Bad science press release of the week: UC Merced on Circadian clocks in bacteria

Well, mind you, I like UC Merced and I sympathize with press offices and scientists who want publicity. But boy, this press release really got on my nerves: Professor Discovers Mechanism Behind Bacteria’s Biological Clock | University of California, Merced

Among the things I do not like in it:
“cyanobacteria, which is believed to be the oldest organism on Earth”
cyanobacteria refers to an entire Phylum not an organism and they are not “old” though there may have been cyanobacteria like taxa a long time ago
“All life — from bacteria to plants to humans — have evolved on Earth to anticipate sunrise and sunset”
– umm – cave organisms? deep sea organisms?
“These findings help pave the way for researchers who are studying the circadian rhythms of higher organisms”
– I hate the term “higher organisms” – it is meaningless to me
“Example of the campus’ innovative research toward health-related problems”
– circadian rhythms are really cool – I even worked on them previously – but the studies in cyanobacteria are not really health related – they are basic science
The science in this work might be cool. But I have a hard time getting past this press releases.

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

One thought on “Bad science press release of the week: UC Merced on Circadian clocks in bacteria”

  1. I agree. This reminds me of the book Bad Science by Ben Goldacre. I'm glad that there's someone else out there looking at the validity of press releases, or perhaps I should say, the lack thereof.

    I'm a grad student in Physiology currently running a highly customized health and wellness exercise program. I love science. I hate bad science, and this is a perfect example of untrained eyes feeding well trained voices.


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