information on inherited traits?

David Steffen steffen at
Thu Jun 25 09:52:22 EST 1992

In article <1992Jun24.222846.13851 at> mullens at (James A. Mullens) writes:
>I'm not a biologist, so ...
>I'm looking for information about inherited traits, specifically "congenital
>suppression of the third molar" -- lack of wisdom teeth.

In general, I had hoped that queries of this kind would occur on, with the bionet heirarchy reserved for discussions among

In addition, I have mailed a response back to the questioner.

HOWEVER, I thought the question of how easy this might be for a
non-geneticist to answer might be an interesting one in informatics -
the stat of - today, so I did a WAIS search on OMIM, and came up with
a mess of references to missing teeth, including one on missing wisdom
teeth.  (Dr. McKusick seems to be skeptical that this phenomenon is
inherited.)  The search took about 2 minutes.  So far, so good.  But
then, I did a relevance search; I selected the missing wisdom teeth
article, and said, find more like this.  Bear in mind, that this kind
of search is one of the main selling points of WAIS.  I got flamed on
alt.wais for even suggesting that boolean searches would be useful.
IT DOESN'T WORK!  I have repeatedly tried this approach on the bionet
bulletin board, and it never works.  I tried it on OMIM, a totally
different database, and it still doesn't work.  When I initially
searched key words: "missing wisdon teeth molar" almost all of the 45
hits, and all of the top hits, were about missing teeth.  The wisdom
tooth article was rated number 9 in relevance.  When I selected that
paper and asked for more like it, the MOST RELEVANT ARTICLE was:
"141900 Hemoglobin - Beta Locus"
The wisdom tooth article moved up to number 8.

I firmly maintain that boolean searches are needed in WAIS, and that
the relevance feedback method is no substitute for boolean searches,
and further, is frequently worse than useless for searching many
biological databases.

IMHO/just my $0.02 worth/:-)/:-)/:-)/No flames please/flames to dev.null/

David Steffen
Department of Cell Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston TX 77030
Telephone = (713) 798-6655, FAX = (713) 790-0545
Internet = steffen at

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