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Biotech Science

Some People Just Never Learn 327

Iddo Genuth writes "German scientists recently showed what many of us suspected but could not prove — some people just don't learn. The German researchers have found a genetic factor that affects our ability to learn from our errors. The scientists demonstrated that men carrying the A1 mutation are less successful at learning to avoid mistakes than men who do not carry this genetic mutation. This finding has the potential to improve our understanding of the causes of addictive and compulsive behaviors."
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Some People Just Never Learn

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  • Yes (Score:5, Funny)

    by superid ( 46543 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:29PM (#22175100) Homepage
    I call them "co workers"
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Lucky you. I call people like this 'boss'
    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Funny)

      by silvertear72 ( 899704 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:35PM (#22175166)
      I'm not so high up on the corporate ladder, so I prefer to call them "Upper Management".
    • I call them "roommates". I guess co-workers work too.
    • Also explains politicians, end users, and certain lawyers and judges.

      And possibly the RIAA.
    • Re:Yes (Score:5, Funny)

      by quickpick ( 1021471 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:41PM (#22175238)
      So if I think everyone else has this genetic "ability" does that really mean its just me?
    • Re:Yes (Score:4, Funny)

      by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:48PM (#22175346)
      Other people call them "cow orkers".
    • I call them me (Score:5, Interesting)

      by selfdiscipline ( 317559 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:52PM (#22175414) Homepage
      I was diagnosed with some sort of generic learning disability when I was a teen.

      I tend to bang my brain against new concepts again and again, until I finally understand them in big chunks. I tend to overlook the obvious, and go for the bizarre interpretations of things.

      So I often find myself in situations where I feel stupid for not grasping something that is readily apparent to most everyone else, but at the same time I've been successful with teaching myself certain concepts other people wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole.

      For instance, I've taught myself how to program in Haskell, whereas most programmers run screaming from anything with more than a minimal functional paradigm component. It did take me quite a while to get some concepts in Haskell, though.
      • by gweihir ( 88907 )
        Haskell is nice. We used a variant (Gofer) for the first-semester CS introduction. Some students never even realized they were programming ;-)
      • Re:I call them me (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DaedalusHKX ( 660194 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @08:18PM (#22175726) Journal
        That's what I find peculiar. As soon as they "discover" that the old adage "not everyone is wired the same way", they immediately declare these people "damaged" or "worthless". Such is the fate of those who entrust their families to the cookie cutter society... they get a cookie cutter family, and if it doesn't fit the mold, its declared "defective."

        Case in point, you have certain so called "flaws", but also talents in other areas. Every last one of us does, but most keep trying to fit the idiotic mold of society, that they miss out on where their talents would be best placed. Whether you blame genes, parental upbringing, childhood experiences or chemicals in your diet, the pedigree means far less than what is done with it.

        I congratulate you on benefitting from your strongpoints, and not letting your weaker points take you down. There truly is little reason to let the crooks and liars shape your life. Ten years from now they will once again discover that the research in a certain direction was paid by certain people. Live your life, enjoy it, and let the crooks sell to other suckers. :)
        • So who are the crooks and liars that you are talking about? Everything you said made sense until you came to this part.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by LordLucless ( 582312 )
          That's what I find peculiar. As soon as they "discover" that the old adage "not everyone is wired the same way", they immediately declare these people "damaged" or "worthless".

          My problem is more with people who, when finding out they are wired differently, then say "oh, it's not my fault, it's my genetics" and proceed to not even try to learn. Obviously this isn't the GP, but for far too many people, things like this (and say, ADHD, Aspergers, etc) become an excuse to be trotted out when convenient, not
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I have been diagnosed with ADD as well. Somehow I've been able to push myself through school long enough to get a bachelor's degree. However, I've always had the feeling that school is not for me; that I learn better on my own. The only problem is motivation.

            Giving up on learning because you're ADD is probably a bad idea, but giving up on school could possibly be beneficial. If one can find a better way of doing things on one's own, then that route should be taken.
        • Re:I call them me (Score:5, Interesting)

          by grammar fascist ( 239789 ) on Friday January 25, 2008 @01:33AM (#22178224) Homepage

          That's what I find peculiar. As soon as they "discover" that the old adage "not everyone is wired the same way", they immediately declare these people "damaged" or "worthless". Such is the fate of those who entrust their families to the cookie cutter society... they get a cookie cutter family, and if it doesn't fit the mold, its declared "defective."

          I'm reading a little anti-...oh, maybe anti-ADHD-diagnosis in this, among other things. Funny, this happened last time this story was reported here []. Let me clear up a few things.

          Lower output of dopamine (or some insufficiency of it in some way), which is what this article is about in the end, is implicated in ADHD. It's very well known that dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, is one of the few things responsible for your prefrontal cortex getting a jump-start when you need to reason about something. (Another is norepinephrine, the neurotransmitter associated with stress.) The prefrontal cortex is responsible for executive function: integrating memories, learning, predicting outcomes - a whole slew of things. Presumably, the dopamine squirt is what gets babies to learn to eat. Chew food -> dopamine + good feeling -> brain kicks into gear to figure out how to get it again.

          Most healthy adults can start up the prefrontal cortex on demand. People with low levels of dopamine can't. From a neurological perspective, low levels of dopamine is obviously a bad thing.

          When I was diagnosed with ADHD, I did my own research, including reading relevant papers from neuroscience literature. ADHD generally shows up in brain scans as decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex. Taking medication brings dopamine levels up to normal - it's why they prescribe stimulants. For anyone else it's a bad idea, but for people with ADHD it's normalizing.

          (I'd be very interested to know whether these researchers at Max Planck have discovered any ties between this mutation and ADHD.)

          Nearly all of my grade-school teachers suspected that I had ADHD and told my parents, but they never let on to me. Instead of being labeled "ADHD" or "damaged" or "worthless" (as you say), I got labeled "hyperactive" and "annoying" and "arrogant" and "difficult". I was 25 by the time I understood that something must be objectively different. By the time I was 31 I was feeling "damaged" and "worthless" without anyone ever saying those words to me. I had started affixing those labels to myself because of repeatedly failing to do things I knew I was perfectly capable of that I actually wanted very badly to do.

          Still want to withhold diagnosis and treatment based on your preconceived notions of normal variation?

          I don't. My son, who is like me in so many ways it's scary, is getting all the relevant information as soon as he's old enough to understand it. He's entitled to the full knowledge he'll need to decide who he wants to be. I never got that option.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by L0rdJedi ( 65690 )
            Did you have trouble focusing on video games or other things that were "fun"? That's the main thing I see with people who are so called "ADHD". They have no trouble at all focusing on the "fun" things in life, but when it comes to stuff they don't want to do, that's where they have trouble. That's why I always call bullshit on ADHD. NOBODY likes to do things that aren't fun (no one I know anyway). Does that mean that a lot of people have ADHD? HELL NO! What it means is that people need to learn that
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by GeekZilla ( 398185 )
        Haskell? Eddie Haskell? Wow! Braver programmer than I! That guy scares me. [] ;)

  • Well this explains my entire morning commute right here. The same people making the same mistakes every week. At long last we have a scientific explanation.
    • Or they could just be sleepy. People aren't really capable of learning and get (more) clumsy when they are tired.

      Between the two explanations, which one's more likely?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:31PM (#22175114)
    ...all those people who voted for Bush the second time.
    • by fireman sam ( 662213 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @08:02PM (#22175528) Homepage Journal
      don't you mean "all of those voting machines that voted for Bush".

      FiremanSam - now flame proof.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        "all of those voting machines that voted for Bush"

        Whether or not enough votes were faked/switched/stolen to steal the election, it seems indisputable that about five out of ten U.S voters voted for Bush in 2004. And turnout was sixty percent, so really seven out of ten * registered voters either didn't care if Bush got re-elected or they voted for him. Having known and worked with many Americans in the United States for several years centred around the 2004 election, I still don't know how to account for that widespread amount of mass wilful ignorance

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Lord Ender ( 156273 )
      Well, that and the fact that the (republican) election board in Ohio decided to allocate all the voting machines to areas of the state which supported Bush, forcing people who lived near (for example) the universities to wait in line for hours or not vote at all.

      Luckily, Ohio did learn from its mistake, and kicked the republican governor out of office to years later.
  • Dupe? (Score:5, Informative)

    by debianlinux ( 548082 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:31PM (#22175120)
    Apparently the editors have this genetic deficiency as well: []
  • "This finding has the potential to improve our understanding of the causes of addictive and compulsive behaviors."

    "stubbornness" or inability to learn from mistakes has zero to nothing to do with compulsive disorders. I notice the source paper makes no mention of cumpulsive behaviours. Probably just another crap journo writeup of something he/she didn't understand and they pulled some bogus connection out of their ass.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by farkus888 ( 1103903 )
      I agree. I know I will be called out on anecdotal data here but I have known more than one person with alcohol problems or who are smokers who are actually quite bright. everyone knows of the archetypal substance abusing tortured genius. I'm not saying that alcoholism is a sign of intelligence but rather that it is a poor indicator of stupidity, in this case shown through repetitive poor decisions.
      • by Bluesman ( 104513 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:11PM (#22176756) Homepage
        The tortured genius is not tortured by substances.

        We smart people use alcohol as a method of temporarily relieving the lonely burden of not being a moron, in order to fit in with the rest of you.

        If it weren't for alcohol, most, if not all, of my slashdot posts would not exist. Judging by the rest of the posts here, I'm not alone in my relentless pursuit of mediocrity.

        Race you to the bottom, gentlemen!
    • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:58PM (#22175480) Homepage
      If you not just read TFA, but actually followed the links you would have been at Science [], where the abstract clearly states:

      Dopamine D2 receptor reduction seems to decrease sensitivity to negative action consequences, which may explain an increased risk of developing addictive behaviors in A1-allele carriers.
      Maybe this time the journalist was better at actually reading and understanding the article?
    • by Quadraginta ( 902985 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @08:03PM (#22175534)
      It's also unclear whether the behaviour is properly labeled. "Learn from your mistakes" is a phrase that assumes your choice and its consequences are clear: do this or do that, and if "this" leads to bad consequences, why, you need to "learn from your mistake" and do "that" instead.

      But real life is not nearly so simple. First, there are many cases where people don't see all the choices, or even any choice. You can't be guilty of failing to learn from your mistakes if you're not even aware of the alternate choices you could be making.

      Second, it's only in fairly restricted cases that a perfectly clear connection can be drawn from choice to consequences. If you try to beat the train at the RR crossing and get creamed, well, that one's easy. But what if you take a job at X corporation and are then unhappy five years later? Is it really the job, or is it the crappy marriage that you contracted, too? More importantly, how do you really know that if you'd not taken a job at X corporation, you'd be happier? Maybe things would be even worse! Real-life choices are usually befogged by the difficulty of being sure of the connection between choice and consequences, and by the difficulty of accurately guessing what the consequences of alternate choices might have been.

      Finally, there is sufficient statistical noise in many choices that sometimes the best decision is not to "learn from your mistakes." We call that "persistence" and give great credit to people who display it, when their continued "failure" to learn from their mistakes eventually pays off. The guy who starts business after business, each failing, until he finally hits on the one that pays off. The athlete who comes in 2nd and 3rd, time after time, until eventually he wins. We can go back and, with 20/20 hindsight, argue that he did "learn from his mistakes" in that he didn't do the same thing in exactly the same way again. But it's still the case that on the topmost issue, the main choice, he "failed to learn from his mistakes" by deliberately choosing to do again and again something at which he failed again and again. Until one day, he didn't.

      For all these reasons, I think the definition of what it means to "learn from your mistakes" in real life (as opposed to the narrow world of the academic psych lab) is pretty problematic.
  • by Some_Llama ( 763766 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:36PM (#22175182) Homepage Journal
    says "you'll never change" I guess now i have a genetic excuse.
  • Of all races.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wimmi ( 263136 )
    It had to be Germans to establish scientific proof of eugenetics.. :-(
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pilgrim23 ( 716938 )
      Can I be the first to call "Godwin's Law?"
    • Re:Of all races.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:53PM (#22175420) Homepage
      Well, while the notion that Germany (thanks to its association with Adolf Hitler) is somehow prone to being considered 'racist' is really wasted brain bandwidth. For thousands of years people have hated the Jews for various reasons, both correct and incorrect, founded and unfounded, stupid and otherwise. The reality of "antisemitism" (consider the fact that the word even EXISTS... is there a similar word for hating other ethnic or social groups?! There might be, but I can't think of any) is that it's a sentiment that goes beyond any borders, nationality or social background. The Jews were driven from the middle east because people didn't like them. (Don't need to go into why) They were spread across Europe and continued into their essentially forced move and migrations across the planet largely because anywhere they went, people didn't like them. Again, the reasons why are irrelevant in reporting the reality of the reasons why Jews were no longer in Israel and Israel ceased to exist for a very long time.

      I guess I'm drifting away from my point here so to bring it back, I'm just saying that Germans hold no monopoly over hating Jews. There are LOTS of people who had done horrible things to them in the past.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by besya ( 154228 )
        It is amazing how a person while defending a nation from being stereotyped against can none the less demonstrate the same prejudice as the original poster. I agree that we can't say that all Germans were at fault for what happened to the Jews. Can you please elaborate on the good and valid reasons that can or could exist to hate every single member of the nation, in your post you are saying there were. The fact that Jews through out the history where hated is not a good defense of what happened in Germany.
        • by joggle ( 594025 )
          This is a subject that can easily (perhaps most easily) spiral into a flame war. I think the grandparent poster was trying to be as inoffensive as possible but, of course, failed to not offend everyone. He wasn't defending what happened in Germany, just saying there are racists everywhere so there really isn't anything ironic about the post he was responding to.

          I disagree with him though because the Germans weren't merely racist but wanted to build a 'master race' and genetics was a big part of it so yes, t
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by besya ( 154228 )
            You are of course correct that most likely this is what the poster was trying to say. He could've just said that there are racist anywhere and be done with it. Instead, he postulated that through out the history Jews have been hated for good and bad reasons, correctly and incorrectly, by many different people. I am just wondering what these correct and good reasons are to hate every member of a nation, and how this argument proves that Germans are not racist. His arguments and statements just don't make log
    • Re:Of all races.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @08:14PM (#22175678)
      For those that are going to call Goodwin's Law, look up eugenetics. Many US states practiced it up until around the time of WW2 (some states even did it later). Sterilizing prisoners, people they decided were mentally ill, etc. Some really, scary and depressing cases. Sure, it wasn't necessarily race based, but definitely the same idea that a certain European country had.. In fact, they claimed they got the idea from California.
      • Sterilizing prisoners, people they decided were mentally ill, etc.

        I guess I'm the only one here that has the balls to admit it was probably effective to at least some degree.

        Dan East
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by quax ( 19371 )
      Of all places I guess it had to be /. to find somebody confusing race with nationality.
  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:36PM (#22175188) Journal
    ...doesn't it mean it has some evolutionary advantages?
    • by KublaiKhan ( 522918 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:42PM (#22175262) Homepage Journal
      Well, if you have enough of it, you can get to be president...
    • by kungfoofairy ( 992473 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:44PM (#22175292)
      If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Are people with this mutation better able to persist at a certain task until they find a way to complete it or discover an answer, failed previous attempts be damned?
    • Only in the business world.
    • by Psychotria ( 953670 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:50PM (#22175382)
      Not sure. If it doesn't disadvantage people (i.e. lead to higher chance of death) then it's quite possible that A1 would just stick around (genes don't just disappear for no reason).
    • by nut ( 19435 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:58PM (#22175484) Homepage
      > ...doesn't it mean it has some evolutionary advantages?


      "Will you go out with me Saturday night?"

      "I wouldn't go out with you on Saturday if you paid me $1 million."

      "What are you doing next weekend then?"

      Persistence in the face of negative feedback sometimes is a winning strategy.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        On a more serious note, There's the story of how Edison tested hundreds (thousands, even) of different materials in his quest for the best light bulb filament. I'd say that's support for persistence in the face of negative feedback. From a scientific perspective, doing the wrong thing thousands of times in a row can pay off if you eventually succeed.
    • by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @08:00PM (#22175504) Journal
      Yes, it allowed early cave men to eat steak, that had not previously been properly seasoned.
    • by clem ( 5683 )
      I suppose the flip side of the trait is the tenacity to "get back up on the horse". Initial consequences can easily sway some into thinking that they've made a mistake when really they just needed to try again when conditions where better. If someone gives up too early in this case they will never meet with success.
    • It could be part of the genetic code that increases risk taking or increases repetitive behavior in spite of the penalties associated with said behavior. Both of which can be useful to survival - mating, fighting and hunting involve both risk and repetition of dangerous behavior.

      I'm wondering when it's going to dawn on the general public that a person is basically one big chemical reaction. If it were assumed that our behavior arises from our chemical nature (teenage hormones, anyone?) then maybe there woul
    • by eepok ( 545733 )
      Well, "evolutionary advantage" can mean one of two things in this situation:

      1) The trait's been passed on generation to generation because men are less likely to learn from is that "sex may produce unwanted offspring."
      2) The trait benefits the species in the long run.

      I believe the appropriate interpretation in the this case in (1).
    • Re: No (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Just because some trait exists or still exists doesnt mean that it has evolutionary advantages. It could mean that the mutation hasnt been around long enough for evolutionary preasures to take place. It could mean that the trait doesnt have any advantages but also doesnt have any disadvantages. It could mean that the disadvantages arent significant enough to prevent the organism from producing offspring.
    • yeah, like they can never learn how to put a condom on.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Some_Llama ( 763766 )
      "..doesn't it mean it has some evolutionary advantages?"

      Not necessarily, evolutionarily wise, a trait will not be propagated "just" because it is advantageous (although that does help), better to look at it as it will only be extinguished if it is disadvantageous (puts the member with those traits behind others in the group competitively).

      But in our current society, where we prop up traits that would (in a more aggressive society (e.g. animal kingdom) be naturally extinguished (like autism, retardation, sia
  • Story tag (Score:3, Funny)

    by martinX ( 672498 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:37PM (#22175198)
    This story should be tagged "Homer".
  • It makes you dumb and you also forget big dates as well.
  • Just think of the relevance for politics, religion, almost everything...
    I'm curious what the probability for that allele is in the general population.
  • Think about it, a single gene. Go to protocols-online, grab a few documents pertaining to viral gene therapy, encode the correct gene that you want to modify, and let's do viral intelligence enhancement. Granted, this is Slashdot, so the virus will have to be transported at first via needle and vile instead of sex, but whatever.
  • by jpetts ( 208163 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:45PM (#22175304)
    They are in their second or later marriages...
  • Dopamine (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Psychotria ( 953670 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:46PM (#22175326)
    I wonder if this implies that medication that affects dopamine levels reduces (or increases) a persons failure to learn from mistakes.
  • by _Hellfire_ ( 170113 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:49PM (#22175364)
    Chain Gang Sheriff: (whips Homer) "No listening! You hear me?"

    Homer: "Um.... n... no?"

    Chain Gang Sheriff: "You just don't learn do ya?"
  • by Secret Rabbit ( 914973 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @07:52PM (#22175408) Journal
    Then they'll brainwash there kids into thinking they have a genetic disorder that prevents them from learning (educators will propagate this as well). Then the activists will get involved and say that poor grades are discriminatory against something that these people have no control over. Then...
  • Of course it would be the Germans to discover that there is a Dummkopf gene.

    Reminds me of our math teacher that would say "Dummkopf" if you gave the wrong answer.
    • Not quite. That would be a dumbhead gene.

      What they actually discovered is the "Dummesel" gene.

      As in, "Du bist ein gross dummesel."

      This concludes your German insult lesson for the day. Don't forget, next week we will be having a quiz on "Ihre mutter" jokes.
  • by bcg ( 322392 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @08:02PM (#22175530)
    So perhaps they won't invade Poland a third time?

  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @08:05PM (#22175562) Homepage Journal
    Just because some people have a harder time learning does not mean they can't learn.

    It's just harder.

    Seriously, it doesn't mean they don't learn (the title of this /. post), it means they have a lower capability.

    It's like saying that Americans can't speak more than two languages. Most have never tried, nor had the easy resources to do so, but they could probably learn additional languages, even if it might be harder here.
    • by adisakp ( 705706 )
      It's like saying that Americans can't speak more than two languages.

      I think the general assumption around the world is that Americans can't speak MORE than *ONE* language and most of them don't even speak the one very well. That's certainly the image our current president propagates to the rest of the planet.
      • by gweihir ( 88907 )
        I think the general assumption around the world is that Americans can't speak MORE than *ONE* language and most of them don't even speak the one very well. That's certainly the image our current president propagates to the rest of the planet.

        I can confirm that.

        Seriously, we know there are some pretty smart people in the US. What we cannot figure out is why they are not leaving.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) *
          > Seriously, we know there are some pretty smart people in the US.
          > What we cannot figure out is why they are not leaving.

          Several reasons.

          1. There is still hope of turning the tide and sweeping the socialists from the field of battle. All we really need is one more Reagan type who understands that when strongly confronted, evil tends to yield.

          2. Even with the government about to fall to the socialists, America is still a good place to be.

          3. Related to #2, name somewhere better? Lots of socialist p
    • It's like saying that Americans can't speak more than two languages. Most have never tried, nor had the easy resources to do so, but they could probably learn additional languages, even if it might be harder here.
      Seriously people, last time I looked you (well, darn close to the vast and overwhelming majority of you) can't even speak english properly. Don't even DREAM of learning a second language.

      You'll only make the rest of the world laugh even harder.
  • from the article:

    Some people do not give up even when they do not succeed. They refuse to accept defeat and continue to try even when common sense tells others there's no use in trying.

    Stubbornness is a trait of successful people. What's the story about all the trials Edison went through to successfully make his first lightbulb?

    For example, I still can't read Harry Potter []. If I were to accept the covert suggestion these Good Germans offer, "if at first you don't succeed give up", I'd be miserable like mill

  • Captain, Road Prison 36 []

    What we've got here is... failure to communicate.
    Some men you just can't reach.
    So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it...
    well, he gets it.
    I don't like it any more than you men.
  • the ability to learn new things is a learned behavior in itself, some are just slower at it than others (and some are really slow), and a few are exceptionally well at it...

    personally i think i am just average, maybe slightly below average on those days when my brain feels like a light-bulb that has been left on for too long, you know the kind of light-bulb that is sort of yellowed with a slight buzzing sound and a few fried bugs stuck to it...
  • Maybe the article is badly written, but it appears as if the scientists are jumping conclusions. The test subjects were asked to pick a symbol, they got feedback in the form of a smiley face or an angry face. Some short time later they were asked to pick a symbol again. If they now picked the happy face, the scientists assumed they had learned.

    Somehow, I doubt that seeing a smiley face is enough of a reward to make the subject avoid making the same choice again. I mean, the angry face might look more intere
  • In other news... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dystopian Rebel ( 714995 ) * on Thursday January 24, 2008 @08:19PM (#22175736) Journal
    "OS/2 Supporters Petition IBM To Open OS/2 Source In 2008"

    "Bill Gates Says Capitalism Shouldn't Be So Cut-Throat"

    "Microsoft Says Current Windows Is The Most Secure"
  • BINGO !! (Score:3, Funny)

    by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @08:26PM (#22175816) Homepage Journal
    My spouse is utterly untrainable in anything vaguely related to anything invented later than the Renaissance. Anything electronic or technical or related to any repetitive task, operating a cell phone, hearing and giving directions to anywhere. Any device, appliance, application. Online purchases of all kinds are impossible. She 'learns' such as it is, the simplest things by brute force endless repetition, if it's possible at all. Every appliance in my home has been broken in one way or another by her absolute inability to even listen to simple instructions.

    She is an attorney, and, ironically, a teacher.
  • that certain people are unable to learn from their mistakes. I think this explains most people with bad credit, unable to hold down any decent job, or that get addicted to illicit drugs and/or alcohol, and never seem to learn from past mistakes to avoid making them in the future. I have known of some people who bad bad credit and recovered it later, who had a bad work history and were able to turn it around to get a good paying job, or who were able to give up addictions to drugs or alcohol and improve thei
  • "... This finding has the potential to improve our understanding of the causes of addictive and compulsive behaviors."

    Contrary to their conjecture I have found that learning is instrumental to developing my addictive and compulsive behaviors!
  • by GeekZilla ( 398185 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @08:40PM (#22175934)
    I've been saying this for years!

    Darn. Should have patented it.

  • Strategy (Score:5, Funny)

    by Brandybuck ( 704397 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @09:27PM (#22176396) Homepage Journal
    This explains the US strategy in Iraq!
  • Uh... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nysem ( 1226462 )
    Is anyone else getting the impression that people are going to use this as an excuse to justify not learning from mistakes?

    I'm all for discovering causes and all but I saw nothing about patients with the A1 Mutation being incapable. There was one such local news story about how a virus was discovered that causes obesity. But the way to ditch obesity remains unchanged--diet and exercise. I only hope people don't use this "mutation" as an excuse to do whatever they want. Don't be getting any ideas now ki
  • by doom ( 14564 ) <> on Friday January 25, 2008 @12:20PM (#22182392) Homepage Journal

    The researchers studied a group of 26 men, 12 of whom had the A1 gene mutation for low numbers of D2 receptors.

    Got that? Sample size: 26.

    People just eat this shit up these days, they love biological "explanations" for human behavior. Hey, it's not my fault, I was born this way. Work harder in school? But if you don't have the natural talent, what's the point? Spend more money on public education? Oh, what the hell for? Those people will never learn.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.