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The genome of the studious fruit

An article in LiveScience, Family’s Mental Disorders May Shape Your Interests, would indicate that the autistic gene is connected to the science and technicality gene while the bipolar disorder gene is connected to the humanities and social sciences gene. I suspect that you will need much more than voluntary survey results to prove any such connection between career choice and physiology.

The research, a survey of 1,077 incoming Princeton University freshmen in the class of 2014, posits a genetic influence on personal interests. For example, students who planned to major in the humanities or social sciences were twice as likely as other students to report a family member with a mood disorder or substance abuse. Wannabe science and technology majors, on the other hand, were three times as likely as other freshmen to say they had a sibling on the autism spectrum.

I have a big problem with this kind of thing, namely the assuming that there is a genetic influence on personal interests because it is assumed that there is a genetic influence in the development of what are referred to as serious “mental illnesses”. Where’s the HARD evidence supporting your THEORY? Somebody is indulging in a great deal of whimsical speculation here. Merely stating such proves absolutely nothing.

This is not to say that everyone who enjoys computer programming fits on the autism spectrum, or to insinuate that having a bipolar parent destines a person for an English major. But Wang is not the only researcher to find links between heritable disorders and family interests. In November 2011, for example, researchers reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry that people with bipolar disorder, as well as their healthy immediate family members, were more likely to hold “creative” jobs in the arts or sciences than people without a family history of the disorder. Parents and siblings of people with schizophrenia showed the same tendencies.

I believe I read something about the same research, and while people labeled with bipolar disorder were said to sometimes have creative careers the same was not found to be true of people labeled with schizophrenia. I suppose a big part of the problem must be in finding the right trainer patient enough to work with a raving lunatic.

Not that long ago most people on earth were hunter gatherers. I suppose that must have been because they had hunter gatherer genes. When we get a time-machine we can go back, and conduct a survey.

I’m not at all surprised that creative people would be related to dysfunctionaries. The off-cause for functionaries is the on-cause for dysfunctionaries. Does this mean that uncreative people don’t have creative genes? I still think we’re making quite a leap here from ‘practice makes perfect’ to let your genes do the waltzing. I think there could still be a number of reasons why careers could come in families besides genetic make up. Also, you’ve only scratched the surface of the matter if you’ve even done that. You’d have to look at the career spread over many generations to draw any real type of conclusion. At some point or other you come back to hunters and gatherers, but somebody, of course, had to bang the drums, and somebody, of course, had to cast the spells. Somebody had to craft the bows and chip the arrowheads, too. Genes, huh?

Some surveys, like some careers, are mostly a waste of time and money.