52. Is getting sunburned a genetic disease?

January 27, 2018 Sticky Thoughts No Comments

I bet you haven’t yet thought of sunburn as a genetic disease or condition. At the same time, it’s probably obvious to you that a skin type that is more prone to sunburn has everything to do with genetics. The daughter of a red-haired, fair-skinned person has a genetically determined higher chance to be red-haired, fair-skinned… and sunburned if unprotectedly exposed to intense daylight.

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So in this case as in many, it is obvious that genetics predisposes, environment disposes. A child can make the distinction. Weirdly enough, textbooks of medicine are still full of examples where this distinction is not made. Not out of some kind of being friendly or forgiving or compassionate, but out of plain error. Moreover, medicinal textbooks are not the only culprits. Vulgarized health-related texts (magazines etc.) are in many cases even far worse.

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This way, genetics are in the minds of people becoming an explanatory heaven for very many things. In most cases not as only explanation, but still as a substantial one, directly leading to some wrongness. Alcoholism? Genetics. Chronic fatigue? Genetics. Dyslexia? Genetics. Not wanting to comply to Big Brother? Genetics. Wanting too much sex? Genetics. Wanting too little sex? Gee…

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What I want to say, is this: genetics leads to being fair-skinned, but not to being sunburned. Instead, it is genetics and the sun that together lead to sunburn. This is a tremendous difference. I very much like the skin of the fair-skinned daughter. I also very much like her beautiful red hair. And yep she should take care in the sun, where her best friend maybe shouldn’t.

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Please don’t take away her sunburn-gene…

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And please don’t look at the genetics of alcoholism as plainly that: something to take away if possible anyhow. I would say: neither the genes of almost anything. In my view, to stay with the booze, an alcoholically predisposed person is a person with higher possibilities than others in certain domains. Although in certain environments he succumbs to the wrong spirits, this same predisposition may bring him to exactly the right spirits in other circumstances. Here may be alcohol in the bottle, there it may be a genius with huge potentials… Alcoholism is not a disease with genetics as one of the causes. If there is a disease, it’s in how the genetics are handled.

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‘Genetics as direct explanation’ then seems to me a quick-fix towards not having to acknowledge the real damage that is done to these people. To them it serves as a little plaster on the wound. To good-eyed society, it serves as one more excuse in order to not having to change in very profound ways, by having to look at the reality that we are all ‘alcoholics’, all ‘dyslectics’, all ‘CFS-ers’ etc. etc. And it’s a good thing that we are. Human potential is incredibly, inhumanly underrated. The kind of world-wide culture we live in, thrives on this. Well, then we have to change that culture.

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At stake is us.

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