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No. 13: Winter 1981

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The Propagation Of Acquired Characteristics

Almost all biologists reject Lamarck's idea that characteristics acquired by a parent can be transmitted to the progeny. In the field of immunology, especially, experimental findings are stimulating a revival of forbidden Lamarckism! Taylor reviews several experiments in which acquired immunity seems to be passed along from generation to generation. This, of course, directly contradicts the Dogma of Evolution and Weissmann's closely related doctrine of the inviolatability of the germ plasm. But Taylor goes on to suggest several ways to circumvent Weissmann's doctrine, the most interesting of which employs viruses to carry acquired genetic information from generation to generation.

(Taylor, R.B.; "Lamarckism Revival in Immunology," Nature, 286:837, 1980.)

Comment. The possible role of viruses and other "disease carriers" in the unfolding (rather than "evolution") of life is only now being widely recognized. Could it be that the price of evolution and/or the responsiveness of life to environmental pressures is a certain level of infection?

From Science Frontiers #13, Winter 1981. 1981-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987