Sunday, April 29, 2012

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

                Today we live in a creative world in which our productivity depends on how efficient we are at using our minds.
 Every human being is born being a genius. In a study, children that were two to four years old were tested and 95% of them resulted to be highly creative, imaginative, and innovative. Also, they showed a high capacity for abstract thinking. The same test was done on the same children when they were about seven years of age and only four percent tested out as highly creative. This is because, according to the video, being creative and thinking abstractly is discouraged in children.
Intelligence follows the law of use. This law says that with any human faculty, if we don’t use it we lose it. This higher, “superconscious” intelligence seen on children and on great minds like Mozart and Edison is never totally lost. Instead, it becomes a latent capability that is always available for us. In order to take full advantage of this intelligence, we have to trust and have faith in the value of our insights and thoughts. Also, we have to set clear goals, be positive and have a relaxed state of mind. Concentration is also essential when trying to formulate answers to our problems.
Creativity and abstract thinking is described as a muscle; the more we use it, the more of it we have. And if we exercise it often it, the easier it will become to see things from different perspectives, therefore allowing us to solve problems more efficiently.

                This video describes intelligence as being both nature and nurture. From the nature point of view, it says that everybody is born with the same capability and that this “superconscious” intelligence is innate in human beings. On the other hand, it is also affected by the way we are brought up and the way we ourselves use our mental abilities in daily life. Our motivations and environment also make a difference, which shows that the nurture idea is very important when it comes to intelligence.

Why is creativity said to be discouraged in today’s world?
If intelligence is indeed innate, does everyone have the same level of intelligence or does it vary?

GeniusBrainPower. (2010). Doubling your brain power [Web].

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Human Genome Project: Ethical Implications


Genetic Engineering

The first ethical problem that The Human Genome project deals with is the issue of genetic engineering, which is the manipulation of genes. The purpose of the project is to map the human genetic blueprint. This would allow scientists to link diseases to the genes that cause them and therefore develop treatments. Although the main goal of the project is to find these “faulty” genes, it also involves finding the specific genes linked to physical and psychological traits. As a result, scientists would be able to use this information to manipulate these traits by using genetic engineering.

There are two types of genetic intervention: somatic cell and germline intervention.

Changes made through somatic cell manipulation are limited to one individual while changes made through germline manipulation are passed on to the genome of future generations. Germline interventions involve more ethical concerns than somatic cell interventions. This is because, unlike risks involving somatic cell manipulation which only influence one single person, risks involving germline interventions can be passed on to future generations.  However, germline manipulations can be way more efficient at permanently getting rid of certain diseases.

 Genetic engineering can also be scientifically problematic. This is because in order to perfect the enhancement of genes there are other risks that may arise from it. For example, many diseases depend on more than one gene, and there is a high probability that one of the genes might also be responsible for other parts of the organism.


The major concern that The Human Genome Project deals with is whether or not genetic engineering is ethical. The information being collected from the project allows scientists to locate the genes responsible for specific traits. Although they haven’t found which specific set of genes are responsible for intelligence, there is a very high possibility that they will do so in the near future. If they do so scientists could, just like they could with any other trait, alter them to make someone more or less intelligent. Although this is not the goal of the project, it is something that we have to keep in mind.

Also, there is the problem of somatic cell and germline intervention.  Germline manipulation can be more efficient at getting rid of a disease not only for one individual but also for his or her future generations. But this is also true for other physical and psychological traits. If one person decides to alter his or her physical appearance and get rid of certain characteristics, this will also affect future generations.


·         Is it worth taking the risk of developing unexpected problems in order to develop treatments for genetic disorders?

·         How might finding the genes responsible for intelligence be helpful or problematic?

Carroll, M., & Ciaffa, J. (2003, August). Retrieved from

Sunday, April 15, 2012


                The Human Genome Project is a coordinated science project which started in 1990 with the purpose of mapping the human genetic blueprint.

                Humans are made up of trillions of cells each of which contains genetic material called DNA. Within these long filaments reside the genes that we inherit from our parents. Scientists have found that some (if not all) diseases are linked to abnormalities in the genes. Locating and mapping the human genetic blueprint can help scientists understand these genetic abnormalities and the interplay of several genes which cause disorders such as cystic fibrosis and Duchene muscular dystrophy.

Mapping the human genes has proved to be no easy task. The human genome is considered to be the “master library” which contains all of the genetic information which resides in twenty four different chromosomes. Each cell in the human body contains DNA filaments that can be up to six feet long within its nucleus. In each of these filaments there are six billion base pairs.

Recently, investigators found that the gene responsible for Huntington’s disease was located on chromosome four, but even after a decade of study they still don’t know which gene in particular. This shows how arduous it can be to pinpoint specific genes.  One way to map these genes is to compare the chromosomes of many people with the same disease or characteristic. By finding similarities in genes we can determine what exact gene or genes are responsible for the disease.

A method of analyzing chromosomes is flow cytometry. In flow cytometry, individual chromosomes are held in aqueous suspensions and passed in single file through one or more laser beams for analysis. This allows analyzing thousands of chromosomes per second.

The main goals of the Human Genome Project are to develop resources useful for genome research, develop DNA mapping strategies, make ordered clone maps and DNA sequences of human chromosomes, and use the sequences to study genome organization and variation. The main goal, however, is not just to determine the exact sequence of the DNA, but to find the significance of specific genes and how they interact with each other.

Although there is proof that intelligence is at least partly genetic, scientists still haven’t found the specific gene or genes that are responsible for a person’s intelligence. It is likely, since there seem to be different “types” of intelligences, that intellectual abilities do not rely solely on one gene but on the interaction of many genes. In order to identify these genes, scientists would have to collect a large group of people who score above-average on intelligence tests, sequence their chromosomes, and analyze them to look for similarities among the group. This is easier said than done, scientist would have to analyze the entire genome of a person and what makes it all the more difficult is that intelligence is made up of different factors and there is no clear, exact definition of what intelligence is.


What would be the benefits of finding the genes responsible for intelligence?

What ethical problems could arise from finding these genes?

"The Human Genome Project." Energy & Technology Review. April/May 1992: 29+. SIRS Government Reporter. Web. 15 Apr 2012.

Monday, April 9, 2012

            In the fourth century B. C. E., Aristotle introduced the idea that the mind was a blank slate. On the other hand, we had Plato’s idea that the human mind was an entity that pre-existed somewhere in the heavens before it was sent down to Earth.
            In the seventeenth century, John Locke, an English philosopher, brought back the idea of the mind being a “white paper”. His idea of the tabula rasa was that humans were born with an empty mind and that knowledge is gained solely by one’s sensory experiences. This idea emphasized that an individual had the freedom to author his or her own personality. However, Locke believed that humans were born with some innate ability to process experience.
            Rene Descartes, a French philosopher, believed that humans were born with some pre-existing ideas. These ideas, according to him, included knowledge in mathematics and the belief in God.  
            Continental rationalist Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz recognized that there must exist a middle ground between the two extreme ideas of Locke and Descartes. He believed that although rational ideas are innate, they must be “activated” by experience.

             Nowadays, it has been proven that most of the brain is preprogrammed to take in, process, and organize sensory input. These parts then improve their ability to perform their tasks throughout the person’s life.  The only part of the brain that has been proven to be a “blank slate” is the neo-cortex which is involved in thought and decision-making.

             Even before people had a deep understanding of the brain and the mind, philosophers like Aristotle and Plato were making predictions on whether intelligence was something inborn or something gained through experience.
            According to Locke and Aristotle humans were born with an empty mind and intelligence depended mostly on sensory experiences. On the other side of the argument were Descartes and Plato who believed that humans were already born with some type of innate intelligence. Leibniz unified both ideas to resemble something more like the ideas we have today. He said that the brain was already preprogrammed but that needed input in order to function.

How could philosophers like Aristotle and Plato make predictions on whether intelligence was a matter of nature or nurture when they didn't even have an understanding on how the brain worked?

New World Encyclopedia. (2008, April 04). Tabula rusa. Retrieved from