|Painting by David Ho|
Scientific papers indicate that this is largely a science-media myth, encouraged by sensationalism that appeals to various existing lay misconceptions.
That is, it is not a current scientific community consensus.
The scientific journals have a lot of papers which explain that genetic essentialism is not factual, some of which were linked to in prior posts in this series.
For example, one such paper indicates:
"The tendency to infer a person’s characteristics and behaviors as based on their perceived genetic make-up is termed genetic essentialism. As Nelkin and Lindee (1995) put it, “genetic essentialism reduces the self to a molecular entity, equating human beings, in all their social, historical, and moral complexity, with their genes” (p. 2).(Genetic Essentialism: On the Deceptive Determinism of DNA, emphasis added). It may be that some readers do not see the harm in the fantasy or fallacy.
We argue that once people consider the existence of a genetic foundation to a particular life outcome, psychological tendency, or characteristic, their psychological essentialist biases are activated, and a particular set of associated thoughts about those outcomes are likely to emerge. First, genetic essentialism may lead people to view outcomes as immutable and determined. That is, an outcome is perceived to unfold according to some fixed set of underlying genetic processes, that people assume is largely independent of environmental influence and beyond an individual’s control. Genetic essentialism thus leads people to view genetically influenced outcomes as inescapable and fatalistic. If the genes are present, the outcome is expected.
Second, arguments for a genetic foundation for a human condition may lead people to view the relevant genes as entailing the fundamental cause of the condition – what Meehl (1977) referred to as a specific etiology. The genetic foundation and the associated condition may be viewed as having two-way pathognomicity in that the presence of the hypothesized genes is seen to prove the presence of the condition, and, likewise, the absence of the genes is seen to exclude the condition. Perception of the genetic foundation as a fundamental cause leads people to devalue the role of ontogenetic, environmental, or experiential factors.
A third consequence of genetic essentialism is that it may lead people to view groups that share a genetic foundation as being homogeneous and discrete. The relevant condition may be perceived as coterminous with the boundaries of its associated group – all members of a group that share the genetic essence have the potential to possess the associated condition, and that condition should not be observed in those who do not share the underlying genetic foundation.
Finally, genetic causes lead people to view the outcome as natural, and, in some domains, this may prompt the naturalistic fallacy such that the associated outcomes are perceived as more morally acceptable. The naturalistic fallacy refers to the tendency to derive ethical properties (e.g., being “good” or “right”) from natural properties (e.g., being “tall,” or being “green”; Frankena, 1939; Moore, 1903); that is, a particular tendency that is judged to be natural will be viewed as more acceptable than one that is deemed unnatural."
Yet, it is not unlike what happened to early Darwinists infected with cultural trances of the day.
The Social Darwinists, pro-Eugenics intellectuals, and genieologists, still can't handle the fact that abiotic dynamics are far more important to evolution, and have been active for far, far longer than the more recent biotic evolutionary dynamics (On the Origin of the Genes of Viruses, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12; The Uncertain Gene, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).
Darwin, like pop genieologists today, was infected with the cultural racism of his time.
Cultural myths can skew understanding of evolution and cause many social wrongs:
"Lastly, I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilisation than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what risks nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago, of being overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world." - Charles Darwin (1881 letter)(The Evolution of Anthropogenic Extinction by Catastrophe). That racism fed the Social Darwinism errors for a long time, eventually leading to Eugenics.
The genieologists and Darwinians, in many cases, do not like evidence that abiotic, cosmic, and quantum mechanical events have had more of an impact on extinction / evolution than "Darwinian natural selection" has.
For example, a theory that an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs, which supplanted an Earth-events-evolution-only myth, was resisted for decades (State Crimes Against Democracy), but eventually certain evidence was given preeminence:
"One key piece of evidence was the abundance of iridium in geological samples around the world from the time of the extinction. Iridium is very rare in Earth's crust and very common in asteroids. Immediately after the iridium layer, there is a dramatic decline in fossil abundance and species, indicating that the KT extinction followed very soon after the asteroid hit."(Science Daily, quoting an international scientific panel, 3/4/10). A very rare Earth element, iridium, which is found abundantly in asteroids, is deposited precisely at the K-T boundary layer all over the globe in sedimentary layers that date to ~65 million years ago.
Nevertheless, there are still some sour grapes out there:
For example, "nobody has ever found a non-avian dinosaur fossil exactly at the impact layer," Renne said in an email. "Hence, strictly speaking, the non-avian dinosaurs"—those dinosaurs unrelated to birds—"may have already gone extinct by the time of the impact."(National Geographic, cf. Princeton Study). But that modification to the old hypothesis is challenged by more recent comprehensive global studies.
Studies which are now concluding that the dinosaurs were very successful, in the sense of dominating other species in that environment, but nevertheless went extinct instantly, in the geological sense of time, by the asteroid impact:
"The theory that an asteroid rapidly killed off the dinosaurs is widely recognized, but until recently dinosaur fossils from the latest Cretaceous--the final stanza of dinosaur evolution--were known almost exclusively from North America. This has raised questions about whether the sudden decline of dinosaurs in the American and Canadian west was merely a local story.(Dinosaurs Wiped Out Rapidly in Europe, 1/13/15, emphasis added). There is an agenda to have all Earth extinctions fall into the line of Darwinistic dogma, excluding cosmic events because those cosmic events make mass extinctions wholly devoid of "Darwinian natural selection" (The Evolution of Anthropogenic Extinction by Catastrophe).
The new study synthesizes a flurry of research on European dinosaurs over the past two decades. Fossils of latest Cretaceous dinosaurs are now commonly discovered in Spain, France, Romania, and other countries.
By looking at the variety and ages of these fossils, a team of researchers led by Zoltán Csiki-Sava of the University of Bucharest's Faculty of Geology and Geophysics has determined that dinosaurs remained diverse in European ecosystems very late into the Cretaceous.
In the Pyrenees of Spain and France, the best area in Europe for finding latest Cretaceous dinosaurs, meat and plant-eating species are present and seemingly flourishing during the final few hundred thousand years before the asteroid hit."
"Everyone knows that an asteroid hit 66 million years ago and dinosaurs disappeared, but this story is mostly based on fossils from one part of the world, North America. We now know that European dinosaurs were thriving up to the asteroid impact, just like in North America. This is strong evidence that the asteroid really did kill off dinosaurs in their prime, all over the world at once."
There are special interests that want the current and ongoing Sixth Mass Extinction to be seen "naturally," rather than it being a Mass Murder-Suicide done by Oil-Qaeda:
"... genetic causes lead people to view the outcome as natural, and, in some domains, this may prompt the naturalistic fallacy such that the associated outcomes are perceived as more morally acceptable. The naturalistic fallacy refers to the tendency to derive ethical properties (e.g., being “good” or “right”) from natural properties (e.g., being “tall,” or being “green”; Frankena, 1939; Moore, 1903); that is, a particular tendency that is judged to be natural will be viewed as more acceptable than one that is deemed unnatural."(Genetic Essentialism: On the Deceptive Determinism of DNA, italics added). It is habitual for societies to commit suicide (A Study of History, by Arnold J. Toynbee).
But, habit and morality are not the same issues, nor are they based on the same behavioural dynamics (Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch, 2, 3, 4, 5).
The immorality of those who created Petroleum Civilization, and who want to perpetuate it, is well documented (Petroleum Civilization: The Final Chapter (Confusing Life with Death), 2, 3), so there may be some justice coming down the pike:
"Mark my words, you plutocrats, denialists, fossil-fuel hacks and science charlatans – your time will come when you will be backed against the wall by the full wrath of billions who have suffered from your greed and stupidity, and I’ll be first in line to put you there."(Mourning Our Planet: Climate Scientists Share Their Grieving Process). Don't confuse life with death or genes with genies.
The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.
Some quotes and times from the video below:
00:00 - "One of the most crazy making yet widespread and potentially dangerous notions is 'oh that behavior is genetic'" (Dr. Sapolsky).
01:00 - "nothing is genetically programmed" (Dr. Maté).
01:30 - "the whole search for the source of disease in the genome was destined to failure before anyone even thought of it" (Dr. Maté).
02:24 - "some of the early childhood influences ... affect gene expression, actually turning on and off different genes to put you on a different developmental track" (Dr. Wilkinson).
02:45 - "[childhood] abuse actually caused a genetic change in the brain" (Dr. Maté).
03:28 - "a few thousand individuals were studied from birth up into their twenties, what they found was that they could identify a genetic mutation, an abnormal gene which did have some relation to the predisposition to commit violence, but only if the individual had also been subjected to severe child abuse" (Dr. Gilligan).
05:30 - "run with the old version of 'its genetic' and its not that far from history of Eugenics, and things of that sort, and it is a widespread misconception and a potentially dangerous one" (Dr. Sapolsky).
05:44 - "one reason that the sort of biological explanation for violence, one reason that hypothesis is potentially dangerous, it is not just misleading, it can really do harm, is because if you believe that, you can very easily say 'well there's nothing we can do to change the predisposition people have to becoming violent, all we can do if someone becomes violent is punish them, lock them up or execute them, but we don't need to worry about changing the social environment that may lead people to become violent, because that's irrelevant'" (Dr. Wilkinson).
06:28 - "the genetic argument allows us the luxury of ignoring past and present historical and social factors. In the words of Louis Menand who wrote in the New Yorker very astutely:
“It’s all in the genes”: an explanation for the way things are that does not threaten the way things are. Why should someone feel unhappy or engage in antisocial behavior when that person is living in the freest and most prosperous nation on Earth? It can’t be the system! There must be a flaw in the wiring somewhere.”... which is a good way to put it. So the genetic argument is simply a cop-out that allows us to ignore the social and economic and political factors that in fact underlie many troublesome behaviors" (Dr. Maté).
07:25 - "addictions are usually considered to be a drug related issue, but looking at it more broadly, I find that addiction is any behavior that is associated with craving for temporary relief and with long term negative consequences along with an impairment of control over it so that the person wishes to give it up or promises to, but can't follow through" (Dr. Maté).
08:10 - "The addiction to oil ... at least to the wealth and to the products made accessible to us by oil ... look at the negative consequences on the environment we are destroying the very Earth that we inhabit for the sake of that addiction. Now these addictions are far more devastating in the social consequences than the cocaine or heroin habits of my ... patients. Yet they are rewarded and considered to be respectable. The tobacco company executive that shows a higher profit will get a much bigger reward ... doesn't face any negative consequences legally or otherwise ... in fact is a respected member of the board of several other corporations ... but tobacco smoke related diseases kill 5.5 million people around the world every year. In the United States they kill 400,000 people a year" (Dr. Maté).
09:05 - "And these people are addicted to what? To profit, to such a degree are they addicted that they are actually in denial about the impact of their activities, which is typical for addicts, is denial. And that is the respectable one. It is respectable to be addicted to profit no matter what the cost. So what is acceptable and what is respectable is a highly arbitrary phenomenon in our society. And it seems like the greater the harm the more respectable the addiction" (Dr. Maté).
09:35 - "There is a general myth that drugs in themselves are addictive, in fact the "War on Drugs" is predicated on the idea that if you interdict the sources of drugs you can deal with addiction that way. Now, if you understand addiction in the broader sense we see that nothing in itself is addictive. No substance, no drug is by itself addictive. And no behavior is by itself addictive" (Dr. Maté).