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Nature Vs Nurture: I think we as a society must stop making these subconscious mistakes

Hi everyone,


This is one of a few essays that are neither on tech nor on Startup(Bharat). But this is one aspect of life that I would like to improve. I have found myself and others making these subconscious mistakes. But starting I would like to point fingers at myself, first. And I wish with time - we as a society stop making these subconscious mistakes!


Also, this is one of the longest essays - after editing 500+ words, it is still a 3500+ words essay. So, you might want to read this by allocating a few minutes. (Just saying) :)


Following my nature’s (influenced by my nurture) trend - an essay - after completing books on a topic/subject that I wanted to learn/understand. And people, I can’t tell you the impact of books - genes, genomics, evolution, and the origin of life - on me. The best part of the book is that you can disagree, strick, and completely ignore the thought process or conclusion of the author/writer. This freedom is difficult in other forms of information - Movies, Web series, videos etc..


Before I summarise all three books. I would like to start this essay with a story. This is a 200% true story, and the incident of this story left me thinking - about how many mistakes I might have committed in the past subconsciously.


It was the day of my sister's wedding anniversary. Frankly, I was formally not invited - but still found myself in the middle of the small party. Of course, everyone was surprised, but I was greeted warmly by the rest of the attendees. I walked straight to my brother-in-law, shook hands, and wished him a Happy Wedding anniversary. Adjacent to him, my sister standing - we hugged each other. And I walk around the table to sit in front, feeling happy.


As soon as I sat on the chair, I heard, my sister, asking me, what about me? It is my wedding anniversary as well, no? Clouded by cognitive dissonance and didn’t want to get highlighted - I whispered, you are in my heart. She said - achha (expressing her disagreement). Once the party was over, we all hugged each other and left the party. But that incident somehow got imprinted in my mind. And for the next few days, I kept thinking - why did I behave that way?


She was not wrong in her demand of getting the same congratulatory wish as her husband. After all, a wedding is not a single-player game. And me not congratulating her on her wedding anniversary signals fundamental mistakes in my behaviour( Nurture and Nature). Was this a mistake? I don’t know. Hopefully, we shall have the answer by the end of this essay. And to get to that answer - we need to understand humans' evolution, genes, genome etc. From here you can do two things

  1. Go through all these technical words (I have summarised this for my own benefit) or

  2. Directly jump to the diagram that summaries all three books (This diagram is the end of the book - The Gene - by Plutzer Award winner Siddhartha Mukherjee)

Note: I asked myself, Suman if you could have understood all three books in just one diagram - what was the purpose of reading three books (1100+ pages)?

Here is the answer I receive from myself: Simply taking this diagram as truth means I could have accepted someone else’s truth which I would like to avoid as much as I can - I would prefer to seek my own truth. And therefore reading three books was worth it - now I have my own truth!


Here is one tweet that I absolutely loved. I don’t understand why only 81K humans follow David Deutsch on Twitter (IDN)

Let me summarise all the books that I read so you don’t have to read them but remember this is still my truth - and you can choose to disagree. The books sort of summarises the 158 years of research and discovery of genes - the fundamental unit of species - that allowed us to discover the meaning of life or at least gave us some sense of it. :)


Here is a summary of the three books (I have explained all these technical terms - I have used a few - in the rest of the essay. To understand the context: You must read the full essay):

  • We, humans, have most probably evolved from a single-cell species in 3.8 billion years. (Why?) On average there can be between 10 to upto 40% of matching genes in Humans and these single cells/multi cells organisms. For example, Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria in humans, has around 14,000 genes. The percentage of genes that match human genes is 10%. One more example: Elegan (evolved into multi-cells ) was found to have 18,891 genes and 36% of the encoded proteins (give shapes to organisms' functional parts) were similar to proteins found in humans. The fact is if it has matched more than 10% or 36% we might have been forced to question the authenticity of “Evolution Theory”. This means our nature (genes) evolved based on nurture (environment): remember this line, the entire essay evolves around this fundamental evolution theory.

  • Humans are probably the most complex form of known species in the known universe contains 37.2 trillion cells, each cell contains ~20,000 genes

  • Genetics like any language is built out of structural elements - Alphabet, vocabulary, syntax, and grammar.

  • The “alphabet” of genes has only four letters: the four bases of DNA - A, C, G, and T.

  • The “vocabulary” consists of triplet code: three bases of DNA read together to encode one amino acid in protein (ACT encodes Threonine, CAT encodes Histidine, GGT encodes Glycine, and so forth)

  • A protein is the “sentence” encoded by a gene, using alphabets strung together in a chain (ACT-CAT-GGT encodes Threonine-Histidine-Glycine)

  • And the regulation of genes creates a context for these words and sentences to generate meaning. Signals to turn genes on or off at certain times and in certain cells can be imagined as the internal “grammar” of the genome

  • The Grammer is regulated and makes sure the genetic information is passed on accurately from parent cells to daughter cells during cell division is controlled by Chromosomes. There is an equal percentage of nature from both parents and therefore Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes total of 46 chromosomes.

  • To not confuse you further, Chromosomes are made up of DNA and Proteins.

  • In between RNA guides DNA to build Protein (functional part of Organism such as Hairs, shape of different part of the organisms etc.)

Okay, I know you are already confused. But let me explain all this through a simple diagram.


Beautiful, no: the past 3.8 billion years of species evolution can be decoded in a single diagram. Meanwhile, this diagram satisfies Charles Darwin’s evolution theory as well, more importantly, it cries out loud

  • Nurture (environment) can change Nature. This means a poor human/country can become rich/wealthy. The prosperity of a nation has nothing to do with its past/history

  • We can’t decide someone’s nurture (environment) based on his/her/them nature (genes)

  • We as a species took 3.8 billion to evolve (uncountable generations) but we are in an intersection of space and time where someone’s environment can be changed in less than a decade. Similarly, the environment of a nation can be changed completely in one generation (100 years). Do you know what this means? The work that we are doing/will do can change the fate (environment) of just the next generation. While writing this I felt something - the fact is, all of us are at this point on this rock called Earth doing whatever we want with full freedom - thanks to our ancestors (Beautiful <3)

The surprising part of the construction of this world is that (Subconsciously) most of the other building blocks follow the same pattern - Nature or Nurture (Human’s made). This could be potentially the biggest validation of the subconscious effect on us. And therefore, it would be good if we start controlling the mistakes that we make subconsciously - I am also guilty of that.


On the fundamental level - this universe is following the same evolution. Everything that you are seeing around you is built with a few fundamental components. And combination and recombination of these fundamental components create all these facades around us. :) And I am being super serious - let me explain this in the most-possible simplest language.


Let’s take the four pillars of this universe and discover these fundamental building blocks. All the examples that I have mentioned below include everything that we encountered as a human on the daily basis.

I hope you can answer multiple questions just by looking at this table, can you? Let me answer a few :)


  • One of the reasons the Digital World took a fraction of time compared to the Physical world to have, almost, the same level of scale and dominance because - the entire digital world consists of just two components - 0 and 1. I think you would agree as well :)

  • One of the reasons the Physical world took 4.54 billion years of evolution to the current stage is that - it has atoms of 118 fundamental elements. And initially, it has very little help from Nurture :)

  • We as a species took around 3.8 billion years, starting from single-cell species to evolve as a current complex human structure - 20,000 Genes. Since species are still evolving, the evolution duration is going to be the highest because of the highest number of fundamental components - we humans have probably the lowest knowledge and understanding about - genes, cells, DNA etc.

  • And of course, languages complexity is directly proportional to the number of alphabets. English is easier than Hindi because English has only 26 alphabets.

But with all the above examples the evolution process is the same. This means that natural selection might have found the most optimized method of building an autonomous complex system - after multiple trials and errors. Subconsciously we humans also followed the same building principles. Nice!


But after a time, we followed natural selection only because that was the most optimized available method. However, we decided there is no way we can only rely on Nature and therefore we started building the type of nurtures (environments) - we wanted to have. Because ultimately, we wanted to have freedom from nature - or at least some control. In fact, in the absence of the nurture (environment) that we built - we all can agree, the possibility of Humans being the most intelligent species in the known world would have been impossible. In fact, me writing this essay and you reading, if you are reading, is possible because we nurture an independent environment, not completely, independent from nature.


Here, you can ask yourself - did we (humans) let control our nurture just because we all were the byproduct of nature, no right? [Please hold the answer to this question in your conscious mind - we would need it).


One of the beauties of natural selection is that it has no intention of controlling us, after a time - it is good with delegation. History is full of such examples - I have written an essay in the past as well. Our genes follow the same structure, it contains the information of 3.8 billion years - starting from the first ancestor (single-cell species). That’s why we receive some of our nature from our heritage (parents). But genes are super smart and know really well when it has to delegate. And this is the only reason we, humans, are not only the product of nature but also nurture (environment).


Now that you understand both - Nature and Nurture - in the most simplest language. I need to move to the 2nd story of this essay - this story is 200% true. No creative lies.

Disclaim: The purpose of giving you my caste and other nature details is to give you a clear picture rather than informing you this is my cast (pray) :).


At this point, you should know my village name is Dasaut (I want to make it famous, lol), and I am from Bihar. I don’t know who defined this system, but my ancestors and me have been categorised under caste - Brahaman. Again, no idea but people from these categories are considered the purest. And our prime job is to perform an activity called - Puja to our Yajman (A section of people allocated to Brahaman to earn their livelihood/revenue). My Grandfather had done the same in the past - and that used to be their daily income. The surprising fact, it was/is a respectable job. But they were always short of money. And even struggle to have two times food in a day.


But my father consciously (seeing the struggle to manage food on the table) decided, he would not follow in his father's footsteps. And started doing multiple jobs - farming, Kirana Store, and sometimes Puja as well. But Kirana Store found its foot in his/my village - and that becomes our main source of livelihood. He started his Kirana Store in 1991, when I was around the age of 12 (class 7th) - my dad’s Kirana Store was around 14 years old. My dad's Kirana Store was also famous in my village. And all the villagers started calling my dad Baniya (Baniya is also a category of people (caste system) whose main job is to sit on Gulla).


The only problem was, it was not a respectable job. Let me explain the context. My village was divided into two parts. Government Jobs and Jamindar Vs the rest of the villagers. And the latter has been dominated by the former, until a few years back. That also includes buying ration from Kirana Store and not paying the money. And Baniya is not something that you want to be in my village. On the hierarchy ladder - government jobs were at the top. At this point in time - nurture was totally dominated by nature (How?).


My dad was conscious from the day-1 about us ( me and my brothers). He wanted us to study and do a government job. But only for the purpose of learning and exposure - he used to allow me to run his Kirana Store for a few hours per day. And what I am going to write next, you might find this manufactured but this is 500% true.


When villagers used to tell me: Hey Baniya, I used to feel bad ( I remember vividly, I can even identify those people with faces and names). And my instant answer used to be No, I will study, and I will do Naukari (Sarkari and Private). The next sentence I could hear from them that “Baniya ka Beta Baniya (The son of a Baniya is by default Baniya). I had no answers. According to them, humans are byproducts of nature.


Since we are end of the 2nd story, let me summarise this:


According to my nature, I should have been a Pandit but thanks to my dad's nurture I could have been a Baniya. But folks here I am writing an essay on a topic that many humans would avoid touching. And I am also sure the company that I am building shall have the largest impact on the 1.2 billion Bhartiya. All of these were/are/will be possible because I say F**k You to those who said my Nurture would be based on my nature.


When I was reading these amazing books, I could flashback to the “Nature and Nurture” argument. I kept connecting my personal incidents while reading. I discovered the answer to why we humans react badly when we felt - our freedom is in danger. Why do we humans, just for a while, even let nature control our freedom but when someone threatens our freedom of nurture for whatever reasons - we go all the extent to bring back that control? And the answers have been always in front of our eyes.


Before we answer this question - let me write a quote (I read in one of the books).


“Freedom is the ability to stand up and transcend the limitations of the environment (nurture). The capacity is something that natural selection has placed in us, because it’s adaptive…If you are going to be pushed around, would you rather be pushed around by your environment, which is not you, or by your genes, which in some sense is who you are.” - Beautiful No?


The above quote answers the above questions.


Now let me put myself in the centre. I felt bad and ready to go all the extent, so I could possibly not let someone define my nurture just because of my nature which I had no control whatsoever. And if this is true for me, isn’t the same thing we do every day with 50% of humans - women? Haven’t we built a society that controls nurture (environment) just because of her nature - that she has no control whatsoever (I felt something while writing this)? After reading genome, The Gene, and other evolutionary books - this is true, and I accept, Women has different nature (No debate needed there). Her cells, Genes, and DNA all have been coded with information from millions of years of evolution. But does that has anything to do with her nurture (environment)? Ask this question to yourself, every single time when we subconsciously define her nurture (environment) just because of her nature.


If you can recall, I started this essay with my personal story. I wanted to make sure to tell everyone what kind of hypocrite I am. When someone tried to control my nurture based on my nature - I felt bad, I felt threatened, I felt someone was controlling my freedom. And subconsciously, I have been making the same mistakes. Unknowingly, we all are part of the problem. Committing the same mistake subconsciously every single day.


I can recall multiple scenarios where I have used this phrase with my mom as well. Mom, you should not because you are a woman (Of course, I will tell her in my mother tung - Maithili) without knowing the grave mistake I was committing. Frankly, today also I don’t have the answer to the questions that I raised in the first story. I don’t know why I ignored my sister and didn’t think she was important to be wished for her wedding anniversary. Sorry, I don’t have any answer! On top of that, I didn’t accept my mistake to her. But from now onwards if I will make such grave mistakes - I will accept my mistake and apologize to that person, instantly. I hope with practice - I will control my subconscious mistakes!


[Request to Brands and Marketers] Before we wrap up this long essay, here is one request for all the brands and marketers. Women’s day is not very far, and I am sure there must be some buzz among your team around creating marketing campaigns on Women’s Day to maximize sales (nothing wrong with that). But what if, instead of creating the same cliches campaigns, this time, we create campaigns that can nudge us, remind us about our subconscious mistakes that we make every day, give a picture of the fact that we are biased, and teach us the fundamental principle of culture/character - what we do when nobody is seeing us? This means the real celebrations start from the places when/where no one is seeing us…

And mind you this works: I am not a regular CRED user, and I don’t want to be part of the elite 10% club. I would always aspire to be in the category of my users/customers - the rest 90%. But the recent CRED Mint video on Dhanraj Pillay is one of the best things I watched on the internet - especially the story of the broken Hockey stick <3. And I shared that video with almost everyone in my network. The video was not promoting the CRED brand.


Remember, we might not have control over our nature (genes) but the environment is something that is 100% controllable. And that can indeed influence our nature - a permanent change!


This brings the end of one of my non-tech/non-startup essays. I am not going to request to you about sharing this essay. What I would like to request is that, if you think subconsciously you have made such mistakes in the past. It is a good time to accept that and start putting efforts into not controlling someone’s nurture (environment) based on his/her/them nature. If you would like to see this as a permanent change, please share this essay in your network!


PS: The next two essays are part of Jile Health launch with our building thoughts processes and data points. I will see you all in the next essay


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