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Harvard epidemiologist William P. Hanage offers five skeptical questions about the microbiome

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Usefully applied to  ‘omes claims in general. The proteome, the connectome, etc.

From Nature:

Microbiomics risks being drowned in a tsunami of its own hype. Jonathan Eisen, a microbiologist and blogger at the University of California, Davis, bestows awards for “overselling the microbiome”; he finds no shortage of worthy candidates.

Previous ‘omics’ fields have faltered after murky work slowed progress2. Technological advances that allowed researchers to catalogue proteins, metabolites, genetic variants and gene activity led to a spate of associations between molecular states and health conditions. But painstaking further work dampened early excitement. Most initial connections were found to be spurious or, at best, more complicated than originally believed.

Blog here.

He offers five questions, to help distinguish hype from hope that can be usefully applied to many other claims in life science. This from Question 5:

Could anything else explain the results? There are good reasons to think that bacteria influence us in a host of ways. But there are many other — possibly more important — influences, such as diet in the earlier example. Whenever a study links a microbiome to a disease, wise critics should ask whether other contributors to disease are considered, compared and reported.

… Press officers must stop exaggerating results, and journalists must stop swallowing them whole. …

Put much less elegantly here at Uncommon Descent: Science writers should lose the pom poms.

Attention-getter: “You are more microbe than human”:

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Comments
More microbe than Human sure. But are we more microbe than Chimp?ppolish
August 25, 2014
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Press officers must stop exaggerating results, and journalists must stop swallowing them whole
Science writers should lose the pom poms.
Agree :)Dionisio
August 25, 2014
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"There are good reasons to think that bacteria influence us in a host of ways." I wonder if that was intended to be a pun.Mung
August 25, 2014
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semi OT: Paper Finds Functional Reasons For "Redundant" Codons, Fulfilling a Prediction from Intelligent Design - Casey Luskin - August 25, 2014 Excerpt: Redundancy of the genetic code enables translational pausing - Abel - 2014 Abstract: "The codon redundancy ("degeneracy") found in protein-coding regions of mRNA also prescribes Translational Pausing (TP). When coupled with the appropriate interpreters, multiple meanings and functions are programmed into the same sequence of configurable switch-settings. This additional layer of Ontological Prescriptive Information (PIo) purposely slows or speeds up the translation decoding process within the ribosome. Variable translation rates help prescribe functional folding of the nascent protein. Redundancy of the codon to amino acid mapping, therefore, is anything but superfluous or degenerate. Redundancy programming allows for simultaneous dual prescriptions of TP and amino acid assignments without cross-talk. This allows both functions to be coincident and realizable. We will demonstrate that the TP schema is a bona fide rule-based code, conforming to logical code-like properties. Second, we will demonstrate that this TP code is programmed into the supposedly degenerate redundancy of the codon table. We will show that algorithmic processes play a dominant role in the realization of this multi-dimensional code." They write that the ribosome's ability to undergo translational pausing "reveal[s] the ribosome, among other things, to be not only a machine, but an independent computer-mediated manufacturing system." The paper even suggests, "Cause-and-effect physical determinism...cannot account for the programming of sequence-dependent biofunction." http://www.evolutionnews.org/2014/08/paper_finds_fun089301.htmlbornagain77
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