Monday, June 18, 2012

Complex causation …

… Bryan Appleyard — Blog Archive — Not in Our Genes. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The gene-centric view was that the gene produced a protein that went on to build an organism. In fact, we now know not only that some genes can produce several proteins, but also that this mechanism can be turned on and off by processes of which, not long ago, we knew nothing. The gene, in other words, is not the last word and may not even be the first. It is certainly not in complete control of anything.
The implications are staggering. The first is that twins may not be identical because these processes (the most common is called methylation) could have happened to them in the womb. Second, the sins of the grandparents can be visited upon the grandchildren. Spector has cases of one generation’s starving and binge-eating during postwar austerity resulting in obesity two generations later. In other words, what you do in life may affect the genomes of your offspring.

Does this not amount to the inheritance of acquired characteristics?

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