A farewell to bioinformaticsI know next to nothing about bioinformatics. I know nothing about the author. But it resonates with me because of what I have seen with researchers trying to "extract science" from cytokine studies in ME/CFS.
I’m leaving bioinformatics to go work at a software company with more technically ept people and for a lot more money. This seems like an opportune time to set forth my accumulated wisdom and thoughts on bioinformatics.
My attitude towards the subject after all my work in it can probably be best summarized thus: “Fuck you, bioinformatics. Eat shit and die.”
Bioinformatics is an attempt to make molecular biology relevant to reality. All the molecular biologists, devoid of skills beyond those of a laboratory technician, cried out for the mathematicians and programmers to magically extract science from their mountain of shitty results.
And so the programmers descended and built giant databases where huge numbers of shitty results could be searched quickly. They wrote algorithms to organize shitty results into trees and make pretty graphs of them, and the molecular biologists carefully avoided telling the programmers the actual quality of the results. When it became obvious to everyone involved that a class of results was worthless, such as microarray data, there was a rush of handwaving about “not really quantitative, but we can draw qualitative conclusions” followed by a hasty switch to a new technique that had not yet been proved worthless.
Yes, it is plausible that cytokines are involved in ME/CFS. But considering that we know next to nothing about the possibly many disease that constitute ME/CFS, and considering that any disease is probably not a simple "this or that cytokine is too high or too low" case, I will keep on saying: Cytokine studies should be attempted, but we any "results" need to be rechecked in another cohort, and the results may turn out to be underwhelming or worthless.