Nature vs. Nurture

Opinions on Debatable Issues #1

Nurture (environmental factors) plays a greater role in our abilities when we grow up. Everyone has predetermined intelligence from their DNA makeup, but the majority has intelligent disparities that are insignificant to make any discernable differences in abilities; hence, the different levels of development and accomplishment each of us may eventually obtain in adulthood depend heavily on the environmental factors that we grow up with.

The Grandmaster Experiment provides solid evidence to this claim. The parents of two sisters intentionally immersed their children in an environment that maximizes the role of chess in their lives. Since they were babies, they were taught to play chess and trained to solve intricate logic problems. They spend most of their time practicing chess. The parents had them join all the contests that they are eligible to join. As a result, chess became an indispensable part of their life and they made great achievements in this field. One of the sisters became and continues to be the youngest Chess Grandmaster. Not only are they capable of defeating much older contestants, but they have also grown to love chess as if it is their innate hobby despite neither of the two expressed any signs of special interest in chess playing when small. One night, the father found one of the girls playing chess in the bathroom and refuse to go to sleep until she solves the puzzle. The father told her to “leave them alone” and the girl replied that it’s the chess that won’t let her alone. As a result of intentional coaching and practicing, and deliberately constructed environment to optimize chess playing outcomes, the children became eminent chess players and chess lovers.

Chess, Chess Pieces, Chess Board

The belief that inborn intelligence defines future accomplishment and ability are erroneous because mounting evidence has shown that innate talent does not account for special ability when people grow up as much as intentional training does. For instance, a study examined the cause of mental athletes and ordinary people’s different memorization performance. The researchers found that all athletes’ general cognitive ability scores fall in the normal range. They are not inherently smarter than others. Instead, the researchers concluded that the athletes were trained to convert information into images to help them better retain them; they activated different parts of the brain than those of normal people. Thus, the abilities many people have been acquired through nurture, not natural talents.

The opinion of both nature and nurture play tantamount of role in our development is also unreasonable because the power of nurture evidently surpasses that of nature. A study found that England taxi drivers, who easily memorize the routes in London, have developed their gross structure of the brain with more neurons grown as a result of repeated driving practices. This facilitates their memorization. Some may argue that it might be an innate ability. However, the researchers found that, just as muscles, that structure of the brain and development of neurons stopped and degenerated when they no longer drive. In addition, the longer a taxi driver has been in this occupation, the more profound development is seen in his brain. This study shows that the power of nurture is so strong that it can even alter the makeup of our brain, which is mostly predetermined by genetic factors and drastically influence our capability.

Brain, Human, Cortex, Anatomy

Knowing that environment is crucial in shaping one’s skills and abilities, we should pay close attention to where we live, whom we surround us, and what we are exposed to. It is human nature to imminent the close, the many, and the powerful. We cannot help being influenced by people around us, desiring to be included and successful.

“Close” refers to family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. They have the most influence on us because we are immersed in an environment that is shaped by their behaviors and attitudes. Parents with manners and high education mostly raise polite children whereas alcoholic, addicted, or abusive parents usually fail to provide quality and enough parenting needed for their children to grow up into competent and kind individuals.

man in blue long sleeve shirt carrying baby in white onesie

“Many” refers to popular beliefs and massive groups. The internal pressure to comply with the behaviors of the majority makes us change to avoid uniqueness or nonuniformity, fearing to lose approval from others. As James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, states, “The reward of being accepted better than being right alone.” In fact, the Asch Conformity Experiments shows strong implication that humans are generally prone to making incorrect decisions when seeing others doing the same because of the underlying pressure to conform to others regardless how rediculous others’ answer might be.

people holding shoulders sitting on wall

Next comes “Powerful”, which refers to status, accomplishment, and reverence. Once fitted in, we want to stand out, be respected, and applauded for. As a result, do things that impress others and are valued by the society became our goals. If the people around me appreciate hardworking and academic accomplishment, I would be compelled to be studious. If I have friends who think to smuggle, take drugs, and break the laws are cool, I am more likely to end up in jail, rather than in a prestigious company working towards my dream.

Chess, King, Chess Pieces, Chess Board

The importance of nurture (environmental factors) is unquestionable. It is thus imperative to deliberately select our friends, jobs, activities, etc. to create a positive and beneficial environment that shapes us into the better version of ourselves in the future. DNA does play a role. But considering the similar IQ of the majority of people, nurture is much more impactful.

Sources:

Check out other Opinions on Debatable Issues:
- The "Weaknesses" of DACA
https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2020/08/25/the-weaknesses-of-daca/
- Why the US Should Hold Onto USPS
https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2020/09/01/why-the-us-should-hold-onto-usps/
- Why No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is a FAILURE
https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2020/09/05/why-no-child-left-behind-act-ncld-is-a-failure/
- The Fairness of Progressive Taxes
https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2020/09/12/the-fairness-of-progressive-taxes/
- The United States Elections Should NOT be Run as a "Lottocracy". https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2020/09/26/the-united-states-elections-should-not-be-run-as-a-lottocracy/
- Parents Should NOT be Given the Legal Rights to Refuse Medical Treatments for Children
https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2020/10/03/parents-should-not-be-given-the-legal-rights-to-refuse-medical-treatments-for-children/
- Roe v. Wade: Why the Current Ruling is both Unconstitutional and Unethical
https://mypathtowardsmindfulness.org/2020/10/10/roe-v-wade-why-the-current-ruling-is-both-unconstitutional-and-unethical/
Published by

Sharon Huang

On a self-exploring journey. Cultivating interests and intelligence. Living the present moment. Envisioning and pursuing my dream. Practicing mindfulness.

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