Nature vs. Nurture

This  debate has been going on for ages so I thought I would say what I think on the matter 🙂

In my opinion, there can be no doubt that the phenotype, or characteristics of an organism are due to an interaction between genes and the environment. In my mind, the debate should be centered on what extent the genes or environment play in the development of an individual.

Everyone knows that some people are exceptionally musical, and can hear a piece of music, for example, and play it back on the piano, or whatever instrument they excel at. However, say  someone had never encountered a musical instrument before. For example, a child living in a remote part of the Amazon. This child could have a genetic inclination towards playing an instrument, but without the tools, i.e. without the correct environment, this characteristic is not shown, and the child could be fairly average in every other aspect of character.

This idea can be applied to nearly every other subject: how can a maths genius be a maths genius without knowledge of numbers; how can someone adept at languages be a ‘language genius’ if they are not taught any language; how can someone who is ‘born to perform’ be a confident performer if they are never put onto a stage?

However, I think the basis of an individual’s characteristics are most definitely their genes. One cannot dispute that an incredibly clever husband and wife who have children will not have ‘clever children’ with similar IQs, unless a severe change in the environment changes this.

It is quite interesting to look at the correlation coefficients for IQs in different children, i.e. twins who were separated at birth and raised in different environments, or adopted children. This website shows this information quite well:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_versus_nurture#IQ_debate

NB: 

  • Correlation coefficient of 1 means a strong positive correlation
  • Correlation coefficient of 0 means no correlation
  • Correlation coefficient of -1 means strong negative correlation

I also believe that everything everybody has the ability to change what their genetic path, or environmental inclination may be, so long as they have the tenacity to succeed in what they want to do 😀

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