How ‘alien genetics’ would change our understanding of life, biology and evolution 

While we await our first contact with alien life, scientists investigate possible scenarios for extraterrestrial biology.

Source: How ‘alien genetics’ would change our understanding of life, biology and evolution | Genetic Literacy Project

What is ‘man’?

Hacking Darwin

The reign of scientism over the definition of man in the age of Crispr could be disastrous: scientists have no real grasp of the nature of man, and worse no willingness to give up their reductionist view of man to learn. Does man have a soul, a will, a consciousness (self-consciousness)? Can man act freely in ethical action or is that, pace science, an illusion? Is enlightenment real, is rebirth a reality and if so how does this alter our view of man? Does man have an aesthetic sense or is that Kantian superstition? If free will is real how does this impinge on genetics.
All of these questions will be deleted as a cadre of behaviorist ‘scientists’ seize control of the definition of man as a genetic construct, a behaviorist robot. And they will become indirectly violent to enforce this: capitalism requires belief in social darwinism, competition and elimination. Will scientists be able to critique capitalist ideology?

We must suspect that man is not purely a genetic construct and that evolution is not purely genetic. The lesson of caution is to be wary of meddling in complex systems you don’t understand. Let us hope at least that the wrong views will prove self-limiting and force an extended understanding of man.
We must wary of the way capitalism will try to take control here.

Mazur: The End of the Gene as We Know it

RICHARDSON/NAUTILUS:

http://nautil.us/issue/68/context/its-the-end-of-the-gene-as-we-know-it
“It is such discoveries that are turning our ideas of genetic causation inside out. We have traditionally thought of cell contents as servants to the DNA instructions. But, as the British biologist Denis Noble insists, “The modern synthesis has got causality in biology wrong … DNA on its own does absolutely nothing until activated by the rest of the system … DNA is not a cause in an active sense. I think it is better described as a passive data base which is used by the organism to enable it to make the proteins that it requires.”

MAZUR INTERVIEW WITH DENIS NOBLE (1st in HuffPost, then in The Origins of Life Circus, and again in The Paradigm Shifters):

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/suzan-mazur/replace-the-modern-sythes_b_5284211.html

“The second reason is a much more conceptual issue. I think that as a gene-centric view of evolution, the modern synthesis has got causality in biology wrong. Genes, after all, if they’re defined as DNA sequences, are purely passive. DNA on its own does absolutely nothing until activated by the rest of the system through transcription factors, markers of one kind or another, interactions with the proteins. So on its own, DNA is not a cause in an active sense. I think it is better described as a passive data base which is used by the organism to enable it to make the proteins that it requires. ”