Thursday, April 04, 2013

Hank Green Talks About Junk DNA

A reader gave me a link to a video that was posted on Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) just a few days ago (March 25, 2013). The video was made by Hank Green of SciShow. Hank has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and a master's degree in environmental studies.

The video is interesting for two reasons: (1) it shows how a typical scientifically literate person interpreted the ENCODE publications, and (2) it show how a business publication treats the results almost seven months later. Here's how GEN introduces the video ...
GEN brings you the best, most informative and/or entertaining biotech-related videos on the web!

In this video, Hank—who has brought you updates on the Human Genome Project, chimeras, and epigenetics—explains why your junk DNA may actually be quite valuable. Through the ENCODE project, scientists have recently revealed that junk DNA is in fact useful in ways we hadn't understood. Though there's still a lot to learn, Hank explains why it's an exciting time to be studying genes.
Watch the video and tell me what you think.



9 comments :

  1. The guy is a very enthusiastic host making the news available to a more general public. I think he bought the encode shit as soon as the articles were released. Unfortunately. Maybe he should be told about the discussion so that he makes a better story. I think it's a story worth telling, and his style seems to be quite good.

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  2. Bachelor of Science is a new high school diploma.

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  3. I'm not sure what he's supposed to do. Ideally, if someone is attempting communicate scientific ideas to a general public, it should be sufficient to read and understand articles published in a top tier journal like Nature. If the journals screw up, I'm not sure how much blame should be laid on a messenger like Hank Green.

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    1. If you choose to be a science writer, or a blogger, or a maker of videos, then the onus is on you to acquire the expertise necessary to do a good job. If all you can do is paraphrase a press release or read a paper in Nature then perhaps you aren't qualified to pose as an expert on the topic?

      No science writer should assume that every scientific paper is correct. It's their duty to put the work in a context that will explain its significance to the general readership. It's their duty to be skeptical of extraordinary claims. Science writers are supposed to be on top of the field they are covering and that means they should be up-to-date on the current controversies.

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  4. I wonder how he could stay so excited when it obviously took several takes to cut the piece together.

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  5. As an enthusiastic layman, I've always felt uncomfortable with the term "Junk Genes". I am of the opinion that if they were junk or unnecessary genes Nature would have discarded them along its evolutionary journey. But then, what do I know? :)

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    1. There are many people who think like you. That's why we try so hard to educate the general public (i.e. enthusiastic layman) about modern evolutionary theory. Read Evolution by Accident.

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  6. Fairly sure I saw follow up videos where the legitimacy of the findings was discussed...

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