What do you think now about the role of genetics in determining your character?
I think I will start off by saying that it’s really complicated. I do recognize that their are SOME genetic factors influencing character, but the research also clearly shows that their are a lot of environmental factors as well. Studies have shown for example that someone’s RNA can change due to psychological trauma. The environment you grow up in can create biological changes. I suppose what I want to say is that the mere existence of a biological link to a character trait does not per say mean that it is caused by Nature. Physiological changes can be caused by nurture, so I do not see the mere existence of for example differences in the brain as proof that genetics is involved. Also however however just the existence of a genetic factor should not be taken as proof that something is caused by genetics. Something may be affected by genetics, but that isn’t the same as genetics being the only or deciding factor. Especially if their are studies that suggest an environmental influence as well I would lean on the side of saying that no matter how strong the genetic influence if their is any other factor at play, then the possibility of overriding that genetic influence in at least some exceptional cases should be considered instead of just assuming that it must be all nature because their is a genetic correlation. Also I would say that the whole nature vs nurture debate is significantly flawed because it assumes that humans are beings created entirely out of external influences without any regard to personal choice and the decisions one may make themselves.
Has the information you have heard changed your mind or confirmed your beliefs?
Mostly confirmed. I have always veered against the side of Nature. The research I have done has shown the extent to which we can be changed by influences other than nature. The changes in RNA caused by trauma were the most surprising since it shows a minor genetic change being caused by the environment.
Write a paragraph to explain how significant genetics have been in influencing your identity.
I must say I don’t think I can truly know for sure. If there are any biological influences shaping my character it’s hard to tell . That being said in daily life I prefer to think that genetics has nothing to do with anything. Not because I actually believe that’s true, but because I think that allows for a more constructive mindset. Regardless of whether their is a genetic influence or not thinking that you are limited by genetics will only encourage you to try less (because if it’s all predetermined why bother?) and it really places mental limits on yourself. Studies have shown for example that people who believe that their ability is up to themselves and not genetics actually do better in Maths. In daily life at least for me it doesn’t matter what the facts are because if ignoring the facts will help me do better (and studies show that is the case), then at least for me if what is clearly proven to work contradicts the facts I am willing to at least in this particular situation abandon the facts in favour of what works.
Before watching the video I thought that gender identity was determined solely by the environment. I was thinking that it depends on the society around us as well as how we think about ourselves instead of any biological factor. After watching the video it does seem like their is some biological connection, though I would not say that the experiment in any way proves that biology is the dominant factor. To put it lightly I find the entire experiment to be an inconclusive, poorly executed mess.
Firstly, From the comments about being forcibly given dolls, being forced to“act like a girl”, being forced to wear dresses and being “treated like a girl”. It seems that Brenda was forced to conform to a very rigid, stereotyped version of being a girl. No one would like that! It’s oppressive. Limits freedom of choice and forces people into arbitrarily constructed boxes. You can’t go and treat someone in a way that NO ONE would like to be treated then claim surprise when they are unhappy. The entire concept of treating someone “like a girl is flawed”, because they shouldn’t be treated any differently from anyone else. The entire idea is extremely sexist. Also what does “acting like a girl” even mean !?!?!? I find it highly likely that Brenda’s unhappiness came from being forcibly shoved into a stereotyped box and not allowed to make his/her own choices and not from any inherent gender identity.
Secondly, though some might say that Brenda’s rejection of girly things shows that a gender swap failed that is far from necessarily the case. A lot of actual women are unhappy with the stereotypes associated with being a girl (especially when most of them are negative). Just look at the vast quantity of feminist literature. It is simply illogical to expect Brenda to accept these stereotypes when a lot of actual women don’t
Thirdly, the experiment kind of broke when the parents decided to tell Brenda that she was born a boy. If they had kept the secret things may have turned out differently. By telling Brenda that she was born a boy the parent’s could very possibly have caused enough psychological trauma to throw the entire experiment off course.
Fourthly, the parents stopped seeing Doctor Money, and from then on the experiment was no longer controlled or under professional scrutiny. It is very likely that the parents made a lot of “mistakes” after no longer going to see Doctor Money that may have thrown the experiment off track.
Fifthly, Doctor Money chose to simply ignore concerns instead of addressing them. If he had actually intervened to try and solve Brenda’s psychological issues instead of just ignoring them things might have been set on a better track.
I could keep listing problems. After all Doctor Money managed to come up with 10, but I hope I’ve made it clear exactly how much of a mess the experiment was. In conclusion, I don’t think that anyone can truly say that this experiment proves anything about the roles that nature and nurture play in shaping gender identity.