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Genetic Disorder Removes Racial Bias and Social Fear

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the all-you-need-is-love-and-different-genes dept.

Idle 319

People who suffer from a rare genetic disorder called Williams Syndrome have a complete lack of social fear. They experience no anxiety or concerns about meeting new people or being put into any social situation, and a new study by Andreia Santos suggests that they also don't have any racial bias. From the article: "Typically, children start overtly gravitating towards their own ethnic groups from the tender age of three. Groups of people from all over the globe and all sorts of cultures show these biases. Even autistic children, who can have severe difficulties with social relationships, show signs of racial stereotypes. But Santos says that the Williams syndrome kids are the first group of humans devoid of such racial bias, although, as we’ll see, not everyone agrees."

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That picture looks shopped (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31848726)

I can tell from some the pixels and seeing quite a few shops in my day.

Re:That picture looks shopped (1)

Prikolist (1260608) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848928)

Is it just me or holding right hands like this would make the people whose feet/legs we see bend over forward quite far for this angle

Re:That picture looks shopped (2, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849054)

Nah. They just turn sideways with their left arms pointed outwards. And in this particular picture, they also bent their elbows sideways, though this is optional.

What I don't envy is the person on top of the ladder taking the photo....

Friendly people (4, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848732)

TFA notes this

Santos suggests that children with Williams syndrome don’t develop the same biases that their peers do, because they don’t experience social fear. Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg, who led the study, says, “There are hyper-social, very empathetic, very friendly, and do not get danger signals.” And because they’ll freely interact with anyone, they are less likely to cultivate a preference for people of their own ethnic groups. Alternatively, it could be that because they don’t fall prey to stereotypes, they’re more likely to socialise with everyone.

I think that's the cause, not because theres some difference in genes that makes you lose racial bias. They're friendly people and open to anyone. Rasism comes from not being open and friendly to people you think are somehow different.

But their complete lack of social fear is also a bad thing because not everyone are so and they might get hurt because of it. It's better than the other way more with geeky people though - I had trouble speaking to people or be open with them and it obviously got in the way of my relationships too. Somehow that changed when I was put in to social situations (with the help of beer) and got myself in to an relationship. Yes, one girl actually fell in love with me and because I acted like an open and social guy I kind of had to continue doing it. It took its time but it made an everlasting change to me, and now I can talk about things openly, be social and be friendly to people.

Re:Friendly people (5, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848860)

Maybe you don't understand. Toddlers have racial biases. Even babies just a few months old will prefer to look at a picture of someone with the same skin color as them. It's built into the way our brain works. These kids don't have that at any age. They also don't have the subconscious biases that 99% of people have, even the people that are nice to everyone and would never say, do, or even think a racist thought.

Re:Friendly people (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848944)

Though, interestingly, the study also tested for sex-linked biases, on which the disorder has no effect.

Re:Friendly people (4, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848962)

"Birds of a feather flock together"

It's not only humans that show preference, it's hard-wired into every living thing with a brain. Fortunately for us, our brains are so developed that we can override this once vital but now irrelevant feature. Well at least some of us can.

Re:Friendly people (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31849342)

"Birds of a feather flock together"

It's not only humans that show preference, it's hard-wired into every living thing with a brain. Fortunately for us, our brains are so developed that we can override this once vital but now irrelevant feature. Well at least some of us can.

You sound like a kike.

Re:Friendly people (0)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848964)

But why do babies have racial bias? I've never really felt anything like that but I know some people that do and I don't know why and think it's weird. And this beside the fact that I live in place that is 99% white people and my own culture. Most of the racial bias seem to come from other people or established things, and babies can't have that.

Re:Friendly people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31849042)

In a stone-age society it is an advantage to realize that the people from the other tribe aren't your friends because they really aren't: they want to kill you and take your food and women. Peace is a luxury of advanced societies.

Re:Friendly people (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849544)

But why do babies have racial bias?

Some kind of reproductive advantage, I'd guess. Here's some speculation:

1. Because babies who do not reject those who look different are less likely to survive

2. Because it's a manifestation of a trait that is important for reproductive survival later
2.1 Adults who choose to mate with those most physically like them are more likely to pass on their own genes, especially in tribal societies where members share a large portion of their genes.
2.2 Adults who don't reject different-looking mates end up fucking orangutans, which is useless in propagating their genes.

I'm sure that there are plenty more reproductive-advantage theories that could be posed.

Re:Friendly people (2, Interesting)

Fanro (130986) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849018)

Toddlers have racial biases. Even babies just a few months old will prefer to look at a picture of someone with the same skin color as them. It's built into the way our brain works.

Is that actually nature or nurture?
If an orphan baby is adopted by parents from a different race, and is surrounded by people of that race, how would he even know what his "own" race is? As long as you keep him away from mirrors, he would not even be able to tell that his face looks different, and althought he could see that he has a different skin color than everyone else, as a toddler he would also have different size and proportions, a far greater difference.

Has anyone tested this?

Not every baby has racial bias. I never had it. (0, Troll)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849486)

Maybe you don't understand. Toddlers have racial biases. Even babies just a few months old will prefer to look at a picture of someone with the same skin color as them. It's built into the way our brain works. These kids don't have that at any age. They also don't have the subconscious biases that 99% of people have, even the people that are nice to everyone and would never say, do, or even think a racist thought.

Your claims are assumptions not facts. Not everybody is born with any instinctual connection to race. I never felt any racial bias and honestly never knew what race was until it was explained to me by adults. Even after it was explained to me I never really felt any deep emotional connection to any of the surface races. Race is just another term for physical beauty and it's shallow and pointless to love a "race" just like it's shallow and pointless to love a body type. You might want to have sex with blondes but you don't have to love blondeness and adopt blondeism at an ideology.

Re:Friendly people (2, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849514)

I disagree -- babies prefer to look at people that look like their parents! I don't believe babies have any awareness of their own skin color. My daughter has a white father and black mother. She looks just like her mother, but prefers to hang out with people that look like her father, with which she is much more strongly bonded.

Re:Friendly people (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848986)

I think that's the cause, not because theres some difference in genes that makes you lose racial bias. They're friendly people and open to anyone. Rasism comes from not being open and friendly to people you think are somehow different.

I believe racism is partly learned but with a genetic component that is there for purpose of promoting speciation.

Racism is distorted. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849538)

I do think everyone has the gene to discriminate, but we don't all discriminate on the basis of racial stereotypes. You can look at kids and you can see that they don't all instinctually organize based on race. What happens is adults encourage them to organize based on race by telling them that this person is another race than everyone else.

Re:Friendly people (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31849086)

So these people will be used and abused by the sub-humans that real humans, the white folks because you probably are a brain-washed piece of liberal shit, instead of being like normal intelligent folks and avoiding niggers, gook, and indians ; dots and feathers; along with the sand niggers. There is a reason the sub-humans are colored different. It is so we can see them, recognize the danger they represent, and kill the SOBs. Niggers, of all types, need to die.

Racism is a disorder itself. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849286)

If you think about it, it doesn't matter what race the bully was in school. The bully is still going to exist no matter if the bully is your race or another and it's not like bullying is any better because someone the same race as you is doing it. People who accept racial stereotypes at a young age are naive, adults who continue to cling to race have a mental disorder probably based in genetics.

Re:Friendly people (1)

topcoder (1662257) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849332)

Rasism comes from not being open and friendly to people you think are somehow different.

What does hate of ras [wikipedia.org] has relevance here?

gen therapy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31849380)

"But their complete lack of social fear is also a bad thing because not everyone are so and they might get hurt because of it."

If it was possible to use some gen therapy to make the whole mankind this way, it would be a cool thing. Less racism, wars, a lot of evil stuff I guess, more cooperation between people, which is probably more and more required in the future to solve global problems anyway.

Re:Friendly people (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849452)

It took its time but it made an everlasting change to me, and now I can talk about things openly, be social and be friendly to people. Please immediately surrender your nerd card and slashdot id... you clearly do not belong here! ;-)

Why such terms? (3, Insightful)

trifish (826353) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848744)

You call it a "genetic disorder", I call it the "evolution".

Re:Why such terms? (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848826)

Probably because of all its serious side effects, many of them rather less charming?

These aren't just "Normal people; but they love everybody and stuff", they suffer from a variety of serious cognitive deficiencies and health problems.

Re:Why such terms? (1)

revlayle (964221) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849134)

I hope this was some "over my head" joke - i'm not seeing the serious health problems here, and not sure how this would cause "cognitive deficiencies"

Re:Why such terms? (1)

Dravik (699631) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849236)

If you RTFA, it mentions a significantly higher risk of heart problems, along with some other issues I don't remember off the top of my head.

Re:Why such terms? (4, Informative)

netsavior (627338) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849250)

Williams Syndrome usually comes with a below average IQ, ALWAYS comes with connective tissue issues, including moderate to severe heart disease. It almost always comes with a reduced size, and different than "normal" facial features.

oh yeah and there is some social stuff too :P

Racism is also a disorder. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849412)

Nobody really benefits from racism. Racism is just not a good security policy. It's not like your enemy is going to hire the mercenary that is of the opposite race to kill you. The enemy is going to research you and find out you are racist and hire the mercenary who looks like the authentic perfect ideal race for the target. And of course you'll have no way of dealing with these sorts of attacks because you naively and ignorantly trust your race.

Inherent trust or faith in strangers is a horrible security policy. It's better to be suspicious of all strangers from any race than to trust one race over another. If you don't know them you can't trust them and their body type doesn't make any difference.

Re:Racism is also a disorder. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31849566)

Nobody really benefits from racism.

Obama did.

Re:Why such terms? (1)

VTMarik (880085) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848834)

Exactly, isn't the definition of a disorder akin to the definition of a disability? Meaning that you are unable to do something which the common average person is, and are thus hindered in your day-to-day life in a world designed to cater to the averagely abled person.

How is being free from racial bias a disability of any kind? Just because it's new and it fails to be part of the average human ability pool?

Re:Why such terms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31848910)

of course the researchers view this as a disorder- without racism many, many social scientists will be out of jobs.

Re:Why such terms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31848996)

How is being free from racial bias a disability of any kind?

I dunno, there are a couple thousand dead people (a true disability in life) we could ask. You know, the victims of the WTC attack? Seems to me if the TSA was a bit more biased toward arabs and muslims that shit never would have happened.

Disclaimer: I'm a bigot against every member of the islamic cult, and my CAPTCHA for this post was "disclaim".

Re:Why such terms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31849154)

Seems to me if the TSA was a bit more biased toward arabs and muslims that shit never would have happened

Yes, yes, save the world from the brown people, never mind the other colors that try to blow shit up.

If they were a bit less biased toward white people, Jihad Jane and Richard Reid might have succeeded.

What about black people like the Christmas Bomber?

Tell you what, go be a bigot in your corner over there and leave the worrying to the big boys. Nobody carries a giant sign saying "I'm Islamic, LOL" especially not if they're going to blow shit up. Going by the skin color tells you nothing.

Re:Why such terms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31849050)

this disorder is one that keeps away racial bias also comes action packed with a grab bag of disabilities.

Re:Why such terms? (2, Informative)

netsavior (627338) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849092)

The social part of the disorder is a small piece of it. The genes that are deleted also cause problems with Elastin production, which leads to connective-tissue abnormalities and cardiovascular disease. In addition vision and auditory issues, as well as dental issues are very common.

Also no social fear means they will happily sit on santa's lap or go for a car ride with the nice man who "lost his puppy" at the park.

Re:Why such terms? (1)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848924)

You call it "evolution," I call you, "someone who doesn't know what 'evolution' means."

Evolution is NOT an increase in the frequency of a genetic trait that we believe to be socially positive. At its most technical level, evolution is simply a change in gene frequencies within a population. Unless the article claims that the frequency of these genes is changing, then this cannot be considered 'evolution.'

Furthermore, traits like xenophobia have been evolutionarily favored over the history of our species precisely because they provide an advantage in terms of greater fecundity. Our social environments have obviously changed, but until the gene(s) for 'open-mindedness' produce more effective reproducers than their counterparts, xenophobia will be conserved in the species' gene pool.

Re:Why such terms? (1)

your_neighbor (1193249) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848950)

If it is so, then after some generations they will have greater sucess.

Re:Why such terms? (5, Interesting)

netsavior (627338) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849000)

My daughter has Williams Syndrome. She is 3 and has monthly EKGs, is on a calorie intense diet (because of her extremely small and underweight size). She also has severe dental problems.
all that being said, she has perfect pitch (can emulate any sound (within reason) she wants to even without hearing it right before (she can pull sounds up from long term memory). She also has a measurably more sensitive sense of hearing (i.e. you can whisper in the other room and she will hear it). She is different, and markedly so, but I cannot say that this is the direction in which all human evolution will flow.

This is a spontaneous mutation meaning it is not necessarily passed down from parents, although people with WS are 50% likely to pass it on to each child. It is a partial genetic deletion.

People with WS tend to have Elvish or Pixie features. The disorder was formerly referred to as Pixieism, and is thought (quite convincingly) to be the origin of that type of folklore: Whimsical people who are extremely talented in music, are not socially afraid of anyone and tend to have a "cocktail party personality" in that they can speak to you for hours and not actually get into an "in-depth" conversation.

My daughter may not have racial bias, but she also does not have stranger-danger... would gladly hug the nice homeless man who is yelling at god and drinking a paper bag.

Re:Why such terms? (2, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849008)

It's "evolution" only if it's a trait that increases the likelihood of survival and reproduction. Not being socially afraid of anybody might increase one's chances of reproducing, but a lack of defensiveness can also open one up to various dangers, the kinds that can remove one from the gene pool before reaching reproductive age. I don't see this trait becoming common.

I don't think it has any impact at all. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849368)

Race does not have any impact on evolution. It's not a matter of fearing people who look different. That sort of shallow thinking will leave you open to booty traps because any hottie who looks good will be able to get close to you and kill you. Why? Because the enemy is going to come in a beautiful form that you'll accept and slowly poison you.

Re:Why such terms? (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849020)

Because a healthy dose of fear is a good thing?

"Oh look, it's some of the colorful local characters, let's go say hello"
"Uh, honey, they don't look too happy"
"Nonsense, look, they're waving at us"
"Oh they're waving something alright, now hit the deck dead"

I call it genetic MDMA (1)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849046)

Sounds like some PLUR-filled rave action to me :)

Re:Why such terms? (1)

deglr6328 (150198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849058)

Maybe because in addition to removing racial bias and social fear it also removes around 40 IQ points [nytimes.com] on average?

Re:Why such terms? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849168)

I agree, Williams Syndrome makes people cute, loving, gregarious, and frequently very musical. I'd call it a beneficial mutation, except that it also carries with it substantial health risks. My interest in Williams stems from my daughter, who exhibits most of the mental symptoms of Williams Syndrome, but as far as I can tell, none of the physical ones. She has no fear of walking up to strangers and hugging them (which made several men uncomfortable) or asking strange kids to play. (She was criticized by the Lutheran preschool for hugging other children's fathers). She gets along with people of all races, ages, or disabilities. She is teaching herself music. But mostly, she lives for social interaction. She doesn't have Williams; in fact she has better motor skills than most people. But she does have ADD, and her being "different" causes her to have problems with some teachers who cannot accept the fact that she does not fit into their narrowly conceived notions of what a "normal" kid should be like. They are right -- she isn't normal; she is much better than that.

Re:Why such terms? (1)

the brown guy (1235418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849214)

My 5 year old cousin was diagnosed with Williams syndrome, and he will interact with complete strangers as if they are well known to him. Rick does have some cognitive deficiencies, for example he is currently unable to grasp the concept of addition, but knows all his numbers/alphabet various songs. He is able to recall relatively complex phrases/songs but is not able to make sense of them. I was not aware of this supposed lack of racial bias but Rick has no problem approaching people of any ethnicity, and seems to lack a concept of his identity as a brown person such as myself.

I'm not sure if this is a side effect of Williams syndrome or not but Rick has much better hearing than any of us in his family. If the phone rings and it is barely within earshot, Rick notices it. This is due to his fixation with things that beep, especially microwaves, phones and other electronics.

Fortunately Rick has been making major progress and is currently enrolled in kindergarten, but his short attention span means he requires an assistant to be with him at all times. I am suprised to see an article about Williams syndrome on slashdot but it's good that awareness of this disorder is being raised.

Re:Why such terms? (1)

spintriae (958955) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849244)

Your blatant misunderstanding of the concept of evolution warms my heart, and brings sharp, throbbing pain to my brain.

Let's just forget it and join me in a verse of "We Are the World."

Re:Why such terms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31849530)

That would explain the people here in the US who appear to have the opposite of this disorder - they're de-evolving. Of course, they wouldn't believe that for a minute, since they think Jesus rode around on a dinosaur and will be back Real Soon Now. :)

Devoid of such racial bias (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31848754)

They hate everyone equally.

Re:Devoid of such racial bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31848872)

...you can't tear that out of them

So racism is a genetic disorder now? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31848758)

Wonder's never cease...

Re:So racism is a genetic disorder now? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848794)

And if you perform a racial hate-crime, you can now bang on that drum. "Your honor, I'm genetically inclined toward violence against X-Race"

Nice, real nice. Sheesh...

Re:So racism is a genetic disorder now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31848814)

Williams Syndrome is independent of this study...

Re:So racism is a genetic disorder now? (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848840)

no, it sounds like not being racist is a genetic disorder according to this. of course, i'm too lazy to actually read the article.

Re:So racism is a genetic disorder now? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31848842)

No, racism is normal now. Not being racist is a genetic disorder.

Re:So racism is a genetic disorder now? (1)

astrocreap (1728648) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848934)

this reads more towards a nurture than a nature argument. they are saying that people develop prejudices, and that this disorder prevents them from absorbing that sort of thinking from their environment.

Re:So racism is a genetic disorder now? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849118)

Who is Wonder? You mean Stevie?

definitions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31848780)

so it's a disorder not being an ass-hat? and by extension, being a racist bastard is considered normal. who authored this study, the KKK?

To the radiation chambers! (1)

calibre-not-output (1736770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848830)

We should make sure that the entire human population has this "disorder" in no less than five generations.

The grey race (3, Funny)

hessian (467078) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848870)

Good. Now we can end racism and breed everyone into one uniform Grey Race that will be the future of humankind. We will preserve diversity by creating uniformity. It will be a victory for equality!

Re:The grey race (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848938)

Damn straight! It's all that damned individualism that is ruining the world.

Re:The grey race (1)

bFusion (1433853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848954)

It's not about breeding into uniformity. It's about not looking down upon someone who is different from you.

Re:The grey race (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31849110)

I do that all the time.

Re:The grey race (-1, Flamebait)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849160)

Niggers are different than me and need to be looked down upon, especially if the law prevents me from killing them on sight or at least putting them back in chains and out in the fields. You'd figure on /., a place with what should be full intelligent people, that the liberal BS about niggers being equal to whites, would be laughed at. But instead some idiotic idea of equality between whites and niggers is embraced. When your 14 year old daughter is gang raped by a pack of niggers or decides that breeding niggers is her goal in life, you'll think differently.

Re:The grey race (1)

bFusion (1433853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849240)

Thank you for your thoughtful contribution to this topic.

Re:The grey race (1)

Antiocheian (859870) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849436)

I don't think his contribution is thoughtful. He is talking about killing and enslaving people; how can that be a thoughtful thing to say ?

Re:The grey race (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849390)

You'd figure on /., a place with what should be full intelligent people, that the liberal BS about niggers being equal to whites, would be laughed at.

Yeah, I know. Go figure...

Re:The grey race (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849550)

did you confuse slashdot for stormfront or something? typically people post trolls like that as 'anonymous'

Re:The grey race (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31849066)

Mod parent "-1 Racist"

Re:The grey race (1)

a whoabot (706122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849070)

Does interracial breeding even fit the categorical imperative?

Re:The grey race (2, Insightful)

f8l_0e (775982) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849108)

Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from the movie "Bullworth."

"Everybody just got to keep fucking everybody till we're all the same color."

Re:The grey race (2, Funny)

gclef (96311) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849152)

Grey? I think I see your problem: stop sleeping with women from other planets.

Re:The grey race (1)

ArcCoyote (634356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849434)

I'm thinking he's more of a corpse man. That, or zombies, they ARE a bit livelier.

Re:The grey race (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849186)

This marks the first time I've heard anybody put forth the argument that racism breeds diversity.

Obama already is a grey. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849300)

It's already happening as we speak.

Re:The grey race (1)

mac1235 (962716) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849442)

Can't we go green?

Re:The grey race (1)

wurp (51446) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849540)

In what way does "I have no racial biases" equate to "make everyone the same by stamping out difference"?

Racial differences might go away, but the motivation is *the exact opposite* of the motivation you're implying. It is caused by much more tolerance for diversity than normal, not intolerance of it.

Interesting left-brain right-brain bits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31848888)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Williams_Syndrome

"Individuals with Williams syndrome are highly verbal and overly sociable (having what had previously been described as a "cocktail party" type personality), but lack common sense and typically have inhibited intelligence. Individuals with WS hyperfocus on the eyes of others in social engagements."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspberger%27s

"It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development. ... Individuals with AS experience difficulties in basic elements of social interaction, which may include a failure to develop friendships or to seek shared enjoyments or achievements with others (for example, showing others objects of interest), a lack of social or emotional reciprocity, and impaired nonverbal behaviors in areas such as eye contact, facial expression, posture, and gesture."

How long until a comprehensive theory of cognition and brain development?

Genetic Predisposition & Environment (1)

mindbrane (1548037) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848892)

Prof. Terrence Deacon [wikipedia.org] pod casts his anthropology courses [berkeley.edu] from Berkeley. IIRC he suggests, when thinking about nature versus nurture debates, it's necessary to keep in mind that both nature, in terms of genetic predisposition, and nurture, in terms of the impact of environment, both play roles @ 100% each. Much like bipolar disorders and schizophrenia there must be a genetic predisposition but there must also be environmental factors. Suggesting that the gene alone is sufficient might be a bit of an overreach in a creature as complex and socially nested as ourselves.

Racial Bias and Social Fear Removal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31848922)

They call it a genetic disorder, I call it growing up.

Removes Social Fear? (1)

Rhacman (1528815) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848956)

Doesn't that just amount to a few beers head start on a trip to the tavern?

Re:Removes Social Fear? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31849094)

Ah yes, but it costs less.

Why is it called disorder? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31848984)

I don't see anything negative about this. So why is this called disorder? If nature had called everything uncommon as disorder, then there wouldn't have been any evolution.

GATTACA (0, Offtopic)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31848992)

I wonder if this gene will be once of my choices when I go to create my ideal baby...right along with perfect vision, perfect immune system and a 9" penis.

Re:GATTACA (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31849080)

You want your baby to have a 9" penis?!

Re:GATTACA (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849216)

Yes. Flaccid.

Colloquial name (1)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849004)

If they're looking for a media friendly name for the disorder, I suggest "Game Show Host Syndrome."

Re:Colloquial name (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849202)

I'd call it "Dagwood Syndrome", though I doubt anyone remembers the old seaQuest series.

Bollocks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31849006)

I'm both socially fearful and racially biased across the entire spectrum. Spend enough time with all manners of humanity and you will be too!

Genetics, bah!

One thing's for certain... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31849068)

Obama DOES NOT have this disorder.

Fascinating (2, Interesting)

Hortensia Patel (101296) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849132)

If you're intrigued by this sort of thing, there's a fantastic SF short by Ted Chiang [wikipedia.org] called "Liking What You See: A Documentary". It's about the consequences and ethics of suppressing a person's ability to recognise (and thus be biased by) physical attractiveness. One of the best things I've ever read.

It's collected in his "Stories of Your Life and Others".

Bias is instinctual (4, Informative)

ArcCoyote (634356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849212)

The fear or distrust of "same as us but not one of us" is common.

Many species of social animals (mainly larger predators: wolves, lions, etc.. ) act threatened when confronted with a different pack, pride, colony, etc of their own kind... more so than by the presence of a different species (such as humans).

There's a damn good reason for it too. The group recognizes that other "tribe" of us wants the exact same thing we need to survive.

It's instinctual but not always based on race. (2, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849328)

When I was a kid MOST of my friends were of different races so I never learned to feel any sort of bias on that level. But I learned the difference between the types of kids who would bully other kids and the type of kids who didn't and I saw the bullies as "them".

No anti-racism gene of choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31849220)

Quote from Wikipedia:

"Individuals with Williams syndrome are highly verbal and overly sociable (having what had previously been described as a "cocktail party" type personality), but lack common sense and typically have inhibited intelligence."

It seems that the side effect of lacking stereotypical thinking is the lack of common sense.

And Wilson's syndrome people would be killed... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849238)

in seconds on a battlefield or a gunfight. The same genetic/neurological traits that contribute to irrational prejudice are the same ones that contribute to rational fear of others who might be dangerous to us. Since historically, false positives for avoidance weren't weeded out, you get the nut crazy fears along with the normal caution. I really don't know how you could separate out one from another. Both are largely based on behavioral and visual cues.

Still, I won't deny that I envy Wilson syndrome folks that one particular trait, if not the frequent vascular stenoses and other health problems that go with it.

Re:And Wilson's syndrome people would be killed... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849410)

No, they wouldn't... they have better hearing, and frequently ADHD, which I've heard doctors describe as the inability to ignore stimuli. So, they are much more aware of their surroundings then normal people. Although they don't have instinctive fears, they can be pretty easily trained to recognize a threat. Somebody pointing a gun at you is not exactly as subtle social cue.

Evolution? (1)

Banichi (1255242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849254)

People who aren't sensibly afraid of others are generally called "Victims".

I'm not racist (0, Flamebait)

Bruha (412869) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849284)

I hate stupid people though, or worse, smart people with no common sense.

On-line racism test (3, Informative)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849348)

This is a really cool on-line rather objective test for determining what racial color biases you have:

https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/ [harvard.edu]

This really really pisses off people who think they have no prejudice.

*** Spoiler Alert ***
To do well on the test (and get a neutral rating), you really have to accept the racial bias you have and actively prompt yourself to counter it.

Languages (2, Interesting)

aBaldrich (1692238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849494)

First, this is no news, I'm sure Wikipedia's article already says this, and more I have a friend with William's Syndrome. She is really gifted in languages: I am 18, and consider myself above average with 5 languages. She speaks 9, and now she's learning Russian.

Bad statistics (0)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 4 years ago | (#31849498)

From the article:

Out of their responses, 83% were consistent with a pro-white bias. In contrast, the children with Williams syndrome only showed such responses 64% of the time, which wasn’t significantly different from chance.

64% deviates 14% from "pure chance", which would be 50%. The author calls this insignificant difference. But then, add another 19% to that 64% and you get 83%.

So, 14% is insignificant but 19% is an obvious tendency.

That, my friends, is bad statistics.

The truth is that 64% differs from the 50% almost as much as 83% from 64%. Can't jump to conclusions there.

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