Does This Guy Look 80% Bald?


I'm wading through The Best American Science Writing of 2010 and overarching theme of the collection is this: things are complicated . . . and in Steven Pinker's essay "My Genome, My Self," this slowly becomes apparent, as he analyzes the "genetic report card" he received from the personal genetic sequencing company 23andMe-- some of his genes validate reality: he has the gene for blue eyes and he actually has blue eyes . . . some don't: he has genes that make it highly likely that he will be bald, but he sports a billowing Jew-fro . . . some point at his heritage (Askenazi Jew) and some point towards percentages: the reports says he has a 12 percent chance of getting prostrate cancer . . . but most of what he had sequenced, like the genes for height, which is highly heritable, will barely have any effect (the dozen genes for height only account for 2% of the variation of height among humans-- the rest of the difference is caused by unknown factors) and may mean nothing in his life or everything, depending on all the other genes that weren't sequences, any unusual genes he has that are extremely rare, factors in the environment, and random mutation and affect-- and when Pinker philosophizes on why there is so much variety in humanity because of all these factors, when evolution doesn't require this much uniqueness for survival, he brings up the fact that if there's too much of any one type of personality, then there is a benefit to being different-- if everyone is nice, then it pays to be mean, but once there are enough mean people, they counter-act each other and it is the band of communal folks that will survive-- and he uses a proverb to remind us of the value of variety in a species: "The early bird catches the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese."

3 comments:

Igor said...

Is prostrate cancer when you get cancer from lying down too much?

Anonymous said...

For future reference:
Actors of fully Jewish background: -Logan Lerman, Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mila Kunis, Bar Refaeli, James Wolk, Julian Morris, Esti Ginzburg, Kat Dennings, Erin Heatherton, Odeya Rush, Anton Yelchin, Paul Rudd, Scott Mechlowicz, Lizzy Caplan, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Gal Gadot, Robert Kazinsky, Melanie Laurent, Marla Sokoloff, Shiri Appleby, Justin Bartha, Adam Brody, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Gabriel Macht, Halston Sage, Seth Gabel, Alden Ehrenreich.

Actors with Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers -Jake Gyllenhaal, Dave Franco, Scarlett Johansson, Daniel Radcliffe, Alison Brie, Eva Green, Emmy Rossum, Jennifer Connelly, Eric Dane, Jeremy Jordan, Joel Kinnaman.

Actors with Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers, who themselves were either raised as Jews and/or identify as Jews: -Andrew Garfield, Ezra Miller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alexa Davalos, Nat Wolff, James Maslow, Josh Bowman, Ben Foster, Nikki Reed, Zac Efron, Jonathan Keltz.

Actors with one Jewish-born parent and one parent who converted to Judaism -Dianna Agron, Sara Paxton (whose father converted, not her mother), Alicia Silverstone, Jamie-Lynn Sigler.

Anonymous said...

For future reference:
Actors of fully Jewish background: -Logan Lerman, Natalie Portman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mila Kunis, Bar Refaeli, James Wolk, Julian Morris, Esti Ginzburg, Kat Dennings, Erin Heatherton, Odeya Rush, Anton Yelchin, Paul Rudd, Scott Mechlowicz, Lizzy Caplan, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Gal Gadot, Robert Kazinsky, Melanie Laurent, Marla Sokoloff, Shiri Appleby, Justin Bartha, Adam Brody, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Gabriel Macht, Halston Sage, Seth Gabel, Alden Ehrenreich.

Actors with Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers -Jake Gyllenhaal, Dave Franco, Scarlett Johansson, Daniel Radcliffe, Alison Brie, Eva Green, Emmy Rossum, Jennifer Connelly, Eric Dane, Jeremy Jordan, Joel Kinnaman.

Actors with Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers, who themselves were either raised as Jews and/or identify as Jews: -Andrew Garfield, Ezra Miller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alexa Davalos, Nat Wolff, James Maslow, Josh Bowman, Ben Foster, Nikki Reed, Zac Efron, Jonathan Keltz.

Actors with one Jewish-born parent and one parent who converted to Judaism -Dianna Agron, Sara Paxton (whose father converted, not her mother), Alicia Silverstone, Jamie-Lynn Sigler.

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