predisposed -v- learnt

Roger Thomas thomasr at
Tue Dec 3 17:23:57 EST 1996

In article <3NEpycBTKMTS089yn at>, parker0 at (Paul Parker) writes:
> In article <1996Nov24.085249 at topaz>,
> thomasr at (Roger Thomas) wrote:
>>In article <m+4lycBTKQyN089yn at>, parker0 at (Paul Parker) writes:
> ---deletions---
> The earlier deletions referred to reports on studies in the USA linking 
> aggresive behaviour with serotonin levels,  establishing this was both
> inheritable characteristic and treatable.   
> Other inheritable and treatable genetic links exist.
>>> How much of an individuals behaviour is an inherited genetic 
>>> predisposition at birth, how much is from culture - what is learnt 
>>> after birth ?  
>>> Links between culturally modified predispostions are being found.
> We can leave this issue - we can all learn bad habits, more as this 
> is not relevant directly to the issues raised below. 

Except I'd comment that in a family where all members are raised
under the same circumstances there are often *marked* differences
in behaviour/disposition.

>>> If we are proving the existance of such inherited predispositions 
>>> we are saying those same theories which the Nazi's were - and 
>>> remain, so widely condemned for were perhaps accurate... 
>>> If you're unhappy with this path of thinking, with where it leads,
>>> don't feel lonely !

>>Facts don't have to be palatable :-)
>>Assuming the hypothesis is established the next step is to do something
>>about correcting serotonin levels in individuals who are suffering.
> Sorry as not clear enough.  My concern was not serotonin levels 
> influencing a persons behaviour or predisposition to particular - for
> example aggressive, behaviour.  
> Was reflecting on the debate re race, the usual derogatory comments 
> over certain behaviours being normal - or at the time being abnormal,  
> for people of a particular race. 

Realised that.   'Dour Scot' etc (why wouldn't you be dour if you 
had to live in that climate! :-)

> In our discussions on racial issues we have dodged questions :
> 	1)  	whether exists genetic identifiers for race;


> 	2)	whether such gentic identifier - if exist,  might be 
> 		linked to any behavioural characteristic;

> 	3)	whether any genetic identifier should be linked to
> 		rights of individuals;

NO way.
> IF we accept that in genetic terms there exists an identifier for 
> race we can not deny it is possible to have existing a genetic 
> link between race and behaviour.

> IF we accept that in genetic terms there might exist genetic 
> links between race and behaviour can we deny the funds to
> persons wishing to study in this area ?

I'd have no problem with that, but that is a damn sight different 
from characterising a racial behavior on the basis of simple 
observation, given that the observation is coloured by culture, 
as is the behaviour being observed.
> In terms of public morality perhaps.
> Should we allow any such public morality on these issues to 
> restrict what now seems to be application of reasonable scientific 
> investigation of the issue  ?

I would have thought public morality was better served by careful,
repeatable scientific study than by ignoring possibilities.

>>A possible further step may be manipulation of genetic material so
>>'normal' levels are maintained automatically by the individual.
> I have seen occasional reports on such work, however I had not 
> followed these up in any depth,  so just recall them as interesting
> areas of research - but not mine, at the time.  
> Manipulation of genetic material we now do often, perhaps with little 
> reflection on the wider issues concerning why we are doing such 
> research and just where are we going with it.  

It's not my field, but my impression is that is not the case.   The 
ethical justification for such studies seems to be very rigorous,
prolonged and well documented - and this is a requirement for the 
work to *commence*.

> Are we walking along a cliff face studying articles in the newspaper 
> rather than where we are walking to ?

'Course we are!   We've collectively been doing that since the 
year 'dot'. :-)

> Have any of the ethics commitees examining and deciding related 
> matters - and the allocation of grants, released any discussion papers 
> on their approaches to the issues involved ? 

See above.  The documentation relating to ethical requirements
for research involving biological tissue seems fat and happy - 
at least at this uni.  I doubt the committees would automatically
reject any application for race-based research on the grounds 
that it *was* race-based, provided all other requirements
were met.

>>When they've finished tinkering with that one maybe someone will start
>>work on a way to increase melanin levels in the skin of white people
>>who live in the tropics - so we can cut down on the skin cancers.
> As could reduce the health budget studies here might even be funded ;-)

Too late for me, though - I'll just have to keep on having 'em
chopped out :-(

> Again, the question is can we now say with any certainty that race 
> can not be linked to behavioural disorders genetically, or must we
> admit the possibility of such a link ?

"Anything's possible"  :-)

More information about the Bioforum mailing list