About Me

Mikael Aizen is a full time author.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Study #1


The Human Genome Project begun in 1990 changed our understanding of genetics and disorders.  Furthermore, researchers have associated genetic basis for physical behaviors including aggression, impulsivity, nurturing.  This movement of behavioral genetic determinism has been growing at an untamed rate, I worry about the consequences of this social perception.
The Human Genome Project, officially begun in 1990 and scheduled for completion between 2000 and 2003, has heralded a period in which genetic factors have been identified for numerous disorders. In addition, researchers in the field of behavioral genetics have asserted claims for a genetic basis of numerous physical behaviors, including homosexuality, aggression, impulsivity, and nurturing. A growing scientific and popular focus on genes and behavior has contributed to a resurgence of behavioral genetic determinism-the belief that genetics is the major factor in determining behavior. This could lead to grievous social consequences.

-Mark A. Rothstein, Behavioral Genetic Determinism: Its Effect on Culture and Law, in Behavioral Genetics: The Clash of Culture and Biology, 89-115. Ronald A. Carson & Mark A. Rothstein, eds. (Johns Hopkins University Press 1999)

We're beginning this blog with a challenge.  Heavy controversy.  Discussion.

We've all heard the phrases:
"I was born gay, I didn't have a choice."
"God made me this way."
"Don't judge me for who I am."

I am not equivocating murder and homosexuality, don't get me wrong.  It merely is the most common phrase in our society associating behavior and genetics.  We just haven't noticed the laugh-ability of the argument it because we hear it so often.

This belief is conceptually known as "Behavioral Genetics."  It is the idea that we may have tendencies, traits that fate has decided for us in our future actions.  This is a concept found commonly in various species of animals.  Geese migrating, territorial behaviors in many creatures, expressions of happiness and sadness in humans.  Sometimes, we even define a species based on behavior when everything else between the species may be identical such as the hirundo verbanaand and the erpobdella obscura.

So.  Where is the limit.  How far can we take this?  What are the consequences of the decisions we make associating scientific lack-of-choice with fate, freedom of choice, responsibility?

Can we excuse the freedom to choose between male and female partners with genetics?

Comment below with your thoughts.


Steven R. Stewart said...

This hits home for me, as a person who often wonders about the origins of bad eating habits or the tendency to stay up all night. Am I genetically ALLOWED to change my bad habits and personality "quirks"? Or will all my efforts ultimately count for very little in the way of actual improvement? It seems any change in my life that has counted for anything has been gradual and has gone "with the grain," which is to say, it didn't violate the personality I had come to know--I have never been able to escape the self I have been living with for 27 years.

Man, if there is an answer to this question, I would love to hear it.

[Oops. Posted this in the wrong spot initially. Was that my bad or genetically determined too?]

Susan Ludwig said...

i think this is a great site and can't thank you enough for sharing it with me michael. you have quite a gift here... not just in your writing... in what you to do help others by informing them.

Mikael Aizen said...

Thank you both for your comments. That is definitely my hope. I think there is a lot of controversy here and though the research is at its infancy, I'm shocked by the conclusions that are being drawn. Please feel free to share this blog with others. I'm excited to see what kind of discussions arise from this.

Jim said...

Psychology is leaning in the direction that everything is genetic. As more is learned, everyone will eventually accept this concept. For example, when people fold the arms in front of themselves, some people place the right arm on top and other people place the left arm on top. Researchers have found a genetic marker that indicates which arm will be on top. If this simple example is true, then far more is genetic than anyone wants to accept.

The big question is that when the murder gene is identified, can this fact be used in court to prevent the death penalty?

By the way, four genetic markers have now been found to indicate being gay. Can companies require new employees to take a genetic text to see if they are gay before being hired? What about the Army?

Jim said...

When my wife got pregnant, we had genetic testing done to see if there were any "problems." If there had been "problems" we were ready to abort and try again.

Now that four genetic markers have been identified for being gay, parents will now have the right to abort when told their child will be gay.

This is only an example of the ethical problems coming up very fast.

Mikael Aizen said...


Great questions and comments. I'm intrigued. Where did you find the gay genetic markers? All my research has pointed to those markers being unverifiable and false. Do you have resources?

Thanks for your comments.