The intellectual vacuity of New Scientist’s evolution issue: 3. The supposed importance of epigenetics in evolution

I’ll continue on with New Scientist‘s 13-section claim that the modern theory of evolution needs a reboot (see previous posts here and here), though I don’t know how much longer I can stand their uninformed palaver written by incurious journalists. Today we’l take up section 4: “There is more to inheritance than just genes”, which … Continue reading The intellectual vacuity of New Scientist’s evolution issue: 3. The supposed importance of epigenetics in evolution

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 … Continue reading The BBC unwisely jumps on the epigenetics bandwagon

The conversation with Adam Gopnik continues

Over at The Conversation site, I’ve posted a response (“Letter 7”) to New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik in our continuing debate about the question posted by the title below (click on screenshot). This is my last response, as I started the sequence and each of us gets four “letters”. In his last letter (“Letter 6”), … Continue reading The conversation with Adam Gopnik continues

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] … Continue reading Epigenetics: the return of Lamarck? Not so fast!

More evidence against pervasive “epigenetic” heritable and environmentally induced changes in DNA

I’ve discussed at great length the lack of evidence that the environment can change the DNA in a way that is both inherited through successive generations and can also be adaptive: the view that there is a new “epigenetic” form of Lamarckian inheritance of acquired characteristics. Go here to see a panoply of my pieces … Continue reading More evidence against pervasive “epigenetic” heritable and environmentally induced changes in DNA

The flimsy evidence that environmentally-induced “epigenetic” changes in DNA are transmitted between generations of humans

All of you have read on this site (most recently in my critique of a dire New York Review of Books article) about the buzz concerning “epigenetics”—in particular, about the idea that human DNA can be changed by our exposure to the environment, and the view that such DNA changes can be inherited across several generations.  … Continue reading The flimsy evidence that environmentally-induced “epigenetic” changes in DNA are transmitted between generations of humans

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

Here we go again: a Templeton-sponsored conference designed to “expand” evolutionary biology

When I was sent this announcement of a conference on evolution at Cambridge University next year (click on screenshots), and when I read the program and saw the speakers (links at third screenshot), I smelled a RAT (abbreviation for “rubbish and Templeton”), but I didn’t know for sure that the John Templeton Foundation was one … Continue reading Here we go again: a Templeton-sponsored conference designed to “expand” evolutionary biology

Templeton wastes more than $12 million

You want to see millions of dollars wasted—most of them in a desperate attempt to reconcile science and religion? Look no further than this monthly report of grants given by the John Templeton Foundation, or JTF (click on the screenshot): If you go to the page, you’ll see a list of grants on various topics, … Continue reading Templeton wastes more than $12 million

The end of my conversation with Adam Gopnik about “ways of knowing”

Adam Gopnik and I have now finished our written “conversation” at the link below (click on the screenshot). He has produced letter #8 in partial response to my letter #7, so we’ve each had four chances to say our piece.  Since the conversation is now finished, I’ll make a few brief remarks, particularly with respect … Continue reading The end of my conversation with Adam Gopnik about “ways of knowing”