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Snarls over epigenetics


Thank heaven it isn’t Rescue Day at the Humane Society kennel (wear earplugs), but look at this:

A commentary published in GENETICS this week (October 15) questions the results of a December 2013 Nature Neuroscience paper about how mice, when conditioned to fear odors, pass on their fears to their pups, as well as to their pups’ offspring, presumably by an epigenetic mechanism. Gregory Francis, the critique’s author and a professor of psychological sciences at Purdue University, suggests that the original paper’s statistical results are “too good to be true.”

Francis said that he submitted his critique to Nature Neuroscience but that “they wouldn’t send it out for review.” Nature senior press officer Neda Afsarmanesh wrote in an e-mail to The Scientist that Nature “cannot discuss specific internal dialog about our papers,” but noted that editors do review all critiques sent to them.

Brian Dias and Kerry Ressler of Emory University, the authors of the Nature Neuroscience paper, responded to Francis’s criticisms in another GENETICS article published this week, stating that they stand by their results and that they have reported all data they collected. They also said that Francis did not mention experiments they included in the supplemental materials that did not yield statistically significant results.

Opinion: If The Scientist isn’t hanging the epigenetics people out to dry (wouldn’t they just love to?), they suspect their research is valid.

Here we follow the hated Fox News formula: We report. You decide.

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Another interesting aspect of this piece was scrolling down and reading the comments section below the article DavidD
From the link:
“Even if Francis is correct that there is a surplus of significance here . . . it doesn’t necessarily invalidate the findings,” Goodman said, “unless he can provide evidence that the effect sizes are implausibly large, that there are internal inconsistencies, that data have been fudged, or that the allegedly omitted experiments are likely to undermine inferences from the experiments presented.”
Wouldn't all evolutionary biology papers be invalidated if this kind of evidence wasn't overlooked? awstar

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