Monday, 13 January 2014

Do genes make the man?

Say you’re in that top 0.01 percent—or even the top 50 percent (in income.) Would you want to admit happenstance as a benefactor? Wouldn’t you rather believe that you earned your wealth, that you truly deserve it? Wouldn’t you like to think that any resources you inherited are rightfully yours, as the descendant of fundamentally exceptional people? Of course you would. New research indicates that in order to justify your lifestyle, you might even adjust your ideas about the power of genes. The lower classes are not merely unfortunate, according to the upper classes; they are genetically inferior.
That's an extract from an article Social Darwinism Isn’t Dead: Rich people think they really are different from you and me. By Matthew Hutson published in Slate.

Later in the article he adds:
"the few studies on the subject estimate that income, educational attainment, and occupational status are perhaps at least 10 percent genetic (and maybe much more). It makes sense that talent and drive, some portion of which are related to genetic variation, contribute to success. But that’s a far cry from saying “It is possible to determine one’s social class by examining his or her genes.” Such a statement ignores the role of wealth inheritance, the social connections one shares with one’s parents, or the educational opportunities family money can buy—not to mention strokes of good or bad luck (that are not tied to karma)."

What do you think? In your case do you attribute your success to genes, the environment in which you were brought up, luck, something else?

5 comments:

Patti said...

I think you're just trying to stir the pot with this article. And no, I'm nowhere near the top of the heap. People have ALWAYS thought they were better than others. This is NEWS???

I am however, tired of hearing political crap when I expect to read genealogy.

Anonymous said...

I have thought for a long time that attitude plays a large part. My mother's family had middle class attitudes even when they had little cash in hand. "Even when I only had one skirt and blouse it was clean and pressed." Immigrants to North America and other places arrive with the expectation and purpose of bettering themselves, but more importantly they expect to better their children's lives. For my ancestors, having good enough health in 1819 to survive the trip on a tippy little sailboat was an achievement. Several of my ancestors' families arrived safely with nine children. Family drive and cohesiveness of family efforts are important. Also, who says that those who make the most money are the most successful?

turner said...

Yes John. This is important information for genealogists to understand. It's not just a ho-hum issue, or even just a current one.

“Samuel Smith, a member of Parliament who helped Louisa Birt found the Liverpool Sheltering Home, wrote in 1883 of England as lingering on the edge of a volcano, and of the poor as ‘foul sewage’ stagnating beneath ‘our social fabric,’ certain if untreated to cause ‘terrible disasters.’ ‘The miserable and helpless’ metropolitan poor would not long remain immune to the ‘poisonous doctrines of Nihilism and Socialism.’ They were becoming ‘a positive danger to the State.’ —Joy Parr, Labouring Children: British Emigrant Apprentices to Canada: 1869–1924, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1980, 1994, p. 33.

And see this web site as well:
http://www.thelmawheatley.com/part-two-canadian-eugenics/
Cheers, Brenda

Lynne Willoughby said...

This really is based on your measure of success. The richest man I know will always be poor in the world's eyes.

Barbara T. said...

If there is one thing I have learned in my life it's that "Life IS Politics". There is no escaping politics in any area of life - not even genealogy. Ignoring this fact is simply a form of denial and leads to the kind of politics we're now experiencing. To those who inform themselves and then speak out on the politics of life - whatever that might be - I say "Bravo!"