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adiflesher's picture

Genie, Genie on the wall - why did my genes not make me bald?

Some thoughts on genetics:

I have to say that I am still very weak on the hard science behindgenetic studies and would love to understand more about it.

I tried to do a little reading to bone up and found a coupleof interesting articles related to genes and behavior. 

The first one is a look at genes and marital infidelity,focusing on a gene controlling vasopressin which is is related to pair-bonding.According to the article "men who had  2copies of the variant allele are twice as likely to experience maritalproblems, including divorce, separation, and infidelity, compared to men withone or no copies of the allele"

Hereis the full article

Next I read an article on the search for the intelligencegene.  It seems that intelligence is morestrongly correlated among identical twins, than among twins and among twinsthan among siblings and among siblings than among non-related children.  This would seem to indicate some sort ofgenetic relationship to intelligence, but the search has proven to beremarkably futile.  Despite years oftrying researchers have not been able to isolate genes or sets o genes that haveany meaningful correlation to intelligence.

They have however uncovered two things which were veryinteresting to me.

First it seems that the correlation between intelligence andgenetics is much harder to find among poor kids than among kids from comfortableeconomic backgrounds. 

Second the correlation between genes and intelligence grewmuch more profound over age.

This raises some interesting questions along thenature/nurture continuum.  It seems (onthe basis of this limited evidence) almost as if genes need certain ideal conditionsand sufficient time in order to fully express themselves.  But this might be just my limitedunderstanding of the evidence. Curious to hear everybody's thoughts.

In any case the article was very skeptical about any type ofgenetic determinism: "Intelligence is kind of an emergent property of thebrain," Shaw says. "The idea that you're born with 15 genes, and they set instone how intelligent you're going to be and how your brain is going todevelop, is almost certainly wrong."

Hereis the link to the full article:

Finally, a shortvideo by John Cleese (yes the guy from Monty Python) having a little funwith the idea that Genes might fully explain certain human behavior: 


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