The complete series of talks is now posted from the conference on Stephen J. Gould’s Legacy: Nature, History, Society, May 10-12, 2012 at the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti in Venice, Italy.
Telmo Pievani – Ten years without Stephen J. Gould: the scientific heritage
It has been a common tactic among creationists to attempt to discredit scientific ideas by linking them to the horrific actions of the likes of Hitler and the Nazis. The scientific merits of a theory do not rest on its societal implications, of course, but there is also the issue that the Nazis did [...]
Darwin’s views are often misrepresented to the point of caricature, as we all know, but there have also been plenty of examples of literal caricature of Darwin in the popular media. I recently gave some talks about evolutionary imagery, which included popular press cartoons from the 1800s that had a common theme of caricaturing [...]
In yesterday’s issue of Nature, Dan Graur and co-authors provide a “book review” of Lamarck’s 1809 treatise Philosophie Zoologique. It’s not so much a literary review per se as a brief essay on Lamarck’s unflattering and unwarranted legacy. Lamarck was the first to propose a scientific theory of evolution, and he coined the terms [...]
I came across this cover of the journal Genome Research from 2004. Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic phenomenon where expression of a gene in this generation depends on whether it resided in a male or female the previous generation, a Lamarckian-like inheritance (portrait: Jean Baptiste Lamarck). Comparative phylogenetic footprint analysis of mammalian species from [...]
Press release from the Quarterly Review of Biology. 100 Reasons to Change How We Think About Genetics Article Reviews Evidence for Epigenetic Inheritance in Wide Range of Species For years, genes have been considered the one and only way biological traits could be passed down through generations of organisms.
I feel very strongly that scientists should know the history of their discipline, as this is of substantial importance in guiding new research and preventing the same tired arguments from continually resurfacing (case in point, the myth that “junk DNA” was dismissed as totally nonfunctional or that epigenetics represents “neo-Lamarckism”). In this sense, the [...]
We have heard quite a lot in recent times about a resurgence of “Lamarckian” mechanisms, based largely on findings involving epigenetics. In this case, environmental differences cause changes in the patterns of expression of genes, and these alterations can sometimes be passed on through at least a few generations.
Here is a page from Darwin’s 1837 notebook. (Click for larger image)
In case you can’t read his handwriting (few can), it says It is absurd to talk of one animal being higher than another. We consider those, when the cerebral structure / intellectual faculties most developed, as highest. A bee doubtless would when [...]