Some of us in middle age look into the mirror and shudder: “OMG, I’ve become my mother!” Now enters the great debate. Nature or Nurture? Are we more the result of our genes or of our environment? Am I what I inherited from her DNA or what I learned from her habits?
Just in time for Mothers Day 2012, science may have answered this question. How…? By telling us the classic nature/nurture debate is kind of a fraud. Why…? Because now some say those genes we got from mom can change. Sometime our environment can actually change our genetics.
According to standard science, genes aren’t supposed to change. Our traits are supposed to “pass on” from our past generations to our future generations. Everything from blue eyes or balding hair to a flair for music or a pre-disposition to kill. Now what if those old assumptions aren’t quite true? Two scientific studies are currently wrestling with this issue:
Researchers at Duke University & King’s College London report “psychosocial stress can speed up some of our genetic clocks.” Bullying for example can trigger genetic changes. Researchers at Butler Hospital, R.I. have found the death of a parent “has resulted in greater ‘mythlation’ of some spots near the gene tied to stress response in adulthood.” Hmmm.
Bringing flowers to mom this year, we needn’t raise these particular questions, for they are still only questions. However, here’s one son who will be asking himself: Will studies like these someday enhance the powerful probabilities of human genetic-re-engineering? In other words, if genes are so crucial to who and what we are, and if humans can affect genetics, maybe someday we’ll tuck our old notions of god, natural law, and soul into a new specialty for the development of a better humanity…
…..genetic re-engineering for sale! However, let me assure you I have no intention of asking the mothers in my life if that sounds emancipating or emaciating.
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