ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on December 26th, 2005 at 5:39 am

Chopsticks Skills Responsible for Labs Not Duplicating Hwang’s Expirements?

For those familiar with South Korea you often hear about how Koreans possess superior dexterity compared to other people due to their skill with chopsticks. Koreans skills with chopsticks are what is allegedly responsible for producing top professional female golfers, world class pottery, top table tennis players, master archers, and until recently even top stem cell scientists.

Well here is yet another reference to Korea’s allegeded chopstick superiority:

John Gearhart, also a Hopkins researcher, said another impediment is that Hwang’s lab has not shared enough details of its technology to allow other labs to duplicate it. And apart from technical acumen, few labs in the world have permission to do work that would build on the Korean report, he said.

Maybe some labs have tried and failed but kept quiet about it, Civin said, because the scientists “didn’t feel like saying they weren’t as good as the South Koreans.”

Indeed, the technical expertise of Hwang’s lab has often been mentioned as a crucial ingredient in its reported success. Hwang has attributed his lab workers’ dexterity to lots of practice with steel chopsticks.

Visitors to Hwang’s lab report “they have technical competence and abilities far beyond what most American labs have, and I think that’s true,” said Thomas Cech, a Nobel Prize winner who heads the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “People have actually watched them manipulate these cells … and say they’re really extraordinarily dexterous and skilled technically.”

So if other scientists can’t get such experiments to work, he said, they may conclude “I’m not surprised because I saw these people from Korea and they’re so much better at manipulating cells than I am.”

So how come the Japanese can’t replicate the stem cell experiments if clumsy non-chopstick using American scientists can’t replicate it? Maybe because it is a fake along with the rest of Hwang’s work. Not being skilled with chopsticks is an even lamer excuse than the appeal to Korean nationalism being used before to defend Hwang’s work.

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