Biotech student study group needs assistance

David L. Haviland, Ph.D. dhavilan at IMM2.IMM.UTH.TMC.EDU
Fri Oct 10 10:23:49 EST 1997

At 00:49 10/10/97 -0400, Rick Bright wrote:

Thank you Rick!

>Well, I have been watching the responses with interest and must
>partially apologize, but still stand by my statement.  I apologize for
>not going back to the original posting of the questions.... which were
>excessive and as it has been stated, "inappropriate."  I responded to a
>4th or 5th (maybe later) generation posting and missed the original
>point.  For that I apologize.

For a while, I thought I was the only one watching this occur and be
embarrassed at how it was blown totally out of proportion.  I have
(temporairily) archived all messages with this header including the original.

>However, I am still very disturbed my several postings implying, as
>Hiranya Roychowdhury is quoted, "When each and every student has access
>to the internet, this will surely be 'regressive.'"  Aren't we all
>students of some sort, Hiranya?  Don't we all learn from this resource
>and this newsgroup in particular?  The free exchange of ideas on this
>group is one of the better educational resources I can think of for any
>student.  Surely, you would agree to that much.

I completely disaggre that with student access to the internet, "things"
will be come regressive.  It is not just students that now have access to
the bionet's, but anyone with ISP access as well.  This means John Q.
Public!   The banker, high schoolers, the factory worker who sees something
on some news magazine about science, anti-tech types, any even your family
members, among many others... all have access and ANYONE that wants to see
the bionet's can do so.   There is nothing proprietary about them.  If
anything, this means that we have maintain a level of professionalism here
and not be so hasty with the flame-throwers.

Some of us, not to name names, that are contributors to the bionet group
are also at state supported institutions, hopefully funded with either
state and/or federal funds.    Guess what?  John Q. Public has a whole lot
to do with that and if we want JQP to be excited about what science is
doing then it must be explained at a level he can understand so that he can
be reasonably well informed when he goes to the voting booth!!!!  This
should be an obvious "no-brainer" connection.  No where worse, other than
in Hollywood movies, is science treated with such incompetence than it is
in newspapers.  If one belives what is in the papers, then finding a
particular gene is therefore the cure to the disease.  Yea, right...   JQP
believes in astrology, glass pyramids on the moon, and frozen aliens in
government storage.  What does that say for science education and the
public's perception of what science is versus reality?  Many of us may have
been educated either in part or wholely with state funds.  Being educated
to that top "whatever" percentile (0.1%??)  means that we are also
accountable to educate the public in what is going on whenever necessary to
help ensure the "cycle of support".   This includes the bionet groups as
JQP can easily read these.  As a result, no participant can afford to have
an elitist attitude, let alone flame someone (or group) for asking
questions.   If some were to think that the Biotech group's questions were
take-home exam questions, then instead of flamming them, the "delete or
next" key should have been hit instead.

I am very sorry that the Biotech group received the response it did. I
think a lot of it was taken out of proportion and then amplified further.
In participating in this sub for over 6 years and I have never seen the
magnitude of a flamming response that was generated from all of this before.  

THE last thing I'm doing is defending the Biotech group's detractors.
However, given the past history (also on bionet.immunology) we know that
upper division students from at least one university/college has asked
questions that turned out to be nothing more  than"take home exam"
questions.   I agree that for those questions to be answered by the
particpants, does the students no good whatsoever.   For me, that is what
the "next" message key is for...

However, I fear that the questions posted by the Biotech group were taken
in the same vein and interpreted as some form of take home question.  I too
had presumed this and elected to leave the questions alone.  I had thought
that once the second post came out stating their position, that all would
be quiet and the issue resolved.  I think it may have been too late as the
discussion had already been blown out of proportion by then.

I can't help but wonder if the questions had been posted by the professor
that directs their group, with some form of preface that they weren't exam
questions but posed by their group to encite discussion, then I would hope
their inquiry would have been better received.  Now, in re-reading them, I
agree with some posts that many could easily be answered  through the use
of undergrad/grad textbooks.  The Biotech group could have done this and
then "filled in the holes" through the use of the bionet.m&r.  However,
this does not justify the response they received.

Just my $0.02 worth.

Back to methods,

 David L. Haviland, Ph.D.
 Asst. Prof. Immunology 
 University of Texas - Houston, H.S.C.
 Institute of Molecular Medicine  
 2121 W. Holcombe Blvd.  
 Houston, TX  77030 
 Internet:"dhavilan at" 
 Voice: 713.500.2413  FAX: 713.500.2424
Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

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