Genetic Baloney in Thick Slices
Gene research companies tend to come and go. They start out banging and popping like fireworks in the sky, and then they fade out—selling themselves to larger outfits who’ve hired better liars…
Once upon a time, it sounded easy. Start with a disease, find the gene responsible for the disease, and correct the problem.
Then, researchers wondered, was disease the result of one gene or a group of genes acting together?
Either way, the proof would be in devising cures for diseases using gene therapy. “Not yet, but soon…”
And regardless, the major need was: money. Lots and lots of money.
This need required good PR people. “We have to pump up the idea that we’re on the edge of tremendous breakthroughs. We’re always on that edge…”
This hype also needed to obscure the fact that there wasn’t (and isn’t) ANY gene cure for ANY disease.
As time passed, lack of cure could be a problem. In fact, it could mean curing disease was not a genetic undertaking at all. What about environment? Toxicity? Malnutrition? Poverty? In order to raise money, those factors would have to be pushed back out of view.
Instead, the PR people would need to flood the news with positive glow around the subject of gene research. Also known as exaggeration. Or bullshit.
You can spot the key terms in these articles. POSSIBLE, SHOULD, COULD, EXPECTED TO, SEEMS, ON THE HORIZON, MAY BE, COULD LEAD TO, EVENTUALLY, and of course, the ever-popular BREAKTHROUGH.
I dug back in my files and found a piece I wrote in 2011. As you’ll see, the “breakthroughs” touted then haven’t panned out so far. You don’t read about them in the press these days. The PR pros have moved on to other exaggerations.
The first 2011 article I cited was from Reuters, headlined: SCIENTISTS FIND “MASTER SWITCH” GENE FOR OBESITY. Here are a few choice tidbits. Note the key terms I just mentioned.
“…and say it should help the search for treatments…”
“…the regulating gene could be [a] target for drugs to treat…”
“…seems to act as a master switch…”
“We are working hard…to understand these processes and how we can use this information to improve treatment…”
Sure. You bet.
Next, a 2011 blockbuster piece in the Financial Time
Article from LewRockwell