The journal Nature held a big press conference in London Wednesday, at the World Conference of Science Journalists, to unveil three large studies of the genetics of schizophrenia. Press releases from five American and European institutions celebrated the findings, one using epithets like “landmark,” “major step forward,” and “real scientific breakthrough.” It was the kind of hoopla you’d expect for an actual scientific advance.
It seems to me the reports represent more of a historic defeat, a Pearl Harbor of schizophrenia research.
The defeat points solely to the daunting nature of the adversary, not to any failing on the part of the researchers, who were using the most advanced tools available. Still, who is helped by dressing up a severely disappointing setback as a “major step forward”?
The principal news from the three studies is that schizophrenia is caused by a very large number of errant genes, not a manageable and meaningful handful.
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