Re: [xmca] epigenesis

From: Paul Dillon <phd_crit_think who-is-at>
Date: Sat Oct 27 2007 - 12:01:03 PDT

  The implications of this are mind-boggling. I'm especially thinking about the consequences of such "traumas" as enslavement and conquest or even the trauma of such political violence as Rwanda or what happened here between 1980-95 a period during which all the centuries old settlement patterns were totally transformed, entire communities abandoned, and more than 70,000 deaths (a level of violence which seems to have entirely escaped the attention of all but a few) ..
  One methodological question: parish birth records don't contain DNA samples of the parents. So I'd imagine there is some type of back-tracking deduction to establish genetic lines. Is there any way to identify the genetic contributions of the male and female lines? Can any genetic inheritance be tracked clearly to one line at the three-generations (eight lines) distance on the basis of the samples taken in the currrent generation? How do they connect a trauma or other factor in one line to the genetic alterations? Is it at the allele level?
  Beside the PBS documentary, do you have any other references to this study?

Martin Packer <> wrote:

The PBS documentary includes discussion of a retrospective analysis of data
over at least 3 generations in a relatively isolated Scandanavian community:
in particular, records of births and deaths (with cause of death) and annual
harvest yields. The focus of the documentary was not merely on the
epigenetic pathways of individual development (e.g. that genetically
identical twins diverge in their patterns of gene expression over the
years), which is a notion that's been around for a while, but on mechanisms
of *inheritance* of epigenetic pathways. So post-traumatic stress in one
generation may well be *inherited* by children and even grand-children. To
my knowledge this is a new idea, and one for which the mechanisms are now
being worked out (methylation of the DNA, I think).


On 10/26/07 1:49 PM, "Paul Dillon"

> I'm looking forward to learning mmore about the research in that field by
> definition it would seem to require a study that tracked three or more
> generations of families at both that genetic and socio-cultural levels which
> is 90 years for humans populations. That's long after I'll be following
> all of this. :)
> Paul
> Bruce Robinson
> Paul Dillon wrote:
>> Jay,
>> Any possible answer your question " . . . why is the model of
>> gene-determinism so appealing, almost a religion today, both among molecular
>> biologists and the lay public? Why has it been so easy for the media to
>> spread this gospel?"
> I was pleasantly surprised to hear human genome mapper (and would be
> privatiser) Craig Venter dissociate himself from crude genetic
> determinism in an interview he gave to the BBC Today programme. He came
> out against the one to one 'a gene for...' idea, talked about the social
> environment of development interacting with genetic tendencies and being
> more important in a whole range of behaviour, as well as, in a comment
> on the Watson controversy, describing race as a social construct with no
> scientific basis. So there clearly are exceptions. But I do accept that
> genetic determinism is pervasive and think Jay is right to point to the
> resulting fatalism about social inequality as a cause, perhaps less as
> an excuse for people to do nothing and more as a justification of why
> things are the way they are in the first place. This is not new - Marx
> pointed to Darwin's drawing on Malthus and his picture of nature
> reflecting the model of competitive capitalism.
> Bruce R
>> would seem to require an adequate theory of why any "knowledge
>> system/ideology" is dominant in a given society at a given time. From the
>> perspective of the classic Marxist model, i.e., "dominance of the ideas of
>> the dominant economic forces" , the dominance of the genetic metaphor in
>> contemporary capitalist societies seems to provide a text book case. The
>> primary client for the products of the bio-technology and pharmaceutical
>> industries in which most geneticists is the health care industry (15% of US
>> GDP) , then there's the GMO dominance in capitalist agriculture. Along with
>> cybenetics , genetic technologies , suffuse the fabric of modern economic
>> activity.
>> But that's only a formal cause and although probably a necessary condition
>> for the ideological dominance of some branch of knowledge, still insufficient
>> to answer your question. I think one of the effective causes at the
>> psychological level , might have to do with the utopian futures genetics
>> provides the "cult of eternal youth" , likewsie a root metaphor of popular
>> consumer culture. The promised developments of genetic technologies certainly
>> have that Utopian dimension, better futures quality that makes of good
>> ideology.
>> Paul
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Received on Sat Oct 27 12:08 PDT 2007

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