GenBank errors, accountability, reconciliation

Thomas G. Marr marr at CSHL.ORG
Sat Oct 19 13:20:18 EST 1991

After thinking about many of the responses to Mr. Schneider's
inflamatory remarks about errors in the GenBank database, I find
that I can no longer keep back my gut-level reaction to it. Sooo...

As an ex-member of the GenBank Staff at Los Alamos, I find
Tom Schneider's remarks concerning GenBank errors totally consistent
with his irresponsible, uninformed, and generally ludicrous bellowings
while he was an official GenBank advisor. His remarks, as noted by
Jim Cassatt, are erroneous, exagerated, and dangerously close to libel.
This is precisely the type of behavior that was exhibited by a few vocal,
highly visible, influential, yet remarkably incompetant individuals which
led to the current confusion and uncertain nature of the future of the 
GenBank database. It is often ignored that GenBank has truly changed the
nature of molecular biology. It has enabled a very wide audience of 
otherwise computer naive scientists to enjoy the benefits of computer
technology and have it part and parcel of their research. It is 
interesting to consider the prospect of "doing" modern molecular
biology and genetics without this essential tool. Fortunately, GenBank 
has had mature, thoughtful, and intelligent individuals who were interested
in helping make GenBank better through constructive criticism and hard work.
I agree with Dave Kristofferson and think that Schneider should apologize to
the readers of this service. Furthermore, considering the tarnishing nature
of his remarks on a widely-read, public electronic service, I suggest that he
be banned from further use of this service unless he has something 
substantive or even interesting to say. I think a letter should be sent to the
Director of NIH by the GenBank staff describing this recent exchange, showing
her a good example of what happens when the peer review process is circumvented. 


        Thomas Marr, Ph.D.

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