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Science

Better Brain Wiring Linked To Family Genes 189

Posted by Soulskill
from the meat-based-datacenter dept.
Third Position sends this excerpt from PhysOrg: "How well our brain functions is largely based on our family's genetic makeup, according to a University of Melbourne led study. The study ... provides the first evidence of a genetic effect on how 'cost-efficient' our brain network wiring is, shedding light on some of the brain's make up (abstract). Lead author Dr. Alex Fornito from the Neuropsychiatry Centre at the University of Melbourne said the findings have important implications for understanding why some people are better able to perform certain tasks than others and the genetic basis of mental illnesses and some neurological diseases."
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Better Brain Wiring Linked To Family Genes

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  • Uh oh (Score:3, Funny)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday May 02, 2011 @02:58PM (#36003700)

    My family tree is a most wretched hive of scum and villainy. Guess that doesn't bode well for me.

    That does explain why most of my cousins never left the trailer park, though. I was the anomaly who made it to college. Maybe my wiring shorted out.

    • by vlm (69642)

      Hybrid vigor. Check your ancestors family trees.

    • Or, you are immune to the Brain Spawn.
    • Reminds me of one branch of my family that is some sort of big dark secret. At a wake, my grandpa was talking with one of his sisters about how he really don't know much about his family beyond his parents. Met one set of grandparents a couple of times and nobody else. "I know Uncle Jack but that's about it." "Oh, Jack wasn't really our uncle. We just called him that." It turned out that, other than meeting their father's parents a couple of times, they'd never met any other family ever. His sister s

      • by peragrin (659227)

        Actually odds are that it is that one side had a child that was born out of wedlock. It may not be yours but their side and your side never talked to them again.

        My father's side I have traced back to two points. The first of my family line to arrive from Scotland, and about 150 years before that when we lost our lands due to be assholes. looking at my family objectively I can very well believe the asshole part.

        *(you don't lose your land for being an asshole, but if you are an asshole and insult a king it

    • Yeah, My maternal grandfathers family came from a polish speaking enclave in what is now Belarus, incredibly isolated swampy area, impenetrable forests. This isolation seemed to result in some psychological issues, they were all mad as hatters, right down to my mom. My maternal grandmothers family came from an even more remote area near lake Baikal in Siberia but did not suffer from these kind of issues probably due to my great-great grandmother being Mongolian, a little outside DNA making all the differe

      • by keeboo (724305)

        Yeah, My maternal grandfathers family came from a polish speaking enclave in what is now Belarus, incredibly isolated swampy area, impenetrable forests.

        Let me guess.. they are from Polesie?

        This isolation seemed to result in some psychological issues, they were all mad as hatters, right down to my mom.

        Hmm... I'm curious now (I know eastern Polesie and people seemed normal to me, though very melancholic), what kind of "madness" you're talking about?

    • by jd (1658)

      Your family tree is on Tattooine?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Genes responsible for characteristics of living organism.
  • clearly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hazel Bergeron (2015538) on Monday May 02, 2011 @03:03PM (#36003758) Journal

    It is an uncomfortable truth, quite incompatible with any moral basis for meritocracy, that our fate is at worst sealed before we are born, and at best with the support of half a dozen early years of good nutrition and parenting. None of us really deserve our lot: the hardest worker will always be constrained by his mental limitations, while the genius can achieve very much with little effort.

    • Re:clearly (Score:4, Insightful)

      by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday May 02, 2011 @03:06PM (#36003784)

      How is it incompatible with a meritocracy and where would one find such a political structure anyway?

      Your merits are yours if you earned them via hard work or good breeding. Still a far better system than we have today.

      • Your merits are yours if you earned them via hard work or good breeding.

        Are you suggesting that you earnt your breeding?

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          What does that have to do with what merits I have?
          My family earned it in some manner of speaking, but really that has not a thing to do with it being a merit or not.

          • If you possess merits which are shown to be the result of your breeding, can you say you earnt those merits? It's a fairly simple question.

            • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

              Maybe the individual didn't earn them, but the family earned them by not breeding with morons.
              • And we're back to the justification for the feudal class system.

                • by h4rr4r (612664)

                  I never suggested such a thing.
                  In the Feudal system the ruling class had no merits bred or otherwise making them fit to run the show. Unless hemophilia is a merit.

                  • Their merit was their ability to lead/dominate, and descendants justified their position by the same argument as your own: that not just each individual but the whole family "earnt" its position by good breeding.

                    • by h4rr4r (612664)

                      Then the problem is what was considered a merit, not how they came to be. Considering how many had the various conditions that occur due to inbreeding they did not even have the merit of good breeding. If one was breeding dogs and got those results one would put them down or at least stop breeding that line.

                      If my parents selected a mate based on mental abilities and thus I have high mental abilities should I have to be drugged so that I cannot exceed the mental abilities of the average?

                    • If my parents selected a mate based on mental abilities and thus I have high mental abilities should I have to be drugged so that I cannot exceed the mental abilities of the average?

                      The discussion is whether you earnt it.

                      One follow-on might be to prevent people having what they did not earn. Another might be to stop considering that society can reasonably be based on people getting what they've earnt.

                    • by h4rr4r (612664)

                      No, you tried to make it that for some reason. The discussion was about moral implications in a meritocracy. Meritocracy is a system based on merits not necessarily earned ones.

                      Another might be to stop considering that society can reasonably be based on people getting what they've earnt.

                      Anyone who believes that is terribly naive.

                    • Your merits are yours if you earned them via hard work or good breeding.

                      This is the sentence I was immediately addressing.

                      The parent discussion on morality of meritocracy relates, I guess, to whether meritocracy is an idealistic approach ("people who achieve more deserve more") or a pragmatic approach ("we'll pay more to attract higher achievers because then more shit gets done"). Modern politics has been dangerously aligned to the idea that meritocracy is a moral ideal, suggesting something about the inherent worth of different human lives rather than merely noting one possibl

                    • by h4rr4r (612664)

                      Modern politics has been dangerously aligned to the idea that meritocracy is a moral ideal, suggesting something about the inherent worth of different human lives rather than merely noting one possible outcome of a market system.

                      Only because some fools think we live in a meritocracy, we do not. Much of this mess is the direct result of the laughable naive concepts the protestant work ethic puts forward. These beliefs are promoted because they are good for the ruling class.

                    • by Culture20 (968837)

                      If my parents selected a mate based on mental abilities and thus I have high mental abilities should I have to be drugged so that I cannot exceed the mental abilities of the average?

                      Of course. Although if your name is Harrison Bergeron [nexuslearning.net] then nothing can stop you.

                    • The issue here, is that governments are often pressured to take away from people that have honestly labored for what they have, to give to people who are of less merit, and undeserving of those resources. (Be they skill-less and rich, or skill-less and poor. The trend does not discriminate in and of itself.)

                      This is because really skilled and/or capable people (people who consistently succeed on their own merits, regardless of source for that merit) are a minority, whereas the less skilled (comparably) and t

                    • The issue here, is that governments are often pressured to take away from people that have honestly labored for what they have, to give to people who are of less merit, and undeserving of those resources. (Be they skill-less and rich, or skill-less and poor. The trend does not discriminate in and of itself.)

                      This is because really skilled and/or capable people (people who consistently succeed on their own merits, regardless of source for that merit) are a minority, whereas the less skilled (comparably) and the totally skill-less far outnumber them.

                      Such is typical of any anomalous demographic.

                      In an ideal situation, the really skilled would be lauded. Their rarity would be naturally self limiting toward their influence in the society, and the normally skillfull would power the society, creating a trend toward being skillfull.

                      But the reality is of course different. What would happen instead is that the less skilled (Be it by fate, fortune, or choice, does not matter) would demand the boons and perks of the skilled, without gaining any skills themselves other than how to bilk the system.

                      As such, people who REALLY DO work hard to get what they have, often have it yanked out from under them by either greedy rich bastards, or by well meaning but politicially enabled robber barrons who think they are helping the poor.

                      Note: By this I mean things like the following scenario-- Hard working and brilliant inventor creates a new invention that could revolutionize the world--- Huge patent troll sues him into oblivion, gobbles down the invention he worked hard to create, gets richer at his expense, and he gets nothing. Possibly jail time, and a lifetime of debt.

                      Brilliant chemisty is on the verge of creating a new plastic derived exclusively from waste cellulose and plant oil that biodegrades safely. Goes to jail for owning chemical glassware for suspicion of creating drugs.

                      And or-- Hard working person manages to beat the odds, and get a useful start in the business world. As the business succeeds, laws intended to keep the ultra-wealthy from being too powerful come to bear against him, and push him back into the poor house. Whatever he used to get ahead is siezed by government of larger enterprise.

                      This is because of the EXTREME divide between rich and poor-- Any measure of success would cross that line. (How do you discriminate against the 1% population that owns >90% of wealth, without discriminating against the small demographic of upwardly mobile citizens that alone would be able to erode that state?)

                      EG-- both sides of the knife keep the creme from rising, which is exactly what it was meant to do. The rich stay rich, the poor stay poor, and both actively engineer the situation, knowingly or unknowingly.

                      A true meritocracy would be radically different from what we have today, and would certainly be even MORE exclusive than the plutocracy we have right now... [Which would be bad!] You can always get money (Illegally, or legally, does not matter really once you have enough of it, which is why lazy and unscrupulous rich fuckers thrive in it. It is also why there is a tiny glimmer of chance that poor people can become upwardly mobile.) but you cannot magically become truly elite without real talent, or the means to hone it. Practice all you want, you wont become Beethoven or Bach unless you have talen; Paint all you want, you wont become a Rembrant without innate talent, which is naturally rare.

                      As such, a meritocracy would be riddled with REAL ivory tower mentalities, and as your oponent above points out, this is how the fuedal system started. All royal dynasties come from a skilled warrior, or from a wise administrator who unites a divided population.

                      What would come out of a meritocracy would be the decendents of really smart and capable people riding the coat-tails of those people's legacies, rather than forging their own--- because they are statistically unlikely to be able to do so-- coupled with the sense of entitlement that being raised in such a priviledged condition would inspire.

                      Compare this to what is happening now with the "Lifetime + 70 years" berne copyright madness with the "Estates" of famous and brilliant authors like Tolkien, or Phillip K. Dick. These people had NOTHING to do with the creation of the literary works that were given the copyright protection status... Yet they suck up the reward at everyone else's expense, and see nothing wrong with that situation.

                      While I personally wouldnt mind being judged exclusively by my abilities and merits (I can do a whole shit-ton of crazy{|neat} things and do them very well.) the vast majority of people would be greatly disadvantaged by such an arrangement, and would more actively try to engineer loopholes in such a system than what happens now, and what happens now does not really need explaining.

                      What really needs to happen, is to not be judged on merit, but to prohibit freeriding. Prohibit the sale of copyrights flat out. Prohibit the sale of patents similarly, etc. If a corporation goes out of business, its assets in the IP domain become public domain. Reintroduce short protection terms, and evaluate personal wealth and not business assets for taxation. (And prosecute corporate fraud with the predjudice that the US levies against accused pedophiles, to make it so taboo nobody wants to touch it.)

                      Throw in some equitibility clauses in the legal system to prevent one-sided lawyer walls (If you buy the services of an attourney, then the fees charged by that attourney must not exceed a proscribed threshold compared to the fees levied by the oppositional attourney. EG-- If you hire an attourney, it cant be a multimillion dollar attourney fee, paired against a court appointed one's fee. Attempting it would land you immediately in jail, or if you are a corporation, would result in instant default of judgement to your opponent's favor. Something like a 10% max variance, with a proscribed limit introduced for Gratis representation.) and you would be well on the way to building a better tomorrow. It wouldnt solve all problems, but it would be on the right path.

                      As things currently stand, I agree with you though.

                      A good work ethic only results in your getting abused by your employer, since there is actually a strong disincentive to give any sort of prefferential treatment toward such hard working employees,
                      ("Why did you give Bob a raise? I bet it's because he's a brown nosing bastard who stays late doing his work, and constantly butters up the boss about what he wants, and does all those special projects!" --- Or "Tina only got that promotion because she's a woman! I bet she's banging the boss after hours." or any other number of excuses other people tell themselves when they are outshown by a brighter star.) and every incentive to try to treat all employees like cookie cutter drones, regardless of capability, in the interests of "Fairness." (Even when this results in the equivilent of rampant failure of the "Fizz Buzz test" in terms of employee competence.)

                      In addition to the overt disincentives to promote actually valuable employees, there are also many covert ones too-- like strategically leveraging that talent-- (Boss uses the kick-ass presentation he delegated of to the really super-capable hard working employee to have made for him, who worked his/her guts out on it--- so HE Gets a promotion-- And promptly forgets about the employee's hard work (except to further exploit it later). As the onion gets more layers, simply increase the corporate necessity for the workers to stay on the bottom rung, so the bosses can sit in progressively prettier seats and get bigger bonuses.)

                      In a world that does not work with artificial power structures (Such as say, an agrarian subsistence society with minimal levels of "strong-men" penis waving) then hard work really DOES pay off.

                      Working harder on your crops gives you a better yeild, healthier and fatter kids, and a better standard of living---- Working harder on your roof makes it leak less, and last longer-- etc.

                      It is the introduction of the artificial power structure, which contributes nothing except logistical control over the society (which is necessary to ensure quality of service overall, such as in public healthcare, roads, water and sewer service, Housing and architectural standards, etc..) that renders individual hard work to be of little value to the individual; This is because the impetus stops being about the individual bettering themself, and more toward the individual servicing the society. (The master roofer now makes the roofs for everyone in town; People respect the hard work less than they did when they had to do it themselves as a consequence, but because everyone has the superior roofs, fewer people get sick, and the society as a whole is better off.)

                      This makes sense in an idealized perspective-- If you better the society, you better yourself by proxy-- at least in theory. The reality however, is not nearly as alluring.

                      Unless you specifically enjoy servicing the society, mother Theresa style, there is very little reward given for having such a strong work ethic, and much more to be gained by attempting to get the society to service you, as the individual--- By purposefully attempting to attract the attention of the quality of service aspect of the administration. (Engineering welfare checks, Milking unemployment, Weasling in on disability pay, or in the case of the hypothetical village roofer above, refusing to do good quality roofing that meets civil minimums, requiring the government to intervene-- Giving you a free roof in exchange for being a lazy bastard. etc.)

                      This trend appears to have a curved distribution, such that as the society increases in size (and with it the requirement for a more beaurocratic government to maintain QoS for that population), the profitability of being a freeloader increases in what seems to be almost logarithmic proportion. (EG, if the government is perfectly efficient at redistributing wealth/enforcing QoS, the perfectly desirable position to be in as a citizen is on the recieving end of that redistribution-- Not on the production side. This means you need to be more unproductive than your neighbor, so you get the benefit of your neighbor's efforts, without having to give up anything yourself. Since the government is perfectly successful at this redistribution, there is zero incentive to be a producer who gets robbed, and every incentive to be a freerider who gets paid.)

                      Granted, that is a subjective evaluation-- of a subjective metric. I do not know how it could be objectively measured without introducing all kinds of contamination on the dataset. Nobody wants to admit being a freeloader, afterall. [Any attempt at objectively categorizing this trend would be fraught with false positives, self-referential metrics, unprovable correlations, etc. That is why I wont even try to say I am objective here. That is why I say it *SEEMS* to follow such a pattern.]

                      This is one of the reasons why I am terrified of globalization, and the idea of super-huge world governments, no matter what the political underpinning is. I do not believe that humanity as a whole is capable of the necessary levels of altruism and self-sacrifice necessary for such very large governments to function in any semblence of efficiency, simply because of the natural desires humans currently have for self-betterment at the expense of the rest of the society. [Tragedy of the commons, FreeRider problem, Basic sociopathy, etc.]

                      Imagine, for example, how well a beehive would work if all the workers were churning out larva of their own (instead of caring exclusively for the queen's larva-- eliminating the population control mechanism where the queen stops laying eggs when the hive is stressed) , hoarding honey and pollen from other bees[and stealing said honey and pollen back, but for personal not public use], and refusing to gather any of their own from flowers. The hive would suffer the equivilent of economic collapse very quickly, as the consuming population outpaced growth and production of the working population. Incentive to go out and forage would drop precipitously, as the probability of having it (product of foraging) simply get stolen would rise exponentially.

                      Bees do not act like humans do, so they can pull off that level of socialist cooperation. However, humans DO act selfishly like that, which is exaclty why we cannot organize that way, and why attempts at creating that kind of organization have historically met with supreme failure (Communism, et al. It dies from logistical problems as the Government itself starts to feel entitled, and to take over the role of robber.)

                      I am of the firm belief that the most efficient government style for humans, given our current instinctual condition, is the small village setting of at most 500 persons, with minimal inter-village competition, with a directly elected mayor type government. It has a more ideal balance between societal empitus to have roadways, building codes, healthcare, and a functional legal system-- without the level of abstraction that fascilitates the freerider problem in the society. (assuming the society behaves rationally anyway. If it does not, it will collapse even at this small level quite quickly.)

                      Sadly, much like the "Selfish bee" beehive thought experiment above, we have ballooned in population, with all the logistical horrors associated with it. We are very much poised to suffer a collapse as the incentive to be a producer is replaced with the incentive to be a straight up consumer, resulting in dwindling sources of vital resources. (You can see this right now in the trend toward creating government protected oligopolies, who suddenly become "Too big to fail.")

                      In the attempt to prevent this destructive spiral, we look ever more earnestly toward the symbiotic relationship we have with the artificial power structure of government we have created. [Antitrust, Consumer protection laws, et al.] However, government does not operate for free, and once it starts consuming more than is fiscally reasonable in order to get what it needs done, "done" (That is to say, as the population of free riders increases, the logistical overhead involved in getting the needed resources for those people, coupled with the ballooning needs of the government itself to provide that service, becomes less mitigating and more exacerbating), it ends up being a problem in and of itself.

                      Que: Current condition of US and many other "Capitalist" governments, as they engage in hemmoraging money into the failing oligopoly infrastructure, at citizen expense. They try desperately and are ultimately futile in attempts to promote new sources of production-- er... "Innovation".. due to previously enacted measured that were intended to encourage same. (Like service franchise agreements at city and state levels, which then prevent such new competition from entering the picture.)

                      The oligopoly itself has ceased being motivated to produce, but instead to freeride--- [CEOs getting big bonuses for running their companies into the ground, founded by taxpayer bailout money-- and or-- Vital infrastructure providers, like telecom or energy companies, providing only the barely minimal level of service needed, and hoarding the rest as profit--- [Telecom companies gobbling down the equity of FCC licensed spectrum and charging absurd fees while refusing to build out infrastructure--- Oil and other energy consotria buying up and actively stifling competing energy technologies, charging record oil prices, while simultaneously pulling in record profits-- etc.]

                      Again, without either an extreme reduction in the number of persons total (and thus the demands placed on the government, and thus for complexity of government, and ability of government to stifle production unwittingly.), OR-- A DRASTIC reduction in garanteed QoS offered to the population {to promote self-production, which is what is happening with FOSS, but is being hedged in by patent trolls. FOSS software almost never comes with a garantee, for example.}, OR-- a radical change in the human condition [Like, we stop acting like humans], I do not see a way out of this scenario.

                      The natural hard-limit of total resource depletion will enforce solution #1 through something akin to the Mathusian catastrophe, regardless of how maligned it is with many modern thinkers. (I disagree with such modern thinkers, because nature runs on such depletions almost like clockwork, and as such there is a very large body of data to work from--- [Including human animal populations. Examine the decline of the Anasazi, for instance.] Detractors attempt to imbue human behavior with some magically ephemeral quality, and to treat technology like a magic bullet without accepting that technology is based on science, and science is based on fundementally repeatable natural phenomena--Like the population cycle phenomenon. As such, technology will only extend the disequilibrium; it will not prevent the collapse, because it does not eliminate scarcity, it only offsets it at some other metric's expense. Further, humans are not magically different instinctually from other selfish animals, which is exactly why our society looks the way it does, as pointed out above.)

                      Eventually, we must either accept that we cannot keep balooning our resource footprint through population and QoS increases at the world's expense--- OR, we will suffer a catastrophic population reduction of global proportions. Sorry, but its the truth. Say it is doomsaying, whatever-- it wont change the factuality of the situation.

                      That means we would have to start doing some VERY "Inhuman" things, for sure, if we want to keep the current level of population density. Things like-- Eliminating the infirm, (Yes, exactly what that implies. Bees do it all the time. Look it up if you dont believe me. It is vital to how they operate as a hive. There is no "retire in the tropics" option for such a system. Only "Old==Dead". Bees pluck off the wings of diseased and infirm workers, then bodily kick them out of the hive.) and a whole host of other "Horrible, and Dystopian" social practices.

                      Humans will never go for that willingly. When faced with the idea of such things, we ALL instinctively think about it happening to US-- and we all would actively seek loopholes to get out of it-- thus making the practice and empty gesture overall, and conversely dooming the whole society. ("Not me, *I'M the PRESIDENT*!", or "Not me, "I'M Rich!", etc, etc, etc. In the end, the problem of resource depletion does not care about such things. Attempting to create such loopholes only dooms the whole system. In bee hives, even old queens get euthanized. That is why they are successful. Again, this is NOT how humans behave.)

                      As such, I find the more probable outcome to be war, violence, forced redistribution (and even euthanism of "recalcitrant"/"Greedy" producers {Soviet Russia "Ukraine Genocide" style}, if bad enough) being more and more viggorously enforced until there is no incentive left to produce at all, at which point the violence will intensify until all resources are consumed, population falls naturally, and the incentive to freeride becomes radically reset back in favor of being a producer.... Then the cycle will restart.

                      Such collapses have happened numberous times, and each time humans held the same faulted premises that they were special, that the collapse would never happen to them, and that they were smart and could avoid it "This time."

                      So far, the score has been thousands in favor of nature, and 0 in favor of mankind in that debate. Sad but true-- Rome fell. It fell HARD, and took the western world with it. It was almost a millenium before the west recouped from the destruction. Soviet Russia fell. It fell hard. China is poised to bloom, then fail the same way. How hard do you think our current civilization will fall? Do you really want to pretend it can't happen? Rome didnt fall because it didnt have enough food... It fell because the government became too inefficient for it's geological size, and population cap. In the end it ate itself, exactly as I laid out above. The US and EU governments are showing similar signs. (EU bailing out whole NATIONS in debt--- Like Greece.-- US govt bailing out state governments with bunk credit [like California and pals], and propping up oligarch corporations and institutions to attempt to preserve vital infrastructures.) "Rome" is ready to burn. It just needs a match.

                      How many times does this have to happen, before we as a species learn our lesson? God only knows. {and I am agnostic!}

                      Only fools believe they can get ahead in such a situation by hard work--- But the people that think freeriding is a good idea are even bigger fools.

                      And the people who look for the government to supply them with a living at the expense of others, are the biggest fools of all.

                      Given choice in the levels of foolishness, having the will and ethic to produce for oneself seems the least foolish. I suppose the wise would cultivate skill in secret, while freeriding. They would survive after the collapse, while the others would starve. (if they can survive being mugged in the short term, that is.)

                      dude. tl;dr. seriously.

              • unfortunately those very same morons get to say who the morons are.

                Maybe it's just a natural part of evolution that a species splits by one part of it being repulsed by the other.

                Does Gold posses any merits?

            • by h4rr4r (612664)

              I never suggest I earned them, only that they are merits anyway.

              Merit: any admirable quality or attribute

          • by williamhb (758070)

            What does that have to do with what merits I have?
            My family earned it in some manner of speaking, but really that has not a thing to do with it being a merit or not.

            Unless you designed the universe, neither you nor your family nor mine even "earned" our own existence. And you have to go back hundreds of thousands of generations to find a member of your family that even "earned" your ability to breathe. And that does have a bearing on the "moral basis" of meritocracy you were talking about -- none of us earned what we've got. We don't automatically assume those who inherited lots of money are "meritous" so why should be assume that because I inherited some other unea

    • Given that you've got what you've got from your genes, I, as a parent, am going to mostly praise my child for trying hard and "working smart" rather than just BEING smart.

      After all, you can't get a brain transplant, but you CAN work hard to make the most of what you've got.

      --PeterM

      • by jd (1658)

        You can't get a brain transplant, true, but there is ample evidence that what you learn, and how intensively you learn, shapes your brain to a significant degree. Shaping your education according to your brain's strengths aught to maximize your ability and might easily take you to a point beyond where genes alone can take you.

        Diet will also play a role - diet alters how genes are interpreted, so good genes can certainly be crippled with a poor diet and average genes -may-, under certain circumstances, be en

      • by mcvos (645701)

        Given that you've got what you've got from your genes, I, as a parent, am going to mostly praise my child for trying hard and "working smart" rather than just BEING smart.

        I agree wholeheartedly. I've always been terribly lazy, relying on my intelligence to get me through. Worked well enough for me, but who knows what I could have accomplished if I'd actually learn some discipline and persistence? Those are the values I'm trying to instill in my son: keep trying and don't give up.

    • the hardest worker will always be constrained by his mental limitations, while the genius can achieve very much with little effort.

      As Einstein put it: "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

      I find this enitre report on the study to be highly suspect, for example it says "Previous work has shown that people with more efficient brain connections score higher on tests of intelligence", a statement so profoundly free of any connection to actual science that it goes well beyond religious. I've seen plenty of hard workers sail right past highly

      • I appreciate that Einstein moved from one pro-eugenics/racist state (against his own race) to another pro-eugenics/racist state, and that this baggage added to the guilt of the bomb awoke in him quite a social conscience.

        But comments like this one were romantic fantasy.

        It is certainly true that different people have different talents, some hard to discover. But there's no reason to think that everyone's endowed with the same level of "genius", simply differently distributed. It's a beautiful but entirely un

      • by tgrigsby (164308)


        I find this enitre report on the study to be highly suspect, for example it says "Previous work has shown that people with more efficient brain connections score higher on tests of intelligence", a statement so profoundly free of any connection to actual science that it goes well beyond religious. I've seen plenty of hard workers sail right past highly intelligent people in academia and employment circles.

        They didn't say that efficient brains are more successful in life, only that they are more intelligent.

    • Be glad the world isn't fair. If it was, we would deserve all this.
    • I've met a lot of people in my life. I've found most of them to be about the same in intelligence. I've rarely met someone dramatically dumber than I am and while I have had the pleasure to meet some bonafide geniuses ( in my opinion ) I never felt like there was a huge gulf between us.

      I agree, really smart/dumb people rarely come from dumb/smart families.

      However, as far maximizing potential goes, from my life experience it seems most people are held back by factors that can be changed:

      - parenting styl

    • Calvin [wikipedia.org], is that you?

    • But some limits are placed on what you can do, how easy it will be, and how good you'll be.

      For a geek analogy you can look at it like D&D stats. What you roll determines what you can be, and how good you'll be at it. If you roll a low int, you can't be a wizard. Roll a medium int and you can be a wizard, but won't be as good as you can be. If you have lots of high rolls, you have a lot of options and will be good at all of them. If you have a lot of low rolls, you have few options and won't be that good

    • by steelfood (895457)

      That's exactly what a meritocracy is. And it's about as fair as things get.

      It's better than an aristocracy where there exists an arbitrarily-defined "ruling class". It's better than communism where people are punished for being better than their peers. It's better than a caste system where you're perpetually stuck in your position.

      At the end of the day, meritocracy gives people incentive to be constructive by giving them a chance at social mobility. And that's all that's important in a functioning society.

      Y

      • It's better than an aristocracy where there exists an arbitrarily-defined "ruling class".

        Both about coming from good stock. I don't see why it's any more "fair" to reward someone because he inherits his parents' intelligence vs inheriting parents' money. It might align better with some economic/political ideal, but the reward is just as unearnt.

        It's better than communism where people are punished for being better than their peers.

        Marxist communism doesn't do that. Soviet socialism didn't do it either: the more talented absolutely got more privileges and higher income. Indeed, applied talent always got you into good schools, with no need to worry about paying your way.

        It's better than a caste system where you're perpetually stuck in your position.

        A caste syst

    • by Beliskner (566513)
      Education is a system of programming our brain wiring and then testing our brain wiring (SATs), and life is the process of using our brain wiring
    • by osgeek (239988)

      You'll have to spend a lot more time discussing the meaning of the word "moral", I guess. Meritocracy is the only moral basis for a society, prima facie.

      To me, it's immoral for a society to try to equalize outcomes for all individuals when it's obvious that they have wildly different performance and productivity levels that should be encouraged through reward. It doesn't really matter whether these level differences are the result of nature or nurture.

      • Meritocracy is the only moral basis for a society, prima facie.

        That's as assumption-ridden as, "The Bible is the only moral basis for a society, prima facie."

        To me, it's immoral for a society to try to equalize outcomes for all individuals

        What's an outcome? And where did your false dichotomy come from?

        that should be encouraged through reward

        The rewards of achievement and reputation will follow from talent and effort. If you have good meals and safe shelter, what else would you want? Certainly humanity's primary source of research, the university, is populated mostly by people who feel this way (otherwise they'd be somewhere else).

  • by Myji Humoz (1535565) on Monday May 02, 2011 @03:19PM (#36003918)
    The only novel contribution the article has to scientific understanding seems to be this gem:

    "We found that people differed greatly in terms of how cost-efficient the functioning of their brain networks were, and that over half of these differences could be explained by genes,” said Dr. Fornito.

    Please note that the study "compared the brain scans of 38 identical and 26 non-identical twins from the Australian Twin Registry." That is to say, each twin is compared against the other, but not against unrelated people. These individuals had highly similar genetic makeups and likely very similar backgrounds/family environments.

    The statement that half of these differences could be explained by genes is EXTREMELY misleading. It implies to the casual reader that half of the brain's efficiency is linked to genes. IT IS NOT THE CASE.

    Lets use a real life example.
    Couple A goes shopping. The man always buys a suit for $1000. The woman buys a hat for $10 half the time, but nothing at other times.
    Couple B goes shopping. The man always buys a suit for $1000. The woman buys a hat for $10 every time.

    Average cost of couple A: $1005. Average cost of couple B: $1010

    The difference is $5, and all of it is driven by the behavior of the woman in couple A. However, it's blatantly obvious that the women in the couples don't account for anything close to a significant portion of the cost. It's just like how if 90% of the variance in height is explained by genes, it doesn't mean that genes control 90% of your height.

    TLDR VERSION: Just because half the difference can be explained by genes doesn't mean that genes account for 50% of the brain efficiency. There is no substitute for raw talent nurtured by a stimulating and engaging environment.
    • by vlm (69642)

      The woman buys ... nothing ...

      Now you're confusing us with unrealistic examples.

      TLDR:

      Intelligence = (0.5) (genetics) + (everything else)

      It seems the coefficient of 0.5 has been proven, but Myji Humoz claims the numerical value of (everything else) >> (genetics)

      • by jd (1658)

        I'm assuming the grandparent post is factoring in a baseline of 1/4 the US deficit for the woman spending. Since this is a constant, it can be divided out.

    • Bad sensationalist reporting.

    • by syousef (465911)

      Lets use a real life example.
      Couple A goes shopping. The man always buys a suit for $1000. The woman buys a hat for $10 half the time, but nothing at other times.
      Couple B goes shopping. The man always buys a suit for $1000. The woman buys a hat for $10 every time.

      Average cost of couple A: $1005. Average cost of couple B: $1010

      Real life outcome: Both men poisoned by their wives for their money.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      Emphasis mine:

      There is no substitute for raw talent nurtured by a stimulating and engaging environment.

      What do you suppose raw talent is? It sure as hell isn't in the "nuture" half of the spectrum.

    • by sdguero (1112795)
      Nice analogy. I think the root of this "research" may well be Australian superiority complex over the indigenous people.

      When I visited New Zealand in 2007 the top headline in the paper was "Maori found to be genetically inclined towards violence." The article used similar psuedo-scientific interpretation of the data to prove that the Maori people in New Zealand are born violent with a "warrior gene."

      http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/120718/warrior-gene-blamed-for-maori-violence [ninemsn.com.au]

      I'm glad that somet
    • by jd (1658)

      There is no substitute for raw talent nurtured by a stimulating and engaging environment.

      I mostly agree. This is, by far, the biggest factor. Genetic makeup comes second. Diet comes third. In fourth place comes tactical education (ie: tailoring what is learned so that it is not only stimulating and engaging but also maximizes brain development). I'd put styled education (ie: picking a style of teaching suitable for the material) fifth or possibly sixth. Rewards come about 279th on the list, punishment at 28

    • It's just like how if 90% of the variance in height is explained by genes, it doesn't mean that genes control 90% of your height.

      Does this mean that the difference between my height and a mouse's height is not controlled by genes?

      TLDR VERSION: Just because half the difference can be explained by genes doesn't mean that genes account for 50% of the brain efficiency. There is no substitute for raw talent nurtured by a stimulating and engaging environment.

      Hmmm, I wonder where did this raw talent thingie come from?

  • this being used as a justification by bigots.
  • Lead author Dr. Alex Fornito from the Neuropsychiatry Centre at the University of Melbourne said the findings have important implications for understanding why some people are better able to perform certain tasks than others and the genetic basis of mental illnesses and some neurological diseases

    On a related note, researchers determined that various organ systems in the body have a genetic link as to their functioning. This opens insight to diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

    • by jd (1658)

      Since all organs share the same genes...... no. Good attempt at satire, just a few million miles short of the mark.

      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        Since all organs share the same genes...... no. Good attempt at satire, just a few million miles short of the mark.

        Wouldn't the brain share those same genes, too? As such, wouldn't brain structure also share genetic links, just like organ structure?

        • by jd (1658)

          Everything in the body has identical genes. Unless you are one of a number of people (percentage unknown) who absorbed your own twin before being born. The absorbed twin will have its own DNA. I believe something like 24-25 cases of this have been firmly established in the US.

          How the genes differentiate is, as yet, unknown but is likely in part to do with the epigenome. This switches genes on and off, alters how bases map to proteins, etc. It is altered by diet and other chemical signals, so it is logical t

  • How could we have ended up with being a rather intelligent species during our evolution if it were different?

    Have you ever thought about the fact that exactly you are the product of an uninterrupted string of heroes who have managed to fight and survive every hardship the world threw at them for millions of years? And managed not only to survive but to bear and protect their children until they were able to protect themselves and bear their own children and protect them against nature, against animals, agai

Everyone can be taught to sculpt: Michelangelo would have had to be taught how not to. So it is with the great programmers.

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