Know Thyself, or gene expression, behavior, and convincing my wife I'm not crazy.

"FINALLY they have a name for whats wrong with you!"

my wife laughed. I had just finished reading her this post on Evolify regarding the so-called adventure gene, it's origin and its impact on personalities.
I fit the common characteristics really well.

Tendency to respond strongly to novelty? Yeah that's me.
Exploratory activity in pursuit of rewards? Yup, I'm a whore for new experiences.
Active avoidance of monotony? I drive different routes to work everyday...just because.
Active avoidance of punishment? I think this one applies to loads of people, but....
Less influenced by emotion (especially fear) in risk assessment? How else can I stand and look out the open door of a perfectly good airplane, or at 20ft. surf and still jump in (or out).  
A lack of startle response is also mentioned, you know that jump and squeal reaction. Apparently it goes along with the reduced emotional involvement in decisions. I'm not even ticklish.

So I'm apparently expressing the DRD4 7R "Adventure Gene" making me infinitely cooler than all of the boring risk averse people out there, right?   
Well, maybe not. 
Being more or less awesome is not the point, the point is You are not what you are, you are what you DO with what you are.

 These two are twins, genetically as identical as possible. 
They both ran Track and field, but one was a sprinter and one was a miler.
Can you guess which is which?

 Genetic expression is heavily influenced by diet, activity, and lifestyle. You have a great deal of influence over these factors. The argument that "I didn't choose my parents well enough" is valid, but only at the HIGHEST level of competition. If your goal is to break Usain Bolt's 100 meter world record then Mom and Dad are big factors, until then its just an excuse. 

We all, as a result of small genetic mutations, respond in different ways to different stimulus.  I for instance really enjoy a high level of variety in my training. I also have a strong tendency to jump from one program to the next, often before I've really benefited from the first one. Thats DRD4 7R working there, or maybe I just have ADHD...
The knowledge that I respond this way allows me opportunities though. I organize my lifestyle with these traits in mind and take advantage of the variety while reducing the tendency to stray from the desired behaviors.
We already covered how hard it can be to work against our genome in Self discipline is an illusion. What I'm exploring is working around, or with, our individual predispositions, not struggling hopelessly against them.

Also since the DRD4 7R gene is just natural selection at work, could it be that ADHD, or Dyslexia are just other genetic variations that happen to express themselves in ways less than ideal for our current circumstance? What if they are not syndromes or dysfunction but valuable biodiversity, perhaps with undiscovered personal benefits? Leonardo DaVinci was dyslexic after all, and seems to have done alright.

How would that perspective change our approach to teaching ourselves, or our kids for that matter?

Research on these topics is in its infancy, and what there is has been heavily biased by our tendency to think of ourselves as somehow apart from the environment and biological systems that spawned us. Darwin's Theory of evolution is 150 years old, and we see natural selection occurring all around us, but it has taken this long to find the humility to apply these ideas to ourselves.

But that's not really the point either. The point is that honest unbiased knowledge and understanding of yourself and your own strengths and weaknesses is the most valuable tool in the shed when it comes time to get something done.



  1. "I'm a whore" for adventure.
    Use less irritating language, please.
    Do you really sell yourself sexually to achieve excitement? I feel sorry for your wife

    1. fuck me jesus, that comment is stupid.