Dear Steve, (I only use that salutation when I intend its full
Thanks muchly for this response. I have not taken any part in the
debate on “natural” because that was not my main and most important
point, even though I think that its use also is highly destructive
to scientific communication and understanding. See a couple more
comments inline below.
On 14-08-11 12:01 AM, L. Stephen Coles
M.D. Ph.D. wrote:
Paul: I just this moment read your well-constructed
E-mail. I’ve been very sick with the side effects
of chemo for the last week, so typing with more than one finger
painful secondary to neuropathy.
You have my profound sympathy here. Are you taking
lots of anti inflammatory supplements for this? There is
reasonable evidence in the scientific literature that curcumin,
EGCG (from green tea extract), fish oil, LOX-5, and several others
should help your finger pain at the least. Yes, it is possible
that these will reduce the effects of the chemo, but then
several of them also have good evidence of being anti-cancer as
Thank you for your concerns. It will
take me a long time to
overcome the temptation to personify Nature,
even though we all know better. This has been my habit for
Yes, I fully understand that. Perhaps a friendly
“prod” now and then would help?
BTW, I believe that
this particular molecule with five consecutive sulfurs attached
benzene ring is synthetic and not
found in Nature. Can someone read the paper from the Yale folks
verify this point? — Steve Coles
Just to clarify, I never suggested that this molecule
might be already known to be in Nature or even that it might be as
yet unknown but still exist in Nature on Earth. My point was
simply that Nature (meaning the entire Universe) is so vast and so
much time has passed that I think it likely that almost every
molecule that can exist has already occurred at some time
and at some place in the Universe.
At 01:08 PM 8/8/2014, you wrote:
note to all list
members re this off-topic message:
I sincerely apologize for this interruptive set
of posts which Johnny has instigated in response to my
brief request of Steve to curb his anthropomorphic habits of
Johnny first contacted me by E-mail asking for a phone
without any hint of the subject matter of such a conversation.
I replied that I prefer always to have written conversations,
everything stated is documented and can be carefully
He rejected that suggestion and went directly to the list thus
this unnecessary interruptive harm to all the list members.
Herewith my response to him (with additional profuse
apologies for wasting the precious time of others not
On 14-08-08 12:46 PM, John M. “Johnny” Adams wrote:
Dear GRG Member,
As a GRG discussion list member â€“ as well as co-admin and
(assisting Dr. Coles in the original â€œMajordomoâ€ list
in 2003) I will chime in on the post below.
1. Re. Steveâ€™s â€œWould Nature ever think to make such a small
that looked like this? 🙂 â€œ
Note the emoticon â€œ:-)â€ at the end. Clearly the intent of
phrase is light-hearted, and taking an intentional
Steve could have just as light-heartedly written: “Would such
small molecule that looks like this ever have occurred in
There is no such thing as an “innocent” false
Every one of them distorts the scientific use of language and
potential to do harm to the subconscious thought processes of
and his readers, to warp the thoughts of those large numbers
misunderstanding public who might read it and to aid and abet
anti-science groups within society.
Of course natural
mechanical, and dispassionate. We know that.
Then why *ever* write or think words that say otherwise? Doing
distorts clear thinking and leads to similar phrasings when
talking/writing to people who do not “know that” and may well
get confused and/or become disdainful of the speaker/writer.
In an informal
discussion such as our GRG list, I personally feel use of
such phrase IS
But I obviously do not. Particularly after I spent some of my
time some weeks ago rewriting some text of Steve’s just to
show him how
easy it is to avoid such unscientific anthropomorphisms, I
found it very
annoying to see on the list.
— and sometimes
color and life to the discussion.
Nonsense statements are never a proper method by which to
“color and life” to any discussion. Besides, since many very
strange, neat and cool molecules have been found in Nature, I
agree with the intended statement. In fact, the universe is so
complex and has been around so long that it is highly likely
molecule that is man-made already exists or has existed
somewhere in it.
Just because humans have not yet found it on this small planet
This can be
like a fresh
breeze compared to the dry scientific writing we spend much
of our lives
I agree that some humor now and then is highly useful, but
anthropomorphisms are not the way to achieve that,
particularly not when
science is under attack by large elements of the public as it
2. Re. the
criticism of Dr.
Colesâ€™ statement, the anthropomorphic statement below â€œ . .
molecule has actually been designed and made by nature.â€.
I do not believe nature designs. This implies intent, and
actually similar to â€œWould Nature ever think . . .â€.
It seems that you misread my sentence (in my earlier post) and
quoted me out of context above, hopefully not intentionally.
conditional clause “since humans are part of nature” clearly
implied that design and production by humans was equivalent to
production by nature. The correct term for molecules that are
in nature on Earth and are then designed and made by humans is
“xenobiotic” not “unnatural” – i.e., not made by
I am adamant that the proper use of such terms is critical in
3. On the GRG
correction or criticism should be presented in a courteous
What was discourteous about my critique? I had already tried
Steve curb his anthropomorphic language; I said “please” (I
not order him); and I also clearly stated that he is a very
person whom I greatly admire and that is why I particularly do
him to appear to be less than he is.
This is not just
opinion. In December of 2012 we did a survey of GRG email
discussion list members, asking for guidelines. This was
the list of requests by members.
I regret that I was not again reading the list yet at that
being put off by some constant bickering almost 10 years ago –
between Robert Young and Louis Epstein as I recall). For my
I would appreciate seeing a copy of those guideline requests.
should be taken
up with the person directly, not on a public forum sent to
At first thought that seems reasonable to me, but with further
has the problem that there is then no negative social
others to persuade the person to actually change. Far better
people to publicly censure the person for unscientific
then s/he might actually be persuaded to change. In fact, it
continuation of tolerant acceptance of such things that
perpetrator has no incentive to bother changing his/her
We all make
mistakes, so if a
member learns they have actually made a statement in error,
likely acknowledge it.
That will likely be true for real mistakes and for any such
thing I would
only make a friendly correction post (as have many others on
the list for
such simple errors).
However, this was not any kind of “mistake” but rather one
use of an ingrained habit of language which Steve has and
eradicate from himself IMO.
And if a member
should in a
moment of haste write something that is rude or
Fully agreed. And if what I write is in any manner taken as
mean-spirited” then I sincerely apologize to all such
“receivers”, and please note that i do not have an
intentionally “rude or mean-spirited” bone in my body.
Everything that I say or write is and always has been meant to
and/or informative. But then again as is so often the case to
metaphors: “rudeness or mean-spiritedness is often in the eye
4. I personally
inappropriate to scold even a novice in such a manner, let
alone a world
class emeritus member of our community who has been a
teacher, mentor and friend, and selflessly gives so much of
making great contributions to our shared mission.
I am sincerely sorry that you (or any others) were offended by
particularly when its purpose was purely to help Steve be even
estimable than he currently is.
John M. â€œJohnnyâ€ Adams
On Behalf Of Paul WakferSent: Thursday, August 07, 2014 6:56 PMTo:
firstname.lastname@example.orgSubject: Re: [GRG] NewAbs: TC-2153 for AD (in Mouse
On 14-08-07 04:19 PM, L. Stephen Coles M.D. Ph.D. wrote:
Would Nature ever think to make such a small
molecule that looked
like this? 🙂 — Steve Coles
Steve, Nature doesn’t think!
Please refrain from such anthropomorphic language
which makes you look extremely unprofessional and even
not actually brainless – but I know you’re not).
Finally, since humans are part of nature, this molecule has
designed and made by nature. The whole idea of humans being
nature is a highly mischievous fundamentally invalid notion.
Please stop promoting these damaging ideas and phrases.