Sunday, March 21, 2010

News-ish stuff from this week...

Consumers Slow to Embrace the Age of Genomics

I've got a bit of a problem with this article, particularly the headline. I actually read a Cracked article earlier this week that discusses the exact phenomenon the NYTimes article engages in (scroll down to #4 on Cracked to see what I'm talking about.) That is, the headline makes it sound as if the focus of the article is that there is this great new Age of Genomics dawning, ripe with possibility (somewhat true) but that the bumbling consumers are too "slow" (see what they did there?) to accept it.

Page 1 - the "money" page, the page they expect most will actually read - extolls the woes of companies that offer to sequence DNA samples from customers and give assessments of individuals' increased or decreased risk for certain diseases based on their DNA. Their problem? No one's buying. The article offers the possibility that it's too expensive, and then finally this gem is revealed:

But the services face an even more fundamental problem: in most cases, the current level of DNA scanning technology and science is unable to offer meaningful predictions about the risk that a person will get a disease...

... what has become clear to geneticists only in the last year is that the genetic variations known so far can explain only a very small part of the risk of getting most diseases. The rest involves still unknown genetic factors or environmental ones, like a person’s diet. Experts say that, for now at least, in most cases there is little a person can do to act on the information from genome scans.

That quoted bit? That's the truth. That's the long and the short of it. There is no reason at this juncture for someone to spend the money these companies are asking for a full genome scan because we don't have enough information to actually give someone a definite measure of their likelihood for developing diseases with genetic and environmental components.

What's funny is that on Page 2, the article actually continues to reveal more truthiness, such as that identical samples sent to different sequencing companies came back with conflicting results. So by the end of the article, anyone who actually took the time to read it would probably understand why these companies are struggling: it costs too much for little to no benefit. So what's the deal with that headline blaming the public for not embracing our future? It kills me.

Hey Men – Don’t You Dare Blame Sandra for Jesse James Cheating!

There's not much I really need to say about this. Basically, the author recalls talking to male friends about the scandal that broke this week, and the guys blamed Sandra Bullock for leaving him alone with his penis too long. Are these bitches for real? The article itself isn't a super strong rebuttal, but one of the commenters did a pretty good job of summing up what's wrong with that logic:

Lisa McLeod: Men who use a wife’s absence to justify cheating belong in the same category as people who sue McDonald’s for getting them fat.

Question for those men – What would you say if Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama hooked up with the white House kitchen help because hubby was distracted by his job and – whine whine- just wasn’t paying enough attention to his wife?

In other words? Suck it up! If you get married, you're making a commitment to someone who you supposedly love; in addition to that, you're making a commitment to be monogamous. If either of those commitments is something you think you can't keep, don't get married. End of story!

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