Scumbag Nature

(As in, nature vs. nurture…)

Yesterday, we had an interesting discussion about “Brain Overclaim Syndrome” – aka. the tendency to overly attribute flaws in behavior/personality (including criminal activity) to “quirks” in the brain (thereby relieving a lot of personal responsibility). This idea reminded me of the memes “Scumbag Brain” and “Scumbag DNA”:


These two memes clearly follow in the same pattern of “blaming” the brain/DNA/nature for things that can go wrong. But according to Neuroethics, this is not completely correct – I think that point can be summed up by this sentence: “Brains do not commit crimes; people commit crimes” (pg. 269). Furthermore,  “discovering the neural correlates of mental phenomena does not tell us how these phenomena are possible” (pg. 270). So, we are putting too much blame on something that is too little known.

Furthermore, the workings of the brain are not completely determined by nature anyways – nature AND nurture work together to shape both the brain and the behavior. (Maybe a better title for this entry would have been “Scumbag Connectome”?)

One thought on “Scumbag Nature

  1. I think the issue lies with taking responsibility. Even if it is nurture and not nature- then are parents to blame for crimes someone commits? Friends? Their environment? At some point you have to say that no matter how things accumulate someone has to take responsibility. We live in a society that likes to take credit when something good happens, and pass blame onto others when something bad happens. No matter how much we want to pass blame off to others, no matter how much we are a product of our environment, our genetics, or our brain- only one person is truly responsible no matter the reason. It is this person who must suffer the consequences. However, I think these consequences should focus more on rehabilitation and take nature and nurture into account.


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