Can Anyone Tell Me What Was Wrong With ERV’s Original Post?

I go away for vacation, and the most interesting arguments always seem to break out (at least, no one can claim it’s my fault). Lost in the entire kerfuffle over whether or not science journalists are wackaloon idiot fucknozzles is the question of why did Johnson bash ERV in the first place.


Looking over ERV’s original post about Jablonski’s epigenetics SEED article, I can’t figure out what Johnson’s problem with it is: I had the exact same reaction when I received my copy of SEED. Birdsong is epigenetic? Huh?
Admittedly, ERV uses a lot of LOLspeak, but I’m actually parshull to lolspeak myself, although others aren’t. That doesn’t invalidate ERV’s point, however. If Johnson wants to call ERV names, fine. She’s a grownup and can handle it. But Johnson did make himself look like an asshole because he didn’t also rebut ERV’s argument.
I’ve never been big on arguments by authority, but, if you’re not a biologist, and you’re going to call a biologist names based on something the biologist said about biology, then you better have an argument.
Otherwise I get to call you a wackaloon idiot fucknozzle.
Back to vacationing.

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10 Responses to Can Anyone Tell Me What Was Wrong With ERV’s Original Post?

  1. Shaden Freud says:

    Note to Johnson: it’s probably not a good idea to criticize someone when you think “chromatin” is pronounced “chromatone.” Seriously, it’s not that far off from “nookyulur.”

  2. endogenousretrovirus
    ERV says:

    He just needed to take a line of my writing out of context to make it look like I cant explain science to Average Joe.
    Him: “She thinks shes so hot– But look at how confusing and jargony her writing is! ‘Histone and DNA modifications that alter chromatin structure–> gene expression. Some people also include siRNA.’ Scientists are so out of touch!”
    Nevermind that post was comparing definitions of epigenetics (down-to-earth vs woohoo-land), not explaining epigenetics, which PZ and I did on BloggingHeads months ago…

  3. mattheath – My name is Matt Heath. I am a post-doc at mathematics at IST in Lisbon, Portugal although I'm often working from home way up in Braga where my wife is a lecturer.
    Matt Heath says:

    If we want to make a real effort to be charitable, it’s possible he honestly missed the point of that post and thought it was meant as an explanation of epigenetics. That’s slightly less bad that deliberate quote-mining, right?

  4. J-Dog says:

    ERV Rules and ERV rocks.
    Thanks for the links.

  5. llewelly says:

    ERV insulted Those Who Rightfully Decide What The Public Deserves To Know.

    Which apparently does not include the recent failure of yet another coal fly ash sludge containment pond, which contaminated the water supply of Chattanooga with mercury and other toxins.

  6. oyun says:

    ı have followed your writing for a long time.really you have given very successful information.

  7. Bora Zivkovic
    Coturnix says:

    DNA modification/histones/methylation stuff is just a small (but currently fashionable) subset of epigenetics. The term originates with Waddington and incorporates all inheritance not reliant on the DNA sequence, including stuff like learning. Waddington took the term from ‘epigenesis’ which was the opposing view to ‘preformationism’ earlier on. The Wikipedia article is actually very good on this topic.
    When Abbie and PZ talked about epigenetics on Bloggingheads, and subsequently blogged about genetics, I was much happier with PZ’s explanation because it included the historical context, and did not limit the term just to modifications of gene expression via, e.g., methylation.
    Jablonka’s problem is over-hyping: calling it ‘Lamarckism” and implying that this is revolutionary (no, it’s not, as people have been studying it even before Waddington conceptualized it), or that people who work in genetics or molecular biology today are all blind fools.
    Johnson’s problem is that he is an ignorant fool. He is one of the self-appointed Gatekeepers, with undies all bunched up because the Gate is now open and he cannot control any more who comes in and does not.

  8. eddie says:

    In short, nothing was wrong with ERV’s post.
    ERV was simply picked on as the perceived smallest, weakest target. GJ’s attack was cowardly in the extreme.
    It’s not even about ignorance vs understandiong of biology. GJ could easily have gone after PZ or any of a number who have posted on this. Instead he tried to aim a kick at what he saw as the soft target. and got his leg handed to him.

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    nusret says:

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