Prof. Christina Campbell
Anthropology 423 Human Behavior: Evolutionary Perspectives
October 13, 2021
Nature vs. Nurture, How is this Still an Argument?
If you have access, you can also view and discuss the paper here, on Academia.edu.
In the “Dependent Gene” by David S. Moore, we learn a great deal of new things that the general public is not familiar with. Rather, id say we have even more to unlearn, but either way, Dr. Moore guides us along the path. The most important thing about this book is to come away from it with a better understanding of genetics, specifically the traits that they may, or may not cause. Without a base understanding of even “old” genetics and this book may get a little confusing. But the author does his best to navigate the waters of scientific vernacular. As mentioned, there is an old view on genetics, and what is now considered a new approach. We have come a long way with our understanding of genes, genetics, and how they are passed down. Way back in the days of Aristotle, we even thought it was possible that all the eggs a female possessed, had the entire animal inside them, fully formed, just on a miniature level. And then once they are born, or become pregnant, the animal, whatever it may be, will grow to the proper size of a newborn. Today, we know that things work a little differently than that and that genetics, and how traits and DNA are passed down are much more complicated, and for generations, erroneous ideas have run rampant. Genes, do not determine physical or psychological traits, they contribute, but they are not fully responsible. It is a combination of your DNA, your “Nature”, and the environment in which you were conceived, all the way through the end of your life, the environment adds, detracts, and changes from, we call this “Nurture”. Often this comes to a climactic point, but I hope that this paper will shed light on the complicated subject of Nature and Nurture.
So then, if one gene is one trait is not a correct view, despite it being a prevalent one, how does it work? Well, it’s a combination of both! The world that we are formed in, and live in thorough out our lives, plays a major role in our behaviors, and traits that we show physically, and just why and when we do. But, this knowledge is relatively new, in the world of Anthropology, which is only 2-300 years old, (Official Formed Societies) a few decades can change almost everything. When this book came out in 2003, it most likely sent everyone into a tizzy. Not to mention that was the year the Human Genome Project was completed, we had just begun to learn about our genome and genetics. And finally, here maybe was some proof and evidence to back up Moore’s ideas. The most important thing that we have to consider when reading this book, however, is that traits are not determined by just genes or just the environment we live in. It is a complex hierarchical series of interactions between the two that makes us who we are, and determine how we act, and respond in specific situations. The perspective that Moore suggests, for this idea to be the only one, and strongly so, is that of the Developmental Systems Perspective. What this means, is that A. We are not formed completely at the time of the egg’s formation, we change, adapt, and grow inside of our mother’s wombs until we are ready to be born. Everything that affects us in the womb, will play a major role in our development. From the nutrients, the Zygote is consuming and given, to the stress of the mother herself! Then, we can be pushed into the real world, and everything changes, our minds, and bodies are immediately exposed to an infinite amount of stimuli. Rarely can we just phase into our new roles in life. And oftentimes, things that we do when we are younger, we learn, through living, watching, and experiencing, that perhaps our behavior needs to be reviewed, or changed. Developmental Systems refer to the science and know-how of genes, and traits. The actual argument of Nature vs. Nurture, and while this is commonly used to refer to the LGBTIA+ community, I want to be clear these rules apply, and or more importantly do not imply just “the gay gene”, but rather all of our traits. We are formed both by the love and care we received as a child and from the DNA that our parents provided. There is no way to predict how the two will interact, and that is one of the major issues with cloning, we can do it physically, but it is not the same animal. We are products of this duality.
So then, what are we to do with this information? Well, that’s a more tricky question, as this information, this knowledge and data, if given to the wrong groups of people can be used for…there are no other words but evil. Chief amongst these groups of people to use genetics negatively were of course the Nazis. They ran countless horrific experiments and tests on a wide variety of people This is where Eugenics comes in. I don’t know if we will be covering that in this class, I do not think so, so I will leave it at that. The dangers of genetically based judgments are something hard to stay away from when you are elbows deep in these discussions. Often, too often, scientists will fall into traps laid out for them, to make them, or the field looks bad. But as we know today, the traits that the Nazis and others were looking for, are not attributed to a one-to-one gene ratio. Just as there is no “Gay Gene” there is no gene for blue eyes either. Does the DNA contribute and help with the outcome? Absolutely! But that’s the thing, it is a split, a cooperative effort of Nature vs. Nurture that allows us to adapt and survive within our own lives. It is not “Nature vs. Nurture”, it should be “Nature and Nurture.” Without their delicate and complicated set of reactions, we would be a much more bland animal and one that may not even be capable of surviving.
So then, what is “The Dependent Gene”? Well, I would have to say that the reference is to the idea that genetics alone can not get the job done, it needs help, I think the idea is, genes are dependent on the environment they find themselves in, and not just making “decisions” on bodily functions and behaviors on its own as it was once thought, and is continued to be taught in lower education and places without access to up to date scientific information. It is hard to change the minds of people who have thought one thing for so long, generations in fact. David S. Moore’s book completely challenges those ideas and hopefully will lead to a better understanding of the, when you think about it, simple idea that it is not just so simple as Nature vs. Nurture. But a much more informed and educated population, who can better grasp where we come from. As a Paleoanthropologist, this is a little out of my direct field, but it seems to me, that this idea makes perfect sense, and I do not see why people would argue with it, or what other ideas they may have to counter it. Of course, there are dissenting opinions and different views and methods of collecting data, it all seems to point back to the same thing. Nature vs. Nurture is a fallacy, one that we have had drilled into our brains so that we never questioned it, for whatever reason. But it is time to throw the sheets off and bring this book, Prof. Moore’s ideas to the front line.
I enjoyed this book, I learned a great deal. I knew genetics and trait dispersal etc. was not as simple as I was being taught in say, Biology 101, but even after just reading the introduction of the book, the hypotheses made perfect sense, and I had to concur with Prof. Moore. My entire life, as most of my classmates have, have lived in a world where everyone is questioning, “Am I a bad mom?” Is that while my child turned out this way? “Did I pass this on to my child and now they have to suffer”, some of these questions can be put to rest if this idea is accepted. There are just some things that are completely uncontrollable in the behavioral development of any animal. Often this occurs in orphanages specifically. Let’s put Nature vs. Nurture to rest, shall we agree to finally understand that it is in fact both! The two work in tandem to form what ends up being an adult, and hopefully functioning at that. But of course, things like mental illness can have a major effect on that, depending on the genes passed down from each parent. We humans think we have mastered it all, and understand everything, but there is so much left out there to learn, so much more knowledge to gain! With the aid of this book, I hope that I can personally help re-educate some people about what we all learned in grade school, and in unfortunate cases, all the way through first division courses. It is only when we get to the point of your class Professor, is when I suppose the institutions think we can wrap our heads around these complicated processes, and while there is of course much more to learn about this, and the complicated hierarchy they form, its time to acknowledge not every case of anything will prevent the same in two different people who have had completely different lives. We need to acknowledge that, even things like income and affect our development in the womb or as a small children. The Independent Gene does not exist, for any trait, there could be various genes involved and the influence of the outside world. The better we understand this, the more we will be able to help our own, and other species during these perilous times.