Search Results for: epigenetics

The BBC unwisely jumps on the epigenetics bandwagon

About two weeks ago,  the BBC’s “Future” website published a long science article touting the importance of epigenetic effects in humans: the idea that various behaviors, traumas, and psychological propensities produced by the environment on parents can be transmitted to their offspring. This is supposed to act in a “Lamarckian” way: the environment modifies the […]

Epigenetics: the return of Lamarck? Not so fast!

I noticed that there’s a new book out by Peter Ward, a biology professor at the University of Washington who’s done a lot of work on nautilus cepalopods. (He’s also written several trade books in biology.) Here’s his new book, and, as you can see, the cover touts epigenetics as “Lamarck’s Revenge” (Jean-Baptiste Lamarck [1744-1829] […]

Another lousy article on epigenetics, this time in the New York Review of Books

I don’t know who the New York Review of Books is getting to vet its biology articles, but this one below (free access) is really confusing. One reason may be that the authors have no particular expertise in evolution. Israel Rosenfeld is an MD with training in neuroscience, while Edward Ziff is a professor at NYU […]

More dumb claims that environmental epigenetics will completely revise our view of evolution

There’s an interesting new paper out on the genetic basis of eye loss in cave fish, reported in a manuscript in biorxiv (not yet peer reviewed) by Aniket Gore et al. (reference and free download at bottom. ) It’s also summarized by New Scientist in the online article below (click on screenshot to go to article), […]

The Daily Beast distorts epigenetics with bogus claims that children can “inherit memories of the Holocaust”

I’ve written extensively on this site about recent claims that environmental modifications of DNA, through either methylation (sticking a -CH3 group onto DNA bases or by changing the histone scaffolding that supports the DNA, can constitute a basis for evolutionary change. This claim is simply wrong. To date, while we can show that environmental “shocks” given […]

Mukherjee corrects his new book in light of epigenetics kerfuffle, still defends his mischaracterization of gene regulation

You may remember—but not want to remember—the Big Epigenetic Kerfuffle documented on this website (see list of pieces here). It involved Siddhartha Mukherjee, doctor and Pulitzer-Prize-winning author, who was taken to the woodshed by a passel of famous molecular biologists for distorting the state of epigenetics research in a popular article. Mukherjee’s piece, “Same but different,” was […]

TED gets epigenetics wrong, but the juggernaut rolls on

I was hoping that the Epigenetics Tsunami would have abated a bit by now, but it’s still washing over the public. And the new video below, produced by TED-Ed, doesn’t help, for it distorts what we know about epigenetics. The organization should be named “TED-anti-ED”: Just a few of the erroneous claims that you’ll hear in the video: […]

Neil deGrasse Tyson gets epigenetics completely wrong

Oy! Neil deGrasse Tyson can be as misleading as Siddhartha Mukherjee when it comes to epigenetics. Here’s a video from NOVA Science (2012) showing Tyson stating—completely erroneously—that epigenetic phenomena, like gene methylation and histone alterations, are the important factor controlling the expression of genes. As he says, they constitute “a second genome: the epigenome.” As we’ve seen over […]

Michael Eisen on epigenetics

Micheal Eisen, a well known geneticist at UC Berkeley, has weighed in on genetics and l’affaire Mukherjee on his website It is Not Junk. As you’ll see from his post (click on the screenshot below to go there), he thinks that Mukherjee way overrated the significance of epigenetics in his New Yorker piece. I like the title […]

Mukherjee takes confusing positions about epigenetics in Nature and in Forbes

Believe me, I really am tired of this affair and didn’t want to post more on Siddhartha Mukherjee and his New Yorker article, a piece that, to many scientists, distorted what we know about gene regulation (see here for background).  But I did note that I’d discuss press coverage of our disagreement, and we have some. Yesterday, two articles […]