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Berkeley biologist’s bitch against epigenetics

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From Michael Eisen:

Epigenetics is used as shorthand in the popular press for any of a loosely connected set of phenomenon purported to result in experience being imprinted in DNA and transmitted across time and generations. Its place in our lexicon has grown as biochemical discoveries have given ideas of extra-genetic inheritance an air of molecular plausibility.

Biologists now invoke epigenetics to explain all manner of observations that lie outside their current ken. Epigenetics pops up frequently among non-scientists in all manner of discussions about heredity. And all manner of crackpots slap “epigenetics” on their fringy ideas to give them a veneer of credibility. But epigenetics has achieved buzzword status far faster and to a far larger extent than current science justifies, earning the disdain of scientists (like me) who study how information is encoded, transferred and read out across cellular and organismal generations.

This simmering conflict came to a head last week around an article in The New Yorker, “Same but Different” by Siddhartha Mukherjee that juxtaposed a meditation on the differences between his mother and her identical twin with a discussion of the research of Rockefeller University’s David Allis on the biochemistry of DNA and the proteins that encapsulate it in cells, that he and others believe provides a second mechanism for the encoding and transmission of genetic information. More.

Yes, … Mukherjee… See Darwinists open fire on epigenetics

The skinny: A century of Darwinist suppression of epigenetics has led to a situation where the hard science is in there but only just beginning to emerge. Perhaps there is time to kill it, no?

Getting rid of the crackpots would be a good first step, but only for those who actually want the discipline to succeed.

Sociologically, it is a curious standoff. Cool Media like the New Yorker should be heart and soul for Darwin, including and especially evolutionary psychology. But they don’t like thinking of Darwin as a ring through their snouts, it seems.

It’ll be interesting to see how that unfolds. If the New Yorker is even talking about it, that’s because other people are. At this point, Cool Media could give up their right to pursue such questions in order to cater to Darwin’s boys, but it would be at the price of their own relevance. Which, in their case, is their stock in trade.

But people have been willing to pay that price. Check out the “aren’t I good?” girls.

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

and

Royal Society rethinking evolution

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6 Replies to “Berkeley biologist’s bitch against epigenetics

  1. 1
    Bob O'H says:

    The skinny: A century of Darwinist suppression of epigenetics has led to a situation where the hard science is in there but only just beginning to emerge. Perhaps there is time to kill it, no?

    Now then, tell how Darwinists were suppressing epignetics in 1916. Please.

    And also please explain why, if we are so desperate to kill the idea, nobody has any problems with people being funded to research epigenetics and evolution.

    If there is a conspiracy, then show some actual evidence, please.

  2. 2
    News says:

    Bob O’H at 1:

    With respect, Your Honour, Counsel for the Defence calls Michael Eisen to the stand.

    Your Honour, as we shall see, my client did not invent this uproar.

    Major Manhattan cocktail circuit media have faced off against Darwin grantsmen, as is well documented.

    I strongly maintain my client’s innocence. He simply presented evidence for a given interpretation of a certain series of events.

    He is not responsible for the history of neo-Darwinism that led to the two sides engaging in a bitter conflict.

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    is eisen any better. Naw. Its just crazy dumb how far epi is invoked to explain everything.
    The thing about it is the thing about evolution.
    Its not based on actual scientific evidence. not biological scientific evidence.
    Its based on bio data, and lines of reasoning. So its easy to REASON on a line from some premise that pokes in epi.
    They reap what they sow.

  4. 4
    wd400 says:

    What do you think is wrong in Eisen’s post? “Any of a loosely connected set of phenomena” is a perfect description of the way “epigenetics” is used. The near lack of definition make it hard to know which get version of epigenetics we’ve been suppressing. So maybe you could start by saying exactly what you mean by the word?

  5. 5
    Bob O'H says:

    News at 2 –
    usually in trials you are expected to produce evidence, rather than wave your arms around. I’m not sure Michael Eisen is himself good evidence that we’ve been suppressing epigenetics for a century, because he isn’t that old.

    He also wrote this: in the post you linked to:

    Something is, however, getting lost in this back-and-forth , as one might come away with the impression that this is disagreement about whether cells and organisms can transmit information in a manner above and beyond DNA sequence. And this is unfortunate, because there really is no question about this. Ptashne and Allis/Mukherjee are arguing about the molecular details of how it happens and about how important different phenomena are.

    Various forms of non-Mendelian information transfer are well established. The most important of which happens in every animal generation, as eggs contain not only DNA from the mother, but also a wide range of proteins, RNAs and small molecules that drive the earliest stages of embryonic development. The particular cocktail left by the mother can have profound effects on the new organism – so called “maternal effects”. …

    However there are some good examples in which modifications to DNA play an important role in the transmission of information across generations – most notably with “imprinting”, in which an organism preferentially utilizes the copy of a gene it got from one of its parents independent to the exclusion of the other in a way that appears to be independent of the sequence of the gene. Imprinting, which is a relatively rare, but sometimes important, phenomenon appears to arise from parent-specific methylation of DNA.

    I guess Eisen was cunningly suppressing this information about epigenetics by hiding it deep in a blog post where journalists won’t notice it.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    Epi(above)genetic information is far more problematic for ‘bottom up’ Darwinian explanations than Darwinists are willing to believe. DNA is now found to be far more passive within the cell, in regards to generating ‘form’, than is held in the ‘bottom up’ Darwinian model.

    The Insurmountable Problem of ‘Form’ (body plan morphogenesis) for Darwinian Explanations – video (2016)
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1138468566166075/?type=2&theater

    Moreover, as if the preceding were not bad enough for ‘bottom up’ Darwinian explanations, Darwinists are still operating within a 18th, early 19th, century materialistic framework. Recent findings in ‘Quantum Biology’ are simply completely overturning that antiquated materialistic framework that Darwinists are currently using:

    Jim Al-Khalili, at the 2:30 minute mark of the following video states,
    “Biologists, on the other hand have got off lightly in my view. They are very happy with their balls and sticks models of molecules. The balls are the atoms. The sticks are the bonds between the atoms. And when they can’t build them physically in the lab nowadays they have very powerful computers that will simulate a huge molecule.,, It doesn’t really require much in the way of quantum mechanics in the way to explain it.”
    At the 6:52 minute mark of the video, Jim Al-Khalili goes on to state:
    “To paraphrase, (Erwin Schrödinger in his book “What Is Life”), he says at the molecular level living organisms have a certain order. A structure to them that’s very different from the random thermodynamic jostling of atoms and molecules in inanimate matter of the same complexity. In fact, living matter seems to behave in its order and its structure just like inanimate cooled down to near absolute zero. Where quantum effects play a very important role. There is something special about the structure, about the order, inside a living cell. So Schrodinger speculated that maybe quantum mechanics plays a role in life”.
    Jim Al-Khalili – Quantum biology – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOzCkeTPR3Q

    Molecular Biology – 19th Century Materialism meets 21st Century Quantum Mechanics – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1141908409155424/?type=2&theater

    Stephen Talbott’s articles against ‘genetic reductionism’, and his ‘poetic’ elaboration on the unexplained mystery of ‘form’, are also of related interest

    Scientific evidence that we do indeed have an eternal soul (Elaboration on Talbott)– video 2016
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1116313858381546/?type=2&theater

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