November 26, 2005

RANDOM MUTATION, NATURAL SELECTION, GENETIC DRIFT AND LOTS OF VEGGIES AND FRESH AIR

Gene for nurture reasserts itself in who humans are (Ian Johnston, The Scotsman, November 26th, 2005)

Are some people born evil or good, stupid or intelligent, doomed to a life of depression or blessed with seemingly incurable optimism? Or can we change our fate, overcome our genetic deficiencies, ruin a heaven-sent biological inheritance?

The nature versus nurture debate was perhaps the most bitter of the 20th century. [...]

Increasingly, scientists are now unravelling the full extent of the influence of our genes and breakthroughs seem to come thick and fast: a gene for fear, one for depression, another for creativity.

But those who believe these headline-making discoveries are triumphs for supporters of the nature side of the argument should think again.

What makes us who we are is far more complex and the study of "epigenetics" - the way genes are expressed - has thrown up evidence that being cuddled as a young child, what you eat, what the weather is like and even who are your friends can change the way your genes behave.

We would have embraced Darwinism years ago if we had known that nature selects for hugs.

Posted by Peter Burnet at November 26, 2005 9:37 PM
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