Monday, July 5, 2010

Longevity Gene Study, The hype cycle must die!

You know what I love. I love a good story.

Magic research discovers Longevity genes, now humans live to 900. Just like Methusaleh.

Great headline. Unfortunately, this may not exactly turn out what it was cracked up to be.

From the WSJ 1 July 2010

"Scientists discover keys to long life"

"By analyzing the DNA of the world's oldest people.......They expect soon to offer a test...."

Tranlsation, here is why you should read this story about this amazing discovery, because soon you can take a test to discover if you will live a very, very long time.

Ok, this assumes

1. The study is correct
2. The statistics are correct
3. The findings are replicated

What's worse about the article is that there isn't even One Iota of, this is a preliminary and needs to be backed up.


Instead, they say

"The free test will be available through a public website maintained by the New England Centenarian Study"

Come An' Get It!

Well, the website doesn't have the free test. But I bet it had a million hits the day the WSJ article and the press hype came out.

One may ask, as I am now, Once the afterglow fades, what will be of this test? Further, will the paper now stand the test of scientific scrutiny.

Just this week, despite the hype machine again rearing its ugly head like it did with Time's invention of the year in '08 or the blimps and Oprah. "An Age Old Problem Solved"? Really Globe and Mail?......We are met with discourse and doubt

There are some issues with the paper. Some skeptical about the effect size. Other's, like myself are skeptical because the SNP chip used for controls and cases was not EXACTLY the same. This can at times produce noise and false positive variants....

I am going to ask the hype machine again. Before running with an AMAZING Story, Mr. Hotz and everyone else in the press. Please take the time to get both sides and an analysis of the study BEFORE publishing the story.

The Sherpa Says: I hope this does pan out though, it sure would be interesting to have an estimate, in this case 77% accurate if you would live to 100. I use family history for this and it is not as accurate as 77%. Who gets that number anyways?

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