There is increasing evidence that signal transduction pathways directly talk to chromatin-remodeling complexes and histone modifiers. How this exactly works and how these complexes find their specific targets remain key questions in the field.
“Fear and Its Consequences” [Science Agenda] makes the critical points that the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks, that a large percentage of a population must be vaccinated to keep diseases in check, and that science, not fear, should guide public opinion. But I do not think it is just politics and misinformation in the media that have reduced public trust in science; it is the industry’s own manipulation of science that has caused a crisis in public trust of science and scientists.
In the case of drug trials, there have been reports of companies that have hired ghostwriters to write favorable articles and then paid respected doctors to put their names on those articles, enabling them to be published in peer-reviewed journals. I am unaware of similar misconduct in the case of vaccines, and there is no doubt that many vaccines have been enormously effective in ridding the world of dangerous diseases. But it is my opinion that the scientific community must do a much better job of policing its members if the public’s trust in science is to be restored.
Blue Bell, Pa.
WORDS AND THOUGHTS
Lera Boroditsky’s “How Language Shapes Thought” suggests that “different languages might impart different cognitive abilities.” Although I do not disagree in general, her first example does not explain how the five-year-old Aboriginal girl acquired her sense of absolute cardinal direction. Sufficient study to master the vocabulary and grammar of Kuuk Thaayorre would not, in itself, impart the sense of absolute cardinal direction possessed by the little girl. One could certainly use English in the Aboriginal manner, but doing so would not inform the listener as to how the speaker knew the absolute cardinal direction. Absent evidence of a genetic explanation, the little girl must have learned her sense of direction from her culture.
Kenneth J. Kahn
Long Beach, N.Y.