Re: virus: Memes and Genes, stupid

Vicki Rosenzweig (
Mon, 20 Jan 97 15:23:00 PST

I think it's too soon to draw detailed conclusions from genetic
data. There's a nice column by Stephen Jay Gould in the most
recent _Natural History_ (dated February 1997), in which he
goes into some detail about the long-debunked and clearly
absurd theory that vertebrates are descended from arthropods,
and the essential change is that the animal turned over. He
then explains that, well, it has recently turned out that this is more
or less what happened. The theory was wrong in some details--
as far as we know, vertebrate brains aren't derived from
arthropod digestive systems--but broadly correct. Similarly, in
the last year or so it has become clear that the classic example
of convergent evolution (the same structure evolving repeatedly
and independently) isn't: the arthropod, vertebrate, and octopus
eye are essentially similar because they're built by the same gene.
That gene is hundreds of millions of years old. The easy conclusion
from this is that genetics is less mutable than we've thought; the
trickier one is that we don't really know all that much yet. We have
no idea what other surprises may be in store in a year or three: it
is too soon to attempt to base policy decisions on genetics.
In the short term, though, Lior is right: if you want smarter neighbors
now, rather than in a few millennia, make sure the neighborhood
children (especially the youngest) get enough protein. Oh, and
while you're about it, get rid of the lead paint and lead water pipes.
(OK, this costs some money, but so would a massive sterilization
campaign, or even the PR for one.)

From: owner-virus
To: virus
Subject: Re: virus: Memes and Genes, stupid
Date: Monday, January 20, 1997 9:53PM

Duane Hewitt wrote:
> If you admit that any component of intelligence is genetic then this
> assertion is undermined. Remember chimpanzees and humans differ only
> by 2% in DNA sequence. Therefore it is likely that there are genes linked
> to intelligence just as there are genes linked to certain behaviours like
> novelty seeking, alcoholism and schizophrenia.

Ooooh, that kind of linkage is a fallacy.
We differ off humanoid apes at less than 2% of DNA, just like we differ
off rabbits in less than 8% of DNA.
We have different jaws, different bone structre which supports different
standing, and different attributes such as hairiness.
The difference in intellectual capacity is the clearest to us, but its
greatest cause isn't the brain, which only swelled about 2 times bigger,
but actually the tongue bone - this inch-by-inch piece which enable us
to humm something greater than "haba haba".
There are kinds of innate defects. Some Mongoloids for example have
intellectual problems. But those have nothing much to do with the
evolutionary branching of Homo-Sapiens-Sapiens of other apes.

We have much clearer evidence of nutrition's effect over intelligence.
Why not care for balanced nutrition before we start your suggested
dilution? It's cheaper and more efficient.