DNA and Destiny: Nature and Nurture in Human Behavior by R. Grant Steen

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By R. Grant Steen

A perceptive exam of the on-going debate over the impact of genetics in our lives.

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Extra resources for DNA and Destiny: Nature and Nurture in Human Behavior

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Two strangers, born on the same day in the same place, will likely share a certain portion of the environment. And, while young children do not experience much outside the home, their parents do, and parents can bring external influences into the home. Any child born in the United States in the years after World War 11 was exposed to the pervasive paranoia of the Cold War. To a certain extent, the vaguely sensed anxiety of our parents, the bomb shelters and air raid drills, the press coverage of the Red Menace, and the general frenzy following the Russian launch of Sputnik, weave all Baby Boomers together in a shared experience of the environment.

Plato even advocated temporary unions between superior men and women for the express purpose of having superior children. The Dark History of Eugenics 35 The rationale for a eugenics program was clarified in 1798, when Thomas Malthus proposed that the human population was expanding faster than was the food supply. His Essay on the Principle of Population was the first to note that the earth's resources are limited, and that starvation awaits a population that outgrows its resources. Malthus believed that increases in population would always outstrip increases in food production, and that rampant population growth would eventually be checked by competition between human beings for the simple necessities of life.

But, as young children grow into young adults, the larger sodal context becomes increasingly important. Teachers and friends assurne an ever-Iarger role in the child's life, so that parents often begin to The Nature 0/ Nurture 53 feel extraneous as a child reaches adolescence. The parental feeling of being extraneous is almost certainly inaccurate; parents remain important in the lives of their children even as these children reach adulthood. Nevertheless, it is almost completely unknown how and to what extent the family environment and the sodal context interact in fostering the maturation of a child, and how this interaction changes as the child ages.

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