I’m interested in moving on to the science of ENCODE, and to put the media coverage behind us. My final thoughts on the subject are up at the Huffington Post: “A Genome-sized Media Failure:”
This was a fantastic opportunity for scientists and science journalists to explain to the public some of the exciting and important research findings in genome biology that are changing how we think about health, disease, and our evolutionary past. But we blew it, in a big way…
[The media] stories failed us all in three major ways: they distorted the science done before ENCODE, they obscured the real significance of the ENCODE project, and most crucially, they mislead the public on how science really works.
A few supplemental points:
1) You’ve got to read John Timmer’s excellent discussion of the media coverage, filled with more details.
2) The ENCODE consortium was well-run, produced high-quality data, and measured the right biochemical activities; and I’m very interested in seeing the results.
3) However, I’m not convinced that big science was the way to go here, nor am I convinced that this will become the one dataset to rule them all as the technology rapidly changes… which means you can justify an open-ended project that has no concrete end point.
4) My opinion in point #3 could of course be wrong, but it will take time to for that to become clear.