Sunday School

Sunday School October 1st 2017

This topic contains 23 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Simon Paynton 4 years, 8 months ago.

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    They always do good science TV. However no matter how combative our bodies are even the healthiest and fittest of us die, on average, at about 1.25% each year, Some of us are improving on that rate and there is a trend in that direction. Since humans became a distinct species the majority of us have died at much greater rates. Science is helping “those everday miracles” that keep us alive, stay alive longer.


    Simon Paynton

    That’s true.  So why do we have science?


    With regards to humanity medical science will help us evolve and improve the areas where our bodies are weakest. Science has cured many diseases that used to kill us off all too easily, like smallpox. Many of us in the “first world” are now the healthiest and fittest and longest living to have ever existed. DNA manipulation, stem cell treatments and new techniques in organ replacement will artificially evolve us further.Without science we would still be dark ages.

    Science is the tool humanity uses to learn and advance.



    I’m just learning about epigenetics, as opposed to genetics.  My niece is a doctor and summarizes it as follows:-

    Genetics = DNA sequence

    Epigenetics = DNA expression.

    Apparently, DNA folds over itself and has unique attributes based on such foldings – hence epigenetics is the study of the behaviour of the DNA sequences, rather than just their ingredients, such behaviour having major influence on the eventual ‘output’ in any given organism.

    Its all fascinating stuff!


    I had a few good articles on Epigenetics in previous Sunday Schools on TA.  I will see if I can dig then out.



    Important epigenetic basics (in addition to Strega’s):

    Epigenetic study covers the much bigger picture of what mere genes in DNA are capable of. Genes are the raw instructions in the cookbook, while epigenetics is what the cooks do with the raw instructions and materials. And it all starts from egg & sperm, when a single germ cell’s DNA is permanently set for the life of the organism.

    Epigenetics (and to a much lesser extent random DNA errors that can accumulate) control the fate of every cell’s division and changes into different tissue types (e.g. bones or neurons or blood), organs, including their production of more eggs and sperm, growth, diseases, and even death.

    The problem is, epigenetics explains so much of “everything” that basic genes make possible, there are both epigenetics departments making awesome discoveries and cures in top universities, and “epigenetic” snake oil charlatans pandering their woo to the uneducated masses.

    Epigenetics is also about the link between nature and nurture, or how those physical genes are expressed by interaction with environments at the cellular to the organismal level.


    It is not possible to have a conversation about epigenetics without talking about CRISPR and genetic engineering. This will allow those same snake oil charlatans to develop a new avenue of woo related nonsense. I am looking forward to reading how, for just a few hundred dollars (paid up front of course) “We can edit out all you bad genes at the quantum level” and “make you the person you always wanted to be”. “It will give you the mindfulness of stars like Gwyneth Paltrow”.

    We are years ahead down here on the funky fronkey farm, with me the lead pharmer.


    Simon Paynton


    – apparently, when we are about to go and seek short-term, “hedonic” pleasure, i.e. fun, our genes set up an inflammation response in the body, as if we are expecting to get wounded.  I have no idea why this might be.

    It would be interesting to see if we get the same inflammation response when we do something we know is morally wrong.


    Simon Paynton

    why do we have science?

    – this opens up a whole can of worms, and part of that can of worms, in my opinion, is a “theory of perception”:  why, and how, we seek information.  So, here’s my theory of perception, which, as far as it’s correct, is open to being expanded.



    – why we seek information

    – how we obtain it


    Organisms experience a pressure to survive and thrive.

    Those organisms which are more adapted to their environment are more likely to survive and thrive.

    Those organisms which make the most of their environment are more likely to survive and thrive.

    In order to adapt to, and make the most of, its environment, it is helpful for the organism to have INFORMATION about its environment.

    Therefore, every organism is a detection machine.


    – senses
    – mind
    – emotions

    Senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch. Also, for example, a “sense” of something, such as a sense of fair play (recognising fair play when we see it), or gaydar (detecting whether someone is gay).

    Mind: we perceive or see things in the mind. We perceive information about objects or situations, and the way that these objects and situations are related.

    Emotions: the “meaning” of X is the way that X is relevant to our goals. Emotions detect whether X is an opportunity or a threat relative to our goals. The perceived degree of opportunity or threat, together with the importance of the goal, determines the strength of the emotion. As well as goals: things we like, or want to move towards, we also have “anti-goals”: things we don’t like, and want to move away from.

    Any of the information we detect is not necessarily factually accurate.

    There is also

    Attention: the focus of our awareness. We attend to what is relevant to our goals. Our visual attention is drawn to those things that are relevant to our goals.


    … it is impossible to actually separate “rational thought” from emotion. Even the most sophisticated decisions and analyses require positive or negative emotion; otherwise, it is impossible to determine which choice or idea is “better” and which isn’t. Valuing anything – even an idea – as “good” or “bad” requires feeling.

    Maia Szalavitz and Bruce D Perry MD, PhD – “Born for Love”


    Attachment to ideas: we may be attached to a point of view for emotional reasons. In this case, we reject information that conflicts with this point of view, because we do not want to see it.

    Attribution Error: we may attribute an “essence” to X – make an intellectual judgement that X is a certain way – based on our emotional feelings about X. This attribution may be an error.

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