Genes are no longer what they used to be. Once the powerful determinants of our biological and evolutionary fate, their central importance is now gradually being chipped away. At first glance, this may just sound like an interesting puzzle for scientists: How can the gene be placed correctly in the larger context of biology? But it also creates an important challenge when it comes to communicating genetics to the public: How can the role of genes in disease and health be explained to a public who put their faith in biology’s ability to improve their lives?
There is no doubt that the effort to map and sequence entire genomes in order to decipher the genetic basis of life has been a brilliant success. Like many scientific successes, however, it has created a host of interesting new problems. And in the case of the Human Genome Project, it has also created a larger irony. While the public expectantly awaits the fruits of post-genomic research in the form of new therapies and better healthcare, their expectations—and some of their attendant fears—may be based on an idea about genes that will not last long in this new genomic world. .pdf here
Maybe not, from what we can see of later developments:
The selfish gene is dead
There’s a gene for that… or is there?
Readers, is there something in the fact that the world’s best known new atheist is the “selfish gene” guy? And that the world did not turn out to be so simple as he and his followers thought?
Yes, we’ve noticed that the wind is up. Maybe the jig is too.
Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista