"In Epigenetics and Public Policy: The Tangled Web of Science and Politics, Shea Robison explores the much neglected intersection of biology, political ideology, politics, and public policy. Robison first traces the highly political history of the development of epigenetics as a scientific field; then he places epigenetics and ideas about epigenetics within the context of important historical and social movements of the past one hundred years. Robison demonstrates the link between science and politics and provides fodder for discussions among and between biologists and political scientists. Finally, Robison looks at the development of epigenetics as a newer understanding of human genetics and pays particular attention to how epigenetics might transform political debates surrounding inevitable questions of nature versus nurture and the role of government, concluding with policy analysis of epigenetics and cancer and obesity policy. This is a unique and interesting book in the emerging political science subfield of politics and the life sciences; it will spur much-needed debate and further scholarship on the relationship between science and politics."
"For decades, scientists and politicians looked to genetics to understand ultimate explanations in biology and, extrapolating from there, socio-cultural tendencies and even political behavior. Geneticists once promised their science would detail every feature, body and mind. However, epigenetics, the upstart biology of the twenty-first century, seems to challenge the supremacy of genetics. Epigenetics is not new, though both scientists and the public are only now beginning to understand its true importance. Robison shows just how consequential epigenetics could be for our understanding of health outcomes and policy, especially regarding areas of special concern like obesity and cancer. Perhaps most significantly, he highlights just how tightly we have woven the web of reciprocal relationships between policy, ethics, laboratory practice, and biological theory. Reweaving that web around our new appreciation for epigenetics will continue to have profound consequences for health, economics, and governance."
"Few scientific concepts are as volatile as the concept of 'epigenetics,' a sensitive term which has been much abused. Shea Robison bravely takes on this touchy subject and mixes it with politics, a sure recipe for explosion. Robison traces the largely unacknowledged and very political history of this line of science to understand why some aspect of epigenetics (such as 'inheritance of acquired traits') are still to a large extent taboo in the scientific community and why new discoveries in epigenetics remain under the radar to policy makers and to the public in general. He then examines the effects that assimilating modern ideas about epigenetics with a grander theory of inheritance could have on the political discourse: a synthesis that could affect all of us."
"This book by Shea K. Robison takes on the sprawling and amorphous field of contemporary epigenetics research. With a deep dive into the history of how the field developed, Robison gives us excellent insights into the scientific, social, and political influences on Waddington when he was proposing the epigenetic landscape model for developmental biology. Robison then shows us how today’s epigenetics research is likewise treading on contemporary social landmines such as parental and personal responsibility in disease risk. This unusual intersection of epigenetics and public policy, both past and present, is under-explored and is well-served by this scholarly and thoughtful book."