Eugenics and the Rise of Population Genetics

The history of eugenics in early 20th century science must be addressed because of the sheer magnitude of its influence in the science and the politics of this era, its relation to the science of genetics that was to come, and because it provides such a strong example of the guiding model of this book of the inextricable connections between ideology, politics, and biology.


Milestone: 16,000 pages viewed

While 16,000 views over three years are clearly not Kardashian numbers, it exceeds my expectations by literally 8888% (I did the math). So I want to thank everyone who has visited the Nexus of Epigenetics and who will visit in the future. Stay tuned for my forthcoming book, Epigenetics and Public Policy: The Tangled Web of Science and Politics, to be released January of 2018. If you like the blog, you are going to LOVE the book.

More About Waddington: Socialism, Science, and Epigenetics

The convergence of political ideology and biology in the work of Waddington helps to explain the development of his conception of the epigenotype, and of epigenetics as the scientific study of this epigenotype. Likewise, this convergence of biology and ideology is equally pertinent for understanding the development of the science of genetics as we now know it, which until the last decade or so more or less excluded epigenetics from serious consideration.

A Tale of Two Fields: Epigenetics and Biology Between the Wars

This divergence between embryology and genetics appears to have occurred for  legitimate scientific reasons, but also as “a struggle for power and authority.” These disciplinary differences coincided with the eventual sides taken in the Second World War. That genetics ultimately emerged as the hegemonic victor in science just as the U.S. emerged as the global hegemon after the war, is not merely coincidental.