Nature vs. Nurture Argument in What Makes You Who You Are by Matt Ridley

Matt Ridley‘s What Makes You Who You Are argues that we’re influenced by our genes, but our genes are influenced by our behavior More accurately, it describes how experience can change the way we express our genes 7 that we don’t genetically inherit certain traits, but we do inherit a predisposition to develop certain traits based on experience, The author supports this by research done in the Human Genome Project and the work of Craig Venter. The strongest point in this article is the rationale — the way gene expression is explained is simple and concise and easy to understand, However, some of the applied research the author includes mentions some questionable procedures.

For example, Ray Blanchard’s study of homosexuality at the University of Toronto, which stated that gay men are more likely than straight men to have older brothers, notes that this observation came from 14 samples.

Such a low sample size could just be a statistical coincidence. The article also fails to note how this proves causation.

As another example, the study on antisocial behavior notes that the results are from “..,a group of 442 New Zealand men who have been followed since birth.” Since only New Zealanders and men are represented in the study, there could be difficulties applying the results to women or to the rest of the world — as New Zealanders may have related genetic differences distinct from different parts of the world As an unrelated problem, the article either poorly describes the methodology or describes a very ethically questionable study, because it implies that the researchers knew about child maltreatment and abuse, observed it from birth to adulthood, and used it for scientific data instead of stopping it.

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Since international law prevents experiments of this nature, it’s more likely that the article is poorly wording how this study was conducted, which makes it harder to take the results seriously. However, those are minor issues in a reasonably well- written article. A common debate raging today between some religious groups and the homosexual community can be traced to the “nature vs. nurture“ debate that this article attempts to solve. Some religious arguments believe that homosexuality is a sin and the sinners are people to be “saved“ or cured. On the other side of the coin, some parts of the homosexual community believe that they were simply made that way, that they don’t have a “disease“ to cure and that they‘re simply acting in the way they were born to.

This explanation could explain homosexuality, or at least some instances of homosexuality, once and for all 7 that subtle changes in someone’s environment even before they were born could change the way they express a gene, but that the gene was already there‘ My opinion is that it’s a rational idea, but the article seems light on scientific proof that this is the key to environment-genetic interaction I think any actual scientific evidence that this is true would be over my head anyway (I‘m no geneticist, after all), but in the way the article is written, it’s hard to determine where scientific fact ends and scientific theory begins The article goes from facts about the human genome and the history of the Human Genome Project and pioneers such as Craig Venter to explanations of “the new understanding” and the “new discovery” without being very clear if the subject is a new way of looking at it or a solid scientific fact. and then back to scientific facts about how genes and gene promoters work, and then to somewhat flimsy and isolated studies that seem to back the point of the article up. But after reading the article.

I‘m unclear as to how much of this new discovery is scientific fact, and how much of it is just as much of a theory as the nature vs. nurture arguments before it. Just that uncertainty alerts the skeptic in me, as I know articles in magazines that leave me feeling confused as to what is fact and what is theory often do so intentionally, as a way of passing off a theory that the article supports as fact to the average reader. It’s not so much lying as it is a conspicuous lack of neutral tone, which leaves me with unanswered questions. Is nature»via»nurture fact? Is it just a new theory?

How certain is the evidence in favor of it, and does it leave any question unanswered? The article has an authoritative tone, but then notes that genes are “still mysterious” and admits that science doesn’t yet know everything. which makes me question how it can take an authoritative tone at all. In summary, it’s a good article, which rationally explains a way that the nature vs. nurture debate could be entirely pointless. But for me, that’s all it is — an explanation of the way things could be. If this classic psychological argument was solved in 2003, why do high schools and colleges still teach the argument in psychology and biology classes in 2009? My guess is because this new way of looking at things isn’t nearly as confident as the tone of the article would suggest.

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Nature vs. Nurture Argument in What Makes You Who You Are by Matt Ridley. (2022, Dec 15). Retrieved from

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