The Reception of Epigenetics: More like Mendel or Darwin?

My name is Shea Robison. (Follow me on Twitter at @EpigeneticsGuy and see my academic profile at As is well known, Darwin’s theory of evolution presented fundamental challenges to many of the prevailing core beliefs and values of the mid-1800s. These fundamental ontological challenges account for the significant scientific and ecclesiastical opposition which greeted the publication of On … Continue reading The Reception of Epigenetics: More like Mendel or Darwin?

The Trans-ideological Potential of Epigenetics

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

The History of Epigenetics and the Science of Social Progress

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

Epigenetics and the geopolitical history of the 20th century

by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) While there is a growing acceptance of epigenetics, there is still a lot of skepticism from within conventional genetics about the claims emerging from epigenetics. The most common rejoinders against the significance of epigenetics are either that the findings of epigenetics are novel but inconsequential, or that epigenetics has always been an accepted … Continue reading Epigenetics and the geopolitical history of the 20th century

Epigenetics and Ideology

by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) In a previous paper I discuss at length the more immediate practical political implications of epigenetics via its impact on the two dominant causal narratives in obesity policy: the salience of individual responsibility versus the influence of environmental or institutional factors. In particular I detail how epigenetics complicates the alleged opposition of these two narratives by incorporating … Continue reading Epigenetics and Ideology

“Understanding the Impact of Epigenetics” podcast

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 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 True Political Impact of Epigenetics

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.

Epigenetics, ethics and the evolution of science

by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) In this post and others, the historical, cultural and philosophical underpinnings of the scientific assumptions of genetics are discussed. That the assumptions of genetics are contingent on these historical and philosophical precedents likely seems trivial to laypersons and nonsensical to geneticists. Genetics, as a product of modern science, exhibits the patina of scientific … Continue reading Epigenetics, ethics and the evolution of science

A Brief History of Epigenetics: C.H. Waddington

by Shea Robison (@EpigeneticsGuy) Read updated posts on Waddington here, with additional details, as excerpts from my forthcoming book : C.H. Waddington: Genesis of the Original Epigeneticist More About Waddington: Socialism, Science, and Epigenetics (See also A Brief History of Epigenetics: Jean-Baptiste Lamarck) In the history of contemporary Western evolutionary theory, the first use of the term epigenetics is generally attributed … Continue reading A Brief History of Epigenetics: C.H. Waddington

Epigenetics and the Extended Synthesis

If there are so many science-based reasons for the inclusion of epigenetics within genetics, why has it been so maligned for so long? A plausible answer is that there are even stronger non-scientific reasons for this exclusion of epigenetics, and my working theory in this post is that these non-scientific reasons are a function of key differences in the ‘hidden’ ethical commitments of epigenetics and conventional genetics.