April 28, 2016

"One pair of [separated-at-birth] twins both suffered crippling migraines, owned dogs that they had named Toy, married women named Linda..."

"... and had sons named James Allan (although one spelled the middle name with a single 'l'). Another pair—one brought up Jewish, in Trinidad, and the other Catholic, in Nazi Germany, where he joined the Hitler Youth—wore blue shirts with epaulets and four pockets, and shared peculiar obsessive behaviors, such as flushing the toilet before using it. Both had invented fake sneezes to diffuse tense moments. Two sisters—separated long before the development of language—had invented the same word to describe the way they scrunched up their noses: 'squidging.' Another pair confessed that they had been haunted by nightmares of being suffocated by various metallic objects—doorknobs, fishhooks, and the like."

From "Same but Different/How epigenetics can blur the line between nature and nurture," by Siddhartha Mukerjee in The New Yorker.

21 comments:

Ken B said...

Sounds like a simple win for nature to me.

mockturtle said...

Interesting. Many neuropsychiatry researchers maintain that, in addition to passive experience, conscious activity can alter brain structure.

mockturtle said...

Ken, if you read the entire article you will see that the researchers were actually looking for causes of differences in identical twins. Genes are identical but epigenes can activate or suppress genes and that epigenes are altered by unique experience.

MadisonMan said...

And how much is random chance? Linda is not an uncommon name, for example, among women of a certain age. Toy is not an uncommon dog's name either.

Man seeks patterns and finds them whether they are there or not.

How many twins separated at birth don't have these similar characteristics. Are the authors discussing that too? I doubt it.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

MadisonMan said...Man seeks patterns and finds them whether they are there or not.

Wiki: Apophenia

Now, test whether identical twins are more likely to find patterns in random data than fraternal twins are...

J. Farmer said...

This is a field still quite in its infancy. We still have quite aways to go to understand how the complex interaction of genetic material, combined with environmental factors, produces human behavior, personality, and affective states. Intuitively, it seems correct to guess that it is some mix of heredity and environment, though the precise mix cannot really be declared with much of a degree of certainty. I've been in the social services/mental health field for 15 years, and as time as gone by, I've become more and more hereditarian in my view of human behavior. After about age 3 or 4, barring some major traumatic event, I don't see environment really exercising that much influence.

Anytime a juvenile has been through a child welfare or juvenile justice system for a number of years, it is quite common for his record to contain multiple psychological evaluations. In my professional experience, more often than not these multiple evaluations will have differing diagnoses and treatment plans. Just spitballing, I'd guess maybe 80% or so of the psychotherapeutic interventions made by mental health professionals are pointless and ineffective. Ever since I've been in the field, I've heard about the push for "more evidence-based systems." We keep getting the new systems; we're still waiting for the evidence.

traditionalguy said...

DNA is molecular stuff that structurally codes life but it is not the Spirit that is life itself.

Both are inherited from ancestors. Both determine people's destiny.

Now like Supteme Court Justices , quit pretending that he words being used make you so dumb you cannot accept that truth and go on from there. Throwing out Intelligent creation is the stumbling stone.

buwaya said...

" After about age 3 or 4, barring some major traumatic event, I don't see environment really exercising that much influence. "

"I'd guess maybe 80% or so of the psychotherapeutic interventions made by mental health professionals are pointless and ineffective."

No professional in the education field, but as an "active amateur" since we had kids, volunteered, searched for school, and dived deep into the research on how best to educate kids, and knowing what I know, now, of the very similar story of educational interventions, I'm inclined to agree.

Jonathan Graehl said...

Come on. Fake.

Michael K said...

Stephen Pinker wrote an excellent book some years ago called The Blank Slate to point by point refute Stephen Jay Gould's paean to the "New Soviet Man" that he thought could be created by "conditioning."

One o his chapters concerns sets of twins separated at birth and their amazing similarities in behavior while being ignorant of each other.

Genetics is still going strong in its early stages. Read The 10,000 year explosion to get a taste of what is coming along very, very fast.

Fernandinande said...

How epigenetics can blur the line between nature and nurture.
By Siddhartha Mukherjee


After ‘nano’ and ‘quantum’, epigenetics, an important branch of biology, is the latest scientific buzzword to be hijacked by quackery
...
"New age gurus such as Deepak Chopra cite epigenetics as a way of changing your life, under the false supposition that genes are destiny, and epigenetic changes brought on by lifestyle choices such as meditation “allows us almost unlimited influence on our fate”. Well, no: that sandwich you just ate has changed the expression of your genes too. Even the few inherited epigenetic changes we observe are not very predictable, let alone predictably positive. The Överkalix grandsons lived longer if their grandfathers lived through famine. But the granddaughters of women who had survived fallow seasons had lower life expectancy. Conclusion? Much more work needed."

Michael K said...

Ignorant people will believe anything, even "climate change."

mockturtle said...

Michael, I think nearly everyone believes in 'climate change'. But many of us believe it is the result of natural phenomena rather than human impact. [Sorry about hijacking the thread].

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...

Perhaps they got the nose posturing from Kipling.

You squigy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din.

Michael K said...

"Michael, I think nearly everyone believes in 'climate change'."

I put it in quotes to emphasize the delusional state of leftist thought, The medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age were climate change. The Holocene might be coming to an end, a global catastrophe ignored by the government teat suckers.

J. Farmer said...

@Michael K:

I read Pinker's How the Mind Works years ago, and I remember enjoying it at the time, though I've retained little of its contents since. Never read The Blank Slate. But I have generally been a fan of his popular writing, though I think he is prone to overly broad conclusions or at least poorly worded insinuations. Then again, this plagues all popular science writers.

I also never read The 10,000 Year Explosion, though I am familiar with its basic premise and argument. I am not knowledgable enough about the field to judge its overall scientific accuracy, but nonetheless I agree that the agricultural revolution was a seminal event in human history and probably not remotely matched until at least the advent of the Industrial Revolution. The social constructionism that plagues so many corners of academia today began with some valid points but has since been stretched beyond any conceivable credibility.

jr565 said...

Speaking of identical twins. They did a study on identical twins that showed that gayness is not genetic. They studied sets of identical twins. Because they have the same genes essentially if one were gay the other should also be gay. Yet, only 11% of the time men were gay if their brother were gay. And only 14 % of the time were women gay if their sister was gay.

So, is gayness genetic or something else? if not, you are not BORN THAT WAY.

jr565 said...

(cont) I'm not saying that the study necessarily proves this. Perhaps they didn't study enough identical twins. And correlation does not imply or prove causation. However, if gayness were genetic, the assumption would be that if one twin was gay his identical twin would also be gay most of the time.

J. Farmer said...

@jr565:

"So, is gayness genetic or something else?."

That's a really big, complex question that cannot be answered one way or another with "a study." That's a big problem news media has with reporting scientific work. How common is it to see a headline like "Study finds..." or "Research indicates..." They then go on to right extensively about the findings as if it's empirical fact. A sentence or two is thrown in for skepticism, and when the study's findings cannot be duplicated by subsequent studies, don't expect it to make the front page.

buwaya puti said...

11-14% common incidence of homosexuality among identical twins is much higher than the population incidence of @2% so there is SOME reason to think that in many cases it is a condition from birth, whether or not it is genetic. Whether the cause is the natal environment or epigenetics or whatever, this is good support for such factors.
On the other hand, this does not indicate that every case is a condition from birth.
I think it would be valuable indeed to figure this out, with an eye to prevention, as it is, overall, detrimental to human populations, as it seems to strike, disproportionately, the intelligent and talented, leading the afflicted to fail to reproduce. It is though just one of the factors of modern dysgenia and not the greatest.

mikee said...

I hope we get some verification before we are meant believe all these stories.

I recall the triplets who were raised separately, one of whom joined the Marines, one of whom joined the Air Force, and one of whom was a conscientious objector in the Coast Guard. Except it didn't happen, I just made it up.