Nature vs. Nuture

Pure Pedantry

Category archives for Nature vs. Nuture

Publishing in Science, Gormley et al. compared the benefits of Oklahoma’s TPS pre-K program to Head Start. Conclusion: preschool matters in cognitive development. Early childhood education programs in the United States face enormous challenges. The overwhelming majority of Head Start program participants are poor, and many Head Start children face additional risk factors, such as…

I saw this news story in Nature a couple days ago about finding a gene for “ruthlessness.” I realized that I always say the same thing about these behavioral genetics stories — stories where they claim to find a gene for ____ (where blank is a behavioral abstraction like empathy). These studies are notoriously misinterpreted…

Nicholas Wade reports in the NYTimes about a UCD professor, Gregory Clark, and his theory of the Industrial Revolution. His answer is that high fertility rates in the upper classes caused them to steadily supplant lower classes. They brought productive values with them such that when the population reached a critical mass of individuals with…

How genetic is obesity?

The NYTimes ran an excerpt of a book called Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss — and the Myths and Realities of Dieting by Gina Kolata. Having read the excerpt — I haven’t read the whole book — I take issue with how Kolata frames the issue of the genetics of obesity. My…

I just thought this paper was kind of cool. It reviews the evidence from twin studies that shows that certain regions of the brain show very high levels of genetic heritability. Heritability, as I discussed in an earlier post, is a gross measure of the genetic as opposed to the environmental contribution to a particular…

Recently this model, Gisele Bundchen, speculated that the fashion industry is not to blame for anorexia. Rather parents are to blame: Gisele Bundchen has entered Brazil’s growing debate over anorexia, saying families are to blame _ not the fashion industry. “I never suffered this problem because I had a very strong family base,” the supermodel…

The Economist has an article that wonders whether new knowledge into neuroscience and more particularly social pathologies will erode our belief in free will. I roll my eyes every time I read an article like this one, mostly because they tend to express an uniformed view about how the brain works: For millennia the question…

I see that Simon Baron-Cohen has a piece in Seed about his theory of autism. I am really skeptical of many of his arguments related to autism, so I thought I would discuss a couple of them. Here is his core argument: So what has all of this got to do with autism? We know…

Book about Children Raised by Wolves

Rebecca Saxe of MIT reviews Encounters with Wild Children by Adriana Benzaquen about historical confrontations with so-called wild children — children raised outside of society without supervision or what the author calls the forbidden experiment. The occurence of wild children has always been a bugaboo of developmental psychologists and philosophers who ask: what is the…

I have posted before about how I think that the role of genetics, at least in popular culture, has been overemphasized. Rather, the really interesting and important parts of genetics are the ways in which your genes interact with environmental factors. There is an excellent article in the NY Times today about how longevity has…