Sharon Begley writing at Newsweek about genes and genes as destiny, It’s in Our Genes. So What? She responds to a study limited in scope and sample size, warning that while it is not the last word we or our children are not biologically sentenced to particular qualities of personality or intelligence,
But one has to wonder. Research has linked genes to intelligence, social skills, neuroticism, risk taking, impulsivity, and more. In most cases, “linked” means determining that the behavior is partly inherited, but not how the gene brings about the behavior. What if the gene affects a trait known to be strongly heritable, such as appearance or temperament, and what if that trait in turn elicits particular behaviors from parents and teachers: behaviors such as responsiveness, paying attention to, interacting with, speaking to—things that affect how a child turns out academically and socially?
If so, we are mistakenly attributing these outcomes to genes “for” intelligence and the rest, when in fact all the genes do is give a child looks or temperament that elicits, for instance, IQ-boosting responses from adults. That’s important for the obvious reason that adults, armed with this knowledge, can learn to treat all children—not just the cuties who so easily bring out the best in us—in a way that nurtures their hearts and minds to develop to their fullest.
We known that women generally get better scores on intelligence tests then men. The difference is not that large, but its there. It is also known that generally female infants are handled more, spoken to more often. If male infants got as much affection and talk as females those IQ scores might even out. As far as teachers are concerned, maybe more important, adolescent boys might have fewer behavioral problems. Genes are not brains, but they are affected by environment. Certainly as adults, on our less cynical days believe that adults can change self-destructive and destructive behavior. Assuming that such tendencies are genetic, maybe it is reasonable to think that such tendencies could be recognized and channeled toward more constructive behavior. Like a child that likes to tear things apart might be a good mechanical engineer or forensic scientist one day. If we can learn more about recognizing and redirecting genes that predispose people to some behaviors.
When Begley writes about the current trends in predicting future diseases she is on safer ground. Even though genetic screening might be correct about one’s chances of developing heart disease we’re beginning to see there are probably multiple genes that must all be triggered. Even then, simple environmental factors like a low fat diet can greatly lower the probability. The screenings test genes, not the conscious decisions one makes, the environment you live in or the behaviors and physical factors that are forced on an individual by circumstances. When one takes into account all the variables in an individual’s life predictions get trickier. That is not to say that some oncogenes for instances should be ignored only that in some cases we’re talking about complex probabilities, not destiny.
A synthetic chemical similar to the active ingredient in marijuana makes new cells grow in rat brains. What is more, in rats this cell growth appears to be linked with reducing anxiety and depression. The results suggest that marijuana, or its derivatives, could actually be good for the brain.
In mammals, new nerve cells are constantly being produced in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is associated with learning, memory, anxiety and depression. Other recreational drugs, such as alcohol, nicotine and cocaine, have been shown to suppress this new growth.
Well as every deity fearing apple pie eating baseball watching American knows you should only take psychogenic drugs that come from corporations traded on Wall St. Its a kind of unspoken social contract that only corporate drugs are good drugs. The only people who believe otherwise are communists and hippies.
Cancer or most cancers are an uncontrolled cell growth so we’ll assume this is good cell growth or its just a group of climate scientists doing bio research on the side who want us all to get stoned so we’ll be more susceptible to believing this planet is getting damn hot.
Should the commie pot smoking climate conspirators succeed in decriminalizing pot remember that smoking a fat one deposits as much if not more tar then a cigarette in your lungs. So go for the pot brownies.
We live in a country that actually holds intelligence in contempt – see the Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin idolaters, so the odds of legalizing something that enhances neuron activity and mood, and can be grown on your baloney are very low.