Genetic Determinism Quotes

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There is no evidence against genetic determinism more persuasive than the children of the rich.
Jeffrey Eugenides (Middlesex)
Simple determinism, whether of the genetic or environmental kind, is a depressing prospect for those with a fondness for free will.
Matt Ridley (Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters)
This is encouraging evidence of the power of the environment to influence characteristics like intelligence. Even if traits like intelligence have large genetic determinants, they are still substantially malleable.
Walter Mischel (The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control)
According to current research, in the determination of a person's level of happiness, genetics accounts for about 50 percent; life circumstances, such as age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, income, health, occupation, and religious affiliation, account for about 10 to 20 percent; and the remainder is a product of how a person thinks and acts.
Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project)
Genetic randomness had already determined how much talent I’d been allotted, and destiny’s randomness would account for my share of luck. The only piece I had any control over was my discipline. Recognizing that, it seemed like the best plan would be to work my ass off. That was the only card I had to play, so I played it hard.
Elizabeth Gilbert (Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear)
People "at the top" are eager to attribute their position to their own intellect, savvy, and hard work. The reality is much more complicated. Personal connections, family environment, and what appears to be plain luck determine how successful a person is. We are the product of three things- genetics, environment, and our personal choices- but two of these three factors we have no power over. We are not nearly as responsible for our success as our popular views of God and reality lead us to think.
Timothy J. Keller (Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters)
A Christian understanding of the world sees a child's character not as genetically determined but as shaped to a significant degree by parental discipleship and discipline.
Russell D. Moore (Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches)
If written in the three-letter words of the four-letter alphabet,a human being is determined by a genetic narrative long enough to fill the equivalent of 500 Bibles.In the meantime human beings have discovered this for themselves. That's right. They have uncovered our profoundest concept -- namely, that life is ultimately reading. They themselves are the Book of Books.
Harry Mulisch (The Discovery of Heaven)
The contrast between genetic and environmental, between nature and nurture, is not a contrast between fixed and changeable. It is a fallacy of biological determinism to say that if differences are in the genes, no change can occur.
Richard C. Lewontin (Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA)
I cringed a little at the position of power i'd been granted, and all because I had won at the genetic lottery that had determined my sex.
Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner)
Thus transcription factors regulate genes. What regulates transcription factors? The answer devastates the concept of genetic determinism: the environment.
Robert M. Sapolsky (Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst)
While genes are pivotal in establishing some aspects of emotionality, experience plays a central role in turning genes on and off. DNA is not the heart’s destiny; the genetic lottery may determine the cards in your deck, but experience deals the hand you can play. Scientists have proven, for example, that good mothering can override a disadvantageous temperament.
Thomas Lewis (A General Theory of Love)
I wish I could separate trauma from politics, but as long as we continue to live in denial and treat only trauma while ignoring its origins, we are bound to fail. In today’s world your ZIP code, even more than your genetic code, determines whether you will lead a safe and healthy life. People’s income, family structure, housing, employment, and educational opportunities affect not only their risk of developing traumatic stress but also their access to effective help to address it. Poverty, unemployment, inferior schools, social isolation, widespread availability of guns, and substandard housing all are breeding grounds for trauma. Trauma breeds further trauma; hurt people hurt other people.
Bessel van der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma)
Although neuroplasticity provides an escape from genetic determinism, a loophole for free thought and free will, it also imposes its own form of determinism on our behavior. As particular circuits in our brain strengthen through the repetition of a physical or mental activity, they begin to transform that activity into a habit. The paradox of neuroplasticity, observes Doidge, is that, for all the mental flexibility it grants us, it can end up locking us into “rigid behaviors.”33 The chemically triggered synapses that link our neurons program us, in effect, to want to keep exercising the circuits they’ve formed. Once we’ve wired new circuitry in our brain, Doidge writes, “we long to keep it activated.
Nicholas Carr (The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains)
We're presently in the midst of a third intellectual revolution. The first came with Newton: the planets obey physical laws. The second came with Darwin: biology obeys genetic laws. In today’s third revolution, were coming to realize that even minds and societies emerge from interacting laws that can be regarded as computations. Everything is a computation.
Rudy Rucker
You, sir, are an idiot! Your father was an idiot! Your grandfather was an idiot! And while I’ve never met your great grandfather, I’m sure that he was an idiot too since idiocy like yours is so incredibly vast that it can’t possibly be due to just the environment. It would need a strong genetic determinant since no environment could ever produce an idiot as big as you!
L.G. Estrella (The Galactic Peace Committee (The Galactic Peace Series Book 1))
Modern wheat, despite all the genetic alterations to modify hundreds, if not thousands, of its genetically determined characteristics, made its way to the worldwide human food supply with nary a question surrounding its suitability for human consumption.
William Davis (Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health)
according to Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness, fifty percent of our happiness is determined by genetics, forty percent by internal factors, and only ten percent by external factors. These external factors include such things as whether we’re single or married, rich or poor, and similar social influences.
Thibaut Meurisse (Master Your Emotions: A Practical Guide to Overcome Negativity and Better Manage Your Feelings (Mastery Series Book 1))
If falling in love is not love, then what is it other than a temporary and partial collapse of ego boundaries? I do not know. But the sexual specificity of the phenomenon leads me to suspect that it is a genetically determined instinctual component of mating behavior. In other words, the temporary collapse of ego boundaries that constitutes falling in love is a stereotypic response of human beings to a configuration of internal sexual drives and external sexual stimuli, which serves to increase the probability of sexual pairing and bonding so as to enhance the survival of the species. Or to put it in another, rather crass way, falling in love is a trick that our genes pull on our otherwise perceptive mind to hoodwink or trap us into marriage. Frequently the trick goes awry one way or another, as when the sexual drives and stimuli are homosexual or when other forces-parental interference, mental illness, conflicting responsibilities or mature self-disciplinesupervene to prevent the bonding. On the other hand, without this trick, this illusory and inevitably temporary (it would not be practical were it not temporary) regression to infantile merging and omnipotence, many of us who are happily or unhappily married today would have retreated in whole- hearted terror from the realism of the marriage vows.
M. Scott Peck (The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth)
I wish I could separate trauma from politics, but as long as we continue to live in denial and treat only trauma while ignoring its origins, we are bound to fail. In today's world your ZIP code, even more than your genetic code, determines whether you will lead a safe and healthy life. People's income, family structure, housing, employment, and educational opportunities not only affect their risk of developing traumatic stress but also their access to effective help to address it. Poverty, unemployment, inferior schools, social isolation, widespread availability of guns, and substandard housing all are breeding grounds for trauma. Trauma breeds further trauma; hurt people hurt other people.
Bessel van der Kolk
They say things are determined by genetics, by parenting, by heredity, by climate, by diet, by geography, by time spent in the womb, by nature, by nurture. They fail to hear the elephant in the room, trumpeting away: history.
Julian Barnes (Elizabeth Finch)
I have never been one of those people—I know you aren’t, either—who feels that the love one has for a child is somehow a superior love, one more meaningful, more significant, and grander than any other. I didn’t feel that before Jacob, and I didn’t feel that after. But it is a singular love, because it is a love whose foundation is not physical attraction, or pleasure, or intellect, but fear. You have never known fear until you have a child, and maybe that is what tricks us into thinking that it is more magnificent, because the fear itself is more magnificent. Every day, your first thought is not “I love him” but “How is he?” The world, overnight, rearranges itself into an obstacle course of terrors. I would hold him in my arms and wait to cross the street and would think how absurd it was that my child, that any child, could expect to survive this life. It seemed as improbable as the survival of one of those late-spring butterflies—you know, those little white ones—I sometimes saw wobbling through the air, always just millimeters away from smacking itself against a windshield. And let me tell you two other things I learned. The first is that it doesn’t matter how old that child is, or when or how he became yours. Once you decide to think of someone as your child, something changes, and everything you have previously enjoyed about them, everything you have previously felt for them, is preceded first by that fear. It’s not biological; it’s something extra-biological, less a determination to ensure the survival of one’s genetic code, and more a desire to prove oneself inviolable to the universe’s feints and challenges, to triumph over the things that want to destroy what’s yours. The second thing is this: when your child dies, you feel everything you’d expect to feel, feelings so well-documented by so many others that I won’t even bother to list them here, except to say that everything that’s written about mourning is all the same, and it’s all the same for a reason—because there is no real deviation from the text. Sometimes you feel more of one thing and less of another, and sometimes you feel them out of order, and sometimes you feel them for a longer time or a shorter time. But the sensations are always the same. But here’s what no one says—when it’s your child, a part of you, a very tiny but nonetheless unignorable part of you, also feels relief. Because finally, the moment you have been expecting, been dreading, been preparing yourself for since the day you became a parent, has come. Ah, you tell yourself, it’s arrived. Here it is. And after that, you have nothing to fear again.
Hanya Yanagihara (A Little Life)
The genome is as complicated and indeterminate as ordinary life, because it is ordinary life. This should come as a relief. Simple determinism, whether of the genetics or environmental kind, is a depressing prospect for those with a fondness for free will.
Matt Ridley (Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters)
An adult’s owlness or larkness, also known as their chronotype, is strongly determined by genetics. If you are a night owl, it’s likely that one (or both) of your parents is a night owl. Sadly, society treats night owls rather unfairly on two counts. First is the label of being lazy, based on a night owl’s wont to wake up later in the day, due to the fact that they did not fall asleep until the early-morning hours. Others (usually morning larks) will chastise night owls on the erroneous assumption that such preferences are a choice, and if they were not so slovenly, they could easily wake up early. However, night owls are not owls by choice. They are bound to a delayed schedule by unavoidable DNA hardwiring. It is not their conscious fault, but rather their genetic fate.
Matthew Walker (Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams)
Genetics, accidents of birth or events in early childhood have left criminals' brains and bodies with measurable flaws predisposing them to committing assault, murder and other antisocial acts. .... Many offenders also have impairments in their autonomic nervous system, the system responsible for the edgy, nervous feeling that can come with emotional arousal. This leads to a fearless, risk-taking personality, perhaps to compensate for chronic under-arousal. Many convicted criminals, like the Unabomber, have slow heartbeats. It also gives them lower heart rates, which explains why heart rate is such a good predictor of criminal tendencies. The Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, for example, had a resting heart rate of just 54 beats per minute, which put him in the bottom 3 per cent of the population.
Adrian Raine
In unambiguous terms, we are genetically wired to eat simple, unprocessed foods, and to expend a fair amount of energy in that process (walk, run, lift, carry, dance!).
Robb Wolf (Wired to Eat: Turn Off Cravings, Rewire Your Appetite for Weight Loss, and Determine the Foods That Work for You)
Why are genetic determinants thought to be any more ineluctable, or blame-absolving, than ‘environmental’ ones?
Richard Dawkins (The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene)
Diamond writes, can be summarized in a single sentence: “History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves.” 7 Geographic determinism, however, is as absurd a position as genetic determinism, given that evolution is about the interaction between the two.
Nicholas Wade (A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History)
I have had my mother's wing of my genetic ancestry analyzed by the National Geographic tracing service and there it all is: the arrow moving northward from the African savannah, skirting the Mediterranean by way of the Levant, and passing through Eastern and Central Europe before crossing to the British Isles. And all of this knowable by an analysis of the cells on the inside of my mouth. I almost prefer the more rambling and indirect and journalistic investigation, which seems somehow less… deterministic.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
The pattern recognition theory of mind that I articulate in this book is based on a different fundamental unit: not the neuron itself, but rather an assembly of neurons, which I estimate to number around a hundred. The wiring and synaptic strengths within each unit are relatively stable and determined genetically—that is the organization within each pattern recognition module is determined by genetic design. Learning takes place in the creation of connections between these units, not within them, and probably in the synaptic strengths of the interunit connections.
Ray Kurzweil (How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed)
If you want to know if your kid is going to be fast, the best genetic test right now is a stopwatch. Take him to the playground and have him face the other kids.' Foster's point is that, despite the avant-garde allure of genetic testing, gauging speed indirectly is foolish and inaccurate compared with testing it directly - like measuring a man's height by dropping a ball from a roof and using the time it takes to hit him in the head to determine how tall he is. Why not just use a tape measure?
David Epstein (The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance)
Why is this? Why do a majority develop a capacity to delay gratification while a substantial minority fail, often irretrievably, to develop this capacity? The answer is not absolutely, scientifically known. The role of genetic factors is unclear. The variables cannot be sufficiently controlled for scientific proof. But most of the signs rather clearly point to the quality of parenting as the determinant.
M. Scott Peck (The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth)
This is huge. Saying that a gene “decides” when it is transcribed is like saying that a recipe decides when a cake is baked. Thus transcription factors regulate genes. What regulates transcription factors? The answer devastates the concept of genetic determinism: the environment.
Robert M. Sapolsky
If the history of the last century taught us the dangers of empowering governments to determine genetic “fitness” (i.e., which person fits within the triangle, and who lives outside it), then the question that confronts our current era is what happens when this power devolves to the individual. It is a question that requires us to balance the desires of the individual— to carve out a life of happiness and achievement, without undue suffering— with the desires of a society that, in the short term, may be interested only in driving down the burden of disease and the expense of disability. And operating silently in the background is a third set of actors: our genes themselves, which reproduce and create new variants oblivious of our desires and compulsions— but, either directly or indirectly, acutely or obliquely, influence our desires and compulsions. Speaking at the Sorbonne in 1975, the cultural historian Michel Foucault once proposed that “a technology of abnormal individuals appears precisely when a regular network of knowledge and power has been established.” Foucault was thinking about a “regular network” of humans. But it could just as easily be a network of genes.
Siddhartha Mukherjee (The Gene: An Intimate History)
Bacteria evolved mechanisms that could inactivate, block, or excrete various antibiotics. Moreover, bacteria transferred genetic determinants for these resistances between species and aggregated different resistances together on transmissible DNA elements known as resistance plasmids or R factors.
James A. Shapiro (Evolution: A View from the 21st Century. Fortified.)
You cannot accurately assume that all the dogs saved from a fight bust are vicious and unstable or that all pit bulls are biting machines waiting for their chance to attack. It may be easier and less expensive to think that way, but it’s not true. Yes, if pit bulls attack, they’re equipped to do the job well—they’re strong, agile, and determined—and they may even have some genetic inclination to be aggressive toward other dogs, but nurture plays
Jim Gorant (The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption)
It is unsettling to find how little it takes to defeat success in medicine. You come as a professional equipped with expertise and technology. You do not imagine that a mere matter of etiquette could foil you. But the social dimension turns out to be as essential as the scientific--matters of how casual you should be, how formal, how reticent, how forthright. Also: how apologetic, how self-confident, how money-minded. In this work against sickness, we begin not with genetic or cellular interactions, but with human ones. They are what make medicine so complex and fascinating. How each interaction is negotiated can determine whether a doctor is trusted, whether a patient is heard, whether the right diagnosis is made, the right treatment given. But in this realm there are no perfect formulas.
Atul Gawande (Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance)
He was impressed with his father's fiction and noticed certain stylistic tics that he shared, and figured it was genetic. Why would genes determine only physical traits, eye color and left-handedness? Why not other, more subtle, bodiless proclivities such as a love of the semicolon and a propensity to string modifying clauses ad infinitum?
David Duchovny (Bucky F*cking Dent)
The Divine Therapy is designed to enable us to negotiate this healing process according to genetic and temperamental factors, our personality and the circumstances of our lives. An enormous Intelligence is guiding us through this process with a love that is unconditional and determined to bring about this healing, whatever the cost to Itself.
Thomas Keating (On Divine Therapy)
Your zip code is a bigger determinant of your health outcomes than your genetic code.
Mark Hyman (Food Fix: How to Save Our Health, Our Economy, Our Communities, and Our Planet--One Bite at a Time)
As powerful as your genetic combination is in determining the outcome of your life, your decisions are more powerful. You will ultimately look like your decisions.
Kingsley Opuwari Manuel
I couldn’t see the end of the corridor, so I stared at the entrance. The ship was a magnificent piece of living technology. Third Fish was a Miri 12, a type of ship closely related to a shrimp. Miri 12s were stable calm creatures with natural exoskeletons that could withstand the harshness of space. They were genetically enhanced to grow three breathing chambers within their bodies. Scientists planted rapidly growing plants within these three enormous rooms that not only produced oxygen from the CO2 directed in from other parts of the ship, but also absorbed benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. This was some of the most amazing technology I’d ever read about. Once settled on the ship, I was determined to convince someone to let me see one of these amazing rooms. But at the moment, I wasn’t thinking about the technology of the ship. I was on the threshold now, between home and my future.
Nnedi Okorafor (Binti (Binti, #1))
If you are dyslexic, then any of your siblings has a 50 percent chance of also suffering from dyslexia, thus pointing to the strong genetic determinism of this developmental disorder. At least four genes have now been implicated in dyslexia—and interestingly, most of these genes affect the ability of neurons to migrate to their final locations in the cortex during pregnancy.
Stanislas Dehaene (How We Learn: Why Brains Learn Better Than Any Machine . . . for Now)
Asilomar’s lack of focus on ethical issues bothered many religious leaders. That prompted a letter to President Jimmy Carter signed by the heads of three major religious organizations: the National Council of Churches, the Synagogue Council of America, and the U.S. Catholic Conference. “We are rapidly moving into a new era of fundamental danger triggered by the rapid growth of genetic engineering,” they wrote. “Who shall determine how human good is best served when new life forms are being engineered?”13 These decisions should not be left to scientists, the trio argued. “There will always be those who believe it appropriate to ‘correct’ our mental and social structures by genetic means. This becomes more dangerous when the basic tools to do so are finally at hand. Those who would play God will be tempted as never before.
Walter Isaacson (The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race)
But it is a singular love, because it is a love whose foundation is not physical attraction, or pleasure, or intellect, but fear. You have never known fear until you have a child, and maybe that is what tricks us into thinking that it is more magnificent, because the fear itself is more magnificent. Every day, your first thought is not “I love him” but “How is he?” The world, overnight, rearranges itself into an obstacle course of terrors. I would hold him in my arms and wait to cross the street and would think how absurd it was that my child, that any child, could expect to survive this life. It seemed as improbable as the survival of one of those late-spring butterflies—you know, those little white ones—I sometimes saw wobbling through the air, always just millimeters away from smacking itself against a windshield. And let me tell you two other things I learned. The first is that it doesn’t matter how old that child is, or when or how he became yours. Once you decide to think of someone as your child, something changes, and everything you have previously enjoyed about them, everything you have previously felt for them, is preceded first by that fear. It’s not biological; it’s something extra-biological, less a determination to ensure the survival of one’s genetic code, and more a desire to prove oneself inviolable to the universe’s feints and challenges, to triumph over the things that want to destroy what’s yours. The second thing is this: when your child dies, you feel everything you’d expect to feel, feelings so well-documented by so many others that I won’t even bother to list them here, except to say that everything that’s written about mourning is all the same, and it’s all the same for a reason—because there is no real deviation from the text. Sometimes you feel more of one thing and less of another, and sometimes you feel them out of order, and sometimes you feel them for a longer time or a shorter time. But the sensations are always the same. But here’s what no one says—when it’s your child, a part of you, a very tiny but nonetheless unignorable part of you, also feels relief. Because finally, the moment you have been expecting, been dreading, been preparing yourself for since the day you became a parent, has come. Ah, you tell yourself, it’s arrived. Here it is. And after that, you have nothing to fear again.
Hanya Yanagihara (A Little Life)
Our personal experiences and mental reasoning skills establish the range of our perception of reality. Our physical and mental abilities determine the outer perimeter regarding what we can experience and learn. Our inaugurating dreams are unlimited by physical reality and our genetic composition. There will always be an unbridgeable rift between countless combinations of human dreams and the infinity of reality, unless we accept what we are without wishing to be something else.
Kilroy J. Oldster (Dead Toad Scrolls)
More daunting for those who hope for scientific and social progress, the genetic argument is easily used to justify all kinds of inequalities and injustices that are otherwise hard to defend. It serves a deeply conservative function: if a phenomenon like addiction is determined mostly by biological heredity, we are spared from having to look at how our social environment supports, or does not support, the parents of young children and at how social attitudes, prejudices, and policies burden, stress, and exclude certain segments of the population and thereby increase their propensity for addiction. The writer Louis Menand said it well in a New Yorker article: “It’s all in the genes”: an explanation for the way things are that does not threaten the way things are. Why should someone feel unhappy or engage in antisocial behavior when that person is living in the freest and most prosperous nation on earth? It can’t be the system! There must be a flaw in the wiring somewhere.
Gabor Maté (In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction)
About half of patients with pure anxiety disorders develop major depression within five years. Insofar as depression and anxiety are genetically determined, they share a single set of genes (which are tied to the genes for alcoholism). Depression exacerbated by anxiety has a much higher suicide rate than depression alone, and it is much harder to recover from. “If you’re having several panic attacks every day,” says Ballenger, “it’s gonna bring Hannibal to his knees. People are beaten into a pulp, into a fetal position in bed.
Andrew Solomon (The Noonday Demon)
When I learned my mom was going to die of cancer at the age of forty-five, I felt the same way. I didn’t even believe in God, but I still felt that he owed me something. I had the gall to think How dare he? I couldn’t help myself. I’m a selfish brute. I wanted what I wanted and I expected it to be given to me by a God in whom I had no faith. Because mercy had always more or less been granted me, I assumed it always would be. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t granted to my friend whose eighteen-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver either. Nor was it granted to my other friend who learned her baby is going to die of a genetic disorder in the not-distant future. Nor was it granted to my former student whose mother was murdered by her father before he killed himself. It was not granted to all those people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time when they came up against the wrong virus or military operation or famine or carcinogenic or genetic mutation or natural disaster or maniac. Countless people have been devastated for reasons that cannot be explained or justified in spiritual terms. To do as you are doing in asking If there were a God, why would he let my little girl have to have possibly life-threatening surgery?— understandable as that question is—creates a false hierarchy of the blessed and the damned. To use our individual good or bad luck as a litmus test to determine whether or not God exists constructs an illogical dichotomy that reduces our capacity for true compassion. It implies a pious quid pro quo that defies history, reality, ethics, and reason. It fails to acknowledge that the other half of rising—the very half that makes rising necessary— is having first been nailed to the cross. That
Cheryl Strayed (Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Someone Who's Been There)
And let me tell you two other things I learned. The first is that it doesn't matter how old the child is, or when or how he became yours. Once you decide to think of someone as your child, something changes, and everything you have previously enjoyed about them, everything you have previously felt for them, is preceded by that fear. It's not biological; it's something extra biological, less a determination to ensure the survival of one's genetic code, more a desire to prove oneself inviolable to the universe's feints and challenges, to triumph over the tings that want to destroy what's yours.
Hanya Yanagihara (A Little Life)
When scientists underestimate complexity, they fall prey to the perils of unintended consequences. The parables of such scientific overreach are well-known: foreign animals, introduced to control pests, become pests in their own right; the raising of smokestacks, meant to alleviate urban pollution, releases particulate effluents higher in the air and exacerbates pollution; stimulating blood formation, meant to prevent heart attacks, thickens the blood and results in an increased risk of blood clots in the heart. But when nonscientists overestimate [italicized, sic] complexity- 'No one can possibly crack this [italicized, sic] code" - they fall into the trap of unanticipated consequences. In the early 1950s , a common trope among some biologists was that the genetic code would be so context dependent- so utterly determined by a particular cell in a particular organism and so horribly convoluted- that deciphering it would be impossible. The truth turned out to be quite the opposite: just one molecule carries the code, and just one code pervades the biological world. If we know the code, we can intentionally alter it in organisms, and ultimately in humans. Similarly, in the 1960s, many doubted that gene-cloning technologies could so easily shuttle genes between species. by 1980, making a mammalian protein in a bacterial cell, or a bacterial protein in a mammalian cell, was not just feasible, it was in Berg's words, rather "ridiculously simple." Species were specious. "Being natural" was often "just a pose.
Siddhartha Mukherjee (The Gene: An Intimate History)
And let me tell you two other things I learned. The first is that it doesn’t matter how old that child is, or when or how he became yours. Once you decide to think of someone as your child, something changes, and everything you have previously enjoyed about them, everything you have previously felt for them, is preceded first by that fear. It’s not biological; it’s something extra-biological, less a determination to ensure the survival of one’s genetic code, and more a desire to prove oneself inviolable to the universe’s feints and challenges, to triumph over the things that want to destroy what’s yours. The second thing is this: when your child dies, you feel everything you’d expect to feel, feelings so well-documented by so many others that I won’t even bother to list them here, except to say that everything that’s written about mourning is all the same, and it’s all the same for a reason—because there is no real deviation from the text. Sometimes you feel more of one thing and less of another, and sometimes you feel them out of order, and sometimes you feel them for a longer time or a shorter time. But the sensations are always the same. But here’s what no one says—when it’s your child, a part of you, a very tiny but nonetheless unignorable part of you, also feels relief. Because finally, the moment you have been expecting, been dreading, been preparing yourself for since the day you became a parent, has come. Ah, you tell yourself, it’s arrived. Here it is. And after that, you have nothing to fear again.
Hanya Yanagihara (A Little Life)
We live in a world that seems increasingly beyond our control. Our livelihoods are at the whim of globalized forces. The problems that we face—economic, environmental, and so on—cannot be solved by our individual actions. Our politicians are distant and unresponsive to our desires. A natural response when people feel overwhelmed is to retreat into various forms of passivity. If we don’t try too much in life, if we limit our circle of action, we can give ourselves the illusion of control. The less we attempt, the less chances of failure. If we can make it look like we are not really responsible for our fate, for what happens to us in life, then our apparent powerlessness is more palatable. For this reason we become attracted to certain narratives: it is genetics that determines much of what we do; we are just products of our times; the individual is just a myth; human behavior can be reduced to statistical trends.
Robert Greene (Mastery (The Modern Machiavellian Robert Greene Book 1))
The desire to categorize humans along racial lines, and the impulse to superpose attributes such as intelligence (or criminality, creativity, or violence) on those lines, illustrates a general theme concerning genetics and categorization. Like the English novel, or the face, say, the human genome can be lumped and split in a million different ways. But whether to split or lump, to categorize or synthesize, is a choice. ... The narrower the definition of the heritable feature or the trait, the more likely we will find a genetic locus for that trait, and the more likely we will find that the trait will segregate within some human sub-population.
Siddhartha Mukherjee (The Gene: An Intimate History)
You have never known fear until you have a child, and maybe that is what tricks us into thinking it is more magnificent, because the fear itself is more magnificent. Every day, your first thought is not "I love him" but "How is he?" The world, overnight, rearranges itself into an obstacle course of terrors. I would hold him in my arms and wait to cross the street and would think how absurd it was that my child, that any child, could expect to survive this life... It doesn't matter how old that child is, or when or how he became yours. Once you decide to think of someone as your child, something changes, and everything you have previously enjoyed about them, everything you have previously felt for them, is preceded first by that fear. It's not biological; it's something extra-biological, less a determination to ensure the survival of one's genetic code, and more a desire to prove oneself inviolable to the universe's feints and challenges, to triumph over the things that want to destroy what's yours.
Hanya Yanagihara (A Little Life)
One reason for the low correlations between individuals’ circumstances and their satisfaction with life is that both experienced happiness and life satisfaction are largely determined by the genetics of temperament. A disposition for well-being is as heritable as height or intelligence, as demonstrated by studies of twins separated at birth.
Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow)
The analogy I want to make here is this. That if the ostensibly divinely ordained caste organizing principle of the Europe's feudal-Christian order was fundamentally secured by the Absolutism of its Scholastic order of knowledge, (including its pre-Columbus geography of the earth and its pre-Copernicus Christian-Ptolemaic astronomy), the ostensibly evolutionarily determined genetic organizing principle of our Liberal Humanist own, as expressed in the empirical hierarchies of race and class (together with the kind of gender role allocation between men and women needed to keep this systemic hierarchies in place), is as fundamentally secured by our present disciplines of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
Sylvia Wynter (No Humans Involved)
I find no reason to think that aging is genetically determined. Genes do not provide information for the development of the individual beyond growth and the reproductive process in which the genes are transmitted to the next generation. Once past the reproductive stage, the individual has served the purposes of preservation of the species, and then he is on his own. The wrinkled human face is the victim of gravity and of cumulative errors in the reproduction of cells. Since aging is not programed, but is a badly improvised interference with youthful beauty, we have improvised an operation to counteract its effects. Aging is a form of misinformation. If we get the facts right, you will be able to read it in our faces. ("Motherhood")
William S. Wilson (Why I Don't Write Like Franz Kafka)
As a thought experiment, von Neumann's analysis was simplicity itself. He was saying that the genetic material of any self-reproducing system, whether natural or artificial, must function very much like a stored program in a computer: on the one hand, it had to serve as live, executable machine code, a kind of algorithm that could be carried out to guide the construction of the system's offspring; on the other hand, it had to serve as passive data, a description that could be duplicated and passed along to the offspring. As a scientific prediction, that same analysis was breathtaking: in 1953, when James Watson and Francis Crick finally determined the molecular structure of DNA, it would fulfill von Neumann's two requirements exactly. As a genetic program, DNA encodes the instructions for making all the enzymes and structural proteins that the cell needs in order to function. And as a repository of genetic data, the DNA double helix unwinds and makes a copy of itself every time the cell divides in two. Nature thus built the dual role of the genetic material into the structure of the DNA molecule itself.
M. Mitchell Waldrop (The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal)
About 30 to 50 percent of happiness is genetically determined; about 10 to 20 percent reflects life circumstances (such as age, gender, health, marital status, income, occupation); and the rest is very much influenced by the way we think and act. We possess considerable power to push ourselves to the top or bottom of our natural range through our conscious actions and thoughts.
Gretchen Rubin (Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life)
Who we are and what we become reflects the interplay of both genetic and environmental influences in an enormously complex choreography. It is time to put away the “How much?” question because it cannot be answered simply. As the Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb noted long ago, it’s like asking, What’s the more important determinant of a rectangle’s size: its length or its width?
Walter Mischel (The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control)
Although Galileo was a devout Catholic, it was his conflict with the Vatican, sadly mismanaged on both sides, that lay at the basis of the running battle between science and religion, a tragic and confusing schism which persists unresolved. More than ever today, religion finds its revelatory truths threatened by scientific theory, and retreats into a defensive corner, while scientists go into the attack insisting that rational argument is the only valid criterion for an understanding of the workings of the universe. Maybe both sides have misunderstood the nature of their respective roles. Scientists are equipped to answer the mechanical question of how the universe and everything in it, including life, came about. But since their modes of thought are dictated by purely rational, materialistic criteria, physicists cannot claim to answer the questions of why the universe exists, and why we human beings are here to observe it, any more than molecular biologists can satisfactorily explain why – if our actions are determined by the workings of a selfish genetic coding – we occasionally listen to the voice of conscience and behave with altruism, compassion and generosity. Even these human qualities have come under attack from evolutionary psychologists who have ascribed altruism to a crude genetic theory by which familial cooperation is said to favour the survival of the species. Likewise the spiritual sophistication of musical, artistic and poetic activity is regarded as just a highly advanced function of primitive origins.
Jane Hawking (Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen)
There is a significant hereditary contribution to ADD but I do not believe any genetic factor is decisive in the emergence of ADD traits in any child. Genes are codes for the synthesis of the proteins that give a particular cell its characteristic structure and function. They are, as it were, alive and dynamic architectural and mechanical plans. Whether the plan becomes realized depends on far more than the gene itself. It is determined, for the most part, by the environment. To put it differently, genes carry potentials inherent in the cells of a given organism. Which of multiple potentials become expressed biologically is a question of life circumstances. Were we to adopt the medical model — only temporarily, for the sake of argument — a genetic explanation by itself would still be unsuitable. Medical conditions for which genetic inheritance are fully or even mostly responsible, such as muscular dystrophy, are rare. “Few diseases are purely genetic,” says Michael Hayden, a geneticist at the University of British Columbia and a world-renowned researcher into Huntington’s disease. “The most we can say is that some diseases are strongly genetic.” Huntington’s is a fatal degeneration of the nervous system based on a single gene that, if inherited, will almost invariably cause the disease. But not always. Dr. Hayden mentions cases of persons with the gene who live into ripe old age without any signs of the disease itself. “Even in Huntington’s, there must be some protective factor in the environment,” Dr. Hayden says.
Gabor Maté (Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It)
Here, however, is where his genius truly took off. Galois managed to associate with each equation a sort of "genetic code" of that equation-the Galois group of the equation-and to demonstrate that the properties of the Galois group determine whether the equation is solvable by a formula or not. Symmetry became the key concept, and the Galois group was a direct measure of the symmetry properties of an equation.
Mario Livio (The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved: How Mathematical Genius Discovered the Language of Symmetry)
In the above examples, a sample of the tumor (e.g., biopsy) is tested to determine the molecular signature. Testing may be by genetic sequence tests (e.g., for BCR-ABL, mutated EGFR, or HER2 gene amplification) or tissue protein stains (e.g., for the presence of ER/PR receptors or HER2 protein overexpression). The results of the testing will guide the choice of treatment—it will be personalized for the individual.
Michael Snyder (Genomics and Personalized Medicine: What Everyone Needs to Know?)
I have never been one of those people...who feels that the love one has for a child is somehow a superior love, one more meaningful, more significant, and grander than any other...But it is a singular love, because it it a love whose foundation is not physical attraction, or pleasure, or intellect, but fear. You have never known fear until you have a child, and maybe that is what tricks us into thinking that it is more magnificent, because the fear itself is more magnificent. Every day, your first thought is not "I love him" but "How Is he?" The world, overnight, rearranges itself into an obstacle course of terrors. I would hold him in my arms and wait to cross the street and would think how absurd it was that my child, that any child, could expect to survive this life...Once you decide to think of someone as your child, something changes, and everything you have previously enjoyed about them, everything you have previously felt for them, is preceded first by that fear. It's not biological; it's something extra-biological, less a determination to ensure the survival of one's genetic code, and more a desire to prove oneself inviolable to the universe's feints and challenges, to triumph over the things that want to destroy what's yours.
Hanya Yanagihara (A Little Life)
person’s degree of spirituality is determined 29 percent by heredity, and 71 percent by environment. Our spirituality is substantially—roughly two-thirds—a factor of how we’re raised, the company we keep, the things we do to build the muscle. But still a significant degree of our capacity to experience the sacred and transcendent—one-third—is inscribed in our genetic code, as innate as our eye color or fingerprints.
Lisa Miller (The Awakened Brain: The New Science of Spirituality and Our Quest for an Inspired Life)
A genetic fundamentalism permeates public awareness these days. It may be summed up as the belief that almost every illness and every human trait is dictated by heredity. Simplified media accounts, culled from semidigested research findings, have declared that inflexible laws of DNA rule the biological world. It was reported in 1996 that according to some psychologists, genes determine about 50 percent of a person’s inclination to experience happiness. Social ability and obesity are two more among the many human qualities now claimed to be genetic. True or not, narrow genetic explanations for ADD and every other condition of the mind do have their attractions. They are easy to grasp, socially conservative and psychologically soothing. They raise no uncomfortable questions about how a society and culture might erode the health of its members, or about how life in a family may have affected a person’s physiology or emotional makeup. As I have personally experienced, feelings of guilt are almost inevitable for the parents of a troubled child. They are all too frequently reinforced by the uninformed judgments of friends, neighbors, teachers or even total strangers on the bus or in the supermarket. Parental guilt, even if misplaced, is a wound for which the genetic hypothesis offers a balm
Gabor Maté (Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It)
The world has been changing even faster as people, devices and information are increasingly connected to each other. Computational power is growing and quantum computing is quickly being realised. This will revolutionise artificial intelligence with exponentially faster speeds. It will advance encryption. Quantum computers will change everything, even human biology. There is already one technique to edit DNA precisely, called CRISPR. The basis of this genome-editing technology is a bacterial defence system. It can accurately target and edit stretches of genetic code. The best intention of genetic manipulation is that modifying genes would allow scientists to treat genetic causes of disease by correcting gene mutations. There are, however, less noble possibilities for manipulating DNA. How far we can go with genetic engineering will become an increasingly urgent question. We can’t see the possibilities of curing motor neurone diseases—like my ALS—without also glimpsing its dangers. Intelligence is characterised as the ability to adapt to change. Human intelligence is the result of generations of natural selection of those with the ability to adapt to changed circumstances. We must not fear change. We need to make it work to our advantage. We all have a role to play in making sure that we, and the next generation, have not just the opportunity but the determination to engage fully with the study of science at an early level, so that we can go on to fulfil our potential and create a better world for the whole human race. We need to take learning beyond a theoretical discussion of how AI should be and to make sure we plan for how it can be. We all have the potential to push the boundaries of what is accepted, or expected, and to think big. We stand on the threshold of a brave new world. It is an exciting, if precarious, place to be, and we are the pioneers. When we invented fire, we messed up repeatedly, then invented the fire extinguisher. With more powerful technologies such as nuclear weapons, synthetic biology and strong artificial intelligence, we should instead plan ahead and aim to get things right the first time, because it may be the only chance we will get. Our future is a race between the growing power of our technology and the wisdom with which we use it. Let’s make sure that wisdom wins.
Stephen Hawking (Brief Answers to the Big Questions)
Medicine is an inexact science, but psychiatry is particularly so. There is no blood test, no genetic marker to determine beyond a shadow of a doubt that someone is schizophrenic, and schizophrenia itself is nothing more or less than a constellation of symptoms that have frequently been observed as occurring in tandem. Observing patterns and giving them names is helpful mostly if those patterns can speak to a common cause or, better yet, a common treatment or cure.
Esmé Weijun Wang (The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays)
We are living in a golden age of genetic research, with new technologies permitting the easy collection of genetic data from millions upon millions of people and the rapid development of new statistical methodologies for analyzing it. But it is not enough to just produce new genetic knowledge. As this research leaves the ivory tower and disseminates through the public, it is essential for scientists and the public to grapple with what this research means about human identity and equality. Far too often, however, this essential task of meaning-making is being abdicated to the most extreme and hate-filled voices. As Eric Turkheimer, Dick Nisbett, and I warned: If people with progressive political values, who reject claims of genetic determinism and pseudoscientific racialist speculation, abdicate their responsibility to engage with the science of human abilities and the genetics of human behavior, the field will come to be dominated by those who do not share those values.
Kathryn Paige Harden (The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality)
This kind of mechanosensitivity, which is, in plants, similar to what we call our sense of touch, is used much as we use our own: The plants analyze what is touching them, determine its meaning, and craft a response. And that response many times involves rapid changes in their genetics, phenotype, and subsequent physical form. As McCormack et al. comment, “Plants perceive much more of their environment than is often apparent to the casual observer. Touch can induce profound rapid responses . .
Stephen Harrod Buhner (Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm: Beyond the Doors of Perception into the Dreaming of Earth)
In subsequent experiences I frequently found the mothers of schizophrenic children to be extraordinarily narcissistic individuals like Mrs. X. This is not to say that such mothers are always narcissistic or that narcissistic mothers can’t raise non-schizophrenic children. Schizophrenia is an extremely complex disorder, with obvious genetic as well as environmental determinants. But one can imagine the depth of confusion in Susan’s childhood produced by her mother’s narcissism, and one can objectively see this confusion when actually observing narcissistic mothers interact with their children. On an afternoon when Mrs. X. was feeling sorry for herself Susan might have come home from school bringing some of her paintings the teacher had graded A. If she told her mother proudly how she was progressing in art, Mrs. X. might well respond: “Susan, go take a nap. You shouldn’t get yourself so exhausted over your work in school. The school system is no good anymore. They don’t care for children anymore.” On the other hand, on an afternoon when Mrs. X. was in a very cheerful mood Susan might have come home in tears over the fact that she had been bullied by several boys on the school bus, and Mrs. X. could say: “Isn’t it fortunate that Mr. Jones is such a good bus driver? He is so nice and patient with all you children and your roughhousing. I think you should be sure to give him a nice little present at Christmastime.” Since they do not perceive others as others but only as extensions of themselves, narcissistic
M. Scott Peck (The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth)
Consider your arms and legs. They contain exactly the same kinds of muscle cells, nerve cells, and so on. They contain the same proteins and other chemicals; the bones are made of identical substance. Yet they have different shapes, just as houses of different design can be made from the same building materials. The chemicals alone do not determine the form. Nor does the DNA. The DNA is the same in all the cells of the arms and the legs, and indeed everywhere else in the body. All the cells are genetically programmed identically. Yet somehow they behave differently and form tissues and organs of different structures. Clearly some formative influence other than DNA must be shaping the developing arms and legs. All developmental biologists acknowledge this fact. But at this stage their mechanistic explanations peter out into vague statements about "complex spatio-temporal patterns of physico-chemical interaction not yet fully understood." Obviously this is not a solution but just another way of stating the problem.
Rupert Sheldrake (The Rebirth of Nature: The Greening of Science and God)
When changes in one genetic trait are the source of selection for changes in a second, the rate of response in the latter depends in parts on the rate of change in the former, which, as a rule, is not fast. In comparison, if a cultural practice modifies selection acting on human genetic variation, then the greater the proportion of individuals in the population that exhibit the cultural trait, the stronger the selection on the gene. As a consequence, the rapid spread of a cultural practice often leads quickly to the maximally strong selection of the advantageous genetic variant, which rapidly increases in frequency. Cultural practices typically spread more quickly than genetic mutations, simply because cultural learning typically operates at faster rates than biological evolution. What does the speed with which a culturla trait spreads depend upon? Answer: the fidelity of cultural transmission. The very factor that is critical to the emergence of complex cumulative culture in humans is also a major determinant of evolutionary responses to that culture.
Kevin N. Laland (Darwin's Unfinished Symphony: How Culture Made the Human Mind)
This is the mitochondrial DNA.” Bowers nodded back to the cryo-case. “It’s the genetic material that actually makes the energy that powers our cells. Think of it like this. Each of our cells has the usual 23 pairs of chromosomes that make us human and determine our physical appearance, how we fight off disease, and other physical characteristics. Now think of the mitochondria as little organisms within our cells. Like cells within a cell. It’s those little organisms that make energy for our cells. And they have their own DNA.” “I
Jonathan Brookes (Relic)
Had she been able to listen to her body, the true Virginia would certainly have spoken up. In order to do so, however, she needed someone to say to her: “Open your eyes! They didn’t protect you when you were in danger of losing your health and your mind, and now they refuse to see what has been done to you. How can you love them so much after all that?” No one offered that kind of support. Nor can anyone stand up to that kind of abuse alone, not even Virginia Woolf. Malcolm Ingram, the noted lecturer in psychological medicine, believed that Woolf’s “mental illness” had nothing to do with her childhood experiences, and her illness was genetically inherited from her family. Here is his opinion as quoted on the Virginia Woolf Web site: As a child she was sexually abused, but the extent and duration is difficult to establish. At worst she may have been sexually harassed and abused from the age of twelve to twenty-one by her [half-]brother George Duckworth, [fourteen] years her senior, and sexually exploited as early as six by her other [half-] brother… It is unlikely that the sexual abuse and her manic-depressive illness are related. However tempting it may be to relate the two, it must be more likely that, whatever her upbringing, her family history and genetic makeup were the determining factors in her mood swings rather than her unhappy childhood [italics added]. More relevant in her childhood experience is the long history of bereavements that punctuated her adolescence and precipitated her first depressions.3 Ingram’s text goes against my own interpretation and ignores a large volume of literature that deals with trauma and the effects of childhood abuse. Here we see how people minimize the importance of information that might cause pain or discomfort—such as childhood abuse—and blame psychiatric disorders on family history instead. Woolf must have felt keen frustration when seemingly intelligent and well-educated people attributed her condition to her mental history, denying the effects of significant childhood experiences. In the eyes of many she remained a woman possessed by “madness.” Nevertheless, the key to her condition lay tantalizingly close to the surface, so easily attainable, and yet neglected. I think that Woolf’s suicide could have been prevented if she had had an enlightened witness with whom she could have shared her feelings about the horrors inflicted on her at such an early age. But there was no one to turn to, and she considered Freud to be the expert on psychic disorders. Here she made a tragic mistake. His writings cast her into a state of severe uncertainty, and she preferred to despair of her own self rather than doubt the great father figure Sigmund Freud, who represented, as did her family, the system of values upheld by society, especially at the time.   UNFORTUNATELY,
Alice Miller (The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Hurtful Parenting)
The revolution caused by the sharing of experience and the spread of knowledge had begun. The Chinese, a thousand years ago, gave it further impetus by devising mechanical means of reproducing such marks in great numbers. In Europe, Johann Gutenberg independently, though much later, developed the technique of printing from movable type. Today, our libraries, the descendants of those mud tablets, can be regarded as immense communal brains, memorising far more than any one human brain could hold. More than that, they can be seen as extra-corporeal DNA, adjuncts to our genetic inheritance as important and influential in determining the way we behave as the chromosomes in our tissues are in determining the physical shape of our bodies. It was this accumulated wisdom that eventually enabled us to devise ways of escaping the dictates of the environment. Our knowledge of agricultural techniques and mechanical devices, of medicine and engineering, of mathematics and space travel, all depend on stored experience. Cut off from our libraries and all they represent and marooned on a desert island, any one of us would be quickly reduced to the life of a hunter-gatherer.
David Attenborough (Life on Earth)
Science is a time machine, and it goes both ways. We are able to predict our future with increasing certainty. Our ability to act in response to these predictions will ultimately determine our fate. Science and reason make the darkness visible. I worry that lack of investment in science and a retreat from reason may prevent us from seeing further, or delay our reaction to what we see, making a meaningful response impossible. There are no simple fixes. Our civilisation is complex, our global political system is inadequate, our internal differences of opinion are deep-seated. I’d bet you think you’re absolutely right about some things and virtually everyone else is an idiot. Climate Change? Europe? God? America? The Monarchy? Same-sex Marriage? Abortion? Big Business? Nationalism? The United Nations? The Bank Bailout? Tax Rates? Genetically Modified Crops? Eating Meat? Football? X Factor or Strictly? The way forward is to understand and accept that there are many opinions, but only one human civilisation, only one Nature, and only one science. The collective goal of ensuring that there is never less than one human civilisation must surely override our personal prejudices. At least we have come far enough in 40,800 years to be able to state the obvious, and this is a necessary first step.
Brian Cox (Human Universe)
Keep in mind a distinction that is being imported into more and more scientific thinking, that between ‘complicated’ and ‘complex’. ‘Complicated’ means a whole set of simple things working together to produce some effect, like a clock or an automobile: each of the components – brakes, engine, body-shell, steering – contributes to what the car does by doing its own thing, pretty well. There are some interactions, to be sure. When the engine is turning fast, it has a gyroscopic effect that makes the steering behave differently, and the gearbox affects how fast the engine is going at a particular car speed. To see human development as a kind of car assembly process, with the successive genetic blueprints ‘defining’ each new bit as we add them, is to see us as only complicated. A car being driven, however, is a complex system: each action it takes helps determine future actions and is dependent upon previous actions. It changes the rules for itself as it goes. So does a garden. As plants grow, they take nutrients from the soil, and this affects what else can grow there later. But they also rot down, adding nutrients, providing habitat for insects, grubs, hedgehogs … A mature garden has a very different dynamic from that of a new plot on a housing estate. Similarly, we change our own rules as we develop.
Terry Pratchett (The Globe: The Science of Discworld II (Science of Discworld, #2))
There was almost certainly a genetic contribution to Einstein’s dopaminergic traits. One of his two sons became an internationally recognized expert on hydraulic engineering. The other was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of twenty, and died in an asylum. Large population studies have also found a genetic component of a dopaminergic character. An Icelandic study that evaluated the genetic profile of over 86,000 people discovered that individuals who carried genes that placed them at greater risk for either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder were more likely to belong to a national society of actors, dancers, musicians, visual artists, or writers.
Daniel Z. Lieberman (The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity―and Will Determine the Fate of the Human Race)
Plasticity in all the brain's systems is an innately determined characteristic. This may sound like a nature-nurture contradiction, but it is not. An innate capacity for synapses to record and store information is what allows systems to encode experiences. If the synapses of a particular brain system cannot change, this system will not have the ability to be modified by experience and to maintain the modified state. As a result, the organism will not be able to learn and remember through the functioning of that system. All learning, in other words, depends ont he operation of genetically programmed capacities to learn. Learning involves the nurturing of nature.
Joseph E. LeDoux
This is implied in the assertion that a man shows certain behavior because he was “born that way.” To object to this is not to argue that behavior is never determined by hereditary factors. Behavior requires a behaving organism which is the product of a genetic process. Gross differences in the behavior of different species show that the genetic constitution, whether observed in the body structure of the individual or inferred from a genetic history, is important. But the doctrine of “being born that way” has little to do with demonstrated facts. It is usually an appeal to ignorance. “Heredity,” as the layman uses the term, is a fictional explanation of the behavior attributed to it.
B. F. Skinner (Science And Human Behavior)
One important aspect of the Gita which remains is that even though it presents to us some diverse paths as a way of life, such as action, devotion, knowledge and meditation, it does not impose any of these paths on an individual. Rather, it leaves the choice to the people, because the followers of all these paths are essential for the smooth functioning of the world, and any en masse inclination towards only one of them would jeopardize the society by causing an imbalance in its system. The Gita also recognizes that the path that one should follow is determined primarily by the free choice of man as well as his inherent nature, which can be interpreted as a genetic inheritance he is endowed with.
Nihar Satpathy (The Puzzles of Life)
The damaging potential of the stupid person depends on two major factors. First of all, it depends on the genetic factor. Some individuals inherit exceptional doses of the gene of stupidity and by virtue of inheritance they belong from birth to the elite of their group. The second factor that determines the potential of a stupid person is related to the position of power and consequence that he occupies in society. Among bureaucrats, generals, politicians, and heads of state one has little difficulty in finding clear examples of basically stupid individuals whose damaging capacity was (or is) alarmingly enhanced by the position of power that they occupied (or occupy). Religious dignitaries should not be overlooked.
Carlo M. Cipolla (The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity)
Freud elevated unconscious processes to the throne of the mind, imbuing them with the power to guide our every thought and deed, and to a significant extent writing free will out of the picture. Decades later, neuroscience has linked genetic mechanisms to neuronal circuits coursing with a multiplicity of neurotransmitters to argue that the brain is a machine whose behavior is predestined, or at least determined, in such a way as seemingly to leave no room for the will. It is not merely that will is not free, in the modern scientific view; not merely that it is constrained, a captive of material forces. It is, more radically, that the will, a manifestation of the mind, does not even exist, because a mind independent of brain does not exist.
Jeffrey M. Schwartz (The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force)
There's a psychologist called Mary & Diamond who at Brooklyn in California, in the 80s studied rats. And they took rats at different ages. Newborns, some of whom they deliberately brain damaged, adult, middle-aged, elderly rats. And they exposed these rats to different levels of environmental stimulation, better food, more playmates, toys to play with and so on. They found out a couple of months later that the rats, at any age, including the brain-damaged rats, who had the better stimulation, they were smarter. But in the autopsy then they also found that in the front part of their brain they had larger nerve-cells with more connections with other nerve-cells and richer blood supply. In other words that environmental stimulation actually caused a change in the state of the brain, even in the older rats. And that's called neuroplasticity. The capacity of the brain to develop new circuits. So whether it comes to ADHD, addiction, depression or other childhood disorders or any other issue with adults as well, if we recognize them not as ingrained, genetically-determined diseases, but as problems of development, then the question becomes very different. Then the question becomes not just "how do we treat the symptoms?" (and addiction itself is a symptom, depression is a symptom), but "how do we help people develop out of these conditions?" In other words, it is not a medical question, purely, but a developmental question. And development always requires the right environment. Now, if you're a gardener you know that. If you are growing plants in your backyard and you want them to grow into healthy, functioning beings, botanical beings, you want to provide them with the right nurturing, the right nutrition, minerals, water, sunlight and so on. So the real question is how do we provide the conditions for further development for people whose development was impaired in the first place? Now we know how to do that. We are just not doing it.
Gabor Maté
Dr. Kary Mullis, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for inventing PCR, stated publicly numerous times that his invention should never be used for the diagnosis of infectious diseases. In July of 1997, during an event called Corporate Greed and AIDS in Santa Monica CA, Dr. Mullis explained on video, “With PCR you can find almost anything in anybody. It starts making you believe in the sort of Buddhist notion that everything is contained in everything else, right? I mean, because if you can model amplify one single molecule up to something that you can really measure, which PCR can do, then there’s just very few molecules that you don’t have at least one single one of them in your body. Okay? So that could be thought of as a misuse of it, just to claim that it’s meaningful.” Mikki explained, “The major issue with PCR is that it’s easily manipulated. It functions through a cyclical process whereby each revolution amplifies magnification. On a molecular level, most of us already have trace amounts of genetic fragments similar to coronavirus within us. By simply over-cycling the process, a negative result can be flipped to a positive. Governing bodies such as the CDC and the WHO can control the number of cases by simply advising the medical industry to increase or decrease the cycle threshold (CT).” In August of 2020, the New York Times reported that “a CT beyond 34 revolutions very rarely detect live virus, but most often, dead nucleotides that are not even contagious. In compliance with guidance from the CDC and the WHO, many top US labs have been conducting tests at cycle thresholds of 40 or more. NYT examined data from Massachusetts, New York, and Nevada and determined that up to 90 percent of the individuals who tested positive carried barely any virus.”17 90 percent! In May of 2021, CDC changed the PCR cycle threshold from 40 to 28 or lower for those who have been vaccinated. This one adjustment of the numbers allowed the vaccine pushers to praise the vaccines as a big success.
Mikki Willis (Plandemic: Fear Is the Virus. Truth Is the Cure.)
Obviously there are quite a few factors that determine personality, including a person’s upbringing and experiences,” David continues, “but despite the peace and prosperity that had reigned in this country for nearly a century, it seemed advantageous to our ancestors to reduce the risk of these undesirable qualities showing up in our population by correcting them. In other words, by editing humanity. “That’s how the genetic manipulation experiment was born. It takes several generations for any kind of genetic manipulation to manifest, but people were selected from the general population in large numbers, according to their backgrounds or behavior, and they were given the option to give a gift to our future generations, a genetic alteration that would make their descendants just a little bit better.” I look around at the others. Peter’s mouth is puckered with disdain. Caleb is scowling. Cara’s mouth has fallen open, like she is hungry for answers and intends to eat them form the air. Christina just looks skeptical, one eyebrow raised, and Tobias is staring at his shoes.
Veronica Roth (Allegiant (Divergent, #3))
Although there are no set methods to test for psychiatric disorders like psychopathy, we can determine some facets of a patient’s mental state by studying his brain with imaging techniques like PET (positron emission tomography) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scanning, as well as genetics, behavioral and psychometric testing, and other pieces of information gathered from a full medical and psychiatric workup. Taken together, these tests can reveal symptoms that might indicate a psychiatric disorder. Since psychiatric disorders are often characterized by more than one symptom, a patient will be diagnosed based on the number and severity of various symptoms. For most disorders, a diagnosis is also classified on a sliding scale—more often called a spectrum—that indicates whether the patient’s case is mild, moderate, or severe. The most common spectrum associated with such disorders is the autism spectrum. At the low end are delayed language learning and narrow interests, and at the high end are strongly repetitive behaviors and an inability to communicate.
James Fallon (The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain)
By the end of this decade, permutations and combinations of genetic variants will be used to predict variations in human phenotype, illness, and destiny. Some diseases might never be amenable to such a genetic test, but perhaps the severest variants of schizophrenia or heart disease, or the most penetrant forms of familial cancer, say, will be predictable by the combined effect of a handful of mutations. And once an understanding of "process" has been built into predictive algorithms, the interactions between various gene variants could be used to compute ultimate effects on a whole host of physical and mental characteristics beyond disease alone. Computational algorithms could determine the probability of the development of heart disease or asthma or sexual orientation and assign a level of relative risk for various fates to each genome. The genome will thus be read not in absolutes, but in likelihoods-like a report card that does not contain grades but probabilities, or a resume that does not list past experiences but future propensities. It will become a manual for previvorship.
Siddhartha Mukherjee (The Gene: An Intimate History)
The current decline in educational achievement is, like most things, multiply determined. The evidence points, first, to about 50-100 years of genetic decline in ability. It doesn’t take much–perhaps a one-point decline every 30 years–to reduce substantially the percentage in the upper range of IQ. With our present mean IQ of 100, 1 person in 250 would exceed an IQ of 140. If, however, the average dropped to 85, you’d have only 1 in 8,000 who would exceed an IQ of 140. We must suppose that academic standards are much affected by the percentages of high IQ individuals, and that their becoming more scarce will lower academic performance. So part of the remedy for this problem definitely lies in eugenic practices. But there are some environmental factors as well, such as the failure to do “streaming” in schools, in which children of much the same ability level are put together. And I think something in the way of general idleness and slackness has gotten into the system since the 1960s which could account for a part of the decline, particularly in the more precise subjects like mathematics.
Raymond B. Cattell
You find nothing like that among humans. Yes, human groups may have distinct social systems, but these are not genetically determined, and they seldom endure for more than a few centuries. Think of twentieth-century Germans, for example. In less than a hundred years the Germans organised themselves into six very different systems: the Hohenzollern Empire, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, the German Democratic Republic (aka communist East Germany), the Federal Republic of Germany (aka West Germany), and finally democratic reunited Germany. Of course the Germans kept their language and their love of beer and bratwurst. But is there some unique German essence that distinguishes them from all other nations, and that has remained unchanged from Wilhelm II to Angela Merkel? And if you do come up with something, was it also there 1,000 years ago, or 5,000 years ago? The (unratified) Preamble of the European Constitution begins by stating that it draws inspiration ‘from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, from which “have developed the universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, democracy, equality, freedom and the rule of law’.3 This may easily give one the impression that European civilisation is defined by the values of human rights, democracy, equality and freedom. Countless speeches and documents draw a direct line from ancient Athenian democracy to the present-day EU, celebrating 2,500 years of European freedom and democracy. This is reminiscent of the proverbial blind man who takes hold of an elephant’s tail and concludes that an elephant is a kind of brush. Yes, democratic ideas have been part of European culture for centuries, but they were never the whole. For all its glory and impact, Athenian democracy was a half-hearted experiment that survived for barely 200 years in a small corner of the Balkans. If European civilisation for the past twenty-five centuries has been defined by democracy and human rights, what are we to make of Sparta and Julius Caesar, of the Crusaders and the conquistadores, of the Inquisition and the slave trade, of Louis XIV and Napoleon, of Hitler and Stalin? Were they all intruders from some foreign civilisation?
Yuval Noah Harari (21 Lessons for the 21st Century)
On the Larch Scape humans had never managed to extend a sizeable population across entire continents, so much of the megafauna considered to be a distant Pleistocene memory on other Scapes had lingered. The mammoths, giant sloths and woolly rhinoceroses were extinct, but there were hyenas, fanged cats and amphicyonids hunting bison, omnivorous deer, glyptodons, great boars, and wild horses too large for men to ride south of the Laurentian Sea, in what was called Illinois on Malone’s Scape. The island of Manhattan was not an island due to the lower sea level, and it was uninhabited by men, an impenetrable mass of old growth larch trees ruled by creatures thought to be related to the raccoon. The Larch ‘raccoon’ was frequently said to be too intelligent to domesticate; in groups they would destroy shelters and eat the faces of sleeping humans. The atrox cat had been genetically sequenced in cooperation with Austral scientists years ago and determined to be more closely related to the lion than the cougar, and it had enjoyed a range extending north of the Laurentian Sea up to the glaciers until very recently. It was a dark creature with a thick mane in both genders; besides the elements, their prides were the deadliest things to encounter in the far north.
Mark Ferguson (Terra Incognita)
What If God Is a Creep? What if God is a creep who wishes He was taller who didn't get the girl who picks on people not His own size? What if God laughed when Jesus had second thoughts? What if His sense of order is no more complex than kids playing King of the Hill or Smear the Queer? What if God is really a creep who beats His wife embezzles when He can and jerks off to violent porn? Perhaps God put Darin on earth to help us understand that the very traits of man which survive the longest and determine the fittest are God's own favorite attributes? Maybe He's a boss who expects favors a professor who makes others feel stupid a witness obstructing justice. What if God is really just a creep? Maybe Machiavelli was His inspired son and The Prince remains our most sacred text. What if Hitler sits at God's right hand tended by a heavenly host of bigots, bullies, soldiers and other serial killers who look to an angel name Manson for advice. A God capable of biological brilliance and genetic genius is no more likely to care about justice and kindness than His creations are. Why assume that God likes women any more than men do? Why imagine He wouldn't hurt His children? God's morality might be just as steeped in struggle as accented by abuse as spiced with exploitation and as baked with brutality as our own common recipes. Drink up. One taste and you are in Heaven. If God really is a creep that certainly would explain a lot.
Nancy Boutilier (On the Eighth Day Adam Slept Alone: New Poems)
Working independently, Baltimore and Temin discovered an enzyme found in retroviruses that could build DNA from an RNA template. They called the enzyme reverse transcriptase-"reverse" because it inverted the normal direction of information flow: from RNA back to DNA, or from a gene's message backward to a gene, thereby violating Crick's "central dogma" (that genetic information only moved from genes to messages, but never backward). Using reverse transcriptase, ever RNA in a cell could be used as a template to build its corresponding gene. A biologist could thus generate a catalog, or "library" of all "active" genes in a cell-akin to a library of books grouped by subject. There would be a library of genes for T cells and another for red blood cells, a library for neurons in the retina, for insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas, and so forth. By comparing libraries derived from two cells-a T cell and a pancreas cell, say-an immunologist could fish out genes that were active in one cell and not the other (e.g., insulin or the T cell receptor). Once identified, that gene could be amplified a millionfold in bacteria. The gene could be isolated and sequenced, its RNA and protein sequence determined, its regulatory regions identified; it could be mutated an inserted into a different cell to decipher the gene's structure and function. In 1984 this technique was deployed to clone the T cell receptor-a landmark achievement in immunology.
Siddhartha Mukherjee (The Gene: An Intimate History)
Yet another study by the Brain Research Institute of the University of Zurich in 2011 exposed baby mice to stressful situations by separating them from their mothers. The abandoned mice experienced anxiety and depression—which, right, seems obvious. What was shocking was how this separation affected future generations of mice. When the traumatized mice had babies, and then when their babies had babies, the scientists never separated them from their parents. They led perfectly content, nurtured little mouse lives. But for three subsequent generations, the anxiety and depression persisted. There is real scientific evidence that the traumas we experience can be passed on to our children and even our grandchildren. DNA, of course, is the genetic code that determines the shape of our nose, our eye color, our likelihood to contract certain diseases. So when our body is making and remaking itself, every cell in our body actually “reads” our DNA and uses it as a blueprint for what to build. But not every cell reads the entire blueprint—the whole, long string of DNA. Inside each cell is both our DNA—or our genome—and the epigenome, a layer of chemical markers that sits on top of our DNA. The epigenome is like a SparkNotes for the cells—it flags which genes our cells really need to read. So the epigenome helps decide which genes actually get represented by our bodies. It turns certain genes on and other genes off. Both the genome and our epigenome are passed down generationally.
Stephanie Foo (What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma)
In this study and others like it, guesswork about a peculiar black predisposition toward unhealthy births imports an old notion about sickle cell disease “afflicting the black race.”25 Whenever I give a talk on this topic, there is inevitably someone in the audience who invokes the mantra that sickle cell anemia is a black genetic disease and therefore proves that race is a genetic category. This misconception was first popularized in the early twentieth century by hematology experts who believed the capacity to develop sickled cells was uniquely inherent in “Negro blood.”26 Stereotypes about black resistance to malaria and susceptibility to sickle cell justified sending black workers to malaria-infested regions in the first part of the century and later led to discriminatory government, employer, and insurance-testing programs in the 1970s.27 The error is easily exposed by looking at two world maps, one highlighting the regions around the globe where malaria is prevalent, the other highlighting areas where sickle cell disease is present. The maps mirror each other perfectly. By comparing them, it is plain to see that malaria and sickle cell aren’t restricted to Africa and that much of Africa is unaffected. High frequencies of the trait also occur in parts of Europe, Oceania, India, and the Middle East, all places where there is malaria. In fact, people in the town of Orchomenos in central Greece have double the rate of sickle cell disease reported among African Americans.28 If frequency of the sickle cell gene determined racial boundaries, it certainly would not prove there is a black race. Instead, as Jared Diamond pointed out in the November 1994 issue of Discover , if we grouped together people by the presence or absence of the sickle cell gene, “we’d place Yemenites, Greeks, New Guineans, Thai, and Dinkas in one ‘race,’ Norwegians and several black African peoples in another.”29 It would be more accurate to call the groups with the sickle cell gene the “antimosquito race.” Of course, that would be a silly way of grouping people, except for studying the sickle cell gene. But “black race” is an equally silly way of grouping people for identifying genetic contributions to disease.
Dorothy Roberts (Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century)
The human brain is the most complex entity in the universe. It has between fifty and one hundred billion nerve cells, or neurons, each branched to form thousands of possible connections with other nerve cells. It has been estimated that laid end to end, the nerve cables of a single human brain would extend into a line several hundred thousand miles long. The total number of connections, or synapses, is in the trillions. The parallel and simultaneous activity of innumerable brain circuits, and networks of circuits, produces millions of firing patterns each and every second of our lives. The brain has well been described as “a supersystcm of systems.” Even though fully half of the roughly hundred thousand genes in the human organism are dedicated to the central nervous system, the genetic code simply cannot carry enough information to predetermine the infinite number of potential brain circuits. For this reason alone, biological heredity could not by itself account for the densely intertwined psychology and neurophysiology of attention deficit disorder. Experience in the world determines the fine wiring of the brain. As the neurologist and neuroscientist Antonio Damasio puts it, “Much of each brain’s circuitry, at any given moment in adult life, is individual and unique, truly reflective of that particular organism’s history and circumstances.” This is no less true of children and infants. Not even in the brains of genetically identical twins will the same patterns be found in the shape of nerve cells or the numbers and configuration of their synapses with other neurons. The microcircuitry of the brain is formatted by influences during the first few years of life, a period when the human brain undergoes astonishingly rapid growth. Five-sixths of the branching of nerve cells in the brain occurs after birth. At times in the first year of life, new synapses are being established at a rate of three billion a second. In large part, each infant’s individual experiences in the early years determine which brain structures will develop and how well, and which nerve centers will be connected with which other nerve centers, and establish the networks controlling behavior. The intricately programmed interactions between heredity and environment that make for the development of the human brain are determined by a “fantastic, almost surrealistically complex choreography,” in the apt phrase of Dr. J. S. Grotstein of the department of psychiatry at UCLA. Attention deficit disorder results from the miswiring of brain circuits, in susceptible infants, during this crucial period of growth.
Gabor Maté (Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It)
write animal stories. This one was called Dialogues Between a Cow and a Filly; a meditation on ethics, you might say; it had been inspired by a short business trip to Brittany. Here’s a key passage from it: ‘Let us first consider the Breton cow: all year round she thinks of nothing but grazing, her glossy muzzle ascends and descends with impressive regularity, and no shudder of anguish comes to trouble the wistful gaze of her light-brown eyes. All that is as it ought to be, and even appears to indicate a profound existential oneness, a decidedly enviable identity between her being-in-the-world and her being-in-itself. Alas, in this instance the philosopher is found wanting, and his conclusions, while based on a correct and profound intuition, will be rendered invalid if he has not previously taken the trouble of gathering documentary evidence from the naturalist. In fact the Breton cow’s nature is duplicitous. At certain times of the year (precisely determined by the inexorable functioning of genetic programming) an astonishing revolution takes place in her being. Her mooing becomes more strident, prolonged, its very harmonic texture modified to the point of recalling at times, and astonishingly so, certain groans which escape the sons of men. Her movements become more rapid, more nervous, from time to time she breaks into a trot. It is not simply her muzzle, though it seems, in its glossy regularity, conceived for reflecting the abiding presence of a mineral passivity, which contracts and twitches under the painful effect of an assuredly powerful desire. ‘The key to the riddle is extremely simple, and it is that what the Breton cow desires (thus demonstrating, and she must be given credit here, her life’s one desire) is, as the breeders say in their cynical parlance, “to get stuffed”. And stuff her they do, more or less directly; the artificial insemination syringe can in effect, whatever the cost in certain emotional complications, take the place of the bull’s penis in performing this function. In both cases the cow calms down and returns to her original state of earnest meditation, except that a few months later she will give birth to an adorable little calf. Which, let it be said in passing, means profit for the breeder.’ * The breeder, of course, symbolized God. Moved by an irrational sympathy for the filly, he promised her, starting from the next chapter, the everlasting delight of numerous stallions, while the cow, guilty of the sin of pride, was to be gradually condemned to the dismal pleasures of artificial fertilization. The pathetic mooing of the ruminant would prove incapable of swaying the judgment of the Great Architect. A delegation of sheep, formed in solidarity, had no better luck. The God presented in this short story was not, one observes, a merciful God.
Michel Houellebecq (Whatever)