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Quickies: Tim Hunt, Conversion Therapy Ban, and Honey Badgers

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  • You Can Thank Genetic Engineering For Your Delicious Cheese – “By any measure, the use of GMOs in the production of cheese is among the greatest feats of modern food science. But today, that achievement is often ignored, disowned, and overlooked. At a time when “GMO” is, to many people, a four-letter word, companies like Chipotle are endeavoring to distance themselves from the technology, which they paradoxically depend on.”
  • Sexist Scientist: I Was Being ‘Honest’ – “I do have sympathy for anyone caught in the leading edge of a media storm. But if we are ever to effect change, sometimes we need the winds to howl, to blow us out of our comfort zones. Because the real point here isn’t about individuals, isn’t about Tim Hunt or me.” From Courtney.
  • 11 ways white America avoids taking responsibility for its racism – “White people are all too quick to cite their good intentions. Unconsciously, they aim to preserve white supremacy.”
  • ‘Conversion Therapy’ Banned for Children in Ontario – “Ontario, Canada, prohibited ‘conversion therapy’ – attempting to change one’s sexual orientation from gay to heterosexual – for children younger than 18.” From Radium.
  • Biology Finally Explains Why Honey Badger Don’t Care – “With this blood, the scientists figured out, for the first time, how the honey badger defends itself on the molecular level against its venomous prey. The blood also revealed clues of an evolutionary arms race. And it might help us design better antivenoms for humans bitten by venomous snakes.”
  • How Mexico Quietly Legalized Same-Sex Marriage – “In the U.S., the Supreme Court’s widely anticipated ruling on same-sex marriage has been the focus of nonstop speculation and debate. In Mexico, meanwhile, the highest court effectively legalized same-sex unions this month with a decision that was so low key many failed to notice.”

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9 Comments

  1. Now this is an odd couple of sentences:

    “she ran into a problem: Honey badgers aren’t found in Minnesota or even the Western Hemisphere, but only in Africa, the Middle East, and India.
    “The hardest part, honest to God, was finding honey badger tissue” to study, says Drabeck—which likely explains why no other biologists ever investigated how honey badgers resist cobra venom.”

    Are we supposed to take it as self-evident that there are no biologists in Africa, the Middle East, or India?

    • Is it a question of presence?

      Western universities get a lot more funding for research grants(though China and India are both growing in that regard).

      It’s simply the case that a developed economy can and should devote a greater portion of its GDP to research. So we have more biologists looking for problems to solve. And since the US government likes brain drain so much, there’s not going to be a lot grants going to researchers who actually live where their test subjects do.

      • It could, of course, be true that there are no biologists in Africa, the Middle East, or India that are interested in studying honey badgers or, if they are, that have the funding to do so. But if I’d been writing the article, I would have explained this directly. Because it is kind of surprising to me that such a vast geographical area should be devoid of funded honey-badger researchers.

  2. I’m fascinated by conversion therapy. Mostly by whether it’s available in other varieties – does anyone offer straight to gay, male to female, Canadian to Mexican or anything similar? And do any of them work?

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