Genetics fascinate me. Do we do what we do because the behavior is programmed into our genes, because we are culturally conditioned, or because we choose to act that way? Any sane answer has to say "All three." But it's the genetic component that interests me.
A new study at Northwestern has demonstrated that people remember odors more specifically, more quickly, and with greater urgency when introduced to the odors in conjunction with electric shocks. This may have been very useful when we were both predators and prey on the savanna; we could sniff trouble coming. Researchers at the Houston Cancer Center have tentatively identified genes which seem connected to a predilection for nicotine addiction. Not only are people with this genetic combination more likely to smoke, if they inherited the genes from both sets of parents, they have an 80% greater chance of contracting lung cancer than do smokers without the gene.
Writers, other studies consistently say, have a greater tendency than the general population to depression, mood lability, and general mental instability (hold the jokes, please). Is this, too, genetic? And taking it a step farther, is there a genetic component to the urge to write itself? If so, it would have to be indirect, since writing is a learned, rather than instinctive, behavior.
But then, so is smoking. We may have genetic predispositions, but we are amazingly adaptable. How else to account for, say, con masquerades?