Thursday, August 17, 2006

"The Gene For..."

It is surprising to see MIT's superb Technology Review indulging in "Gene for" journalism. See here. "Gene for" journalism consists of stories announcing that scientists have discovered the "gene for" homosexuality, alcoholism, gambling, blogging, whatever. I thought TR would have known better. The best current thinking suggests that, except in a few rare cases, translating one gene into one condition is dubious if not entirely illogical. Genes act in complex ways both with each other and with the rest of the organism and its environment. To see one gene as producing one result is a failure of perspective. In this case, scientists have supposedly discovered the "gene for" being human in that it seems to have something to do with the evolution of the cerebral cortex. But, in fact, no. Further down we learn that "scientists don't yet know the function of the gene." Pity that.


  1. "Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau;
    Mock on, mock on, tis all in vain!
    You throw the sand against the wind,
    And the wind blows it back again."
    William Blake

    If only for the sake of the poor scientists, life were a little more ordinary. How inconsiderate of the divine.

  2. Did I mention the gene that's for Writing This Pome?
    There it sits at the end of my ninth chromosome,
    Just a small twist of meat,
    I call 'Hamlet's defeat',
    And deploy to out-think my Genome.

  3. I like the idea of a post inspiring poems. Why the ninth chromosome, Jack?

  4. I wish I had a dazzlingly insightful reason, BA...alas, 'ninth' just seemed to scan better than any other number 1 - 21.


    Then again, who's to say the Soul Gene isn't on the ninth?

    PS: Is 'insightful' the nost skin-scrawling word in the Englash language? 'Hopefully'?