While epigenetics is an interesting field, the fact that there have been no major studies in which possible epigenetic factors have been studied independently of social factors; this is because there simply aren’t that many twins who get separated at birth. Thus a lot of speculation regarding epigenetic influences on behavior are just that: speculations. Furthermore, there’s nothing particularly connected to epigenetics in the notion of taking control of one’s life and letting go of unhelpful patterning. So it seems that the article starts out with one set of apparent intentions and then abandons them after inserting a few buzzwords, concluding with recommendations that don’t seem to have much to do with the opening assertions. Furthermore the title is rather misleading, as epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression (which current evidence seems to suggest may be semi-heritable for up to 3 generations, weakening in effect with each transmission). Thus for example a stress-induced response in individual A may be carried to some degree over to A’s offspring (by means of excessive or insufficient histone methylation or acetylation), resulting in over-expression or under-expression of one or more genes associated with the response in question. So it’s not the case that “it’s in our DNA” per se but rather that some set of expressions may be upregulated or downregulated in a semi-heritable manner which in turn may have some impact on behavior.

As there’s so much general ignorance about cellular biology and so many incorrect beliefs, I think it’s incumbent on anyone writing about such topics to be very careful not to add to the morass of confusion and misinformation that’s sadly so prevalent.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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