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The Sciences

A story behind the story

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanOctober 1, 2011 9:09 PM


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David Dobbs points me to a story in Popular Science which tracks the controversy around the "arsenic life" hypothesis, and its effects on Felisa Wolfe-Simon. Back in the days before the internet you'd read the story as an outsider and get a particular take. A long narrative by its nature primes us in a certain direction through the framing of the major points. But the internet does exist. So Carl Zimmer put up a blog post highlighting a chronology which undercuts one of the implications of the Popular Science piece, or at least one of the talking points of Felisa Wolfe-Simon. This elicited a response from the author of the piece, which Carl posted. Even if you're not deep into the weeds of the "arsenic life" controversy (I'm not) it is still fascinating to see how a conversation which might have been hidden in the back channels is now relatively transparent. Science itself it is the conversation that tells the true tale. A conventional general interest reader might stop at the Popular Science piece, but those outside of science but more deeply curious are going to now be privy to the continuous conversation.

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