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Three Laws of Behavior Genetics and What They Mean

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Peter Grant
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« on: August 03, 2010, 19:26:27 PM »

This is the paper Steven Pinker sites near the end of The Blank Slate, reminds me a bit of Asimov's three laws. I've finished the book now and would like to discuss:

Three Laws of Behavior Genetics and What They Mean
Eric Turkheimer
Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia

Quote
The nature-nurture debate is
over. The bottom line is that everything
is heritable, an outcome that
has taken all sides of the naturenurture
debate by surprise. Irving
Gottesman and I have suggested
that the universal influence of
genes on behavior be enshrined as
the first law of behavior genetics
(Turkheimer & Gottesman, 1991),
and at the risk of naming laws that
I can take no credit for discovering,
it is worth stating the nearly unanimous
results of behavior genetics
in a more formal manner.

  • First Law. All human behavioral
    traits are heritable.
  • Second Law. The effect of being
    raised in the same family is
    smaller than the effect of genes.
  • Third Law. A substantial portion
    of the variation in complex human
    behavioral traits is not accounted
    for by the effects of
    genes or families.

It is not my purpose in this brief
article to defend these three laws
against the many exceptions that
might be claimed. The point is that
now that the empirical facts are in
and no longer a matter of serious
controversy, it is time to turn attention
to what the three laws mean,
to the implications of the genetics
of behavior for an understanding
of complex human behavior and its
development.


http://people.virginia.edu/~ent3c/papers2/three_laws.pdf
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Michael Meadon
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2010, 14:36:43 PM »

Apologies for the self-promotion, but this is what applying these laws to some silly science looks like...
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xavier
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« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2010, 06:08:06 AM »

They simply mean that to a large degree you are what you inherited from your parents and forefathers genetically, AND you are also the expression of the memes that you learnt from your caregivers and educators until you became mature enough to start selecting the memes you acquire yourself. In this meme self aquisition process the environment you mature in also play a role. I theorise that if one considers part of your genetically induced behavioral predisposition to be "Not Acceptable" it is possible through concentration and focus to apply contrary memes to develop and induce into your behaviour that contradicts the Genetic predisposition. After all it is a predisposition not a dictate. E.g. A person with a genetic predisposition towards addiction may become an Alcoholic AND once dragged down far enough to realise this predisposition's strength. Can join AA and use their education or meme acquisition process to learn how to fight this predisposition through daily constant concentration.

If you like this type of stuff you might be prepared to read and give me some skeptical review help with a book I am developing. The present version is on http://www.poorofafrica.com Logon and download the book free at present.

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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2010, 22:11:02 PM »

I theorise that if one considers part of your genetically induced behavioral predisposition to be "Not Acceptable" it is possible through concentration and focus to apply contrary memes to develop and induce into your behaviour that contradicts the Genetic predisposition.

Yep, we can learn stuff, thanks to our somewhat floppy brain-genes! Grin

The product of "hard" behavioural genes could be termed instinct.

Mintaka
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