Nature vs. Nurture: Who Wins Out?

What is the influence of heredity compared to education and the environment?

This is a question that has haunted me for a long time, I even wrote three novels on the subject (The Phoenix Heritage, a series), often blogged about it and created a QuickQuiz on heredity that's been a huge success, thousands have played it (see here). 

Recently my attention was drawn to a really cool video infographic that discusses the matter (to read the article, click here). 

And here is the video, it concerns alcoholism in the US:

Guess what, those most liable to drink are those who are better off (over $75,000/year income) and have more education (college degree and above)! 

That came as a real surprise to me.

This video of course does not solve the Nature vs. Nurture debate: it assigns an equal percentage to hereditary factors and the environment. But some interesting questions are raised - important ones considering that alcoholism affects 1 in 12 adults in the US.  By the way, that proportion is not significantly different in other countries where drinking alcohol is part of the popular culture. And of course, we all know that Russia has unfortunately the highest mortality attributable to alcohol (for a comprehensive article on the global disaster caused by alcohol, see here).

But all this does raise the question of what you can do about it when the problem is hereditary. And since alcoholism is not fully determined by hereditary factors, there is leeway to do something. Freedom of choice exists! 

It's much like the image I used in Book One of the Phoenix Heritage series: in life, you are dealt a number of cards by Destiny, some of them the result of heredity, others added by education and experience. But how you play those cards is up to you! 

This is where freedom of choice comes in. This is where your character, the sort of person you really are, can make a difference!

I find that idea very encouraging. How about you, what do you think?

Credit: This video is brought to you by Clarity Way Rehab

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Jack Durish said…
I have known many people with addictive personalities. (It's difficult to focus on just one class - alcoholism - inasmuch as they are all related. And, yes, the affliction seems to occur more often among those who are more successful. However, their success flees when the addiction becomes dominant. It's almost as though addiction is a safety valve protecting us from over indulging in success.
Adrienne said…
First off I've never known anyone who was abusive or an alcoholic so I'm probably not the right person to say about this topic.

Both of my parents have had cancer though so the doctor told all three of us that we had a 50/50 chance of getting it too.

The thing is that everyone has cancer cells in their bodies. It's how well you take care of yourself that will keep them dormant. Does that mean I may not ever get it? Who knows but so far so good.

I still deep down believe that when it comes to personalities that it's a choice. Is it easy to handle? I would think no way in hell but it's achievable, they just have to decide for themselves if it's worth it.

That's my take on it at least Claude!

Claude Nougat said…
Thanks Adrienne, for your thoughtful comment. Yes, I think we both agree, choice is not easy when heredity pushes you in one direction, but, as you say, it's "achievable"...provided you have a strong, determined personality! Which is exactly what I meant with my metaphor of cards being dealt by Destiny that you were still free to play the way you wanted...but it's up to you.
Claude Nougat said…
Thanks Jack for the comment, I recognize in it your spirit of rebellion and irony! I'm not sure anyone ever over indulges in success or tries to find safety valves against success, but it certain is an original and interesting point of view...