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The Central Dogma: From Dogma to Doo-Doo

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In 1958, Francis Crick, co-founder with James Watson of the DNA genetic code, defined the concept referred to as The Central Dogma. This dogma described how the organizing information in biology represented a one-way flow from DNA > RNA > Protein.

The Central Dogma provided the foundation for the principle of Genetic Determinism, the belief that genes “determine” the character and quality of our lives. While I taught this concept to medical students for over a decade, it was only after I left academia that I looked-up the definition of Dogma: A belief based on religious persuasion and not scientific fact. At that moment I realized I had been teaching religion in medical school.

When confronted with the real definition of dogma, Crick responded, “I used the word the way I myself thought about it, not as most of the world does, and simply applied it to a grand hypothesis that, however plausible, had little direct experimental support."

The main point is that The Central Dogma, a hypothesis that was never tested, has been repeated so consistently over the last 60 years that people have bought it to be a scientific fact. This dogma has always been an unverified “suggestion.”

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