The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Nurturing nature or vice versa

Since learning the stork story was just a fairy tale I have thought about it this way:

You are born with a genetic predisposition to react in certain ways to stimuli. There are common reactions (something well do) and individual reactions (things we do differently than most others). Let me give you a non-organic example.

You build a frame. Across the frame you stretch a piece of material. Nice and taut. Depending upon the properties of the material, objects thrown at a specific speed or force against it will bounce a certain distance. Different materials have different resiliences. Or "bounce factors." Some materials will absorb more of the force than others. If the tautness is uniform, it is all dependent upon the material's "nature."

In a more complex way, that is how I view human beings. Your genetic makeup dictates how you will react to various external stimuli. This, I think, is our "foundation" for personality. I like to use my own family for examples...

All three of my parents' offspring take after my father in appearance. Lean (mostly), tall(ish), narrow face. But my sister and brother took after my mother in terms of certain behaviors. Dreamers, mostly. Not extremely responsible. Outgoing. Gregarious. On the other hand, I am anchored solidly to the ground. I had dreams but I also relied on reality to win out. I am a cynic, a skeptic, and a bit of an absolutist. I am not as quiet and withdrawn as my father but close.

We were all raised the same... to be honest, pretty much left to grow up on our own. Same house, same family, same towns. Yet I turned out quite different from my siblings.

Another way I like to look at nurture vs nature is that our genetic makeup is the filter through which we view and interpret our environment.

Now, the author of the article gets into how the environment can possibly overwhelm the gene effect. The only flaw I see in that reasoning (and the studies that support it) is that the parents are influential in more than genetic ways. They are part of the environment. If a parent is genetically predisposed to be defeatist and that trait is passed on to the child then the parent will, through behavior, reinforce that trait. Conversely, if the trait is not passed on, but the optimistic trait of the other parent dominates then the reinforcement may be ignored or weakened. This is assuming that the parents do not share a trait of defeatism. Which is not likely since, in spite of the old "opposites attract" belief, people tend to bond with like-minded people.

The problem with looking at genetics as a foundation is that we cannot do a study where all the variables are controlled when it comes to human beings. First, we really don't know what all the variables are, either genetically or environmentally. Second, our societies would not likely tolerate such experiments in a term long enough to determine constants.

So the argument will, I think, always be there.


MArk Cowell said...

Interesting essay. Most of it sunk right into my lack of tautness although a few things bounced off.

Douglas4517 said...

As designed, Mark, as designed.


Sightings said...

The therapist asked the man, "Why are you an alcoholic?"
"Because my dad was an alcoholic," shrugged the man.
The therapist turned to the guy sitting next to him. "And you're a teetotaler? Why?"
"Because my dad was an alcoholic," said the first man's brother.

Douglas4517 said...

I don't know if you meant it this way but that is exactly my point. The
therapist should have asked about their mothers.