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Ancient Genetics to Ancient Genomics: Celebrity and Credibility in Data-Driven Practice

Jones, Elizabeth (2019) Ancient Genetics to Ancient Genomics: Celebrity and Credibility in Data-Driven Practice. [Preprint]

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Abstract

“Ancient DNA Research” is the practice of extracting, sequencing, and analyzing degraded DNA from dead organisms that are hundreds to thousands of years old. Today, many researchers are interested in adapting state-of-the-art molecular biological techniques and high-throughput sequencing technologies to optimize the recovery of DNA from fossils, then use it for studying evolutionary history. However, the recovery of DNA from fossils has also fueled the idea of resurrecting extinct species, especially as its emergence corresponded with the book and movie Jurassic Park in the 1990s. In this paper, I use historical material, interviews with scientists, and philosophical literature to argue that the search for DNA from fossils can be characterized as a data-driven and celebrity-driven practice. Philosophers have recently argued the need to seriously consider the role of data-driven inquiry in the sciences, and likewise, this history highlights the need to seriously consider the role of celebrity in shaping the kind of research that gets pursued, funded, and ultimately completed. On this point, this history highlights that the traditional philosophical and scientific distinctions between data-driven and hypothesis-driven research are not always useful for understanding the process and practice of science. Consequently, I argue that the celebrity status of a particular research practice can be considered as a “serious epistemic strategy” that researchers, as well as editors and funders, employ when making choices about their research and publication practices. This interplay between celebrity and methodology matters for the epistemology of science.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Jones, Elizabethelizabeth.jones.13@ucl.ac.uk
Keywords: Ancient DNA; Genetics; Genomics; Fossils; Jurassic Park; Celebrity; Credibility; Data-Driven Science
Subjects: General Issues > Data
Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
General Issues > Rhetoric of Science
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Technology
Depositing User: Dr Elizabeth Jones
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2019 05:16
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2019 05:16
Item ID: 15586
Subjects: General Issues > Data
Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
General Issues > Rhetoric of Science
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Technology
Date: 2019
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15586

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