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"Junk" DNA Not So Junky After All

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Old
09-05-2012, 11:18 PM
  #26
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I don't remember any of my genetics or microbio classes from college but DNA is a very complicated thing that affects basically everything about us. A single mutation could yield either no change or a major change.

This discovery kinda reminds me of the discovery of the purpose of the appendix a few years ago. Scientists knew it had a purpose at one point, but still just kinda wrote it off since it wasn't that important and people can live full healthy lives without one.

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09-05-2012, 11:36 PM
  #27
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Originally Posted by Play4Miracles View Post
I'm not an expert but none of this sounds like anything new to me. We've known this for years.

No, this is actually new. Nature is leading, peer reviewed scientific journal that publishes new findings. They have six of the papers that outline the exact findings (this is not light reading).

From the NYT article:

Quote:
Now scientists have discovered a vital clue to unraveling these riddles. The human genome is packed with at least four million gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as “junk” but that turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave. The discovery, considered a major medical and scientific breakthrough, has enormous implications for human health because many complex diseases appear to be caused by tiny changes in hundreds of gene switches.
The news is that the exact identity of the switches and what they regulate has been cataloged.


Quote:
The new result “is a stunning resource,” said Dr. Lander, who was not involved in the research that produced it but was a leader in the Human Genome Project. “My head explodes at the amount of data.”
The discoveries were published on Wednesday in six papers in the journal Nature and in 24 papers in Genome Research and Genome Biology. In addition, The Journal of Biological Chemistry is publishing six review articles, and Science is publishing yet another article.
Quote:
Dr. Rubin, who also used the Google Maps analogy, explained: “Now you can follow the roads and see the traffic circulation. That’s exactly the same way we will use these data in cancer research.” Encode provides a road map with traffic patterns for alternate ways to go after cancer genes, he said. Dr. Bernstein said, “This is a resource, like the human genome, that will drive science forward.”
The system, though, is stunningly complex, with many redundancies. Just the idea of so many switches was almost incomprehensible, Dr. Bernstein said.

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09-05-2012, 11:48 PM
  #28
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Why are diseases hereditary? Is there a purpose? Or is it just an entirely negative phenomenon?
Some actually serve a purpose--the most commonly cited one is sickle cell. Sickle cell trait actually helps increase survival in malaria prone areas because it slows the progress and ability for malaria to propagate, and is why it is far more common among sub-saharan Africans and their descendants because that is a high malaria prone region.

Traits that are disadvantageous today (such as hereditary diseases) could become useful later on as our environment changes. Nature was smart that way, it gave us a way to adapt to changing surroundings...even if it works in the opposite direction right now. Granted, it's tough to make a case for a scenario where Huntington's Disease would be advantageous...

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09-06-2012, 12:00 AM
  #29
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Originally Posted by GrigsAndGirgs View Post
Some actually serve a purpose--the most commonly cited one is sickle cell. Sickle cell trait actually helps increase survival in malaria prone areas because it slows the progress and ability for malaria to propagate, and is why it is far more common among sub-saharan Africans and their descendants because that is a high malaria prone region.

Traits that are disadvantageous today (such as hereditary diseases) could become useful later on as our environment changes. Nature was smart that way, it gave us a way to adapt to changing surroundings...even if it works in the opposite direction right now. Granted, it's tough to make a case for a scenario where Huntington's Disease would be advantageous...
Being heterozygous for sickle cell is advantageous (i.e. 1 gene is coded for normal shaped red blood cells and 1 gene is coded for improperly shaped red blood cells so you make a combination of the shaped cells). And it's not a case of "nature being smart" but a case of that particular genetic make-up was available and it was selected for therefore that trait proliferated while individuals who were homozygous for sickle cell or for normal red blood cells were not as successful. If nature was smart it would make normal red blood cells that is resistant to malaria so you wouldn't have to risk producing "defective" children.

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09-06-2012, 12:50 AM
  #30
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Shouldn't trust science reporting in major news publications any more than you should trust politics & current events reporting (e.g. not at all). I'd be surprised if someone, somewhere in the chain hasn't badly mangled the actual facts of the case.

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09-06-2012, 01:04 AM
  #31
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Originally Posted by xX Hot Fuss View Post
Sounds like its own thread tbh
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Originally Posted by Fugu View Post
All [noninfectious] diseases are not hereditary. The best answer to your question is that diseases are a combination of genetics, environment, and the biochemical controls that take place at the DNA level (per this article), or alterations made to the proteins [that DNA codes] for in the cell itself (enzymatic processing).

In other words, there are many steps in the process that goes from coding for a protein and getting the final protein product. A misstep in any one of the steps along the way can result in a problem.
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Originally Posted by GrigsAndGirgs View Post
Some actually serve a purpose--the most commonly cited one is sickle cell. Sickle cell trait actually helps increase survival in malaria prone areas because it slows the progress and ability for malaria to propagate, and is why it is far more common among sub-saharan Africans and their descendants because that is a high malaria prone region.

Traits that are disadvantageous today (such as hereditary diseases) could become useful later on as our environment changes. Nature was smart that way, it gave us a way to adapt to changing surroundings...even if it works in the opposite direction right now. Granted, it's tough to make a case for a scenario where Huntington's Disease would be advantageous...
Thanks guys.

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09-06-2012, 05:13 AM
  #32
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Depression is a disease?


What is happiness?

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09-06-2012, 05:40 AM
  #33
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Originally Posted by Hugh Mann View Post
Shouldn't trust science reporting in major news publications any more than you should trust politics & current events reporting (e.g. not at all). I'd be surprised if someone, somewhere in the chain hasn't badly mangled the actual facts of the case.
I strongly disagree.

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09-06-2012, 05:53 AM
  #34
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Interesting stuff. While it might be to late for my mom who is in her 60s, research related to this might help other sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis. My mom has had it for some 32 years now and I see how it has affected her over the years and it sucks.

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09-06-2012, 06:39 AM
  #35
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Originally Posted by kingsholygrail View Post
Depression is a disease?


What is happiness?
You know how people with diabetes have blood sugar chemical imbalances? The results are varied, but dizziness is one of them, the worst would be death. Same thing for depression, except the chemicals are in the brains and the results range from unhappiness to death (suicide, alcoholism, etc.).

It needs a better name than depression, it's insulting for the medical community to brand a disease with the name of a feeling that it is associated with. Maybe we should call cancer sufferers "baldies" while we are at it? Anyways, 3rd grade English and a lack of empathy are why people still don't know it's a disease (no offense to you), and thats brought about by the medical community.

They should call it something deadly and get a fat guy on a horse to talk about it 24/7.

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09-06-2012, 07:11 AM
  #36
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Originally Posted by Play4Miracles View Post
You know how people with diabetes have blood sugar chemical imbalances? The results are varied, but dizziness is one of them, the worst would be death. Same thing for depression, except the chemicals are in the brains and the results range from unhappiness to death (suicide, alcoholism, etc.).

It needs a better name than depression, it's insulting for the medical community to brand a disease with the name of a feeling that it is associated with. Maybe we should call cancer sufferers "baldies" while we are at it? Anyways, 3rd grade English and a lack of empathy are why people still don't know it's a disease (no offense to you), and thats brought about by the medical community.

They should call it something deadly and get a fat guy on a horse to talk about it 24/7.
Both emotions are caused by chemical reactions in the brain. They just call excessive "happiness" a form of mania.

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09-06-2012, 07:37 AM
  #37
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Originally Posted by Hugh Mann View Post
Shouldn't trust science reporting in major news publications any more than you should trust politics & current events reporting (e.g. not at all). I'd be surprised if someone, somewhere in the chain hasn't badly mangled the actual facts of the case.
You distrusting Science or Nature for science is like saying we should distrust TSN about hockey. Science and Nature are both the premiere journals in all of science.

And unlike politics, science journals are peer reviewed. And Science and Nature papers are HEAVILY scrutinized. Science and Nature are the holy grail for scientists. Many a scientist works a lifetime without ever getting a paper published in one of these journals.

EDIT: I think I just realized you meant we shouldn't trust the NYT or WP on reporting of Science or Nature papers... oops.

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09-06-2012, 07:38 AM
  #38
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Originally Posted by Stories View Post
You distrusting Science or Nature for science is like saying we should distrust TSN about hockey. Science and Nature are both the premiere journals in all of science.
I agree with this sentiment. /Both are pretty trustworthy magazines


Last edited by Francesa: 09-06-2012 at 10:31 AM.
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09-06-2012, 10:28 AM
  #39
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Originally Posted by Stories View Post
You distrusting Science or Nature for science is like saying we should distrust TSN about hockey. Science and Nature are both the premiere journals in all of science.

And unlike politics, science journals are peer reviewed. And Science and Nature papers are HEAVILY scrutinized. Science and Nature are the holy grail for scientists. Many a scientist works a lifetime without ever getting a paper published in one of these journals.

EDIT: I think I just realized you meant we shouldn't trust the NYT or WP on reporting of Science or Nature papers... oops.
I 100% agree with him.

Science moves slowly. News moves fast because it's about ratings and money, so "OMG AMAZING" tends to sell better than "More studies are needed, but it look like _____ could play a role in ______"

Then you add in the researchers usually pump it up in the media because they're after more funding and such...things that would not fly in a peer-reviewed journal. In general, articles are far more understated than what the media makes out of it. And the articles could be very good, very thorough science.

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09-06-2012, 10:32 AM
  #40
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Originally Posted by Hugh Mann View Post
Shouldn't trust science reporting in major news publications any more than you should trust politics & current events reporting (e.g. not at all). I'd be surprised if someone, somewhere in the chain hasn't badly mangled the actual facts of the case.
You should take a more positive approach towards the media. What you said is partially true, but not true in this case. You can't paint the media with a broad stroke and dismiss everything they say as garbage.

The media has been known to fearmonger, as in the case of conflicting and often hypocritical reports regarding what is "healthy" or "unhealthy" for people to eat. And then people take these types of reports as holy grail and begin to base diets off these untrue reports. But that has nothing to do with this report. This report seems sound.

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09-06-2012, 10:38 AM
  #41
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Originally Posted by Hugh Mann View Post
Shouldn't trust science reporting in major news publications any more than you should trust politics & current events reporting (e.g. not at all). I'd be surprised if someone, somewhere in the chain hasn't badly mangled the actual facts of the case.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ixcuincle View Post
I strongly disagree.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stories View Post
You distrusting Science or Nature for science is like saying we should distrust TSN about hockey. Science and Nature are both the premiere journals in all of science.

And unlike politics, science journals are peer reviewed. And Science and Nature papers are HEAVILY scrutinized. Science and Nature are the holy grail for scientists. Many a scientist works a lifetime without ever getting a paper published in one of these journals.

EDIT: I think I just realized you meant we shouldn't trust the NYT or WP on reporting of Science or Nature papers... oops.
I think he referring to this:


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09-06-2012, 05:33 PM
  #42
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Originally Posted by Hugh Mann View Post
Shouldn't trust science reporting in major news publications any more than you should trust politics & current events reporting (e.g. not at all). I'd be surprised if someone, somewhere in the chain hasn't badly mangled the actual facts of the case.
I'd perhaps agree with you if we were talking about a topic with potential political consequences, like environmental or reproductive science. This is just pure science for science's sake.

I just had a thought, though... what if this explains homosexuality? You have one side of the argument saying that it's genetic and the other side saying that it's environmental. If there happen to be gene switches that turn homosexuality on and those switches can be affected, as the article says, by "environmental exposure" (like hormone levels in the womb, sexual abuse, etc.), then it would sort of satisfy both sides of the debate... i.e. a genetic foundation with an environmental modifier. That would be an amazing compromise to see both sides embrace.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Play4Miracles View Post
It needs a better name than depression, it's insulting for the medical community to brand a disease with the name of a feeling that it is associated with. Maybe we should call cancer sufferers "baldies" while we are at it? Anyways, 3rd grade English and a lack of empathy are why people still don't know it's a disease (no offense to you), and thats brought about by the medical community.
It's named after the feeling because that's the best way to describe it and the only real symptom. It's better than having a name like Crohn's Disease and no one remembering or caring what it is. At least with "depression," ordinary people know exactly what you're talking about and, thus, can care about the cause and even relate to it a tiny bit. "Depression" is probably one of the best names for the sake of awareness and empathy.

BTW, depression is considered a disease because the definition for disease is very broad. It's defined as "an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism... associated with specific symptoms and signs." Eczema (a dry skin condition) is considered a disease. Premature balding is probably considered a disease. Something doesn't need to be deadly serious to be classified as a disease. I personally don't like that everything is a disease these days--I'd prefer that it be more narrowly defined and "condition" be used for these and others--but as long as the medical community is going to define it so broadly, we shouldn't act like the attention that it gets should be greater because it's a "disease."


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09-06-2012, 05:40 PM
  #43
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Originally Posted by Osprey View Post
I'd perhaps agree with you if we were talking about a topic with potential political consequences, like environmental or reproductive science. This is just pure science for science's sake.

I just had a thought, though... what if this explains homosexuality? You have one side of the argument saying that it's genetic and the other side saying that it's environmental. If there happen to be gene switches that turn homosexuality on and those switches can be affected by "environmental exposure" (per the article), then it would sort of satisfy both sides of the debate... i.e. a genetic foundation with an environmental modifier. That would be an amazing compromise to see both sides embrace.



It's named after the feeling because that's the best way to describe it and the only real symptom. It's better than having a name like Crohn's Disease and no one remembering or caring what it is. At least with "depression," ordinary people know exactly what you're talking about and, thus, can care about the cause and even relate to it a tiny bit. "Depression" is probably one of the best names for the sake of awareness and empathy.

BTW, depression is considered a disease because the definition for disease is very broad. It's defined as "an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism... associated with specific symptoms and signs." Eczema (a dry skin condition) is considered a disease. Premature balding is probably considered a disease. Something doesn't need to be deadly serious to be classified as a disease. I personally don't like that everything is a disease these days--I'd prefer that it be more narrowly defined and "condition" be used for these and others--but as long as the medical community is going to define it so broadly, we shouldn't act like the attention that it gets should be greater because it's a "disease."
Even non-political stuff can get blown WAAAY out of proportion in the media. I cannot tell you the number of times I've seen things stated more or less as fact when clearly the researchers only think there's a suggestion at best and more evidence is needed. Most researchers are good about describing the limitations of their study. The media though NEVER talks about what the limitations are. Be it only in a certain population, sample size, etc.

The thing is saying "Eating XXXX can cause colon cancer" is more likely to grab viewers/readers/audience than saying "Eating XXXX may be associated with a slightly elevated risk of colon cancer". Which skews away from the true science--which is not nearly as definitive as it can be portrayed.

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09-06-2012, 05:59 PM
  #44
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Originally Posted by Osprey View Post
I'd perhaps agree with you if we were talking about a topic with potential political consequences, like environmental or reproductive science. This is just pure science for science's sake.

I just had a thought, though... what if this explains homosexuality? You have one side of the argument saying that it's genetic and the other side saying that it's environmental. If there happen to be gene switches that turn homosexuality on and those switches can be affected, as the article says, by "environmental exposure" (like hormone levels in the womb), then it would sort of satisfy both sides of the debate... i.e. a genetic foundation with an environmental modifier. That would be an amazing compromise to see both sides embrace.



It's named after the feeling because that's the best way to describe it and the only real symptom. It's better than having a name like Crohn's Disease and no one remembering or caring what it is. At least with "depression," ordinary people know exactly what you're talking about and, thus, can care about the cause and even relate to it a tiny bit. "Depression" is probably one of the best names for the sake of awareness and empathy.

BTW, depression is considered a disease because the definition for disease is very broad. It's defined as "an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism... associated with specific symptoms and signs." Eczema (a dry skin condition) is considered a disease. Premature balding is probably considered a disease. Something doesn't need to be deadly serious to be classified as a disease. I personally don't like that everything is a disease these days--I'd prefer that it be more narrowly defined and "condition" be used for these and others--but as long as the medical community is going to define it so broadly, we shouldn't act like the attention that it gets should be greater because it's a "disease."
Yeah I guess that's another way of looking at it, it's maybe not a bad name for it after all. Still, I think it demands further clarification to be taken seriously, it should be called "depression imbalance" or "unrecoverable depression" or "despair syndrome" or something like that. When people say, "I'm depressed" people think they have depression. Like automatically. In reality people with depression hardly ever say that they are depressed, because that feeling has been with them pretty much 24/7 for dozens of years. When a person suffering from depression gets depressed, they hurt themselves.

Whether or not it's a disease is debatable I guess, I don't really care what it's classified as. All I know is that it's killed a lot of people I knew. And everybody has at least one person that they love in their life who thinks about ending their life every single day they live. Probably wont ever hear them say it and then one day it's done.

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09-06-2012, 06:09 PM
  #45
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Even non-political stuff can get blown WAAAY out of proportion in the media. I cannot tell you the number of times I've seen things stated more or less as fact when clearly the researchers only think there's a suggestion at best and more evidence is needed. Most researchers are good about describing the limitations of their study. The media though NEVER talks about what the limitations are. Be it only in a certain population, sample size, etc.

The thing is saying "Eating XXXX can cause colon cancer" is more likely to grab viewers/readers/audience than saying "Eating XXXX may be associated with a slightly elevated risk of colon cancer". Which skews away from the true science--which is not nearly as definitive as it can be portrayed.
I definitely agree with that. I dismissed that in this particular case, though, because this story isn't like that. It's not sensational (except in a "this is awesome" way) and not trying to encourage or discourage behavior at all, like scaring people away from certain types of foods or chemicals. I just don't see any reason to be skeptical of this particular article (which is ironic, since this is the NY Times and they're known for injecting bias and motive into articles).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Play4Miracles View Post
Yeah I guess that's another way of looking at it, it's maybe not a bad name for it after all. Still, I think it demands further clarification to be taken seriously, it should be called "depression imbalance" or "unrecoverable depression" or "despair syndrome" or something like that. When people say, "I'm depressed" people think they have depression. Like automatically. In reality people with depression hardly ever say that they are depressed, because that feeling has been with them pretty much 24/7 for dozens of years. When a person suffering from depression gets depressed, they hurt themselves.
I hear you and understand what you're saying. The medical community does give it further definition, though, by calling it clinical depression, chronic depression, major depression and major depressive disorder, all to separate it from regular, temporary depression. So, it's not the medical community that's really to blame here; it's more lay people and the media.

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09-06-2012, 06:12 PM
  #46
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I definitely agree with that. I dismissed that in this particular case, though, because this story isn't like that. It's not sensational (except in a "this is awesome" way) and not trying to encourage or discourage behavior at all, like scaring people away from certain types of foods or chemicals. I just don't see any reason to be skeptical of this particular article (which is ironic, since this is the NY Times and they're known for injecting bias and motive into articles).



I hear you and understand what you're saying. The medical community does give it further definition, though, by calling it clinical depression, chronic depression, major depression and major depressive disorder, all to separate it from regular, temporary depression. So, it's not the medical community that's really to blame here; it's more lay people and the media.
You're right.

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09-06-2012, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Stories View Post
You distrusting Science or Nature for science is like saying we should distrust TSN about hockey. Science and Nature are both the premiere journals in all of science.

And unlike politics, science journals are peer reviewed. And Science and Nature papers are HEAVILY scrutinized. Science and Nature are the holy grail for scientists. Many a scientist works a lifetime without ever getting a paper published in one of these journals.

EDIT: I think I just realized you meant we shouldn't trust the NYT or WP on reporting of Science or Nature papers... oops.
... psst... academic political science journals are also peer-reviewed...

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09-06-2012, 07:38 PM
  #48
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I definitely agree with that. I dismissed that in this particular case, though, because this story isn't like that. It's not sensational (except in a "this is awesome" way) and not trying to encourage or discourage behavior at all, like scaring people away from certain types of foods or chemicals. I just don't see any reason to be skeptical of this particular article (which is ironic, since this is the NY Times and they're known for injecting bias and motive into articles).
Call me a cynic and skeptical though...even something like this I always ask myself "now what does it REALLY say..."

I guess that's the thing with people of science. We're ALWAYS skeptical

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