Larry Moran quotes this closing paragraph from an actual, published paper in a respectable journal. I don’t understand what it means. Can somebody explain why these terms are mashed together in this way?
We close this essay by postulating that there has been a pervasive influence of the gene centrism inherent in the Modern Synthesis in conjunction with the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology on biomedical thinking. We believe that this influence has now become counterproductive. Thus, it is critical for new ideas stemming from evolutionary biology highlighted in this special issue of The Journal of Physiology and elsewhere to more fully inform biomedical thinking about the complex relationship between DNA and phenotype. The time has come to stop chasing Mendel.
It’s part of some tirade by physiologists against evolutionary biologists. I have some sympathy for both sides, but this mess just tells me that whoever wrote it knows nothing about evolutionary biology.
Gene centrism seems to be a kind of boogey man here. Isn’t it already a dead issue? Maybe it’s just my developmental biology focus (nah, I don’t know any pure evolutionary biologists who think that way either), but aren’t interactions between environment and genome a major issue nowadays?
They don’t like the “Modern Synthesis”. Maybe they’re confused by the name and think “modern” means current thinking, rather than the thinking of the 1940s, when the synthesis coalesced, and a name was stuck on it to distinguish it from Darwinian thinking. There have been these new developments in molecular biology…
Oh, they don’t like that either. But what’s this about the central dogma? That’s just the idea that information in proteins has no way of being unencoded and directly written back into the genome. Surely they don’t find anything objectionable in that?
I’d like to know what “new ideas” they’re proposing. We already know there’s a complex relationship between genotype and phenotype. I don’t think anyone has been downplaying it.
I lost it at
The time has come to stop chasing Mendel. What does that mean? Is it 1910 again, and people are bickering over Mendelism and saltationism and all that stuff? Mendel sketched a crude and limited skeleton of genetics — no one is limited to Mendel’s models anymore. I teach undergrad genetics, and we spend a couple weeks going over Mendelian basics, because you need to know your ABC’s before you get to do literary criticism, but most of the course is stuff Mendel never imagined. We recently covered epistasis. We just started on imprinting. Epigenetics is coming up soon. I don’t know, do you think Mendel had anything to say about those?
How can anyone know anything about modern evolutionary theory, or genetics, or molecular biology, and seriously argue that we’re
chasing Mendel? And then go on to write papers in which they lecture evolutionary biologists on how they’re doing evolutionary biology wrong?