Saturday, 9 January 2010

Dandelions and Orchids

Here's an interesting story with relevance to the eternal nature/nurture debate. It seems that certain combinations of a dozen or so genes are very strong indicators for antisocial behaviour. So far, so much that we already know. However, it turns out that the population can be, very roughly, split into two sections. Dandelions are children who can thrive under any circumstances and are not predisposed to antisocial behaviours, no matter what their upbringing. The other group are likely to exhibit these behaviours if they are raised in an adverse environment. These children could be, and have been, classed as vulnerable. New research, however, indicates that these 'vulnerable' children (children with the genes which make them prone to antisocial behaviour), when moved to a stable, loving home, not only do as well as their 'dandelion' peers, but outstrip them in achievement. Hence the use of the term 'orchid': they can die in harsh conditions, but become something beautiful with appropriate nurturing.
The article goes into a lot more detail about how this pertains to humanity's evolutionary success, but I think it's more interesting as a possible explanation for the so-called class barrier, which has previously been explained by some people through reference to lineages of 'superior' genes. Maybe the hothouses that money can buy are the thin line between exceptional, and exceptionally badly adjusted.


Nick James said...

Translation: A person's fortune in the first is always the most profound, and sometimes even people's heart forever into the insulation.
Maybe it's relevant?

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