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US Geneticist Discusses North Korea Trip With Dennis Rodman 101

sciencehabit writes "If you happened to catch any of the news coverage of Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea last week, you might have spotted in the big man's entourage a white guy with an Amish-style beard, as in clean-shaven cheeks and no mustache. That's Joseph Terwilliger, 48, a statistical geneticist who splits his time at Columbia University and the University of Helsinki. He's now visited North Korea three times with the basketball star. He sat down with Science Magazine for a Q and A about how he got involved with Rodman and whether the trips are helping--or hurting--U.S. relations with the country."
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US Geneticist Discusses North Korea Trip With Dennis Rodman

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  • Re:sorry but.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @05:12PM (#46017817)
    1. North Korea is probably the most interesting bit of foreign policy, which does appeal to nerds.
    2. Look at the picture, the guy is clearly a nerd.
    3. More importantly, from TFA: “Most of my work has been on trying to identify natural experiments that mimic experimental conditions in a way that might help us to understand the genetics of normal human variation in health and disease." The article is focused on stuff that has a more general interest, but North Korean genetics are absolutely interesting to a bio nerd as a "natural" experiment in the sense that it's not setup specifically to be an experiment.

    It would be very interesting, for example, if you could show rapid human "evolution" in response to the shit that's going on there. I've heard that north koreans are on average a foot shorter than South Koreans. They've only been separated by two or three generations. Presumably a lot of that is due to malnutrition, but it's not too hard to imagine that some of that is due to people who are genetically predisposed to being shorter would survive better. How fast is that happening? Are there genes which correlate to "speaking out against tyranny" that are being selected against?

    There are definitely very interesting questions that can be answered by north korea. It goes without saying that I wish this experiment were not occurring, but since it is, may as well collect data from it (though there are issues with informed consent probably).

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.