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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 MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:27PM (#21624465)
    The gene that controls the impulse to tell others what to do, when it isn't necessary to tell them what to do. The 'busybody' gene.
    • 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 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!!
        • Ron Paul seems to have a good record concerning "free rides at the expense of those who are taxed".
      • Explains a lot in politics, religion and management.
        And Internet Explorer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by QuickFox ( 311231 )

      The gene that controls the impulse to tell others what to do, when it isn't necessary to tell them what to do. The 'busybody' gene.
      Stop calling people names just because they tell you what to do. It's for your own good.
    • There are a couple of variants to this gene, one of which causes this instructive behavior to occur while in motion. The condition is known medically as BSDS ... Back Seat Driver Syndrome.
  • by El Yanqui ( 1111145 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:29PM (#21624487) Homepage
    Now I know why so many politicians get re-elected: Too few D2 receptors in the voting population.
  • Just what we need (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> 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 abigor ( 540274 )
      Hopefully you aren't suggesting the results be suppressed in order to facilitate people's sense of responsibility.
    • 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 PPH ( 736903 )
        You'd think that editors would have learned better by now. Perhaps they suffer from a genetic lack of D2 receptors.
    • by QuickFox ( 311231 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @01:09PM (#21624829)

      (e.g. overdiagnosis of ADD to include kids who are just undiscipled), [...] people who just don't want to try to get it right.
      Which kind are you? Undiscipled? Or don't want to get it right?
    • 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 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 fyngyrz ( 762201 ) *

        I rather suspect that if a hyper child spoiled more than one hunt with uncontrollable noise, running about, and blathering, that said child would become dinner. Or a lone nomad at an early age. Like three.

        Be grateful for modern society. Otherwise you'd see hyper kids enjoying such advanced treatment regimes as being tightly swaddled and hung from a hook.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by bigpicture ( 939772 )
      "Personal Responsibility" What's that? Is it in the dictionary somewhere between "blame personal circumstances or others" and "It's not my fault".
    • "(e.g. overdiagnosis of ADD to include kids who are just undiscipled)"

      Is it? Or is it that we have a religious cult worship of overwork? I'm with Bertrand Russel, Socrates and Buckminster fuller on this one, people work so much their relationships with their fellow human beings absolutely suck.
    • 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 imag

      • Not that much different from Eugenics either, or Nazi propaganda about a master race. If there is a master race, who gets to decide which race it is? (in the near future my bet is on the Chinese)

        Funny that wikipedia article also refers to Dysgenics [wikipedia.org].
        • If there is a master race, who gets to decide which race it is?
          Obviously that would be decided by genocidal warfare. The fact that Germany lost WWII doesn't speak too well for Hitler's theories. (On the other hand Germany's kill ratio was pretty high; they probably could have wiped out any adversary of comparable population to themselves.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ShakaUVM ( 157947 )
      It's true.

      All these magic "genes" they find that "cause" behavior tend to have something like 1% to 20% of the total causes to the behavior. But the media always reports it as "The God Gene!" "The ADD Gene!" "The Novelty-Seeking Gene!"
  • 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 Adambomb ( 118938 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:37PM (#21624567) Journal

      Just look at the ad state of the World
      Thats either quite clever or the most apt typo ever.
    • by Kohath ( 38547 )
      Just look at the ad state of the World

      The "state of the world" is the best it's ever been.

      - war is at an all-time low
      - wealth is at an all-time high
      - poverty is at an all-time low
      - pollution is lower than it has been in hundreds of years
      - life expectancy is at an all-time high
      - people are far healthier than at any time in the past
      - Many of the worst diseases are eradicated or cured outright
      - Death by starvation is unknown in the majority of countries -- it simply does not happen.
      - etc., etc., etc.

      It is real
      • Yes, because only western civilizatuon resulted in net improvement in living conditions, as all those brown skinned savages were living in mud huts before their aryan superiors came along to civilize them.

        When western civilization burst onto the world scene starting around the 15th century, the main exports were backsliding and hobbesianism. India, which had been the economic center of the world, suffered an economic collapse. Central and southern America suferred an even more severe economic colla
  • by iphayd ( 170761 )
    I'll wait for the next one to _actually_ comment.
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:36PM (#21624549)
    But isn't this almost the definition of stupidity?
  • 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..

  • I find that the following two axioms explain much of what I observe in human behavior...

    1: Thinking is hard.
    2: People are lazy.

    That's all here is to it.

  • 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?
    • Either that or you just didn't notice it on the grounds she was blind drunk.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by leereyno ( 32197 )
      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
  • 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 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?
  • With a genetic disposition for typos and dupes, is like an airline pilot with a genetic disposition for running
    into the ground.
  • Ars has [arstechnica.com] a good writeup of the article in nature, for those who want to read more, but don't want to bother w/ the journal article.
  • by LaughingCoder ( 914424 ) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @01:06PM (#21624811)
    why I keep coming back to Slashdot!
    • It's quite obviously, really. D2 is two deuterium atoms in a covalent bond. But everyone knows that deuterium is relatively rare, and there just isn't enough to go around and you got shorted. Sorry about that.
  • -D2 troll
  • I think we can explain dupes from simply not having infinite memory, I mean really. Those with better memories = less mistakes, I would imagine.
  • Intelligent design

    /sorry, couldn't resist
    //Yes I know this ain't fark
    ///I can spare the kharma

  • ...the Homer gene?

    Mmmmm..... donuts.
  • DNA Test (Score:2, Interesting)

    Would this gene be something they could pay $999 to find out [slashdot.org]

    oh, wait...
  • leads to a lessened ability to learn from experience

    I prefer to think of that as the triumph of optimism over experience.
  • You can see the result from our repeatedly going to get a girl, getting stung by them (they run off with your money and your best friend) and then trying to find another (or the same) girl to get back with us.

    If you don't have 2 missing genes, you must be gay off course. For most geeks it is unknown whether or not they are missing some genes.
  • 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.

  • This probably explains why Bush keeps doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.
  • Great! So the human genome now has a CowboyNeal option! ;-)
  • This is a good example of why employers using DNA in their screening process is wrong.

    Going to end up with a world of 'unemployables' as DNA technology improves to a frightening point of accuracy.
  • Drs. Klein and Ullsperger noted that upon discovery of the gene, they tested themselves for its presence.

    "Fortunately we determined we were both negative for the A1-allele," Dr. Klein admitted with some relief, with Ullsperger adding, "We double checked just to make sure."

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford