Great discussion on Twitter b/w Nature ed Noah Gray and science writer Carl Zimmer

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    Gene therapy, epigenetics, and the scientific hype cycle: my review/essay in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal:…
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 16:39:50
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    “@spellingwitch: @carlzimmer Epigenetics is so fascinating.” Indeed. But also a magnet for squishy thinking.
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 16:42:38
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    .@carlzimmer I’d be careful about painting with such a broad brush. Scientists don’t (can’t) drive hype cycles nearly as hard as the media.
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 16:49:33
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    @brentdanley @spellingwitch By squishy thinking I mean, “Epigenetics changes EVERYTHING!” See my review for an example.…
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 16:49:55
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    @noahWG Well, no one forces scientists to give over-the-top predictions in interviews! (And no one forces reporters to offer false hope.)
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 16:51:06
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    .@carlzimmer And RE: epigenetics driving squishy thinking? Not in my experience amongst most SCIENTISTS. That field is brutal on itself.
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 16:51:11
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    @noahWG I didn’t mean to suggest that scientists were doing the squishy thinking about epigenetics. Again, see my review for epigenetics woo
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 16:52:05
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    @noahWG See also Jerry Coyne on a tirade against epigenetics-mania from other scientists: whyevolutionistrue.wordpre…
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 16:53:09
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    @carlzimmer Let’s estimate a rule: For every over-the-top scientist prediction a journo runs with, there are ~10 sci’s who’ll debunk it.
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 16:54:05
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    @carlzimmer I did. It was mainly focused on the well-documented early failures of gene therapy. Epigenetics is hardly equitable at this pt.
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 16:56:07
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    @noahWG Let’s get some data on that first before we call it a rule!
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 16:57:57
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    @carlzimmer Thanks for the post. It epitomizes a massive disconnect b/t the real sci & external views. Coyne’s fighting a diff fight there.
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 16:58:40
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    @carlzimmer If you can get all of your journalism students to collect the data points as they prepare stories, I’ll collate!!
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 17:00:00
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    @noahWG “real scientists and external views” on epigenetics? What about this:…
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 17:12:51
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    @carlzimmer The NIH has a hit-or-miss track record with their “big biology big money” pet projects. Latest is the human brain connectome.
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 17:15:48
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    @carlzimmer But fair enough; I’m just wondering whether it’s part of the hype cycle to criticize epigenetics as part of the hype cycle!
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 17:18:49
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    @noahWG Of course! That’s how we get into the trough of disillusionment! ;-)…
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 17:19:46
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    @carlzimmer You dog! You’re just trying to accelerate the process so we can get right to the Plateau of Productivity. Genius!!
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 17:21:09
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    @noahWG You’ll thank me in 5-10 years, when epigenetic drugs let us live forever and have only mild dementia for eternity.
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 17:22:48
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    @rkhamsi @carlzimmer Think it’s a concern RE:OVERspending at the expense of other meaningful projects. I assume return quant = always fuzzy!
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 17:25:51
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    @ih_C_hi @carlzimmer Glad you enjoyed it because now all it means is I’ll have to read these papers over the weekend to catch up. :(
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 17:28:27
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    @BioinfoTools @carlzimmer That’s why sci journos need to ask and engage. And ask. And ask!! And then ask again!! (to diff sci’s, of course.)
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 17:51:25
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    Twitter, What I Learned Today #TWILT @carlzimmer taught me about the Hype Cycle pertaining to the complex course of scientific expectations.
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 21:09:20
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    #TWILT In the hype cycle, I’m pretty sure my social media persona’s currently in the “Peak of Inflated Disillusionment”
    Fri, Mar 09 2012 21:09:45

Steve Cole on Social Regulation of Gene Expression (video and paper links)

Steve Cole of UCLA is chair of a session focusing on sociocultural influences on gene expression at our forthcoming conference on culture, mind, and brain.

He recently spoke at UCLA’s Center for Behavior, Evolution, and Culture on “Social regulation of gene expression: the primate genome’s social program.” The video and paper have been posted on the center’s website

Link to BEC video:

Link to Cole, S. W. (2009). Social regulation of gene expression. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 3, 132–137.