Stotz and Griffiths, Biohumanities
describes the Representing Genes project, concentrating on the methods used. For our
more substantive discussion of the project's findings about the gene concept, see
(Griffiths and Stotz, 2006, 2007; Stotz, 2008).
The second X-phi study focused on the much-disputed concept of innateness. Griffiths,
Machery and Linquist examined which features of behavior lead biologically naïve
individuals to label behaviors 'innate' (Griffiths et al., Submitted). They used their
findings to explain the persistent controversies over the definition of innateness. We
outline this work in Section 2.2.
2.1 The Representing Genes Project
was an attempt to assess the impact of the on-going genomics revolution on
concepts of the gene (Stotz et al., 2006; Stotz and Griffiths, 2004). The actual practice of
genome annotation inspired us to design a simple, annotation-like task for part one of our
survey instrument. This was used to investigate the criteria that lead biologists to annotate
a particular DNA sequence as either one gene with several gene products or several genes
with a single functional product. We used graphical representations and descriptions of
real DNA transcription events in eukaryotic genomes to illustrate the features of genome
expression that make it difficult to define a gene in a way that covers all known cases.
Since common definitions of the gene are insufficient, the simplified annotation task is
designed to reveal the additional implicit criteria which biologists draw upon when
applying the term 'gene'.