What to do with research results: Warning!
Clarence ‘Sonny’ Williams wrote:”Almost all behavioral geneticists will literally warn you about what you should and should not do with their research.“
My comment: I did not see any warnings associated with the results from the ENCODE project research. What I saw was an indirect admission that geneticists missed an important aspect of genomic adaptation in the context of a changing environment across species from microbes to man. Had they included the fact that genomic adaption occurs via nutrient-dependent gene duplication, for example, they might have realized why they can’t explain away or even begin to decipher the complexity of human cells. Perhaps the implied warning from the ENCODE project is: “WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE THOUGHT WE KNEW!”
Clearly, what’s known is that the epigenetic effects of nutrient chemicals drove the evolution of the human genome along with the epigenetic effects of nutrient chemical metabolism to pheromones. The combination of these epigenetic effects on intracellular signaling and stochastic gene expression drives adaptive evolution via ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction.
I’m sure Darwin would have recognized that long ago if he had only a minimal understanding of genetic predisposition and trangenerational epigenetic inheritance. How could any astute intelligent observer not realize that what pigeons eat contributes to their phenotypic expression of behaviors, which were inherited along with every other aspect of their phenotypic expression? How could anyone who recognized that fact today not extend to humans the concept of the epigenetic tweaking of immense gene networks in superorganisms that solve problems through the exchange and the selective cancellation and modification of signals?
Granted, it is now clearer how an environmental drive evolved from that of food ingestion in unicellular organisms to that of socialization in insects. But one need only start with what can be observed in avian species and watch for further details that fill in any theoretical holes with biological facts. Who has been bird-watching since Darwin’s time? Who has been watching what’s been learned about other species? Why didn’t geneticists or evolutionary theorists realize that random mutations do not cause adaptive evolution or that the epigenetic effects of nutrient chemicals and pheromones do cause adaptive evolution? Why doesn’t everyone today realize that olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans? Is everyone watching too much television, instead?
Kohl, J.V. (2012) Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, 2: 17338.