Back to Darwin

Mario Vaneechoutte (
Sun, 25 Apr 1999 20:59:18 +0200

Date: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 20:59:18 +0200
From: Mario Vaneechoutte <>
To: Memetics Discussion <>
Subject: Back to Darwin

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Chris Lees wrote:
> > Hence my post to Jake a few days back, that Lamarck was not
> > entirely wrong. As I understand it, epigenetic inheritance is
> > irrefutable.
> > I don't think the neodarwinians are much troubled by that. They just

> > bolt
> > it on to what they've already got.

> That is my impression too.

> > My own impression is that it makes evolution more sensitive and
> > responsive
> > to the environment.

> That is my impression too.Only: the neodarwinian paradigm is so
strong, that little
> research has been done in this direction.

Yes. I'm trying to remember where i first heard. I know I was amazed,
because all
through my formal education, Lamarck was scorned and ridiculed.

Yes, Lamarck was just completely wrong, while Darwin made the
breakthrough, that was the impression I had, until a few years ago.
Actually Darwin's reaction against Lamarck was also based on
Darwin refuted 'inheritance by volition', a so-called Lamarckian idea:
giraffes 'want' to reach higher and therefore in the end can reach
higher. It appears that Lamarck never said such things. So, we take
inheritance by volition and IAC as Lamarckian, while he never claimed
the first and while the second was also believed by Darwin. Amazing,
isn't it? Or just a good example of how memes sensu Mario (wrong but
highly successful information) are damned powerful.
(I considered Lamarckism before as another nice example of this type of
meme: completely wrong, according to my neodarwinian education (or brain
washing?) - but ineradicable)

I think I heard
from Mae Wan Ho, who teaches genetics for the Open University, and then
I saw
some research on fruit flies which Lynn Margolis had ( don't know who
did it) which
showed very clearly that changes to an adult fly caused by environmental
where then somehow transmitted through subsequent generations, and not
the conventional DNA etc.I don't recall much of the detail.
I might even have got the paper somewhere, but it might take me days to
find it.
That's about as much as I know.

I first read about the believe of Darwin in inheritance of acquired
characteristics (IAC) in some of John Wilkins' writings (wasn't it his
article in J. Memetics?).
Attached is some literature which I found interesting in this respect.

Really mind boggling (?) is the last one: how RNA molecules can have
inheritable influence. Simply by ingesting them! (At least in the
nematode worm Caenorhabdites elegans).

References of Chris Lees:
' Beyond neo-Darwinism: an Introduction to the New Evolutionary
Paradigm' Academic Press,London 1984, Ho, M.W.,& Saunders,P.T. (editors)

'A new paradigm for evolution' New Scientist,1986, Feb.27th. 41-43. Ho,
M.W., Saunders, P.T., & Fox, S.W.

John Wilkins?

Best regards
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Rutherford, S

Rutherford, S.L. & S. Lindquist. 1998. Hsp90 as a capacitor for morphological evolution. Nature 396: 336. (See also: Cossins, a. 1998. Cryptic clues revealed. Nature 396: 309-310.

Mayr, Ernst. 1972. Lamarck revisited. J. History of Biology 5: 55-94.

(Magnificent reading).

Jablonka, E. , M. Lachmann, & M.J. Lamb. 1992. Evidence, mechanisms and models for inheritance of acquired characteristics. J. Theor. Biol. 158: 245-268.

Timmons, L. & A. Fire. 1998. Specific interference by ingested dsRNA. Nature 395: 854. (Or: eat and inherit!?)

Voinnet, O. & D.C. Baulcombe. 1997. Systemic signalling in gene silencing. Nature 389:553.

Coyne, J.A. 1998. Not black and white. Book review of 'Majerus, M.E.N. 1998. Melanism: evolution in action. Oxford Univ. Press.' Nature 396: 35-36.

Tabara, H., A. Grishok, & C.C. Mello. 1998. RNAi in C. elegans: soaking in the genome sequence. Science 282: 430-431.: How double stranded RNA can have long term effects over several generations.


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