That memory is not in your genes

An other less racist result from last weeks shenanigans online, was people bringing up the idea that “genetic memory” is a thing.


That is used by racists, but the general public have also mistake what this really is.


When people talk about studies in “genetic memory” they really are talking about epigenetics. This is “the study of heritable phenotype changes that do not involve alterations in the DNA sequence”. Most of the studies have been performed on a very simple organisms (nematodes mostly), but has indeed been observed in humans. Though the “memory” is not quite what people want it to be. One of the most famous studies is one involving the descendants of the survivors of the Dutch Famine of 1944 to 1945. (1)


All well and good. But what did the study find? Well that the descendants tended to have an increased level of glucose intolerance into adulthood. There is only one problem here. That is a trend in modern populations anyway.


Similarly, descendants of Holocaust survivors have altered stress hormone level. (2)
While I am not going to deny there is a correlation of some sort here. I will stand up to anyone who calls this evidence of genetic memory. To begin with it does not involve changing the DNA directly, and then we move onto the fact, that glucose intolerance is not a memory in the brain. Using these as an example is a stress. It has to be noted the two main examples waved around, are most likely caused by catastrophically horrible events from a few generations ago. IF we were to say our religious preference is from 1500 years ago,  that’s a large number of generations (on the average of 25 years per generation that is 60 generations ago). What changed someone’s epigenetics enough, to make a modern recreation of spiritual practices of a dead culture so strong that their “blood calls out to it?”.


SO, no, genetic memory is not a thing for culture. No there is no scientific evidence of it. Stop playing in science. Stick to spirituality, and be happy.


  1. Veenendaal, M. V., et al. Transgenerational effects of prenatal exposure to the 1944-45 Dutch famine. BJOG. Apr 2003, Vol. 120, 5, pp. 548 -553.
  2. Rodriguez, Tori. Descendants of Holocaust Survivors Have Altered Stress Hormones. Scientific American. [Online]



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