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The Power of Plasticity: Epigenetics in Science Fiction

This is another guest post by Cath Ennis in our series of posts on epigenetics and popular culture. *** One of the fascinating things about epigenetics is how quickly some of the public perceptions of the field have raced far beyond the actual state of the science. I’ve seen and heard countless online and real …

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“It’s just like epigenetics” – scientific metaphors for non-scientific concepts

This is a guest post by Cath Ennis. Cath is a Knowledge Translation Specialist with the University of British Columbia’s Human Early Learning Partnership and the Kobor Lab at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute. *** In our new paper, Brigitte Nerlich, Aleksandra Stelmach and I examined the metaphors used by academic social scientists and alternative …

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How to do things with epigenetics

We have just published in article on epigenetics in Social Science Information! It’s part of a special issue coordinated by the sociologist Michel Dubois (CNRS, Paris) that is coming out in print at the beginning of the new year. The special issue deals with epigenetics and interdisciplinarity. Our article examines some obstacles that might hinder …

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Epi-pins: Epigenetics on Pinterest

This post has been co-authored with Cath Ennis, University of British Colombia, Vancouver (author of Epigenetics: A Graphic Guide). Cath is a Knowledge Translation Specialist with the University of British Columbia’s Human Early Learning Partnership and the Kobor Lab at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute. *** Cath and I are interested in how epigenetics is …

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Epigenetics: A blogging retrospective

Looking back over my blog posts, I realised that I have written 15 posts on epigenetics between 2013 and now (some with Aleksandra Stelmach). It’s time to take stock. Epigenetics is the latest in a long line of developments in genetics and genomics that I have studied through the lens of metaphor analysis, from cloning …

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Epigenetics: Between fundamental science and fantastic expectations

One of my heroines in the field of epigenetics is Edith Heard. In this post I will tell you what I learned from her over the years with regard to epigenetic facts and fantasies. (For a good overview of facts and fantasies, watch this video at ‘Cracked Science’). Before I do that, you might want …

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Epigenetics: Grappling with definitions

Definitions of epigenetics are notoriously slippery. This does not seem to hamper basic research. But it might hamper public understanding. The words ‘epigenetics’ and ‘epigenetic’ have undergone quite substantial changes in meaning over time, leading up to a meaning which is now popular but open to misinterpretation. This history and increasing confusion has been charted, …

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Epigenetics and sociology: A critical note

I recently read an interesting article by Michel Dubois, Catherine Guaspare and Séverine Louvel entitled “De la génétique à l’épigénétique: une révolution ‘post-génomique’ à l’usage des sociologies”, which appeared in the Revue française de sociologie, 59(1), 71-98 (2018). Dubois et al.’s ‘critical note’ is intended to introduce French readers to English works that explore the boundaries between …

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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 …

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