Simplification is a frequent occurrence in science. In fact, it can been seen as the fundamental principle of the scientific method of analysis (from latin “break-down”, complex to simple). This consequently results in oversimplification – many researchers try to explain rather complex mechanisms with a simple (elegant in their eyes) theory and leave it at that, content in their discovery.
One example for this started after the discovery of the genetic code. A large group of notable scientists claimed they found the Holy Grail, the last missing piece of the Biology jigsaw puzzle. They claimed that a single, simple structure as the sequence of nucleotides in the genetic code is all that runs the miracle of Life. Genes encode mRNA transcripts, which through ribosomes are translated into proteins – the central dogma in Biology. These ideas lead to the emergence of eugenics – the belief that human behavior is genetically pre-determined. Many events followed, including some of the most shameful pages of mankind’s history – the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. DNA was seen as the root of everything (also present in the “selfish gene” hypothesis, where we are seen as slaves of our genomes with the bottom line that all our actions are predetermined by our genes). One might ask then, why do we have a judicial system then? If all our behavior is due to our genes, then criminals should not be judged since it is not their fault they committed the crime? Read the rest of this entry »