Quick Guide: Genetics

By: | December 9, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Last week I had the pleasure of having dinner with a blogging celebrity, at least a blogging celebrity to me,  Carolyn West, the co-founder of the Southern California Lady Bloggers.  Not often in the company of blogging stars, I used the opportunity to pick her brain about the nature of blogging.

“Is it a problem that I don’t have a blogging niche?  I don’t specialize in writing about one topic.  Is it a problem that I don’t have a brand?” I inquired.

“Not at all,” reassured Carolyn.  “You are a lifestyle blogger.”

A lifestyle blogger, me?  Who knew?  As I grappled to come to terms with this new realization about my blogging identity, I asked myself what a lifestyle blogger would blog about.  My answer was clear and immediate: human interest stories.  I wondered if I knew any human interest stories.  So far, I’ve been writing primarily about myself (most recently How to Find Gratitude, http://wp.me/p5jxvv-6T), our Commander-in-Chief (Leaders Take All The Blame http://wp.me/p5jxvv-6T), celebrities that are accused sexual perpetrators (Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire http://wp.me/p5jxvv-1E), and cops that are accused racists (…Victims of Racism http://wp.me/p5jxvv-5H).

Then I realized I knew a human interest story.  It’s about a human besides myself (I’m not self-absorbed at all, am I?) that is so interesting, I believe it sheds light on the age-old controversy between nature (genetics or DNA) and nurture (upbringing).  The best part–like all the tales I weave, the story is true, except for the subject’s name.

I met Lisa when she was my yoga instructor.

I met Lisa when she was my yoga instructor.

Lisa was adopted as a baby by a family of devout Catholics.  She discovered at an early age that she was obsessed with the Jewish religion.  Obsessed, I mean downright fanatically obsessed.  By the age of seven she had a poster-size photo of Israel’s prime minister Golda Meir on her bedroom wall, and her best friend was a good friend of Golda Meir’s nephew.

Lisa spent her formative years growing up in a Catholic school run by nuns.  While at the parochial school, Lisa memorized every single word to the Israeli National Anthem. She constantly sang the song in the company of the nuns which irked them to no end, or so Lisa reports.

When Lisa was an adult, she fell in love with and married a Jewish man.  One day her husband planned to take a DNA test.  He told her that although costly, he was able to get a two-for-one special.  (Is the end of Lisa’s story predictable by now?)  Lisa accompanied her husband to the DNA test, and found out, that she too was born Jewish.

I have always been fascinated by the nature vs. nurture controversy. Why was Lisa so drawn to the Jewish religion her whole life when she’d had no exposure to it?  I maintain it is because nature is stronger than nurture.  DNA, or genetics, wins out over the environment in which one is raised.

A recall, long ago, reading a “Dear Abby” article.  Married college professors adopted a boy who grew up to be an aspiring artist.  The parents were distraught that the son did not want to grow up to want to join them in the world of academia.  Abby responded by explaining that this is a common situation with families of adoption.  When it comes to the question of what is stronger, nature or nurture, nature, what is inside our genetic makeup, wins out.

What do you think readers?  I realize there are exceptions, but do you agree with me that most of the time the influence of DNA overrides the influence of environment, do you feel the opposite, or do you believe that there is no general rule?  I look forward to your views.





    • Janice Wald

      Thanks Dorothy!
      For writing, and supporting my opinion. (Seriously, though, controversy is fun too.) However, we seem to be in the minority. So far, I’ve responded to three people who disagree with us and say environment is at least as strong. I haven’t had this much debate since I said Office Darren Wilson was racist. LOL

  1. Jenn Alex Brockman

    I think in some aspects, nature wins, but our natures have changed so much and the ways our bodies are formed now is changing. nurture absolutely has an affect on behaviors and responses to our life.

    • Janice Wald

      As I mentioned to Joan, I love that we are debating this age-old controversial issue! Definitely Janice fun! I know a couple, infertile, adopted two daughters who turned out NOTHING like them as far as morals, values… Sorry Joan, Dora, and Jenn… my observations and what I’ve read convince me it’s genetics that is the stronger factor.

  2. toxict15

    I am totally and completely in the same point as a “brandless” type brand that is more lifestyle than anything else. Thanks for linking up to WW

    • Janice Wald

      Thank you for writing me, but please forgive my question. I’ve only been blogging for five weeks. What is WW? Is it Twitter? If yes, thanks for telling me how you found me. I always wonder what I’m doing right when I try and promote my blog.

  3. peppylady (Dora)

    I’ve always want a DNA test. Sure genetics plays a major roll in our life. But two other things plays a choice on how we may live our life. Environment and Choice.
    Coffee is on

    • Janice Wald

      I love coffee too. LOL So, you think environment and DNA have equal weight in what a person is like?

  4. Joan Harrington

    Hi Janice,

    I think that definately our environment plays a very important role, but so does our choices, like Dora says….totally agree 🙂 DNA not so much, just my thoughts 🙂 Thanks for the great post!!

    • Janice Wald

      1. As always, thanks for the great comments. Someone mentioned how I found a blogging community, and I thought of you. Awww…. 🙂
      2. How fun to be debating a controversial issue on my blog. I am opinionated and love supporting them, analyzing other people’s, so this is fun for me. As you read in my post, I disagree for the reasons I stated. According to Abby (while not an authority, certainly someone who has heard a lot about life), DNA is stronger. How do you explain Lisa’s story then? Thanks for writing Joan.

  5. Dorit Sasson (

    I too agree that our environment plays a huge role, and like Joan says, so do our choices. We can outsmart our environment (if the experience wasn’t positive) if our choices are sound.

    • Janice Wald

      I love that people are having dialogue on my post. I hear you saying we can outsmart our environment, and I agree, but… I wrote that I felt DNA was stronger than our environment. Do you think we can outsmart our DNA…?

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