Speaking in Washington at a noon briefing for congressmen, Professor William Garfield of the University of Minnesota said this:
“Despite what you hear, nobody has ever proven a single gene causes a single human behavioral trait. Some of my colleagues believe such associations may eventually be found. Others don’t think it will ever happen, that the interaction of genes and the environment is just too complex. But, in any case, we see reports of new genes for this or that in the papers every day, and none of them has ever proven true in the end.”
“What are you talking about?” said the aide to Senator
Wilson. “What about the gay gene, that causes gayness?”
“A statistical association. Not causal. No gene causes sexual orientation.”
“What about the violence gene?”
“Not verified in later research.”
“A sleep gene was reported…”
“The gene for alcoholism?”
“Didn’t hold up.”
“What about the diabetes gene?”
“So far,” he said, “we’ve identified ninety-six genes involved in diabetes. We’ll undoubtedly find more.”
There was a stunned silence. Finally, one aide said, “If no gene has been shown to cause behavior, what is all the fuss about?”
Garfield shrugged. “Call it an urban legend. Call it a media myth. Blame public education in science. Because the public certainly believes that genes cause behavior. It seems to make sense. In reality, even hair color and height are not simple traits fixed by genes. And conditions like alcoholism certainly aren’t.”(http://www.docmercury.com/rainy/category/to-our-shame)
The Making of a Growing Urban Legend
If you are among those who periodically declare, when talking about human behavior, that “it’s genetic,” or “it’s hereditary,” or “it’s in the gene’s,” please, my friend, be aware you are perpetuating this growing – and so far completely false – urban legend. Heed Professor Garfield’s cautionary words. Please stop. You have no scientific reason to continue this growing falsehood about our behavior.
Also, please consider, “psychiatric geneticists” do the vast majority of these “studies.” Please make room for your well-placed disdain for “modern psychiatry” to include this growing industry. Why do they do this? You know why. To develop “medications” to provide “treatment” so that you will buy them to “fix” those “bad genes.”
Tell your friends, colleagues, confidants – and those you may provide services to – that so far, up to and including today, it’s all nonsense. Help end this equally harmful, quickly growing, misguided, media-driven, lucrative psychiatric myth.
Still not convinced? You’re insulted? You think you know your Aunt Mildred’s genes are the reason you are “just like her?” You are sure your son is a “chip off the old block?” Everyone in your family drinks alcohol, or none of your family drinks alcohol, and that’s because of your genes? More to the point, you think you’re bi-polar because your mother was bi-polar, and your sister is probably bi-polar too. You’re asking me “what about that, wiseguy?”
How about a short story instead.
The Devil is in Those Blue Genes
In November of 2010 my wife Debbie and I were at my brother-in-law’s home in Valley Springs California. Bob and his wife Sue are great hosts. They live in the country and we have plenty of time to talk. We usually bicker about something, whether it’s politics or global warming or the cycles of the moon. It’s fun. This night it was genetics.
As a career-long, professional opponent of “modern psychiatry” I’m skeptical of nearly everything they proclaim, and that includes their newest moneymaking escapade: “psychiatric genetics.”
“There’s a gene for everything,” one of us said. “Google it,” someone else said, so I did, on my very smart Smartphone. And that’s how it started. Someone would think of a human trait, condition, emotion – anything – and I would insert that word and add “gene.” For example, someone said “depression” so I googled “depression gene” and looked at the hits. You know how this works. I’d pick the most recent article or website, open it, and read the first few paragraphs, and add it to the list. Running out of ideas, we’d try anything. Someone yelled out “fairness!” Just as quickly, someone else said: “Fairness!? Oh come on! Fairness can’t be in a gene!”
Apparently, it can.
There it was. The “fairness gene.” Soon to follow were the genes for God (not kidding), divorce, caffeine, hate – well, you won’t believe some of them. The truth – and the point of this essay – is you really have no reason to believe any of them. I’ll tell you this now: none on the list that follows has proven to be true. None of them. Not even the ones you think mustbe true. To use the Professor’s words, the “evidence” for all of these studies “didn’t hold up.”
By the way, these aren’t quacks or kooks, should you think so. As you’ll see, most of these “studies” were conducted at major universities around the world. I name the names of otherwise reputable “scientists.” You’ll be impressed by their credentials. And, if you’ll excuse a cynical watchfulness for some watchful cynics out there, when you skim an article, keep an eye out for the connection to a big pharmaceutical company. You will likely find it.
We came up with 33 “behavior” genes that night. I later added 18 more I found on the internet, and just recently I added 17 more, for a current total of 68. With your help, I think we can improve on that number – by increasing it.
FOUND ANOTHER ONE!!
I’m now a collector. As you go about your business and you run across the newest genetic “discovery,” please leave me a link in the comment section, and use FOUND ANOTHER ONE! in the Title box. Don’t be shy. More than one in the same category is great, as long as they don’t point to the same study. There are 68 so far. I expect the list to grow and, if you wish (let me know), I will fully attribute your contribution to The Urban Legend List of Genes.
Here’s the list, as of May, 2012 (and please be sure read Professor Garfield’s comments at the end of the list – and the Epilogue).
THE URBAN LEGEND (Growing) LIST OF GENES
To follow are recent genetic “discoveries,” “studies,” “links,” “might-be’s,” “identifieds,” “beliefs,” “finds,” and “suggesteds.” I included dates, information sources, introductory remarks, names of scientists, schools, and scientific sources wherever possible – plus a link for you to see the entire article too. The Summary first, then The Details:
The Summary: June, 2012
- ADHD II *
- ALCOHOLISM II
- AMISH (HEART DISEASE)
- ANOREXIA NERVOSA
- ANXIETY AND SWEETS
- ART & SCHIZOPHRENIA *
- AUTISM II
- AUTISM III
- BAD DRIVING
- CANNABIS INDUCED PSYCHOSIS
- CHRONIC PAIN
- COCAINE ADDICTION
- COMPULSIVE GAMBLING
- DRUNK AND VIOLENT
- EARLY FIRST SEX
- ELITE ATHL. PERFORMANCE
- FEMALE ORGASM
- GAY MICE
- HEROIN ADDICTION
- INSOMNIA (in flies)
- LOVE-RAT GENE *
- OBESITY II
- OBSESS-COM DISORDER
- OBSESS-COM HOARDING
- PAIN & REJECTION *
- PREMATURE EJACULATION
- SALT: AFRICAN AMERICANS
- “SCAREDY-CAT” GENE
- SHYNESS/SOC. ANX. DISORDER
- SLEEP GENE DISCOVERY
- SMOKING ADDICTION
- VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY
- WARRIOR GENE
- ADHD – 9/29/2010: Gene Disorder Linked to ADHD. Many who suffer from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) appear to have a genetic abnormality that may predispose them to the condition, British researchers FULL ARTICLE: https://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/attention-deficit-disorder-adhd-news-50/gene-disorder-linked-to-adhd-643724.html
- *ADHD II. December, 2011. “At least 10 percent of the ADHD patients in our sample have these particular genetic variants,” said study leader Hakon Hakonarson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “The genes involved affect neurotransmitter systems in the brain that have been implicated in ADHD, and we now have a genetic explanation for this link that applies to a subset of children with the disorder.”FULL ARTICLE: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111204144650.htm
- AGGRESSION – 3/21/06 (TERRADAILY). A version of a gene previously linked to impulsive violence appears to weaken brain circuits that regulate impulses, emotional memory and thinking in humans,researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)have found. FULL ARTICLE – http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Aggression_Related_Gene_Weakens_Brains_Impulse_Control_Circuits.html
- ALCOHOLISM – 10/19/10: Now scientists have identified a gene that has a “big, big effect” on how people respond to alcohol, says Kirk Wilhelmsen, senior author of a paper posted Tuesday by the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. FULL ARTICLE: https://www.myaddiction.com/news/%5Btermpath-raw%5D/gene-identified-may-explain-how-we-react-to-alcohol
- ALCOHOLISM II– 10/30/10 (About.com): The study, published in the January 2004 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, is the first to demonstrate an association between this particular gene and alcohol dependence. “There were lines of evidence from other studies — animal studies, in vitro studies — that suggested GABA receptors are involved in the behavioral effects of alcohol,” says lead author Danielle M. Dick, Ph.D., research assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. FULL ARTICLE: http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/genetics/a/bluwa040114.htm
- ALZHEIMER’S– 4/14/10 (WebMD): People with a particular variation in the gene, dubbed MTHFD1L,may be nearly twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as people without the variation.Still, the absolute risk of developing Alzheimer’swill be “very small” for any given individual that carries the variant, says Margaret Pericak-Vance, PhD, director of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/news/20100414/new-alzheimers-gene-identified
- AMISH (HEART DISEASE) –12/12/08 (myLot): A rare genetic abnormality found in people in an insular Amish community protects them from heart disease, a discovery that could lead to new drugs to prevent heart ailments, U.S. researchers said.”People who have the mutation all have low triglycerides,” said Toni Pollin of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, who led the study released Thursday. FULL ARTICLE – http://www.mylot.com/w/discussions/1832863.aspx
- ANOREXIA NERVOSA –11/19/10 (ScienceDaily): Scientists at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphiahave identified both common and rare gene variants associated with the eating disorder anorexia nervosa . . . “However, despite various genetic studies that identified a handful of candidate genes associated with AN, the genetic architecture underlying susceptibility to AN has been largely unknown,” said study leader Hakon Hakonarson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. FULL ARTICLE – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101119120840.htm
- ANXIETY – 3/3/08(Science Daily). “We found that variations in this gene were associated with shy, inhibited behavior in children, introverted personality in adults and the reactivity of brain regions involved in processing fear and anxiety,” says Jordan Smoller, MD, ScD, of the MGH Department of Psychiatry, the report’s lead author. FULL ARTICLE – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080303190630.htm
- ANXIETY AND SWEETS –5/6/10: Researchers have found an “anxiety gene” which when switched on not only causes stress but increases our craving for sweets and comfort food. FULL ARTICLE: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/7686306/Scientists-find-anxiety-gene-that-also-makes-you-comfort-eat.html
- ART & SCHIZOPHRENIA: NewScientist – July 16, 2009. …New research seems to show why: a genetic mutation linked to psychosis and schizophrenia also influences creativity. The finding could help to explain why mutations that increase a person’s risk of developing mental illnesses such as schizophreniaand bipolar syndrome have been preserved, even preferred, during human evolution, says Szabolcs Kéri, a researcher at Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, who carried out the study. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17474-artistic-tendencies-linked-to-schizophrenia-gene.html
- AUTISM – 10/12/11 (The Sydney Morning Herald): A cluster of genes is missing in children with autism, US scientists have found. . . Michael Wiglerfirst proposed it may play a major role . . . Dr Wigler’s colleague, Alea Mills, has found the deleted gene cluster not only plays a role in the condition but also may affect head-size. “Kids with autism tend to have larger heads” . . . research was funded by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative,started by billionaire James Simons and his wife, Marilyn. FULL ARTICLE – http://www.smh.com.au/world/science/scientists-find-gene-link-to-autism-20111011-1lj95.html
- AUTISM II – 4/2/12 (nature) : De novomutations revealed by whole-exome sequencing are strongly associated with autism; Stephan J. Sanders, Michael T. Murtha, Abha R. Gupta, John D. Murdoch, Melanie J. Raubeson, A. Jeremy Willsey, A. Gulhan Ercan-Sencicek, Nicholas M. DiLullo, Neelroop N. Parikshak, Jason L. Stein, Michael F. Walker, Gordon T. Ober, Nicole A. Teran, Youeun Song, Paul El-Fishawy, Ryan C. Murtha, Murim Choi, John D. Overton, Robert D. Bjornson, Nicholas J. Carriero, Kyle A. Meyer, Kaya Bilguvar, Shrikant M. Mane, Nenad Šestan, Richard P. Lifton et al.. FULL ARTICLE – http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature10945.html
- AUTISM III – 4/25/12: A team led by scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL)publishes research today indicating a striking association between genes found disrupted in children with autism and genes that are targets of FMRP . . . “A surprising proportion — up to 20% — of the candidate geneswe see in our sample drawn from 343 autism families appear to be regulated by FMRP,” says CSHL Research Investigator Michael Ronemus, co-first author of the new study. FULL ARTICLE – http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-04-link-fragile-x-gene-mutations-autism.html
- BAD DRIVING – 10/29/09 (CNNTech).In a study published recently in the journal Cerebral Cortex, researcher Steven Cramerfound that people with a certain gene variant performed more than 30 percent worse on a driving test than people without it.. FULL ARTICLE:http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/10/29/bad.driver.gene/index.html
- BEDWETTING – 7/1/95 (What’s News).A team of Danish scientists examined 400 Danish families and selected 11 that suffered from ‘primary nocturnal enuresis type 1’ (PEN1) . . . They were able to localize the responsible gene to the long arm of chromosome 13. “A child who wets the bed does not do so on purpose,” said Hans Eiberg, Associate Professor at the Danish Center for Genome Research. “We now have scientific evidence that many cases of bed-wetting are caused by genetic factors beyond a child’s and parent’s control.”. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.cccbiotechnology.com/WN/SUA05/bedwet.php
- BI-POLAR – 10/19/06: Bipolar Gene Discovered: A team of researchers from Sydney, Australiaannounced some exciting findingsin this January’s edition of Molecular Psychiatry– a genetic link to bipolardisorder, the FAT gene. FULL ARTICLE – http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2006/01/19/bipolar-gene-discovered/
- CAFFEINE – 4/6/11: Now researchers have found two genetic variations that may explain why never the twain shall meet.Genetic epidemiologist Marilyn Cornelis of the Harvard School of Public Health in Bostonknows about coffee addicts first hand—she’s got one in the family. Her father drinks 10 cups a day, she says. “He actually needs a cup of coffee before he can go to bed.” FULL ARTICLE: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2011/04/caffeine-fiend-could-be-gene-thing-or-two
- CANNABIS INDUCED PSYCHOSIS – 03/17/16 (PSYCHIATRIC NEWS). A team in the United Kingdom enrolled 442 young cannabis users (aged 16 to 23) and tested their working memory and psychotic symptoms both while intoxicated and drug free; they also collected DNA samples and tested for the presence of variants in two genes: AKT1 and COMT.FULL ARTICLE:https://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.pn.2016.3b53
- CHRONIC PAIN – 9/8/11 (Yahoo Health). British scientists have identified a gene responsible for regulating chronic pain, called HCN2, and say their discovery should help drug researchers in their search for more effective, targeted pain-killing medicines. “Individuals suffering from neuropathic pain often have little or no respite because of the lack of effective medications,” said Peter McNaughton of Cambridge’s pharmacology department, who led the study. FULL ARTICLE: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pain-gene/scientists-find-gene-that-controls-chronic-pain-idUSTRE7875PN20110908
- COCAINE ADDICTION – 11/11/08 (The Telegraph). Rainer Spanagel, professor of psychopharmacology at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany, who led the study, said: “If you are a carrier of this gene variant the likelihood of getting addicted to cocaine is higher. You can certainly use this as a vulnerability marker for cocaine addiction.” FULL ARTICLE: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/3438758/Cocaine-addiction-gene-discovered.html
- COMPULSIVE GAMBLING – 9/5/96 (CNN). The research suggests compulsive gamblers share a gene that predisposes them to addictive behavior. Environmental factors are important, psychological factors are important. It’s a complex disorder. But genes also play a role and this is one of the genes, said David Comings of the City of Hope National Medical Center. FULL ARTICLE: http://edition.cnn.com/HEALTH/9609/05/born.gamblers/
- CRIME – 7/2/08: Crime Gene Discovered: Researchers from King’s College Londonhave found that boys who have a version of a gene are much more likely to leave the rails if they are abused when young.FULL ARTICLE: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2165715.stm
- DEMENTIA – 7/16/06 (NIH). “This new finding is an important advance in our understanding of frontotemporal dementia,” says NIA director Richard J. Hodes. “It identifies a mutation in the gene producing a growth factor that helps neurons survive, and it suggests that lack of this growth factor may be involved in this form of frontotemporal dementia.”. FULL ARTICLE: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_90102
- DEPRESSION – 2/4/12 (FOXNews): David Glahn of Yale Universityand the Hartford Hospital Institute of Living, who worked on the study, said that finding the key to characterizing the gene was to combine all the information. “We assume that the biological measures are closer mechanistically to the underlying disease processes in the brain. Yet, ultimately we are interested in the subjective experiences and functional impairment associated with mental illness,” said Dr. John Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry, where the study appears. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/01/04/scientists-find-gene-for-depression/
- DEPRESSION II – 1/3/11 (TIMEHeartland):Researchers led by Srijan Sen, a professor of psychiatry atUniversity of Michigan, report in the Archives of General Psychiatry that individuals with a particular form of the serotonin transporter gene were more vulnerable to developing depression when faced with stressful life events such as having a serious medical illness or being a victim of childhood abuse. The form of the gene that these individuals inherit prevents the mood-regulating serotonin from being re-absorbed by nerve cells in the brain. FULL ARTICLE: http://healthland.time.com/2011/01/03/a-gene-to-explain-depression/
- DESPAIR – 9/17/09 (MedIndia). A gene, touted as the “despair” gene, which earlier had no relation with mood disorders, has now been found to have a link with bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenic conditions, according to pharmacy scientists at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). FULL ARTICLE – http://www.medindia.net/news/Despair-Gene-Linked-to-Mood-Disorders-Depression-and-Schizophrenia-60999-1.htm
- DIVORCE – 2/27/12 (MEDIndia). Researchers from the Karolinska Instituteanalyzed the DNA of more than 1,800 women and found that “women who had a variation of an oxytocin receptor gene, known as A-allele, were 50 per cent more likely to report ‘martial crisis or threat of divorce’.” FULL ARTICLE – http://www.medindia.net/news/divorce-gene-identified-98087-1.htm
- DRUNK AND VIOLENT – 12/22/10 (The Telegraph). Interestingly, we found that the genetic variant alone was insufficient to cause people to act in such ways,” said Dr David Goldman at National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholismin Maryland, USA. “Carriers of the HTR2B variant who had committed impulsive crimes were male, and all had become violent only while drunk from alcohol, which itself leads to behavioural disinhibition.” FULL ARTICLE: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101222131121.htm
- EARLY FIRST SEX – 8/14/09. (BBC NEWS).The researchers at the University of Oregon compared the average age of first intercourse among children whose fathers were always absent, partially absent or always present throughout childhood . . .Jane Mendle, professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, who led the study said: “The association between father’s absence and children’s sexuality is best explained by genetic influences, rather than by environmental theories alone. FULL ARTICLE: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8251483.stm
- ELITE ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE – March/2003. Full Report. ACTN3 Genotype Is Associated with Human Elite Athletic Performance. Institute for Neuromuscular Research, Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney; Australian Institute of Sport and Human Genetics Group, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University, Canberra; and Genetics Division, Children’s Hospital, Boston. FULL ARTICLE: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1180686/
- FAIRNESS – 2/27/12 (MEDIndia). The D4 receptor (DRD4) exon3 is a well-characterized functional polymorphism, which is known to be associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and personality traits including novelty seeking and self-report altruism. Applying a neurogenetic approach, we find that DRD4 is significantly associated with fairness preference. A FULL ARTICLE: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2972208/
- FEAR – 11/18/05 (SOFTPEDIA). Rutgers geneticist Gleb Shumyatskyhas discovered a gene that controls both innate and learned forms of fear. . . Stathmin knockout mice, or mutants bred to be deficient in this gene, showed an increase in the amount of microtubules . . .They noted that the knockout mice showed no fear and consistently explored more open areas than normal mice.”This study provides genetic evidence that amygdala-enriched Stathmin is required for the expression of innate fear and the formation of memory for learned fear,” the authors concluded. FULL ARTICLE: http://news.softpedia.com/news/Rresearchers-Discover-the-Fear-Gene-12780.shtml
- FEMALE ORGASM – 6/7/05 (theguardian). Tim Spector of St Thomas’s hospital in London, who led the research, said: “The theory is that the orgasm is an evolutionary way of seeing if men can prove themselves to be likely good providers or dependable, patient and caring enough to look after the kids.” Women who orgasm very easily may be more likely to be satisfied with poor quality men. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2005/jun/08/genetics.research
- GAY – 4/16/10 (UWIRE). Recent research from Northwestern U. professor J. Michael Baileyraises new questions in the science behind sexual orientation, namely bisexuality and the prototypical “gay gene.” In his studies on bisexuality, Bailey, a psychology professor, and a team of researchers look at sexual arousal patterns to objectively determine sexual orientation in men and women. Bailey tracks the subject’s brain activity while they are looking at erotic pictures to essentially determine “what turns them on,” he said. FULL ARTICLE: http://uwire.com/2010/04/16/new-research-into-possible-gay-gene/
- GAY MICE – 7/14/10 (POPSCI). A group of Korean geneticists has altered the sexual preferences of female mice by removing a single gene linked to reproductive behavior. Without the gene, the mice gravitated toward mice of the same sex. Those mice who retained the gene, called FucM, were attracted to male mice. (FucM is short for fucose mutarotase.) FULL ARTICLE: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2010-07/has-gay-gene-been-found-female-mice
- GENEROSITY – 10/31/07 (World Science). The experiment provided “the first evidence, to my knowledge, for a relationship between DNA variability and real (costly) human altruism,” wrote Ariel Knafo of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a member of the research team, in an email. The study appears in the early online edition of the research journal Genes, Brain and Behavior. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.globaldialoguefoundation.org/files/Genesgenerosity.pdf
- GOD – 11/14/04: LONDON — An American molecular geneticisthas concluded after comparing more than 2,000 DNA samples that a person’s capacity to believe in God is linked to brain chemicals. FULL ARTICLE – http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2004/nov/14/20041114-111404-8087r/
- HAPPINESS – 2/27/09 (eNotAlone). Whether you see a glass half-empty or half-full may depend on your genes, report scientists in Britain. Variations in a mood-altering gene influence whether people take a pessimistic or optimistic view of the world, Elaine Fox and her colleagues at the University of Essex They found that different versions of the gene, which is involved in the transportation of the wellbeing chemical serotonin, affect whether or not we are drawn to negative or positive aspects of the world. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.enotalone.com/article/19375.html
- HEROIN ADDICTION– 5/31/05 (NewScientist). The study was conducted on heroin-addicted rats. But the researchers now think that, within a few years, better treatments will become available to human heroin users who cannot quit due to insidious cycles of relapse. “Many people try to stop taking heroin, but in a few months almost all of them go back to using the drug,” said Ivan Diamond, at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center in California, US, and one of the research team. FULL ARTICLE – http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn7445
- HOMOPHOBIA– October, 2000 (BNET). MANILA Gay scientists think they may have found a gene for homophobia. Researchers at the city’s Gay Science Institute(GSI) are optimistic that they are `very close’ to a scientific explanation for the condition. FULL ARTICLE: https://newint.org/features/2000/10/05/news/
- HUNGER – 8/8/08 (WRAL). A gene might make children prone to becoming obese, according to the results of a recent study in the United Kingdom. . . The study tested more than 3,000 children between the ages of 8 and 11. It found that children with a particular strain of gene could not tell when they were full. They were more likely to eat than children without the gene. . . “It is genuinely much more difficult for them to regulate their food intake appropriately,” Jane Wardle, a professor at University College London, said. FULL ARTICLE – http://www.wral.com/lifestyles/healthteam/story/3351228/
- INSOMNIA (in flies)– 2/22/12 (ZEENEWS.COM). A team at Rockefeller University in New Yorksays its has identified the genetic mutation in fruit flies . . . The research says although flies and humans have little in common when it comes to lifestyle, the mechanisms of sleep and wakefulness are likely to be quite similar. Dr Nicholas Stavropoulosled the team.FULL ARTICLE: http://zeenews.india.com/news/health/sexual/the-insomnia-gene-discovered_15734.html
- INTELLIGENCE– 4/27/06 (Feinstein Institute for Medical Research). Psychiatric researchers at The Zucker Hillside Hospital campus of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Researchhave uncovered evidence of a gene that appears to influence intelligence. “A robust body of evidence suggests that cognitive abilities, particularly intelligence, are significantly influenced by genetic factors. Existing data already suggests that dysbindin may influence cognition,” said Katherine Burdick, PhD, the study’s primary author.FULL ARTICLE: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060427161424.htm
- KINDNESS – 01/12/05 (ABC NEWS). “We take good behavior for granted,” says psychologist Philippe Ruston of the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, author of a recent study on the genetic basis for altruism . . . In his most recent research, Ruston wanted to know if there is a genetic component to good behavior. In other words, do we have a “goodness gene” that encourages us to do the right thing? Ruston thinks the answer is yes, although such a gene is obviously expressed differently in some persons than it is in others. FULL ARTICLE: https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/DyeHard/story?id=402969&page=1
- LONELINESS – 9/14/07: Loneliness is gene deep, its molecular signature is reflected in the lonely person’s DNA. This was the conclusion of a new US study by scientists at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and other US academic centers. The study is published in the latest issue of the journal Genome Biology. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/82496.php
- LOVE-RAT GENE. September, 2008. Researchers have found that men with a common genetic ‘flaw’ are less likely to marry even if they have children with a long-term partner. Those who have tied the knot are twice as likely to be in a rocky marriage and to have discussed the possibility of divorce. Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers, from Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute, said: “This may tentatively reflect a lower degree of commitment.” FULL ARTICLE: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1051487/The-love-rat-gene-Why-men-born-cause-trouble-strife.html
- MISERY – 6/17/09 (Science Alert). Researchers at the Western Australian Centre for Health & Aginghave identified a genetic variation in the C-reactive protein gene that predisposes individuals to developing depressive symptoms. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.sciencealert.com.au/news/20091706-19303.html
- MONOGAMY – 9/2/08 (Washington Post) “Men with two copies of the allele had twice the risk of experiencing marital dysfunction, with a threat of divorce during the last year, compared to men carrying one or no copies,” said Hasse Walum, a behavioral geneticist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholmwho led the study.FULL ARTICLE:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/01/AR2008090102087.html?nav=hcmodule
- OBESITY– 4/13/07 (Medical News Today). UK researchers have discovered a commonly occurring gene variant that may explain why some people become overweight while others do not. However, they point out that it is unlikely to be the cause of the global obesityepidemic . . . A UK research team, led by Dr Andrew Hattersley of Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, have discovered a gene variant that occurs in over half of people of European descent that they think helps to regulate the amount of fat in the body. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/67666.php
- OBESITY II– 4/13/07 (NPR). When people inherit a common variant of a gene called FTO, they tend to put on a few extra pounds and are at higher risk of becoming obese. That’s the bad news scientists already knew. What they didn’t know, until now, is that people with this version of the gene also tend to lose more brain tissue as they age. That’s the bad news from a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study, led by researchers atUCLA, looked at brain scans of more than 200 healthy people older than 55. FULL ARTICLE: http://m.npr.org/news/front/114623161?page=1
- OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER – 9/4/02 (BBC NEWS). Researchers from the University of Torontostudied OCD patients and their parents. They focused on a gene that plays a central role in determining how one of the serotonin receptors works. And they found that OCD patients were more likely to inherit a particular version of the gene from their parents. FULL ARTICLE: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2234315.stm
- OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE HOARDING – 10/7/08 (National Institutes of Health). Recent work suggests that neurotrophic factors may contribute to the genetic susceptibility to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Among other clinical dimensions, the presence of hoarding obsessions and compulsions has been shown to be correlated with a number of clinical and neuroimaging findings, as well as with a different pattern of genetic inheritance. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18616610
- OPINIONS – 6/18/01 (SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN). According to a new study published in this month’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,our views on things ranging from abortion and racial discrimination to roller coasters and exercise may arise at least in part from our genes. The study, led by James Olson of the University of Western Ontario, looked at 336 pairs of both fraternal and identical adult twins. FULL ARTICLE: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/genes-may-hold-sway-over/
- PAIN & REJECTION. August, 2009. UCLA psychologistshave determined for the first time that a gene linked with physical pain sensitivity is associated with social pain sensitivity as well. “These findings suggest that the feeling of being given the cold shoulder by a romantic interest or not being picked for a schoolyard game of basketball may arise from the same circuits that are quieted by morphine,” said Baldwin Way, a UCLA postdoctoral scholarand the lead author on the paper. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090817142859.htm
- PLACEBO – 12/1/08 (NewScientist). For the first time, a gene is being linked to increased susceptibility to the placebo effect, the mysterious capacity some people have to benefit from sham treatments. . . “To our knowledge, it’s the first time anyone has linked a gene to the placebo effect,” says Tomas Furmarkof Uppsala University in SwedeFULL ARTICLE: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20026854.900-first-placebo-gene-discovered.html
- PORK(That’s right – Pork). org. May, 2012. Duke University Medical Center scientists, working with colleagues in Norway, found that about 70 percent of people have two functional copies of a gene linked to an odor receptor that detects a compound in male mammals called androstenone, which is common in pork. Hiroaki Matsunami, PhD, a Duke associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology, had previously discovered and described the genetics of the odor receptor for androstenone (OR7D4). FULL ARTICLE: https://mgm.duke.edu/home/2012-news-archives/genes-explain-why-some-people-turn-their-noses-up-at-meat/
- PREAMATURE EJACULATION – 12/1/08 (NewScientist). The volunteers in Marcel Waldinger’sstudy were 89 men who had so-called primary premature ejaculation, meaning they had always suffered from it from their first sexual contact onwards.For a month, their female partners were asked to use a stopwatch at home to measure the time until ejaculation each time they had intercourse. [Marcel D. Waldinger is a neuropsychiatrist and head of the Department of Consultative Psychiatry and the outpatient Department of Neurosexology at Leyenburg Hospital in The Hague in The Netherlands.]FULL ARTICLE: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7657092.stm
- PTSD – 2/2/12 (LATimes). The existence of a study population with clear genetic links, common family histories, and exposure to a single trauma allowed researchers an unusual opportunity to distill informationabout genes’ role in PTSD, said UCLA psychiatristArmen K. Goenjian, who led the study.FULL ARTICLE: http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-ptsd-genes-20120404,0,6603955.story
- RUTHLESSNESS – 4/2/08 (Nature). Researchers at the Hebrew University in Jerusalemfound a link between a gene called AVPR1a and ruthless behaviour in an economic exercise called the ‘Dictator Game’. The exercise allows players to behave selflessly, or like money-grabbing dictators such as former Zaire President Mobutu, who plundered the mineral wealth of his country to become one of the world’s richest men while its citizens suffered in poverty.FULL ARTICLE: http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080404/full/news.2008.738.html
- SALT – AFRICAN AMERICANS – 3/26/99 (Science Daily). “This is a new finding — no one has reported this association in African Americans,” says the study’s lead author, John M. Flack, M.D., professor and associate chairman, department of internal medicine, and director of the cardiovascular epidemiology and clinical applications program at Wayne State University in Detroi African Americans are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure than the general population. FULL ARTICLE – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990326061953.htm
- “SCAREDY-CAT” – 4/08 (MailOnline). Psychologist Christian Montag, one of the research team from the University of Bonn in Germany, said the Met158 mutation – which doesn’t exist in chimpanzees – may have helped survival by increasing wariness. ‘It was an advantage to be more anxious in a dangerous environment,’ said Mr Montag, whose findings are reported today in the journal Behavioural Neuroscience. FULL ARTICLE – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1043424/Revealed-The-scaredy-cat-gene-makes-jump-horror-movies.html
- SCHIZOPHRENIA – 3/20/01 (BBC NEWS). A group of psychiatrists, geneticists and neuroscientists from the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Julius Maximilians-University in Wuerzburgfound the gene during their investigation of chromosome 22. FULL ARTICLE – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1229281.stm
- SCHIZOPHRENIA II – 01/28/16 (SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN). After conducting studies in both humans and mice, the researchers said this new schizophrenia risk gene, called C4, appears to be involved in eliminating the connections between neurons — a process called “synaptic pruning,” which, in humans, happens naturally in the teen years. FULL ARTICLE: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/schizophrenia-gene-discovery-sheds-light-on-possible-cause/
- SHYNESS/SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER – 3/3/08 (Science 2.0). “We found that variations in this gene were associated with shy, inhibited behavior in children, introverted personality in adults and the reactivity of brain regions involved in processing fear and anxiety,” says Jordan Smoller, MD, ScD, of the MGH Department of Psychiatry, the report’s lead author. “Each of these traits appears to be a risk factor for social anxiety disorder, the most common type of anxiety disorder in the U.S.”. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.science20.com/science_2_0/study_rgs2_gene_variant_linked_to_increased_risk_of_anxiety_disorders
- SLEEP GENE DISCOVERY – 7/4/06 (The Medical News). Proteins that regulate sleep and biological timing in the body work much differently than previously thought, meaning drug makers must change their approach to making drugs for sleep disorders and depression and other timing-related illnesses. The surprise finding is an about-face from previous research,said Daniel Forger, assistant professor of math at the University of Michigan. FULL ARTICLE – http://www.news-medical.net/news/2006/07/04/18706.aspx
- SMOKING ADDICTION – 8/11/08 (NATIONALNEWSDESK). Researchers at Michigan Universityhave found a new gene that hugely increases a person’s risk of becoming addicted to tobacco after their first smoke. FULL ARTICLE – http://news.injuryboard.com/study-links-smoking-addiction-to-gene-variant.aspx?googleid=245470
- STUBBORNNESS. January, 2008. Researchersat the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciencesin Leipzig say such influential figures as Lord Nelson, Winston Churchill and suffragette leader Emily Pankhurst probably had the “never say die” gene which gives them the dogged determination to continue in times of adversity. The study’s co-author, Dr Markus Ullsperger, said that about 30 per cent of the population have the so-called A1 mutation. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.scotsman.com/news/one-in-three-people-born-stubborn-and-if-you-don-t-agree-tough-1-1072219
- SUGAR – 5/23/08 (The Endowment for Medical Research). “These findings may help explain some of the individual variations in people’s preference for sugary foods. It’s especially important given the soaring rates of obesity and diabetes throughout much of the world,” study senior researcher Ahmed El-Sohemy, of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, said in a prepared statement. “We have found that a variation in the GLUT2 gene is associated with a higher intake of sugars among different populations.” FULL ARTICLE – http://www.endowmentmed.org/forum/index.php?topic=37.0
- SUICIDE – 11/14/11 (theguradian):“If we knew who had an enhanced risk of suicide, we could change our approach to their care,” said John Mann, chief neuroscientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. . . The results revealed a variant of a gene called RGS2 that appeared more often in those who tried to kill themselves. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/nov/14/gene-raises-suicide-risk
- TRANSEXUALITY – 10/27/08 (ABCScience). Study leader, head of molecular genetics at Prince Henry’s Institute of Medical Researchin Melbourne, Associate Professor Vincent Harley, speculates, based on cell studies, that this genetic variation might reduce testosterone action and “under-masculinise” or feminise the brain during foetal development. “Studies in cells show the longer version of the androgen receptor gene works less efficiently at communicating the testosterone message to cells,” Harley says. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2008/10/27/2401941.htm
- VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY – 6/9/10 (Reuters). Scientists have found three genetic differences that affect a person’s risk of being deficient in the “sunshine” vitamin D and say their work helps explain why sunlight and a good diet aren’t always enough . . . “Our findings establish a role for common genetic variants in regulation of circulating vitamin D concentrations,” said Elina Hypponen of the University College London Institute of Child Health, who worked on the study. FULL ARTICLE: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-genes-vitamin-d/scientists-find-gene-links-to-vitamin-d-deficiency-idUSTRE6586QF20100609
- WARRIOR GENE – 6/8/09 (Science Daily). Boys who carry a particular variation of the gene Monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), sometimes called the “warrior gene,” are more likely not only to join gangs but also to be among the most violent members and to use weapons, according to a new study from The Florida State Universitythat is the first to confirm an MAOA link specifically to gangs and guns. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090605123237.htm
Professor Garfield, One More Time
“The public readily believes that genes cause behaviour, but the actual relationship between genes and environment is very complicated, and scientists have little understanding of how genes work . . . [T]here is no general agreement on what a gene is,” says Garfield.“[Among scientists] there is no single agreed-upon definition of what a gene is. http://radboud.academia.edu/HubZwart/Papers/924007/Book_review_Michael_Crichton-_Next_2006_
Don’t be a Gene Fool
And don’t let your gene’s fool you either. We’re a lot more than our 23 pairs of chromosomes and 25,000 or so genes. So, whether you believe in God, whether you are fair to your fellow human beings, or whether your opinions are so much different from everyone else’s, don’t blame it on your genes.
They never did anything to you . . . or for you . . . so far.
Summary published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine,National Institutes of Health on June 1, 2012:
“. . . In human behavior genetics, however, powerful new methods have failed to reveal even one bona fide, replicable gene effect pertinent to the normal range of variation in intelligence and personality. There is no explanatory or predictive value in that genetic information . . . The promises of the molecular genetic revolution have not been fulfilled in behavioral domains of most interest to human psychology.”
Up to and including today, no matter what day today is when you read this, there is still no gene scientifically proven to have anything to do with human behavior.
If that sounds like a challenge, it is – to the new and growing number of “psychiatric geneticists” to offer scientific proof otherwise.
A single exception to this resolute assertion will do.
ACCURACY SCORE AS OF OCTOBER, 2012: 0 FOR 73
MY RESPONSE TO COMMENTS FROM A READER:
Couple of things you said caught my eye.
“Just because ‘a gene’ for a condition can’t be isolated, doesn’t mean the condition isn’t genetically inherited.”
I hear the “just because” argument often about a variety of facts. For example: “Just because there’s no evidence of Bigfoot doesn’t mean Bigfoot doesn’t exist.” We forget the absence of evidence isn’t evidence of anything either. That, and you use the term “condition.” That’s usually a euphemism for “disease” or “disorder” and points to something that is lacking or in short supply that needs “treatment.”
“For example, there is not even ‘a gene’ for a simple trait like eye color, but no one would seriously argue that eye color is not hereditary.”
You’re right, of course, though you made my point, inadvertently. After a more than a hundred years of genetic research, no one can point to a gene for eye color, or anything else – first and foremost human behavior.
“Most genetically inherited traits are influenced by genes interacted with the environment (epigenetics).”
Whoa. If you are talking about physical traits – eye/hair color, bone formation, facial forms – that seems obvious. I look a lot like my dad, and my mom too, to a lesser degree. If the geneticist wants to claim we inherit our physical traits, OK.
We venture into fantasyland by making a huge leap of faith – not science – that genes have something to do with behavior. We tend to take up the sort of agreed upon “truth” that because eye color seems to be inherited, well then, the same must be true for “behavioral traits.” Ask anyone. “He’s just like his dad” so it must be “inherited,” and that means it’s “genetic.” Despite no credible science to support this – so far anyway – it just must be true.
“Twin studies overall show heritability of behavioral traits like impulsivity, learning disabilities, addiction, and criminal behavior are somewhere between 35% and 65% inherited, and that those traits tend to cluster, probably sharing multiple genes that predispose to them.”
So absent any proof found from the genetic laboratory, there are all those “twin studies” that purport to show the “degree of similarity with respect to the presence or absence of a particular disease or trait (concordance),” measured in percentages. How long would it take a sociologist or psychologist to offer a completely non-genetic, non- psychiatric explanation for these similarity “percentages?” About ten minutes. (By the way, if monozygotic twins grow up in the same healthy household, using the “logic” of the geneticists, how is it that their “behavioral traits” differ at all? They’re genetically identical. Their physical traits are obviously identical (99%+), so why aren’t their behavioral traits? To answer that question you have to talk about sociology and psychology, and that’s the point.
Here’s a few references of my own.
From Richard M. Lerner, Tufts University, Medford, Mass., USA – Another Nine-Inch Nail for Behavioral Genetics! http://www.martinfrost.ws/htmlfiles/oct2007/Behavioral_Genetics.pdf
“Why do we have to keep reinterring behavior genetics or other counterfactual conceptualizations of the role of genes in behavior and development? Why is it still necessary to continue to drive additional nails into the coffin of this failed approach to developmental science.”
From Jay Joseph, the leading critic of behavioral genetics, THE CRUMBLING PILLARS OF BEHAVIORAL GENETICS: http://www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org/genewatch/GeneWatchPage.aspx?pageId=384
“The evidence suggests that genes for the major psychiatric disorders, as well as for IQ and personality, do not exist. Simply put, the gene finding claims and predictions by Plomin and other leading behavioral geneticists turned out to be wrong. The best explanation for why this occurred is not that “heritability is missing,” but that previous and current claims that psychiatric and psychological twin studies prove something about genetics are also wrong.”
Joseph also said this:
“Although the media frequently reports that specific genes have been linked to psychiatric disorders and psychological traits, in almost every case subsequent research has failed to substantiate these findings.”
Finally, It’s not up to the naysayers like me to “prove” that Bigfoot doesn’t exist. It’s up to the proponents to offer proof of this myth.
Like Bigfoot, the “psychiatric geneticists” must provide us with proof, first, of their premise: genes influence behavior. So far, after a century of trying to do so, none exists. Second, if that can be done – and even though I doubt that will ever happen I will acknowledge the discovery if it ever does – then these same scientists must provide proof that a gene or a group of genes “causes” a single behavioral trait. As I mentioned in my article, so far the score is 0 for 73.
Until then, we’re all being Gene Fools, and perpetuating this urban legend.