Thursday, December 21, 2006


This Denyse O'Leary post is interesting for other reasons, but it contains this:

Right now, the ASA is making much of genome mapper Francis Collins, whom I regard as an intellectual lightweight. I tried to say that in as nice a way as possible in my recent review of his book because he sounds like a really nice guy. If nice is all you need, he's your man.

Why I think Collins is an intellectual lightweight: Well, how about this: He composed a folk song about his worthy goal of making cystic fibrosis history, but what his research has most significantly led to is prenatal detection, which is a way of making CF children history. I know, I know, other good may come of it and some people will be mad at me for even bringing this up.

But we live in a world where, when mommy whispers in your ear "I specially loved and wanted you!", what she means is, you passed a battery of quality control tests, and if you hadn't, you had a first class ticket to the Medical Waste bucket. Today's glitzy mommies don't love loser kids. To the extent that Collins' research has contributed, I would have more respect for him if he openly acknowledged and dealt with that in his book.

1 comment:

Michael Poole said...

Does "interesting" mean "typically revealing of anti-science creationist crusaders"? That is what it seems like to me.

Nuclear weapons are generally undesirable, but they are just about indispensable in understanding nuclear reactions well enough to develop of nuclear power plants. The (almost) unquestionably good application follows the generally distasteful application. You may not like the idea of screening fetuses for what parents believe are genetic defects, but that is the first and easiest application of knowing the genetic underpinning of cystic fibrosis. We do not have treatments now that will "patch" DNA in a general sense, but they are the next obvious field to research.