Is Francis Collins Guilty of Overselling Science?
I have long argued that Francis Collins would make a strong candidate to head the NIH, considering his scientific credentials, his past administrative experience, and his ability to communicate effectively. Unlike some critics, I see his work on the relationship between science and religion as a major bonus, offering an important middle ground voice on the topic.
Yet an opinion article appearing this week at The Scientist offers a valuable constructive critique: Collins, like many others in science, may be guilty at times of hyping and over-selling the promise of research. The general tendency towards hype, as we argue in a recent article at Nature Biotechnology, is perhaps the greatest threat to continued public trust in science.
From the conclusion to the opinion article at The Scientist, by Neil Greenspan, an immunologist and professor at Case Western Reserve University:
So, while Dr. Collins has many impressive credentials, talents, and skills relevant to directing the NIH, his tendency to make dubious claims for the future benefits of genomics is unsettling. The director of NIH should be a reliable and realistic source of medical information if the entire biomedical research enterprise is to remain credible. Therefore, in the future, Dr. Collins should harness his intellect to control his enthusiasm so that he is more realistic in his public pronouncements regarding improvements in medical care that will undoubtedly develop in part from new insights into human genetics and genomics.
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
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You can say 'no' to things, and you should. Do it like this.
- Give yourself permission to say "no" to things. Saying yes to everything is a fast way to burn out.
- Learn to say no in a way that keeps the door of opportunity open: No should never be a one-word answer. Say "No, but I could do this instead," or, "No, but let me connect you to someone who can help."
- If you really want to say yes but can't manage another commitment, try qualifiers like "yes, if," or "yes, after."
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- Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
- Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
- Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
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- Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
- Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
- The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
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