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Thursday, October 01, 2009

IDiots, Epigenetics, and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck

What do IDiots, epigenetics, and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck have in common? Nothing much, actually, but that never stopped the Intelligent Design Creationists before.

For the latest attempt by IDiots to connect epigenetics and Lamarck see: A Bogey Moment with PZ Myers by Cornelius Hunter.
It is interesting to see how evolutionists respond to failures of their theory. For all their talk of following the evidence and adjusting to new data, evolutionists find all kinds of ways to resist learning from their failures. Consider one of the major failures of evolution, its view of the very nature of biological change. Twentieth century evolutionary theory held that biological change is a rather simple process that is blind to the needs of the organism. As Julian Huxley, grandson of Darwin confidant T. H. Huxley, put it, mutations "occur without reference to their possible consequences or biological uses."

Observations have long since been made to the contrary, but evolutionists cast it as the Lamarckian heresy. Researchers knew they should not suggest a correlation between environmental pressure and biological response, as the careers of those who did were ruined.
Now, you might be asking yourself what this has to do with supporting creationism.

Good question. It means you're starting to think critically.


  1. Haha. It's just funny how creationists want to present kammerer, a dyed-in the-wool evolutionist, as a victim for their cause. Just yesterday they were presenting him along Piltdown as an example of how evolutionary biologists were all frauds.

    Epigenetics is obviously not Lamarckism; True lamarckism is ultra-adaptationist, progressist, includes spontaneous generation, has no molecular resolution, and talks about the evolutionary consequences of "will". The neolamarckians of the early 20th century were already quite different from Lamarck. What is interesting, then, is what they do have in common, despite vastly different historical/scientific contexts.

    The common thread is the experiments that test whether the environment can have effects on inheritance. In short: When a phenotype environmentally induced in F0 appears at F1, without F1 having been exposed to that environment. This is a typical experiment of "inheritance of acquired traits", such as the famous tail-cutting experiment performed by Weissman. But, unlike weissman's (rather stupid) amputation experiment, which yielded no mice born tail-less, many other experiments were made by the neo-Lamarckians with smarter trait modification (actual biological reactions to environment), in which modifications were inherited.
    In current epigenetics, environmentally induced DNA methylation stabilized in the germ line has been shown to be an underlying mechanism (sorry, ID’s: There is nothing “halleluyah” about observed cases of “inheritance of acquired traits”).

    I would not be surprised that most general public ignored that several such experiments are known. For the broad public, Weissman’s experiment is often presented as having “defeated Lamarckism”, while no mention is made about any positive experiments. Add to this the well publicized stories, “moral legends” like the biased account of Kammerer as a fraud, is part of the explanation why the actual status (REALITY!) of these experiments reamains unclear to a broad audience.

    Academia has the largest responsibility for this misinformation. I think PZ fails to recognize the effect of anti-lamarckism in Academia, specially during the “dogmatic hardening” of the Neodarwinian synthesis.. People investigating the influence of environment, like Waddington, or Matsuda, were largely marginal.

    Nowadays there is still a lot of room for improvement. There are many scientists that consider they are knowledgeable about epigenetics but think it's about a Darwinian arms-race between sexes, or about gene regulation, yet they never mention the environment. Further, they will flatly deny any relation whatsoever of epigenetics to “inheritance of acquired traits”. They have a very biased understanding of epigenetics: There were and continue to be barricades.

    I am not involved in to any propaganda or laundering of science so I don't care stating the historical and phenomenologuical connection of "inheritance of acquired traits' to the experiments of the neolamarckists, to epigenetics. Many scientists in the field of epigenetics feel the same and point this out without, this need to poo-poo Lamarck all the time. In attacking Sharon Begley for talking about Lamarckism (specially her previous article) it was clear to me that PZ has confused the messenger with the message. Many of those that know way more about epigenetic mechanisms than PZ are happy to talk about the lamarckian reminiscence of epigenetics.

    PZ, stop mannig the barricades and go read some more of the studies mentioned by Begley . You're never going to get rid of Lamarck. Remember, the father of EVOLUTION? He coined the word BIOLOGY. So, who's your daddy?

  2. Creationists presenting Kammerer as a fraud:

  3. This is the same Cornelius Hunter who, when attempting to show that evolution has a hard time with convergence, showed a picture of a wolf and then showed a reversed and contrast altered picture of the same wolf and claimed it was a thylacine?

    That Cornelius Hunter?

    Who, when confronted about this act of deception, claimed it was a 'mistake'?

    well, I guess we know what creationists do when confronted with failures of their 'theory' - they lie.