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About the age of 10 or 12 I began to have issues with people allowing others to control their lives. It wasn't just religious leaders, but community leaders as well. It greatly bothered me that everyone else saw this as natural. When I got to college, I met a couple who shared 'Atlas Shrugged' with me. I felt that the book not only explained, but added organization to my thoughts regarding the world around me. Now I am 58 years old and have read most of Ayn Rand's books multiple times.

My point is that I feel as though I was hardwired at birth to be an objectivist. In 2003, Dean Hamer, an NIH researcher working on the human genome penned the book, 'The God Gene.' In his book he discusses a gene that is found in spiritual people, about 2/3 of all societies. When activated, this gene is associated with an increase in the neurotransmitter, dopamine. Dopamine is involved in the sensation of pleasure. FYI, drugs that increase dopamine in an area of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens are associated with drug abuse.

Nevertheless, one thing that disturbs me is that the subjectivist and the objectivist speak different languages. They see the world with totally different perspectives. Believing in God has never entered my mind. Believing that my government or my employer should and will take care of me for life has never entered my mind.

I am curious to hear comments regarding whether or not subjectivism and objectivism may be wholly or somewhat hardwired in us and lying dormant until we receive the proper stimulus.

My fear is that if our beliefs are somewhat genetic, our battle is all the more difficult because subjectivist fears will continue to be reborn. Another fear is that the same religious leaders who scorn stem cell research would jump at the chance to create a race of subjectivist robots.

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Hi Dennis. That man's "findings" were never peer reviewed, because he never allowed them to be, instead he published them in a sensationally titled book.

You should prove how objective you are by never giving that nonsense any unwarranted credibility. Besides, spirituality is not the willingness to believe in nonsense, it is the willingness to introspect and put effort into developing yourself based on a rational morality. The belief in God and the benevolent might of government is the opposite of being spiritual: it's the refusal to think about matters of spirit, morality and art in favor of the arbitrary, or the exclusively material.

The reason for the belief in God has nothing to do with chemicals, and everything to do with bad permises accepted without critical thought. You are lucky that you can think objectively, but you should thank that to your education, and ultimately, to your own decisions.

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Jake,

Thank you so much for the comments. BTW, the book was not only peer reviewed but the author enlisted the help of many others working on the human genome project. He, himself, points out many flaws in the work. To me the greatest flaw is the measurement of spirituality. Also, as a member of the medical community who makes a living dissecting information, I can tell you that peer review means nothing. Ben Bernanke's peers all think he is doing a yeoman job because it is what they want to believe.

Nevertheless, I believe that there are people who would be subjectivist if they were raised among wolves in the woods. Also, my education, other than studying Aristotle and Ayn Rand, has had little to do with my objectivism. As a matter of fact, I believe that there are people who are objectivist and don't even know it. That describes me many years ago.

Furthermore, I am sure that you are aware that many psychologists believe that religion had its beginning about the time that man discovered his mortality. No surprise there.

Again, I appreciate your insight.

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I remember around a year to a year and a half ago I saw an article on this. Funny thing is to me what it added up to was not so much specifically that *religion* was anything hard wired into people so much as that it looked to me like maybe they just found the place where people with what are often referred to as "addictive personalities" are different from other people. I believe that religion can be very much like an addiction for many people in various ways such as serving as a way for them to try to escape and evade reality like how many people treat alcohol or other drugs. In fact, it is especially in things said about Alcoholics Anonymous where the comparison seems most relevant to me. That program involves getting people not to try to feel empowered from what I've heard and to get them to go out and live life freely and independently, but instead to say they are powerless and to give themselves over to god. What this really sounds like to me is just shifting from one less socially acceptable crutch of an addiction to another more socially acceptable crutch of an addiction. They go from looking to let their life be ruled by booze to looking to let their life be ruled by some magical imaginary authority in the sky. If you are of an "addictive personality" type, maybe it can have some genetic component to it as such things are noted to run in families often, however that doesn't at all mean people are just bound to be addicts of any sort forever. Plenty of people can and do master their tendency toward addictions even if it isn't something that ever quite stops tempting them at times. I think if religion and general belief in the supernatural and/or unquestioningly believing in authority was ever just widely flat out recognized as merely a crutch some people tried to retreat into at various times we may be in much better shape. If people realized these things were just as much a poor, maladaptive coping mechanism for life as a drug habit, we could start getting people to seek help more in good ways for what may ever be ailing them. Also, I'd love to see the day when preachers are looked down on as enablers much like drug dealers. :P

Edited by bluecherry

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My point is that I feel as though I was hardwired at birth to be an objectivist. In 2003, Dean Hamer, an NIH researcher working on the human genome penned the book, 'The God Gene.' In his book he discusses a gene that is found in spiritual people, about 2/3 of all societies. When activated, this gene is associated with an increase in the neurotransmitter, dopamine. Dopamine is involved in the sensation of pleasure. FYI, drugs that increase dopamine in an area of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens are associated with drug abuse.

Nevertheless, one thing that disturbs me is that the subjectivist and the objectivist speak different languages. They see the world with totally different perspectives. Believing in God has never entered my mind. Believing that my government or my employer should and will take care of me for life has never entered my mind.

As a disclaimer, I have not read the book, and I am only marginally knowledgable about the particulars of it. In general though, the nature/nurture dichotomy is not believed to be the correct way to think about the issue of causation in genetics.

In the Dunedin study out of New Zealand, for example, the monoamine oxidase A gene has been found to modulate violence in males. So, if that gene is highly active in an abused, male child they usually grow up fine with little or no antisocial behavior. If it is not active then they are highly likely to be very antisocial with increased chances of violence and incarceration. The key point here is that without abuse in childhood, they have no violence issues in adulthood. If they are abused and have this active gene, they are not violent. If they have an inactive gene AND they are abused, they become violent. It's an epigenetic relationship whereby the gene is activated by certain environmental cues and the environment encourages or discourages the likelihood of activation of the gene.

A more simple and visual example might be a gene that "encourages" risk taking behavior. Having that gene would not guarantee that you would rock climb or skydive but if high risk activities caused a pleasurable or elated physiological response, rather than nervous anxiety, then you would be far more likely to perform the behavior.

Another example, that falls along gender lines, is that men, on average, have only 75% of the corpus collosum that women have. This is responsible for interactivity between both hemispheres of the brain and partially, what allows women to excel at multitasking to a degree far superior to men. This doesn't mean that men cannot multitask, but likewise, if they do a poor job at it, it would be quite incorrect to assume that they just were not trying hard enough or not "staying in focus."

This epigentic process is the most widely accepted view, currently, regarding the interplay between genes, environment, and cognition. They are all simultaneously affecting one another, so to posit causation or willfully ignore any part of the equation leads to an incorrect and mostly problematic view of reality. We certainly have freewill but it doesn't exist in a vacuum. It takes place in an environment and in a body, both of which encourage some behaviors and set limitations, individually, with wide variation due to natural selection as well as, as a species.

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In the Dunedin study out of New Zealand, for example, the monoamine oxidase A gene has been found to modulate violence in males. So, if that gene is highly active in an abused, male child they usually grow up fine with little or no antisocial behavior. If it is not active then they are highly likely to be very antisocial with increased chances of violence and incarceration. The key point here is that without abuse in childhood, they have no violence issues in adulthood. If they are abused and have this active gene, they are not violent. If they have an inactive gene AND they are abused, they become violent. It's an epigenetic relationship whereby the gene is activated by certain environmental cues and the environment encourages or discourages the likelihood of activation of the gene.

It is premature to make such conclusions as this is all much more complex. Our understanding of biochemical pathways (in terms of behavioral tendencies or other traits) is still very limited.

Genes associated with a difference in one environment may not be so associated in another environment. For example, in some genetic contexts the BRCA1/2 mutations may raise the lifetime risk of breast cancer to over 80%, whereas in the presence of other genes, the same mutations are associated with only a 20% lifetime risk. So that is the biology side but as we know human volition is an additional and very important factor here as well. The significance of "encouragement" can be nil. I get this kind of "encouragement" affecting my mood every month and it does not translate causally into associated behavior.

Low-MAOA activity, even when coupled with growing up in a violent household, does not guarantee that a violent or antisocial adult will result to begin with but it may not even guarantee the said predisposition; conversely, high-MAOA activity, even when coupled with growing up in a nonviolent household, does not guarantee that the result will be a nonviolent adult (not that I think you would disagree - just wanted to clarify that fact).

Current research does not point towards ANY substantial predictive abilities respecting the behavior of individuals. Any implications drawn from this research are (and should be for now) very limited.

Now to answer the original poster - a predisposition to accept a particular man-created idea is absurd.

We certainly have freewill but it doesn't exist in a vacuum.

True but it is important to accurately assess the level of influence and significance of that context.

Edited by ~Sophia~

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Jake,

Thank you so much for the comments. BTW, the book was not only peer reviewed but the author enlisted the help of many others working on the human genome project. He, himself, points out many flaws in the work. To me the greatest flaw is the measurement of spirituality. Also, as a member of the medical community who makes a living dissecting information, I can tell you that peer review means nothing. Ben Bernanke's peers all think he is doing a yeoman job because it is what they want to believe.

That may be true for Bernanke, who has the might of the US government behind him and doesn't need arguments to convince anyone, but in fields of science such as Biology peer review, of information published in scientific journals, and reviewed by independent biologists, rather than colleagues the author of a book enlists to write something nice about it, does matter.

Nevertheless, I believe that there are people who would be subjectivist if they were raised among wolves in the woods.

This book is of very little or no consequence to the field of genetics, which is in the mean time progressing with the study of reality, rather than sensationalist fantasies. I don't think you should be basing any of your conclusions on it, there is no gene that causes people to become subjectivists.

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Jake,

Your comment is spoken like a true subjectivist. You know, some one who believes what they choose to believe instead of studying the facts.

It is not wrong to disagree. It is wrong to disagree simply on emotion and without studying the issue.

Dennis

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It is premature to make such conclusions as this is all much more complex. Our understanding of biochemical pathways (in terms of behavioral tendencies or other traits) is still very limited.

...

True but it is important to accurately assess the level of influence and significance of that context.

Would you send me the adress or repost the link. It doesn't seem to open anything for me.

The level of influence in any particular is certainly open for debate, but do you really believe that there is no significant influence on behavior at the genetic level?

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Jake,

Your comment is spoken like a true subjectivist. You know, some one who believes what they choose to believe instead of studying the facts.

It is not wrong to disagree. It is wrong to disagree simply on emotion and without studying the issue.

Dennis

The issue is whether philosophy is chosen or predetermined. The idea that it is predetermined would reject every single tenet of Objectivism. I don't have to be a geneticist to know that my actions weren't predetermined by something that is hardwired.

But you do need to understand what subjectivism is, before deciding whether a gene makes one subscribe to it or not. Based on your statement that a man raised by wolves could become a subjectivist, because of his genes, I suspect you don't. Maybe you're confusing subjectivists with people who's intelligence is somehow impaired, I don't know.

P.S. I do believe what I choose to believe. That's the whole point. That's not what a subjectivist is though. A subjectivist chooses to believe a specific set of philosophical ideas.

Edited by Jake_Ellison

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Would you send me the adress or repost the link. It doesn't seem to open anything for me.

http://en.scientificcommons.org/37517493 (click on one of the links on that page)

The level of influence in any particular is certainly open for debate, but do you really believe that there is no significant influence on behavior at the genetic level?

As a general rule, I recognize the difference between experiencing a physiological state (for example, more frequent/stronger/prolonged anger/aggravation or impulsiveness than average) and acting on it (the choice of violent behavior). We are not on the level of rodents. Also, how do I put this, behaviors vary on volitional scale (repeated criminal or immoral behavior vs. one time heat of the moment quick reaction).

I grant more significance, in terms of affecting behavior, to epistemology, ideology, personal values than genetics.

Given evidence to the contrary, I will change my opinion on this issue, but I think, in most cases (not counting pathologies), the genetic significance is low.

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http://en.scientificcommons.org/37517493 (click on one of the links on that page)

As a general rule, I recognize the difference between experiencing a physiological state (for example, more frequent/stronger/prolonged anger/aggravation or impulsiveness than average) and acting on it (the choice of violent behavior). We are not on the level of rodents. Also, how do I put this, behaviors vary on volitional scale (repeated criminal or immoral behavior vs. one time heat of the moment quick reaction).

I grant more significance, in terms of affecting behavior, to epistemology, ideology, personal values than genetics.

Given evidence to the contrary, I will change my opinion on this issue, but I think, in most cases (not counting pathologies), the genetic significance is low.

I find that surprising. I wonder if we are looking at it from the same perspective, because your view seems to be somewhat static and introspective. Like, " I experience monthly hormonal fluctuations which I can rationally choose to respond to or not." The nature of the epigentic view is developmental. So a low native intelligence, while somewhat overcomeable by fairly extreme environmental approaches is largely genetically related. Monozygotic twins, for example, are more similar in IQ than dizygotic, and dyzygotic and siblings generally are more similar than random samples would suggest. This is true even when raised in divergent households.

Low intelligence is very often associated with a poor capacity for delayed gratification, which leads to many problems with handling money, criminality, and emotional stability. So, I'm not claiming so much that genetics cause any particular bad behavior, but that the interplay between these circumstances are affective in in outcome. Significantly. Philosophy and training can certainly alleviate this effect when present.

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So a low native intelligence, while somewhat overcomeable by fairly extreme environmental approaches is largely genetically related. Monozygotic twins, for example, are more similar in IQ than dizygotic, and dyzygotic and siblings generally are more similar than random samples would suggest.
I would question the characterization of the required environmental differences as being "extreme". Even if genetics are more correlated to intelligence than are environmental factors, a very small increase in the latter can cause a large increase in intelligence, and can entirely overwhelm the importance of genetics (if "importance" is about the change in the final outcome, as opposed to the correlation with the causative variable).

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I would question the characterization of the required environmental differences as being "extreme". Even if genetics are more correlated to intelligence than are environmental factors, a very small increase in the latter can cause a large increase in intelligence, and can entirely overwhelm the importance of genetics (if "importance" is about the change in the final outcome, as opposed to the correlation with the causative variable).

There are slightly divergent temperaments that seem to respond differently to amounts of stimulation, but for the most part, variations in IQ are genetic. At extreme ends, almost anyone that is severely malnourished from a young age will develop a very low IQ. Likewise, almost anyone with with an extremely good environment, (like koko the guerilla with her dozen plus caregivers and instructors, for example) will develop an above average IQ. Extremely high IQ's(above the 140's) have a strong heritability regardless of circumstance(short of early malnutrition).

Genetics can in many ways be overcome, thankfully, but not without significant effort. With reasonable(normal) levels of stimulation and a more or less healthy lifestyle, genetics seems to be the primary determining factor of differences.

(I want to note that I don't view IQ as a synonym for intelligence. An individual can certainly try harder and achieve greater mastery of any skill or knowledge set regardless of predisposition. Statistically though, that extra effort translates to less often and not significant statistically.)

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I find that surprising. I wonder if we are looking at it from the same perspective, because your view seems to be somewhat static and introspective. Like, " I experience monthly hormonal fluctuations which I can rationally choose to respond to or not."

Using myself was a good example as my symptoms are not mild. If I can think before I act anybody can (really - this is not a revolutionary concept).

Being driven by emotional reactions even when they are of "normal" range rather than reason (and in essence reducing oneself to the level of a rodent used in behavioral genetics studies) is only one of consequences of failing to think (which is a matter of choice). So that is the more significant issue here - that people fail to make that choice so often (which results in all kinds of bad consequences), and not the fact, for example, that some people physically experience anger 20% stronger (not that we even know what the "normal" level is). Experiencing anger 20% stronger is not an issue for those who make a good decision in respect to the first.

The nature of the epigentic view is developmental.

This study above was based on DNA sequence change so it was not epigenetic in nature. But if you want to touch on it - non-genetic factors that cause the organism's genes to behave or express themselves differently are often environmental in nature (like nutrition, for example).

Also, in terms of development, children are not as much in charge of their behavior as adults are. I see it on a scale - increasing proportionally with mental maturity. But, the same excuse can't be applied to adults.

In terms of developing/shaping personality, especially during what researchers call "sensitive periods" of development, physiological differences are more significant. But this can not be extended to all behavior equally and again not past certain developmental stage.

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There are slightly divergent temperaments that seem to respond differently to amounts of stimulation, but for the most part, variations in IQ are genetic.

Some variation is due to the genetic component and this genetic component is at most a weak upper (very high up) limit on mental abilities and thus achievement. Most people do not fall on the edges of the scale.

Edited by ~Sophia~

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Some variation is due to the genetic component and this genetic component is at most a weak upper (very high up) limit on mental abilities and thus achievement. Most people do not fall on the edges of the scale.

I understand intelligence and most other mental characteristics as being similar to height or any other modifiable genetic variable. We are predisposed to be some height but lack of calcium or severe abuse can certainly affect it. This does not mean that if someone has 5' tall parents and family, choosing to drink 2 gallons of milk per day will cause them to be 6' 7" or anything remotely close. To propose that brain development operates differently in this interaction than every other example I am familiar with would require a large amount of data to be convincing. So this does not just affect the upper limit of iq. Its that genetics provides a range and environment can affect which end of that range they end up on.

The notion of Tabula Rasa may be romantic and deeply accepted because we are so sold on this notion of equality, but it is becoming more and more apparent to me that it is standing in direct opposition to the whole field of cognitive neuroscience. This is fine, of course, since science has been wrong before, but I find the evidence of genetic affect to be very convincing would need, like I mentioned, a significant amount of evidence opposing the idea to be swayed. So far, I am not aware of anyone in the field on the other end.

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I understand intelligence and most other mental characteristics as being similar to height or any other modifiable genetic variable.

I don't know exactly how similar those two traits are biochemically. I would think intelligence is a much more complex as there is more to it than growth hormone and enough nutrients. As you know, stimuli from the environment cause new neuronal connections to form.

Numerous countries have reported continuous and regular increases in IQ and many of these increases have occurred far too rapidly to be explained by genetics. For example, 18-year-olds from the Netherlands tested in 1982 scored 20 IQ points higher than an equivalent group of 18-year-olds tested in 1952, an increase of more than 1 SD! (BTW it was similar in magnitude to the increase in height that occurred in the country over the same period - interesting no?).

Its that genetics provides a range and environment can affect which end of that range they end up on.

I may agree with that. Observed increases such as the one above, however, would indicate that we are not hitting (on a population level) that limit set by genetics. We are not living up to our full "genetic potential".

The notion of Tabula Rasa may be romantic and deeply accepted because we are so sold on this notion of equality, but it is becoming more and more apparent to me that it is standing in direct opposition to the whole field of cognitive neuroscience.

Tabula Rasa means born without innate ideas. It does not mean biologically equal. I don't believe that we are.

As we are making progress in the area of gene functionality and in time all of the pathways will be accounted for. I wish those discoveries were properly reported in the media for what they are. A mutation affecting body's metabolism of alcohol does not affect person's choice to lift that glass and consume alcohol.

A new functional discovery is not necessarily a determinant of behavior which may or may not result from the associated physiological state. The deficiency would have to be proven strong enough that the person given that state "could not help it". The one you mentioned (and many others) are not of this kind.

(And you are mistaken about my "statism". I am not attached to any particular idea I currently accept as true, philosophic or scientific.)

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I understand intelligence and most other mental characteristics as being similar to height or any other modifiable genetic variable. We are predisposed to be some height but lack of calcium or severe abuse can certainly affect it. This does not mean that if someone has 5' tall parents and family, choosing to drink 2 gallons of milk per day will cause them to be 6' 7" or anything remotely close. To propose that brain development operates differently in this interaction than every other example I am familiar with would require a large amount of data to be convincing.

To propose that your analogy is not proof would require large ammounts of data to be convincing?

We aren't talking about brain development, we are talking about intelligence. (unless you can point us to a study that measures brain-size, or any other attribute of the brain, and correlates it to intelligence--that would allow us to use the two interchangebly, I suppose)

The notion of Tabula Rasa may be romantic and deeply accepted because we are so sold on this notion of equality.

No, the notion of Tabula Rasa is accepted by Objectivism because there is overwhelming evidence of it, and no evidence against it. Men are indeed born without knowledge and ideas, they are an empty plate ready to be filled by the concepts they form based on the world around them.

But I suspect you are talking about their ability to form increasingly complex concepts, not their predisposition to form certain concepts at the expense of others. In which case, sure, some children are better at it than others, but I'm not convinced that genes are the main factor. Unlike height or hair color, intelligence is an ability, the ability to form concepts, and it can be practiced and improved upon, by choice. If we must have an analogy, let's compare it to the ability to play a sport, rather than the physical attribute of height.

The average man can be pretty good at baseball (to the point where people are impressed), or not know how to play at all, based on his choices rather than his genes. A combination of great choices and special genes is a must only if you are looking to play the game at MLB level.

If anything, intelligence is even more dependent on the right choices, which in itself would suggest it is even less dependent on genes. Then, of course, there is the absence of any consistent relationship between physical attributes (like brain size) and intelligence. (that's of course not the case with baseball, which requires an exceptional body)

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I don't know exactly how similar those two traits are biochemically. I would think intelligence is a much more complex as there is more to it than growth hormone and enough nutrients. As you know, stimuli from the environment cause new neuronal connections to form.

Undoubtedly, it's more complex, but I can't imagine any reason why the brain would operate differently then any other aspect of our bodies in terms of its relationship to a genetic code. To say that more genetic material is probably involved in the creation and development of the brain, i would certainly agree with as likely.

Numerous countries have reported continuous and regular increases in IQ and many of these increases have occurred far too rapidly to be explained by genetics. For example, 18-year-olds from the Netherlands tested in 1982 scored 20 IQ points higher than an equivalent group of 18-year-olds tested in 1952, an increase of more than 1 SD! (BTW it was similar in magnitude to the increase in height that occurred in the country over the same period - interesting no?).

My guess would be that this is due primarily to changes in nutrition and possibly environmental changes. With their current declining birthrate and population(like much of Europe) the Netherlands statistically have 3 or 4 adults per child rather then Africa that has 5 children per adult. I would assume that the increase in resources and educational opportunities combined with better nutrition and health levels is primarily responsible. A 20 point range of variability due to environment is very possible.

I may agree with that. Observed increases such as the one above, however, would indicate that we are not hitting (on a population level) that limit set by genetics. We are not living up to our full "genetic potential".

There was a graph in a class I'm taking which explains the difference in temperaments in a way that will be difficult to put into words, but it's important to why this point is partially irrelevant so I'll try though. Y axis is IQ, X axis is Stimulation in the environment. There are 3 diagonal lines representing 3 similar responses to environment that children can have. At the low end of stimulation and health, all 3 intersect at an IQ of about 75. At the high end, which would be a nearly perfect environment for development, they all intersect at about 115. What's interesting though is in the middle, (the environment that we can reasonably expect most children to have, one line is a pretty straight diagonal, where more stimulation means >IQ and tops out at 115. The Top line goes up to the 160's with average stimulation and then falls back down to 120 with the good environment. The bottom line stays fairly flat and then arcs up at the very end with an excellent environment. What this demonstrates is that there is a range of alteration that can occur in capacity for thought, but the amount of energy expended to change is so high that it virtually guarantees that you will have this divergence of intelligence IQ until such time as all parents are wealthy skilled Montessori teachers. Further, in the case of very gifted children, that sort of environment can actually be a hindrance since they need to be far more self directed in order to thrive.

Tabula Rasa means born without innate ideas. It does not mean biologically equal. I don't believe that we are.

I used the term too loosely.

As we are making progress in the area of gene functionality and in time all of the pathways will be accounted for. I wish those discoveries were properly reported in the media for what they are. A mutation affecting body's metabolism of alcohol does not affect person's choice to lift that glass and consume alcohol.

Do you mean to say if ones phisiology causes them to get a pleasant buzz and someone else gets nauseous that this would have no impact on likelihood of alcoholism? If so, I disagree. It may have little impact on a first drink but the second is a different story.

A new functional discovery is not necessarily a determinant of behavior which may or may not result from the associated physiological state. The deficiency would have to be proven strong enough that the person given that state "could not help it". The one you mentioned (and many others) are not of this kind.

This is probably at the root of our disagreement. I am not looking to assuage guilt or place blame and I am not currently interested in any particular individual in this sense. Further, I am not making the claim that someone "cant help but anything." A question of that sort is only relevent in the particular context of a particular individual. In general though, it seems far more likely then not, that genetics plays a number of roles in our behavior, as people. Setting capacities, determining physiological response, directly shaping differences in brain structure between men and women, are all examples. I don't view this as an embrace of genetic determinism. I would view it as influential in the same way that what sorts of parents a child has can be influential in their development.

(And you are mistaken about my "statism". I am not attached to any particular idea I currently accept as true, philosophic or scientific.)

Not statist....I said static. :D

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afreemarketguy

I am curious to hear comments regarding whether or not subjectivism and objectivism may be wholly or somewhat hardwired in us and lying dormant until we receive the proper stimulus.

I can't believe that someone who calls himself an Objectivist would ask such a question; and that no one else has pointed that out (as far as I have seen).

Free will or determinism = Obj. vs. Sub.

If you really understand Obj, you could study any particular individual and determine where he philosophically made errors that led him to be a subjectivist.

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To propose that your analogy is not proof would require large ammounts of data to be convincing?

Not my analogy. It would have to overwhelm the large amount of data to the contrary regarding genes as building blocks of our bodies and therefore our brains. It would have to suggest someway in which a process(evolution) which is essentially a process of variation would make some kind of exception for the human brain and make it static and identical to every other member of the species.

We aren't talking about brain development, we are talking about intelligence. (unless you can point us to a study that measures brain-size, or any other attribute of the brain, and correlates it to intelligence--that would allow us to use the two interchangeably, I suppose)

brain development and intelligence are inextricably tied. Can you explain why they wouldn't be?

No, the notion of Tabula Rasa is accepted by Objectivism because there is overwhelming evidence of it, and no evidence against it. Men are indeed born without knowledge and ideas, they are an empty plate ready to be filled by the concepts they form based on the world around them.
Depending on what you mean by empty I more or less agree.

If we must have an analogy, let's compare it to the ability to play a sport, rather than the physical attribute of height.

The average man can be pretty good at baseball (to the point where people are impressed), or not know how to play at all, based on his choices rather than his genes. A combination of great choices and special genes is a must only if you are looking to play the game at MLB level.

That's fine...the same issue applies though and it's not relevant only to the major league. There's an implied assumption in that statement that anyone can achieve some particular level of skill at baseball. This is only true if you set the bar very low. Almost anyone might achieve a .078 batting average in a low level league of some kind, but not everyone will achieve a .396 in a farm league. In fact, there is a whole range of capacities in batting, pitching and other aspects of the sport which vary from individual to individual. I submit that there are obvious genetic as well as environmental advantages, in addition to a work ethic, which will set a range of ability for the individual.

If anything, intelligence is even more dependent on the right choices, which in itself would suggest it is even less dependent on genes. Then, of course, there is the absence of any consistent relationship between physical attributes (like brain size) and intelligence. (that's of course not the case with baseball, which requires an exceptional body)

When you are talking about intelligence here, do you mean rationality? If so, then i don't disagree. I suppose that someone can be pretty rational by comparison to most and still lack significantly in IQ.

I am not sure why you think a link to brain size is significant. On that note though, specific parts of the brain that are larger or smaller significantly affect particular capabilities. The hypothalamus is twice as large in women and homosexual men for example as it is in straight men which has significant affects on hormonal secretions. Inferior parietal lobule which is used in spatial reasoning and memory is much larger in men.

The overall brain of men is 12% larger on average than women's with 4% more brain cells but women's brains seem to be richer in dendritic connections and they have less muscle cells to communicate with, so there is little difference in IQ's. Overall brain size is not significant now because we know so much more about what particular parts do and how neurons interact, but I would suppose in a very general way a bigger brain relative to body size is somewhat correlated to intelligence. At least at the interspecies level.

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Jake_Ellison

No, the notion of Tabula Rasa is accepted by Objectivism because there is overwhelming evidence of it, and no evidence against it.

No, it is accepted because any belief to the contrary contradicts fundamental Epistemological principles.

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