Showing posts from 2017

A new logical fallacy

Fallacy: Hoc posset esse praemium. Ergo hoc est iam solvit. Introduction For the last seven years, I've been participating in online discussions of various science related subjects. It all started when, towards my second year of university, I decided to answer some physics questions on science-related facebook pages (e.g. I Fucking Love Science). Shortly into that endeavor, I started to encounter dishonest people. People that framed a question, but then aggressively started to attack your simplified explanation because they didn't agree with some part of science. This happened for all sorts of topics, such as evolution, climate change, Einstein's gravity (general relativity), genetic engineering, the list goes on. John Oliver tackled vaccines in his  show. This shot was shared in anti- vaccine groups - adding a little flavour of their own. I've seen a lot of online discussion. When I started, I had one foot firmly planted in the 'all natural'

Commentary to the International Monsanto Tribunal verdict

Introduction Daimonie (Facebook)  blogs about science and scepticism. This seems to be how anti-GMO advocates think it works. In October 2016, I wrote a post just before the  International Monsanto Tribunal . Since then, I also started on my series regarding GMOs in general. But back in October 2016, I concluded: As expected, the entire Fake Tribunal is a theatre. This is not a scientific conference, nor a court of law. It is quite literally a gathering of people that use pseudo-science to promote "natural" and "organic" alternatives to conventional and contemporary agriculture. Their most important part is in no way their data, their science, or the interests they represent; rather, it is their ability to form incomprehensive gish gallop combined with fear-mongering. By doing so, they cast doubt on the credibility of science and technology. Worse, they negatively influence public opinion on contemporary agricultural technology that has the potential t

Let's talk about GMOs, part two: What are we using them for?

Introduction In my first post , I discussed what DNA is and how it relates to phenotypical (outward) change through the central dogma of molecular biology. In the second post I discussed the techniques of genetic engineering, including the novel and prodigal technique called Crispr/Cas9. We will now look at the current uses of the technology. I  do notwant to include research purposes in this overview, but in the next post because they are very relevant. We'll start with the most important current application, and move down from there towards areas that are not fully developed yet. Medicine I think this is our most important current application. We've already covered Insulin when discussing the technique , but there are others. The general name they use for this application is biologics made by recombinant DNA technology. A more common name is bio-pharmaceutical, also known as biologic(al) medical product. In principle, bio-pharmaceutical refers to any pharmaceuti

Let's talk about GMOs, part one: What techniques are used?

Introduction In my previous blog post , I discussed what DNA is and how it relates to phenotypical change through to central dogma of molecular biology. In this post, we will discuss techniques currently in use. The techniques I want to discuss are not only those that have been used in genetic engineering, such as those used commercially to engineer the Bt. crops. I also want to discuss those that are currently in use, particularly Crispr. The latter is a very recent technique that has revolutionised the way genetic engineering works.The goal is not to give an extensive review of techniques, but rather to give readers some insight into common techniques. Producing Insulin Synthetic biology doesn't make nice stories. The amount of different tools (enzymes) used and their abbreviated names obfuscate the essence of any story.I want to discuss a few specific tools. Let's first discuss the bacterium; E. coli. This bacterium can be found in the lower intestine of m