The ... level of self belief on Twitter is quite remarkable and apparently I don’t know much about the human genome or genetics. That’s me told ...
More seriously, conversations about ethnicity and race are loaded because it is both a big active part of many societies and discourse - most obviously US but many western countries (UK included of course) and >>
<< for many people this is a key part of their identity. There are shallow issues here -it is far too easy to use words that mean different things or for people to read strong motivational stances or inferences into statements
(I apologise for my missteps and note the complexity of writing about this)
But going past this there is still a set of core beliefs about group level biological essentialism - a sort of fundamental “we” are different in a deep way from “them”.
It’s not right, not healthy, and for people where this is a big part of their identity / soul / personality it’s a heavily knotted ball of emotion and belief to untangle
I always draw hope here from the Premier League football fans. Strong self belief. Passion. Clear understanding of group identity. But openness to new fans, and a level of mutual respect most of the time for other fans
Before you think I’m misty eyed about football fans I have hung out with some mid 1980s Chelsea fans. So I know their dark side. But broadly it’s a happy, mutually respected world
Asking humans to lose all their tribal instincts is probably hopeless. Asking them to channel their tribal instincts to largely inoffensive, enjoyable things ... now we’re talking.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Ewan Birney

Ewan Birney Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @ewanbirney

22 Nov
More musings on human genetics and race, but this time from a personal level to explain I think the different ways people "think about" racism and their role in it.
In this thread I am going to be critical about how many people think about broad structural racism/unconscious bias, but I will do this via critiquing my younger self, as it is super-hard to do this broadly without offending people; I can own offending myself :)
In my 20s I spent a fair bit of time in America and considered myself reasonably cool and trendy - worked hard at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, partied hard in NYC and Harvard, where I had friends.
Read 25 tweets
21 Nov
Another evergreen reminder - ethnicity (or "race") is a process of self identification, often ticking a set of boxes, or gestalt assessment using visible characteristics of people (skin colour, hair type, clothes) by others. It is *not* a good representation of anyone's genetics.
The collapsing of ethnicity or race concepts as some sort of crude readout of genetics is plain wrong.
We can sometimes go the other way - genetic measurements in some places can predict the ethnicity box you will tick on a form - but we definitely can't predict your genetics from the box you tick.
Read 15 tweets
21 Nov
A reminder and perspective on this COVID, mid November.
(context: I am an expert in genetics/genomics and computational biology research; I know experts in a variety of other domains; I have a COI as I am a long established consultant to Oxford Nanopore, which makes a new COVID test, LamPORE).
As ever, it is good to start with the overall perspective - SARS_CoV_2 is an infectious human virus which causes a nasty disease for a subset of people, often leading to death.
Read 23 tweets
17 Nov
Vaccine safety thread - briefing to journalists as much as anyone else as ever, and an offer.
Vaccines are safe. They are safe principally because of the extensive and multiple testing that happens before they are licensed, and that ultimately is due to 100,000s of people who volunteer for trials to assess and quantify safety. I am a scientist and one of these volunteers
"Safe" here of course can never mean never - strange things happen in life, healthcare and biology and like many things we do in life - crossing roads, going biking, drinking wine - we have constantly do things which are safe but have some small risk of something going wrong.
Read 14 tweets
15 Nov
Good case numbers in France, Germany yesterday and the Welsh firebreak definitely worked. (What a surprise - reducing person contacts slow transmission). Northern Ireland controlled well but plateauing high -another push needed
Need to see the impact of the English Nov lockdown - next week sometime one should see lower infection numbers after the 7 day ish incubation period from last Friday plus the test and reporting cycles.
Scotland’s Tiering scheme and particular the central belt work also has done well - though I suspect they want to achieve now more decrease in infection
Read 6 tweets
14 Nov
Right. Deep Breath. RT-PCR "false positives" and Ct numbers (again). tl;dr it is complex, but the RT-PCR testing systems deployed across the world are sound and the people who run them report positives are positives and little can be improved obviously.
Context: I am a genomics/genetics + computational biology expert. I know a large number of infectious disease testing experts. I have a COI in that I am a long established consultant for a company (ONT) that makes a new test here; this gives me additional insight
There a number of classes of false positives which don't concern the current debate (eg, sample swaps, lab contamination). To repeat an early point all the people I know in this are paranoid about this, test and check in a rather detailed way and these are looooow.
Read 22 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!