Some thoughtful comments, and some attempted answers.
The comments on my last posting, “We Can’t All Be Mozart,” were so thoughtful and interesting that I decided to post another blog on this. To my general claim that innate talent matters, I opposed a fact close to home that seems to contradict it: I have two grown daughters, Read more
Genius may be 90 percent perspiration, but it helps to have the right starting point.
A comment by Jack Davis on my last blog entry leads me to write something about talent, genes, environment, and how we succeed. Jack asks about a new book by David Shenk, The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong. Read more
Can genes explain brain disorders? Yes. Sometimes.
Over the past few weeks two articles have shown the promise and the difficulty of studying brain genes. One appears in the New England Journal of Medicine of May 20, and zeroes in magnificently on a gene for Tourette’s Syndrome. Read more
A couple of weeks ago I posted some musings about “the self” in anticipation of being on a panel with Steven Pinker (author of The Blank Slate and The Stuff of Thought) and Noga Arikha (author of Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours) at Tufts University. The panel, convened by Jonathan Wilson, was titled “The New Biology and the Self,” and what follows was my contribution. The graduate student referred to is Monica Chau of Emory University.
I told a very smart neurobiology graduate student named Monica yesterday that I’d been asked to speak on “The New Biology and the Self.” She said, “What’s the new biology?” I said, “I don’t know, but that’s the least of my problems. What’s the self?” Read more
And assuming we can answer that, how is science changing it?
Big philosophical concepts bother me, but I am expected later this week at Tufts University, where I’ll be on a panel discussing “The New Biology and the Self.” So I need to get over my reluctance to talk about the self. And it’s not the only big idea that gives me trouble.
Consciousness and free will are two other notions Read more
In the Darwin bicentennial, new insights into fossils, genes, birdsong, and cancer.
The latest issue of Nature to land in my mailbox-the May 28th one-was not a tribute to Darwin in honor of his 200th birthday and the 150th of The Origin of Species; Nature has been there, done that. But it might as well have been another celebration for him, Read more
New evidence forces us to consider the role of genes in all behavior
Just over a quarter century ago, I wrote my first book, The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit. In it I addressed the objections that many liberal scientists and others of that day had against behavioral genetics, some of which I shared.
Brain science's astounding pace of discovery is bringing new hope to many.
I want to take a rest from the political and religious wars and instead do a little of what I do with my students at the start of each semester. I'm teaching my course on the human brain this fall, and as usual my first lecture was called "While You Were Catching Rays-Discoveries Since the End of Last Semester."
Evil is real, and so are evil genes.
Today I stumbled on a C-SPAN presentation by Barbara Oakley about her book Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend. I haven’t read the book, but it evidently overlaps with many things I’ve long thought and written myself, in The Tangled Wing and elsewhere.
An excellent new study once again takes us back to the future.
Last week’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine carried another powerful vindication of The Paleolithic Prescription, a book co-authored by Boyd Eaton, Marjorie Shostak and me just twenty years ago. Boyd and I fired the first salvo in the same journal in 1985, with an article called “Paleolithic Nutrition.”