Community Lunch & Discussion: Genes, Memes, and Epigenitics
Many modern scientists are convinced that we are fully programed organic robots with no free will, and that we live in an environment, limited by time and place, over which we have almost no control.
Come join the discussion moderated by Fred Bisson.
Definitions (from Wikipedia)
Genes hold the information to build and maintain an organism's cells and pass genetic traits to offspring, although some organelles (e.g. mitochondria) are self-replicating and are not coded for by the organism's DNA. All organisms have many genes corresponding to various biological traits, some of which are immediately visible, such as eye color or number of limbs, and some of which are not, such as blood type or increased risk for specific diseases, or the thousands of basic biochemical processes that comprise life.
A meme (/ˈmiːm/;meem) is "an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture." A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate and respond to selective pressures.
Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence – hence the name epi- (Greek: επί- over, above, outer) -genetics. It refers to functionally relevant modifications to the genome that do not involve a change in the nucleotide sequence. Examples of such changes are DNA methylation and histone modification, both of which serve to regulate gene expression without altering the underlying DNA sequence.
About the Moderator
Fred (Dr Wilfred Bisson) is an emeritus professor from Keene State College and an activist in the World History movement. He is the author of four books and served as an editor and writer for the World History Encyclopedia, a 21 volume, four million word reference work published by ABC-CLIO in 2011.
One of his books, Global Connections: The World in the Early Medieval Age 600-900 CE, has been chosen by the American Council of Learned Societies for publication as an ACLS Humanities e book, on the recommendation of the World History Association.
Presently, Fred is working on a sequel, The World in the High Medieval Age 900- 1200 CE.
Fred does not claim more than a layman's knowledge of genes and genetics: rather he approaches the question of nature, nurture and human agency in shaping social destiny through an examination of human possibilities and human choices and the way they played with the environmental cards which were dealt by fate and historical contingency.