In the movie Gattaca, Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman star as a pair of genetically star-crossed lovers. They live in a fictional future where you can have any human’s genes analyzed and their personality, health, and future determined as easily as you can buy a bag of chips from a machine. Where babies are genetically designed, instead of occurring naturally. In this film, Ethan Hawke plays one of the few “natural” humans, conceived and not designed in a lab. Due to his genetic weaknesses vs the rest of humanity which are designed to be superior, he is fated to a miserable and wretched life. I highly recommend viewing the film if you haven’t.
In this imagined future, each person’s genes determine their fate. Is this true? Is our fate largely written by our genes?
There’s an amazing little gene labeled DRD4, of which there is an infamous variant: DRD4–7R. A normal DRD4 is unremarkable. But studies have shown a strong link between the 7R variant, and ADHD, alcoholism, and even violence.
This variant, 7R, is obviously undesirable. You may want to make an appointment to get sequenced and see if you have it. Find out if you’re doomed to suffering this fate.
But there’s an interesting thing about DRD4–7R. There has also been discovered a very strong link between it and altruism. In one study, three-year-olds with the 7R variant were found to be significantly more likely to willingly give their own candy to other children, compared to those with the non variant gene.
The truth about those parts of us that we see as deficiencies are usually far more complex than we believe. Our weaknesses are often our strengths. It all depends on how we use them. On what we do with the “hand we are dealt”.
An acquaintance of mine is a professional photographer. We hire him every year to photograph ng-conf, and every year we are amazed at the fantastic photos he produces. He is everything you would want in a professional photographer: he knows the business, he knows how to use his equipment, he is very effective when working with people, and he knows how to create amazing photographs. One of my favorite parts about his work is the colors. Here is an example of one of his many colorful photos:
I had a conversation with him after several years of using him as our photographer. He was asking for feedback and I told him how impressed I was with his capture of colors. He created such vibrant photos that we could use on the website. What he said next shocked me.
He is colorblind. Not just a little either. Many colors look muted and almost gray to him. He pointed at a purple wall and said that the wall was essentially gray to him. It was because of this that he searched out vivid colors in his photos. Muted colors blend in together to him, but the vivid ones stand out stronger. So he emphasizes them in his work. What should be a weakness is, in actuality, a strength to him.
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