All the data you can eat

Science backs down to the whims of Excel autocorrect

Jason Norwood-Young
Jason Norwood-Young

Guess what happens when genetic scientists put the gene name “MARCH1” into Excel: no prizes if you worked out that it changes it to a date, thus destroying data validity and some poor geneticist’s groundbreaking paper along with it. The problem is so pervasive that a 2007 study found that one-fifth of genetics data in research papers was plagued with Excel errors. Rather than waiting for Microsoft to fix the problem — which they never will, of course — the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (which controls gene names) has renamed 27 human genes. MARCH1 becomes MARCHF1 and SEPT1 changes to SEPTIN1, etc. Machines, 1; Humans 0.

Read more about it on The Verge…

Jason Norwood-Young
  • Journalist, developer, community builder, newsletter creator and international man of mystery.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *