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(Lasky not making) SENSE VS ANTISENSE

howe at biology.ucsc.edu howe at biology.ucsc.edu
Thu Dec 28 17:05:24 EST 1995

Okay, Lasky, this is getting ridiculous.

After having to be corrected on this newsgroup- by myself and
several others- you deride me at my personal account.  While it was 
wise of you to take your petty comments out of the public forum, your 
private remarks were really not worth my time to address. I was willing to 
ignore your continued attempts to pull my chain; I had hoped that
you'd stop embarrassing yourself with your contradictions, lack of 
relevance, and your poor diction.  But then, failing to get a response 
from me then, you find you have to taunt me publicly once again.

Well, at the risk of having my sanity and maturity questioned- as I am 
sure weÕll get a few requests to take this back off of this site-
here's my response to you and my apology to everyone else 
(and I promise IÕll no longer address this here, although I canÕt speak 
for Stephen Lasky).

>Stephen R. Lasky wrote:
>Ken, what is your problem:  You are the one who started the whole thing by
>replying to a response that I made that had little to do with the
>definitions of sense and anti-sense.

I thought the problem was that there were contradicting responses 
to the original question of ÒsenseÓ vs. ÒantisenseÓ strand identity of 
DNA (check out the archives, if you've forgotten).  I merely added 
to your confusing response with the currently accepted convention.  
Evidently, you were so unclear in your initial answer that I actually 
misread it, wrongly interpreting it as correct.  I'm sorry I actually 
contradicted your explanation when I only meant to clarify it.

I assume you are suggesting that it is my reply and not your response 
that was irrelevant.  Since your original reply and my clarification must be 
germane to the original question, your argument must be with the 
second part of my response.  I think that, since it expanded on the 
definition of sense/antisense with reference to RNA, AND demonstrated 
how these terms can become very confusing, most would find it to be 
quite pertinent.  If youÕve forgotten what has been written by you, me,
and others, IÕd be happy to send you copies.

>Stephen R. Lasky wrote:
>As I pointed out to you when I wrote you back  last week, the definitions
>may have changed over the years.  Its ridiculous to continue to argue
>about as the terms sense and anti-sense are more slang terms rather than
>an biochemically defined terms and therefore can change over time.  If
>they have, so be it.  Some books ( including Genes IV that you quote) do
>not even use the terms in reference to DNA strands.

(You'll notice, my GENES IV quote does not use the term "sense"; as
pointed out by others, GENES V does).

Since you've already conceded that your original response is incorrect,
given the current convention, why do you continue to try to absolve your error
by citing how your interpretation makes more sense?  We're all convinced
that you believe the convention should be changed based on your
argument, but THIS is a separate issue.  There are many people- other than
myself, Ben Lewin and Lubert Stryer, who find the opposite interpretation
more clear than yours.  I agree that, when it comes to DNA, the least
confusing terms are "template" and "non-template" instead of "anti-/non-
sense" and "sense," respectively, but the original query asked specifically for
clarification of the latter terms.

"Sense" and anti-sense" may be slang terms, but don't forget, terms like
"laser," "fluid mosaic", and "bull market" all started off as slang terms
before they entered the vernacular.  And, in response to the comment made 
by Microplate at eworld.com (...Ówe need to concenterate on what Science 
is about,as you rightly say " search for the truth" let's not get hung up over 
petty definitions.Ó), I have to agree with Paul Hengen when he says, ÒI do 
want to say that this IS what science is about. If scientists cannot describe 
what they mean in terms that everyone will understand completely, then we 
are all lost.Ó

>Stephen R. Lasky wrote:
>As to your point about not argueing with Stryer or Lewin because they are
>important authors and scientists, so what?  The whole point of science is
>to search for the truth and just becuase someone has a big name (or is
>editor of Cell) does not mean that you cannot have a disagreement with

Science IS about questioning one's own and other's interpretations of
observations (see below).  But, while you seem overly willing to jump
into an argument with anyone with whom you have a disagreement,
perhaps you should devote more energy into discriminating when it is
worthwhile to fight,  to defending yourself when you are right, and by
sticking to the point once you've established your position.  Big names
and reputations are not built on petty disagreements nor are they
established by individuals who are often incorrect.

Since you accuse me of it (in your letter to my personal account), yes I
am "challenging" your "veracity" ; that is, I'm questioning your accuracy,
NOT your integrity.  If this should insult you or if you feel that I am
out-of-line, as you insinuate, then I can only wonder what goes through
your mind when you have to send a paper to a peer-reviewed journal.

By the way, as far as science being a search for Truth, perhaps you should
take a refresher course on the philosophy of scientific endeavor.  Truth
exists despite science, which attempts to identify what is NOT true through
interpretation of the assembled, and often incomplete, facts.

>Stephen R. Lasky wrote:
>On sense vs. anti-sense, give it a break, based on the number of responses,
>it doesn't seem that too many people are interested.

I have to disagree.  It doesn't matter how many people are or aren't interested.
One person was interested enough to ask the question in the first place.
As long as people continue to respond with unclear or incorrect answers,
however, there will be people who will be confused or incorrect.  This, by
itself, is justification for continuing to argue the issue.

Besides, it appears that you are unable to take your own advice since you
continue to post rebuttals to comments to which youÕve already responded.

As far as our little head-butting contest goes, I expect you'll respond as you
have to all of my posts, and as you have to everyone else's posts.  It's clear
you feel you need to have the last word; unfortunately, at the expense of your

So, have at it...

Ken Howe
Center for the Molecular Biology of RNA
University of California
Santa Cruz, CA  95064

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