New York Times science writer Carl Zimmer: Oetzi genome "not important"

Ken Weiss links to this speech by Carl Zimmer.

"As I recall, the big news in the Oetzi genome I think was that he had brown eyes. I mean it just . . . it doesn't . . . that's not important." (31:42)

Obviously, that was not the biggest news to those who were paying attention. But even if it had been, I'd still be taken aback by a comment like this from a science reporter. In fairness, Zimmer's talk overall is reasonable and inoffensive compared to Weiss's blog post, and does not appear to be motivated by the same racial anxieties:

So just to conclude I would say that my experience in writing about genomes has firmly convinced me that we are in the middle of another scientific revolution like the one in the middle of the 17th century and that genomes are a big part of that. But it's important to focus on what makes that revolution so important. So in the 1600s, for example, one of the most important things that happened was the people invented microscopes. [. . .] But again it wasn't so much the microscopes themselves that mattered, but what people were seeing with them.


hbd chick said...

i've seen carl zimmer say a few times that he finds the genomes of the bacteria that live on/in us to be more interesting than his own genome. i suspect he's one of those folks that doesn't want to know about human biodiveristy, so he doesn't even want to know what's in his own genes.

Anonymous said...

Rather he knows about it but doesn't want to comment on it. Talking about bacteria genomes has no negative financial and socio-political consequences.

Although many were surprised and disappointed by the lower-than-expected number of genes in the human genome.