“Science is the refuge of the mediocre”: Steve Jones on “The Life Scientific”

August 7, 2012 • 4:17 am

My friend Steve Jones (real name John Stephen Jones), geneticist and popular writer, appeared this morning on the BBC Radio 4’s regular program, “The Life Scientific.” You can either download or listen to the half-hour show here (click “play recent episodes”). 

Steve is quite eloquent, as always, covering topics ranging from his own upbringing, his experiments on flies and snails, his role as a popularizer of science, and where the media fails in covering science.

I was interviewed about Steve for this BBC show some months ago, and they’ve used two snippets of my own recollections, especially describing the experiments Steve and I did with others in Death Valley studying how far fruit flies can fly in the desert, and a really beautiful (and largely neglected) experiment we did with Linda Partridge using mutant flies with temperature-sensitive eye colors as a way to determine what climates flies actually experience in the wild (references and links at bottom).

Steve was elected to the Royal Society in April, so at last he can (but won’t) append the vaunted “FRS” to his name.

Steve and I at the Hay Literary Festival, June 2010

h/t: Several British readers

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Coyne, J. A., I. A. Boussy, T. Prout, S. H. Bryant, J. S. Jones, and J. A. Moore. 1982. Long-distance migration of Drosophila. Am. Nat. 119:589-595.

Jones, J. S., J. A. Coyne, and L. Partridge. 1987. Estimation of the thermal niche of Drosophila melanogaster using a temperature-sensitive mutation. Am. Nat. 130:83-90.

15 thoughts on ““Science is the refuge of the mediocre”: Steve Jones on “The Life Scientific”

  1. I remember hearing Steve Jones give a talk on the mutant fly experiment at the Pop Gen Group in U.K. in the late 1980s. He was not yet the famous Steve Jones as he had not yet given his BBC Reith Lecture. But he was an extraordinarily popular speaker who was being good-naturedly heckled from the audience. That was an amazing experiment. Some time you should blog on it.

      1. I am currently at Duke University (NESCENT) teaching the Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics week course with Steve Arnold, your former colleague. We’re both bleary-eyed because of the time change from the west coast. I don’t know why the comment was listed as 4:38am, it was posted at 7:38am local time. My computer knows the local time but somehow your site was told 4:38am, which would be the Seattle time.

        1. The site is hosted on WordPress servers located (I believe) in California. So that’s the time zone where posts are clocked in.

  2. I enjoyed this, especially the points Steve made about the small incremental additions that all scientist make to human understanding of the natural world, and on the adversarial process inherent in being a scientist.

  3. Steve was elected to the Royal Society in April, so at last he can (but won’t) append the vaunted “FRS” to his name.

    The prestigious FCD (Friend of Charles Darwin) is available to all. Sign up today.

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