Thursday, June 15, 2006


Scientists have found that risk taking may be a scientific predisposition:
Now Mr. Dallas, a chef in Seattle, is convinced he has a genetic predisposition for risk-taking, a conclusion the researchers say is not unwarranted, since they believe similar variations in human genes can explain why people perceive danger differently.

"It's in your blood," Mr. Dallas said. "You hear people say that kind of thing, but now you know it really is."

A growing understanding of human genetics is prompting fresh consideration of how much control people have over who they are and how they act. The recent discoveries include genes that seem to influence whether an individual is fat, has a gift for dance or will be addicted to cigarettes. Pronouncements about the power of genes seem to be in the news almost daily, and are changing the way some Americans feel about themselves, their flaws and their talents, as well as the decisions they make.

For some people, the idea that they may not be entirely at fault for some of their less desirable qualities is liberating, conferring a scientifically backed reprieve from guilt and self-doubt. Others feel doomed by their own DNA, which seems less changeable than the more traditional culprits for personal failings, like a lack of discipline or bad childhoods. And many find it simply depressing to think that their accomplishments might not be the result of their own efforts.

Now that some people have a predisposition for certain personality traits or abilities is not shocking news. Anyone who has ever had multiple children can tell you this easily enough. A typical exchange between my two older daughters runs something like this:

"That looks like fun--can I do that?"

"No, Molly Katherine--that's dangerous."

One is a risk taker, the other is risk averse. So it goes.

But this latest push essentially takes personal responsibility away from individuals. Yes, I probably can blame genetics that I did not become an Olympic track and field star, but there's only so far one can take such reasoning.

This ultimately is the next step in deterministic evolution. One of the logical conclusions of evolutionists is that as we are simply cosmic accidents, and our brain activity is simply the result of chemical interaction (and genetic programming) then there's not really any 'you' there. You have no real control and therefore no responsibility. You're just a randomly put together bag of cosmic dust stuck in the middle of nowhere in a two-bit galaxy. Ain't science grand?

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