I still want to do it, but (1) I’m leaving shortly with my wife for 10 days in the Galapagos Islands on a National Geographic ship, (2) have to finish my taxes (groan) before then, and (3) I’m preparing to lead an online research seminar next week on “the Function Wars.” Just FYI, here’s the abstract for my seminar:
THE FUNCTION WARS AND HOW TO SURVIVE THEM
Following Project ENCODE, and the widely-announced “demise of junk DNA,” a theoretical and experimental ‘Junk DNA Counter-Reformation’ was launched by senior scientists such as W. Ford Doolittle, Dan Graur, Sean Eddy, and many others. Junk DNA was alive and well, they argued, because the criteria for function employed by ENCODE researchers were far too non-specific and unsupported by detectable phenotypes. Moreover, theoretical arguments (e.g., genetic load) strongly ruled out functionality for most of the human genome, not to mention other genomes. Under stricter criteria, such as the “selected effect” concept for function, junk was inevitable. In this presentation, Paul Nelson will sort out the issues, and show how a nuanced design approach gives the best prospects for genetic discovery and for dealing with apparent suboptimality or non-function. Plenty of good biology, with only a Minimum Daily Requirement of philosophy and logic.