The failure of certain scientists to understand epigenetics has been shown to have Lamarckian inheritance, The Science Web has learned.
Larmarkism is the theory that organisms can pass on acquired characteristics to their offspring, and that this “soft inheritance” is the driving force behind adaptation of species. Lamarckian evolution, or soft inheritance of acquired characteristics, was largely discredited by Mendelian genetics.
Modern evolutionary theory states that all evolutionary phenomena can be explained by genetic mechanisms; with evolutionary processes, such as natural selection, acting on differences between individuals encoded within their genome.
Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in a phenotype that are not caused by changes in the underlying DNA sequence. However, most studies (which focus on DNA methylation or histone modification) make barely relevant, underpowered, unsupported and hand-wavey statements about how epigenetics could or might underly a heritable trait.
A certain subset of epigenetics researchers state that epigenetics is Lamarckian in nature, and in a surprising twist, new research published in the comic Science suggests that this mistaken opinion itself shows Lamarckian inheritance.
“Basically, what we’ve found is that once a researcher acquires the mistaken opinion that epigenetics is Lamarckian in nature, then all of that researcher’s offspring will also have that opinion” said Prof D Unce, lead author of the study. “What this means is that the idea, the opinion itself, is an acquired characteristic that is passed on to offspring. If that ain’t Lamarkian I don’t know what is!”
Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was unavailable for comment.