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Epigenetics: True or False, Revolutionary or Trivial?
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As I’ve been mentioning for years, we live in an age of growing antiquarianism in terms of thinking about cause and effect of social outcomes. When I was young, there was much interest in how things had changed from the 1960s onward. The Sixties were seen as a big deal.

But now, leading historical savants like Ta-Nehisi Coates act as if they have been living in an underground fallout shelter since 1959. They’ve never heard of the Sixties. What possible influence could the last 50 years have on the present? If you want to understand the Obama Era you need to obsess over New Deal redlining.

The enthusiasm for epigenetics — i.e., a Lamarckian/Lysenkoist theory that the past, especially politically exploitable traumas such as the Holocaust or slavery, can damage genes for multiple generations — is related to this antiquarian turn.

For example, The Guardian reported in 2015:

Trauma research about the impact of the Holocaust on subsequent generations varies; some studies conclude there is no effect of trauma two generations on, while others claim that breast milk of survivors was affected by stress hormones that impacted on the physiology of the next generation. Some in the field of epigenetics say the intergenerational effects of the Holocaust are very pronounced and that the atrocities altered the DNA of victims’ descendants, so that they have different stress hormone profiles to their peers. …

This kind of thing doesn’t mean that epigenetic effects never ever happen. For all I know, they could happen now and then.

But there’s a lot of confusion about the implication of the theory of epigenetics.

A. Strong Form of Epigenetics: Sometimes it’s discussed as if it’s a Lamarckian way that impacts future generations that haven’t been conceived yet via genetic means.

B. Weak Form of Epigentics: But other times, epigenetics is discussed as if it’s a way that people who are already conceived have their Nature impacted by their Nurture. This latter approach is mildly interesting but not terribly revolutionary. It’s nice to know more detailed ways that Nurture can have its effect, but it’s not exactly validating Lamarckism.

For example, in the NYT article below, two studies on the possible epigenetic impact of wartime starvation are cited. The first, about the children of Civil War POWs, cites detriments suffered by the not-yet-conceived children of the victims: if true and representative, that would be the more interesting Strong Form.

The second study cited, about people who were fetuses during the Dutch famine of 1944-45, cites detriments suffered by already conceived victims. That’s the technical Weak Form.

I’d also suggest that there might be a Medium Form of epigenetic theory: unlike in classical Lamarckism, in which a giraffe who stretches his neck to reach leaves higher up on a tree will conceive longer-necked offspring, in the Medium Form of epigenetic theory, Nurture can mostly just do damage to Nature. If you suffer a famine, the children you conceive later might have some genetic problems due to the long-lasting physical effects of your trauma. That would be kind of interesting but not remarkable: it’s easier to break things than build them. (Darwin’s theory of natural selection made the leap that every so often a breakage turns out to be useful.)

From the New York Times Science section, which often tries to push back gently against popular delusions:

Can We Really Inherit Trauma?

Headlines suggest that the epigenetic marks of trauma can be passed from one generation to the next. But the evidence, at least in humans, is circumstantial at best.

By Benedict Carey, Dec. 10, 2018

In mid-October, researchers in California published a study of Civil War prisoners that came to a remarkable conclusion. Male children of abused war prisoners were about 10 percent more likely to die than their peers were in any given year after middle age, the study reported.

The findings, the authors concluded, supported an “epigenetic explanation.” The idea is that trauma can leave a chemical mark on a person’s genes, which then is passed down to subsequent generations. The mark doesn’t directly damage the gene; there’s no mutation. Instead it alters the mechanism by which the gene is converted into functioning proteins, or expressed. The alteration isn’t genetic. It’s epigenetic.

The field of epigenetics gained momentum about a decade ago, when scientists reported that children who were exposed in the womb to the Dutch Hunger Winter, a period of famine toward the end of World War II, carried a particular chemical mark, or epigenetic signature, on one of their genes. The researchers later linked that finding to differences in the children’s health later in life, including higher-than-average body mass.

Here’s Carl Zimmer’s article on the epigenetic effects of the Dutch Hunger Winter. But I don’t understand the argument that the effects of starvation on already conceived individuals in the womb is evidence for epigenetic transmission across generations, thus destabilizing our model of Nature and Nurture. Famine when you were in utero is, obviously, a failure of Nurture (in the guise of not enough nutrients and other gestational problems).

If epigenetic effects are real, they should be evident in children conceived after the Dutch Hunger Winter, not in children conceived before.

I’d be more impressed by the epigenetic explanation if they proved that the children and, ideally, the grandchildren of those who were fetuses during the Dutch Hunger Winter suffered mysterious detriments. This Dutch Hunger example seems to be quite different from the Civil War POW example, which focused on the children conceived after (I hope) the Civil War.

But even the Civil War example could have a straightforward Nurture explanation: guys who suffered badly in POW camps and then returned to typical farm jobs might have on average suffered more long-lasting ill health due to their mistreatment and thus grew less food on average than guys who came through the Civil War okay, which in turn meant their kids had less food on average growing up than is ideal, which is bad for you.

Another issue, of course, is possible publication bias:

– Let’s look at the children of abused Civil War POWs. Bingo! Publish!

– Let’s look at the children of, say, abused Bataan Death March POWs. Uh, oh, no effect … Let’s leave that one in the bottom of the file cabinet …

The excitement since then has only intensified, generating more studies — of the descendants of Holocaust survivors, of victims of poverty — that hint at the heritability of trauma. If these studies hold up, they would suggest that we inherit some trace of our parents’ and even grandparents’ experience, particularly their suffering, which in turn modifies our own day-to-day health — and perhaps our children’s, too.

But behind the scenes, the work has touched off a bitter dispute among researchers that could stunt the enterprise in its infancy. Critics contend that the biology implied by such studies simply is not plausible. Epigenetics researchers counter that their evidence is solid, even if the biology is not worked out.

“These are, in fact, extraordinary claims, and they are being advanced on less than ordinary evidence,” said Kevin Mitchell, an associate professor of genetics and neurology at Trinity College, Dublin. “This is a malady in modern science: the more extraordinary and sensational and apparently revolutionary the claim, the lower the bar for the evidence on which it is based, when the opposite should be true.”

 
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  1. Alice says:

    This seems to fit the “want to believe” profile.

    Those of us who grew up with close relatives who lived through WWII Europe, whether POWs or refugees or troops or Holocaust survivors, have often seen that the brokenness of these people as parents and grandparents. They were often emotionally volatile, suffering from various things we now name mental illness.

    But not all of them were. Some were joyful or kind or easy going. So why did some soldier brothers end up one way, but not others? Why did some refugee sister end up nuts but not others?

    The problem is fascinating, and the children and grandchildren often had the same kinds of problems as their broken parents. Inherited brokenness? Bad parenting? Nature or nurture? How come people remember other generations of the family as being better than these? Maybe it’s epigenetics! Because how could these traumas NOT have affected us? And how come some of us but not others?

    It’s hard to think about the counterfactuals–how mentally broken would these people have been even without a war? How much did the war trauma bother them because they were already inclined to such volatility? It is hard for anecdotes to account for what didn’t happen.

    I guess I’d understand better if I understood what we know about Gene expression in different environments in the first place. It isn’t epigenetics, is it, if some hostile environment changes gene expression–of what was already encoded and present– and that expression continues in the next generation?

  2. syonredux says:

    The excitement since then has only intensified, generating more studies — of the descendants of Holocaust survivors, of victims of poverty — that hint at the heritability of trauma. If these studies hold up, they would suggest that we inherit some trace of our parents’ and even grandparents’ experience, particularly their suffering, which in turn modifies our own day-to-day health — and perhaps our children’s, too.

    At last! We can now explain why Japan has been a complete basket case since WW2. See, they’re just suffering from the epigenetic trauma that was engendered by the war……Poor fellows….One wonders when their poor genes will recover….

    • Replies: @Lagertha
  3. Wouldn’t slaves have been more well fed and experience less trauma than their cousins that stayed in Africa?

  4. L Woods says:

    I wonder what the “epigenetic” effects of anti non-elite/extrovert white male discrimination will be on the next generation. Inquiring minds you know

  5. “even the Civil War example could have a straightforward Nurture explanation …”

    Another unmentioned ho-hum explanation is plain old sample bias. The guys who ended up in Civil War POW camps might have been simply less robust to begin with compared to the guys who lived to fight another day or who went down standing their ground to the last. The POW group may simply have been a different population tranche with different genes, who were filtered out by the harrow of battle.

    • Replies: @BenKenobi
    , @Hail
  6. You are omitting the most likely possibility: p-hacking by scientists. I looked at a study by Tracy Bale and gave up due to her annoying reporting habit of “p<.05" and having to scan for the sample sizes. Animal scientists have gotten too much of a pass, because they can do good interventions (unlike those who work with humans). Statistical issues are no less of a concern with them.

  7. We really should get Dr. Coates to weigh in on this. Maybe Dr. Dyson could provide data? He could rely on the work of Dolezal, et al about trauma, etc. Maybe RuPaul and Chelsea Manning can add as well. Must be a lotta trauma there somewhere.nMay as well be diverse and inclusive, no?

  8. songbird says:

    I think Greg Cochran said it well: it’s a long way from the brain to the testes.

    Humans take a long time to mature, and the availability of resources changes in a much shorter interval. I don’t see how it would be useful to put a secret message about deprivation in DNA. What resource strategies exist in humans are probably highly polygenic and don’t involve methylation.

    • Replies: @AnotherDad
  9. Anon[215] • Disclaimer says:

    I was enlightened by how Gregory Clark’s A Farewell to Alms and The Son Also Rises describes how horrible life in general was for, well, white people in England, up until the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, at which point it became very unpleasant, but less horrible. Clark documents many surnames that ceased to exist because they were lower class and they just all died off from lack of food. The upper class did okay, but had a lot of children, so the less bright of the children were pushed down to form the middle class, which put pressure on the less bright middle class, who put pressure on the lower classes, who often just up and died.

    What about the epigenetic effect on these whites and similar whites in the United States?

    Also, the assumption that everyday life was simple torture for enslaved blacks doesn’t ring true to me. They married, had families, passed down Brer Rabbit tales, did music and dance. Some were whipped by white masters just as some whites today are killed by black carjackers. I suspect most just kept their heads down and managed to get by without that kind of abuse, just as I lock my car doors and keep the windows up and avoid carjacking trauma. I supposed an attempt at timelining the typical slaves life, figuring out what a typical day was like, and quantifying abuse and trauma, and likewise doing it for the typical low class white would not be politically correct in the academy. But I think that claims of the “brutal legacy of slavery” as applies to all slaves is not proven. You need a little brutality to keep people in line, but most people today form their opinions about slavery based on movies and the like, not unbiased research. Question: Do Andaman Islanders live an easier or harder life than black slaves did.

    Remember, there is an abrupt, large, stabile gap in intelligence, and it’s held for a century of testing. Whatever traumatic past that blacks underwent to make the epigenetic theory true needs to apply to all black slaves and be an order of magnitude different that poor white lives.

    • Replies: @PhysicistDave
    , @anon
    , @bomag
  10. First rule of good science: bottom-up, not top-down. Figure out how epigenetics works on across generations at a molecular level in animal studies first before trying to make spurious correlations to human culture.

    • Replies: @Graham
  11. BenKenobi says:
    @Almost Missouri

    Are you saying, AM, that you prefer the guys who didn’t get captured?

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  12. “This is a malady in modern science: the more extraordinary and sensational and apparently revolutionary the claim, the lower the bar for the evidence on which it is based, when the opposite should be true.”

    I fail to find anything wrong with that statement. I think it dovetails nicely with Steve’s publishing bias postulation. Even among academics, who by and large don’t get paid for papers (or they used to not be, I could be out of date). It’s infinitely better to have a flashy paper with your byline (large breasts make women live longer!) that some boring oberservation of fingernail growth in regards to turnip consumption, so somesuch topic.

    I’m not sure if this science based fabulsim/revisionism of research topics came before or after the social sciences started in on it, but the two seem to be quite the pair. For example, it’s amazing the number of 20-somethings who are under the impression that before 1985 or so, you could just beat up or otherwise physically harm gay people with no legal repercussions. Other examples abound, because for one reason, the smell test in academics seems to have been abandoned.

  13. Hail says: • Website
    @Almost Missouri

    The guys who ended up in Civil War POW camps might have been simply less robust to begin with

    If only they could supercharge this research by doing a twin study version: Descendants of the POW twin, vs. Descendants of the non-POW twin.

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  14. Hail says: • Website

    The enthusiasm for epigenetics — i.e., a Lamarckian/Lysenkoist theory that the past, especially politically exploitable traumas such as the Holocaust or slavery, can damage genes for multiple generations — is related to this antiquarian turn.

    Antiquarian, a nice euphemism for “use of the past for present political purposes.”

    The two examples: [1] Jewish victims of the Germans in the 1940s, [2] soldiers who fought against the Confederate States Army in the 1860s. Both useful as scientific-seeming auxiliary support for the ever-onward drive of — dare I say it? The Narrative.

    Wake me when they release a study claiming US Whites of colonial stock are eternal genetic victims due to Red Indians’ use of terror in the 1600s and 1700s. Or the like.

  15. Anonymous[401] • Disclaimer says:

    https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-study-looking-at-epigenetics-in-mice-and-the-influence-of-exercise-on-the-cognitive-abilities-of-offspring/

    … If this system of the offspring inheriting a ‘head start’ applies to humans, it might help to explain the so-called Flynn effect where the population IQ in industrial societies has risen every decade for the last century.

    … This is a fascinating study in mice providing further increasing evidence of how we conduct our lives before we conceive our children may have consequences for our offspring.

    … This is a complex scientific study that is well-conducted and presented and opens up further the enthralling study of a ‘transgenerational inheritance’; by which parental inheritance is not only generated by the conventional DNA genetic code already present and fixed in our gametes, but an inheritance that can modify an offspring’s health and functions according to how the male (in this case) lives life!

  16. Once in a while, I really like your science/speculation posts. That was a very good one. I look forward to reading the comments later.

    On your publication bias part: I’m sure there is this affect, which will be felt in laymen’s science magazines, NYTimes science sections, and the like, in which the authors read the published papers. The peer review process, however, should still involve people who are into the field enough to know about the papers that showed no “big news”. After all, once all the work in doing that “Bataan Death March POW” study (I know, just a made-up example), there’s still going to be a push on the researchers’ end to get the information out. Nobody wants to waste his time like that.

    Therefore, hopefully the real experts in the field will have access to the full body of knowledge.

  17. Hail says: • Website

    Weak Form of Epigentics: But other times, epigenetics is discussed as if it’s a way that people who are already conceived have their Nature impacted by their Nurture

    I have heard that a communist-era East German study found that persons born in Dresden in 1945 had a noticeably higher rate of adult homosexuality than Dresden-born cohorts of 1944 or 1946 (I think it was). The Communist authorities attributed the high rate of homosexuality to the firebombing catastrophe that destroyed the city and inflicted a trauma on all the pregnant wombs present.

    If anyone out in iSteve-Land has a source on E.German study, please share.

    (Feb. 1945 was the infamous firebombing of Dresden in WWII, which killed over 100,000 civilians mainly in firestorms; a disaster that later launched Kurt Vonnegut’s career as he wrote his breakout Slaughterhouse Five on his experience surviving it as a U.S. POW in the basement-cum-prison below the doomed city. The 100,000 is a low-bound figure attested to in many independent sources compiled by David Irving.)

  18. J.Ross says: • Website

    Our culture is dominated by tribalists whose only interest in history is generating manipulation through grievance claims. Their numbers and variety are increasing and there is no countervailing force. There will probably not be an honest discussion on epigenetics while this continues, and there will certainly never be a concession regarding the suffering of outsiders.
    ———
    Welcome to Marwen (opens Dec 21) is tranny propaganda.

    Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell), is a victim of a violent assault, that came about when five men beat him and left him for dead, all because he told them that he liked being a cross dresser. Following the attack, he’s left with little to no memory of his previous adult life. In a desperate attempt to regain his memories, Hogancamp constructs a miniature World War II village, called Marwen, in his yard to help in his recovery.

    Be interesting if the resolution is that he eventually leaves the delusion of his doll village but not his other delusions.

    • Replies: @Lurker
  19. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Hail

    What might be called pseudo-nuking was actually British policy and happened to many cities; is there any observation about gay Hamburgers?
    There’s this:
    https://www.amazon.com/Fire-Bombing-Germany-1940-1945/dp/0231133812
    I don’t know if it touches on this issue.

  20. @BenKenobi

    Huh? I’m not saying I prefer anything. I’m just suggesting there might be a preexisting genetic difference between soldiers who become POWs versus those who do not. In other words, it is not completely random who gets captured.

    • Replies: @bomag
    , @BenKenobi
  21. I like this picture, of Lysenko propounding his theories under Stalin’s watchful eye.

    I note that there are a few articles in recent years that take pains to distance epigenetics from Lysenkoism, but they are not fully persuasive. There’s overlap in what Lysenko did with modern epigenetics, if you set aside the politics and the history of the Soviet famines.

  22. newrouter says:

    magic gene/magic dirt: equality uber alles

  23. Anon[334] • Disclaimer says:

    Robert Plomin in Blueprint explains “nature of nurture” discoveries, the unexpected finding that about half of what has been ascribed to nurture is really nature once removed.

    An older example of this is the idea that smart children born into, or adopted into, a deprived environment manage to create a better environment for themselves, for instance by scrounging up books from granny, neighbors, the library, whatever. Related, if being read to helps, is that environmental? Plomin says that it’s genetic, in that bookish kids are genetically inclined to have bookish parents, who like to read to kids.

    But Plomin describes more surprising examples: your high school peers are known to high a strong influence on you, into your thirties. So parents should move to good neighborhoods and put kids in high achieving private schools, right? Well, it turns out that kids with genes that want to be delinquent will somehow manage to round up a peer group of delinquents.

    In a Trumpian “I like soldiers who don’t get captured” sense, maybe POW’s are genetically more inclined to behave in ways that get them captured, and thus may be otherwise genetically distinct. Gor example, Plomin cites evidence that “accidents” are genetic, which heretofore have been assumed to be the quintessential “random” event.

    Plomin’s experimental results might be consistent with wartime starvation effects. Did everyone starve? Were some able to get more food than others? Was starvation more prevalent among families with more children? You can imagine all kinds of genetic differences that might distinguish some victims from non victims.

  24. Tiny Duck says:

    I believed he in eligeninetic.

    How could one not?

    That would explain the achievement gap and other things

    Read Leonard Pitts

    • Replies: @Mr McKenna
  25. @Hail

    Yeah. Even twin studies really should be triplet (or more) studies to be properly thorough: comparison between a pair of identical siblings raised apart to measure gross environmental difference, but then subtract from that the difference between an identical pair consisting of one half of the aforementioned identical pair plus another identical sibling who was raised together, which would measure the default background drift even with identical genes and environment.

    Of course, such mixed triplet (or more) raised together/apart configurations are extremely rare in the field.

  26. @Alice

    Alice, Gold Border comment. When I read your post I thought of my parents and their siblings, children of immigrants, survivors of the Great Depression and survivors of service in World War II. So, I guess that myself and my cousins, all born toward the end of the war or shortly after should show some carry over trauma. Or, was wondering where your next meal would come from or if yourself or your love ones would return from war…was that trauma enough? Would marrying the descendant of long ago slavery make your offspring heirs to their ancestors trauma ?

    • Replies: @Alice
  27. The first sentence of that 2015 Guardian article explains what is at play here:

    Jewish activists in Scotland have started a campaign to support the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors across the world, saying the trauma of the extermination camps continues to haunt the descendants of those who suffered there.

  28. Anon[425] • Disclaimer says:

    If we can all inherit trauma, we have inherited tons of it because human history has been one long trauma after another.

    Of course, epigentry don’t really care about trauma of most peoples and of most events. It’s really about fixating on Holocaust Trauma and American Slavery trauma to keep the bucks flowing to certain peoples. Epigenetics is the astrology of genetics. Also, even if true, it wouldn’t matter since every race, every people, and every etc. would be carrying tons of trauma genes. Palestinians, Chinese, Armenians, Russians(WWII and Great Famine), Japanese, and etc. And trauma not just from wars and genocides but family problems, famine, natural disasters, being mauled by animals, being raped, being whatever.

    But I can see how it appeals to some people. It ‘humanizes’ the cold field of genetics.

    An interesting facet of such theories is that they suggest the real power isn’t with the smartest people but with the less intelligent.

    Truly truly smart people do real science. But hard cold science has no ideology or agenda. It’s about the truth. But humanity isn’t only about the truth but ‘meaning’ and ‘values’. Hard sciences and cold truth lack the human touch. In contrast, social sciences and humanities add ‘human factor’ to all kind of subjects. Necessarily so.
    But not everyone in social science is a genuine moralist. Too many are egotistical ideologues, power-mad radicals, or dogmatic toadies(the commissar type). They prefer moralism over morality. Moralism is their crutch and cudgel. Unable to compete with men of superior intelligence in science and business, they seek power by controlling moral passion… like with the Toohey character in THE FOUNTAINHEAD.

    Now, super high IQ people in science, technology, and business could be asses and jerks too. But because they are so obsessed with discovery of truth or making a profit, they don’t dwell much on the ‘meaning’. That stuff is left up to the social sciences and humanities, departments with smart-enough but not the smartest people. So, the lesser-minds get to decide what is ‘meaningful’.

    This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as morality doesn’t require super intellect or mental savvy. But too many social sciences and humanities are filled with bitter envious ideologues who want more power and use moralism as their weapon. Because they can’t compete with high intelligence in science for cold hard facts and with high intelligence in business for cold hard cash, they assert themselves as the priestly caste that gets to decide right and wrong. And this ‘justice’ is higher than any hard fact or hard cash.

    And even though people in hard sciences and business are more intelligent than people in social sciences, they mostly go along with social science conclusions because they are too busy seeking cold truth or cold profits. They have no time to ponder the ‘meaning’ of it all. They figure the interpretive element of ‘meaning’ is for lesser minds and shunt it off to the social science and humanities. Superior minds are for innovation.

    But what they fail to understand is that ‘meaning’ governs the moral culture of a society. What is interpreted as ‘just’ can bring down even the most powerful people. Toohey understood this. Also, unlike true scientists and entrepreneurs who think like individuals, the social scientist crew and humanities-ideologies work as a mob, a collective herd. Stalinism and the Irish machine politics demonstrated how effective this unity could be. Individuals don’t stand a chance. It’s like an individual soldier, however strong and skillful, cannot win against a unified phalanx.

    Granted, rich people can use the cash to favor certain ideas over others to their benefit. So, while people like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates never came up with a single original ‘meaning’ on their own — they were usually busy with business –, they read books written by social science ‘experts’ and threw cash at certain projects over others, at certain departments over others.

    And this partly explains why Homomania became the dominant feature of leftism. I highly doubt if the most ambitious businessmen and innovators were thinking in terms of ‘Worship homo is good!’. They had nothing to do with the creation of the homo mass cult. It was the work of ideologues, activists, and radicals.
    But rich folks chose to throw tons of cash at the homo agenda for a reason.
    If rich folks had thrown big cash at Big Labor, it would emboldened Worker Power challenging the owners and managers. So, why would the rich do that? (Well, maybe some did in the Old Wasp days of New Deal and such because elites then felt some sense of commonality with the masses. But today’s elites, esp among Jews, feel little connection to the masses. And white elites have been told it is ‘racist’ for rich whites to care about poorer whites.)
    Anyway, if tons of cash go to the homo agenda, then the new ‘leftism’ will be about ‘gay, gay, gay’, and how could that hurt the business class in terms of profits and privilege, esp when fancy-pants homos want to cater to the rich and powerful?

    So, the rich do have power in choosing which ‘meanings’ to fund, but those meanings are always products of the social science departments filled with people who are smartish but not that smart.

    So, we have Rule of Resentful Smartish but not-smart-enough.

    • Agree: Almost Missouri
  29. may i comment here if i’m not a black lesbian?

    “steve” needs to stop using that white boy’s face.

    he ain’t kidding nobody.

  30. “Some in the field of epigenetics say the intergenerational effects of the Holocaust are very pronounced and that the atrocities altered the DNA of victims’ descendants, so that they have different stress hormone profiles to their peers. …“

    For those wondering how ((they)) were going to continue pressing for reparations and such after the final Holocaust victims had passed on, here is your answer.

    • Replies: @Hail
  31. – Let’s look at the children of abused Civil War POWs. Bingo! Publish!

    My great-great grandfather was one of those, spending 1864 and early 1865 in POW prisons in three Southern states. He suffered eczema the rest of his life– he lived to 90. That’s a lot of scratching! His granddaughter, my grandmother, lived t0 93, and her daughter is still going at 95.

    But maybe they didn’t really live that long… it just felt like it!

    • Replies: @songbird
    , @anon
  32. J.Ross says: • Website

    At the Hill
    Gavin McInnes banned from YouTube. YouTube is deleting all his old videos. Well good thing you embraced Jews and homosexuality and miscegnation, and went out of your way to condemn anything remotely volkisch …

    • Replies: @BenKenobi
    , @Mr McKenna
  33. Alice says:
    @Buffalo Joe

    Yes all the above are the questions.. I do wonder about the greatest generation. Perhaps many came home not so great after all, exhausted, traumatized, checked out, and too tired to parent well. Instead, happy to indulge their precious Boomer children because they’ve suffered enough–and parents didn’t have the energy. If it’s so much nature, why did the spoiled Boomers come as a result of such spoiling? Is it more a type of gene expression we’ve encoded for all along, but that environmentally didn’t get expressed in the US til post 1945?

    If all of our normal big 5 attribute habits of virtue/thrift/delayed gratification/hard work/physical courage came from gene expression that arise when deprivation as the norm, and suddenly, we’ve got plenty and largesse, is it just gene expression that no one ever saw turned on except very temporarily?

    How could we distinguish that from epigenetics anyway?

    I had a completely traumatized set of Polish grandrelatives who arrived in the states post 1945. But borderline personality disorder is pretty much the national condition of Poland. Is that trauma? Or just survival of the fittest? When you’re being invaded all the time, BPD, with your varying sweet coyness and hard edged paranoia, might save your life. Maybe the people who survive living in a war zone on average are a little more afraid and paranoid and a little less courageous and confident, as opposed to foreign soldiers going to fight it…

  34. songbird says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    That’s interesting. Maybe, the eczema was triggered by some bug he caught there.

    • Replies: @Mr McKenna
  35. Alice says:
    @Alice

    And how to distinguish from behavior? People who lost everything in the bank runs in the depression never again put money in banks, amd taught their kids not to as well. Don’t need epigenetics for that. What if parents who as kids starved often slightly underfed their own kids, just in case ? Or if they never had milk because they were so poor, never acquired the taste for milk later, and hence didn’t feed it to their kids?

  36. @Hail

    I don’t know about the Dresden 1945 thing in particular, but I have long wondered if the trauma of total war and occupation (twice over) isn’t partly responsible for the … uh, peculiar nature of certain parts of Weimar and post-war German culture.

    For example, to take one fairly well known aspect, it would be strange if the mass rape of about half of all German women in 1945 didn’t have at least some noticeable reverberation in Germans’ sexual ethics through the next generation or two.

    BTW, I’m not proposing this as a new epigenetic hot-take, more as a natural Newtonian cultural adjustment to mass trauma/dislocation.

    The Dresden Hypothesis is more indirect. Rather than sexual cause leads to sexual effect, it is fire-bombing cause leads to gender dysphoria or something effect. Hence the utility of a mediating factor like “epigenetics” in the Dresden Hypothesis.

    Incidentally, versions of the same hypothesis could apply to post-war Jewish culture too, or to any of the other groups mass traumatized for that matter. (There may have been an ironic stabilizing effect of totalitarian but conservative regimes on traumatized Eastern Europe, which prevented them from manifesting as much decadence as the freer Central European cultures despite also suffering deeply. Also, there is the question of duration. German distress stretched out pretty long: about 1917-1948, versus e.g., Serbia, which suffered very acutely in WWI but not so much in WWII, or Hungary which suffered badly in WWII and 1956 but not so badly in WWI. Anyway, you get the idea, and this comment has gone on long enough.)

  37. @Alice

    Alice asked:

    It isn’t epigenetics, is it, if some hostile environment changes gene expression–of what was already encoded and present– and that expression continues in the next generation?

    I think that is what is meant by “epigenetics” in this context.

    Your point about happy vs. broken survivors is well-taken. My grandfather was in the Navy in the Pacific in WW II and seems to have viewed it as one of the best times of his life: to be sure, he was never injured, or, I think,, even under fire, but that’s typical of modern warfare — lots of support, small number of front-line combatants.

    More significantly, I currently know two guys who were military aviators in WW II, both of whom were shot down! — one over the Pacific, the other behind German lines in Europe. Both are calm,, congenial fellows (not that either claims it was fun to be shot down, of course).

    You’d really have to do careful controls here: e.g., compare people who suffered battle trrauma to people who were in the military but not in battle and also to people of the same age and social class who stayed state-side.

    The research would be very challenging.

    • Replies: @anon
  38. Bill P says:

    If you treat people like garbage it’s going to carry over to the next generation one way or another. Sometimes it ruins them, and sometimes it actually makes them tougher and more ambitious — like a lot of Holocaust survivors’ children.

    But how is it going to change spermatazoa or oocytes? Without chemical evidence it’s pure speculation. Has anyone even come up with a plausible mechanism whereby experiences edit gametes?

    Also, you’d think it would be easy to test this with, say, fruit flies. Humans are probably the last species you’d want to use as the basis of this speculation. We’re just too complicated and, well, let’s just say fruit flies don’t have the same influence over academics as the children of Holocaust survivors.

    • Replies: @utu
  39. @Anon

    Anon[215] wrote:

    Also, the assumption that everyday life was simple torture for enslaved blacks doesn’t ring true to me. They married, had families, passed down Brer Rabbit tales, did music and dance. Some were whipped by white masters just as some whites today are killed by black carjackers. I suspect most just kept their heads down and managed to get by without that kind of abuse, just as I lock my car doors and keep the windows up and avoid carjacking trauma. I supposed an attempt at timelining the typical slaves life, figuring out what a typical day was like, and quantifying abuse and trauma, and likewise doing it for the typical low class white would not be politically correct in the academy.

    Some years ago, when we visited Colonial Williamsburg, they had acquired an old plantation outside of town and were doing an archaeologicial dig in the old slave area.

    The archaeologists had worked out a lot of details about daily slave life. The bottom line was that their daily life, in purely material terms, was not wonderful but was livable. The young archaeologist who served as our tour guide was, by the way, a black guy : he of course made no attempt to justify slavery, but his basic theme was that despite the degradation of being chattel slaves, the black folks did manage to make a life for themselves.

    I am not justifying slavery by any means: the slaves were basically prisoners who were innocent of any crime. But I do take to heart our tour guide’s theme that the fact that these people managed to have some sort of human life despite their situation is a tribute to the slaves themselves.

  40. anon[444] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anon

    Also, the assumption that everyday life was simple torture for enslaved blacks doesn’t ring true to me.

    Imagine 4 people:
    1. A Russian born in 1865 to newly freed serfs who lives 100 years until 1965. He will endure extreme poverty and no political rights under the Czar, WWI, the Russian Civil war, purges and totalitarianism under Stalin, WWII and the Nazis.
    2. A Vietnamese peasant born in 1865. He will endure extreme poverty and no political rights under the mandarins, and again under the French, WWII, the French and American wars, famine, and napalm bombing.
    3. A Mexican born in 1865. He will endure extreme poverty and no political rights under the caudillos, the Mexican revolution that killed 1 million people, and more poverty and limited political rights under the PRI.
    4. A black born in Mississippi in 1865. He will be moderately poor by world standards and have limited political rights. He will not endure a war in his homeland. He will not endure famine. Lynchings, while bad, are infrequent and not likely to happen to him or anyone he knows in his county. He will have electricity, pottable water, a refrigerator, a TV, and a car by the post-war era.
    Like you, I agree that the unfathomable suffering of American blacks does not ring true.
    Russians, Vietnamese, and Mexicans had it worse and are all performing better than blacks today.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  41. Big Bill says:
    @Alice

    I wonder about all the refugees who arrive on our shores, particularly those who “lost” the fight in their homelands. The boy soldiers from the Congo, the Tutsis, the brutalized Guatemalan women, the shtetl Jews from Eastern Europe, all of them.

    All of them could be passing crippling, disabling epigenetic pathologies down to their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, regardless of what we do.

    Accepting brutalized refugees is a recipe for disaster.

    • Agree: Mr McKenna
  42. You don’t like it so it must be wrong.

    Read The Beak of the Finch. You won’t. But don’t say I didn’t tell you.

  43. anon[444] • Disclaimer says:
    @PhysicistDave

    One of my uncles was badly wounded landing on the beach in the second wave on D-Day. My mother tells me that before the war he was always laughing and kidding. When he came home he never smiled and eventually lived a fairly reclusive life on a farm in Indiana.
    His brother, an air force mechanic who never saw combat, also became a bit of a recluse in life.
    I was never in the military and have had it easy for the past 59 years, and guess what – I’m a bit of a recluse. I chalk it all up to genetics.
    My wife is from Vietnam. Here father, uncle, brother, and fiance were all killed in the war. She and her mother starved a lot while she was growing up. She worked for the Americans doing laundry at Ton Son Nhat airport and came here on a US plane in 1975, with no money, and not speaking any English. She worked multiple jobs, bought a car, and bought a house. She has an iron will but is also high strung and nervous. I don’t know if these personality traits are due to war time suffering, genetics, or if she is just a typical shrewish Vietnamese wife.

    • LOL: YetAnotherAnon
    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
  44. @Alice

    Alice wrote:

    I do wonder about the greatest generation. Perhaps many came home not so great after all, exhausted, traumatized, checked out, and too tired to parent well. Instead, happy to indulge their precious Boomer children because they’ve suffered enough–and parents didn’t have the energy.

    Well, as a Boomer myself, the clear impression I had was that our parents simply did not want us to suffer as they had suffered; furthermore, economic growth was so rubust in the quarter century after WW II that there seemed no reason we Boomers had to suffer. (Of course, in Boomer mythology, the Vietnam War was our WW II: in reality of course it was much, much smaller.)

    A secondary effect may be that the Baby Boom is called the “Boom” because an awful lot of parents had three (or more) kids. And, it is probably inevitable for much younger siblings to be more than a bit spolied — the “baby of the family” effect. My youngest sib is ten years younger than me, and was certainly spoiled — one of his nicknames was “Rotten”! Of course, in the long run, his being spolied was not really in his best interest.

    • Replies: @Stan Adams
  45. lol @ holocaust breast milk. speaking of that.

    how is it that there are barely any world war 2 veterans alive anymore, not even enough for a couple to show up at memorial events, yet there seem to be thousands and thousands of holocaust survivors all over the place, almost as if they are minting a few hundred more every year.

    something doesn’t add up.

    tons of: survivors

    yearly: discovery of nazi prison guards. keep them in the news cycle, damn it.

    disappearing: guys who actually fought in the conflict.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  46. bomag says:
    @Anon

    I suspect those raising epigenetic concerns don’t want objective answers.

  47. anon[444] • Disclaimer says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    My great-great grandfather was in the Confederate army. He fought at Shilo, was surrendered and paroled in Louisiana, then re-enlisted in a cavalry unit and fought for 4 years in the Ozarks. They roamed over north Arkansas and southern Missouri killing any Yankees they could find.
    At the end of the war they refused to surrender and went to the Indian territory for 4 months before finally coming home.
    I suspect they were having too much fun and just didn’t want to quit.
    When he was old and getting ready to die he had his own headstone carved. He looked back over his life and picked the one best thing that ever happened to him to put on the headstone – his Confederate regiment number.

    • Replies: @Redneck farmer
  48. bomag says:
    @Almost Missouri

    Reboot and run it through the Trump-McCain joke machine.

    • Replies: @Mr McKenna
  49. Anon[432] • Disclaimer says:

    So I assume that the descendants of Ashkenagi Jewish Holocaust survivors have lower IQs than the rest of the Ashkenagi population?

  50. @prime noticer

    You could be a five year old Holocaust survivor in 1945, but not a five year old military veteran.

  51. Anonymous[763] • Disclaimer says:

    The phrase you are looking for is “inherited epigenetics” (the standard term for the “strong form”).

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  52. BenKenobi says:
    @Almost Missouri

    It was a reference to Trump’s comments on McCain.

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  53. gcochran says:
    @Hail

    Wrong on all counts.

    • Replies: @gcochran
    , @Hail
  54. Hail says: • Website
    @Hapalong Cassidy

    For those wondering how ((they)) were going to continue pressing for reparations and such after the final Holocaust victims had passed on, here is your answer.

    “In 2030, the entire world will be an open air museum of Jewish suffering. Poland and Germany will be managed by 5th generation holocaust survivors.” –Seen on the Luke Ford Show, Dec. 12, 2018 (comment by JHR); partially in reaction to the Epigenetics topic [tweeted by Luke Ford].

  55. gcochran says:
    @gcochran

    Dresden deaths were about 25,000, not 100,000: David Irving is a liar.

    No higher incidence of homosexuality in bombed cities. The East German researcher in question also found that MZ twins were always concordant for homosexuality: not the case, not even close.

  56. Hail says: • Website
    @gcochran

    While I don’t know what “counts” you refer to exactly, I think I have tracked down a reference to the East German study that produced the finding:

    Dorner G., Geier T., et. al. “Prenatal stress as possible aetiogenetic factor of homosexuality in human males,” Endokrinologie (1980); 75: 365-368.

    ABSTRACT: In Germany there is an unusually high proportion of homosexuals among males born between 1941 and 1946, i.e. a period of unusual stress for pregnant women.

    KEYWORDS: *sexual orientation, *homosexuality, *emotional state in pregnancy

    There were several similar studies but I think this is the one w/ the Dresden finding.

    • Replies: @gcochran
    , @Lurker
  57. BenKenobi says:
    @J.Ross

    Convert to Globohomo, get deplatformed anyway.

    It’s like in 1984: you have to love Big Brother before they put a bullet in your head.

  58. El Dato says:

    Darwin’s theory of natural selection made the leap that every so often a breakage turns out to be useful.

    That’s when one is talking about mutations. However, aren’t these rather rare and aren’t modifications/adaptations exceedingly more often obtained by combining and rearranging existing DNA elements?

    Semi-OT: There was an interesting article on genetics in Quanta Mag, where the discussion is had that DNA should be considered not as the result of a search in “phenotype space” but as the result of a search in “phenotype-generating algorithm” space, which is far smaller. (I didn’t even know that was controversial, what else would it be? A mutation may give you an entirely new hand, not a fashionable spike on the pinky of the left)

    Mathematical Simplicity May Drive Evolution’s Speed

    See also:

    An Algorithmic Information Calculus for Causal Discovery and Reprogramming Systems at the Arxiv

    Proving Darwin: Making Biology Mathematical by Gregory J. Chaitin at the Amazon

  59. utu says:
    @Bill P

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4020004/
    Although inter-generational effects (such as maternal effects) certainly occur in mammals, the degree to which they can be transmitted in the absence of the initial trigger remains unclear. In mammals efficient reprogramming occurs in the early embryo and in the germ line (Box 2). These two rounds of epigenetic erasure leave little chance for inheritance of epigenetic marks, whether programmed, accidental or environmentally induced (Fig. 2A). Thus, although transmission of acquired states can occur in some animals (such as nematodes), proof that transgenerational inheritance has an epigenetic basis is generally lacking in mammals. Indeed, evolution appears to have gone to great lengths to ensure the efficient undoing of any potentially deleterious bookmarking that a parent’s lifetime experience may have imposed.

    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnmol.2018.00292/full
    Direct proof of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance in humans remains lacking (van Otterdijk and Michels, 2016). Nevertheless, there is notable indirect evidence (i.e., longitudinal studies with no or few insights into putative epigenetic mechanisms).

  60. J.Ross says: • Website
    @anon

    This is a really fantastic comparison.
    When Jeffrey Goldberg has a public shmooze session with his favorite black, he’s not just filling the pages with nothing, he’s ignoring some talented person who easily suffered worse than a MacArthur genius, and thus denying the pages their rightful something. The weak excuse at the back of the good reasonable person’s head is, well, we can afford it, we can accommodate them, and the answer is no we can’t.

  61. @Anonymous

    The phrase you are looking for is “inherited epigenetics” (the standard term for the “strong form”).

    Thanks. What the phrase for the Weak Form? Or is that just plain “epigenetics”?

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  62. I’m not sure how it fits in with the idea of epigenetics, but another interesting idea is that of telegony – the idea that children can inherit traits not only from their mother and father, but also from the mother’s previous sexual partners. Although a widespread belief for thousands of years, it was discredited with modern discoveries in genetics. At least, discredited until 4 years ago, when researchers found evidence of telegony in flies, with the size of flies in one experiment influenced more by the size of mother’s first partner than by the size of the father. There is no evidence that telegony exists in humans, but it is an idea that might be studied:

    http://time.com/3461485/how-previous-sexual-partners-affect-offspring/

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4282758/

  63. @bomag

    Now see, that’s much kinder than the “whoosh” gif I was about to post.

  64. @Tiny Duck

    One day, Tinys. One day…..

  65. @songbird

    My scalp’s been itchy lately. Coincidence? I think not.

  66. @J.Ross

    I bet the Evil Ron Unz is behind all this ‘deplatforming’…thereby making this redoubt the last sane place online. Coincidence? I think not.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @J.Ross
  67. Tyrion 2 says:

    Epigenetics = exciting word for trivial process whereby all sorts of events, including stressful ones, may lead to random mutation in sperm and therefore offspring.

    This is usually negative as random mutation is usually negative given how amazing the human form is; so randomly mutating away is unlikely to be an improvement.

    It is also trivial because this process occurs regardless. The confusion comes from confusing the analogies and descriptive language used in explaining evolution with some sort of real process.

    Those claiming to have inherited the trauma of the Holocaust are either charlatans or wet blankets or a bit of both. They have as much credibility as those claiming to remember their past their past life as an Aztec princess.

    • Replies: @Redneck farmer
    , @J.Ross
  68. Anon[404] • Disclaimer says:
    @Mr McKenna

    I bet the Evil Ron Unz is behind all this ‘deplatforming’…thereby making this redoubt the last sane place online. Coincidence? I think not.

    I don’t think Unz is hosting video, is it? Isn’t it just acting as a catalog that redirects to YouTube and other video hosts?

  69. gcochran says:
    @Hail

    Dorner, all right. Never said anything true.

  70. @anon

    A friend’s father was a prisoner of the Japanese in WW2, worked building railways, six three and came back weighing five stone – he said they ate their leather belts. What that guy must have seen and suffered.

    Fathered seven kids after the war, and now his many grandkids are well adjusted professional types. Not much inherited trauma there.

    My mother’s family had a very rough time in the 30s, lots of unemployment, cardboard in the shoes. Her tales definitely affected me in that I’m a saver rather than a spender – but that doesn’t seem to have been passed on to my kids.

    Perhaps they take after their mother 😉

  71. Graham says:
    @Kyle Searle

    Kyle, that’s not how science really works in my opinion. Science can use any evidence it likes and work top-down, bottom-up, or sideways in. The important thing is that the methodology is correct and the correlations statistically significant. If you get a good correlation without any idea of a mechanism, then you have to keep digging till you find out why; but lack of a hypothesis on a mechanism isn’t a fatal objection.

    In my personal and very ignorant view, there’s nothing to epigenetics. But it’s a testable hypothesis and needs to be tested. If significant correlations appear that will no doubt encourage more hypotheses. To adapt a well-known tag, fiat scientia, ruat caelum.

  72. OT, but I’m trying to remember. Did Time Magazine make the Charlie Hebdo staff their People Of The Year? I see Jamal Khashoggi and the Capital Gazette are this year’s pick.

  73. Anon[404] • Disclaimer says:
    @Hail

    I remember reading, I believe in the Ian Kershaw Hitler biography, something along the lines that Churchill tentatively began the process of getting rid of some paper trail relating to the European fire bombings, before it was certain that England would win, thinking that it might be hard to justify in war crimes trials, even to his own side.

    • Replies: @dfordoom
  74. Anon[114] • Disclaimer says:

    A righteous person of dot.

  75. Mr. Blank says:

    I am not sure I fully understand the meaning of “epigenetics,” but my impression is that most of the people I hear throwing the term around don’t know what it means, either. They just use it as a talisman to try and ward off any unpleasant implications of genetics research.

    • Agree: Almost Missouri
  76. @Tyrion 2

    You’re just jealous that I’m descended from royalty and you’re Not! I do get funny looks from people though, since I’m a guy and not Hispanic.

  77. The excitement since then has only intensified, generating more studies — of the descendants of Holocaust survivors, of victims of poverty — that hint at the heritability of trauma. If these studies hold up, they would suggest that we inherit some trace of our parents’ and even grandparents’ experience, particularly their suffering, which in turn modifies our own day-to-day health — and perhaps our children’s, too.

  78. @songbird

    Humans take a long time to mature, and the availability of resources changes in a much shorter interval.

    The nurture stuff is obviously there. If conditions are rough during your mom’s pregnancy, sure you can get the short end of the stick. And anyone can always inherit a mutation triggered by bad stuff happening to your parents.

    But the sort of effect they allege is openly, logically non-sensical.

    Let’s say epigentic effects are real. What would they look like for “trauma”? If you’re going to have mechanism to “tune” genetic expression in your children given your environment… isn’t that tuning going to be actually handle that environment better?

    When you kick in the genetic turbocharger, you expect a boost in performance. If epigenetic effects, then children of trauma should be tuned to … deal with trauma! They would be better than average at dealing with real deprivation and loss–tough and resilent, perhaps at the cost of openness or generosity? Nonsense like Halloween costumes, dismissive comments and poop swatstikas they wouldn’t even notice.

    If there’s anything going on at all, it must work to actually *benefit* the children in the harsh enviroment. It absolutely can not be making “children of trauma” over-sensitive basket cases who must curl up in a ball or start wailing when they see two lines joined at a right angle. Epigenetic effects either improve the kids’ performance in the expected environment or selection would have cancelled the whole project eons ago.

  79. Ian M. says:

    Darwin’s theory of natural selection made the leap that every so often a breakage turns out to be useful.

    It did? My recollection in Origin is that Darwin doesn’t really consider this idea.

    Rather, he just takes variations for granted as the raw material on which natural selection works. I don’t recall him characterizing most variations as bad, with a ‘good’ variation being the exception to the norm that drives evolution. He seems to have regarded variations as having a more law-like operation, it’s just that we just don’t know what those laws are.

    It wasn’t until the Neo-Darwinian synthesis with Mendelian genetics that the idea of a ‘breakage’ turning out to be useful became the driving mechanism of variation.

  80. Anonymous[763] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Yeah, the weak form is just “epigenetics.”

    I guess it would make sense to split (regular, uninherited) epigenetics into “short-term” and “long-term.” But science news doesn’t cover short-term epigenetics, so it has no need to distinguish them. There’s lots of work on short-term epigenetics, but it’s not politically interesting, nor really interesting in terms of pop science. There has to be something like that, and it’s just filling in the details. Whereas long-term epigenetics may “just” be a mechanistic explanation of nurture, but that makes it very interesting. If you want to prove that A causes some distant B, it’s really useful to have some intermediate cause C that you can use to check your theory. [Which is not to say that people get who lots of news coverage using the word “epigenetics” actually looked at the epigenetic mechanism. Sometimes they’re just social scientists using the newest buzzwords.]
    (Also, long-term epigenetics is a necessary intermediate cause for inherited epigenetics.)

  81. If you ever wanted a good example of how the two sides of the hereditarian vs environmental dispute are held to different standards, look no further than how the science on epigenetic inheritance is received.

    It’s pretty clear that claims of epigenetic inheritance in human beings of social traits are just crackpot. Yet the scientists pushing them are mostly treated like heroes in the larger culture, because they undermine the importance of standard DNA inheritance.

    Imagine how similarly pathetic science on the hereditarian side would be greeted. Every article about it would talk about the absurd pseudo-science of bigots whose only aim was to promote their disgusting racism.

  82. Lurker says:
    @J.Ross

    Saw the documentary this was based on and while the tranny thing is in there it seemed not to be centre stage. Not seen the film, it would not surprise me if the tranny volume was turned up to 11.

    The village is/was called Marwencol originally. I wonder why they changed it?

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  83. Guesses:

    There could be a few widespread behaviors that affect DNA, such as alcoholism, and are increased somewhat by bad experiences.

    For high mortality events such as genocide, famine or plague, evolutionary effects dominate any possible epigenetic effects (if real) to the point that the latter would not be observable.

    Starving concentration camp prisoners went into a slow-aging highly resistant survival mode seen in studies of extremely low calorie diets. Eggs were conserved, not damaged, and sperm production reduced, not stressed. There is also some protection against radiation (at least in worms). If this happened then not much chance of wartime epigenetics. The body fights to keep its fertility intact in the face of trauma, such as cold winters with little food.

    The main genetic impact of WW2 (other than evolutionary selection effects) was from reproductive delay, and in extreme cases, very late reproduction by people whose offspring were killed and started new families or had additional children after the war.

    Basically no obvious route for anything epigenetic to have much noticeable impact.

  84. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Mr McKenna

    It might be that the reason they’re massacring the centrist, reasonable, conciliatory people and leaving up more extreme voices is they think making everything extreme will scare people away.

    • Replies: @Mr McKenna
  85. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Lurker

    Marwen and Marwencol both sound like Soviet-style syllabic abbreviations, but I haven’t guessed from what. Marwen is more audience-friendly (and could be a New England Indian-derived name).

  86. Ola says: • Website

    Just yesterday, before going to bed, I read about a new Swedish study in my local paper:

    Paternal grandfather’s access to food predicts all-cause and cancer mortality in grandsons.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-07617-9

    Higher access to food indicated higher mortality risk in grandsons, but not in granddaughters. This confirmed the previous Swedish “Overkalix study”. Has this been covered in news outside Sweden? I haven’t had time to read it yet but they don’t seem to propose a mechanism or even claim a causal relationship. But my local paper of course presented it as “epigenetics”.

  87. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Tyrion 2

    They have as much credibility

    They’re Jews. They are credibility. It is the unhinged violent Nazis who dare criticize them who have no credibility. The Jews in American society are that telekinetically gifted brat from the Twilight Zone episode. This is a topic discussed in all seriousness by globally publicized officers of the Israeli government, and we will in the future see programs and payments on this basis.

    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
  88. @PhysicistDave

    In my family, at least, the Boomer generation failed to reproduce in great numbers.

    My maternal great-grandparents, born around the turn of the century, had two kids (my grandfather and my great-aunt) in the early Depression years. My grandfather was a few years too young for WWII, but served in the Navy during the Korean War.

    In the ’50s my grandfather had three kids (my mother and her siblings) and his sister had four sons. But none of those had more than one kid; two had none at all.

    When I was growing up, I knew only one relative – my cousin – who was even close to my age. (I was born in the first half of the ’80s.)

    So my maternal grandmother (my only living grandparent) has three kids, but instead of having nine grandkids and 27 great-grandkids, she has three grandkids and two great-grandkids (so far). And the two great-grandkids are half-black. So the demographic collapse is pretty striking.

    My grandmother always said that every woman should have three kids; my mother often hinted that she would have been happier if she’d had none.

  89. AusReader says:

    As someone who in the USA would be considered a liberal (other names used in Aus) I am horrified by the proposals that epigenetics could explain, for example, the differences in the USA today. Those people really haven’t thought things through.

    Liberals would call anyone proposing “blacks in the USA under-achieve compared to others because of the genes they inherited from their African ancestors” a hideous racist, denying the human potential in everyone.

    But somehow “blacks in the USA under-achieve compared to others because of the genes they inherited via epigenetics from their African ancestors who were brought to the Americas in chains” is OK?

    • Replies: @Alice
  90. Anon[334] • Disclaimer says:
    @Hail

    The most hearty and hale German men would have been off fighting in 1944-45 and not available to impregnate women at home. Germans were fighting for their lives at this point, massive battles on the Eastern front with the Russians as well as the Anglo-Americans on the newly established Western front, and leave for German soldiers was extremely rare at this time. They couldn’t be spared.

    It’s likely the population of German women were having larger amounts of children by men who had flunked the physical, or who were too old to fight. A certain percentage of German wives had become widows by this time in the war and weren’t too choosy about the men they ended up with. These men would be more likely to have problems with their health, genes, or otherwise. They were likely carrying a higher mutational load or were suffering from viruses or bacteria that could have caused genetic mutations. This may be why more homosexual children were born to this age cohort.

    • Replies: @anon
  91. dfordoom says: • Website
    @Anon

    I remember reading, I believe in the Ian Kershaw Hitler biography, something along the lines that Churchill tentatively began the process of getting rid of some paper trail relating to the European fire bombings, before it was certain that England would win, thinking that it might be hard to justify in war crimes trials, even to his own side.

    Churchill knew that victory was certain by 1943. But it is possible that he thought that a later generation of historians might think the bombings were war crimes. Which they were. Dresden was bombed for the sheer pleasure of killing German civilians. Churchill was an evil man.

  92. anon[306] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anon

    How many Germans today have a Russian father or grandfather? Did the rapes by the Russian soldiers impact the German gene pool?

  93. Anonymous[328] • Disclaimer says:

    Ambulance-chasing is the paradigm of this era

  94. There is possible short-term affects of stressors on babies in the womb, but I do not believe in the ‘inherited trauma’ aspect. I do believe that racial memory and character traits can be passed via genetics e.g. muslims and their insane beliefs through Islam (combined with 1400 years of marrying their cousins). Actually, it is simple, but no one will state the obvious. The Caucasian genome is superior to all of the black/brown/yellow/jew genomes. It is no coincidence that white people created our superior societies/cultures and the colored peoples and jews created chaotic/mayhemic/disordered societies/cultures, thus their glomming onto the West and ruining our white Heritage America and Europe.

  95. Here’s Carl Zimmer’s article on the epigenetic effects of the Dutch Hunger Winter. But I don’t understand the argument that the effects of starvation on already conceived individuals in the womb is evidence for epigenetic transmission across generations, thus destabilizing our model of Nature and Nurture. Famine when you were in utero is, obviously, a failure of Nurture (in the guise of not enough nutrients and other gestational problems).

    Zimmer is not a scientist. He’s not even a “science writer”.

    He’s an anti-White ethnopolitical activist who is given a platform because . . . he’s an anti-White ethnopolitical activist.

  96. @J.Ross

    It’s a theory for sure. After all, it’s always good strategy to leave standing a few more extreme voices–the better to demonstrate just how crazy the wrong-thinkers are. You wouldn’t want to be like them, now would you? Of course not. Let’s just watch some teevee and go to bed now.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  97. Lurker says:
    @Hail

    In the current year, how could it be true?

    Being gay is the greatest thing ever and this study implies a connection to something negative. Thus it must be flawed.

  98. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Mr McKenna

    To this point NPR just did a piece on how, if Russell Kirk were alive, he would surely disapprove of Trump’s tweets. I suppose he would. He would probably also disapprove of the terrorist left and the runaway judiciary. One thing he would actually dislike about Trump would be his surrender to neoconism (which may have been a hedge rather than a surrender). The word “neocon” did not come up that I heard. They talked about him being friends with Arthur Schlesinger but said nothing about what Schlesinger would think of antifa.

    • Replies: @Mr McKenna
  99. @J.Ross

    In all seriousness, I’m glad we have Steve to read the NYT and you to listen to NPR. I used to do both, many years ago now. Just can’t do it anymore, but it is important to keep abreast of what the enemy’s up to…and for that, we thank you.

  100. Tyrion 2 says:
    @J.Ross

    Wouldn’t that be telepathic? And don’t we all feel that some times/stop feeding delusions lol.

  101. Alice says:
    @AusReader

    Well, yes, it is okay to those defining who-whom. Both statements speak to the numerical truth about IQ, but one of them makes it the White Man’s fault. No need to pretend the playing field is equal, no need to defend why affirmative action hasn’t helped, and blame the whites. A trifecta!

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