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Saturday, March 17, 2012


Bill Fleming

This is at once one of the most interesting, and one of the most incendiary of topics, KB. It is certainly worthy of careful, well reasoned consideration and debate, but one wonders whether we as a society are emotionally and intellectually prepared for it. Even as we debate the pros and cons of contraception and what constitutes a "person" I fear bioscience and the potential consequences will always far predate society's willingness to engage them in a reasonable enough context to establish coherent social policy. For example, if curing a generational genetic disease that has plagued a family for centuries meant we had to complely reorder the genes of a given fertilized egg, destroy the old one, and implant the new one every time someone in that family chose to reproduce... well?

Donald Pay

Well, some people take this a bit far. Liking jazz is genetic? Not likely. Of course there are genetic components to lots of the very complex mixtures of aural reception and neural aspects of listening to music of whatever sort you can name. Some people have a better acoustical acuity than others.

Music preference is largely generational, not genetic. There is a large aspect of nurture involved, but not parental nurture. Most research points to the strong influence of music in adolescent years, when people are experiencing some distancing from parents. Whatever music you are listening to when you undergo puberty, have that first crush, fall in and out of love and experience shared adolescent goofiness, angst and tumult is what is going to be of most influence on you throughout your life. Of course in traditional societies the music didn't change quickly, but classical music styles did. Musical styles changed with some regularity ever since.

I never liked jazz until I was past adolescence. I associated the music with my father, who listened to what I considered "shit" while I preferred rock. I take that back. My mom played boogie woogie and stride piano pieces badly. I liked that, because it was the only time she would say "shit," but I didn't associate any of it with the "shit" my dad played.

larry kurtz

Stumbled over this today--better living through chemistry:


Being satisfied, getting needs met, and copious exercise: all selected for successful reproduction.

Spring: ain't it grand?

Ken Blanchard

In the middle of a good fight, suddenly agreement breaks out. I agree, Bill, that we may not be mature enough as a society to be ready for the consequences of current biological research. Well, we are going to have it anyway. The ethical questions are already much with us. I continue to think that the skewing of birth ratio toward males in many Asian countries is a very big problem. I also think it very ugly that so many Indian women are walking around with one kidney, having sold the other on the open market. What will happen if we discover a compound that can extend the life of 70 year olds but can only be harvested by killing four year old girls? I shudder to think.

Donald: no one is saying that there is a gene for jazz (though, if there is, I was born with it). However, there might well be a gene or set of genes that makes it more likely that one will like jazz. The things that come out of twin studies are simply astounding.

Mark Anderson

Last week I said, that if "Obama agrees with anything Republicans used to be for, Republicans will be against it. I believe that's a genetic disorder" I was wrong, it's just genetics, although I prefer to look at it as a disorder. Now why are so few scientists, Republicans? Now if those Minnesotan's could have just stayed away from the Pioneer Fund.

Ken Blanchard

Mark, you amazing man: Republicans are all suffering from a disorder and the Washington Post is a Neo-Con newspaper. Whatever color the sky is in your world, I am sure it is no shade of blue.

D.E. Bishop

In the midst of this genetic discussion, which I agree is meritorious, I wonder about the exceptions.

In a family history of poverty, lack of education, mental illness, joblessness, etc., why does one child become very successful? What is it in that one that gives her strength, courage, aspiration, success?

Does genetics help us understand the exceptions? Because if science can do that, we can make exceptions become the ordinary. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

Ken Blanchard

D.E.B.: Yes. One of the key facts about sexual reproduction is variation. Within a single litter, there will be a range of puppies. Otherwise, natural selection would have nothing to work on.

Of course, a lot of other things make for exceptions. Some offspring are fortunate. My mother never went to college and my father had only a pharmacy degree. I did have a lot of gifted teachers from grade school on. My third grade teacher gave me a book about science when she realized I was interested. There is also the matter of individual decisions. Sometimes these make a big difference.

Mark Anderson

You know Ken, I just wish you were better read, than red. Read Robert Parry, he among many others has identified the Washington Post in this way: "fitting with that propaganda strategy, the Washington Post's editorial page, which is essentially the neocons' media flagship," Here are two of them, Jennifer Rubin and Fred Hiatt who hired her. Rubin in particular who has tweeted and linked to articles by Rachael Abrams of the Emergency Committee for Israel.

Ken Blanchard

Mark: what you mean is that the WaPo occasionally thinks outside the box in which your mind is tightly confined. I can understand why you think that that is apostasy.

Mark Anderson

My sky is still blue, I don't think anything is an apostasy, I just like facts. I didn't even mention George Will or Charles Krauthammer because of course they are old school conservatives who are at the Washington Post. You really need to get out more.

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