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Biotech Science

Gene Found to Explain Repeated Mistakes 299 writes "A December 6th article in Nature explores the relationship between a specific gene and those of us prone to repeatedly making the same mistakes. From the article: "Drug addicts, alcoholics and compulsive gamblers are known to be more likely than other people to have this genetic mutation ..." The gene results in the development of fewer D2 receptors in the brain, a condition which the study has shown leads to a lessened ability to learn from experience." So no complaining about dupes and typos: it's genetic!
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Gene Found to Explain Repeated Mistakes

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  • Just what we need (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:30PM (#21624501) Homepage
    When our society already has plenty of excuses to avoid personal responsibility (e.g. overdiagnosis of ADD to include kids who are just undiscipled), we give more ammunition to people who just don't want to try to get it right.
  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:31PM (#21624511)
    Just look at the ad state of the World. What we would need is people that can learn from other's mistakes, but what we have seems to be a majority that cannot even learn from their own.

    Back on topic, I think this is very interesting reaearch. Dare one even hope for the possibility of a cure?
  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:34PM (#21624527)
    I think that having this repeated mistake poriblem directly causes you to want to tell others what to do. After all, you do not learn from giving bad advice or instructions either. Explains a lot in politics, religion and management. All these creers where you can be sucessful even after having repeatedly demonstrated bad judgement.
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:36PM (#21624549)
    But isn't this almost the definition of stupidity?
  • by Trackster ( 761525 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:48PM (#21624671) Journal
    I think it's interesting that we are so easily convinced that genes control every little detail of our lives. Just because they find a gene that, when modified, affects this trait or that trait; we assume that's all there is to it. It's not. Playing with the genes may be _one_ way to get a certain result. However, it is _not the only_ way to get that same result. Anyone who knows the smallest bit about psychology and sociology know there are many ways to consistantly produce children (and by extension, adults) who repeatedly make mistakes. Heck, even physical injuries to the brain can produce certain behaviors.

    The road called "genes" isn't the only one that can take you to Rome. There are plenty of others. If life was like a golf green, genes would be the contour and speed of the green. Learning, society and environment would be the skill of the golfer, the putter, the wind, etc.

  • by caution live frogs ( 1196367 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @01:01PM (#21624761)
    My biggest problem with this sort of science is that the general public usually gets everything about it wrong, thanks to bad reporting or poor understanding of science in general. Someone publishes an article stating that morph A of gene X is found more often than one would statistically expect in a number of persons with a specific condition, but when the public gets the results we get headlines screaming "OMFG TEH GHEY GENE FOUND" and that kind of crap, because it makes better press. Yes, there are conditions that can be caused by an aberration in a single gene (albinism, narcolepsy, etc.) but more often than not genes that control complex behaviors require multiple interactions between multiple genes; until proven otherwise you should always understand that publication of a finding like this is indicitave of a contributing factor, not a causal factor, for a given condition.

    Trust me. I do neuroscience for a living. When you're preparing the publication for submission, you always work your hardest to ensure that everything is accurate and properly phrased to be crystal clear about the limitations and drawbacks of the findings, only to have a reporter read nothing more than the abstract and get everything wrong. Don't blame the societal excuses on the scientists. People inclined to take the easy way out don't end up with PhDs, research careers, and articles in Nature.
  • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @01:21PM (#21624919) Homepage
    We already know that a lot of bad decisions are motivated by other physiological factors - adolescent "testosterone poisioning", PMS, dementia, etc. The fact that cognition has a material basis puts us in a place beyond either "excuses" or simple "suck it up" volitionalism. Each of us is, ultimately and existentially, "responsible" for ourselves. Yet much of our behavior and attitudes are still formed by factors out of our control, and there is no one I know who doesn't have thoughts, behaviors, and emotions which baffle them.

    Knowing the roots of these behaviors gives us a way to short-circuit the negative ones.
  • by QuickFox ( 311231 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @01:23PM (#21624937)
    Considering this [] it makes more sense if the practice of journalism becomes punishable by death.
  • by j-pimp ( 177072 ) <> on Saturday December 08, 2007 @01:31PM (#21624995) Homepage Journal

    This American disdain for politicians is perplexing. You claim to be so proud of your democracy. And yet you despise the people who personify and work for that democracy?

    American's hate all forms of government. We just hate ours the least. I doubt hating our government officials is a uniquely American phenomenon either. Perhaps our two party system makes it a bit more pronounced, but I find it hard to believe that no other country shows disdain for its leaders. Also hating ones leaders fits well into the belief that government is a necessary evil.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @01:34PM (#21625019) Journal
    When our society already has plenty of excuses to avoid personal responsibility (e.g. overdiagnosis of ADD to include kids who are just undiscipled),

    I think the problem is that humans on average are not designed to sit still for hours at little desks and move little symbols on flat bleached trees. A "problem child" may have been a brilliant hunter in an earlier era. I've seen families where one kid is almost an angel and the other from the same parents is a hyper mess. Whips and chains may work in the short term, but create a disturbed personality later in life.
  • by QuickFox ( 311231 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @01:35PM (#21625033)

    1000 years of wars, infighting, sellouts, torture, serfdom and broken promises by those in power, and you still don't get it?
    There are differences between the systems 1000 years ago and the current systems.

    We don't count on the politicians to be perfect. If you do, you'll inevitably be extremely disappointed, since they are people like other people. They'll look out for themselves just like most people do. Plus many of them love power. We count on that, and adjust our system in such ways that their self-interest will work in our favor.

    There's no need to expect extraordinary idealism and then be surprised and despise them for being just like everybody. Expect them to be selfish and work with it.

    I still wonder what you'd prefer instead.
  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) * on Saturday December 08, 2007 @02:04PM (#21625289) Homepage Journal

    It would make more sense for you Americans to simply expect your politicians to be selfish like everybody, and not despise them for that, and instead despise your system if it doesn't provide suitable checks and balances. Which I think it doesn't.

    +1 insightful, buddy. But the average American confuses the system with the nation. Despise the system? Then you're being unpatriotic. Another built-in design problem is that as you say, we should change the system so that the politicians have checks and balances. But we can't do that; only the politicians can. This is a deep and serious design flaw.

  • by QuickFox ( 311231 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @02:18PM (#21625405)
    One of the best systems for checks and balances is the press, the media, checking on the politicians and reporting to the people. Of course this requires that a large proportion of the citizens be active, carefully choosing media that play this role faithfully, demanding that they do it well.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2007 @02:22PM (#21625453)

    No. I'm not stupid; I have an excellent degree from (according to recent reviews) the world's second best university and I have an interesting and very well paid job.

    However, I've been aware for many years that I have what's called an "addictive personality". I enjoy drugs and gambling far too much. But, aware of my tendencies, I don't do either more than once a year. Except smoking, which I also love (and yes, that is stupid).

    I think that stupidity and addictive tendencies are unrelated. But if you suffer from both you're likely to have a shit life.

  • by QuickFox ( 311231 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @02:38PM (#21625591)
    The citizens themselves, outside this collusion, could solve this problem, by carefully choosing media that defend democracy, by guarding the guardians. The citizens could demand from the media that they perform this task with great care.

    One very unfortunate part of the US system is the widespread belief that institutional checks and balances make sense and are sufficient. If instead you saw the media as crucial, you'd demand more from your media, and your media would see this as a selling argument.
  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) * on Saturday December 08, 2007 @02:50PM (#21625681) Homepage Journal

    One of the best systems for checks and balances is the press, the media, checking on the politicians and reporting to the people.

    Ok, let's look at that. The press discovers behavior X, for instance, voting themselves a raise constantly. Reports it to the people. The people have no method to control, punish or regulate this behavior. So the one thing the people can do is vote a politician out on the next cycle. This has to be done one at a time, because if you live in state A, you can't vote on the politician from state B. This also has to be done in the face of perceived good the politician has done in other areas for the locals. If successful, the political party, another entity the people have no power over, promptly provides a new candidate set with the same sets of inclinations, while rewarding the first politician with a lucrative seat on a thinktank or something similar for their service to the party. The people choose from this set, and we're right back where we started.

    This is why the press doesn't work to police the system. The best it can do is knock off a politician here and there, but that has no significant effect on legislation or the behavior of the group because no law or other output from the group can be affected by the actions of any particular member. Remember: They're misbehaving as a group.

    That's why we're getting laws that proclaim the Internet is a terrorist threat, the USAPATRIOT act (which very few legislators bothered to read), numerous unconstitutional laws, that's why the head of a committee very much responsible for affecting regulation of the Internet thought it was a "series of tubes", and so forth on the legislative front. There's no means for us to change any of that.

    That's why pork and bill stuffing continues unabated; that's why PACs and corporations continue to purchase laws with money, sex, junkets, etc. on the manipulation front. That's why senators feel free to hardly ever show up in the senate when running for president or (fill in the blank) on the "duty" front. These things are blessed by the political parties, and that means that you will never have a candidate that doesn't support them, albeit tacitly.

    Further, that's why the press feels free to try to manipulate the election process - because the only difference it will make is how responsive the system is to the corporations that own the press. So they're quite intent on getting the most corporate friendly candidate in there, it can affect their bottom line. Watch how they behave, and have been behaving, with regard to Ron Paul for a terrific current example of this kind of behavior. Poll manipulation, sidelining in debates, failure to mention in (otherwise) general coverage of the candidates... if you actually pay attention, it could hardly be more obvious. The problem is, and has been for quite some time, that paying attention doesn't solve the problem. We have no mechanism that can solve the problem; the system has evolved to lock us - the citizens - out.

  • There's no need to expect extraordinary idealism and then be surprised and despise them for being just like everybody. Expect them to be selfish and work with it.
    I still wonder what you'd prefer instead

    Bitching about politicians is patriotic and an American birthright. If Jesus Christ were President, we would bitch about him too, and he'd never make it over 50% in the polls unless He bombed someone.

    We know our form of government is the best and our country is the best, but, if we don't keep bitching about it, or trying to improve ourselves, then, we'll wind up as yet another nation that lost its purpose. Democrat, Republican, Conservative, or Liberal, alike, are all trying to put forth ideas to improve our country. If they didn't, and didn't fight about it, then, wouldn't that defeat the whole purpose of Democracy?
  • Oh no, I know it. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by r00t ( 33219 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @04:27PM (#21626471) Journal
    I'm doing my part to fix things. How about you?

    We've pretty much run out of Flynn effect. IQ is predicted to drop a point or so each year based simply on who is having the kids. (IQ is not recentered, and thus not fixed at a mean of 100)

    It won't keep up forever. It can't, because society can not be sustained with stupidity. Industry will eventually collapse. We're so interconnected these days that it will be a bit of a chain reaction.

    In the coming disaster, survival will mean having all the old-style survival traits.

    Look at the evolutionary pressure today. The big thing to overcome is birth control. It's unlikely that we will overcome birth control via body changes. Behavioral changes can do it though. The immediate effect is that stupid people are selected for. Long term though, it'll be people who just WANT lots of kids.
  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @04:45PM (#21626623)
    Curious logic there dude.

    We adjust our system in such a way that their self-interest will work in our favor.
    I know there is a prevailing linguistic theory that us wear the white hats, and them wear the black hats, it's what every cartoon narrative teaches our young children. Nevertheless, I'd be interested to know what lever of power they don't already control. If you meant that we the people write the constitution, you haven't been following the trend in America lately toward legislation that honors the constitution with glowing phrases and a one finger salute.

  • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @07:35PM (#21627665) Homepage
    I think it's more infantile. Americans like as little government as possible over themselves, and as much as possible over other people. People resent being told that they can't add an addition to their house but are happy to force their neighbors to care for their lawns.

    I don't see this kind of divided thinking in a lot of other countries. One thing about Americans is that they have a sort of egalitarian blindness - they assume that the differences between the people below them and themselves are based on a defect of character of those lower, while attributing differences between themselves and those above them in rank and status as either arbitrary or unfair. They want the government to enforce the differences between themselves and those they deem beneath them, but to leave them alone.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.