Epigenetics, hype and woo

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a new twitter account: @EpigeneticsBs (short for ‘epigenetics bullshit’). Its mission is to make epigenetic ‘bullshit’ public, or as it says: “There’s a lot of #epigenetics pseudoscience & quackery out there. We RT some of it for your edification and entertainment.” These (re)tweets are produced by people working …

Making sense of plasticity

I recently got an invitation to a workshop on ‘Plasticity and its Limits’ (which will bring together scholars from the social sciences, humanities and life sciences). When I accepted the invitation I had, I have to confess, not given much thought to the concept of plasticity – I had, however, written some blog posts about …

When epigenetics gets under the skin

A few days ago, on 12 August, I saw the following conversation on twitter between Martyn Pickersgill and Muireann Quigley. It started with Martyn saying/sighing: “I’m probably going to start crying with frustration if I read the phrase ‘how the environment gets under the skin’ one more time today.” Whereupon Mauireann asked him what he …

The epigenetic muddle and the trouble with science writing

I have been interested in epigenetics, especially public portrayals of epigenetics, for about six or seven years. About three years ago I tried to get some funding to examine emerging and changing meanings of epigenetics in traditional and new media (including what one might call ‘alternative’ media), but unfortunately never got the funding. When writing …

Epigenetics, hype and harm

I first became interested in epigenetics in around 2010/2011. I know this because I trawled my emails and found a link that I had sent myself on 11 February 2011 to an article in Mother Jones entitled “The illustrated guide to epigenetics”. The first paragraph of this guide is rather prophetic: “This month marks the …

Making epigenetics public: A problem with metaphors

This article has been co-authored with Aleksandra Stelmach Two years ago, in May 2013, I wrote a blog post about epigenetics. This was at a time when social scientists started to be interested in this new field of genetics/genomics and began to critically scrutinize it. Now, two years later and after a flurry of social …

Science, politics and epigenetics

This post by Shea Robison is reposted here with the permission of author. Shea originally posted it on his blog ‘The nexus of epigenetics‘ under the title “Epigenetics Minority Report Part I: Epigenetics, blame, precrime and politics“ *** If you picked up the movie reference in the title to this post, you are likely (hopefully) asking …

Epigenetics: Switching the power (and responsibility) from genes to us?

We have always known that we are who we are because of our ancestors. We also know in ever more detail that we are who we are because of our genes.  Since 1953 we know the structure of the genes that are passed down from generation to generation and since 2003 we know the structure …