Nature vs Nurture

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Nature vs Nurture

In his book, the universally acclaimed and bestseller "The Selfish Gene", Richard Dawkins presents his viewpoint that living organisms are but "survival machines", that "the individual [is a] selfish machine, programmed to do whatever is best for its gene as a whole." In fact, this is the central concept in his book that he brings across. An individual's behaviour and actions are 100% determined by its genes and the individual behaves in accordance to ensure the best persistence of its gene in any circumstances. There is no doubt where Dawkins stands on the nature vs nurture issue. He regards genes- the "replicator" as the brain that determines the resultant individual as a temporary storage unit until it is next passed on and he disregards the individual as a mere holding unit- the "vehicles".

I do not however agree on the totalitarian effect of genes on an individual. I believe that nature and nurture interacts to bring about the complete individual. In this essay, I shall use the impact of nature vs nurture on IQ of people to illustrate my viewpoint. This is because the inherent interest of researchers as people on the factors that influence IQ has allowed a wealth of references to be discussed as below.

In "The Bell Curve", the assertion that "intelligence" has a genetic basis was impressed upon the public. Further, its authors R.J. Herrnstein and C. Murray claim, "because IQ is in large measure genetically determined, it is therefore resistant to educational and environmental interventions." ("Re-examining the Bell Curve" by S.E. Fienbeg and D.P. Resnick, published in "Intelligence, Genes and Success") Among their tabulations included references to the research data gathered by F. Galton, the cent...

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...eaders, dramatic change in serotonin content has occurred. The serotonin levels of the former leaders had fallen while those of the former followers have risen. This is amazing because this thus proves that environmental factors can actually influence the workings of our gene products, in a behavioural trait that in normal circumstances would only require the control of genetic factors.

In conclusion, with regards to the evidence of the interactive nature of genes and environment on the individual's development as discussed above, I believe that both nature and nurture plays a part in the individual's development.


Living With Our Genes; Dean Hamer and Peter Copeland ( Doubleday 1998)

Intelligence, Genes and Success; ed by Devlin B. et al ( Springer-Verlag New York, Inc 1997)

The Selfish Gene; Richard Dawkins (Oxford University Press 1989)
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