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Biotech Science

Gene Found to Explain Repeated Mistakes 299

palegray.net 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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:32PM (#21624521)
    I wonder how long until people found to have this gene are given higher insurance rates (or harder time getting jobs if it's known).

    Now some of them may very well earn them, but others don't. How long until even having the gene becomes a liability, even if it doesn't seem to affect your actions.
  • by DaedalusHKX ( 660194 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:37PM (#21624561) Journal
    No, because politicians do what is best for them. They lose nothing by being removed from office, they get to retire and spend their money or write books. No, this gene only affects the voters, the mass of sheep who keep running into the arms of new politicians each election cycle, despite NEVER getting a better deal than they would by simply walking away and firing all the politicians. Anyone who wants the job has already proven their desire for power and for a free ride at the expense of those who are taxed. Yet people still vote for 'em? They still consent to be ruled? Remarkable. This gene must be more effective than we think!!
  • by eniac42 ( 1144799 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:40PM (#21624587) Journal
    Or maybe people with fewer D2 receptors were more cynical by nature, and thought the experiment pointless..
  • Interesting... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:44PM (#21624619)
    I know a recovering alcoholic pretty well, and one of her pronounced traits is repeatedly doing the same things that she knows she shouldnt. Keep in mind that the phrase "Insanity is doing the same action over and over again and expecting a different result" comes from AA.

    Oddly enough, it only became really pronounced AFTER she stopped drinking - gene activation?
  • by osewa77 ( 603622 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `smsajian'> on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:53PM (#21624707) Homepage
    Hmmm. I wonder if there's a criminal aspect to this. Do repeat convicts in the US have less d2 receptors on average? People who have been arrested more than once and continue to commit petty crimes?
  • by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @01:03PM (#21624781)
    Well that does pose an interesting question. Should people with genetic predisposition to disease have higher insurance rates? Should women with the BRCA mutations pay more? What if they get profilactic surgeries?
  • DNA Test (Score:2, Interesting)

    by InterestingX ( 930362 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @01:44PM (#21625113)
    Would this gene be something they could pay $999 to find out [slashdot.org]

    oh, wait...
  • by Fractal Dice ( 696349 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @01:47PM (#21625137) Journal

    Isn't addiction the result of the brain learning too well that getting a certain stimulus triggers the pleasure/reward sensation? It's only a "mistake" when the stimulus turns out to be a false positive. The same "addicted" reaction to a drug that short-circuits the reward sensation might cause a person to acquire and maintain very good habits for needed nutrients or acquiring resources. It's a tradeoff between locking in behaviors that consistently produce rewards and the risk that you are locking in slowly self-destructive behaviors that only seemed to be a reward. A person who can break addictions easily may also tend to randomly stop doing useful, rewarding things.

  • by QuickFox ( 311231 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @01:53PM (#21625187)

    You trust your politicians?
    Of course not. Quite the contrary. For instance here in Sweden there have recently been several scandals with politicians not paying their taxes. We expect them to be selfish, and adapt our systems in such ways that their selfishness will work in our interest.

    For example, here in Sweden the members of the government, the ministers, have no right to give orders to authorities. Ministers decide about policy, and are expressly forbidden from meddling in the day-to-day matters of the authorities. That's to limit the influence of the power-hungry. The only exception is when an authority asks for a policy decision, and also some exceptional authorities such as the one that manages embassies and foreign affairs.

    This arrangement complicated matters a lot when a Swede was released from Guantanamo. The US demanded guarantees from the Swedish government that he would be supervised. Since the government is expressly forbidden from giving any such orders they couldn't give any such guarantees.

    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.
  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @01:55PM (#21625209)

    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.

    I've read that the original idea behind India's caste system (a long, long time ago) was that different people were qualified for different jobs. I.e., ruling, manual labor, trade, etc. The idea was to basically codify this reality. (I don't believe that caste was originally imagined as hereditary, but I could be wrong.)

    Anyway, if persons' ability to handle responsibility, make good decisions, etc. could be shown to have a genetic basis, I wonder if this would actually validate some of that old system's grounding principles.

    (Also reminds me go Gattaca, though.)
  • by megaditto ( 982598 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @04:26PM (#21626463)
    This is exactly the reason we need to get off the socialist society/welfare path we've been goning down. The reason "stupid" people reproduce so much is that they get paid to do that (by taxing "smart" people).

    Socialism means the end of progress; I though Nazi example should have taught us as much.
  • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by leereyno ( 32197 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @05:33PM (#21626913) Homepage Journal
    She's simply finding other ways of manifesting her unresolved compulsion for self-destruction.

    She can't drink anymore, so she finds other ways of shooting herself in the foot, trying her hardest to ruin and wreck things for herself.

    Is this because of some rogue gene? I seriously doubt it. This is what is known as a character flaw, one that is unfortunately very serious.

    I hope that she is able to eventually work her way through all of the nonsense she's pulled in on top of herself. It is rare that someone is able to do this, but it does happen.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by leereyno ( 32197 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @07:02PM (#21627455) Homepage Journal
    I'm not sure you read what I wrote.

    A character flaw is, by definition, something that we are responsible for.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.