TWIMO: This week in microbiome overselling – how the microbiome destroyed the Ego, Vaccine Policy, and Patriarchy

Well.  I guess thanks are in order to my friend and colleague David Pollock who pointed me to this on Facebook and asked if it fit the mold for an Overselling the Microbiome Award: How The Microbiome Destroyed the Ego, Vaccine Policy, and Patriarchy.  And, well, it certainly does.  This is just so so so so so painful I do not really even know what to say.  So I am just going to quote some of the worst parts here for everyone to think about

A bold beginning

The relatively recent discovery of the microbiome is not only completely redefining what it means to be human, to have a body, to live on this earth, but is overturning belief systems and institutions that have enjoyed global penetrance for centuries.

 And more boldness

A paradigm shift has occurred, so immense in implication, that the entire frame of reference for our species’ self-definition, as well as how we relate fundamentally to concepts like “germs,” have been transformed beyond recognition

Got to invoke some Copernicus

a Copernican revolution when it comes to forming the new center, genetically and epigenetically, of what it means in biological terms to be human

A little side throw at vaccines

This concept is of course intellectually infantile, and if you do some investigating you’ll find it was never quite grounded in compelling evidence or science.

And of course, the patriarcy must be attacked too

The microbiome has also fundamentally displaced a latent patriarchal prejudice concerning the relative importance and contribution of the man and woman towards the health and ultimately the continuation of our species.

And the microbiome is clearly trying to counter the patriarchy

it follows that most of our genetic information as holobionts is maternal in origin. 


if 99% of what it means to be human is microbiome-based, and if the mother contributes most, if not all, of the original starting material, or at least the baseline and trajectory of future changes in the inner terrain, then her contribution becomes vastly more important than that of the father.

This is perhaps the best part:

In other words, being born in a hospital via C-section and vaccination, will produce, genetically and epigenetically, a human that is so different – qualitatively – from one born at home, naturally, that they could almost be classified as different species, despite sharing nearly identical eukaryotic DNA (remember, only 1% of the holobiont’s total). 

And let’s attack men some more

In light of the new, microbiome-based view, the male role in protecting the health of women and children will be irrevocably downgraded in importance, not just professionally and medically, but biologically.

And then, well, this

The birth process, also, has been described as the closest thing to death without dying (it is ironic that anesthesiology, which could also be described in the same way, makes obstetrical interventions like C-section and epidural possible, at the same moment that it negates the spiritual experience of natural birth/women’s empowerment we are describing), offering women a window into the ‘in between’ and a direct experience of Source that men, less likely to experience it naturally would later emulate and access through the various technologies of shamanism.

And all of this then justifies environmental protection

This means we can’t simply live in a hermetically sealed bubble of shopping for organic, non-GMO certified foods at Whole Foods, while the entire planet continues to go to post-industrial hell in a hand basket.  Our responsibility becomes distributed across everything in the world, and every impactful choice then becomes relevant to the fundamental issue and imperative at hand. With the microbial biodiversity in Big Ag, GM-based agricultural zones fire-bombed with biocides, by the very same corporations that either own or distribute the “organic brands” we all love to think will save our bodies, if not the planet, we need to step deeper into our activism by stepping out of the diversions and palliative measures that don’t result in lasting change.

 I think the words speak for themselves.  But not for me.  Or my microbes.

This entry was posted in Misc. and tagged by Jonathan Eisen. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

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