Are introns just junk? (textbooks)

arlin at ac.dal.ca arlin at ac.dal.ca
Tue Nov 2 00:27:27 EST 1993


In article <2b3lo3$dua at darkstar.UCSC.EDU>, rafael at cse.ucsc.edu (David Konerding) writes:
> arlin at ac.dal.ca wrote:
> : Here, here!  Its been known for about 10 years that there is not a general
> : 1:1 correspondence between exons and domains (see Blake, 1983, Nature 306:
> : p. 535), but this canard is repeated _ad nauseam_ in reviews and textbooks, 
> : such as Watson, et al. (_Molecular Biology of the Gene_) which has the 
> : sententious section heading "Exons Correspond to Functional Domains of 
> : Proteins" (p. 1146).  This textbook also informs us of "The Great 
stuff deleted
> 
> It saddens me somewhat, as an undergraduate studying to be a molecular
> biologist, to know that Watson's text is filled with speculations
> presented as fact.  I'd expect (after paying about $50 for the book,
> and about $10,000 for an education) a little more.
> 
> David Konerding						   rafael at cats.ucsc.edu
> University of California, Santa Cruz			   rafael at cse.ucsc.edu

Please allow me to add a little qualification to my previous statements: 
writers of textbooks sometimes cannot present all sides in a debate, and
so they pick the side they feel is most likely to correct.  Sometimes
the relationship of data to theory gets over-simplified in an effort to
persuade, or just to make a complex question more comprehensible.  

But this type of modification/simplification/distortion (call it what you 
will) is not limited to textbooks.  Its also found in the primary literature.  
Its also found on UseNet.  Its also found in newspapers.  Its also in our 
very thoughts-- perhaps I'm doing it right now!  As students of science,
we always have to be critical and skeptical, whether evaluating arguments
in a textbook, an author's conclusions in a research article, *one's own*
conclusions-- even one's own observations (i.e., do I see what I think I see?) 
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't.  

Arlin



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