The Ghost in our Genes

2007 ,    »  -   39 Comments
Ratings: 7.81/10 from 37 users.

The Ghost in our GenesOur genes carry unbelievable information of our past. And it is this genetic information, that affects our present, because the only way forward is to look into the past. This documentary film explains genetic science and it’s impact on our future life.

A gene is the basic unit of heredity in a living organism. The field of genetics predates modern molecular biology, but it is now known that all living things depend on DNA to pass on their traits to offspring.

Genetics is a discipline of biology and the science of heredity and variation in living organisms. The fact that living things inherit traits from their parents has been used since prehistoric times to improve crop plants and animals through selective breeding.

However, the modern science of genetics, which seeks to understand the process of inheritance, only began with the work of Gregor Mendel in the mid-nineteenth century. Although he did not know the physical basis for heredity, Mendel observed that organisms inherit traits in a discrete manner-these basic units of inheritance are now called genes.

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39 Comments / User Reviews

  1. paula wynburne

    Sorry to disappoint these revolutionaries but Samuel Hahnemann described exactly this in his theory of Miasms and it forms the basis of homeopathy: that the diseases we have today are an imprint of the untreated illnesses of generations going back much further than a couple of generations. I suggest you all read his Organon as he deduced much more than you have yet discovered and told of in this documentary, and he did it in the 18th century.

  2. Eric Howe

    Except that homeopathy is a bunch of woo-woo nonsense without any experimental evidence at all.

  3. Charles B.

    Wow! Phenomenal documentary!

    What will all the kids of Meth addicts and the such be like for generations to come? It is so important to choose a spouse carefully, if you can for your kid's sake as well as your own.

    I'm sorry to hear about the potential dangers of IVF. That's too bad.

    Thanks Vlatko!

  4. Mike

    This documentary leaves a "doom and gloom" affect. If this theory is true then the opposite could be true. For example, better diets and economic prosperity could lead to more healthy offsprings.

  5. Steve N.

    this could make terrorism even more profitable. not only will wars be waged (which is terribly profitable for certain groups)but now drug companies can use horrible propaganda to maintain that a group will have offspring with increased stress response for many generation,thereby ensuring that they can sell their "cure" for years and years. governing agents have been using this stuff for years, using fear to guide the minds. now we have a clue to how this may work at the molecular level.

  6. ProofPudding

    During my pregnancy, my husband listened to extremely loud music...loud enough to shake the windows for up to 6 hours a day. Our son was born with extra skin around his ears--on both skin, i mean stubs of protruding skin to protect his ears. Therefore, I am in agreement, that environmental factors can and do affect children in the womb

  7. pigdoor

    your husband sounds like a douche.

  8. Erik Saev

    I was blown awa , this could be a revolutionary piece of the puzzle. Amazing documentary thank you for sharing.

  9. WTC7

    @ Eric Howe,

    "Except that homeopathy is a bunch of woo-woo nonsense without any experimental evidence at all."

    I see now that you feel very comfortable in your little box. What is it that you think you understand? You think knowing a thing or two about science makes you an expert on whatever?

    I actually feel like slapping you and sending you to your room until you learn some decency and "civil discourse". What a

  10. kask

    The information presented was done in a clear and easy to follow manner. Speculations were stated as so, and the ideas and theories presented were reasonably supported. Obviously more work needs to be done, but it certainly seems compelling to continue researching it.

    I didn't have major issues entertaining the ideas presented in this documentary. Fascinating for sure.

    Now I'm just brainstorming here but...

    Passing knowledge down from one generation to the next does seem possible, don't some plants and animals seem to demonstrate this? Couldn't what we think of mutations in the evolutionary process really be some form of epigenetics?

    What if what we thought was a mutation, pure luck for some "adapted" species, was actually created as a result of the surroundings through epigenetics or "intentional" gene mutation. When I say intentional, I mean specifically that plants may create ways to ensure its usefulness to other biological systems.

    Plants are known to carry viruses. Couldn't they be the reason for a gene mutation within say a hummingbird to grow a larger beak? Or maybe through a process like epigenetics suggested in this documentary?

    I guess what I'm wondering is could mutations that happen for a species to survive, actually be caused by the surrounding environment. The environment would actually produce the necessary changes (i.e. turning on or off specific genes) so future species can adapt.

    This documentary seems to suggest that information or knowledge can pass down.

    I am showing my ignorance in most of this, but just ideas really.

  11. nick_kcin

    @ WTC7 its easy to start name calling but if anyone could explain in detail how homeopathy works or show evidence that it works in blind tests or whatever then maybe people who consider themselves of a 'scientific' mindset (in other words rational and evidence based) would be more open to debate

    "I actually feel like slapping you and sending you to your room until you learn some decency and “civil discourse”. What a p…ck"

    not exactly compelling evidence

    Interesting documentary anyway i watched like half of it the other day and now cant find where I was up to god damnit, I always do this

  12. BoB

    help me here guys - I thought everyone knew what happened (stress, toxic substances, mindset) etc to previous generations would effect future generations - I'm epileptic so are other family members - going back to great grandparents - (we always say the gene pool was a bit shallow at our end) - and if its outside factors (war, famine) causing gene 'damage' maybe thats why baby boomers were all peace and love because their parents had to kill people in the war and our grandchildren etc will save the planet cos their genes will be affected by what we are going through now. Which sounds to me like our genes evolving to set up the next generation for stress/survival. Good doco anyway.

  13. sudheer

    hi Eric Howe why don't you take yourself a homeo drug capsicum in a hundred thousand (cm) potency to disprove homeopathy? read organon read materia medica. still if u can't makeup your mind i can't help.

  14. CuriosityKilledTheCat

    NOVA on PBS did a very similar program

    Has identical twins comparing their epigenome, including a pair one with cancer the other without; one with autism the other without. It also has some info about therapy to turn genes off/on.

  15. iesika

    @ CuriosityKilledTheCat

    It's worse than that, even. Most homeopathic remedies are literally nothing but water - they do not contain a single molecule of the 'medicine'.

  16. Shana

    I wonder if they will be able to link Autism to Epigenetics as well??

  17. Tanja

    I wonder if anyone read Jung's ideas on collective unconscious, primodial ideas, and archetypes. I think science is slowly starting to support now what he had conceived of many decades ago. Any thoughts?

  18. liberally.insane

    I have always wondered why mainstream genetics believe that all evolution happens uniquely through random genetic mutations. The whole model is chaotic and gives too much importance to chance. It is in a way religiously anti-religion, or in other words it is religiously trying to disprove the concept of a "deity with a great plan" by attributing everything in our evolution to random chance.

    I always believed that the actions and events in our ancestors lives have created our genes. I believed that if a person lives a unhealthy life it will directly affect the life of the offspring. What simpler way can we prove theoretically how, for example, the dark skinned became dark skinned. They lived in an area that was hot and sunny thereby changing the pigment of skin to a darker color. This of course would not happen in one generation but after dozens and dozens of generations you would expect all newborns be darker than the newborns of the 1st or 2nd generations.

    Doesn't this explain genetic evolution more simply than the concept of random mutations of a gene that survived the conditions while the others without this gene died off? Just how f--ked up is that of an explanation? According to Occam's Razor, the simplest explanation for a given phenomenon consider all facts is the best explanation.

  19. Emwebb

    P. Wynburne - you do not disappoint us at all. This is a documentary that shows us how scientific data is used to present evidence supporting a theory.

    Samuel Hahnemann was alive in the 18th and 19th century and anything that he possibly thought up at the time was not put to scientific test. It is irrelevant what particular theory he happened to decide upon - it does not prove that any of his other medical theories were sound. On an aside, homeopathy has been put to scientific test and has repeatedly failed other than having a placebo effect. Not that there is anything wrong with a placebo effect - it just proves the power of the human mind and it would be great if more alternative therapists would accept that as "western" science already does rather than profiting from the vulnerable!

  20. Novi

    If I get this documentary right, they present a link between an experience of a parent that can turn on/off a gene and the traits of the child. But this link is ONLY established if the experience of the parent occurs during the development of their germ cells (sperm/egg-cells). So for a mother this would be already when she is in the womb of HER mother and for a father during puberty. Though this is very interesting, the documentary exaggerates immensely by stating 'any experience in the (grand)parents life can lead to disease in their (grand)children'. Of course this is also highlighting just a tip of the iceberg because I think it is plausable that the epigenetic effect caused by the experience can have positive changes. For example it is known that children that were in the womb during a famine are much more prone to obesitas which, if the famine period persisted, would help the child survive.

  21. Gary V

    An interesting doc from the BBC Horizon team about genetics & how genes can be passed from the mother or father & how the can be switched on or off. Worth watching.

  22. Gary V

    Fascinating how genes can miss different generations & you can inherit things from several generations back. Even stress can be passed on.

  23. Fred

    It's true about egg formation in women - that the eggs are formed in utero and are decanted one by one in adulthood - but men produce spermatozoa every day! And what do you know about gene switching of ovum DNA whilst growing/maturing within a woman?
    And yes, of course it can have positive changes, and neutral ones, as well as negative changes. It just so happens that the negative ones have been easier to identify. A can of worms has been opened, and I'm glad. It's about time Lamarck was re-examined (and yes, I know that they're not the same thing, but there may be a connection).

  24. Fred

    Random mutation of genes is still valid! Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. The genes are the plans for the organism. The epigenetic molecules are the 'tweakers' to enable the organism to learn from its environment & adapt to ensure future survival (unless environmental catastrophe occurs when Natural Selection dominates).
    And Occam's Razor is only valid once you consider ALL facts. We do not have all the facts. Thus in using Occam's Razor too early in a prognosis we might be barking up the wrong tree completely and have to work back over discarded data, such as Lamarck's work.

  25. PaulGloor

    So perhaps epigenetics is the basis of slow adaptation while random mutation is the basis of speciation... maybe ? With all those disease effects occurring from previous generations exposures, its easy to see how one species would go extinct, and very quickly at that.

  26. Sir Black Night

    so agent orange is a family curse.. Thanks Monsanto let's make sure our children have no chance in furthering our species because of you. What are you going to do with all that money when you have no more humans left to lord it over?

  27. cantthinkofanymorenames

    YES SIR BLACK NIGHT! I've always thought that the epidemic obesity in children and diabetes is because of Monsanto. Plain and simple, starting with the early '60's when they started putting BHST, the growth hormone in milk. Now it seems there is proof!

  28. Tony

    Thanks BBC Horizon team for the eye-opening doco. Now, unfortunately, I know why I have suffered from severe depression and anxiety disorder my whole life . . . with my Great Grandmother who was extremely close to my Mother suddenly when Mum was pregnant with me, and upon going into shock and depression herself, Mum gave birth to me prematurely. And then in the 60's Monsanto's 245T spray dribbled down my arms and hands while helping Dad kill weeds. So no wonder the anti-depressants prescribed by my numerous Doctors never worked! When are so-called professionals and Psychiatrists going to get the message? Epi-genetics is REAL. Depressingly REAL!

  29. Stephanie Hachez

    Such an interesting documentary. Recommended.

  30. max0680

    absolutely true

  31. J.

    i would like to see how many generations the rat pesticide diseases persisted. If the gene was switched permanently and if it could be reset somehow.

  32. kamal

    @trishleclair:disqus Could you please send me that pdf of the research that you have shared us. The website that you have shared is not allowing me to download it.

  33. qman

    Isn't it interesting that the Bible talks about the 'sins' of the father following his descendants to the 4th generation?

  34. Full Metal

    okay so should i watch this documentary i need to find good one to write a paper for my genetics course however i don't want to waste my time watching something that is not interesting

  35. amyinnh

    Close, but how if famine a "sin"?

  36. xaos

    It never ceases to amaze me how "education" destroys the ability to think. It's an absurd idea to think mapping the genome could do what they were expecting. It's like saying learning the an alphabet will give you the ability to speak an entire language. Did they really think that these genes don't interact with both themselves and the environmental factors involved, or were they just sensationalizing the project to get grant money? Naïveté or greed?

  37. xaos

    And why does no one seem to notice that, even without great extinction events, natural selection via random mutations alone is mathematically impossible. Consciousness/intelligence has to factored into the equation in order to account for the complexity and diversity of life in the Universe.

  38. Marin I. Danciu

    Is this statement valid? Probably not in any respect, but as regards heredity (genetic inheritance) I believe, with conviction, that is very, very valid. Look why I have this conviction.
    Although have passed three years since the publication of the true laws of heredity, Danciu laws of heredity-four new laws, what represent a new approach in genetics and a giant step in the genome physiology, has not yet started implementation of these laws in biomedical research, the improve plants and animals and in education. At the same time, persist the waste of human resources, financial, material and time in researchs and applications based on erroneous knowledge (Mendel's Laws), researchs with devastating consequences for the accuracy of results, for example, in the diagnosis and treatment of autosomal-recessive diseases. Was ignored the fact that only Danciu Laws are the true laws of heredity, and are true because: are valid 100% in all cases and all species that reproduce by gametes; eliminate all errors of heredity made so far; elucidates exhaustive the mode how the characters are transmitted from parents to descendants, including most autosomal-recessive diseases (other autosomal-recessive diseases are caused of defects in mitochondria); are a indispensable tool in the medical genetics research of success and in the activity of obtaining of hybrids of plants and animals with high biological value; facilitates the understanding genotype-phenotype relationship and of genetic variation between individuals, at any species; facilitates the identification with more accuracy of recessive genes, namely genes that can not function, though should, causing autosomal-recessive diseases.
    The new laws reveals with clarity all the truth regarding heredity, including: the genetics inheritance received of child from each parent is determined of the energy which the gametes, male and female, have at the moment of fecundation; only the sex chromosomes transmitted of father are active in the children's body, X at girls and Y at boys; the two X chromosomes transmitted by the mother are always lacking the capacity of being active, both in the body of boys and girls; at any pair of genes, if a gene has a mutation then no the healthy gene can not function; at any valid pair of hereditary factors (chromosomes, genes, nucleotide) can be chosen in the set of active factors only one factor; of all hereditary factors with rank of genes, segments of gene and nucleotide which have the same functional role and are in the set of active factors will be chosen to express only one factor; in meiosis 50%-1 sex chromosome, namely the set of inactive autosome chromosomes of genome, is eliminated, and the remainder of 50%-1 sex chromosome, namely the set of active autosome chromosomes, equips both gamete-brothers; in the human genome is expressed maxim 25% of all genes, because only 50% are admitted in the set of active chromosomes, and of these 1/2 (25% of all) are genes dormant (at animals and plants expressing even much less of 25% of all genes); any process of after fertilization, including the configuration the set of active chromosomes, and starting and stopping of genes expression, is initiated and controlled of the systems of proteins-enzymes (mitochondrias); these are of origin only from the female gamete and action in accordance with the Danciu laws and with the principle of the lowest energy consumption.

  39. Dave

    Video link is broken. I'm not seeing a "report broken link" option.

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