|The Myth of Inevitable Nature and Reversible Nurture|
|Escrito por Matt Ridley|
|Sábado, 17 Março 2012 19:11|
For more than 50 years, sane voices have called for an end to the debate. Nature versus nurture has been declared everything from dead and ﬁnished to futile and wrong -a false dichotomy. Everybody with an ounce of common sense knows that human beings are a product of a transaction between the two. Yet nobody could stop the argument. Immediately after calling the debate futile or dead, the typical protagonist would charge into the battle himself and start accusing others of overemphasizing one or the other extreme. The two sides of this argument are the nativists, whom I will sometimes call geneticists, hereditarians, or naturians; and the empiricists, whom I will sometimes call environmentalists or nurturists.
Let me at once put my cards faceup. I believe human behavior has to be explained by both nature and nurture. I am not backing one side or the other. But that does not mean I am taking a "middle of the road" compromise. As Jim Hightower, a Texas politician, once said: "There ain't nothing in the middle of the road but a yellow line and a dead armadillo." I intend to make the case that the genome has indeed changed everything, not by closing the argument or winning the battle for one side or the other, but by enriching the argument from both ends till they meet in the middle. The discovery of how genes actually inﬂuence human behavior, and how human behavior inﬂuences genes, is about to recast the debate entirely. No longer is it nature versus nurture but nature via nurture. Genes are designed to take their cues from nurture. To appreciate what has happened, you will have to abandon cherished notions and open your mind. You will have to enter a world where your genes are not puppet masters pulling the strings of your behavior but puppets at the mercy of your behavior; a world where instinct is not the opposite of learning, where environmental inﬂuences are sometimes less reversible than genetic ones, and where nature is designed for nurture. These cheap and seemingly empty phrases are coming to life for the ﬁrst time in science. I intend to tell bizarre stories from the deepest recesses of the genome to show how the human brain is built for nurture. My argument in a nutshell is this: the more we lift the lid on the genome, the more vulnerable to experience genes appear to be...