I’m not qualified to talk abut human life and the various genes and memes that help pre-dispose us to who we eventually become. But I can report what some of the smart guys in the white lab coats are telling us lately. When you study it you might want to stop wasting time reading and watching the news, because just maybe your brain is already pre-programmed to like Obama, the Cubs, red Mustangs and people over six-feet tall.
OK, that’s not exactly what University of Illinois psychologist Chris Fraley said. But from his interview with the Toronto Star it’s pretty clear: “How we behaved and were disciplined as kindergartners at least partly determines our views on political and social issues such as abortion, military spending, and the death penalty.”
Some of you will instantly hear echoes of that old old battle-cry Determinism. Physical and social scientists have for generations been mulling over what factors in our lives may help determine our behavior: climate, geography, economics, race, gender, status, even religion.
Take two handy examples: Rush Limbaugh and Sean Penn. According to Fraley’s research among 700 people: “Kids whose parents believed that children should always obey their parents were more likely to vote conservative when they reached voting age, while those whose parents believed children should be allowed to disagree with them were more likely to become liberals….”
Maybe the recent political campaigns should have been tracking childhood rearing as well as other factors in profiling potential voters. Or then again may be not! Maybe determinism of all kinds is more a theory than a reality. Maybe there are simply so many different forces at work in anyone’s life that no science has yet been found that can authentically predict anything about any of us.
Personally I hope so. Not because I fear science, but because I fear what some of its bright acolytes might do with its power to probe us. to predict us. to program us. I’m thinking here Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World.’
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