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Everything posted by Arete

  1. Unfortunately, not even this holds. Many sexual species can and do hybridize, especially in plants. To answer the original post - as evolutionary divergence is continuum, any demarcations on it are to a degree arbitrary. The justifications for such delimitations have been a topic of considerable discussion, with multiple conceptualizations of what species represent being presented. e.g. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5910646/ The one I would consider the predominant concept among taxonomists is the evolutionary species concept - whereby the ultimate goal of taxonomy is to put name to independently evolving lineages of organisms using multiple lines of objective measurement (morphology, genetic distance, reproductive isolation, ecology, geographic distribution, etc) to validate the lineage. Of course, that leaves little that is generalizable about what makes a species - apart from that it has a evolutionary trajectory distinct from its closest relatives. Clear as mud.
  2. I have ASD, but also work hard on communication and social skills, so have managed OK in life. Understanding intention and emotion through nonverbal ques and innuendo is always a challenge, and I do tend to take people at the literal interpretation of their word when it's often not the actual intention. On this forum, the regular users also tend to be very literal in their communication style and I tend to do well. I also managed to develop a scientific communication style that polarizes - people either love or hate my classes and my publications. I tend to put a lot of effort into the precision of my language and interpret others through that lens, so often I am at odds unintentionally (ok, sometimes intentionally) with people who are more expressive and figurative in their communication style.
  3. So, during the pandemic I switched to take home exams. I gave my class 8 days to complete the exam, the only rule was "Don't copy from each other or plagiarize, I will use turnitin to make sure." All other sources were fair game. I altered the in-person exam with minor changes to make it a little less easy to simply Google the answers, then sent it. The same proportion of students got As, the same proportion failed. The average went from a high C to a low B. I was flabbergasted - to me that exam should have been a fucking gift, but it turns out when you write questions that necessitate synthesizing two ideas, Google doesn't help so much. As an aside, I had a student once use a paraphrasing app and get caught by me when it changed the word "parsimony" to "niggardly", which made for an interesting "see me in my office" moment. After shifting to a government science position this year, I no longer teach, but another key thing I can't see ChatGPT getting right is citing the right sources. You can usually tell if an essay is well researched by the citations a student chooses - there's usually a "greatest hits" of seminal citations in a field a switched on student will pick up on, where as a slammed together at the last minute essay will cite a random grab bag of obscure papers.
  4. Personally, I'd rather my surgeon pass the boards than sound good in the interview.
  5. I hope you're not any committees hiring surgeons or structural engineers any time soon.
  6. 1) The article is unequivocally about the pedagogy and teaching of chemistry at a tertiary institution in the United States. Whatever your thoughts on its broader sweeping implications for the philosophy of science, that is clearly, explicitly the framework in which the article is written. 2) It is written in a broader climate where there is increasing acknowledgement, specifically in the United States, that traditional pedagogical and teaching methods of college teaching are implicitly biased to favour/disadvantage individuals from different backgrounds. There's currently a broader discussion of this in the literature and college communities in which this particular article is written; eg. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S002210311530010X, https://aip.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1063/1.5110152, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1360144X.2019.1692211 3) The article is poorly written in the context it is clearly aimed at. It's buzzwordy and reactionary in the language it uses, rather than objective and reflective. This leads to it reading like it is suggesting that science/knowledge itself is biased (which is ridiculous), rather than the methods of teaching/communicating it, which is what the broader body of discussion on the topic addresses. 4. The language example was simply one of convenience. You can also look at the use of traditional classrooms when some of the class has spent most of their lives outside, or written vs oral exams for students who grew up in homes with books vs not, school year structure for students with unstable vs stable housing, etc etc etc. Then you can look at the impact of varying pedagogical styles, like flipped classrooms, active learning, open air lectures, etc etc etc. The article in question is attempting to speak into an ongoing conversation with many points of merit. The article in question, however, is not very good.
  7. To piggyback - the abstract in the OP is poorly written, but I think what it's trying to say is that there is implicit biases in the way chemistry is taught, that favor/disadvantage students based on social/racial background. As CharonY points out, notations assume familiarity with a Phoenician alphabet and a periodic table originally written in English. This has the potential effect of implicitly biasing the learning of traditional chemistry to favor native speakers of Germanic languages. While a redox reaction remains the same whether you describe it using scientific notation, Sanskrit or pelvic thrusting, the way a student is expected to describe it on a exam usually has an underlying set of implicit assumptions and biases. While identifying such biases and altering pedagogy to level the playing field is a worthwhile endeavor, calling such biases "white supremacy/white violence/etc" is pretty eye roll inducing and something I personally think detracts from and diminishes the actual goal of identifying and ameliorating implicit bias from education and society at large.
  8. I would strongly disagree. The fact that pathogens with the ability to infect humans circulate in zoonotic reservoirs, and spillover events regularly occur means that spillover from a zoonotic reservoir is more likely than escape from a lab in the case of any novel pathogenic strain of a virus. For example, my lab works on avian influenza, many samples of which came from the wetland down the street. If (well, when) someone in town catches AI, why would its presence in the local wetland increase the likelihood of escape from a PC3 lab vs environmental acquisition from a known pathogen reservoir?
  9. It should also be noted that actual spillover event and potential to infect are not the same. The sarbecovirus ancestor of SARS COV 2 can be cultured in human and bat cells, so can in theory infect humans, meaning that SARS COV 2 could very likely could infect humans at the split from its ancestor decades ago, but the environmental conditions for a spillover/pandemic did not exist prior to 2020. This is additional empirical evidence that contradicts the lab leak theory. I recently resigned from my tenure track position and took a government role in biosecurity/disease preparedness. The number of pathogens that can infect humans, but either don't or rarely spillover is very large.
  10. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrates that the evolutionary origin of SARS COV 2 significantly predates the existence of the Wuhan lab. Your simple point is at odds with the data, and repetition of conjecture which ignores said data remains uncompelling.
  11. There are about as many bacterial cells in a human body as human cells, and, to quote: “The numbers are similar enough that each defecation event may flip the ratio to favour human cells over bacteria,” https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1002533
  12. Systemic bias generates negative healthcare outcomes for racial minorities. Systemic bias in the justice system means that punishment is unequally applied to differentiated racial/ethnic groups. Systemic bias limits the ability of racial minorities to be approved for a mortgage. Systemic racism limits the ability of individuals from racial minorities to participate in higher education. etc and so on. As previously defined by Ron DeSantis' lawyer, wokeness is the recognition of the existence of systemic bias. If the laws/constitution/values of a nation predicate that all people are treated equally, then systemic biases (and therefore wokeness) are a collective problem, rather than individual problems - being systemic and all.
  13. This is still too vague be meaningful. What specific attributes are you talking about? I personally mentioned calling for the demotion/firing of prominent, privileged academics over rather innocuous social media posts. Are you suggesting something else? What exactly is toxic? This is getting close to problematic. Currently, privileged voices speak louder than others, which means they need to be quieter in order for traditionally marginalized voices to share the (figurative and literal) space. I, myself am a white, 40 year old man. When I walk into my lecture theatre, people stop talking and wait for me to speak without me doing anything. Cashiers call me "sir" and trust I didn't shoplift. Highway patrol banter with me before giving me a fix it ticket after I get caught doing 25 over the limit. I get plenty of time to speak and I'm used to being listened to and respected. It was hard for me to learn that, especially in conversations about equity, diversity and inclusion it is not my turn to speak. I can easily dominate the room and make people pay attention to me, and I can suck it away from other people in the room - easily, without trying, which is why it's a hard thing to learn. But it is time for me to shut up and listen, pass the conch to someone else and try to see the world through a different lens. If you come from a position of privilege and you think that giving up that privilege for an equal playing field is one of the biggest problems facing mankind, you, my dude, are part of the reason we need wokeness.
  14. Unfortunately, this is not clear, at least to me. What corruption are you talking about? You'd need to be much more specific. Also, was iNow points out, the most prominent "anti-woke" spokespeople define woke culture as the acknowledgement of systemic bias. Empirically measurable systemic bias exists. There's not really a middle ground to take. You either accept that systemic bias is real and are therefore "woke", or you deny reality. An analogy might be climate change - you can't really take a middle ground on being woke to climate change - you're either "woke" about it, or you're objectively wrong.
  15. Since COVID, my lab worked on VAP for a few years. FUUUUUUUCK drowning to death in your own lung fluid. If I'm ever on a ventilator and my SpO2 is still crashing, please just throw me out on the road under a bus. I'd also just state that modern medicine and hygiene doubled human life expectancy in 2 generations. Washing your hands/autoclaves/penicillin aren't sexy, but comparing my iphone to being dead at 35 makes it pretty clear.
  16. I've spent 7 years as a faculty member at a minority serving institution and have a few insights that might be worthwhile into the whole concept of "woke" culture. 1. It's important to recognize that the fact that 70% of the student body comes from minority backgrounds and only 20% of the professors do. There are systemic reasons for that gap, reasons that should be thoroughly explored, identified and ameliorated so that there are no longer inherent biases in who gets to succeed and who doesn't. Evidence show the biases run deep - school districting, mortgage lending, access to medical care, etc and so on all affect opportunity. Contrary to DeSantis's lawyer's asinine comment, it's important to recognize that the playing field is not level and that race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability status etc all impact the opportunities an individual has to achieve 2. This can lead to a toxic environment (looking at you academic twitter) where fingers are pointed at people based on their identities as being undeserving or otherwise representative of a social injustice simply by existing. There have been multiple examples of extremely vindictive campaigns aimed at ending the careers and destroying the lives of privileged individuals for what amount to fairly innocuous statements or actions. Using "wokeness" simply to enact revenge on people that one deems to not deserve their position of privilege is counter-productive, I know first hand that what it does is push the privileged - who you need at the table to enact change that addresses inequity, out of the room. They delete their twitter accounts, stop coming to the EDI meetings and stop caring. 3. At the same time, the DeSanitses of the world can't deny the very observable, measurable, fact that systemic bias exists. You can't say that a poor, Hispanic, child with a single parent who has PTSD has the same pathway to becoming governor as a white, wealthy child with a stable home life because we all know that it's just not true. Pretending that they do because acknowledging your privileges played a role in your success/or lack thereof in spite of them makes you uncomfortable, or contests your flawed "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" philosophy is just fallacious and leads us back to point 2. 4. So wokeness with compassion is an important pathway to a more just and equal society. It's a term that's abused and corrupted by both sides of the argument, but if the way it is implemented is respectful, compassionate and empathetic itleads to a better place for everyone.
  17. It took over 168 times more effort to write this post than to left click the X on the browser tab. Are you sure you don't just like being dramatic?
  18. Forgive me if this is too basic but; 1. In order for a cell to become cancerous two main things need to happen; 1. Cell replication becomes uncontrolled and 2: Signals for cell apoptosis (programmed cell death) need to be ineffective. Cells have multiple failsafe mechanisms to prevent these, and all of them need to fail in order for a cell to become cancerous. 2. PTEN encodes an enzyme (phosphatase) which regulates several cell functions, including apoptosis. Y336 is a nonsense mutation which introduces a premature stop codon, causing polymerase to stop transcribing the gene before it is fully done. This can render this enzyme ineffective/less effective for some or all of its functions. 3. Having a somatic mutation such as Y336 in PTEN means that all of one's cells require fewer mutational steps to go from normal function to cancerous. There is therefore a greater global risk of the formation of cancer cell lines, and more frequent testing might be recommended by a physician. 4. Having said mutation doesn't cause cancer on its own, nor means one WILL get cancer. It just means the risk is higher because one of the normal failsafes isn't in place. Compare it to a history of smoking, or similar. I hope that helps, and mods, delete if it crosses the line to medical advice.
  19. We were doing an experiment in the lab on mRNA nanoparticles and uptake into bacterial plasmids back in June -July 2020, so had a bunch of SC19 vaccines on hand. For "science" most members of the lab lined them up on a charcuterie board and took a vaccine flight. We were all thoroughly disappointed not to become magnetic or gain the ability to use 5G with our brains, and by now most of us have also had mild cases of COVID.
  20. You haven't cited any recombination rates, so any likelihood of in natura recombination remains speculative (at least in the context of this thread). So let's cite some rates: The empirically measured recombination rates of various human associated Coronaviridae are around 1 x 10-6. Which is actually pretty high in the grad scheme of recombination rates. So recombination is actually pretty frequent, disputing the claim that emergence of a recombinant, host switching strain is "ASTRONOMICALLY unlikely". Next, lets look at some calibrated phylogenetics: "Divergence dates between SARS-CoV-2 and the bat sarbecovirus reservoir were estimated as 1948 (95% highest posterior density (HPD): 1879–1999), 1969 (95% HPD: 1930–2000) and 1982 (95% HPD: 1948–2009), indicating that the lineage giving rise to SARS-CoV-2 has been circulating unnoticed in bats for decades." So, not only do we have high recombination rates in the virus, making the emergence of novel recombinant variants a regular occurrence in nature, we have empirical data which demonstrates that the emergence of SARS-COV-2 predates its subsequent spillover and discovery by decades. Pending extraordinary evidence to the contrary, this resoundingly debunks the so-called Lab Leak "theory".
  21. Hold stuff close to your face gang unite!
  22. LOL I've been -6.00 and -6.50 since I was 16, or at least until lasik.
  23. If you haven't actually done an experiment, unfortunately the idea isn't worth much on its own. I'm glad for you that you're thinking about cool ideas but there's a lot of heavy lifting to do before it's publishable. Unfortunately cancer/immunology is outside my wheelhouse as a microbiologist and my plate is already rather full. Good luck. Edit: As an aside, I have dozens of sketched ideas and half done experiments that never see the light of day for every publication I've completed. Having the idea and generating the concept are just the first step. I think a lot of non-scientists seriously underestimate the work that goes into turning an idea into a published study. Most of my undergraduates and even some PhD students aren't capable of doing it.
  24. So for context, I'm on the editorial board of the American Society of Microbiology. How is your method novel and what experimental data have you generated to verify it? Especially in molecular/cell biology, one can't typically just publish a peer reviewed paper describing a new method without some sort of empirical data/hypothesis testing/in silico model/simulation to verify it. On the other hand one can publish a review/synthesis of the current state of the field on a given topic. As it stands I don't see anything publishable in your synopsis, unfortunately.
  25. Well, 1. I've lived in the US for the last 13 years. 2. The "Well regulated milita" at the time was effectively the US military. I'm a filthy immigrant to the US but my understanding is that the purpose of the amendment was to provision the states with the ability to raise a standing army. There's no statement about self defense, or having to keep said arms in your home - and when the National Guard has a predator drone program and the citizenry can't have an automatic rifle makes it something of a moot point. 3. The court's interpretation to include self defense is fear based. Not saying it wouldn't be different in any other country if they had the history of the US. It has religious conservatism, libertarianism and a right to bear arms baked in - but that doesn't make the mindset evidence based.
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