February 16, 2014

Richard Tremblay
GRIP/Université de Montréal
3050, Edouard-Montpetit Blvd.
Montréal, (QC)
H3T 1J7
(514) 343 6963

Dear Dr. Tremblay:
Common courtesy dictates I should let you rot in peace, but this could be so valuable to you that I shall not. 

Many years ago when I was a medical intern I had the task of trying to resuscitate patients who had just died.  By and large in those days one expected to have about a twenty percent success rate as defined by having the heart resume beating.  My own rate was about eighty percent.  I had my own style.  In those days injecting adrenaline into the heart was popular; I never did, nor did I ever pound the sternum with my fist – also approved at the time.  It was customary to treat the acidosis resulting from the cardiac arrest by giving great quantities of sodium bicarbonate; I didn’t do that either.  I thought the patient probably had about the right amount of sodium aboard and so treated the acidosis with hyperventilation.  I’m not saying mine was the best way, but it worked for me.

My pectoral muscles were almost always sore from compressing hearts, I resuscitated so many.  I think my advantage was brute muscle and the wiliness to apply it.  Years afterwards, I was at a resuscitation attempt in which I was a minor actor.  I was scrubbed; otherwise I would have done it myself.  But because of a procedure I was doing I had a catheter into the patient’s arteries.  I could open the catheter valve and estimate the blood pressure and the oxygenation by eyeball.  What I saw was not impressive.  The intern was getting only a trifling blood pressure from his heart compression and the blood was the color of veinous blood.  When I nagged the intern and the resident they did get it right, although by then it was in vain. 

Somebody once said, “If the patient’s heart has stopped, don’t hesitate.  There is nothing you are going to do that will make it worse.”

So this may annoy you, but nothing would be worse at this point than not telling you.

You are interested in the relationship between crime and epigenetics.  There is now an animal model.  (Scott Pitnick and David W. Pfennig Brotherly Love Benefits Females NATURE vol. 505 no. 7485 January 30, 2014 page 626 and Pau Carazo Within-Group Male Relatedness Reduces Harm to Females in Drosophila page 672 in the same issue) What they have found in fruit flies is that if a female is placed with three brothers the four of them will get along amicably enough.  However if the female is placed with three males that are not related (say, rather, that they are very distantly related) the three males will fight each other savagely, and they will abuse the female such that she will die prematurely. 

I think it is clear that kin recognition is epigenetic.  So there are flies behaving in a way that would be criminal for humans and the mechanism is epigenetic. 

What’s more, if two brothers and an outsider are together with a female the outsider will attack the brothers, abuse the female and have double the reproductive success of the brothers.  A social worker who was in a bitter mood once said that race relations in California consisted of the black boys raping the white girls and the white boys beating up the black boys.  That’s different from the fruit flies.  There it is the intruder beating up the two brothers.  Apparently low status humans are able to make common cause against the outsider, but among fruit flies they are too stupid.  High status people, however, are too stupid to avoid setting the tragedy up in the first place.  Maybe the fruit fly data do not apply to humans at all, but I think that the burden of proof has to be on any who would deny it.  Evolution presents us all with the same riddles. 

So somebody needs to speak out.  There is already plenty of evidence that breaking up extended families does terrible harm.  It reduces fertility.  How many babies have to be killed before somebody blurts out the truth?  It could be you.  It is a chance to make the world a better place.  You did not respond to my last letter at all.  What will you do now?


M. Linton Herbert

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