In a recent commentary published in Cell, UK biologist Adrian Bird compared epigenetics with Lamarckian evolution. He also presented extensive discussion on why epigenetics is bad science and the claims are hyped up.
The same sentiment has been echoed by respected biologists including Eric Davidson, Mark Ptashne and numerous others. I posted a comment here along the same line, but another biostar member said it was "a minority opinion".
Dan Graur: A Great Commentary on #ENCODE and #Epigenetics by Adrian Bird
Ptashne: Faddish Stuff: Epigenetics and the Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics
Ptashne, Hobart, Davidson: Questions over the scientific basis of epigenome project
Ptashne: Epigenetics: Core misconcept
i) Epigenetics is junk science pretending as real biology and so is intelligent design. Yet when I search for epigenetics in Biostar, I find 76 hits, but no real hit for intelligent design. Where is the line drawn?
ii) Given that three persons up-voted other member's comment ('minority opinion') against only one for mine in the previous discussion, does that suggest that Davidson, Ptashne and Bird are wrong and should be ignored? Why do journals still continue to publish their commentaries, if they are wrong?
I see the rise of ominous trend like Lysenkoism through popularity of this nuevo-fad of epigenetics.
Edit. The discussion we have below is known as Socratic method of questioning. We tried to answer a question and hopefully learned about epigenetics in the process.
The Socratic method (also known as method of elenchus, elenctic method, or Socratic debate), named after the classical Greek philosopher Socrates, is a form of inquiry and discussion between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas.
So, yes, Socrates was very much in my mind (like a commenter mentioned), because Biostars only allows Q-A format. Thank you all for participating.
One hallmark of Socratic questioning is that typically there is more than one "correct" answer, and more often, no clear answer at all.
The biggest problem with 'epigenetics', as we found through the course of discussion is that the 'term' means many things to many people. With so many definitions, everyone will find a few good and bad papers on the topic.
This question doesn't seem like a good fit for Biostars. In fact, it seems like an axe-grindey rant masquerading as a question. I wonder if it should be closed.
I think it is fun, we can leave any discussion in the Forum. It is another question wether BioStar supports it very well.
BTW, certainly ID and other creationist stuff wouldn't be of big interest here, because creationists can't use BLAST.
Soon they will.
i) ?? ii) Now four people
and I up-voted your comment. More the merrier :)
sorry, but this discussion reminds me of this video game: Socrate Jones http://www.kongregate.com/games/ChiefWakamakamu/socrates-jones-pro-philosopher?acomplete=jones
Nonsense! Deer lives in the forest!
I think we learned what you think about epigenetics, but I don't think that this is the same as learning about epigenetics.
Well, you at least found out that we can argue in great length about something that has no scientific definition :). Apart from that, nothing I said on epigenetics is my own opinion, but merely quotes from various commentaries published in peer-reviewed journals.
For me, dpryan79's comments are helpful and provides with reading materials. I guess these two papers are relevant.
I do not understand why whether RNAi by itself is 'epigenetics' without playing any role in heritability, but hopefully someone would explain the logic.
The question is first depending on your definition of Epigenetics, asking for clarification.
This. A lot of discussions like this end up with people just talking past each other because they're talking about different things!
please don't close a post that seems to get a lot of followups/comments and feedback - some of issues that are mentioned may be valid even if the formulation feels deliberately adversarial
Yes you are right, however I closed it because I noticed that no more point can be logically added to the discussion and further answers will be futile:
HA, now your trying to tell us you just wanted teach a lecture in logic (we are mostly strong supporters of logical thinking already, as you might have noticed). However, I doubt that Socrates would have committed a voluntary logical fallacy described by Polarize.
Yeah, epigenetics is a relatively vague concept, constantly changing in part because the term is currently "hot". Does that really surprise you?
I don't get it.
from wikipedia: epigenetics is the study of changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype, caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence.
Do you have a problem with that definition?
Do you think it unlikely, for example, that changes in methylation can result in changes in gene expression?
Firstly, the definition is unusually broad and covers everything under sun. For example, if I put few tissues in sunlight and their gene expression is changed through optically-induced mechanism, is that epigenetics?
Secondly, the change in gene expression due to sunlight is caused by light changing the chemical behavior of some photo-sensitive proteins and thus affecting the related pathway. That entire pathway was described by traditional genetics. So, why do we need a new term for something that was covered by some other traditional term?
In an earlier incarnation, 'epigenetics' implied what you wrote provided those changes were heritable. Hence the mention of C. elegans by Michael Dondrup and others. Now wiki says - "some of these changes have been shown to be heritable". Therefore, we are arguing over a word that moved well away from its original definition.