Adventures in Ethics and Science

Today is “Twin Day” on the last day of daycamp before the new school year.

Of course, the younger Free-Ride offspring was very enthusiastic about the idea of dressing like twins with the elder Free-Ride offspring. The elder Free-Ride offspring, on the other hand …


“People already get us mixed up,” said the elder Free-Ride offspring. “I don’t want to make that worse.”

“But if we dress like twins, we could be excused first for pizza,” pleaded the younger Free-Ride offspring.

Sigh.

We did figure out something like a solution. The younger Free-Ride offspring located a doll (or action figure, or whatever the kids are calling them these days) whose outfit and grooming we could approximate reasonably well. (Yay for inanimate twins — it turns out they don’t talk back!)

“You know, it’s not like all twins are identical twins,” I noted.

“On ‘Twin Day’ they are,” the younger Free-Ride offspring replied. “How do you get identical twins anyway?”

“I guess pretty early after the fertilized egg starts dividing to make more cells, it splits into two and they each start dividing to make an embryo.”

“But why does that happen?” asked the younger Free-Ride offspring.

“I don’t think we fully understand that,” I answered. “Anyway, you know that even identical twins, who have the same DNA, can be pretty different from each other in important ways.”

“Like my cousins,” noted the younger Free-Ride offspring. “Even though that chin freckle [which one cousin has and the other does not] is the way they look different, they like different things. And they don’t always get along with each other. Actually, when they fight, they’re worse than we are.”

“I do wonder where identical twins come down on the relative importance of genes versus environment,” I said.

“Huh?” said the younger Free-Ride offspring.

“How much of who you are is from your DNA and how much of it is from the world that DNA is working in.”

“But they’re in the same world, too — the same house, the same school, the same families,” replied the younger Free-Ride offspring.

“And yet, they are fiercely devoted to being individuals,” I said.

It’s worth noting that the elder Free-Ride offspring didn’t opt out of “Twin Day” (despite declining to be twins with a sibling). The elder Free-Ride offspring opted instead for a line down the middle of the face, separating the “good” twin (signified by a small heart on the cheek) from the bad (indicated by a lit cherry-bomb). It was not altogether unlike those split-down-the-middle guys in that old Star Trek episode, only less face-paint intensive. And, I only had one such creature (which was probably a good thing, since I lack both a brig and a transporter).

“I wonder where the idea of an ‘evil twin’ came from in the first place,” I said.

“Probably just from people realizing that looks are deceiving, and lots of things that look alike aren’t. Like king snakes and coral snakes,” ventured the elder Free-Ride offspring.

“Yeah, that makes some sense. I wonder why siblings fight so much, given how much they have in common.”

“Any siblings who say they get along all the time are hiding something,” said the elder Free-Ride offspring.

“I think you’re right.”

“Actually, Lemony Snicket said it,” replied the elder Free-Ride offspring.

“Way to cite your sources!”

Comments

  1. #1 Super Sally
    August 29, 2008

    Ahhhh, a sprog-blog reprise of family vacation, even some of the parts I missed!

    While siblings are in school together it is hard not to fight against everyone else’s tendency to point out their similarities. In my estimation it actually makes siblings try harder to be different from each other. [I think Dr. Free-ride and her siblings have done a dandy job in that respect.]

    Siblings often turn out to be much better friends when they are adults with their own lives.

    Here’s hoping for a smooth resumption of school.

  2. #2 Warren
    August 29, 2008

    Ha ha! I am my evil twin!

    Love it.

  3. #3 Alan Kellogg
    August 29, 2008

    The subject of identical twins can lead you to lots of places. There are mirror image twins, opposite personality twins. A rare occurrence indeed is the opposite gender identical. One of the two is either an XY female or an XX male depending on what the sibling is.

    I suspect Elder Tax Deduction is worried about establishing her own identity as a human being. She’s about the right age for it.

  4. #4 Leah
    August 30, 2008

    ahh, love the Lemony Snicket reference, and I totally appreciate EO for citing it :-) If only EO would come teach those skills to my former college students. I’m glad to be done with teaching college for now (finished my MS this summer, so no more of that work for now).