Most gossiped about genetic news of 2023
It seems like gone are the days of grand interest in wacky DNA related stories of the past that saw shares into millions. But we continue our yearly tradition of recounting the most online shared content related to genetics, and now we also include COVID-19 into the mix. We no longer include shared content that was videos as too many long videos of dubious content would have to be reviewed, so we focused on written stories only.
Disparaging claims claim the top
In the top place, with just breaching a quarter million shares was a Wall Street Journal article on COVID-19 pandemic origin most likely due to a lab leak, as per information released by one of the departments of the US government. This was a dramatic turnaround from the start of the pandemic when everyone was asking about that very possibility, but the mere suggestion of it was instantly labeled a conspiracy theory. These days, you know that if mainstream media labels anything a conspiracy theory, it is a theory probably worthy of paying attention to because there is a good chance that unpopular kernels of truth are within. This technique has worked well in the past but has so frequently been shown that it is the preferred narrative that turns out to be misinformation that now a conspiracy theory label is more like a crowning achievement that someone is exposing unwanted information.
In the second place, with nearly 190K shares, is an older story from a few years ago, about a defamation lawsuit against former president Donald Trump by an advice columnist E. Jean Carroll. Carroll claims she was raped by Trump in the 90s at a department store dressing room in Manhattan, and demanded a DNA test from Trump to prove her case. Remember, this is before the age of unisex dressing rooms which now might increase the danger of sexual assault on women. In the meantime, Trump’s lawyers argued for the case to be put on hold till legal process could determine if the president can be sued while in office. With a recent verdict against Trump in this case, the former president has been ordered to pay $83.3 million in damages.
Trump-@ejeancarroll verdict says Carroll proved more than nominal defamation by Trump.— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) January 26, 2024
So Trump has to pay:
$7.3 million for compensatory damages.
$11 million for reputation repair.
$65 million in punitive damages.
Total: $83.3 million.
Needless to say, Trump denies the allegation and will be appealing the verdict, so this saga continues.
Books grabbing interest
In third place, with 181K shares, is a book advert page that aims to reconcile scripture with genetic science. Titled Adam and the Genome and hence sneaking into this list, while again, the book is older than last year, so we are really lacking in new genetics related content to entertain us. There could be a desire to dismiss this read when the question is posed whether there is credible evidence for evolution, but apparently, the authors argue for the concept of evolution being very real and how in that context should we understand the Biblical story of Adam and Eve. While it seems that readers enjoyed this intellectual exercise, in terms of elaborating on Adam himself in the context of described science, it seems to have potentially fallen short.
Fourth place, also amassing 181K but edged out by the prior spot by a mere 100 extra shares, is another book advert page! This time, dedicated to a topic very dear to Merogenomics, the topic of long COVID. The popularity of this share underscores how many are in the camp of injured by the spike protein exposure and the pressing need to determine how to deal with this condition. Even more excitingly, the authors pay attention to the vagus nerve which we believe can explain much of the long COVID symptoms!
Please check out Merogenomics videos already dedicated to the vagus nerve below:
On that note, treatment options are still lacking for long COVID, apparently reflected in the book. Still, one big benefit spoken by many reviewers was the idea of knowing they are not alone in this situation, and that many suffer seemingly silently just like them. Doctors dismissing patient complaints is a common grievance, reminiscent of what Merogenomics encountered for individuals afflicted with rare genetic diseases.
For help with potentially easing some of the long COVID symptoms, Merogenomics has partnered with a company offering access to a certified vagus nerve neuromodulation device (available at a discounted price). The emerging science behind the vagus nerve neuromodulation when dealing with long COVID symptoms is that electrical stimulation of the nerve restores proper nerve behaviour, and it is the perturbance of this function that leads to many of the familiar symptoms of long COVID. Please watch the above videos to learn more.
Blast from the past
In the fifth spot, with almost 111K shares, is our favourite story of the year: genetic analysis of a 5,300-year-old mummy called the Ötzi the Iceman. The genome of the mummy, the world's oldest glacier mummy from the Italian Alps, has already been decoded in 2012. But more recent studies revealed that apparently previous analysis was heavily contaminated with other DNA and hence really muddling the correct interpretation. Weirdly, the only focus of the article is the skin color of the individual, which is indeed a pretty interesting story. The individual was dark skinned and one of the experts is quoted mentioning that people living in Europe anywhere between 40,000 to 8,000 years ago were black, and the light skin color took a long time to evolve, not commonplace in Europe till 4,000 to 3,000 years ago, much sooner than most realize or being represented in our imaginary depictions of the past.
If you dive deeper into the scientific paper on Ötzi the Iceman itself, you learn that he was a mixture of European hunter-gatherers and early Neolithic-farmers, a mixture that started to occur not long before Ötzi came to this world. The authors compared Ötzi’s genome with other available ancient human genomes.
The genetic picture suggests that farming spread with people from the Near East through Anatolia and the Balkan peninsula, somewhere around 7,000 BC, with the mixture between earlier European hunter-gatherers and Anatolian farmers becoming prevalent by 4,000 BC. Around 3,000 BC, herders from the Pontic-Caspian steppe introduced additional ancestral background throughout Europe.
Physicians Declaration you never heard of
In sixth place, amassing over 103K shares, was another already old story from 2021 that found new life in 2023. This one was about an alliance of medical and science professionals signing a declaration that COVID pandemic response constituted crimes against humanity for two primary reasons: preventing physicians from providing life-saving treatments for their patients and suppressing open scientific discussion. Hard to argue that this did not take place, and indeed, at some point in the future, we should probably have a legal interpretation of the events that transpired, along with advice from legal scholars on how the sanctity of the physician-patient relationship can be legally protected from future potential assaults. The Physicians Declaration as it has become known, appears to be a living document, as numerous updates have been posted, sounding ever more accusatory with each new rendition.
How to win fame
Back to a lighter topic, in the seventh place, with almost 98K shares, is a DNA investigation into a famous dog (with a statue in New York’s Central Park, remains preserved in a museum, and a movie made about it to prove it). Specifically, a Siberian husky sled dog that in the 1920s got famous for leading the pack to remote Alaskan territory with life-saving medication for a diphtheria-stricken community. With all other routes closed off due to harsh winter conditions, sled dogs making a near 1,000 km trek was the only option left. Balto, the sled dog hero protagonist of this story, as cute as they get, had his DNA compared with many of the contemporary breeds to see what made him tick and why fleas never dared to come near its hide. Yep, one of its beneficial attributes was tough skin. Literally.
Taking the eighth place, with just over 95K shares, is one of those stories we get every year, DNA paternity test revealing supposedly scandalous information of surprise or denied relation. In this case, it was a case of recently deceased young Nigerian singer Mohbad confirmation via a DNA test he had a son. But really, the best part is exposure to foreign exotic, and cool music. See a tribute to a singer below.
Uninspiring end of 2023 list (unless you love your puppies)
The second to last spot of our top 10 list, with almost 87K shares, is another oldie from the past. Really, 2023 had a hard time manufacturing its own exciting content if the top shared articles are from previous years. Either way, it was a boring article about Stephen Miller, then an advisor to President Trump, claiming his mother did not die of COVID-19 while others claiming to produce evidence to the contrary. Seriously? Any of the Merogenomics blog posts of last year were way more exciting than this big online share. Moving on 2023.
And last and definitely least, tenth spot with nearly 85K shares, exemplifying the paucity of creativity when it comes to genetic and COVID-19 related stories of the past year was a page marketing dog DNA test. We certainly hope future years will fare better, or perhaps we are going through a collective winter season of interest in genetics related stories and eventually we will see a new season emerge, and articles with many shares blossom again.
In the meantime, check out past years' entries where you can find more wacky and bizarre but sometimes also uplifting stories.
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