Friday night topic: Genetic memory

— 5:52 PM on September 14, 2007

Here's an intriguing concept I ran across recently: genetic memory, the idea that some knowledge, information, or memories are not learned or acquired, but passed down to us genetically. We seem to see evidence of such a phenomenon in the instinctual behaviors of animals, which appear to be very specific and strongly ingrained. In human beings, such knowledge could take the form of Jung's "collective unconscious" or, taken to an extreme, could explain the sense some folks have of having lived a "past life."

Intuitively, the concept of genetic memory seems entirely plausible to me and would seem to explain a great many things. Yet I'm not aware of any scientific studies that have pinpointed the presence of genetic memory in animals. I'm not even aware of a theory about how such a transmission mechanism might work or what order of information it might carry from one generation to the next. Have any of you all looked into this? Do you think we bring some knowledge with us into life?  If so, what and how? Or is this whole area simply the domain of sci-fi stories and crackpots? Discuss.

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