There is another popular misconception that seems to get a lot of play in the everyday media and that is “explaining” behavior by a reference to genetic composition. Recently a” Dr. Happy” indicated happiness may have a genetic component. In other words your ability to be happy may very well be influenced by your genetic makeup. Is there anything wrong with this poppycock? You bet.
First of all, do a little introspection and consider your state of happiness during events you have experienced. If you married a woman you were in love with and you consider her the most important person in your life you are therefore happily married. It wasn’t your genes that found her or determined she was attractive. Big news, genes don’t have any sensory preceptors that can see, hear, smell, touch or taste. The tools of getting in touch with reality are your senses and these senses supply your evaluation mechanism( i. e. your mind) with material to assimilate. Whether your eye color is brown or blue are determined by genes but what your eyes see and how you evaluate what is visible ultimately is determined by that essential requirement of human mental activity … choice.
Can you choose to be happy? In a sense yes. If you possess a positive attitude toward life and your ability to enjoy it by pursuing rational values that will not conflict or undermine your vision of happiness this can lead to a recognition that with the proper thoughts and action you can achieve and succeed . You can feel pleasure, earn a living, plan for your future , make sound financial decisions, develop your talents, pursue your passions and feel happy doing so. If you decide to pursue a career and recognize what the proper requirements are for success in that field , achieve these requirements and obtain employment, promotion and stature in your field of endeavor you will feel happy unless you made a decision that undercuts your success like inadequate preparation, a rude or abrasive personality, a sloppy appearance or even display a negative attitude.
Genetics, indeed the study of genetics, is a development of human choices and decisions to pry into the the physiological workings of the human body. The workings of the consciousness is a different breed of cat. Consciousness requires an embodiment , a physical organ to contain the workings of the mind. That embodiment may have very different outward differences such as skin or eye color, a receding or domed forehead, large or small ears, long or short hair, vastly different facial features and yet have thoughts that coincide perfectly via agreement on certain political stances, a view of the world or a preference for a certain flavor of ice cream. Our genes don’t affect how we think. Such a theory falls apart on the observation that if genes determined our thinking ( or a derivative evaluation like how happy we are or are not ) how do genes get the information that can formulate values, make choices and evaluate? Genes have no consciousness and are only tiny components of the embodiment of our senses and evaluation mechanism. They can affect how we look but not how we think. Thinking is a mental activity that requires a man made system such as the rules of logic, decision making and problem solving. Such complex mental activity isn’t contained or affected by that which doesn’t know how to decide, problem solve or whether it is pursuing a valid course of thought. Ask any gene.
Much like the notion of addiction the explanation that how we act or behave or value may not be our fault or be something we cannot help, genetic explanation for human choices is a scam. Like addiction, it is deterministic. All deterministic arguments are false. They cannot stand up under the question that if I am predetermined to act a certain way I have to grant that my positing of such a theory is also predetermined and I could not have advocated anything else. This demolishes any ability to reverse a bad choice, it opens a whole bag of worms about waffling behavior and collapses into nonsense when I have to toss out any logical connection to any conclusion I come up with because it was inevitable. Determinism takes choice away from the human method of surviving. What can you decide or choose if the decision or choice is already made before you even think about it? Why think about anything at all? Tell that to the pedestrian about to step in front of a truck, Like calling on faith to substantiate the value of blowing yourself up for a reward that is promised that cannot be fulfilled. Determinism and the derivatives of genetic predisposition and the notion of addiction all acts to destroy the mechanism of choice.
Every day people make millions of choices to either further their survival and happiness or to destroy it. They choose the route to work, the breakfast , the gas station , the bills to pay, the water to drink, the computer to buy, the vacation destination, the person to date, the exercise to participate in, the team to support and ad infinitum. These choices are not being programmed by some tiny specs hidden deep in our body. They are conducted and validated by our minds after weighing the pluses and minuses of alternatives and objectives. People who degrade this process with excuses and unsubstantiated theories identified as deterministic have made a choice to pander to the humans seeking a crutch for tugging emotions ( derived from poor decisions ) . As this appeals to many who would rather be sympathized with that own up to poor choices and behavior a market exists to be exploited.
It requires a choice to examine critically the validity of these pandering exponents just as was necessary with any snake oil carny. There is a world of mischief based on bad choices and the only antidote is the choice to make good ones. This requires the ability to analyze and reject those that cannot stand up to intellectual scrutiny. You do not have to conduct a 50 year study in gene behavior to know that genes don’t and can’t make choices but you do. And when you make a choice you take an action ( or fail to ) with resultant consequences. Happiness can proceed from choices properly executed. Good genes may assist in your living longer but they have no power make or allow to you live happier. That is up to what only you can decide and whether or not you accept this is a choice you make. Don’t expect your genes to make it for you.