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David Eberhard: How can we know anything at all?

David Eberhard: How can we know anything at all?

I lost. Honestly, I don't really understand myself, but I'm still stuck in an idea that I don't really want to let go.

In psychiatry, there has long been a debate about which is more important, genetics or environment. For several decades, the argument has calmed down, and there is a sort of fragile truce between those who focus on the importance of genetic inheritance and those who want to find explanations for why people behave the way they do in raising an individual, long ago. time.

The reason for this, of course, is that large studies have shown with great conviction that the characteristics and mental illnesses from which we humans suffer, almost without exception, can be explained by our genetics. At least 50 percent, and often more. This is known from all the large studies of twins conducted for nearly a hundred years. Identical twins are at least 50% alike, regardless of whether they grew up together or not.

In adoption studies As also happened over a hundred years ago, a case can also be made that adopted children as adults only marginally resemble their adoptive parents. An indication that the family environment does not affect us much at all. It's hard to beat anyone who has been on the team looking for the reasons for the difficulties adults face in their parenting environment.

The truth is elusive. The prevailing mantra is that heritage and environment go together not like a dog and a cat, but like a gin and tonic. This means that we inherit a trait, which, in harmony with our surroundings, is either enhanced or mitigated by the external environment. This occurs within the family, but also – and this is actually a much larger factor in studies – in the external environment. That is, factors not shared between siblings, such as the culture we live in, the infections we have, the food we eat, and random events that can occur when billions of cells in the body have to divide.

But there are countless other things that we have no idea about that might make us who we are. We don't know much at all about what our external environment is doing to us. How are we affected by cosmic steel? Everything we encounter on our journey toward adulthood can at certain times have, purely theoretically, an enormous impact. Likewise, the same events that completely change us in some situations may have no effect at all in others.

And he is now I'm losing it. Because how can we know anything at all? To the infinity of the universe, we are infinitely smaller than ants are to us. None of us have the ability to understand even a small part of the world around us. At school we learn about Albert Einstein's theories of relativity. Light and mass are related to each other according to a fairly simple equation. Something most people know, but few understand. It is even worse with time and space. The fact that spatial dimensions are also related to time in a way that can be calculated.

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Since time does not flow as a continuous, directed quantity, but is actually a factor that depends on the room we are in, the number of possible explanations for why we behave the way we do is almost infinite. Then it would be possible that we are not even the people we are either as a result of our genes or our history, but actually because of something that will happen in our future.

I know it's a crazy idea. But if so, maybe in ten years I'll share something that explains why I started thinking this way in 2024.