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Epigenetics Doesn't Negate Darwin's Theory

The Culturing Science blog is defending Darwin, saying a recent article in the Guardian about Darwin's theory of evolution is both misleading and inaccurate. The Guardian article, titled, "Why Everything You Ever Learned about Evolution is Wrong," says that natural selection is more complicated than Darwin thought, and that non-Darwinian forces – horizontal gene transfer and the phenomenon of linked genes – also had a hand in early evolution.

But the bulk of the article, according to Culturing Science's Hannah, is about epigenetics – physical modifications to DNA that can turn a gene on or off, or change its expression. The article cites incidents where changes in the epigenome caused by environmental factors spurred changes in the grandchildren of an organism.

Culturing Science argues this is an issue of "nurture," and the effects of these experiments were lost after a few generations. And what is most "infuriating," Hannah says, is the idea that because there are exceptions to Darwin's theory, they negate it completely. "I don’t think that Darwin is right 100 percent of the time. But I do think he is right 99 percent of the time. And that’s what’s important," she writes. Hannah adds that while views of evolution may change over time, it doesn't mean that "everything you've ever been told about evolution is wrong."