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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Nature vs. Nurture?

In the longstanding battle between nature and nurture, nurture takes a hit with this article. If everyone in your family behaves a certain way, is it because they learned it from one another, or because they all have a similar genetic peculiarity? In this case, all of the men in the family who have the same defect on the X chromosome results in an MAOA deficiency, which in turn seems to lower IQ and increase aggression. (The women who carry it have a second X chromosome to balance things out.) Still, it's controversial, since it's all one family. Of course they could've just learned these aggressive behaviors from one another. There's a basic problem in that our starting assumption is that all men are created equal and that given the right environment, any one of us could rise to greatness. But is it true? What happens if we have to abandon that assumption? So many questions flow from there.

5 Comments:

  • My feeling on the issue is that it is a combination of both nature and nurture. Either can't completely overcome the other but they can reinforce or mitigate each other.

    By Blogger Alison, at 11:15 PM  

  • There's a basic problem in that our starting assumption is that all men are created equal and that given the right environment, any one of us could rise to greatness. But is it true?

    All men are created equal in terms of rights. But have we ever considered them equal in potential? For genes limit both physical performance and mental ability, at so fundamental a level as whether we can even see, hear, taste, smell, touch — or speak.

    By Blogger Michael, at 2:53 AM  

  • It may be genetic that they have increased agression, but it is learned and their choice as to what to do with that aggression and how to deal with it. Productively or not.

    By Blogger Chris, at 12:59 AM  

  • On the other hand, the problem may be closer to being that some people never learn. :-)

    By Blogger Michael, at 5:39 AM  

  • I agree with what Michael said here, if I may paraphrase a bit: nobody said we were created with equal potential.

    However, I work in a field where nurture overcomes the limitations created by nature on a daily basis. If behavioral science can help us drastically improve the lives of children with developmental disabilities... then nurture wins.

    By Blogger misterjustin, at 4:15 PM  

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