PHOTO: Black and White twins – Kian and Remee Hodgson
The age old debate of nature versus nurture swirls around in my head often as I hear so many people refer to newborns being adopted as a “blank slate.” Newborns – adopted or not – are certainly not “blank slates” (Tabula Rasa). Many behavioral geneticists have performed studies on adoptees and twins, and have learned that human development does not derive solely from environmental forces – wealth, social privilege and education cannot be assigned to a genetic code.
To what extent are we governed by external factors (nature), and how much is genetic? I think the answer lies in how we individually want to interpret it. We can hear explanations for dwarfism, Parkinsons, and breast cancer, and try to ascertain that the reason we now have this condition is because of our genetics. However the reality is that our genes can only tell us if we have that mutation. Cancer, among other conditions, may in fact have more to do with our environment (nurture). However, people hear what they want to hear, think what they want to think, and assign blame to whom they’d like to assign the blame to.
I thought that finding my roots, and learning more about my genes and my background would give me answers, but it’s actually left me with a lot more questions. I, along with countless others, would like to pinpoint reasons behind seemingly innate talents, distinct mannerisms, IQ, susceptibility to mental health issues, or alcoholism etc., down to either nature or nurture, however I’m learning that though genes play a large role in our creation, much of who we are is also quite random.
That randomness is hard to accept.