I hate judgemental people. They’re so mean…and fat.

My first piece is up on the Diabetes UK blog now, so I thought I’d update you on some other stuff I’ve been doing. Namely acting as a referee on a paper.

Now, I have some issues with referees as you’d expect from someone who’s been trying to publish a paper for two years, and I’ve not had the best experiences to be honest.

I’ve had a referee completely misunderstand RT-PCR. It’s basically a method for seeing which genes are expressed, that is it; and that is all we wanted to use it for, to narrow down our options from 13 potential targets. But this chump was adamant that it was quantitative, and we were ignoring these clear differences. Even when we explained that it wasn’t quantitative, and that we only carried it out to see which genes were expressed, they just ignored it and complained about it again. I’m not saying it’s as bad as anti-vax statistics, but it’s pretty close…

I’ve been told that our paper wasn’t novel, despite showing a mechanism that no-one has ever seen before. I know no-one has seen it before, because it’s literally my job to know that. They basically went “A causes B, and we know that C causes D, and all you’ve done it show that they are linked”.

I have had a grant rejected because people already know what PLCs do in insulin resistance, when we applied to investigate PKCs. I mean what can you do with that?! It’s an entire different family of proteins. Obviously you lose novelty if you just decide that investigators want to look at completely different things!

And to top it all off I’ve been called Dr Alexander a fair few times. If someone can’t even understand my name I’m fairly certain they can’t be trusted to understand my science.

Bearing that in mind you can see why I couldn’t wait to be a jerk to someone else’s paper, right? Obviously I won’t tell you which journal or anything it was in, but it’s a higher impact that anything I have published in. So, you’d expect it to be good, hey?

It wasn’t.

It really, really wasn’t.

They missed out control experiments, hid several bits of data, cited their own “Manuscript under review” to back up their conclusions. They even contradicted their own paper that they had just published. They also used a marker for insulin resistance that me and others have shown is inappropriate. As well as using that pesky RT-PCR, but at least they understood how.

I wanted to be a right jerk, but I wasn’t sure if I was just bitter. So, I was “nice” about it. However, my supervisor agreed with all of my criticisms. We sent off a great big “hell no!” and a couple of days later we got to see the other referee’s comments. Now, they take being a jerk to a whole new level. They echoed almost everything we said, but with a heaping scoop of anger and poison.

In the end, it was actually quite comforting to know that my input and comments were valid, and that my belief that this paper wasn’t good was justified. However, you best beware I’m not refereeing your next paper as now I know how mean I can really be!

Today’s quote is from John R. Lindensmith


You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

So, it’s been a while. I have some excuses. I went on holiday for a bit, and I have something excited to report. Like the grown up professional scientist I am, I’ve started writing for Diabetes UK.

Just their blog, so it’s fairly informal. It gives me a chance to actually communicate my specialist area with normal every day folks, and importantly tell people with diabetes some science. If you know me, you’ll know that Diabetes UK sponsored my PhD, so I like that I’m giving back to them.

Because it’s either that or give them back like £80,000; not including the expenses for when they brought me down to London, put me up in a hotel, stuffed me with high calorie treats, and let me talk about my work.

So, I realised on holiday that I have become an insufferable scientist…

Me and my girlfriend travelled around Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, Chicago, Denver and the Grand Canyon, checking out the sights. We were basically being tourists, visiting museums and things. I lost count of the number of times my girlfriend had to tell me that no-one was disagreeing with science.

I want to blame Twitter, and other pro-science things, but I just assume that there are idiots everywhere. At San Diego Zoo I heard some people claim climate change isn’t real, and me and my friends just laughed at them.

The Pacific Science Centre in Seattle talked about the Big Bang and no-one cared. We watched a 3D video (narrated by Morgan Freeman) about Lemurs. It talked about evolution, and again no-one cared. There was a section of stem cell research, and no-one even batted an eye.

In Chicago, we visited The Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium. Both of these places talked about evolution; The Field Museum even explained what a theory was before we entered an exhibit to stop those morons hammering on about how evolution is only a theory. But no-one cared. In the Field Museum they talked about bugs being around for millions of years; no-one could care less. They had a section of DNA, which pretty much explained the basic behind genetic modification, but still no-one cared.

(By the way, if you get a chance go to The Field Museum. I know I’m a boy, and a bit of nerd, but seriously dinosaurs! I could have spent the entirety of my holiday just looking at the dinosaurs. I love my job, but all I wanted to do then, was dinosaurs. I don’t know what job I could have, but dinosaurs was all I knew I wanted to do. They are just the best.)

At the Grand Canyon there were rocks dated from millions of years ago; they explained carbon dating. There was absolutely none of the creationist nonsense about great floods, and still no-one cared.

I expected people to be up in arms about all of this. I thought people would be unhappy. At the very least I expected folks to mumble under their breath about all this science mumbo jumbo. I guess the types of people that believe all that nonsense don’t go to museums though. I mean why bother, when you can just read the idiocy on the internet?

It was good to see so many kids at these museums though. It’s important that they learn how fun, interesting and exciting science can be, because it is pretty much the best.

Except for dinosaurs obviously.

Today’s quote is from Dr Suess