(Telegraph) It’s all in your genes: how DNA explains your sense of humour, sleep patterns, and phobias
A new study shows that people with a certain gene have a better sense of humour. But that’s not the only thing genetics can explain
To be fair, the study was done with reference to a specific set of cartoons, the Far Side by Gary Larson, so perhaps the study shows a direct (if rather improbable) link between a specific gene and enjoying surreal late 20th century single-panel American cartoons.
But anyway. Turns out there are lots of things beyond humour that you can blame your (or other people’s) genes for.
Do you find it impossible to step away from the credit cards? Struggling to close the front door due to unnecessary shopping bags filled with useless items that have somehow become parted from their receipts?
Blame your genes. A study earlier this year suggested that people are led by their genetics to spend or save their money – and not necessarily by their sex, upbringing or background.
Your gender might have something to do with it, too, though the specifics are unclear.
One study says men were the first shopaholics, hunting down prehistoric status symbols like furs and ornaments. Another claims women are better at shopping tasks such as locating food, specifically avocados and cream buns. Perhaps we all love shopping?
It’s totally illogical that so many people are terrified of harmless spiders, and yet think nothing of getting in a car and speeding down the motorway at 70mph, especially given that 1.3 million people worldwide die in road crashes every year.
But feel free to go forth and be irrational – because it’s all in your genetics.Or rather, your ancestors’ genetics. Thousands of years ago a lot more people were getting killed by snakes and spiders than by road crashes (unsurprisingly), so it was beneficial to survival to avoid said reptiles and creepy crawlies.
Those people who did survive were the ones who were best at avoiding them. So you’re only here because of your distant ancestors’ arachnophobia. It’s basically a family tradition. Embrace it.
Here’s another thing to blame your genes for – being useless in the mornings. If you’re still sobbing into your coffee at 10.30am on a Monday, it’s because you don’t have the Thatcher gene.
It sounds terrifying but it’s actually very very useful. Most people need seven to eight hours of sleep, but the Iron Lady survived on just four.
So the Thatcher gene makes you one of those infuriating people who’s able to get just four hours of sleep, wake up in time for Farming Today, and then go and make some Labour frontbenchers cry. Or whatever else it is you like to do with your day.
Tone deaf? Blame your DNA. Identical twins have exactly the same amount of musical ability, a study found in 2001, whereas non-identical twins are less likely to have the same level of musical talent.
The study also concluded that musical talent could not be taught. If you’re totally tuneless, you’re doomed to stay that way. Sorry.
If you’re not, though, there’s more good news. Apparently there’s a reason everyone swoons all over the place for some pretty average-looking musicians. Women genuinely believe that musical men carry better genes. No word yet on whether drummers count.
You officially do not have permission to use DNA as an excuse for cheating on your partner. That is beyond the pale.
But… science says that both men and women can carry genes, passed on from their parents, which make them more predisposed to cheating. A study found that 63 per cent of unfaithful behaviour in men was down to inherited genes, and 40 per cent in women.
So apparently the majority of men and almost half of women just can’t help themselves when it comes to playing away. Presumably the other 37 and 60 per cent are just awful people.
So there you have it. You thought you were a free human being, an architect of your own will. But actually the way you live vast swathes of your life was decided by science long before you were born.
You can see this one of two ways; you’re now either a prisoner of your own genetics, doomed to live out an inevitable destiny because of your DNA.
Or you can decide that this means nothing is actually ever your fault. I know which conclusion I prefer.