Oct 08 2011
“The Bizarre Case of Chromosomes that Never Was” by Robert Matthews was an interesting article because he demonstrated how people conforms to society and their enviroment. In 1923, an American zoologist, Theophilus Painter, published a study in which he declared that they are 24 pairs of chromosomes in human beings. Other scientist repeated the study, and they, too, claimed to see 24 pairs of chromosomes. Although few scientist found as few as 19 and others found 23 pairs, everyone still believed that human beings has 24 pairs of chromosomes. However, in 1956, when scientists finally found a way to place cells onto a microscope slides that helped separated the chromosomes clearly, the found that there are in fact 23 pairs of chromosomes. When researchers later went back and look at photographs printed in textbooks, they found that the photographs clearly shown 23 pairs of chromosomes, yet, the captions underneath the photographs stated that there are 24 pairs.
Matthews did an excellent job explaining this phenomenon by using psychological perspectives by mentioning the famous study done by a psychologist named Solomon Asch in 1951. This demonstrates that how conformity affects people. According to the “Psychology: Course Companion”, conformity is the tendency to adjust one’s thoughts, feelings, or behavior in ways that are in agreement with those of a particular individual or group, or with accepted stands about how a person should behave in specific situations.” However, Matthew did not just look at this situation from one side. He went on mentioning that although there are studies that supported Asch’s study, there are other studies that disagree with Asch’s results.
Although this article is very well written and made some very good points, I personally think that Matthew sounded a little bias in his article. He used words such as “false” and “blundered”. I believed that Matthew could have also look at this issue from the historical perspectives. In 1920s, the technology wasn’t that well. Recently T.C. Hsu, a well-known cytogenetic, reexamined some of the original preparations on which Painter based his erroneous chromosomes count and found that the chromosomes were so badly clumped and cut into segments by the microtome knife, it was a marvel Painter was able to find any cells at all that seemed to give a clear chromosomes count. (Biographical Memoirs, 1990).
I highly recommend students to read this article as it got me thinking about the possible implications that people conforms to society and their environment every day. As an IB psychology student, I can fully understand and relate to what the article is talking about.
(2010). Hybrid medical animation. (2010). [Web Photo]. Retrieved from http://www.science3point0.com/genegeek/category/2medgen/chromosomes/
Biographical memoirs (pp.308-337). (1990). Theophilus Shickel Painter. Washington D.C National Academy Press. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=1652
Crane, J., & Hannibal, J. (2009). Sociocultural level of analysis: social and cultural norms. Psychology: course companion (pp.111-127). London: Oxford University Press.
Matthews, R. (n.d). The bizarre case of chromosome that never was. Retrieved from http://blogs.saschina.org/pudongtok/files/2010/03/Problems-with-authority-in-Science.pdf
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