Structural Biochemistry/Incorrect Understanding of a Mechanism Action


Mechanism actions are constantly being improved and updated as new information becomes available. Its a scientists' responsibility to keep up to date with what's new, as well as think critically about what is being stated and implied. However, when scientists don't think critically and merely accepts things for they are, they fall prey to mental inertia. Mental inertia caused by an incorrect understanding of a mechanism action can be split in four categories: naming, linkage groups, scientific paradigms, and improper controls.

Mental inertia can be caused by the naming of a mechanism. While it may not seem like it, the naming of a mechanism is extremely important. A mechanism's name implies its function and the group of mechanisms it belongs to. Therefore if a mechanism is poorly named it could cause confusion or incorrect assumptions. For example, hormone-independent activation of hormone receptors were overlooked for years because these proteins were initially called 'receptors for hormones'. Mental inertia can also be caused by incorrectly looking at linkage groups-when involvement of the first mechanism is considered as evidence for involvemnt of the second, and likewise the lack of invovlement of the first mechanism means the lack of involvement of the second mechansim. This causes faulty thinking when different mechanisms for different stages of the same process are seen as different indications of a single mechanism. Scientific paradigms causes mental inertia by hindering scientists from thinking outside the traditional paradigms. For example, a set scientific paradigm was the idea that the death of a normal mammalian cell only occurs because something is killing it. Because of this paradigm, nobody considered the idea that normal cells can commit suicide for years. Now, this idea of cell suicide is currently one of the cornerstones of biology. Lastly, mental inertia can be caused by improper controls for an experiment, when controls are merely accepted because they are commonly used. This mental inertia is self-perpetuating because as more improper controls are used, the more common they become.