“Basic biology and health are poised for a revolution” Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
Dr. Mae-Wan Ho joins us for a fascinating Q&A to explore the revolutionary new science of epigenetics, the false conceptual revolution of genetic determinism and The Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) magazine. From the Latin word “epi,” the term epigenetics refers to (over, outside of, around) the gene. 
Mae-Wan Ho, B. Sc. Hon. (First Class) and PhD. Hong Kong University, Director of Institute of Science in Society (archived by the British Library as part of national documentary heritage), Chief Editor and Art Director of its quarterly trend-setting magazine, Science in Society, is best known for pioneering work on the physics of organisms and sustainable systems, presented in The Rainbow and the Worm, The Physics of Organisms (1993, 1998, 2008) and Living Rainbow H2O (2012).
The importance of structured water for living systems (which she refers to as liquid crystalline water because its molecular organization resembles a solid crystal), figures prominently in her books, both best sellers of the publisher. Her work resulted in winning the 2014 Prigogine Medal.
The mainstream view of genetics determinism is wrong
In the mid-1970s, geneticists found exceptions and violations to every principle of classical genetics. They discovered a constant crosstalk between genomes and environment. It was then discovered that feedback from the environment not only determines which genes are activated or turned off, but also where, when, by how much and for how long, as well as marks, moves and changes within the genes themselves.
Despite data accumulated since the 1970s, leading politicians and scientists ignored the evidence and continued to pursue a more convenient theory of genetic determinism that subscribes to the belief that disease is purely a genetic condition. As such, this also served to discouraged many people from questioning social and environmental factors imposed by a ruling class.
The great DNA let-down
When the human genome sequence project was announced in 2000, even President Clinton said it would “revolutionize the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of most, if not all human diseases.”
Ten years later, Fortune magazine called the actual findings, “The great DNA let-down.” 
David B. Goldstein at Duke University, a leading young population geneticist known partly for his research into the genetic origins of the Jews, said: “It’s an astounding thing, that we have cracked open the human genome and can look at the entire complement of common genetic variants, and what do we find? Almost nothing. That is absolutely beyond belief.” 
The new science of epigenetics
It turns out that environmental and social conditions play a critical role in gene expression. As such, the science of epigenetics is a new discipline that is emerging to study inheritance “outside” genetics, i.e., not due to the DNA sequence of the genome. The science of epigenetics reveals how proteins are assembled; how specific genes can be expressed or not; and how environmental and social pressures can even recode the human genome.
Genes alone do not determine gene expression
According to Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, genome-wide scans for linear genes responsible for common diseases or intelligence have completely failed, while environmental epigenetic changes perpetrated on the genome are remarkably predictable. A single gene for “x” – has been decisively proven incorrect. Only in rare circumstance does it occur.
As such, genetic determinism, which has been promoted by the mainstream for hundreds of years, has turned out to be the most significant false conceptual revolution of modern times.
According to Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, there is definite causation between genes and environment, which means that new genetics and your life experiences triggering thoughts and interactions with nature, are inseparable. Evidence of the inextricable entanglement between the organism and its experience of the environment is forcing us to rethink not only genetics, but also evolution.
Q&A with Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
Q1: Is scientific authority respected for the wrong reasons? Have we marginalized key figures of authority to fancy titles instead of the quality of solutions provided? As such, has authority abused this power to obstruct broad and honest knowledge sharing?
A: The scientific establishment for too long has cloaked itself in obscure jargon, high sounding language and other trappings to appropriate authority it does not deserve; at the same time misinterpreting data to undermine the public’s understanding of critical issues. It becomes all too easy for the powers that be to exploit this false authority for political and economic ends for they are natural allies in the matter of projecting pretensions. ISIS is dedicated to exposing those pretensions in the interest of bringing real freedom of choice, equality, and democracy to people. We believe in promoting critical understandings and knowledge for all people.
Q2: In light of the phenomena called epigenetics – Did the mainstream media and many leading scientific voices create a highly profitable but false conceptual revolution around genetics determinism?
A: Yes. Those in favour of control and profit invariably favour things that can be owned and sold for profit. They also favour the status quo, especially the idea that life is just a genetic lottery and those who succeed are the ones with the best genes, and therefore have an almost god given right to rule.
The new genetics and indeed the new science of the organism elaborated in my books emphasize process, circular causation and requires active participation in shaping one’s own development and evolution.
It completely challenges the old paradigm that has dominated science and society for close to a hundred years. I have spelled out the implication in a recent article, as follows: “As regards implications for social policies, we already have a great deal of knowledge on how social deprivation, psychological stress, and environmental toxins can have dire effects on us and our still unborn children and grandchildren while social enrichment, caring environments and cognitive and physical exercises, and stress reducing mind-body techniques can have beneficial effects on infants, children and adults alike. The implications on the appropriate interventions for health, education and social well-being are clear.”
See below for an expanded view:
– Epigenetic Inheritance – What Genes Remember, and Epigenetic Toxicology
– Caring Mothers Strike Fatal Blow against Genetic Determinism
– Living, Green and Circular
– Evolution by Natural Genetic Engineering
Q3: Why organisms are, among other things, so sensitive to electromagnetic fields and microwaves of very low intensity, very weak fields, such as those from high tension power lines and mobile phones?
A: The short answer is that living systems are quantum coherent and depends on very weak and precise electromagnetic signals for intercommunication, not only between molecules, cells and tissues to coordinate biological function, but also between the organism and the electromagnetic rhythms of the earth and stars to which organisms are attuned through billions of years of evolution. External electromagnetic signals of the strength, diversity and saturation we have today are late arrivals to the living environment. They invariably interfere with the electromagnetic signals that support and organize life.
Q4: You have written several articles about structured water on the ISIS website and have thoroughly discussed it in your most recent book “Living Rainbow H2O (2012)”. How important is liquid crystalline (structured) water to the new science of organisms?
A: The importance of water in living organisms associated with membranes and other interfaces has been recognized by many pioneers of biochemistry, especially Albert Szent-Györgyi more than 50 years ago.
The contribution made in my laboratory was in discovering that organisms and cells are liquid crystalline and coherent to a high degree, even quantum coherent, thanks to the water at the interface.
This water is itself liquid crystalline and essential to the functioning of biological molecules; without water macromolecules cannot work at all, water makes all the difference; it enables macromolecules such as enzymes to function as quantum molecular machines at close to 100 % efficiency. If not for that, we would literally burn out with all the heat generated before you could say Christopher Robins!
To give a simple illustration, computers have reached the limit in miniaturization simply because the electronic reactions are so densely packed that far too much heat is generated. The density of reactions in our cells is at least a billion fold that of the best computers, and we operate with a tiny fraction of the energy required by the computers. That alone is sufficient to convince us that organisms need something close to quantum coherence.
Liquid crystalline water is the key in another way; it is water in the excited state, as Szent-Györgyi pointed out, ready to be split into protons and electrons with energy from sunlight. If not for that, photosynthesis would be impossible. Photosynthesis by green plants, algae and blue green bacteria provides energy for fuelling life itself to support oxygen breathing organisms like us, and electricity for animating life.
In addition, water in tight nanospaces such as those existing in cells and tissues are found to adopt entirely new quantum states that are superconducting and superfluid at room temperature and pressure, which could be crucial for intercommunication and for maintaining water and electrolyte balance. This is all very exciting in terms of potential applications in photonics and electronics, not to mention holistic health, water purification, new quantum devices etc.
Gerald Pollack’s important contribution is in discovering (or rediscovering) that interfacial water can exist in the macroscopic domain. His lab shows for the first time that interfacial water excludes solutes, reacts to light and result in charge separation, in addition, it gives directed flow and other interesting phenomena.
We don’t quite understand interfacial water as yet, but big advances are being made; and bigger advances still, if the conventional community weren’t so irrationally afraid to investigate these phenomena. Water it seems can be structured in the large as well as in tight places inside cells and tissues.
Water is indeed the basis of a new science. Basic biology and health are poised for a revolution.
Q5: Why is there a lack of global consensus within the scientific community on genetically modified foods – GMO foods?
A: There are several reasons. Many scientists working to create GMOs have a conflict of interest that make it all too easy not to consider the risks, and to be narrowly focused on the presumed benefits. It is also partly down to the specialized training they received. And most importantly, there is little or no funding for research on risks of GMOs. Some scientists and non-scientists are funded by the biotech industry to be mouthpieces, most of them, even the scientists don’t even know enough about molecular genetics, and may genuinely believe what the ‘experts’ tell them.
Biotech corporations also make it very awkward indeed for risk research to be carried out, they withhold material as well as raw data (with connivance from the regulators), and go to great lengths to discredit and suppress evidence of harm from GM feeding studies, as witnessed in the recent machinations to unilaterally ‘retract’ a study from a scientific journal a year after it has gone through a proper review process. Retracting Seralini Study Violates Science & Ethics
Still we do have nearly 300 scientists declaring no consensus on GMO safety, the scientific debate about GM foods is by no means over. In fact, a real consensus is building up among scientists, UN agencies and consumers worldwide based on real evidence that small agroecological farms are the way ahead in tackling climate change and providing food security. They are currently the major sector in the global food market, producing more than half of the food consumed in the world.
See below for an expanded view:
– Scientists Declare No Consensus on GMO Safety
– Global Status of GMO and Non-GMO Crops
– Why GMOs Can Never be Safe
– Evolution by Natural Genetic Engineering
– Horizontal Transfer of GM DNA Widespread
Q6: To the Hindu‑Yogi, meditation has long been professed to have healing abilities. Has the new science of epigenetics begun to support this belief? Can our minds change gene expression with the practice of meditation?
A: There is no doubt that mind-body exercises of all kinds are capable of changing gene expression. It breaches the mind body divide that’s the hallmark of mechanistic western science. Like people from other great cultural traditions in the world, I have never subscribed to the mind-body divide. I would wager that mind-body exercises could mark and change genes as well; and evidence for that would emerge before long.
Q7: You’ve mentioned that there is abundant evidence which points to the enormous potential for improving intellectual abilities (and health) through simple environmental and social interventions – could you provide us with a few examples that fascinates you most about the science of epigenetics?
A: I have written a review on (How to Increase the Brain Power and Health of a Nation), the potential for improving intellectual abilities ranges from providing adequate early nutrition, to education and enrichment programs (including martial arts and mindfulness exercises), memory training, and physical exercises, the latter two are effective, not only for the young but especially also for the elderly.
The importance of good nutrition for young children is so clear that interventions aimed at eliminating food insecurity and micronutrient deficiencies – easily within the means of all developed nations – should be given top priority in both developed and developing nations. Studies in Central America and Panama showed that supplementary feeding of infants and young children with drinks that provide energy and micronutrients, or with added protein, both resulted in significant increase in cognitive development and school performance through to adolescence.
A meta-analysis of a large number of studies on older adults showed that aerobic exercise for the elderly is important for maintaining IQ, and reducing the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease, especially for those over 70 years old. There is also evidence that exercise increases brain power through generating more neurons.
Not so long ago, neurobiologists and the general public believed that we were born with the neurons we would have for the rest of our lives. That dogma was overturned in the 1990s. New neurons are continually generated in two regions of the brain.
Q8: You have been a strong critic of the Neo-Darwinism theory of evolution by natural selection and instead have favoured Lamarck’s theory of transformation arising from the organism’s own experience of the environment. In your opinion, what could be wrong with Darwin’s theory of evolution?
A: The neo-Darwinian dogma that evolution occurs by the natural selection of random mutations is just plain wrong, it is contrary to all the evidence in molecular genetics accumulating since about the mid-1970s and especially since the human genome has been sequenced. Not only is mutation non-random, the experience of the individual marks and changes genes influencing their own development as well as the development of their children and grandchildren. This does support so-called Lamarckian theory of the inheritance of acquired characters.
Neo-Darwinism is an ideology pure and simple. It glorifies competition and competitiveness and instills a fatalistic paralysis in people. The new genetics on the contrary tells us that we must take an active role in shaping our own destiny as well as look after the well being of future generations.
More generally, we must give up the obsolete mechanistic science for the science of the organism, which accords a central role to symbiosis and cooperation in place of competition and exploitation in the survival and evolution of the fittest (see The Rainbow and the Worm, The Physics of Organisms for more details).
Q9: What are you working on now?
A: At least five different things, among which, evaluating and curating paintings that I have done over the past year and a half and working on two new books. But I might be distracted if something more interesting and important comes my way.
If you love the content in this blog, we invite you to check out our extremely well-reviewed book, Conceptual Revolutions in Science by Adam B. Dorfman.