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