Tag Archives: Note + Worthy

More paranormal inheritance

A funny study in PNAS is broadening our view of paranormal inheritance by showing germline chimerism in marmosets:

Using microsatellite DNA markers, we show here that chimerism in marmoset (Callithrix kuhlii) twin … somatic tissue .. found to be chimeric. Notably, chimerism was demonstrated to be present in germ-line tissues, an event never before documented as naturally occurring in a primate. In fact, we found that chimeric marmosets often transmit sibling alleles acquired in utero to their own offspring.

Bad news for all who believe in human paternity testing and 99,999999% probability – and more strange stories (semi-identical twins discovered – hermaphrodite reveals previously unknown type of twinning) at the Nature news blog.

Epidemiology in a fascist system

Götz Aly and Karl Heinz Roth show in their book that the German Nazi system would not have worked without counting people, identification, classification, separation and elimination. It is a detailed historical account on technical details of coding and storing information about the population, the census of 1933 and 1939, the infamy of telling people that their data of Jewish ancestry in a separate questionnaire would be treated anonymously (p 93). The 1939 census required a “supplemental card” in addition to the household card (p 32)

This card developed by security service, police as well as statistical office was used by the authorities to ask for individual descend (“Was one of you grandparent Jew?”) as well as for the education in commission of the military services. The card should be given back in a separate, closed envelope. The envelope – together with the official affirmation – should delude potential victims and let them believe by the fictitious anonymity to make absolutely true information which was indeed facilitated and guaranteed.

The supplemental cards were then used to build the “Reichskartei der Juden und jüdischen Mischlingen” – the basis of the Holocaust. The Holocaust started with a  knitting needle – the tool to lift the punched supplemental cards.

As mentioned earlier, I think there is a particular obligation with population based studies in Germany where it took 40 years to build epidemiology from scratch again. This is a must-read book for every epidemiologist.

A few hours before being executed, Eichmann was asked by Mr. Ofer, the director of the prison (in my translation)

“What should the Jews have done? How could they have resisted according to your opinion? Eichmann: Disappear, disappear. Our most sensitive point, that they would disappear before being registered and concentrated. Our command units were too weak and even when the police of the respective countries supported us with all their strength, [the Jewish] had a at least a chance of 50 : 50. A mass escape would have been a disaster for us.


Supersize me and the fake food hypothesis

Is there any sense of genetic studies aiming at an association with body mass index? Will there ever be a public health strategy or any medical intervention based on a genetic marker?
I am recalling what Christoph – a friend of mine at medical school and a now professor for child psychiatry – once told me when he was working on his thesis about anorexia: “You only need to weight them for a diagnosis”. As there are now lots of weighing machines out there, there are plenty of DNAs (intended for different outcomes!), which might be a reason of the 5946 “obesity and gene” papers.
Will this help anybody? I fear, that responsibility is even shifted to “poor genes” (of course I acknowledge that there might be gene nutrient interactions – Paul Soloway wrote a nice essay on that). My view – developed with my wife over many years – is that that the obesity epidemics is largely an environmental trait of poor eating habits, wrong orientation on dress models and not enough physical activity. I recall also Professor Walter Willett – who has been my former advisor in Nutritional Epidemiology – that things can be quite simple. Check for his “Low Glycemic Index” on the web, find a sports club for biking, jogging or walking, concentrate on eating and use small spoons and forget about diets.
There is long-standing discussion, how the body signals by “being hungry” that something is missing (sorry, only 1 historic reference). Of course this works also in non-humans: Have you ever seen supersized animals? My guess is, that the well developed and unconscious food recognition process is largely fooled by pre-processed food that contains additives changing appearance, taste and smelling. So, you have now heard the first time about the fake food hypothesis. I do not believe so much in voluntarily overeating – it seems much more an involuntary repeated intake to find someting useful.
Coming back to our start: Imagine that
drugs that can block hunger (as we now learned the search for required food ingredients) and imagin that the developed world continues to eat their currently preferred food: Everybody will then need a professional nutrionists to balances his/her daily intake. So, we better save tax payer money for these BMI-gene studies. Yea, yea.