Tag genetics

Parenting – why it might not much matter. Nature vs nurture!

I want you to consider the possibility that your parents did not shape you as a person. Despite how it feels, your mother and father (or whoever raised you) likely imprinted almost nothing on your personality that has persisted into adulthood. Pause for a minute and let that heresy wash across your synapses. It flies in the face of common sense, does it not? In fact, it’s the type of claim that is unwise to make unless you have some compelling evidence to back it up. Even then it will elicit the ire of many.

Guest post: a request about homosexuality and genetics

Here is a guest post from someone (a South American who wants to remain anonymous) who contacted me by email asking for help in dealing with the topic of homosexuality and genetics after he read my two posts on homosexuality and Christianity. It seems that there is a prominent Christian author pairing whose work seems to be a concerted effort to minimise the importance of genetic determinism in producing homosexuality. Over to the guest poster:

Christianity and Homosexuality Part 2

So now it is time to return to the idea of homosexuality and Christianity about which I posted the other day.

Having looked at biblical issues concerning the position of deeming h/s morally wrong, let us now look at what makes people h/s and whether it is fair for an all-loving god to judge them.

I would like to give a good synopsis of the current tate of biology and sexual orientation. First of all, it is interesting to note that the drivers for male and female h/s are understood to be often very different. It is not one rule fits all. Furthermore, there are also a whole host of reasons that can lead to h/s – biological, genetic (and epigenetic), and environmental and social.

Let us look firstly at the biological causes and theories.

Explanatory scope of free will

So I have a question. I will detail the following research. For ‘free will’ to be true, it has to explain the following. Or more accurately, the following has to be fully explicable within the free will hypothesis. How does it do that?

Nature trumps nurture in exam success: GCSE results ‘mainly determined by genes,’ says landmark study of twins

Genetics has a more powerful influence on pupils’ GCSE exam results than teachers, schools or family environment, according to a new study published tonight.

Researchers from King’s College London found that genetic differences account for 58 per cent of the differences between pupils’ GCSE exam scores – while environment (home or school) only accounted for 29 per cent. They also found boys’ results were more likely to reflect their genes than girls.

Fearful Memories Passed Down to Mouse Descendants

Certain fears can be inherited through the generations, a provocative study of micereports. The authors suggest that a similar phenomenon could influence anxiety and addiction in humans. But some researchers are sceptical of the findings because a biological mechanism that explains the phenomenon has not been identified.

Oldest Hominin DNA Sequenced: Mitochondrial Genome of a 400,000-Year-Old Hominin from Spain Decoded

Using novel techniques to extract and study ancient DNA researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have determined an almost complete mitochondrial genome sequence of a 400,000-year-old representative of the genus Homo from Sima de los Huesos, a unique cave site in Northern Spain, and found that it is related to the mitochondrial genome of Denisovans, extinct relatives of Neandertals in Asia. DNA this old has until recently been retrieved only from the permafrost.

Free Will: The Achilles Heel of Christianity

An online friend of mine whom has a real interest in the concept of free will, and all the problematic baggage it brings with it. He has a proclivity for producing adverts for newspapers and publications like Free Inquiry that concern themselves with this erroneous philosophical belief. Here is one such piece from the Free Inquiry which does a good job of summing up the issues with an account of libertarian free will, and how that works in the context of Christianity. Let me know what you think.

Creationists – how do you explain this?

I am going to copy and paste a very normal article from Science Daily here. Nothing special. Just your bog-standard scientific journal publication press release. This one is about a fossilised horse which has had its genome mapped.

What I want people like JohnM, a regular commenter here, to do is to explain all of the aspects of this articles in terms of their Creationist framework. What I mean by this, is they (he) needs to take every claim in this article (most aren’t claims, but are simply givens) and produce a non ad hoc explanation which explains this evidence BETTER than evolution and naturalism. In order to be true, the explanation must have that explanatory power.

New Studies Link Gene to Selfish Behavior in Kids, Find Other Children Natural Givers

Can’t believe I missed this one. Interesting, and something I will bring up in my talk tonight on free will at Southampton University to the Atheist Society. Research into prosocial (kind) behaviour is always interesting, and something I have documented here, here and here. there is a mix of genetic and environmental influences with this one. It seems that talking to children about giving, about kindness, is more important than role-modeling when measuring children’s kindness. Of course, children who do not have these environmental influences will be at a disadvantage to others who have, and these are variables outside of their control.

More evidence of common descent – Humans and Chimps Share Genetic Strategy in Battle Against Pathogens

As if any was needed.

Science Daily – Feb. 14, 2013 — A genome-wide analysis searching for evidence of long-lived balancing selection — where the evolutionary process acts not to select the single best adaptation but to maintain genetic variation in a population — has uncovered at least six regions of the genome where humans and chimpanzees share the same combination of genetic variants.

Far from random, evolution follows a predictable genetic pattern, researchers find

Evolution, often perceived as a series of random changes, might in fact be driven by a simple and repeated genetic solution to an environmental pressure that a broad range of specieshappen to share, according to new research.

Princeton University research published in the journal Science suggests that knowledge of a species’ genes—and how certain external conditions affect the proteins encoded by those genes—could be used to determine a predictable evolutionary pattern driven by outside factors. Scientists could then pinpoint how the diversity of adaptations seen in the natural world developed even in distantly related animals.

Who’s in Charge Inside your Head?

This is an interesting article from the New York Times. I like it – it is well written and thoughtful, making us ponder the reality of the selfish gene, and the idea that we could, at any time, be being manipulated by other organisms, unbeknownst to our humuncular selves.