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Genetic limitations – Don’t believe the hype

Trevor Gunn - Genetic Research Picture

The BIGGEST determinant of Longevity

As reported in Journal of Gerontology – Idler E. & Kasl S (1991) Health perceptions and survival, the biggest determinant of longevity is:

What people ‘think’ about their health !

The more in control people think they are, the more confident they feel that there is something that can positively affect their health and the more they think that what they do actually makes a difference – regardless of what they do, the greater the positive impact on their health.

But frighteningly what people think about their health is largely dominated by corporations who in turn dictate to governments, all of which is disseminated by mainstream media that often give the impression that there is little one can do in the face of superbugs, bad genes and the real cure being just around the corner.

The gulf between government-media spin and the science:

So I am dedicating this post to ‘awareness that leads to human empowerment’ and a signpost to the pitfalls of the media presentations of our world.

The corporate controlled media put out powerful and persuasive messages. Even though the following research is now two years old, it illustrates a very important issue that is ongoing and possibly 100s of years in the making. In 2013, the journal Science reported on a study that:

Identifies Genetic Variants Associated with Educational Attainment

Science 21 June 2013:
Vol. 340 no. 6139 pp. 1467-1471

The implication is that scientists have found the genes that determine intelligence, however, what was NOT mentioned, in the title, summary abstract or the press releases, was the fact that only 2% of educational attainment was found to be genetic the other 98% is in fact determined by environmental factors including, of course, how we are educated by others, and how we educate ourselves.

In fact only 3 genes amounting to a possible 0.02% of educational attainment have actually been found in this study, yet the focus of the media hype and discussion relates to the possibility of follow-up work for DNA testing, gene markers, etc. A favourite quote of mine from Jonathan Latham, Ph.D. writing a commentary on this issue:

This is as spectacular a mis-description of a scientific finding as is to be found anywhere in the scientific literature.

The subtle message put out is that intelligence could ultimately be genetic, that therefore, as with the messages from Thomas Malthus an important early influence on Darwin, there are good genes and bad genes that determine, inherently, good people and bad people.

Therefore, ultimately our lot is largely unaffected by what we have done or by what we can do and importantly, very little to do with our environment, pollution, lifestyle, education, government policy, etc because … ‘it’s genetic’ … and so there are, of course, people that would like to perpetuate that myth.

These messages influence how we think, how we feel and what we do, they are of course dis-empowering, largely untrue AND … they are universal, pervasive and persistent. The real message is that we have everything to play for and the broader life message is to be aware of the falsehoods in the corporate media, we can learn to be the experts of ourselves, especially if we adopt the messages that are real, empowering and help us to live inspired lives.

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