Monday, January 25, 2021

Biden appoints new science advisor

SciAm op-ed:
Nominations that reflect America’s diversity of backgrounds and experiences should be the norm. That we are now celebrating so many firsts speaks to how far we still have to go to make society equitable and just.

Despite this slate of diverse leadership, we can’t help but notice that the recently announced nomination of presidential science adviser Eric Lander fails to meet the moment. His nomination does not fill us with hope that he will shepherd the kind of transformation in science we need if we are to ensure science delivers equity and justice for all. ...

Lander, an MIT geneticist and former co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) — exemplifies the status quo.

The complaint is that Lander is a white male. More precisely, he is a Jewish man. Most of Biden's important cabinet appointments have been to Jewish men.

BuzzFeed also trashes him:

Lander, then at MIT’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, first argued that Celera’s whole genome shotgun wouldn’t work, then allegedly tried to strike a deal to collaborate with Celera, and later resumed his attacks on the company when the two projects finally published the human genome sequence in February 2001. Lander claimed that Celera couldn’t have completed its sequence without using mapping information from the public project and told a Nature reporter that the whole genome shotgun had delivered a “tossed genome salad” rather than an accurate readout of the human genome.

Still, Lander quietly retooled his lab to adopt Celera’s whole genome shotgun method when tackling the mouse genome, which he and others published in 2002.

Lander’s attacks stung Venter, who later revealed that Celera staff referred to their nemesis as “Eric Slander.”

It also cites this opinion:
There is something mesmerizing about an evil genius at the height of their craft, and Eric Lander is an evil genius at the height of his craft. ...

This paper [on the history of Crispr] is the latest entry in Lander’s decades long assault on the truth. During his rise from math prodigy to economist to the de facto head of the public human genome project to member of Obama’s council of science advisors to director of the powerful Broad Institute, he has shown an unfortunate tendency to treat the truth as an obstacle that must be overcome on his way to global scientific domination.

I went to college with Lander, and I think he is a good guy. I have far more objection to Biden's other appointments.

The Trump administration was generally pro-science, without being shrill about it. So far, the Biden administration says that it is pro-science, but issued an executive order that seems to abolish girls sports on the theory that sex is a social construct. We shall see how things work out. Maybe Biden will advise Biden that there really are differences between men and women.


  1. Sexual reproduction is not possible with either an imaginary penis or an imaginary uterus, as any fertility clinic will tell you. Body dysmorphic disorders are NOT a lifestyle or sexually liberating, they are an indication of mental illness, and unsurprisingly do not confer magical powers to change a persons gender because one might wish it so.

    I would guess that Biden knows better (unless he is senile) and that he's pandering to a small crowd of deluded people and useless academics who desperately want to believe their feelings inform biological reality.

    When a person with schizophrenia reports hearing voices in their head telling to hurt themselves or others, you don't agree with them and encourage them to carry through. Likewise, when a person with body dysmorphia wants to hack their own arm off in order to 'feel' good about themselves, you don't indulge them. Our civilization is almost over if this isn't patently obvious.

  2. Our civilization has been taken over by zealots who do not accept what you say.