Sunday, January 17, 2010

Floriculture

On longer drives, Liz and I usually talk about things that we have been reading lately. This was the topic of last night's conversation:

The Atlantic has a terrific piece on flowers, evolution, genetics, and children. A relatively new theory on why evolution hasn't weeded out the genes generally considered unhelpful to the propagation of our species (i.e., Why does 25% of the population carry the gene for depression and 20% carry the gene for anti-social behavior?).

It turns out that those with these types of genes, if they are in the right environment, can become orchids, one of nature's most beautiful flowers.

I'm okay with being a dandelion. The species needs us too.

2 comments:

raquelita said...

mm i like this.

Bubba the Hutt said...

Recently, however, an alternate hypothesis has emerged from this one and is turning it inside out. This new model suggests that it’s a mistake to understand these 'risk' genes only as liabilities. Yes, this new thinking goes, these bad genes can create dysfunction in unfavorable contexts—but they can also enhance function in favorable contexts. The genetic sensitivities to negative experience that the vulnerability hypothesis has identified, it follows, are just the downside of a bigger phenomenon: a heightened genetic sensitivity to all experience.

Best paragraph of the article. Excellent study about how environment can directly influence these "bad" genes, but I think this paragraph makes an important statement.

The spectrum of human emotion, as far as I know, is infinitely broad. It stands to reason that someone with the emotional sensitivity to experience deep feelings on one side of the spectrum (depression or loneliness, for instance)would naturally be able to experience emotions on the other side of the spectrum on a higher level (like joy and happiness) than someone with limited emotional bandwidth.