioinformatician Bottleneck")

Graur is currently working on a book about GMOs for the lay audience. He also shares his thoughts on gene patents, clinical genomes, and that marvelous "time waster", Twitter.

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