Stop ar­gu­ing about na­ture v nur­ture

The Guardian Weekly - - Opinion -

It was very dis­ap­point­ing to read, in your piece, Is it about na­ture, not nur­ture, af­ter all? (12 Oc­to­ber), that for all the tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances of re­cent times, ge­neti­cists still seem to have a very lim­ited un­der­stand­ing of how their dis­ci­pline in­ter­acts with en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors. Hence the re­gur­gi­ta­tion of the old na­ture v nur­ture ar­gu­ments.

Our DNA con­fers on us cer­tain ge­netic po­ten­tial lim­its with re­spect to a host of traits; the ex­tent to which these lim­its are at­tained is en­tirely a con­se­quence of the en­vi­ron­ment in which they de­velop. Ge­netic and en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors thus work in tan­dem, not on sep­a­rate sets of wheels, and the ei­ther/or ar­gu­ment is fu­tile.

Ge­neti­cists would make their most use­ful con­tri­bu­tion by al­le­vi­at­ing par­tic­u­lar ge­netic prob­lems, but most of our ef­forts should be di­rected to nur­tur­ing the achieve­ment of ev­ery in­di­vid­ual’s ge­netic po­ten­tial. David Barker Bun­bury, West­ern Aus­tralia

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