Freedom from DNA

What if you could know when and how you were going to die? Would you choose to remain ignorant, or would you prefer to confront the facticity of your own mortality directly? This question has engaged philosophers for millennia. Until recently, the question was merely a matter for personal speculation, eliciting intuitions about mortality, self-determination, and free-will. This has all changed. At least, so it seems.

A new industry has emerged, as a result of the last decade’s exponential technological advances in the field of bioinformatics. Now, a glimpse of our most likely personal Reaper is less than 100 dollars away (just two years ago the glimpse was ten times the distance and ten times more blurry). Gene sequencing companies have sprung up everywhere, like mushrooms after a rain. For a modest price, each of us can have our DNA analyzed, and receive a report of our personal predisposition to acquire a variety of potentially debilitating or terminal diseases. Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, lung cancer, breast cancer, obesity, and multiple sclerosis are but a few of the many worrisome conditions targeted by such DNA analysis.

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Evolutionary Psych: Too young to be this sexy?

Wasserläufer_bei_der_Paarung_cropEvolutionary psychology is all the rage nowadays. Researchers from around the globe are looking at the interplay between a species’ behavior and its environment, past and present, in an attempt to crack the mysteries of how we came to be as we now are. The appeal is obvious. Darwin seems to have provided a successful explanation of our biological traits. Why not think our psychological traits are to be explained similarly? After all, psychology just is an expression of biology. If reflection on our hunched-back ancestors and their habitat can explain how we came to walk upright, why can’t such reflection also explain our anger over spousal infidelity, why can’t it explain our own infidelity, our altruistic and egoistic behaviors, etc? Continue reading “Evolutionary Psych: Too young to be this sexy?”