Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Upcoming Public Skeptalk!

I just got forwarded an announcement for my upcoming public lecture/discussion!!
What: Sex, Male Bias, and Degeneration
When: Wednesday, August 14, 2013  07:30 PM - 09:30 PM
Where: La Peña Cultural Center Lounge 3105 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley, CA
Cost: FREE
Why: Because we're curious creatures

I am so excited to have been invited to give an upcoming Skeptalk! You are all welcome come and join in the discussion. The more the merrier!

Below is the announcement that was sent out (modified/shortened from a version I sent a month ago). But, given the recent interest in the TMRCAs of the Y and mtDNA, I'm considering editing the lecture to include some discussion of this new content as well.

Sex, Male Bias, and Degeneration
by Dr. Melissa A. Wilson Sayres

The human X and Y chromosomes evolved from a non-sex ancestor. The X is still regular-sized, but the Y is degraded and puny. Dr. Wilson Sayers will talk about how this process occurs, and how we can use the sex chromosomes to understand why more nucleotide mutations originate from the sperm than from eggs.

Dr. Melissa A. Wilson Sayres researches human population genetics at UC Berkeley's Miller Institute. She started as a mathematician in Nebraska, learned to program, and then studied sex chromosome evolution at Penn State. She is passionate about studying and communicating evolution research at all levels.


Anonymous said...

You complain about a scientific paper giving the public an erroneous impression by using an "Adam and Eve" analogy, and then you give a talk with THIS description?

"Sex, Male Bias, & Degeneration by Dr. Melissa A. Wilson Sayres"

"The human X and Y chromosomes evolved from a non-sex ancestor. The X is still regular-sized, but the Y is degraded and puny..."

"Regular-sized"? "Puny"? Such objective, scientific terms! Please.

Pot, meet kettle.

mathbionerd said...

I'm not sure if you understood the nature of the critique. It wasn't the simplification that I took issue with. As scientists, we have to use non-technical language when communicating with the public. My concern was, and still is, that the A&E analogy is laced with baggage, and leads to general scientific misunderstandings. I hope that you'll continue to read the series outlining some of the misconceptions that follow from using this analogy that I've had first-hand experience discussing.

Further, the very brief overview of my upcoming presentation is not a scientific paper, published in a peer-reviewed journal. It is a bare minimum summary aimed at the general public, an announcement for a public lecture.

Finally, there is nothing misleading about saying that the X is "regular-sized" (it is, in fact, just about average among human autosomes), or that the Y is "puny" (it is less than one percent of our whole genome).

I do hope you'll come to the lecture, or at least check out the blog some more to learn more about science and science communication.

strangetruther said...

Are you going to explain why the male sex chromosome has degenerated in our branch of mammals - but in birds it's the male that has two the same and the female that has two different? And why do platypuses need twelve sex chromosomes? That I'd really like to know. (Crocs have none, but I can guess how that happened.)