“I am unable to affirm those details on my own knowledge or even my own belief,” - Antonin Scalia.
It wouldn't make much sense for a climate scientist to have patented geostrophy. Or Tombaugh to be able to patent Pluto. After all, these not novel, nonobvious and useful techniques or inventions, but rather "obvious" statements of facts or observation. So it doesn't come as any surprise that the Supreme Court came out 9-0 today denying Myriad Genetics the right to patent the human genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. The genes, which can cause breast cancer, are:
a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because [they have] been isolated -
And as such ineligible for being patented, though the technique of isolating them is.
What is most surprising is the first quote, that by Antonin Scalia, who published his own opinion (still denying MG's patent rights). It refers to section I-A of the 8 justices' opinion, which outlines the basics of molecular biology, namely:
The four major statements are points of scientific fact, and can be observed and implemented readily, even by people with absolutely no scientific training. They are confusing and difficult concepts to learn, and this is why there is nothing wrong with Scalia admitting that, even though through oral argument he had these concepts explained to him, he is know fully aware and understanding of them. This covers the knowledge part of his statement.
It doesn't cover belief. It is patently obvious that these things are true, and has been obvious for nearly a half-century. For Scalia to admit his ignorance of genetics and molecular biology is fine; he represents there a majority of the world's population including myself. The real problem here is that he seems to believe his ignorance is not ignorance: he doesn't understand because he doesn't believe in the science to begin with.
Again, there is no such thing as belief in facts, especially ones which we can see with our own eyes. Scalia's ignorance is two-fold, the forgivable ignorance of fact, but the less forgivable ignorance of principle.
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Oceanographer, Mathemagician, and Interested Party