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Stories that mattered in 2016: 3: Epigenetics becomes, increasingly, a normal study area in science


Epigenetics (changes in the course of life that alter the state in which genes are inherited) seems to offer explicitly science-based explanations for observations, rather than the decades-long usual: We can fit even this into Darwinism! For example,  “Evolutionary psychology: The grandmother thesis, yet again” And also, of course, this: “‘Grandmother’ thesis in human evolution takes a hit.” (Shrug.)

That’s what’s killing Darwinism. For everything to fit in, the theory must be everything and thus nothing. For example,

Evolutionary psychology does not, for the most part, explain puzzling human behavior. It offers Darwinian explanations for conventional behavior that are intended to supplant traditional ones. For example, why we are sexually jealous (not fear of abandonment, but “sperm competition”); why we don’t stick to our goals (evolution gave us a kludge brain); why music exists (to “spot the savannah with little Pavarottis”); why art exists (to recapture that lost savannah); why many women don’t know when they are ovulating (if they knew, they’d never have kids); why some people rape, kill, and sleep around (our Stone Age ancestors passed on their genes via these traits), and why big banks sometimes get away with fraud (we haven’t evolved so as to understand what is happening).

Evo psych also accounts for anger over trivial matters (it was once key to our survival), dreams (they increase reproductive fitness),  false memories, (there might be a tiger in that tall grass…), menopause (men pursuing younger women), monogamy (control of females or else infanticide prevention — of one’s own children only), music (to ward off danger), premenstrual syndrome (breaks up infertile relationships), romantic love (not an emotion, rather a hardwired drive to reproduce), rumination on hurt feelings (our brains evolved to learn quickly from bad experiences but slowly from the good ones), smiling (earlier, a cringe reaction), and wonder at the universe (explained by how early man lived).

It feels like emptying Darwin’s wastebasket.

See also: Epigenetics: Fertilized egg deletes sperm’s epigenetic memory Some sperm epigenetic memory likely gets through, so much more remains to be discovered. But compared to Darwinism, this is beginning to sound like a real science.

Newly discovered epigenetic mechanism contributes to plants’ decision to flower

Researchers: Epigenetics helps cells remember who they are

Epigenetics: What China’s government famine can teach us about inherited starvation effects


Epigenetic change: Lamarck, wake up, you’re wanted in the conference room!

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Did she even read the paper?
Predictably, only one of the included studies is about epigenetics as News defines it in this post. So I think we can be fairly certain she doesn't read the papers. If she does she certainly doesn't understand them. Since none of your fellow travellers seem able to (or perhaps willing to) correct these posts, I guess they'll keep coming. I don't see much point in commenting on them, though. wd400
Perhaps I could do a good deed today and save wd400 some keystrokes: Epigenetics is nothing new. It is completely and seamlessly incorporated into Darwinian thought. It fits perfectly. It was predicted by Darwin himself. It's merely a well-known extension of the mechanism of selection and mutation. There's nothing new at all here - all known for decades. I really wonder why News selects stories about epigenetics, except does she think she is going to bring down biological science? Did she even read the paper? ----------- Was that pretty good??? Silver Asiatic
Was epigenetic's study ever "abnormal" before? Or, was it perhaps forbidden or frowned upon by "you know who"? If J. Coyne, Dawkins, Moran and others don't want to deal with this new evolutionary reality,(epigenetics) I'd advise them to retire before the tsunami of experimental data hits them in the ass... J-Mac

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