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Scientists reverse fruit fliesâ?? sex roles. Is it big news

If it's news, but not politics, then it goes here.

Is this story news?

Yes, itâ??s hard news.
5
63%
Well, itâ??s fluffy, but no worse that most of what passes for news.
2
25%
No, itâ??s a reflection of our darker tendencies.
1
13%
 
Total votes : 8

Scientists reverse fruit flies� sex roles. Is it big

Postby roguequijote » Fri Jun 03, 2005 4:13 pm

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/8076676/

I realize that basic research expands knowledge and understanding, which is a good thing. I am uneasy with media reporting. Why is this news? Can we ever totally overcome the subliminal suggestion that there may be a treatment or a cure for homosexuality or bisexuality? I am not suggesting that the researchers think this way, nor that the reporters think this way, but the news outlets that cover the story cater to a public that thinks this way. I suspect that, on any given day, any number of reports come out with greater scientific significance and that almost none of them capture anywhere near the press attention that this report will get.

Why are we so interested? If they had found genes associated with predisposition for passionate or extreme religious devotion, would the news outlets cover the story with the same frequency and intensity? What if those same genes were also associated with predisposition toward delusions, hallucinations or other psychological issues?
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Postby Beer Moon » Fri Jun 03, 2005 4:19 pm

If they had found genes associated with predisposition for passionate or extreme religious devotion, would the news outlets cover the story with the same frequency and intensity?


Yes, because burning scientists at the stake will always be big news.

As for the article, it's research. One draws one's own conclusions about what meaning it has for your particular prejudices. As for the media overall, this is actually more important than most of the garbage they see fit to print.
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Postby TAsunder » Fri Jun 03, 2005 4:55 pm

Meh. Not really as interesting as the scent story from a bit ago.
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Re: Scientists reverse fruit flies� sex roles. Is it

Postby spacecase » Fri Jun 03, 2005 8:48 pm

roguequijote wrote:http://msnbc.msn.com/id/8076676/


Why are we so interested? If they had found genes associated with predisposition for passionate or extreme religious devotion, would the news outlets cover the story with the same frequency and intensity? What if those same genes were also associated with predisposition toward delusions, hallucinations or other psychological issues?


It's funny you should ask that. I have temporal lobe epilepsy, the sufferers of which are more likely than other people to be hyperreligious. Also, some people's TLE seizures involve hallucinations. Other psychological issues? Yes...having a brain that unpredictably doesn't run smoothly can lead to other problems...

I, of course, find this fascinating. MSN would rather tell you about gay insects. :roll:
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Postby blunt » Sat Jun 04, 2005 1:25 pm

As long as they don't get married, it's fine.
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Postby Mike S. » Sat Jun 04, 2005 4:51 pm

The story is a little dippy at points...

Dickson said a fly's flight gene, if one exists, obviously can't be used to make a mouse fly.


... still, it's interesting news. I'm surprised that the first thing you think of is altering sexual orientation - I think that there are still many who are surprised that the brain's sexual identity can be determined separately from that of the overall body, and so this must be news to them.

The original identification of mutants of this gene "fruitless" (The story goes that the original name proposed was fruity, but some censorious magazine editor demanded that it be given a less 'offensive' monikor) produced similarly dramatic results, in which long lines of male flies lined up atop one another in courtship; this experiment just extends the observation by showing that by producing it where it's not normally present it creates the opposite conversion. It's still very interesting that the gene should regulate both the approach of males/females to females and the acceptance by males of males landing atop them. It's as if the fly truly has the opposite sexual orientation, rather than mindlessly enacting a certain ritual as generally described.

In any case, the gene's purpose is likely developmental - it affects how the brain develops, and it's unlikely that you could flip flies' sexuality like a switch by changing the gene in an adult.
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