Genetic losers?

Updated: 21 May 2008, 22:28

Originally written: 23 November 2005

Most people seem to believe that our genetic makeup dooms humans to a non-cooperative society in which we must be forced to behave, upon pain of death.

Socialists have long said that environmental factors (the world around us) are very important in shaping and altering our behaviour. Recent research at McGill University in Montreal proves us right.

Genetic researchers Michael Meaney, a neuro-biologist, and Moshe Szyf, a professor of pharmacology, have shown that “external factors … produce permanent changes to the way genes behave.” They proved that “a mother rat’s early nurturing produced specific changes” affecting the genes of the offspring. The genes themselves were not altered, but the chemical coating on the cells changed in “the area of the brain responsible for stress response in adult rats.” These chemical coatings are known to determine which genes in the cell will be activated and which will not.

According to Szyf, “our fate is not just sealed by our genetic inheritance, but by how the genes are sculpted by their environment.” According to Szyf, their work “demonstrates that although our genes are sculpted very early in childhood … things can change later in life and the things that change could be as simple as some of the basic things we get from our food.”

Yet again socialists are proven correct, and our critics wrong.

Duke University Medical Centre scientists have suggested a useful analogy: putting gum on a light switch. The switch is not broken but it cannot function properly because it is gummed up. We need to get the gum out of our social structures so that people can act naturally, gregariously, and pro-socially.

In a new society, designed to meet our needs, people will behave pro-socially because we will live in a world which nurtures pro-social behaviour.

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