Tuesday, 8 November 2011


I had not yet stumbled upon anything interesting to write, up until now. I recently happened to watch a documentary suggested by a friend (you know who you are)  titled, “Are you good or evil?” What separates good from evil? This is the unsettling question that the scientists were trying to decipher. Does biology divide vice from virtue? Are we going to turn into a moralistic person or a psychopath? Or are we born into these roles?

A good person means a moralistic person which apparently is the most evolutionary function of man. An evil person is one who lacks in morals (a psychopath). The definition of a Psychopath is one who suffers from a mental disorder, characterized by lack of empathy, remorse and possessed by shallow emotions.

In this particular documentary, a man possessed all the features of a psychopath. He had a “warrior gene” and low activity of the limbic system. The only difference being, he was not a psychopath, not yet anyways.

A “warrior gene” is a monoamine oxidase A gene and it displays higher levels of aggression in response to provocation. I took this concept as “blame it on our genes” theory. This implies that behavior is deeply rooted in biology.

However this man was a moralistic person. This was because the “warrior gene” gets triggered by bad environmental influences, inactive otherwise.
This documentary raises the age old argument about nature versus nurture. Science is yet to determine the basics of our behavior. Is it in our genes or in our environment? Nobody knows yet.

The prevailing view remains that nature and nurture, both contribute to the individual behavior. Interestingly, one must note that we choose neither. This leads to the eternal question, are we free at all, questioning the basic right to free will.
- Dr. Shraddha Kedia