I am running a journal club this quarter at UC Davis on Host Microbiome Co-evolution (see Journal Club at #UCDavis on Co-evolution of Microbiomes and Hosts for more information). It meets Mondays 12:10-1 PM. But I thought I would post here about the course and I would welcome any comments from anywhere, even if you cannot attend.
The papers for Monday October 8 will be on recent evolution of the human gut microbiome
Subsistence strategies in traditional societies distinguish gut microbiomes
- Gut microbiome of the Hadza hunter-gatherers
I found these papers to be interesting for a variety of reasons. I wrote a blog post about one of these papers and the associated
bad science reporting poorly chosen title for an article that came with it: Treponema are not “ancient” but absence from some human’s guts is very interesting. So the reporting headline was bad but the paper itself was pretty interesting.
Anyway – any thoughts on these papers would be welcome. I will post more detail once we have the meeting on Monday.
(UPDATE: In response to a comment from Ann Gibbons I have edited the article to make clear that what I did not like about her article was the headline about “ancient bacteria. Her article actually is pretty good. Sincere apologies to Ann Gibbons for this. I made the mistake of focusing on the headline and not her article. Actually many of the other headlines about this story also drove me a bit batty and I just chose this one as an example. Consider “Hunter-Gatherers Have Better Guts Than We Do“. But in the end, Ann Gibbons is right – I was sloppy here in my writing. I think I was less sloppy in my original blog post on the topic, where all I did was critique the headline. But regardless, I owe her an apology for what I wrote here).
5 thoughts on “PBG270 Host-Microbiome Co-evolution Week 2: Focus on Humans”
Hi Jonathan: I am the author of the report in Science that you call “associated bad science reporting.” Can you please clarify your posts that you objected to a headline, not the article? Your post on “bad reporting” has been picked up and reposted by people who haven’t read the original article, and I don’t appreciate the sloppy slam at my reporting.
I did not write the headline that you dislike: “Ancient bacteria found in hunter-gatherer guts.” And while it could have been better, it meant to capture the idea that hunter-gatherers have ancient TYPES of bacteria not found in living humans. OK, it could have been better but your critique is overstated and over-hyped itself.
The article reflects the nuance in the recent studies on the differences in gut bacteria between hunter-gatherers and people on western diets. It might be fun if you could propose alternate headlines . Try writing an accurate headline that catches the general public (not scientists’) attention. I’d appreciate the positive feedback.
Yes Ann you are correct in the blog post linked here I was critiquing mostly the headline of the Science article you wrote. The headline was picked up by many people especially on social media and I was trying to point out that there was nothing in the study about “ancient bacteria”.
I apologize for incorrectly stating that this was bad science reporting. It was a bad headline. I will edit the post to clarify
As for alternative headlines – how about “Novel bacteria found in hunter-gatherer guts”?
Thanks Jonathan. I appreciate the clarification and will keep that headline in mind for the next paper! And I welcome critiques of my stories–I just don’t people to read more than the headline before they criticize it. Feel free to send me specific suggestions.
I’m also curious to see what your journal group learns from reading these papers.
oops: I hit send without proofing. It should say:
Thanks Jonathan. I appreciate the clarification and will keep that headline in mind for the next paper! And I welcome critiques of my storiesâ€“I just WANT people to read more than the headline before they criticize it. Feel free to send me specific suggestions.
Iâ€™m also curious to see what your journal group learns from reading these papers.