7.16.2009

Learning Alzheimer's Risk May Do No Harm
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James Watson co-discoverer of the nature of DNA with Francis Crick

Since it was learned that the APOEe4 variant of the APOE gene results in an increased risk of Alzheimer's - particularly so in the homogeneous 4/4 type, with risk between 10-20X the norm, there has been a debate focused on whether or not 'finding out' something so personal was worth it. In fact, one of the codebusters of the human genome, Dr. James Watson, has stated that he was not interested in finding out about APOE risk - however many other scientists, business leaders, and visionaries have publicly stated their desire to know.

Casting fresh light on the situation, a new study based at Boston University evaluating the psychological impact of "knowing" about propensity shows that it might be better to have this knowledge than to remain ignorant - and that people are equipped to handle the truth.

After all, if people are not continually striving, like Prometheus, to advance knowledge - than progress stalls and humanity's increasing cognitive ability - all of which has occurred during the last 1 millisecond of the cosmic clock when abstract thinking arose and was appended to tool-development (consider Lascaux and on petroglyphs) - may stop.

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