[ExI] Evolution - 'Nature versus Nurture', but random noise as well

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Wed Mar 25 13:34:17 UTC 2020

Both. It's always both, never** just one or the other (or even 'mostly' one
or the other)"? That would be a good start.  Asking if 'Nature' is more
important than 'Nurture' is like asking "Is
Warp more important than Weft?". Ben

And someone is going to say: " But some fabrics are wider than they are
long and vice versa.  Surely genes have more to do with the shape of the
kidneys than how much I know about Henry VIII even though both are always

And I cannot deny that.  There was an excellent book of a few years ago
"What you can change, and what you can't."  Martin Seligman.  Short of just
how epigenetics works ;and what can change what, we cannot change our genes
in major ways - agreed?  And unless environment is extreme, one way or
another, behaviors, structures of bones, etc. will fall into a certain
range with a certain average and so on.

Just saying it's both is just not an answer.  When we talk about science to
the layperson I think we have to lie a bit, exaggerate a bit, and so on -
in other words, not really exact answers, but good enough for who they are
for.  If they want to take several courses in the area they will learn
differently.  No harm done.

bill w

On Wed, Mar 25, 2020 at 7:52 AM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> On 24/03/2020 21:32, billw wrote:
> > Someone asks me if nature or nurture mostly affects height and I say ...
> You say "Sorry, you're asking the wrong question". Then point out why.
> Hopefully they'll realise that it's actually an invalid question because
> it assumes something false about the way biology works.
> It would probably help to be armed with some examples of how environment
> modifies the genetic material, which can also modify the environment,
> etc., and how one gene can code for a product that's used in different
> ways in different places and times (haemoglobin might be a very simple
> example).
> It's not even a case of imperfect execution of instructions, as several
> people here have said. Sure, that happens, but that's not the point. The
> point is deep and constant interaction between genetic material and
> metabolism, plus several different aspects of the environment, at
> different levels.
> We might label a particular sequence 'the gene for height', but what
> does that mean when we discover* that actually it has a lot more to do
> with someone's ability to taste mint as having a cool sensation, as well
> as being intimately connected with nephron development in the kidneys
> and the propensity for developing tinnitus in later life? And almost
> certainly dozens of other things as well. One gene-product expressed in
> one tissue often has completely different interactions and effects to
> the same gene-product in a different tissue. Or the same one, at
> different stages of life.
> Much more than facebook relationship statuses, biology actually does
> deserve the label "It's complicated". Simple answers rarely work, and
> simple questions are rarely applicable.
> To go back to the original question, though, and what might be a
> reasonable answer, how about "Both. It's always both, never** just one
> or the other (or even 'mostly' one or the other)"? That would be a good
> start.
> Asking if 'Nature' is more important than 'Nurture' is like asking "Is
> Warp more important than Weft?".
> * I'm making these examples up, to illustrate the point. They aren't at
> all far-fetched, though, and we're finding out more all the time about
> just how damned complicated all this is.
> ** and of course, that's probably a simplification, as well!
> --
> Ben Zaiboc
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> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
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