LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.5

Help for SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE Archives


SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE Archives

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE Archives


SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE@LIST.UVM.EDU


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE Home

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE Home

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  May 2011

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE May 2011

Subject:

Re: The failure of the genome (as predicted by Lewontin 4 decades ago)

From:

Stuart Newman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 7 May 2011 10:18:11 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (176 lines)

Sure, just as opponents of the invasion of Iraq were (as Christopher 
Hitchens never tired of saying, exhibiting a similar degree of nuance), 
supporters of Saddam Hussein. 


On Sat, 7 May 2011 10:05:45 +0200, Michael Balter 
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>If the human genome project is helping to prove that genes are not as
>important as many had argued, then it has done a great service: 
Providing
>scientific evidence against genetic determinism.
>
>As Dick Levins put it here recently (I'm paraphrasing), the results of the
>project have disproved the assumptions on which it was based. But we
>wouldn't be able to to make that statement nearly as effectively had 
the
>project not gone forward. Meanwhile all kinds of other good things are
>coming out of it, including in my own pet subject area, our 
understanding of
>human evolution.
>
>MB
>
>On Sat, May 7, 2011 at 3:31 AM, Robert Mann <[log in to unmask]> 
wrote:
>
>>  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/17/human-
genome-gen
>> etics-twin-studies/print
>>
>> The failure of the genome
>> If inherited genes are not to blame for our most common illnesses, 
how can
>> we find out what is?
>>
>> *                Jonathan Latham*
>>                 guardian.co.uk, Sunday 17 April 2011
>>
>>         Since the* human genome* was sequenced, over 10 years 
ago, hardly
>> a week has gone by without some new genetic "breakthrough" being 
reported.
>> Last week five new "*genes for Alzheimer's disease*" generated 
sometimes
>> front-page coverage across the globe.  But take a closer look and the
>> reality is very different.
>>      Among all the genetic findings for common illnesses, such as 
heart
>> disease, cancer and mental illnesses, only a handful are of genuine
>> significance for human health.   Faulty genes rarely cause, or even 
mildly
>> predispose us, to disease, and as a consequence the science of 
human
>> genetics is in deep crisis.
>>       The human genome sequencing project was based on a huge, 
but
>> calculated, gamble.  The then leaders-to-be of the project believed 
that
>> faulty genes inherited from our parents were probably the cause of 
most
>> disease.  After all, many rarer diseases were already known to be 
genetic.
>> So it seemed a small leap to suppose that inherited faulty genes 
would
>> underlie common diseases, too.
>> There was, however, a problem with the basis for their confidence.  
The
>> best scientific evidence in humans for genes as causes of common 
disease was
>> based on comparing disease rates in genetically identical twins 
against
>> rates in non-identical twins (who share 50% of their DNA).  These
>> comparisons, called* heritability studies*, aimed to measure the 
relative
>> contributions of genetic variation versus environmental variation.
>>         Although extremely widely used and cited, these studies were
>> considered worthless by some geneticists. * Richard Lewontin* of 
Harvard
>> University, for instance, called in 1974 "for an end to the 
measurement of
>> useless quantities".  Other critics pointed out that these experiments
>> relied on the proposition that identical twins experienced no more 
identical
>> environments than did non-identical twins, when it was abundantly 
clear that
>> parents were treating their identical offspring more similarly than 
their
>> non-identical twins.  These arguments constituted a threat to the 
genome
>> project. Ultimately they were swept aside and all but forgotten.
>>      In 2009, one of the few remaining scientifically active leaders of 
the
>> original genome project, Francis Collins, published a review paper in 
the
>> scientific journal Nature, along with 26 other prominent geneticists.  
It
>> was titled* Finding the Missing Heritability of Complex Diseases*.  
In it,
>> the authors acknowledged that, despite more than 700 genome-
scanning
>> publications and nearly $100bn spent, geneticists still had not found 
more
>> than a fractional genetic basis for human disease.
>>   Since the Collins paper was published nothing has happened to 
change that
>> conclusion.  It now seems that the original twin-study critics were 
more
>> right than they imagined.  The most likely explanation for why genes 
for
>> common diseases have not been found is that, with few exceptions, 
they do
>> not exist.
>>         The failure to find meaningful inherited genetic predispositions 
is
>> likely to become the most profound crisis that science has faced.  
Not only
>> has the most expensive scientific project ever conceived failed to 
reach a
>> goal it assured the world it would achieve, but there is also the 
ticklish
>> problem of why the headlines have been so consistently discrepant 
with
>> reality.  As the failures to find significant genes have accumulated,
>> geneticists have remained silent.
>>     There are still important decisions to be made.  The Collins paper
>> proposed a no doubt expensive and open-ended search among 
hitherto
>> disregarded genetic locations.  We should be under no illusions, 
however.
>> The likelihood that further searching might rescue the day appears 
slim.  A
>> much better use of that money would be to ask: if inherited genes 
are not to
>> blame for our commonest illnesses, can we find out what is?
>>
>>
>>  - to which this comment (*inter alia*) was posted:
>>
>> * Jonathan Latham asks: "If inherited genes are not to blame for our
>> commonest illnesses, can we find out what is?" The answers have 
been known
>> for decades, but are not genetic and have been largely 
unacknowledged: poor
>> nutrition, lack of exercise, chemical pollution of our bodies and the
>> environment, electromagnetic pollution, and the stress of living in an
>> economically driven society. There is good reason why people who 
have had
>> little contact with western ways rarely suffer from western diseases;
>> however, if such people adopt our ways, they too become subject to 
our
>> common illnesses.
>>
>> *Dr Eva Novotny*
>> Cambridge
>>
>>
>
>
>-- 
>******************************************
>Michael Balter
>Contributing Correspondent, Science
>Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
>New York University
>
>Email:  [log in to unmask]
>Web:    michaelbalter.com
>NYU:    journalism.nyu.edu/faculty/michael-balter/
>******************************************
>
>"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why 
the poor
>have no food, they call me a Communist." -- H�lder Pessoa C�mara
>

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
May 2001
March 2001
February 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
December 1998
November 1998
September 1998
August 1998
July 1998
June 1998
May 1998

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



LIST.UVM.EDU

CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager