Nature Makes The Boy Toward, Nurture Sees Him Forward

2231 words - 9 pages

Richard Mulcaster, four centuries ago, wrote the words, "Nature makes the boy toward, nurture sees him forward" (qtd. in Harris 4). And so the great war began.

But it wasn't all Mulcaster's fault. Shakespeare was said to have juxtaposed those words in his play The Tempest: "A devil, a born devil, on whose nature / Nurture can never stick". Three hundred years later, Charles Darwin's cousin Francis Galton coined the usage of the two together, and the "nature versus nurture" conflict has been mushrooming outward ever since.

One of the most controversial and heated debates of our modern society is the idea that our "natures" and how we are "nurtured" are in conflict with each other to ...view middle of the document...

They'll say that reputable studies have shown that conservative estimates place the heritibility of intelligence, or how much of one's intelligence is determined by genetics, at around 70%.

They'll tell you about all the coincidences contained within the MSTRA data--how two identical twins were reunited after one was raised a Nazi and the other a Jew, but both were remarkably wearing blue shirts with two breast pockets they day they met, both flushed the toilet before and after they used it, and both enjoyed sneezing suddenly in elevators to scare other passengers. They'll tell you about the Jims, both of whom married a woman named Linda, had toy poodles named Toy, had sons named Andrew Richard and Richard Andrew, and had remarried women named Betty.

They'll offer information about how homosexuality appears much more frequently in some families than in others. Only 2% of the population at large was labeled "homosexual" in a recent study, while 8% of maternal uncles and cousins, and nearly 14% of brothers, 22% of fraternal twins of the same sex, and 55% of identical twins of admittedly homosexual men were given the same label (Begley 72). Impressive numbers.

In listening to their arguments, you'll hear how flawed the "other side's" data seems to be. They'll point out a tendency among socialization researchers to conduct flawed studies--studies where population surveyed is extremely small, or extremely selective. Not only this, but the same researchers often divide a population into increasingly smaller subsets until one group is likely to show a "significant" (i.e. "publishable") statistical trend. You'll understand that in some cases, when researchers don't find out any information that applies to the whole population sample, they'll check to see whether a trend arises in one gender or the other, or in one race or another, or perhaps even only in Jewish African-Americans with albinism.

Many lay people acknowledge that genetics contribute significantly to human development. But there is a plethora of information published in all media about the ideas of nature and nurture. Perfectly respectable newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals publish results that are later completely refuted by more accurate research. Most of us simply don't have the time to distinguish between the scientific truth from the chaff of misinformation. Besides, those that argue nurture over nature make an equally good case. Why shouldn't we believe them?

The berserkers on this side of the fence are equally as vehement. In fact, John Watson, known as the father of modern behaviorism, wrote:

Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any typo of specialist I might selectdoctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief, and yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his...

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