The scientific method & fish DNA
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03-10-2014, 08:10 AM (This post was last modified: 03-10-2014 09:05 AM by Full Circle.)
The scientific method & fish DNA
Long Post Exclamation

Over the last four days I've had the great fortune of looking for cryptic fish species with one of the world's leading marine biologist. This guy's CV is like no other I have ever seen, doctorates, honors and a list of published papers as long as my arm plus CEO of a non-profit ocean research foundation.

What this guy does is collect fish, sequences sections of DNA and compares it to other fish of the "same species" from different places, sometimes they match within 1%, other times they vary as much as 10% thus leading to describing new species. The goal is to barcode every species of fish on earth!

What I want to share is just how incredibly satisfying, wonderful and surprising the entire process of looking, observing, testing, dissecting and describing is. Nothing our scientific efforts find and discover is forever written in stone, new information leads to better understanding and many times to even more questions. The old adage "The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder" applies.

So in the last few days I watched this incredibly knowledgeable man question his own hypotheses and thinking, even to the point of saying he would have to edit recent papers he has written based on what we had found in the last few days diving with us. This gives me great satisfaction that finding the truth and being accurate is more important than ego in the scientific community, at the very least for this individual.

This brings me to some of the recent headlines having to to with Stephen Hawking getting bashed by Michelle Bachmann because Hawking changed his view on black holes (I don't know the details since I have great difficulty reading anything said by ignorant people like Bachmann) and how the theists cling to any changes in scientific knowledge as a wedge to say that science is not reliable because it is constantly revising itself! Exactly! That's the point of research, experimentation, observation and exploration; to gain further insight, question everything and strive to understand accurately.

Anyway, the last few days strenghtened and comforted me that the scientific process and method is alive and well, even in this corner of the world and I can rest easier knowing that there are many of us who value facts and accuracy over ego and superstition.

Thanks for reading. FC

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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03-10-2014, 08:30 AM
RE: The scientific method & fish DNA
The goal of science is to be wrong - and by being wrong enough times, we're eventually less wrong overall.

That sounds like very interesting work. "Traditional" taxonomy is - necessarily! - not based on genetics, and bringing proper genetic investigation and cladistics to it has been incredibly informative.
(but, depressingly, he'd better work fast - overfishing, climate change, and ecological destruction are probably going to wipe out a hell of a lot of aquatic species)

It seems to me that often the point of religious ideas is not so much the detail but the certainty. In that light it makes sense that they'd denigrate "changing" science in favour of eternal revealed "truth".

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03-10-2014, 08:50 AM
RE: The scientific method & fish DNA
We'll no doubt have to revise up our estimate of recently extinct species as we better understand marine species diversity.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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03-10-2014, 09:11 AM
RE: The scientific method & fish DNA
As for exterminating marine species you will be happy to hear his opinion on this. While it is true that a few very localized species may, indeed, be driven to extinction, specifically those "food fish" that aggregate to spawn, for the most part marine fish release millions of larvae into the water that are distributed far and wide by currents. The chances of destroying every larvae at any one point is not probable. This is not to say that specie populations can't be drastically reduced by overfishing and changes in climate and water quality.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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03-10-2014, 09:14 AM
RE: The scientific method & fish DNA
(03-10-2014 08:50 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  We'll no doubt have to revise up our estimate of recently extinct species as we better understand marine species diversity.

It is turning out that this project is revealing more speciation than previously thought. The findings are that genotype sequencing is showing that while many species look similar (phenotyping) DNA is saying that they are not as similar as they look!

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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14-01-2015, 01:13 AM
RE: The scientific method & fish DNA
(03-10-2014 09:14 AM)Full Circle Wrote:  
(03-10-2014 08:50 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  We'll no doubt have to revise up our estimate of recently extinct species as we better understand marine species diversity.

It is turning out that this project is revealing more speciation than previously thought. The findings are that genotype sequencing is showing that while many species look similar (phenotyping) DNA is saying that they are not as similar as they look!

Not sure if I got this right.

Je suis Charlie?

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14-01-2015, 01:17 AM
RE: The scientific method & fish DNA
(14-01-2015 01:13 AM)Brownshirt Wrote:  
(03-10-2014 09:14 AM)Full Circle Wrote:  It is turning out that this project is revealing more speciation than previously thought. The findings are that genotype sequencing is showing that while many species look similar (phenotyping) DNA is saying that they are not as similar as they look!

Not sure if I got this right.

Je suis Charlie?

[Image: 142842-004-361B0655.jpg]

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14-01-2015, 01:30 AM
RE: The scientific method & fish DNA
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14-01-2015, 01:35 AM
RE: The scientific method & fish DNA
Mittens accidentally hit "Post Reply" twice. I will deal with her...
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14-01-2015, 01:37 AM
RE: The scientific method & fish DNA
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