I just completed an article that describes contrasting ideas for a sequence of topics as presented to students in a graduate course on epidemiological literacy. Because it could be the first draft of something more developed, I share the abstract and invite feedback.
Untested draft of method that represents
a) an extension of mathematical thinking (provisionally defined here);
b) follows the premise that no teacher would be prepared to guide every student in developing their mathematical thinking in the diverse ways that interest different people and
c) ditto in developing their life long learning to respond to changes in work, technology, commerce, and social life that continue to change our needs and capacities for mathematical thinking.
“Impossible to Simply Continue Along Previous Lines: Changing Life in Times of Crisis”
One-day workshop before the 4S conference, Boston, Tues 29th August 2017
Difficulties identifying causally relevant genetic variants underlying patterns of human variation have been given competing interpretations. The debate is illuminated in this article by drawing attention to the issue of underlying heterogeneity—the possibility that genetic and environmental factors or entities underlying a trait are heterogeneous—as well as four other fundamental gaps in the methods and interpretation of classical quantitative genetics:
Social epidemiologist Davey Smith (2011) argues that epidemiologists should accept a gloomy prospect: considerable randomness at the individual level means that they should keep their focus on modifiable causes of disease at the population level. The difficulty epidemiology has had in moving from significant population-level risk factors to improved prediction of cases at an individual level is analogous to the lack of success in the search for systematic aspects of the non-shared environmental influences that human quantitative genetics claims overshadow common environmental influences (e.g., the family’s socioeconomic status which siblings have in common). This article responds to the argument and analogy, aiming to draw three audiences—social epidemiologists, human quantitative geneticists, and philosophers of science—into a shared discussion that centers not on randomness, but on heterogeneity in various forms.
A revised entry on the genotype-phenotype distinction has been published by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. A major difficulty we had preparing this revision followed once it was noted that philosophers write on the genotype-phenotype relationship, not on the genotype-phenotype distinction. Continue reading