In keeping with the spirit of the following tweets:
@pathogenomenick @dgmacarthur @ianholmes REALLY? Omg most amazing fact EVER do tell me more!!!! It must mean something!!!— Bill Hanage (@BillHanage) August 19, 2012
Time to brace ourselves for five years of hype on the microbiome: http://t.co/6tvfnhTM Well, we geneticists had our time.— Daniel MacArthur (@dgmacarthur) August 19, 2012
…I offer some predictions about the popular media coverage of human microbiome research over the next few years:
1) Koch’s Postulates will be ‘rediscovered.’ Multiple times.
2) Methods and theories that ecologists, especially community ecologists, have developed during the last half-century will be ‘rediscovered.’ Multiple times.
3) People will incessantly refer to the microbiome as an organ, even though it’s not (and calling it such actually makes things far less interesting to boot).
4) We will realize that the only thing more absurd than underpowered human genomics studies (that is, too few people studied) is drawing far-reaching conclusions based on studies that use one to two dozen inbred mutant mice.
5) In keeping with Hanage’s snark, the mundane observation that the several hundred species that comprise the microbiome contain ORDERZ OF MAGNITOODE MOAR GEENZ!! will be stated so often that it will induce clinical depression in microbiologists.
6) If this field gains further popularity, Malcolm Gladwell will write something stupid about it (and have I ever mentioned that he’s a horrible person?).
7) Comradde Physioproffe will refer to it as the ‘fucken microbiomme.’
Seriously, a little scientific humility here would be a good thing.
Reading that Economist article brought to light the prevalence of the woo-woo crowd using google alerts. I cannot believe that that sub-population reads that magazine with any regularity, and yet the comments are absolutely infected with their blithering. The other thing is once something is learned, disabusing that person of that notion is very difficult.
If we over sell it, will it increase job opportunities for microbiologists (even short term)? If so, I vote we over sell it.
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