Wednesday, February 18, 2015
How many scientists does it take to screw ... ?
I kept flipping. I found a paper with an intriguing title "New genetic loci link adipose and insulin biology to body fat distribution" [doi:10.1038/nature14132]. The authors found 68 loci in the human genome that are statistically correlated with excess body fat. That's not very interesting because very few of these association studies pan out in the long run. Most of those 68 loci are probably genetic noise.
The next paper has a similar title, "Genetic studies of body mass index yield new insights for obesity biology" [doi: 10.1038/nature14177]. The authors found 97 loci correlated with body mass index (BMI). These loci accounted for ~2.7% of BMI variation.
There are a lot of authors on the second paper as well. Let's count them: 1,2,3,.....481! There are 481 authors from 347 institutes and universities. The list of authors and affiliations covers almost four pages (!) in the print edition of the journal. Is this a record?
It gets worse. In both lists of authors there are entries under "T" like "The PAGE Consortium" and others. They are marked with double daggers and the footnotes say "A list of authors and affiliations appears in Supplementary Information."
I checked it out. For the second paper there are about 800 additional scientists listed as members of the various consortia.
Am I the only one who thinks this is ridiculous?