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Hot weather story: When epigenetics becomes politics…

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Trigger warning!: Donald Trump mentioned. 😉 From Nicholas Staropoli at Epigenetics Literacy Project:

This week’s features: A professor’s troubling politicization of epigenetics in Gizmodo, Men’s Health quotes me on male fertility but mistakes correlation for causation. Plus see what’s trending on the Epigenetics Literacy Project.

On a larger scale, the amount of stress that Americans are going through now, because of Trump—there is going to be an evolutionary consequence.

Peter Ward Professor, Department of Biology, University of Washington More.

Although Ward’s appointment is in biology at U Washington, as Staropoli notes, his main publications have been in astronomy and paleontology. One of Ward’s better-known works is Rare Earth (2000), on why Earth is especially habitable (now free at the link as a pdf).

It sounds rather as though Staropoli and crowd are trying to take over epigenetics and run it as a Darwin franchise. So we recommend reading all this for fun around the pool. It’s already August 15. Summer won’t last.

Added: If a relatively brief moment in time, place, and circumstance (Donald Trump cannot serve more than eight years and only in one country in one region) really affected human evolution over many millennia, consider: The sheer number of possibly causative epigenetic events would argue for abandoning all study of the area.

A more reasonable, science-friendly view: Epigenetic changes are mainly brought about by changes in basic life circumstances such as food, oxygen, or actual (not merely imagined) threats to life. The epigenetic study of surviving 9-11 expectant mothers may be on good grounds because the threat was actual. The mothers weren’t just sitting around worrying about what might happen if…

Note: There could, of course, be an epigenetic effect created by a stimulated imagination. But we ought to study it separately from possible epigenetic effects created by actual, evident threats to life.

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

7 Replies to “Hot weather story: When epigenetics becomes politics…

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    Haha News. What a great idea. Darwin Franchises!

  2. 2
    ET says:

    On a larger scale, the amount of stress that Americans liberals are going through now, because of Trump—there is going to be an evolutionary consequence.

    Fixed it.

    or

    On a larger scale, the amount of stress that Americans are going through now, because of Trump liberals—there is going to be an evolutionary consequence.

    Remember any and all choices of the above corrections were pre-determined and were not really you choosing.

  3. 3
    Dionisio says:

    Men’s Health quotes me on male fertility but mistakes correlation for causation

    The problem doesn’t seem related to the current POTUS. At least the stats seem to point to older issues even outside the US:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new.....ation.html

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/23/baby-crisis-europe-brink-depopulation-disaster

    http://worldpopulationreview.c.....opulation/

    https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/07/opinion/an-aging-europes-decline.html

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/06/23/map-where-europe-is-growing-and-where-it-is-shrinking/?utm_term=.d0e0cdb52218

    The problem has been around since long ago:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/eu.....-declines/

    https://www.pop.org/fertility-decline-in-western-europe/

    All health problems started long ago when the very first lady took a bite of the forbidden fruit and then her dumb husband messed up things even worse. It ain’t gettin’ any better.

  4. 4
    Seversky says:

    On a larger scale, the amount of stress that Americans are going through now, because of Trump—there is going to be an evolutionary consequence.

    I’d say that’s speculative at best.

  5. 5
    News says:

    Seversky at 4: Indeed. If a relatively brief moment in time, place, and circumstance (Donald Trump cannot serve more than eight years and only in one country in one region) really affected human evolution over many millennia, consider: The sheer number of possibly causative epigenetic events would argue for abandoning all study of the area.

    A more reasonable, science-friendly view: Epigenetic changes are mainly brought about by changes in basic life circumstances such as food, oxygen, or actual (not merely imagined) threats to life. The epigenetic study of surviving 9-11 expectant mothers may be on good grounds because the threat was actual. The mothers weren’t just sitting around worrying about what might happen if…

    Note: There could, of course, be an epigenetic effect created by a stimulated imagination. But we ought to study it separately from possible epigenetic effects created by actual, evident threats to life.

  6. 6
    tribune7 says:

    I’ve always heard that marijuana affects male sperm effectiveness. If true, increased use of it would obviously cause a drop in male fertility.

    If male fertility has dropped since the 70s as claimed maybe the blame belongs to Cheech and Chong rather than Monsanto.

  7. 7
    awstar says:

    On a larger scale, the amount of stress that Americans are going through now, because of Trump—there is going to be an evolutionary consequence.

    If Trump is successful in knocking out fake news, and thereby throwing evolution science into the trash can — would that qualify as “evolutionary consequence”?

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