Editor's Blog Lamarckian Inheritance: Passing what you have learned to your children

Josh Mitteldorf, education, Apr 28, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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I'm still a step away from endorsing this argument, but it's interesting, and the background information is well worth knowing. The story is this: the idea of evolution was widely discussed long before Charles Darwin (including by his grandfather Erasmus) and by Jean Baptiste Lamarck. Unlike Darwin's theory, which suggests that natural selection works through random variation, Lamarckian evolution suggests that lifetime experiences also influence selection. Thus, for example, trauma in one generation results in physical effects over the next few generations. In this post, the evidence that there might actually be something correct in Lamarckian evolution is presented and discussed. Not only is this a fascinating read, it makes clear even (perhaps especially) landmark ideas are the not creation of one individual with one key book far ahead of anyone else, but rather, are the creation of a community over time.

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