by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) As discussed repeatedly on this blog, epigenetics is a rapidly emerging field of research akin to genetics but with some substantial differences. In addition to the differences in the sciences of genetics and epigenetics—which differences are more a function of the ontological assumptions of each than the actual science—there are significant differences in … Continue reading The Trans-ideological Potential of Epigenetics
by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) The importance of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and of Lamarckism in the contemporary debates about epigenetics and genetics is difficult to overstate, primarily because one of the most common epithets used against contemporary epigenetics is that it is ‘Lamarckian’, which distinction is deemed sufficient to dismiss any subsequent discussion. As discussed here, such references demonstrate fundamental misunderstandings of … Continue reading The History of Epigenetics and the Science of Social Progress
by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) As discussed in a previous post and in this conference paper on epigenetics and the causal narratives of obesity, there are important congruencies between causal narratives (i.e., stories about why things do or do not happen) and ideology. These congruencies explain why ideological conservatives tend to prefer narratives of individual responsibility while liberals prefer … Continue reading Epigenetics and the Ideology of ‘Nature’ versus ‘Nurture’
by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) Understanding the Impact of Epigenetics podcast Below are links to posts and papers I mention in this podcast about epigenetics and health that I participated in as a panel member hosted by the health and fitness website BreakingMuscle.com: When it Comes to Epigenetics, How Much Fun is Too Much? Comment and Reply Epigenetics By Any Other Name? What … Continue reading “Understanding the Impact of Epigenetics” podcast
The scientific findings emerging from epigenetics have significant implications for policy, but the philosophical challenges presented by epigenetics are even more profound than just these practical policy implications. In particular, epigenetics challenges the very foundations upon which our contemporary ethics and politics are based. As the science from epigenetics is just now emerging as a challenge to many aspects of conventional genetics, the social and political effects of epigenetics are just now emerging as well. My project is to anticipate the nature of the ethical and political effects of epigenetics via the model presented below.
Because epigenetic marks are distinct from genetic mutations in a number of fundamental ways “the threshold issue will be whether, as a matter of ethics and law, it is appropriate to engage in ‘epigenetic exceptionalism.’” Given the unique scientific challenges raised by epigenetics, such as the possibilities for rapid adaptation and transgenerational inheritance, the configuration of the liberties and the resulting ethics recommended from epigenetics may not be compatible with conventional politics; then again, perhaps they are. What the politics of epigenetics are or may become is yet to be seen, but elaborating the different possibilities at this early stage of the emergence of epigenetics is my project.
by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) If you picked up the movie reference in the title to this post, you are likely (hopefully) asking yourself “Minority Report? And epigenetics? Really?” The answer to this question is “Yes…perhaps,” but while the reference is meant in fun, this connection between epigenetics and Minority Report raises some serious points for discussion. … Continue reading Epigenetics Minority Report Part I: Epigenetics, blame, precrime and politics
by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) This post began as a simple reply to a comment from Alison M to this post about epigenetics and drug discovery, but suddenly bloomed into a full-fledged post of its own. Below is Alison M's original comment in italics for purely aesthetic purposes, followed by my reply (and I think Alison is actually … Continue reading When it Comes to Epigenetics, How Much Fun is Too Much? Comment and Reply
by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) In a recent post I summarize the May 2014 article “Mosaic Epigenetic Dysregulation of Ectodermal Cells in Autism Spectrum Disorder.” This article details the gathering and analysis of genetic data in order to determine whether ASD has genetic or epigenetic causes. One of the causes associated with ASD is advanced maternal age … Continue reading Autism, Ethics and Epigenetics
by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) As discussed here and here, epigenetics is rapidly emerging as a prominent focus of study in the natural and life sciences, but has not quite yet made much of an impact on public awareness. (For those unfamiliar with epigenetics, the name comes from the Greek root epi-, meaning ‘above’ or ‘over,’ which … Continue reading Epigenetics By Any Other Name? What Epigenetics Should and Should Not Be