Faith & Reason: Things Are Just Not Our Fault These Days Now Even Laziness and Internet Addiction Are Said to Have a Genetic Basis. Will Science One Day Absolve Us of All Ethical Decisions?
Barnes, Trevor, The Independent (London, England)
NO DOUBT about it. It has been the best news of the week. Something which had the nation's sluggards, slug-a-beds, couch potatoes, and loungers whooping with delight - or would have done if they had bothered to rise early enough to catch the first editions. Laziness, they would have read, may not be their fault, after all. The world's procrastinators and sleepy- heads may soon be able to point blamelessly to the real culprit. Why, of course, their DNA!
Scientists at Glasgow University are currently engaged on a project to find the so called "lazy gene" (apparently it's reluctant to come out voluntarily until it's had a 10-minute lie-in and two cups of coffee). If they find this listless little fellow we will thus be handed the excuse we have been waiting for, for all these years. Think of it. The early- morning dips we never took, the letters we never wrote, the exercise regime we abandoned, the marathons we never trained for . . . not our fault. NOT OUR FAULT. Because, you see, some of us are programmed for a life of indolence. Can't help it, mate.
The study into the links between the body's genetic components and "exercise intolerance" (that phrase alone could revolutionise the sick note) is being led by Professor Susan Ward, who was reported as saying: "If we can establish a certain genetic pattern which corresponds to what is commonly seen as laziness it could transform the way we deal with health problems caused through lack of exercise." Genetic research, she believes, could explain why so many of us are unhealthy and overweight despite the ready availability of sports centres and exercise classes for people of all ages.
It would be wrong, of course, to oversimplify Professor Ward's undertaking. Doubtless it is more sophisticated than reports have made out and doubtless, too, she has been subtly traduced in the reporting (not, of course, that we can blame "sloppy journalism" any more). Even so, the general drift of the rhetorical questions she and her research team will be framing is in tune with the times. Things are just not our fault these days. Any responsibility we may traditionally have had for directing the course of our lives is being surreptitiously eroded by a creeping determinism which lets us all off the hook. And people are gradually cottoning on to the implications. Think of the growth of designer therapies to "cure" celebrities of their demons. To Michael Douglas's much-publicised sex addiction (couldn't the problem be in your jeans, Mike?) has been added another. Addiction to the Internet.
If one American woman's current litigation bears fruit lawyers will have proved …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Faith & Reason: Things Are Just Not Our Fault These Days Now Even Laziness and Internet Addiction Are Said to Have a Genetic Basis. Will Science One Day Absolve Us of All Ethical Decisions?. Contributors: Barnes, Trevor - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: August 28, 1999. Page number: 7. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.