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 Citizen science 
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Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:19 am
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Post Citizen science
There is a 'citizen science' label that gets slapped on biopunk that I don't completely agree with for a number of reasons. One of them being that garage biologists aren't really all that interested in furthering scientific knowledge I think.

'Punk-science' associates to badly conducted science in the scientific community. Why not run with that... and agree that biopunk is bad science. In fact does not aspire to be science at all?

Biopunk can give license to not do science. But instead build applications, or hack for no reason, or for fun just because you can.

Hacker culture.

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Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:08 am
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Post Re: Citizen science
If I put "science" up against "hack," that is such a mismatched fight that I can't see throwing in for the pay-per-view party. Science moves forward, hacking is just that--hack. Hacking is fart gas.

The Wright Brothers started in a garage. Hewlitt Packard was started in a garage.

What leads you to believe that those who are working it out in a garage are not interested in science? Where is the evidence of that?


Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:18 am
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Post Re: Citizen science
I agree with snubdubs. If biopunk is simply "bad science" or hacking for no good reason, what is the point? In most hobbies, there is an ultimate goal to achieve. I am sure that when computers were first invented, the first people like you and I who were adventurers and wanted to play around with the new technologies really advanced the field of computer science. I believe that we can in fact, have a large positive impact on the way that the academic community and the society at large views biotechnology. Imagine if the amateurs who first started to play with computers decided to just try to have fun and think that what they were doing was just "bad science". Who knows if I would even be able to be writing this post on something called the Internet? Bill Gates began writing computer programs at the age of 13. What's stopping us?


Wed Nov 17, 2010 5:04 pm
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Post Re: Citizen science
The purpose of science is to create and test models of the natural world. To expand the body of knowledge and make ever better maps. Scientists do this by research which has to meet certain standards or it rightfully is bad science. It's very important that science is done well.

Innovation is not the same as science. The Wright brothers probably never conducted all the necessary experiments needed to make good science. This was not their interest. They were punks, hackers, or what you want to call them, who wanted to fly. Scientists turned their innovation into science.

Most of what passes as 'citizen science' is not science. It reminds me of the Dunning-Kruger effect. You need to know what science is in order to understand you're not doing it.

Assembling well tested genes to build a pathway that does something you want is not science.
Testing the individual genes to find the conditions under which they fail is science.

The first example is bad science because it doesn't add to the general body of knowledge.

Unless you actually are doing science, admitting that what you are doing is 'bad science' signals to the scientific community that you know what science is. As opposed to those claiming to do science but are not.

If 'punk science' already carries the connotation 'bad science' why not flaunt it and expand on it?

On hacker culture: In hacker culture you don't need a reason to hack. This is what I perhaps carelessly here called 'hack for no reason'. You could also say 'any reason' and mean basically the same. If you hack for science you impose strict limitations on what hacks are interesting to you.

There is no lack of discovery and innovation in the the hacker community.

snubdubs wrote:
The Wright Brothers started in a garage. Hewlitt Packard was started in a garage.

What leads you to believe that those who are working it out in a garage are not interested in science? Where is the evidence of that?
I'm pretty sure Bill and Dave self identified more as proto-hackers than scientists in that garage.


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Thu Nov 18, 2010 1:34 am
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Post Re: Citizen science
I think we have some differences on what we define as "the purpose of science". You defined science as "to create and test models of the natural world". That is exactly what biopunks do. You said "assembling well tested genes to build a pathway that does something you want is not science." That is exactly the point of synthetic biology, which is a massively expanding science. To go back to my computer model, Bill Gates was very much a scientist at age 13. Just because he was not doing them in a lab, it does not mean that he did not have controls, variables, or a hypothesis.

What really needs to be defined is the "biopunk". You said that hacking can be done for anything. This is true of course, hypothetically, but you won't realistically be able to achieve anything without controlled experiments and high standards. You will end up with a blob of bio-stuff. If you really want to "hack" for any means, you must use strict scientific protocols. It is not limiting in any way to use science in biohacking.

What would be a biopunk project that is not using science? If you mean bio-art, that requires a large amount of science to control fluorescent proteins or biofilms. Not only that, it also requires the ability to make a plan of what your art will look like, carry out that plan, and then look at it afterward.


Thu Nov 18, 2010 5:11 am
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Post Re: Citizen science
I find it funny that there are more posts on this site related to things like "what is biopunk" then actual science/hacking (or whatever name you want to call it). Does it matter whether you classify it as science or hacking? Other than chimeraboy, has anybody actually come close to doing something? I know he has attempted DNA isolation and played around with sequences. I see it as pointless to debate labels unless your actually doing it. Even then I see it as pointless. Who cares what you call yourself?

I also find it amusing that a "punk" culture finds itself so obsessed with slapping labels on something. Aren't you supposed to be rebelling against the norms and being labeled?


Thu Nov 18, 2010 4:53 pm
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Post Re: Citizen science
I agree with you. There really isn't any point of discussing this, as it is obvious that without using science, you are not going to be able to achieve any punk/hack project. However, I think there is a sector of biohacking that deals with the societal impacts and niche of the biopunk movement, so I don't think we should put it down for those who are interested in it. Personally though, and I think chadn737 agrees with me on this, it is much more useful to actually discuss how we are going to go about doing our projects.


Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:11 pm
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Post Re: Citizen science
Agreed. Great points.


Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:06 am
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Post Re: Citizen science
I understand you're not as interested in the subcultural aspects as I am. So just some quick comments on the earlier thread:

chadn737:
It matters how you define a subculture because it sets the agenda for the undertakings of the participants. A maker culture is different from a hacker culture for instance. They do different things. So do hackers and scientists. If you want to attract hackers rather than makers you define the culture that way.

People don't join a culture that's not defined. There needs to be a common understanding what we talk about when talking about the culture. A shared set of ideas to gather around.


chimeraboy:

"Using science" is not the same as "doing science".

Bill Gates has never been a scientist, he was a hacker.


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Fri Nov 19, 2010 1:17 am
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Post Re: Citizen science
Please explain what you mean by the difference between "doing science" and "using science". Have you done any experiments before? Because if you have, you will realize that any bio project that you do without science will be nonexistent. It is impossible to biohack without science. By using science, you are doing it. I recommend you go onto Nature and read this:

http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101006/ ... 7650a.html

Robert Carlson is a trained scientist and biologist who decided to do his research in his garage. If anyone is truly biohacking, it would be him.

I think we should all leave this discussion and instead learn about building gene sequences :D . I really don't care too much for hacker culture.


Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:28 am
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Post Re: Citizen science
chimeraboy wrote:
Please explain what you mean by the difference between "doing science" and "using science".
It's the difference between science and technology. Following a protocol is technology, creating it may at one point have been science.

Science is the basis for technology. The way I see it scientists create infrastructure for biopunks to use.

chimeraboy wrote:
Have you done any experiments before? Because if you have, you will realize that any bio project that you do without science will be nonexistent. It is impossible to biohack without science. By using science, you are doing it.
I never talked about not using science. You keep confusing 'using' with 'doing', even when you arrive at a conclusion that makes no sense.

chimeraboy wrote:
I recommend you go onto Nature and read this:

http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101006/ ... 7650a.html

Robert Carlson is a trained scientist and biologist who decided to do his research in his garage. If anyone is truly biohacking, it would be him.
I know who Rob Carlson is. He spoke at the Berkeley Open Science Summit a few months back along with Meredith. My Biopunk logo is under the iGEM logo on the participating organizations page.

Rob is more a theoretician than a biohacker. The name of his book is 'Biology is Technology'.

There are a handful of people building their own labs. Cathal Garvey is one of the ones I know of that I respect the most.


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Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:15 am
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Post Re: Citizen science
You keep on saying the same things again and again. I think it is time we ended this discussion. It is unfortunately not very fruitful.


Tue Nov 23, 2010 7:25 pm
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Post Re: Citizen science
Thanks for your input grasshopper

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Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:00 pm
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Post Re: Citizen science
grasshopper?...it is a rat :roll:


Wed Nov 24, 2010 3:02 am
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Post Re: Citizen science
There's *some* science in pretty much everything, but I think garage biohacking is really more engineering than science. It's pretty tricky (not impossible, but too tricky to really be worthwhile) to do serious genetic science without a proper lab.


Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:16 am
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