Modern mythology

Richard Lehman, from his weekly summary of the medical journals:

When it all began, it seemed so promising. Our fate, we were told, is written in our genes, so if we could read our whole genome we would be able to predict illness with astonishing accuracy. This delusion continues to sustain a research effort consuming billions of dollars and billions of hours of scientific time. Here is a summary of progress to date: “In this exploratory study of 12 volunteer adults, the use of whole genome sequencing (WGS) was associated with incomplete coverage of inherited disease genes, low reproducibility of detection of genetic variation with the highest potential clinical effects, and uncertainty about clinically reportable findings.

Science is useful, but you should regard its publicists with the skepticism appropriate to someone trying to sell you one of those miracle exercise gadgets on television at 2 am.

For a more detailed look at the current state of genetic science as she is peddled to the public, there’s a longer piece from The New Atlantis here.

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