Stein Gives Bioinformatics Ten Years to Live
Subject:   Bzzzt! Wrong...
Date:   2003-03-13 22:09:28
From:   anonymous2
A few critiques...

1. It's "Ernst Mayr" _not_ "Ernest Mayer." If you're going to talk about one of the major figures of the Darwinian synthesis at least get the frickin' names right....

2. Mayr spent many years studying birds in the Pacific (mostly Papua New Guinea if I remember correctly). The assertion that he sat "in his office and look[sic] at other people's data and develop theories of selection" is totally bogus. This is symptomatic of not knowing the literature and the history of the field, and people who make such statements come off looking foolish. Given that he's now almost 100 years old, I think we can forgive Mayr for "sitting in his office" as of late....

3. Otherwise I generally agree with Stein's comments about bioinformatics; the tools and approaches will simply be absorbed into the field of biology. Like any technologically driven advances the novelty will wear off. Twenty years on nobody feels the need to explain how PCR works. There's been lots of stuff published in bioinformatics/genomics recently that is completely and absolutely derivative, and should really end up in 2nd or 3rd tier journals. Simply because it has the shine of "genomics" about it, it gets published in fairly high profile pubs. Those days are numbered. Get in on it while you can... ;)

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  • Daniel H. Steinberg photo Bzzzt! Wrong...
    2003-03-14 04:16:15  Daniel H. Steinberg | O'Reilly AuthorO'Reilly Blogger [View]

    Dear Anonymous poster,

    I apologize for the first point. That is my mistake and not the speaker's. I am not a biologist and, although I ran the article by several scientists before publishing, the mistake is mine. The hostility in your anonymous is understandable.

    The second point is the speaker's and I'm not sure that you and he disagree. Whether or not Mayr spent many years in the field, the speakers point was that much of his contribution was due to his analysis of data collected by others. He was making a positive point about Mayr and pointing out that biology is not limited to the laboratory or field collection of data. Mayr doesn't have to be out in the field during his 90's to continue to contribute to his field.