We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Monday, September 2. 2013
"Do these genes make me look fat?"
This just in:
All of the following headlines were spotted on my daily rounds in the MSM over the past three years. I didn't specifically hunt down any of them just for the post.
I didn't need to.
In his excellent novel Next, the late Michael Crichton takes on the subject of genetics, and how badly our courts are prepared for the upcoming legal battles, and how much misinformation the public is being given.
As with global warming, the core problem is that the mainstream media has decided that the science is already settled. You'll note we never saw headlines that read, "Scientists On Verge Of Genetic Breakthrough".
It was suddenly just...
Are you a fat, lonely, sleepy, fearful transsexual smoker? Well, don't worry about it. You can't help it. It's all part of your genetic makeup and is beyond your control.
Why fight destiny?
What's that? You got married? Well, congratulations! And think how easy it'll be raising a kid in tomorrow's world with this kind of help:
Now all you have to do is figure out what "natural benchwarmer" means.
Your wife blames you for your son failing the test, of course. Do you have any professional athletes in your immediate family? No? Then obviously she's right. It's genetically your fault the kid's a wimp and her divorce lawyer is going to have a field day with you.
Besides, you didn't really think that marriage was going to last, did you? At least, not after you found out the real root of the problem.
By the way, you're not thinking of spending any time with your kids after the divorce, are you? What if your soon-to-be ex-wife has your DNA tested and the...
So much for getting to see the kids. Sorry, buddy, but you just tested positive for The Ruthlessness Gene.
What's that? You're worried that, without dual parental guidance, your 13-year-old daughter might soon be having sex?
If you've learned anything from this post, it's that the issue is clearly out of your hands.
You simply turn to the judge and say your...
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury," solemnly intones your lawyer. "Have we really come to the point where we're going to imprison an innocent man for doing something he can't help but do? Something that his genes made him do? Something that might happen to you or me at any minute, and all because of our DNA? I ask again, are we really going to imprison a man for doing something his DNA drove him to do in the first place? Something he couldn't help? Here (slamming fist on jury box railing), in America?"
Given the argument, who could decide differently?
What's that? The above is completely fanciful and would never happen? Well, perhaps you're right. At least, not here in America.
At least, not yet.
I knew there was a reason!
Ah, but I know what you're thinking. You're not a fat, lonely, sleepy, fearful transsexual smoker. You're not having problems with horror flicks, horrible pain or horrific marriages. And, on top of that, you're a pretty good driver!
So what have you got to worry about, right?
Did you read the blurb at the bottom? See the "mental fitness" part?
Now consider what happens when the word "Office" in the above headline is replaced with the word "Job".
Still not worried?
What if you test just slightly positive for the Mental Unfitness Gene?
Update, two weeks later:
Well, that didnt take long.
Now let's hope you don't test positive for the To Be Determined Gene.
Well, I know this is kind of a depressing post, but take heart. One day someone will invent a home DNA test so you'll be able to find out what you're afraid of, what you're good and bad at, whether or not you should smoke or grow fat or consider a sex change operation, how likely it is your teenage daughter will get pregnant, which sport your son should try out for regardless of his own feelings, and, for that matter, what your opinion should be on all important matters.
Posted by Dr. Mercury in Our Essays, The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 10:00 | Comments (36) | Trackbacks (9)
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Dr. Mercury ... A really good essay. Some silly people will do anything to avoid accepting responsibility for their own foolishness. They don't listen when you say, "It's not your genes, silly. It's your own lack of discipline that makes you a drunk, a fatty, a spouse abuser, a liar, a thief..." They want it to be an 'illness' a flawed gene, anything so they can avoid the self-discipline of depriving themselves of whatever they are obsessed with.
"That's work. That's hard," they say to themselves. "And I don't want to do it, even if my pants don't fit any more, I waddle when I walk, my house is filled with empty whiskey bottles, I fall down a lot, I get arrested when I have car accidents. It's not my fault. It's my genes. And I got them from my parents. So there."
That doesn't work for me -- or you either, I imagine.. After years of craving sweets, I have controlled it enough that now I don't crave them so much any more. My husband is allergic to cigarette smoke, so I gave them up the year I married him, and I don't crave them any more. Yes, each human being is different, but we all have access to one common thing. Character and self discipline are the key.
They're in there somewhere. Maybe they're in remote storage on your personal hard drive. You just have to find them.
P.S. It's a lot easier when you get old, and everything is an effort.
What's particularly interesting is that even things that we actually do associate with genes, like hair color and height, aren't especially true. The most obvious example is comparing heights of Asians growing up in Asia and Asians growing up in America. There have been innumerable studies of twins being separated at birth, and at age 21 the America twin just towers over her Vietnamese sibling growing up on some rice paddy. That's nutrition and the environment at play, not genetics.
By the way, have you read Crichton's book? It's a pretty good yarn, complete with a wisecracking genetically-enhanced parrot that'll have 'em rolling in the aisles when the (inevitable) movie comes out. When it comes to genetics and our currents laws, though, it's a very sobering book and deserves a read.
From some movie (I can't remember the title).
Alcoholic character: Hey. Get off my back. It's a disease.
Other alcoholic: Yeah. A disease you get from empty bottles.
Which one of Crichton's books, Doc? He wrote a bunch, and almost every one is fascinating. Since we are still in the midst of the manufactured global warming kerfuffle, I keep his book State of Fear on my coffee table for when I get really depressed at Gore's incessant bloviating. "The science is settled," he trumpets. But as you know, no science is really settled. On anything.
Remember the doc who first announced that stomach ulcers were caused by a virus, not constant stress on the individual? His fellow docs at the medical convention laughed him out of the room. But it turned out that he was right.
I think we've reached the tipping point on this manmade global warming nonsense. When my butcher [a nice shrewd man, by the way] scoffs and tells me there is no such thing, I sense a seismic shift in opinion.among us common folks. But whole countries and masses of politicians have a lot invested in the scam, so it will be some years before the idea is kicked to the kerb.
Eventually it will be, though, as "the coming Ice Age" was in the 70s. I just wish it had happened before the demons in Congress conceived the cap&tax/tax/tax. Maybe we wouldn't all be freezing in the dark this winter.
MM - As mentioned in the post, the book is 'Next'. I'm not sure if I ever did figure out why it's titled that.
So, you like Crichton? Maybe I'll do a post on him over the weekend. A terrific loss. There was nobody else like him.
Crichton certainly wrote some memorable, excellent books and had a way with telling a story. He WILL be missed.
But let's not forget "Sphere", "Congo" and "Eaters of the Dead". My sense of literary transcendence shivers when I remember those particularly feculent narratives
Three books that made me want to gouge my eyes out.
First off, before we begin, I'm sure you understand how much we bloggers appreciate the readers' kind words of appreciation for our hard efforts. "What a great post!" "You sure write well!" "You sure have some great insight!"
Well, let us continue.
"My sense of literary transcendence shivers when I remember those particularly feculent narratives."
I see. First off, what, on God's Green Earth, makes you think that the average person knows a word like "feculent"? My guess is that you've had a long and intimate relationship with this word, hence your breezy and carefree use of it.
Second, regarding your "literary transcendence", I presume you don't mean that literally, correct? So what you have is an unliteral literary transcendence? Most of us do this thing called "enjoying the book", so I'm not sure the opinion of a 'professional transcender' counts. By the way, have you checked out the books by Reverend Moon?
Now, as to your specific complaints:
"Sphere" had one of the greatest book endings, ever.
"Congo" had the most state-of-the-art animatronics ever seen in a movie until 'Babe'. The fact that-, oh, wait. That was the movie. Never mind.
"Eaters of the Dead" was later made into a movie starring the ultra-cool Antonio Banderas. So, are you saying you're cooler than Antonio Banderas? That's the way I'm reading it. Or are you saying you have better taste in books than Antonio Banderas? And how would you know? It strikes me that you've dug a deep pit here, old friend, from which there's no escape.
Now, if you're through being off-topic, would you mind saying something nice about the three years of effort I put into a post that is unique in all the web?
"What a great post! You sure write well! You sure have some great insight!"
Well, gosh! I...I never knew!
Actually, I liked 13th Warrior. A lot. But I'm something of a Beowulf geek. And really didn't like the Angelina Jolie one - so, Beowulf is boinking Grendel's mom, is the way Hollywood has it? To hell with that.
Oh, and great post. Decidedly nonfeculent. I'd say it was life changing, were not my genes already firmly in control.
#184.108.40.206.1 Steve Skubinna on 2010-08-23 14:14 (Reply)
Yes, Doc ... Crichton was a genuine polymath. And there are darn few of those around at any one time. Now he would have made a great President, worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize and the award for Most Attractive Geek.
I'll check with my husband if we have Next in our library.
Didn't see this until now...an excellent essay, as the wise Marianne pointed out. If I ever need an excuse for I myself (and chose to) my self-esteem needn't worry anymore! I feel better already...already...already.
So you do post political content...the Politics of Real....something that's on a slippery slope and has been for some time now. Someone help us all!!
"The 13th Warrior" was an outstanding movie - terrific in fact. And it followed the book fairly closely.
With respect to genes, there is a court case currently traveling through the courts system involving Myriad Genetics and gene patents. If, and I say if, Myriad wins the case on appeal, it's entirely possible that every gene you have in your body will belong to Myriad Genetics. Meaning, quite possibly, that you won't belong to you.
Quite an interesting situation.
I refuse to believe that genes have anything to do with my hefty physique - I prefer to think of myself as generously proportioned.
Or overly svelte. :>)
"Meaning, quite possibly, that you won't belong to you."
That's what one of the guys in Crichton's book found out. He had some rare cancer(?)-fighting gene and had signed over the rights to investigate it to some corporation, only to find out that they now 'owned' his DNA, by way of court dictum. And, because his children carried the same gene, the corporation owned theirs, as well.
"13th Warrior" - maybe Banderas's best? And yes, an excellent job of keeping to the script. I've got a clip from it on my site -- I'll port it and a similar one over here later today.
Well done, Doc.
A couple of random thoughts.
The lack of scientific understanding by the Media and the public is appalling. I know of no solution to the problem. Most are simply not interested.
As to all your 'genes cause" examples, I wonder how many of them require grants for 'further study"?
One wonders how many billions of dollars the Government spends funding research vs, "research"??
Feebs - Thanks.
"Most are simply not interested."
Yeah, that nails it. Genes, as exhibited above, make everything so clean-cut that why would anyone purposefully delve into it? Easier to believe nice, solid facts, like the reason I smoke cigarettes is genetic and there's nothing I can do about it. Too bad, too, because I really wanted to quit, but why fight destiny?
"I wonder how many of them require grants for 'further study"?"
All of them plus the 65% I didn't catch?
"funding research vs, "research"??"
By the most amazing of coincidences, it's the exact same proportion as global warming. Imagine that!
[i[The lack of scientific understanding by the Media and the public is appalling. I know of no solution to the problem. Most are simply not interested.[/i]
What's appalling is that it's seen as OK, or perhaps even laudable. You hear people say, "I was never good at math and science," and then laugh. Not an uncomfortable, "gee, this is embarrassing" laugh, but more of an amused laugh. (I think I know the difference: I hear the embarrassed laugh all the time when teaching adults how to use a computer for the first time.) And yes, I hear many who are as smugly "superior" to the geeks as they were back in high school.
It's a geek's world, people. We live in an age when technology and science large and small -- computers and medicine and more -- permeate everything we do. And I say this as a software developer: you don't want us geeks to be the only ones who understand it, while just blindly accept what we say (or reject it solely because it shakes up your preconceptions). It's too easy for people to take advantage of your lack of knowledge when you wear it on your sleeve like that. Whether it's the phishing artist that takes your bank account or the advocacy group that takes your tax dollars, your first weapon to block them is your own education.
87% of me feels compelled to shout 'feculent!' in a crowded restaurant. But I know my genes compel it.
Seen my Golem?
Oh no! I left gullibility in my genes when I put them through the wash! The newsmedia is dead to me now...
If any of this "single gene = behavior" hooey ever comes to power, the result won't be job genetic testing, it'll be mass extermination. "Genetic control" is the rabid dog theory of behavior. He can't help it, he can't be cured, he can be shot.
Watch this presentation by Bruce Lipton on genes and such.
He's pretty much been labeled a heretic because his research demonstrate the primary points of your post.
Nice work. A deserved slap in the face of Evolutionary Psychology, the modern secular version of "The devil made me do it!"
The claim that any clump of genes CAUSE a behavior is simplistic. Don't trust the media to accurately report science. And don't trust a scientific claim that isn't verified multiple times.
The headlines and articles which say "Scientists discover gene for X" are written by journalists, not by scientists.
Any biologist would tell you, if you cared to listen, that "gene for X" means that, all else being equal, having the gene makes you more likely to have X. Journalists do not care to listen and invariably report correlation as causation.
The subject could be medicine, biology, physics, chemistry, doesn't matter--invariably journalists do not understand what they are writing about and so they distort it.
This is not the fault of the scientific community, but the fault of the media; which by extension is the fault of all of us for buying journalism written by ignorant people.
It's pretty lame to suggest that scientists are trying to scam you.
You're absolving scientists of all blame? They're just innocent pawns before the might of the MSM? It's all our fault for going to the news sites in the first place?
"It's pretty lame to suggest that scientists are trying to scam you."
Sure. Because they've been so honest with us over the years. Like global warming.
I can imagine that some genes make it harder for me to resist doing something harmful, and some make it easier. So what? I still don't get to torture kittens, no matter what my genetic makeup is. Maybe the problem is the idea that we should never be expected to do anything that isn't easy? Because that would explain a lot.
I think you have jumped to a conclusion. Take diabetes for example. The researcher did NOT say it wasn't genetic. He said there were over 90 genes associated with it and further stated that their present level of knowledge was inadequate to disprove it. That is not the same as saying diabetes is not genetic. It is!! You are born with it you don't catch it from sitting next to someone who is fat in grade school. You get it from your mother and father. It is a genetic illness. The inability of a researcher to have yet proven exactly which gene(s) cause it doesn't equate with it not being genetic.
As long as everyone gets the "gene pass" for every shortcoming, then we all begin at the same starting line again and make do with what we have. It excuses everything that has ever happened in history of man and all of life on earth. It wipes the slate clean and we are free to start over. And we will find... nothing has changed. People will still exhibit all the bad behavior. The big question is what, in the new informed reality, do we do about it? That is where survival of the fittest will take over. Are we not watching it happen in Wisconis now? Eventually they will be forced to start eating each other. Blind greed in mass herds can't be contained. Furthermore.. this kind of negates the first lady's campaign against obesity so we can all stop the charade now. We are all socialists now, genetic robots of The State.
Well, yes, but there's been a lot of controversy over what to name it. Some opt for "The Brilliant Gene", others are in favor of "The Incredible Gene", and I'm kind of caught in the middle because of the legions of fans, such as yourself, clamoring for 'The Dr. Mercury Gene". Me, I'm much more humble than that and am pushing for "The Doc Murky Gene", but I'm just one guy against a multitude of fans.
Thanks for the opportunity to explain everything. :)
Could the world, or even we the MF readers, cope with two of you?
I might like to try, but there's only 24 hours in a day.
Well, this, too, is being debated. Many argue it would be like flooding the market with too many diamonds. Some things are precious, after all. But others ask, "How can there be too much of a good thing?", which makes a valid point.
I think I'll rewatch Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'The 6th Day' tonight, maybe pick up some pointers.
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