Human Embryos “Edited” In China

Source: GizaDeathStar.com
Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.
May 14, 2017

It has finally happened: human embryos have been genetically modified in China, by utilizing the CRISPR technique of genetic modification. Indeed, while the development is not surprising, as one might imagine, I have a few high octane speculations about it(and I would also like to thank all the readers here who sent me these two stories):

Engineering the Perfect Baby

Chinese scientists genetically modify human embryos

Frankly, I found the second article so disturbing that it is difficult for me to write about, particularly in connection with my habit of high octane speculation. Nonetheless, I want to draw your attention to the following paragraphs from the second article:

The technique used by Huang’s team involves injecting embryos with the enzyme complex CRISPR/Cas9, which binds and splices DNA at specific locations. The complex can be programmed to target a problematic gene, which is then replaced or repaired by another molecule introduced at the same time. The system is well studied in human adult cells and in animal embryos. But there had been no published reports of its use in human embryos.

Huang and his colleagues set out to see if the procedure could replace a gene in a single-cell fertilized human embryo; in principle, all cells produced as the embryo developed would then have the repaired gene. The embryos they obtained from the fertility clinics had been created for use in in vitro fertilization but had an extra set of chromosomes, following fertilization by two sperm. This prevents the embryos from resulting in a live birth, though they do undergo the first stages of development.

The team injected 86 embryos and then waited 48 hours, enough time for the CRISPR/Cas9 system and the molecules that replace the missing DNA to act — and for the embryos to grow to about eight cells each. Of the 71 embryos that survived, 54 were genetically tested. This revealed that just 28 were successfully spliced, and that only a fraction of those contained the replacement genetic material. “If you want to do it in normal embryos, you need to be close to 100%,” Huang says. “That’s why we stopped. We still think it’s too immature.”

His team also found a surprising number of ‘off-target’ mutations assumed to be introduced by the CRISPR/Cas9 complex acting on other parts of the genome. This effect is one of the main safety concerns surrounding germline gene editing because these unintended mutations could be harmful. The rates of such mutations were much higher than those observed in gene-editing studies of mouse embryos or human adult cells. And Huang notes that his team likely only detected a subset of the unintended mutations because their study looked only at a portion of the genome, known as the exome. “If we did the whole genome sequence, we would get many more,” he says.

He adds that critics of the paper have noted that the low efficiencies and high number of off-target mutations could be specific to the abnormal embryos used in the study. Huang acknowledges the critique, but because there are no examples of gene editing in normal embryos he says that there is no way to know if the technique operates differently in them. (Emphasis added)

There you have it: using the latest CRISPR technique, embryos were successfully modified, and those modifications would have been hereditary had the embryos been viable. But note what I can only hazard was probably a completely unexpected (and hence, ‘played down’) result: there were “off target mutations,” in other words, DNA mutations that were not planned and not expected, and might also have been passed down. Notably, we’re not informed what those “off-target mutations” actually consisted of; would they have resulted in entirely new congenital diseases or, alternatively, special “uniquenesses”? Might they have resulted – to exaggerate my point here – in people born with three eyes or six digits or truncated brains, or conversely, with expanded intellect or physical strength and endurance? We simply don’t know; the article does not say, and in that silence, I strongly suspect lies a tale.

Of course, as the article points out, critics of the study pointed out that these “off target mutations” may simply have been the result of the unusual embryos – fertilized by sperm from two different donors and hence of non-normal genetic derivation – that were used in the study.

Herewith my high octane speculation: what if they were not the result of the unusual embryos, but rather, in innate – perhaps epigenetic – response to the whole process of this type of genetic editing altogether? what if we are looking at a kind of “programmed-in defense mechanism” against tinkering in a fundamental fashion with DNA in general, or human DNA in particular? Many geneticists are in fact already questioning the standard genetic explanations for the development of individual life and its characteristics, suggesting there is another mechanism “beyond the genes” – hence the term “epi- (beyond) genetics” (genes) – that we do not yet understand.

In short, I think humanity was just served a timely warning with the appearance of “off target mutations,” the warning being: tread with great care, and great caution, and perhaps even, “Don’t tread here at all.”

See you on the flip side…

Read More At: GizaDeathStar.com
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About Dr. Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and “strange stuff”. His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into “alternative history and science”.

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The Meaning of Life [Part I]

The Meaning of Life (Part I)
Source: GreenMedInfo.com
Jonathan Latham Ph.D.
April 26, 2017

Originally published on IndependentScienceNews.org.

The Rockefeller Foundation had two strategies for management that were distinct but complementary: to control human behaviour at the level of social structures: family, work and emotions, which the Foundation referred to by names such as “psychobiology”; and to control human behaviour at the level of molecules.

Many people date the DNA revolution to the discovery of its structure by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953. But really it began thirty years before, conceived by the mind of John D Rockefeller, Sr. Thus it is fitting that DNA is named after him. DNA stands for DeoxyriboNucleic Acid and ribo stands for Rockefeller Institute of Biochemistry (now Rockefeller University) where the chemical composition of DNA was first discovered in the 1920s. The Rockefeller Foundation had become interested in DNA because its trustees feared a Bolshevik-style revolution. Intense public resentment had already compelled the break-up of their Standard oil Company in 1911; so the Foundation sought ways, said trustee Harry Pratt Judson in 1913, to “reinforce the police power of the state”. They intended to find the ultimate key to human behaviour which would allow the resentful and envious mobs to be effectively managed.

The Foundation had two strategies for management that were distinct but complementary: to control human behaviour at the level of social structures: family, work and emotions, which the Foundation referred to by names such as “psychobiology”; and to control human behaviour at the level of molecules.

The “science of man”

To develop methods of control at the societal level, the Foundation more-or-less founded the discipline of social science in the early 1900s.

Max Mason, appointed as the Foundation’s director in 1929, described this double focus as their “science of man” project:

“[It i]s directed to the general problem of human behavior, with the aim of control through understanding. The social sciences, for example, will concern themselves with the rationalization of social control; the medical and natural sciences propose a closely coordinated study of the sciences which underlie personal understanding and personal control” (quote from Lily Kay, The Molecular Vision of Life, 1993).

For the social science arm the Foundation sought to inculcate within the social science research community specific mechanistic habits of mind and an ethos conducive to this goal of control: “the validation of the findings of social science [must be] through effective social control,” wrote the Foundation’s head of Social Science, Edmund E. Day. According to Warren Weaver, then director of the Foundation, this meant the “recasting of prevailing ideas of human nature and conduct” in line with the “managerial needs” of industrialisation for characters such as timeliness and obedience.

The “restructuring of human relations in congruence with industrial capitalism” as Lily Kay, biographer of the Foundation described it, was an agenda that was quite widely understood in the 1930s—and widely disapproved of. One contemporary critic called the Foundation’s work “a thinly disguised capitalistic manipulation of the social order” (Kay, 1993).

The Rockefellers construct the gene

The second arm to the “science of man” strategy was seen as purely based on scientific rationality.

To the Rockefeller Foundation trustees, however, rationality meant eugenics. Eugenic theory, by definition, implies that humans contain hidden determinants for traits like civility, intelligence, and obedience. Logically, such determinants ought to be discoverable, reasoned the Foundation’s trustees. If science were able to peer deep enough it would discover those mechanisms and molecules that effected this ‘upward causation’ of behaviour. Once identified, such controlling elements—which were initially presumed to be proteins—could be understood and made use of.

However, to make such discoveries required a new science and a new concept: ‘molecular biology’. Molecular biology was a term the foundation invented for a reductionist “science of the very small” that was focused on discovering the nature of the gene.

The Foundation nevertheless did try out other—even nonreductionist—approaches to biology. It briefly supported the mathematical biologist Nicolas Rashevsky before finally dropping him (Abraham, 2004). Presumably, as a descriptive science, mathematical biology did not meet the Foundation’s desire to discover deterministic and controlling forces.

By testing out and sifting through distinct approaches, individuals, and institutions, the Foundation eventually developed a strategy to reinvent the science of biology that, by 1933, was fully elaborated. It concentrated on funding scientific cliques at a relatively small number of elite institutions (such as Caltech and the University of Chicago). These cliques trained up hundreds of scientists whose job was to find the molecules responsible for that upward causation; that is, to find the specific molecules and the specific mechanisms that determined the form and function of organisms. They would thus validate the Rockefeller eugenic thesis.

Institutionally, these efforts were extremely successful. After the search for these ‘master molecules’ had eventually narrowed to DNA, George Beadle, Nobel Laureate in physiology and Rockefeller insider, noted that all but one of the 18 Nobel prizes awarded for genetic science after 1953 had been awarded to current or former Rockefeller-funded scientists (Kay, 1993). By Beadle’s death in 1989, largely thanks to the Rockefeller Foundation, molecular biology had become the dominant approach to all of biology. That is, medicine, developmental biology, neurobiology, and agriculture.

Almost the whole world nowadays assumes the overwhelming emphasis of biological science on genetics and reductionism to be a logical and inevitable scientific one. But what the history of the Rockefeller Foundation shows is that the virtual wiping out of whole organism biology and the sidelining of diverse other approaches such as Rashevsky’s; of nutritional biology; and of environmental determinism, was a carefully planned coup d’état. It was an overt seizure of the scientific estate intended to substitute genetic determinism for competing ideas about causation in biology.

Genetic determinism is the idea that genes have a privileged level of causation and thus a special status in biology. As shown in the companion article Genetics Is Giving Way to a New Science of Life, the idea is clearly false. Causation in biology can take many forms and genetics is just one of them, but the robber barons who bought biology did so specifically in order to impose a genetic determinist paradigm.

A further consequence of their efforts was that they simultaneously seized and impoverished our idea of life. Thus, when Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA in 1953 they considered they had discovered “the secret of life“. The triumph of the Rockefeller Foundation was that no one contradicted them.

The origins of genetic determinism: Huxley and the Victorians

The fear of unruly mobs was not unique to leaders of the Rockefeller Foundation. Victorian reviewers of the books of Charles Darwin, fifty years earlier, also lived in a tumultuous age. The advent of new technologies like trains and telephones, the growth of cities, and the rise of a mercantile class that threatened to displace the nobility, were destabilising their world.

To add Darwinism to this ferment, feared those reviewers, would “shake society to its very foundations” (Desmond, 1998). These mid-Victorians feared Darwinism primarily because it provided a set of powerful ideas that profoundly undermined God and the Church, the two rocks on which their world was largely built.

More than that, evolution specifically threatened to destroy the ancient and sacred concepts of inherited wealth and inherited merit. To Victorians, these were virtually synonymous with the benefits of order and hierarchy.

Evolution even threatened to unleash social upheaval directly: to free the slaves, to liberate the workers, and emancipate the female population; and Thomas Huxley, the leading advocate of Darwinism, calculated he would widen popular support for science by promising as much. He told enthusiastic Victorian workers that the ascent of species showed the inevitability of social improvement.

Huxley, however, couldn’t go too far. Unlike all of his wealthy colleagues, he needed to make a living from science. But as Darwin’s de facto spokesperson, he was nevertheless in a unique position to shape the perception and interpretation of Darwinism.

Thus, in the presence of the dispossessed he emphasised science’s revolutionary qualities; but with the new industrialists he presented science as the driver of a new industrial era; and, for the stolid British establishment he emphasised that “Nature’s old salique law will not be repealed, and no change of dynasty will be effected”. Salique law was the ancient Frankish law ensuring inheritance only through the male line.

Huxley and his fellow scientists became adepts at such political manouevring. The key example, at least for genetics, was the taking of prescientific theories of inheritance, that were familiar to the establishment, such as salique law, and melding them with Darwinism. No evidence was available to anyone that the character traits prized by the establishment, such as intellect and social refinement, could be biologically inherited; and even if they could, it was surely unlikely to be only through the male line. Yet Huxley and his scientific fellows glossed over such inconsistencies so as to present evolution as minimally disturbing to the beliefs and values of the status quo. This required the nature of inherited traits to be essentially deterministic in nature. People did not acquire good characters, they were born with them.

Such interpretations meant that science thrived, but it was at the expense of undercutting Huxley’s earlier promises of greater freedom for the underclasses. Thus it was that the scientists used their positions as experts to bend the science and to knowingly take the side of the establishment in the struggle for social power that surrounded Victorian science (Desmond, 1998).

These interpretations were crucial to the future of biology. Inherited deterministic factors were based on what Huxley called “protoplasm” and protoplasm was a controller of human behaviour. Protoplasm is now accepted by many historians as the intellectual father of eugenic theory. It became the intellectual justification for the subsequent Rockefeller search for molecules of social control; but, as a theory constructed more for political than scientific reasons, it had feet of clay.

The entry of big tobacco

The railroading of biology away from the study of whole organisms by the Rockefeller Foundation (joined also by the Carnegie Foundation) proved relatively easy. Turning that understanding into social control was less so. The next stage required new impetus and even more money.

Starting in the 1950s the tobacco industry distributed $370 million among approximately 1,000 scientists in the US and British medical establishments. The long term plan was to construct another novel molecular science, that of human genetic variation (Wallace, 2009). The immediate goal was to attribute the diseases of smoking to genetic origins. The tobacco industry was determined to find “gene defects” that might lead to lung cancer and addiction. Tobacco executives thought—correctly—that finding even limited evidence would keep blame from being placed entirely on their products. Genetic determinism thus could be used to neutralise negative public, professional, and even legal, opinion (Gundle et al., 2010).

Tobacco funding never uncovered any compelling genetic determinants of cancer or addiction. But the strategy did shift public opinion. Genetic researchers were therefore encouraged by industries and governments to apply their methods to other physical illnesses (such as diabetes), and for the same reasons (Vrecko, 2008).

So although eugenics practitioners, such as Adolf Hitler, had made the word eugenics abhorrent to most people by the 1920s and 1930s, the genome sequencing bandwagon eventually convinced the public that DNA was a master molecule, a governor of health and behaviour, even down to one’s daily activities and decisions. The study of genes and genomes achieved acceptance of the eugenic premise through, as it were, the back door. The public was convinced to blame numerous illnesses and conditions, and not just lung cancer, on their own genetic ‘weaknesses’. Thus genetics was established as the presumptive primary cause of most human variation, chronic disease was normalised, and DNA was crowned “the King of molecules” by a Nobel Laureate (Mullis, 1997).

The ever-expanding domain of science

Thomas Huxley once declared, in an editorial of 1865, that science had no intention “of being content with anything short of absolute victory [over the Church] and uncontrolled domination over the whole realm of the intellect” (cited in Desmond, 1998). So while Charles Darwin initially refrained from publicly pursuing what he supposed to be the intellectual implications of his ideas, from fear that doing so would prevent them being accepted, his apostles rarely showed such restraint.

From Huxley and Herbert Spencer, via EO Wilson, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, and many others, the presumed properties of DNA have formed the basis of great edifices of implication. EO Wilson’s Sociobiology: The new synthesis (1975) and Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype (1982) extrapolated biology far beyond previously accepted domains of the physical body, to encompass human desires, human ‘misbehaviour’, human ethics, and human social structures. Relying on faint statistical associations between DNA genome markers and human traits, geneticists have claimed that hundreds of human attributes have genetic explanations, at least in significant part, including: sexual and religious orientation, voting preferences, sleepwalking, entrepreneurial behaviour, sexism, violence, and many others (e.g. Kales et al., 1980). These claims have provided a steady supply of juicy headlines to pronounce that genes play powerful deterministic roles in behaviour.

The failure of “master molecules” to explain life

In 2016, Gary Greenberg, Professor Emeritus at Wichita State University, Kansas, reviewed a book that he plainly considered to be unnecessary. The reviewed was titled How many nails does it take to seal the coffin? The coffin in question is the science of behavior genetics. He cited fellow gravedigger Richard Lerner of Tufts University describing the “counterfactual conceptualizations of the role of genes in behavior and development” (Lerner, 2007) and genetic mortician Douglas Wahlsten (2012) that “all hope has been lost” in the search for genetic effects on normal human behaviour (Greenberg, 2016).

The basic issue identified by Greenberg, Lerner, et al., is that, if several hundred billion dollars of searching finds no evidence for genetic influences (except for rare traits like Down syndrome), then the only reasonable conclusion is that genetic influences on those traits are absent or minutely small. Yet the genetic zombie, to their exasperation, lives on, and for the simple reason that it is lavishly funded.

It is not just the study of human behaviours for which the long-sought genetic evidence is chronically missing. In 2013, the head of the Broad Institute at MIT, which is the most prominent global institution in the study of human genetics, called genetic influence on human disease a “phantom” (Zuk et al., 2013). This U-turn followed a succession of compelling critiques that focused on 1) the lack of replicability of putative genetic predispositions in humans (Ioannidis, 2007); 2) lack of evidence of broad effects on health (Manolio et al., 2009Dermitzakis and Clark, 2009); 3) lack of effect size of all except a very few individual genetic predispositions (Ioannidis and Panagiotou, 2011); and 4) a general lack of experimental rigour of genetic methods and hypotheses (Buchanan et al. 2006Wallace, 2006Charney and English, 2012).

The media (including the science media) has barely reported these critiques, but they have left the discipline of human genetics in turmoil. Interesting as it is to watch billions of dollars of medical research funding generate nothing but negative results, (see Manolio et al., 2009), the really big question is the one now hanging over the underlying master molecule idea, since genetic determinism has become the central paradigm of all biology.

The fundamental defects of this master molecule concept were summed up perhaps most succinctly by Richard C Strohman of UC Berkeley; in a 1997 article “The coming Kuhnian revolution in biology“:

“[W]e have taken a successful and extremely useful theory and paradigm of the gene and have illegitimately extended it as a paradigm of life”. But, Strohman wrote, the broader paradigm “has little power and must eventually fail”.

Interestingly, the same logical flaw was identified by Lily Kay in her Rockefeller Foundation biography of 1993. In concluding, she noted the self-limiting nature of its reductionist method. “By narrowing its epistemic domain, the new biology has bracketed out important animate phenomena from its discourse on life”.

That failure is now fully visible. Thanks to emerging research findings such as those described in Genetics Is Giving Way to a New Science of Life, it is now hard to overlook that genetic reductionism has failed to explain “important animate phenomena” like: growth, self-organisation, evolution, consciousness, learning, health, and disease. These are the key elements of life that a successful paradigm ought to explain but somehow genetic determinism never has.

Its emerging replacement is a vastly different paradigm of life, one that conceives living systems as cooperatives and not dictatorships. To be clear, some facts about DNA are not in dispute. DNA exists. The mutation or addition of genes can have profound effects on the properties of organisms; but this doesn’t make DNA special. The removal or addition (where possible) of most other components of organisms, such as RNA, or proteins, even water, has the same effect. Thus even the use of GMO crops, which might look like clear examples of upward causation, are consistent with the new paradigm because introduced transgenes are carefully designed to act as isolated modules, traits that operate independently of all the system level controls that organisms typically use to manage and integrate gene activity and biochemical function.

But what ultimately motivates this new paradigm is the lack of conceptual necessity for DNA to animate organisms. Molecular biologists routinely propose that DNA has properties of “expression”, of “control”, and of cellular governance, in some sense that other molecules do not. These are the properties that a master molecule paradigm requires, but asserting them does not rescue genetic determinism, it is merely prescientific vitalism.

What science is telling us, therefore, is that, in living systems, everything depends on everything else, and life bootstrapped itself out of the ooze. DNA did not lead the way.

The societal consequences of genetic determinism

Whether true or not, all belief systems have consequences. When news of Darwin’s evolutionary theory reached Germany in the 1860s, Ernst Haeckel, German prodigy biologist, constructed the first trees of life, with humans (for no scientific reason) at the apex of creation. Much like Huxley, Haeckel also stretched the implications of Darwinismus into a genetic determinist struggle, in this case one that drove “peoples irresistibly onward”. Darwinismusforetold, he said, a new Teutonic destiny.

As early as the death of Charles Darwin (1882) it was said that his thought (which for the most part meant Huxley’s interpretations) could be found “under a hundred disguises in works on law and history, in political speeches and religious discourses…if we try to think ourselves away from it we must think ourselves entirely away from our age” (John Morley, 1882, cited in Desmond 1998)

Thus the belief system that humans are controlled by an internal master molecule has become woven into myriad areas of social thought. It is far beyond the scope of this article to describe the consequences of genetic determinism at either the personal or the societal level (see instead The DNA Mystique), but the two world wars, the holocaust, racism, colonialism, eugenics, inequity, are each stronger as a consequence of, or might never have happened without, the idea of genetic determinism. The reason is that genetic determinism moulded “higher” and “lower”, “normal” and “abnormal”, into intrinsic and unmodifiable scientific properties of biological organisms and groups, rather than being what they were previously: questionable prejudices and dubious conceits.

Genetic determinism thus became the defining idea of the twentieth century. Nothing was unmoved by it. It drove biology, it even drove science itself.

It began with the ability of outside institutions to impose long-term and overarching agendas on science. This alone is a breathtaking observation, both disturbing and profound, that wholly contradicts our normal presumption that science is driven by brilliant individuals, technical innovations, and collective intellectual rigour. Instead, to understand what occurred to DNA is as simple as following the money.

Science, and therefore all of society, was lured into a very specific DNA-centric interpretation of life that was predicated on magical thinking about the properties of genes. Once the initial conditions were set up, however, a key observation is that biological research fostered genetic determinist social thought and genetic determinist thought in turn made genetically determinist science seem more valid and desirable. A self-sustaining feedback loop was thus created.

One example of how genetic determinism participated in that loop was laid out in a 1975 letter from prominent geneticists to the NY Review of Books. They were replying to an uncritical review of EO Wilson’s Sociobiology: a New Synthesis. The geneticists’ letter lays out a rationale for why a political establishment might fund sociobiology and genomics: to furnish interpretations of human activity that create and therefore determine behavioural and social norms. As the authors wrote: “for Wilson, what exists is adaptive, what is adaptive is good, therefore what exists is good.” The authors were pointing out, well before the tobacco industry strategy had been unmasked, that any scientific assertion that a societal aberration such as “war”, or an individual misbehaviour such as “violence”, has genetic roots makes it seem natural or normal. Thus, what appears to be a simple and apolitical scientific “finding”, say of a genetic predisposition to obesity, generates inferences that are highly valued by institutions (such as the food industry) that cause obesity but wish to resist pressure on them for social change.

It is scant wonder then that the publication of Sociobiology was followed by a funding boom in genetic research, in both the social and medical sciences. This boom happened even though human genetic research is rarely of value in the search for cures or the treatment of disease (Chaufan and Joseph, 2013). The bottom line is, even if genetic predispositions for obesity were to exist, everyone should exercise and not overeat.

Thus biological explanations have vastly expanded science’s intellectual realm, into the arenas of social affairs, economics, politics, religion, even philosophy and ethics. Bearing out the prediction of the NYRB letter, sociobiology has virtually driven out traditional academic interpretations of human activity, such as Marxism or Deconstructionism, that made life uncomfortable for the powers that be.

As Dorothy Nelkin and Susan Lindee observed for academia:

In the last few decades many universities have ceased to offer the grand survey courses in Western civilization that once seemed to explain so much about human culture and the human past. Postcolonialism, postmodernism, literary theory, and other trends in academic life called into question the legitimacy of the grand narratives that were built into the notion of “Western civilization”. Many college students will never take such a course. But most will take introductory biology……introductory biology has become the cultural equivalent of the old Western civilization curriculum: explaining human culture and the human past, biological knowledge is seen as deeply relevant to social concerns, economic development, international relations, and ethical debates. Introductory biology is presented as a valid, truth-seeking endeavour, untainted by religious, political, or philosophical commitments. It places human beings in a meaningful universe, providing ways of understanding relationships between ethnic and racial groups and between identity and the body” (Preface to the second edition, The DNA Mystique: The gene as a cultural icon, 2004).

Anyone not knowing the strategies of the Rockefeller Foundation and the tobacco industry might well imagine sociobiology to be “valid” and “untainted”. Plainly though, given their history, and the new scientific revelations, genetic explanations are just ones whose political commitments are better concealed, and it becomes highly relevant that genetic explanations are being made in academia, in policy circles, and in the public arena by scientists whose funders (whether governments or corporations) benefit from this neutering of public discourse.

The end result of Huxley’s proposed intellectual expansion of biology is arguably already here. Students unversed in the history of thought and stewed in unsupported or unverifiable genetic explanations have become the intellectual core of a miseducated and compliant society. One that creatively participates in its own delusion by self-describing illnesses as “genetic”, even in cases where the only clear evidence of causation is environmental. A genetically determinist society is therefore one not capable of understanding itself as directly at risk from irresponsible corporate activities and government indifference. It is fundamentally defenceless against polluters, junk food marketers, community dislocation, and other threats to human integrity.

In a wider political frame, the history of the 20th Century shows that a genetic determinist society is also vulnerable to fascists, racists, dictators, and warmongers. All this too is the product of a century and a half of the manipulation of biological science.

Is it too strong to argue this? I do not think so. Consider, as a case study, Adolf Eichmann and the transportation of the Jews to the death camps during the second world war. The world mostly blamed Eichmann personally and Israel executed him. Hannah Arendt, however, famously attributed his crimes to a mystical “banality of evil”.

They were all wrong. Adolf Eichmann and his superiors were following the dictates, as they saw them, of science and genetics. Jews were, to them, a genetic problem of racial purity and the only solution to a genetic problem is extermination and the prevention of reproduction (see especially The War Against the Jews: 1933-194). Given the premises, the final solution was perfectly logical.

But the perfectly logical question for us (and the subject of The Meaning of Life Part II) is, why does hardly anyone see this? Why is it so hard to critique or challenge genetics? Not only do we attribute to genes a wholly unwarranted privileged level of causation in biology, we also give them a privileged level of discourse in society. The dominance of genetics is thus a phenomenon that does not originate in science.

In the last essay of this series I will elaborate on this by proposing a novel theory to explain the fascination of our society for genetic determinism and master molecules. This theory explains the iconic status and scientific attraction of DNA in terms of its metaphysical role as a representative of the universe. Like that other representative of the universe, the Judaeo-Christian God, DNA confers the properties of leadership and authority on disorderly nature. DNA, as the true meaning of life, thus legitimates authority in our scientific society. Therefore, the historical actors, such as the Rockefeller Foundation, who helped create this role for DNA, were, just like everyone else, in thrall to forces they didn’t fully understand.

This theory has quite a few important implications. It suggests that ever since genetic determinism became established in the public mind, that Western societies have become locked into a downward spiral of authoritarian politics and genetic determinist thought. This spiral is already imperilling the functioning of democracy. Unhalted, it may extinguish democratic values entirely. More optimistically, the theory offers a conceptually simple way to reverse the spiral. That way rests on pointing out that all organisms are systems and not dictatorships. It becomes necessary, for the very survival of democratic society, to confront these habits of genetic determinist thinking which, after all, have no basis in reality.

Read More at: GreenMedInfo.com
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Wahlsten D (2012) The Hunt for Gene Effects Pertinent to Behavioral Traits and Psychiatric Disorders: From Mouse to Human. Dev. Psychobiology 54: 475-492.
Wallace HM (2006) A model of gene-gene and gene-environment interactions and its implications for targeting environmental interventions by genotype. Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling 2006, 3:35.  .
Wallace H (2009) Big tobacco and the human genome: Driving the scientific bandwagon? Genomics, Society and Policy 5: 1-54.
Wilson EO (2000) Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Belknap Press.
Zuk O, E Hechter, SR Sunyaev, and ES Lander (2013) The mystery of missing heritability: Genetic interactions create phantom heritability. 109: 1193–1198. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1119675109

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Jonathan Latham is co-founder and Executive Director of the Bioscience Resource Project and also Editor of the Independent Science News website. Dr. Latham holds a Masters degree in Crop Genetics and a PhD in Virology.

F. William Engdahl – Genetics are the New Eugenics: How GMO’s Reduce the Human Population

Source: Katehon Think Tank
F. William Engdahl
March 6, 2017

Last year, we had a series of mergers in the agribusiness’ GMO-corporations worldwide. This has created an alarming concentration of corporate power in the hands of basically three corporate groups.

For more please read: https://thebreakaway.wordpress.com/2017/03/04/genetics-are-the-new-eugenics-how-genetically-modified-foods-gmos-reduce-the-human-population/

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Genetics Is Giving Way to a New Science of Life

Genetics Is Giving Way to a New Science of Life
Source: GreenMedInfo.com
Jonathan Latham Ph.D.
February 8, 2017

Originally published on IndependentScienceNews.org.

Test your understanding of the living world with this simple question. What kind of biomolecule is found in all living organisms? If your answer is “DNA”, you are incorrect.

The mistake is very forgiveable though. The standard English-language biology education casts DNA (DeoxyriboNucleic Acid) as the master molecule of life, coordinating and controlling most, if not all, living functions. This master molecule concept is popular. It is plausible. It is taught in every university and high school. But it is wrong. DNA is no master controller, nor is it even at the centre of biology. Instead, science overwhelmingly shows that life is self-organised and thus the pieces are in place for biology to undergo the ultimate paradigm shift.

The mythologising of DNA

Highly respected scientists make very strong claims for the powers of DNA. In his autobiography, Nobel Laureate Kary Mullis called it “The King of molecules” and “The big one”. Maybe he read DNA: The Secret of Life, a popular science book that calls DNA the molecule that “holds the key to the very nature of living things”. Its author should know. He is Nobel Laureate, James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. Even institutions have strong opinions when it comes to DNA; the website of the US National Institutes of Health claims “Genes are at the center of everything that makes us human”.

My edition of The Secret of Life features on its back cover Eric Lander. Lander is the celebrated brains behind modern human genetics. He is also the head of the Broad Institute at MIT. In his blurb, Lander endorses “The secret of life” trope. Just below him on the jacket is Professor of genetics Mary-Claire King. She writes: “This is the story of DNA and therefore the story of life, history, sex, money, drugs, and still-to-be-revealed secrets.” According to Prof. King, DNA is life.

The Watson view of genetics dominates education too. The standard US high school biology textbook “Life“, of which we own the 1997 edition, frames the entirety of biology around DNA, thereby giving it the biochemical status of life’s centrepiece.

Meanwhile, Francis Collins, longstanding head of the National Institutes of Health, has published bestselling books about DNA with titles like The Language of Life and the Language of God. It should be no surprise then that the idea of DNA as a master molecule is one of the dominant ideas of our age.

Some biologists will say that these views are extreme and unrepresentative. They are, and part of this article is to explain why extreme views about DNA dominate the public discourse. But its main purpose is to contrast the portrayal of DNA by virtually all biologists with the narrow scientific treatment they apply to other biological molecules. Our existence also depends on proteins, fats, carbohydrates and RNA (Ribonucleic Acid); but no one says “it’s in my protein”. But here is a question: is it any less scientifically preposterous to say something “is in my DNA”?

To take a ruthless look at that question is thus the purpose of this article. Does DNA have any claim to being in control? Or at the centre of biological organisation?

The answer is that DNA is none of the things Watson, Lander, and Collins claim, and that even the standard nuanced biologist’s view of life is wrong. This is provable in many ways but mainly by a new science of life that is emerging from almost complete obscurity. This new science explains the features of living beings in productive new ways that DNA-centric, genetic determinist, biology has not, and cannot. DNA is not the language of God. It is not even the language of biology.

Organisms are systems

The evidence that DNA is not a biological controller begins with the fact that biological organisms are complex systems. Outside of biology, when we consider any complex system, such as the climate, or computers, or the economy, we would not normally ask whether one component has primacy over all the others. We consider it obvious that complex systems are composed of subsystems, each being necessary for the larger whole. Each subsystem has its specific niche but no one subsystem exerts a privileged level of causation.

The same applies to living organisms. At the level of the physiology of an individual organism we do not apply an exclusive or special causative role to the heart, the liver, the skin, or the brain, because a body is a system. All parts are necessary.

At the smaller biological scales of organs too, distinct cell types maintain, operate, and repair themselves and each other. Similarly, at the cellular level, no one disagrees that organelles and other molecular structures are interacting but independent subparts of the whole.

At the level of macromolecules, however, a curious thing happens. Biologists abandon systems thinking entirely. Instead, we apply the famous central dogma of biology, which is that DNA makes RNA makes Protein (Crick, 1970). This formulation creates an origin story that begins with DNA.

The first mistake of the dogma, however, is to call it “central”. If an organism is a system, then there is no centre. The second error is that the pathway described is factually incorrect. The pathway should be a loop since the DNA does not come from nowhere: to make every DNA molecule requires proteins and RNA and DNA. More broadly, the synthesis of DNA cannot be done without a whole cell, just as the making of any RNA or any protein also takes a whole cell.

If we wanted to be more accurate still, we would say it takes a whole organism to make each of these components. Even this description would be incomplete, since, undeniably, it takes an ecosystem, including, in the case of humans, a gut microbiota and a food supply. The full formulation of the central dogma is therefore a loop embedded in a web. But the central dogma taught to millions of students every year takes an entirely different intellectual path. It arbitrarily confers on DNA a special place: firstly, by not closing the loop, and second, by placing DNA at its beginning. The central dogma is thus merely a representation formed from arbitrarily constructed boundaries. It is not biological reality.

Geneticists, and sometimes other biologists, make this linear interpretation seem plausible, not with experiments—since their results contradict it—but by using highly active verbs in their references to DNA. DNA, according to them, “controls”, “governs”, and “regulates” cellular processes, while nouns like “expression” are also commonly used to ascribe functions to DNA. Biologists thus confer activist and willful superpowers on DNA. Ultimately, this can create circular arguments. DNA controls embryonic development or organism health because genes express themselves. QED.

However, there is no specific science that demonstrates that DNA plays the dominant role these words imply. Quite the opposite. For example, a recent publication in Nature magazine posited “An emerging consensus that much of the protein constituent of the cell is buffered against transcriptional variation.” i.e. is insulated from direct genetic quantitative influence (Chick et al., 2016). This buffering is nicely demonstrated by many experiments. One is the demonstration that the circadian rhythm of a bacterium can be reproduced, in the absence of any DNA, by just three proteins mixed together in a test tube. The rhythm was maintained for three days, even in the face of temperature changes (Nakjima et al., 2005).

Inevitably, any language used to describe DNA will necessarily be metaphorical and be of limited accuracy, but words like “govern” and “control” literally invent attributes for DNA (Noble, 2003). A much more precise metaphor for DNA would compare it to the library of Congress, since cells use DNA primarily as a storehouse of information. Consider that  biologists could apply more neutral verbs such as “use”, as in “cells use DNA to create proteins”. If so, they would have created a very different status for DNA. Only librarians would have T-shirts saying “its in my DNA”.

If we shed the wild metaphors and the central dogma, a more accurate way to think about biology emerges. If every molecule and every subsystem, regardless of scale, constrains and potentiates the other parts, then there is no need to infer a central controller. We can replace the DNA-centric model of biology with a relational model of complex interplay of feedback systems and emergent properties, of which the library of DNA is just one component. In this model, RNA is simply one of the inputs needed to make proteins and DNA is just one of the inputs needed to make RNA, and so on. Unlike the central dogma, such a proposition is consistent with the known facts of biology.

The formulation encapsulated by the central dogma and by biology textbooks is therefore an illusion. They are a classic case of what microbiologist Carl Woese has called the “reductionist fundamentalism”. Reductionist fundamentalism differs from simple reductionism in that whereas simple reductionism is a valid scientific method, the former is an ideological preference for a simplistic explanation when a more holistic one is better supported by the evidence. In this case, the assigning of superpowers to DNA to explain observed biological activities when a better explanation would accept that many biochemical events have multiple causes and contributors. Oxford physiologist Denis Noble describes this fallacy as conferring on DNA “a privileged level of causation”.

If not DNA, is there a “molecule of life”?

Many plant-infecting viruses lack DNA. They base their lifecycles on protein and they use RNA as their heritable material.

There are also plant pathogens, called viroids, that lack both DNA and protein. Viroids are thus composed solely of non-coding RNA. Lifeforms can therefore exist without either DNA or proteins—but there are none that that lack RNA.

Therefore, the answer to the opening question: “what kind of biomolecule is possessed by all living organisms?” is RNA. RNA stands for Ribonucleic Acid and for many reasons it is a better candidate for being a universal biomolecule than DNA.

RNA and DNA are chemically very similar. Even scientists confuse them, but their modest chemical distinctions confer very different properties. RNA is structurally very flexible (bendy), whereas DNA is highly inflexible; RNA is unstable and chemically reactive, whereas DNA is highly inert. A key difference is the number of chemical modifications that cells are able make to their four bases. In the case of DNA (whose bases are the nucleotides A,C,G and T), just two modifications are possible in most cells. These modifications are called methylation and acetylation. These two modifications alter the properties of DNA bases and they are the primary basis of the fashionable science of epigenetics.

RNA also has four bases (A, C, G, and U). But cells make more than one hundred comparable chemical modifications to them. The roles of these modifications are essentially a mystery, but presumably they help RNA perform its many cellular tasks.

RNA is also misunderstood. In a typical human cell, less than 1% of it makes proteins. The remaining 99% has a huge variety of structural, regulatory, and enzymatic functions. Most biologists though might as well be slaves to the central dogma in thinking that RNA is just the intermediate between DNA and protein. Only recently has RNA begun emerging from the shadow of DNA as a far more interesting molecule.

The deep explanation of these molecular differences is that RNA existed long before DNA. RNA probably predated even the invention of cells. It is enormously old. In consequence, it is so deeply and structurally embedded in living systems that it is very hard to study. Thus the paradoxical reason why we don’t know much about RNA is not because it is unimportant, but because, unlike DNA, RNA is too important to cell function to selectively remove at will.

Consequently, to conform with current evolutionary understanding, we should really invert standard teaching and insist that the proper way to think about DNA is that it is a specialised form of RNA. DNA evolved structural rigidity and chemical inertness to make itself a more staid librarian for the safe storing of heritable information.

So, over evolutionary time DNA was chosen as a better librarian (this library metaphor originates with Colin Tudge and his excellent book Why DNA isn’t selfish and people are nice); proteins turned out to be superior catalysts of chemical reactions; but RNA is more likely to have been the biomolecule around which life was really built. But RNA is no more a controller than is DNA.

Nor is DNA the centre of evolution

A common explanation for organising biology around DNA, and the one given by the authors of “Life“, the textbook, is DNA’s supposed role in the theory of evolution. For two reasons this explanation is highly questionable, however. Both reasons exemplify pervasive misunderstandings of the theory of evolution. One of these misunderstandings exaggerates the significance of Darwin’s theory and the second, once again, gives to DNA credit it doesn’t deserve.

The first misunderstanding is to assume that evolutionary theory is an explanation of life. Life, however, began long before Darwinian evolution and some of its fundamental patterns (cells, proteins, energy metabolism) emerged—so far as we can tell—long before DNA became the molecule of heredity (Carter, 2016). This distinction is important. In a textbook about “Life“, for example, it is important to separate the origin of life from its maintenance so as not to unhelpfully exaggerate (i.e. confuse) what Darwin’s theory explains; but in conflating the two, “Life” is only reflecting the misunderstanding of most biologists.

Second, the pre-Darwinian life of cells and metabolism arose thanks to the fact that complex systems have emergent and self-organising properties (e.g. Kauffman, 1993; Carter, 2016). The advent of DNA into these systems allowed Darwinian evolution to accelerate, but it did not eradicate emergent and self-organising properties. Rather, it colluded with them and helped create new ones. This means such properties are the likeliest explanation of large areas of biology. “Self-organization proposes what natural selection disposes” is how Batten and colleagues quaintly summarise alternatives to standard evolutionary theory which is pretty much rigidly genetic determinist (Batten et al., 2008).

A classic emergent property is the folding of proteins. DNA encodes the linear sequence of amino acids that constitute proteins, but every protein adopts one (or usually more) highly complex three dimensional shape (Munson et al., 1996). These shapes, along with charge and solubility, are largely responsible for a protein’s properties. It is habitually, but lazily, presumed that DNA specifies all the information necessary for the formation of a protein, but that is not true. All protein shapes depend also on the integration of multiple sources of information. These sources include temperature, other cellular molecules like water and mineral ions, pH, energy molecules like ATP, protein folding aids called chaperones, and so forth. Beyond this, many proteins have functions, such as to be molecular channels and pumps, that emerge only at higher levels of structure, such as in the presence of other proteins.

Thus DNA specifies proteins and their functions only up to a very limited point. It is possible to disregard all such non-genetic contributions and ascribe to DNA all the properties of a protein or a process (or a whole organism). Most scientists do, but doing so is an ultra-determinist position. It writes emergent properties, such as protein folding, entirely out of the functioning of life. It again confers onto DNA superpowers it does not have.

Emergent properties are only one example of why the relationship between DNA and evolution is much more tenuous than is normally portrayed. Patrick Bateson of Cambridge University, whose perspective is not emergent properties but animal behaviour, explained evolution much more accurately than most when he wrote: “Whole organisms survive and reproduce differentially and the winners drag their genotypes with them. This is the engine of Darwinian evolution“.

Thus we can explain why Charles Darwin invented his theory of evolution without knowing DNA even existed, because, even for evolution, DNA still is not “The big one”, but it is standard for biologists to teach that DNA is more important to evolution than any other component of living organisms.

Explaining genocentric biology

When Dorothy journeyed to the Emerald City she discovered that The Wizard of Oz was only “a common man”. He was devoid of magic powers and so could not help her friends. But there was at least something behind the facade. The same is true for DNA.

Most cellular molecules are highly reactive and transient chemical substances. That means they are difficult to extract, and hard to study. So it is with RNA and proteins.

DNA, however, is a much more practical point of intervention in biology. It is stable and robust and simple enough to be isolated on a reproducible basis and copied precisely. With an hour of training, high school students can do it. With a bit more training, DNA can be altered and, in some species, replaced. Hence the alarm over garage hacking of DNA.

This explains, in a nutshell, why our understanding of gene regulatory networks runs far ahead of our understanding of other disciplines of biology. It is because DNA is the low hanging fruit of biology.

Scientific dissent around DNA

“The human body completely changes the matter it is made of roughly every 8 weeks, through metabolism, replication and repair. Yet, you’re still you –with all your memories, your personality… If science insists on chasing particles, they will follow them right through an organism and miss the organism entirely.”

Mathematical biologist Robert Rosen is supposed to have said. And indeed, examine any multicellular organism and concealed under its relatively calm surface are circulatory systems, churning stomachs, lymphatic drainage systems, electrical impulses, biomolecular machines and so forth.

These systems cause every part of an organism to continuously move, contract, twist, vibrate, strain and grow. What defines living organisms, in the final analysis, is their dynamic and  animate nature. This is why, when we want to know if an organism has legally died we don’t examine its DNA, we measure its heartbeat or brain function. Animate properties require animate components, like RNA and proteins.

Yet by organizing our understanding of life largely around DNA (recall Mary-Claire King’s “DNA is life”), biologists have curiously chosen the cellular constituent that is probably the least representative of life’s dynamic nature.

For this reason there are dissenters in biology. Some are prominent. Some are not. They all have questioned whether biology is not much more complex and interesting than our present DNA-based framing can make room for (e.g. Kaufman, 1993; Strohman, 1997; Rose, 1999; Woese 2004; Annila and Baverstock 2014; Friston et al., 2015).

These dissenters like to note, for example, the general absence of medico-scientific breakthroughs following the sequencing of the human genome and the ever-more-detailed-analysis-of-tiny-scraps-of-human-DNA (Ioannidis, 2007Dermitzakis and Clark, 2009Manolio et al., 2009).

Some go much further in their critiques than others. Carl Woese, perhaps the best known bacteriologist since Pasteur, argued before his death that genetic determinism is a dead end, its vision of biology is “spent” (Woese, 2004).

There perhaps is no finer example of this than the field of tissue engineering. Tissue engineers claim to have made “incredible” progress making whole human organs in vitro for transplanting and other medical uses, yet these organs are all non-functional (Badylak, 2016). They don’t have blood vessels or immune systems or nerve networks, they are just human cells on an ear-shaped scaffold or a hand-shaped scaffold and so, among their many deficiencies, they are short-lived because they have no regenerative properties.

Many biologists suspect at least part of this paradigm problem, but they rarely act on it. The sole noticeable official response to the obvious fact that organisms are highly complex systems has been to shovel modest funding in the direction of ‘systems biology’.

One is bound to note that even this systems biology is rarely the study of systems. Instead, biologists have overwhelmingly used systems biology funds not to further the understanding of complex systems but to scale up and mechanise their reductionism.

Thus no scientific specialism or institution has articulated the profound inadequacy of viewing organisms as collections of gene regulatory networks or moved towards assembling an alternative paradigm (or paradigms) to replace it (Strohman, 1997).

This intellectual near-vacuum is nevertheless being steadily filled by individual scientists, mostly on the margins, with promising, even revolutionary, theoretical developments and experimental findings that explain biological phenomena in ways that transcend genetics.

A short guide to alternative paradigms of life

A Helmholtz machine is a sensory device that makes a prediction about reality and crosschecks it against that reality. It then estimates the difference between the two. Bayesian statistics is a mathematical method of doing the same: estimating differences between expectation and reality.

A new theory of neurobiology, called the Bayesian brain theory, proposes that the brain is the biological equivalent of these (reviewed in Clark, 2013). Brains make predictions, measure the mismatches with their expectations and pass those mismatches up to higher neural circuits. These higher circuits repeat the process and if mismatches persist then these are passed on to yet ‘higher’ mental levels.

The Bayesian brain hypothesis is quite new and predictive neurons might seem superficially improbable, yet the hypothesis appears to explain numerous aspects of brain structure and brain function; for example, how the brain can treat widely different stimuli (visual, sensual, oral, aural, etc.) essentially with the same neural mechanisms and structures. It also appears to show how the brain can integrate action and perception. The theory also provides a substantive explanation of learning: learning is the updating of the predictive model. The Bayesian brain hypothesis may even  explain how brains evolved higher levels of consciousness over evolutionary time periods: by adding new layers of prediction.

A particular strength of the Bayesian brain hypothesis is that it corresponds to the actual spatial organisation of neurons in the primate cortex in which ranks of “predictive” neurons and “sensory” neurons send signals in opposing directions which lets them cancel each other out (except for the mismatches).

The structure-based predictive learning system proposed by the Bayesian brain hypothesis is of interest here because it relegates detailed genetic explanations of many phenomena, including arguably all consciousness, to the margins (Friston, 2010). Genes and proteins may fill in the details but many of the key elements of brain function: learning, action, and perception, derive primarily from structure alone. I.e., like protein folding, they are emergent properties of organisation.

Emergent properties are equally important in other areas of biology. An example is the vascular system of plants. Trees can transport water from unsaturated sources hundreds of feet into the air. Transpiration, as it is called, requires no energy input. Rather, it takes advantage purely physical properties of hydrophilic xylem tissues (tubes) and the properties of water itself. Without transpiration, which already operates, but only very weakly, in soils, plants could not exceed a couple of inches in height, nor tolerate dry conditions (Wheeler and Stroock, 2008). Thus, the defining characteristic of plants (apart from photosynthesis) is their clever exploitation of a simple physical property of water.

A further example is the arches of the human foot. These are longitudinal and transverse diaphragms composed of bone and connective tissue whose emergent property is both to dissipate forces at impact and operate as springs to transfer energy from impact into forward motion. Arches reduce the energy needed to walk or run.

In the discipline of biochemistry, a recent development is the proposed existence of metabolons. Metabolons are three-dimensional spatial arrangements of enzymes. Metabolons explain how the product of an ostensibly minor metabolic pathway can nevertheless constitute 30% of the weight of a seedling and so drive away pests (Laursen et al., 2017).

A more conventional class of self-organising properties found in biology are homeostatic feedback loops. They too are phenomena largely independent of gene functions with key roles in explaining the activities and properties of living organisms. The three proteins noted earlier that can recreate a bacterial circadian rhythm are just one example (Nakajima et al., 2005).

At more elemental and universal levels of life are unifying theories of cells and metabolism, many of which relate life to the operation of fundamental physical forces. The father of all such theories was arguably Nicolas Rashevsky, who died in 1972. He is survived by his students Robert Rosen and AH Louie. Others include physicist Erwin Schrödinger, author of “What is life?“; Stuart Kauffman, author of “The Origins of Order” (1993); Steven Rose “Lifelines: Biology beyond determinism” (1997); Enrico Coen “The Art of Genes” (1999); Denis Noble, “The Music of Life” (2003) and Dance to the Tune of Life: Biological Relativity (2017); and Annila and Baverstock who argue life is the inevitable outcome of the second law of thermodynamics (Annila and Baverstock, 2014; see also Friston et al., 2015). These, and other omitted thinkers, have gone far in assembling the potential raw material for a scientific revolution. One that leaves the framework of gene regulatory networks far behind.

The closest that of any of these theories come to definitively falsifying genetic determinism as a life-concept, however, would be a theory of the origin of life itself that positions metabolism at the centre.

Readers may be familiar with the concept of the RNA world, which is theorised to have predated the supposed “modern DNA world”. But more convincing than an RNA world, for which there is little evidence, is a new theory, the peptide-RNA world.

The central piece of evidence of the peptide-RNA origin thesis (Carter, 2016) is that the enzyme (called aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase) that nowadays links RNA to proteins—and which therefore connects the RNA world to the protein world—comes in two basic forms (in all organisms). The evolutionary origin of these two forms (called Class I and Class II enzymes), however, is strangely irreconcilable. Class I and II molecules perform almost identical functions (though with different amino acids) yet have nothing structurally in common. Except for one thing. Their most conserved aminoacids, those at their active catalytic centre, can be derived from opposite strands of the same small RNA molecule (Carter 2016). In other words, the two proteins that let RNA make all modern proteins are derived from opposite strands of a single very primitive small RNA molecule that encoded them both.

The implication of this compelling observation is to intimately link metabolism and replication at a very early stage of life’s origins. RNA was the assembler of primitive proteins and the purpose of those proteins was catalysis, i.e. to guide and enhance metabolism. What the peptide-RNA origin thesis therefore does is to replaces the RNA world—which is a replication-first theory—with a metabolism-first theory in that RNA is enhancing a metabolism that already predated it.

DNA and politics

“Human biology is actually far more complicated than we imagine. Everybody talks about the genes that they received from their mother and father, for this trait or the other. But in reality, those genes have very little impact on life outcomes. Our biology is way too complicated for that and deals with hundreds of thousands of independent factors. Genes are absolutely not our fate. They can give us useful information about the increased risk of a disease, but in most cases they will not determine the actual cause of the disease, or the actual incidence of somebody getting it. Most biology will come from the complex interaction of all the proteins and cells working with environmental factors, not driven directly by the genetic code”. (Anand et al., 2008)

This quotation, spoken (but not written), by Craig Venter, the legendary genome sequencer, suggests that even many geneticists secretly appreciate a clear need for alternative paradigms.

At the same timethe Venter quote prompts a deep question: How is it that, if organisms are the principal objects of biological study, and the standard explanation of their origin and operation is so scientifically weak that it has to award DNA imaginary superpowers of “expression” and “control” to paper over the cracks, have scientists nevertheless clung to it?

Why is it that, rather than celebrating and investing in Rashevsky, Kauffman, Noble, et al., as pioneers of necessary and potentially fruitful and unifying paradigms, have these researchers been ignored by mainstream biology?

What is the big attraction of genetic determinism?

A compelling and non-intuitive explanation for the monomania of biology does exist. It is set out in a second and forthcoming article: The Meaning of Life. It is an explanation that requires going behind the window dressing of science and examining its active and symbiotic relation to power in modern political systems.

References

Anand et al (2008) Cancer is a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes. Pharm Research 25: 2097–2116.
Annila, A and Baverstock K (2014) Genes without prominence: a reappraisal of the foundations of biology. DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2013.1017
Badylak, S (2016) Work with, not against, biology. Nature 540: S55 doi:10.1038/540S55a
Batten, D, S Salthe, F Boschetti (2008) Visions of evolution: self-organization proposes what natural selection disposes. Biological Theory 3: 17–29.
Carter, C (2016) An Alternative to the RNA World. Natural History Dec 2016/Jan 2017 28-33.
Chick JM, Munger SC, Simecek P, et al. (2016) Defining the consequences of genetic variation on a proteome-wide scale. Nature 534: 500-505.
Clark A, (2013) Whatever next? Predictive brains, situated agents, and the future of cognitive science. Behavioural and Brain Sciences
Coen, E (1999) The Art of Genes. Oxford University Press.
Crick, F (1970) Central Dogma of Molecular Biology. Nature 227: 56–63.
Dermitzakis E.T. and Clark A.G. (2009) Life after GWA studies. Science 326: 239-240.
Friston K. (2010) The free-energy principle: a unified brain theory? Nature Reviews Neuroscience 11, 127-138 doi:10.1038/nrn2787
Friston K, M Levin, B Sengupta, G Pezzulo (2015) Knowing one’s place: a free-energy approach to pattern regulation.
Ioannidis J.P., Non-replication and inconsistency in the genome-wide association setting. Hum Hered, 2007. 64(4): p. 203-13.
Kaufman S (1993) The Origins of Order. Oxford University Press.
Laursen et al., (2017) Characterization of a dynamic metabolon producing the defense compound dhurrin in sorghum. Science 354: 890-895.
Manolio T. et al. (2009) Finding the missing heritability of complex diseases. Nature 461: 747-753.
Mullis K Dancing Naked in the Mind Field. 1998, Vintage Books.
M Munson, S Balasubramanian, KG Fleming et al. (1996) What makes a protein a protein? Hydrophobic core designs that specify stability and structural properties. Protein Science 5: 1584-1593.
Nakajima M. et al., (2005) Reconstitution of Circadian Oscillation of Cyanobacterial KaiC Phosphorylation in Vitro. Science 308: 414-15.
Noble D (2003) The music of life. Biology Beyond Genes. Oxford University Press.
Noble D (2017) Dance to the Tune of Life: Biological Relativity. Cambridge University Press.
Rose S (1997) Lifelines: Biology beyond Determinism. Oxford University Press.
Strohman RC (1997) The coming Kuhnian Revolution in biology. Nature Biotechnology 15: 194-200.
Tudge, Colin (2013) Why Genes are not Selfish and People are Nice. Floris books.
Watson JD (2003) DNA: The Secret of Life. Alfred A. Knopf.
Wheeler TD and A Stroock (2008) The transpiration of water at negative pressures in a synthetic tree. Nature 455, 208-212 doi:10.1038/nature07226
Woese CR (2004) A new biology for a new century. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews, 68: 173-186.

Read More At: GreenMedInfo.com
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Think Your Condition is Genetic? Think Again!

Source: iHealthTube.com
August 11, 2016

If our parents or grandparents suffered from high blood pressure or some other chronic condition, does that mean we have a better likelihood to get that condition as well? You might be surprised! Dr. James Chestnut discusses the connection between genetics and chronic conditions. Find out how much of a connection there really is! Think your condition is genetic? Think again!

Dr. Joseph P. Farrell on Ancient History/Texts, Genetics, Human Genome Project, ‘Junk DNA’, Giants, Our Suppressed History & More

Source: Matrix Wisdom
Witley Strieber
July 27, 2016

Dr. Joseph P. Farrell [GizaDeathStar.com] is a recognized scholar whose credentials include a PhD in Patristics from the University of Oxford. His literary contribution is a veritable resumé unto itself covering such fields as Nazi Germany, sacred literature, physics, finances, the Giza pyramids, and music theory. A renowned researcher with an eye to assimilate a tremendous amount of background material, Farrell is able to condense the best scholastic research in publication and draw insightful new conclusions on complex and controversial subjects.

As horrifying as such possibilities are, Genes, Giants, Monsters, and Men sets forth a plausible theory revealing a hidden history of mankind and a possible reason that it has remained veiled for hundreds of thousands of years. With his well-documented style and breathtaking conclusions, Dr. Joseph P. Farrell pulls back the veil and takes the reader on an odyssey behind the mysterious history and myths of the human race.

Consider the possibility that the history of the human race is not as simple as what has been taught in classroom textbooks. Consider the possibility that the evolutionary scientific explanation for mankind has ignored critical facts that are buried deep within the fossils and mankind’s DNA. Consider the possibility that the religious stories that have often been the core basis for mankind’s understanding of where it belongs in the history of creation may actually reveal a planet occupied with tyrannical giants and an elite highly intelligent race bent on genetic mutation.