Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘nature versus nurture

Genes are transformed by Nurturing: Genes functioning as Default program

New experiments conducted since 2000 are overturning the old paradigm that says: “Nature/Genes are the main factors in a person’s characteristics for succeeding and prospering in life…Such as a person natural capacities (physical and mental), dispositions, evolutionary heritage…”

In the old paradigm, culture, nurture, experiences (personal history) were relegated to far lower status, and most psychology experiments neglected to include nurturing as a factor for the effects on a person characteristics…

The old paradigm says: “Innate faculties are the foundations for the evolution of any specie…”. This old paradigm follows the rationalist thinkers as Descartes and Leibniz…

Even the linguist Noam Chomsky took side with this theory by stating that language acquisition by toddlers is innate. Why? Because toddlers are unable to formulate the rules of language syntax to follow, and yet they learn to talk perfectly correct…Consequently, since there are scarcity of “stimuli” to induce the process of empirical practice of language…toddlers must be learning according to their innate faculties…

There are flaws in that logic and I will expand more later on.

The breakthrough came about a decade ago, as experiments demonstrated that genes function differently in various environments. The technology of brain imagery was an efficient tool in these experiments. For an example of such experiments:

The experimental group of rats that received maternal care and nurturing developed zones in the brain that grew faster and with more complex connections than the control group of rats. The experimental rats were secreting far less of the “stress hormone” such as cortisol.

Mind you that I am not attaching any connotation to the term Nurturing, even though people think it has a positive or good connotation.

Epigenetic study the influences of the environment on the expression of genes. The genes in the DNA dictate the synthesis of proteins that cells depend on. The way a gene is read, it can be modified by the environment. For example, chemical compounds modification may change how a gene responds without altering the DNA chain. Chemical modifications in a gene can be inherited (transmitted to offspring)

Jesse Prinz, professor of philosophy at New York City Univ., published a guide on the current state of research on nature versus nurture titled “Beyond Human Nature: How culture and experience shape our lives”. Prinz wrote: “A very few proportion of published articles in psychology magazines have considered culture as a factor in their studies…”

For example, even our vision of colors has evolved, and only sustained practice in tasks can change our genes functionality at a higher level of performance…

The group of scientists adopting the new paradigm says: “The capacity to practice on tasks requiring multiple functions (running, playing baseball…) in different environments is the guiding factor for the development and evolution of any specie…”

The new paradigm has the empiricist (experimental) thinkers such as Locke as mentor who claimed that experience (practice) is sufficient enough to endow us with the required capacities…

Prinz put forth the concept that it is the way our brain grossly “statistically” processes data and sensorial inputs that enhance acquisition of language. The more frequent in short time the events occur, the more “weight” are attached to the connections among the relationship of the events. The innate argument is the “black box” that scientists use to throw in whatever they failed to conduct in experiments…

Toddlers imitate and mostly extrapolate from data and inputs: They are constantly testing, evaluating, and comparing what structures come their way. The cluster of sensorial stimulus that exhibit trends of regularity and consistency are retained in the memory as good for saving, emulating, and forming the world model…

A toddler abandoned in nature, away from any human community with a verbal language, will imitate the voices of the animals around and manage to communicate with them…I conjecture that the toddler might acquire altered sensory capabilities than common people…

A toddler switched to a community not speaking the language of his original community, will speak the language of his adoptive community…

It is the social status-quo that gives the illusion of “innate” differences for justifying a political system…

We are born with a default genes program (what was acquired by successive generations of change and evolution) that is ready to compose with whatever environment is sent our way, and we have to struggle to either adapt, change our world model, or perish…

Actually, Prinz wrote: “Answers to questionnaires on mankind sexual behaviors and preferences are not to be taken seriously: We tend not to say the truth, even if we knew it. Those who would like to comprehend mankind sexual preferences ought to read history books, instead of watching the gorillas. Biology helps explain why we are more inclined to flirt with another person rather than a potato…But this is the beginning of history…”

All communities of living species , including mankind, had to relocate due to climatic changes and mankind furious interventions. Relocating to a different environment prime the default genes program to taking over our survival mechanism.  If the environment is not suitable to the default program, the community had to alter its “nurturing protocol” (daily life-style, culture, ceremonies, moral values, social/political system. community organization, institutions…), mostly by trial and error method, and reform to a nurturing program that works…

Every community reached a fork in its evolution, many forks at different periods, in order to consider which nurturing protocol to reform. Each time, the community has to make a choice : reform and adapt, or hit the wall.

As a community goes smack into the wall, the energy and imagination needed to backtrack and try another alternative are too high to grapple with, and the usual “let go and wait. Good things come to those who wait…” Eventually, the community disappear…the verbal language, the written language, the myths, the customs and traditions…they all disappear, and nothing is left to recall what this community did and believed in.

At many forks in the evolution of a community, a few “illuminated” persons (leaders, prophets, village fool…) ring the bell and sound the alarm for change…If the Timing is appropriate, the “illuminated” group succeed in undertaking the required reforms to survive…

Generally, the Timing or the Fool are not at the meeting, and the community resumes its life-style according to the default genes program.

It means, either the community believed that “Nurturing is not that relevant in the upbringing of kids so that the kids grow free on their own, as they feel like living…” or the community believed that the current and ancient customs and traditions are immutable and should not be interpreted and revised according to changing realities…

A couple of years ago, I have watched a documentary on twins relocated separately to different environments.  The cases are biased and confounded:

1. I don’t recall twins “nurtured” in very extreme different environments, like in a well-to-do and in a very poor, disfavored and crime-plagued neighborhood. The locations were in developed States and the general cultural climates were pretty much homogeneous to impact the general genes default program…

2. The twins were not assigned to countries with different languages and customs, such as western, oriental, Asian, Islamic environmental culture

Fundamentally, the history of a specie evolution is a series of transformation of the nurturing protocol (daily life-style, culture, ceremonies, moral values, social/political system. community organization, institutions…)

The last chapter of my autobiography tried to connect the nurture and the nature factors in my upbringing and development at critical period of my life. This could be an interesting personal case study to revisit as my comprehension of the topic evolves.

Note 1: For more references on experiments and research on Epigenetics:; and

Note 2: Post inspired from the piece of Simon Blackburn in the French weekly Corrier International # 1122. Simon Blackburn  is professor of philosophy at the Cambridge Univ. and published “Praise of sexual desire, 2009″

“I am what I am”? What that mean?
Virginia Satir (American psychologist and Educator, 1916-1988) wrote: “I am Me. In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me. Everything that comes out of me is authentically mine, because I alone chose it — I own everything...”
I have read this quote in the About of a reader who subscribed to my blog. The About resumes:
“My body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions, whether they be to others or myself. I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears. I own my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes. Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me. By so doing, I can love me and be friendly with all my parts. I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects that I do not know — but as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles and ways to find out more about me.
However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically me. If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought, and felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that which I discarded.
I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do. I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me.
I own me, and therefore, I can engineer me. I am me, and I am Okay.”
I am not sure if the entire About is from Virginia Satir, but I felt my chest compressing and suffocating: Do all these things belong to me? 
Am I responsible for all these potentials and the duty to care for them?
Shouldn’t liberal capitalist systems ease up a few of the burdens off my shoulders and offer me a few affordable social facilities?
I read a post on titled “That’s how I am. I can’t do anything about it. I’m sorry.”
(Why people have to insert the term “I am sorry”?. It make no sense to me. Nobody is sorry, otherwise they should have changed their behavior prior to saying they are sorry)

The post read: “There’s no “That’s how I am.”

There’s how everything around you made you without your awareness.

And there’s how you consciously made yourself. These are the two things that most make you.

I was having a dream.

I’m in a little cabin with a nice lady. A male friend of mine is there too. The lady is standing just outside the door on the porch. My friend is standing a the door, leaning left on his hand.

I’m watching them from inside, the light from outside glows her golden hair, and makes a silhouette of the rest of them.

My friend is telling the lady, just out of nowhere:”Warm Italian spaghetti topped with a lush tomato sauce and a hint of basil. A cold glass of wine, and strawberry cheesecake for a sweet end.”

Her face lights up, “I’m starving!” she replies.  I never did that. Well maybe when I’m asking a girl out the first time. I usually shout out to the girl from one corner of the studio “I’m hungry, you?” That’s not how I am.

That’s how everything around me made me. I can change that. I like the approach of my friend in the dream. I’ll change my habit. I’ve done that countless times. How I am right now is not how I was 10 years ago.

Ten years ago, 80% of me was because of how everything around me made me. Today 80% percent of me is how I consciously made myself. Habit change is all it takes. One tiny habit at a time.

I like today’s me better. You? Twitter @williamchoukeir”  End of quote

Four years ago, I wrote my autobiography, the biography of someone not glamorous or famous, and the last chapter was nature versus nurture, sort of chronological timeline of “What if this didn’t happens…What if I didn’t make that decision…”, would I have been a different person?

You judge, decide, and send me feedback.

“Nature versus nurture”: Introspection  #58

I am interested in the effects of the dichotomy “nature versus nurture”.

What cause individuals to accede at recognition in social spheres? What is normal behavior? What is meant by being a beneficial member to society? What hobbies and skills keep people happy and alert throughout their life?

The field of “nature versus nurture” should be a scientific specialty but, objectivity set aside, I may state my position based on my individual experience.

What I am is anchored on feeling healthy, though I was not born a healthy person:  I was not supposed to survive.

Mother persisted and after a day of struggle I had my first tit-sucking experience.  I attended school for 3 months when I was almost 5 of age before the terrible illness of Typhus that lasted 4 months, and I had to re-learn walking…  

Within 3 months I had mastered the multiplication tables; thus, I was endowed with some mental potentials; that is a lot of grace already.

I was nurtured in an environment that conveyed a sense of security and warmth in my first critical four years, though my parents were far from feeling in security:  They were robbed four times in less than two years as they were starting to raise a family. May be that is why I could attempt adventures that were not planned?

I could keep faith that I will manage one way or another in critical conditions.

In the summer of 1975, I flew to the USA, my first trip outside my country. I was not even accepted at any university.  I knew no one, had no connections and had no information on the State or universities.

At the end of 1984, I departed for the USA without any planning whatsoever. Both times to escape the rot: I was out of a job or not perceiving any opportunity for a job.

In 1991, I literally ran away to San Francisco after graduation. I had no money; I had no plans, and didn’t have connections.

In 1979, I decided on a foolish scheme which got me in terrible troubles. The consequences of this decision must have affected me deeply, but for years I failed to acknowledge its influence.

What I am not is solely the culprit of consistent disadvantageous nurturing conditions later on: such as in family, schooling programs, society, and environment.  

Living in a religious boarding school for six years, in a new country, and having to learn a new language are not catalysts for normal upbringing.  I tried to learn many skills when it was too late to acquire.

I enrolled in music classes when I was over thirty. I bought a classical guitar and an accordion to prove my incompetence. I could have been successful at many skills and hobbies when it was proper and effective at an early age. What I acquired young I kept at it.

I can admit clearly that my failure is the consequence of my incapacity for long-term planning.

This failure is mainly due to my lack of hunger for anything considered essential by society. Hunger is an acquired quality before the age of four. 

Most of those who have a hunger are successful at acquiring “recognition”, not mainly because of the focused energy toward their targeted hunger but because their hunger is their lightening rod that keeps them focused.

There is nothing wrong with striving for recognition

It is the means employed to destroying many spirits along the way to the target that need to be judged and blamed.

Many marriages fail because the emotional instability of the hungry people takes over and destroy the best stabilizing environment that keep them on track.  The hungry people who manage to salvage marriages are those who wizened up to just wearing the mask of patriarchal attitude.  They know that they are not fooling their closest relatives and friends but that would do for the outsiders, to those who count for nurturing “recognition”.  The saying “No prophet is recognized by his people” means that the mask that ends up identifying us would never fool our community.

I feel helpless starting a business and abhor law regulations.

I could be a flourishing director or manager of an already established institution.

I could have been as successful as many individuals who inherited businesses.

I could have learned to acquire a taste for luxury. I could spend money in profusion when I had it. I enjoy reading abundantly and have been writing lately.

I like to share my reading books and my writings. Who cares reading anymore?  I do.

Someone has to share the work of a few good writers.

My temerity broke the vicious cycles several times but I lacked the tools: Sound behaviors, skills, and capabilities are acquired early on in life. I never despaired.  I lacked the talent to grab good opportunities or retaining potential ones.

I re-invent myself any which way.

I could have turned better. I know from key events in my life that I could have been a successful man. When I was 12, I was transferred to a totally different schooling system. It was a system that emphasized French as the primary language which I had completely forgotten though it was my first language. By the end of the year, I was among the five best students in French among the three other sections. The following two years I was still better than even the French-born students.

When I was 14, the school organized this single ceremony at the end of the year: The entire student body was trained for intricate exercises to be performed in the dark. We carried two lighted colored torches.  I liked these exercises. During summer, I used the two confectioned small sand bags that hold doors, and exercised every day. I thus managed to build up the muscles of my arms and forearms. These parts of my body looked disproportionate with my shriveled body at the time, like Popeye the Spinach man.

When I was 21, I enrolled in a session of Tak Wan Doo, a Korean martial art. Throughout the training I was clumsy and appeared unfit.  Most of the group were more sportive, taller, and better built-in stature and shape. At exam time, it turned out that I was the sole graduate to earn the green belt because I trained at home and had confidence.

I still dream of a change in situation. I am ready to face harsher problems and realities.

Note: We are no different from the other mammalian kinds. Maybe we started with a couple of DNA genomes that differed from most of the other mammals. Most probably, we nurtured these discriminating genomes to warp other genomes into a qualitative difference. It is not our mental agility that sets us apart from other mammals (that would be the external realities), but it is mainly our ability to wear masks and believing that the mask is our identity.




March 2023

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