"I am firm; you are obstinate; he is a pigheaded fool."*

|

German geneticists believe that they may have discovered the "gene" for stubbornness. It turns out that those of you who stick to your mistaken beliefs in the face of all evidence may suffer from a shortage of one kind of dopamine receptor. Perhaps this explains President Bush and certain Hit & Run commenters? (We all know who you are.) In any case, Earthtimes reports:

People who are stubborn and never seem to learn from their mistakes may have a mutated gene that makes them bull-headed, according to scientists in Germany. About one-third of the population have this mutation, which may be nature's way of ensuring that there are always some people who will not give up trying when at first they do not succeed, say the researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. …

The A1 mutation, the researchers say, leaves people with fewer D2 receptors in the brain that are activated when levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine drop. Dopamine is not only responsible for signalling fun and pleasure in the brain, but the neurotransmitter also helps in learning.

Klein and Ullsperger theorise that the lower output of dopamine means that some people simply are not satisfied when a decision or action turns out to be a mistake. So they repeat their mistakes. People with more D2 receptors in their brains are satisfied the first time around that a mistake is a mistake. They do not feel any desire to repeat it.

Link to Earthtimes article here.

*Headline explanation here.

NEXT: Weigel on the Radio

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Yeeeoww. I think I feel a global warming fight a brewin’ …

  2. Some people have more dopamine than others?
    Unfairness detector has been activated.

    Initiate equalization protocol.

  3. Well, there is only one solution; equalize everyone’s dopamine with a regiment of Ritalin.

    If that doesn’t work, there’s always the harder stuff.

  4. Perhaps this explains President Bush‘s youthful program of self-medication…

  5. This study seems supicious. One third of peer reviewers said they would never be convinced of a “stubborness gene” no matter waht the research showed.

  6. The A1 mutation, the researchers say, leaves people with fewer D2 receptors in the brain that are activated when levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine drop. Dopamine is not only responsible for signalling fun and pleasure in the brain,

    So, these folks have fewer receptors that are triggered when the chemical for signalling fun and pleasure drops?

    Maybe its just me, but that doesn’t sound like a bad thing. It sounds like you might just as well call it a mutation for optimism as for stubbornness.

    Of course, being Germans, I can see how stubbornness rather than optimism would be the first thing they thought of.

  7. Wait, it is not a lack of enlightnment? I wonder if any of those poetry majors are going to be swayed by this.

  8. “If that doesn’t work, there’s always the harder stuff.”

    *Imagines a german version of “Harder stuff”.

    [1]Gruss Gott. Hier ist Helga.
    [2]NEEEEIIIINNNNNNNNN!!!!!!
    [Helga] DANCE MONKIE BOY. DANCE.

    *hurries off to Stevo’s bunk

  9. Sometimes stubborn means sticking to your guns despite mounting evidence that you are completely wrong. Sometimes it means sticking to your guns despite mounting evidence that you are right, but the sheeple around you are too scared or gullible or sheepish to stand up for what’s right.

    Stubborn can get you George Bush, but it can also get you Ron Paul casting the lone “nay” vote on an unconstitutional bill. Being rather stubborn can be a virtue or a vice, as can being more flexible.

    It takes a certain amount of stubbornness to be a libertarian when almost everyone around you believes that government is benign and good and we need more of it, and is merely arguing about which particular programs should be growing the fastest.

  10. Perhaps I have the mutation. I mean, I wouldn’t be satisfied that my genetic research of a mere 26 people would be indicative of anything one way or the other.

  11. My ears are burning.

  12. So, the gullible and easily agreeable have excess dopamine in their brains?

  13. BULLSHIT. It is YOU that is wrong. YOU are an anti-libertarian traitor, pussy-boy.

  14. Now I understand the re-election of Bush in 2004.

  15. This raises a lot of questions. For instance, what about a person who is wonderfully flexible and innovative in one aspect of life, say at work, but who keeps making the same disasterous mistakes in home life?

    Now I understand the re-election of Bush in 2004.

    And support for Hillary in 2008.

  16. They’re gonna find that Baathist/Al Qaeda collaborative WMD facility/9/11 training camp in the Iraqi desert any day now, and then we’ll see who’s laughing!

  17. Ve haf vays of making you be not so stubborn.
    Begin the Hillary Cackle Loop!

  18. “Some people have more dopamine than others?
    Unfairness detector has been activated.

    Initiate equalization protocol.”

    We have a winnar!

    /Too bad nannybot has no feelings.

  19. Science confirms what we knew all along: 9/11 Truthers are mutants! They take stubborness to levels of rigidity that would make neutronium jealous.

  20. I try to use facts and reason rather than dopamine receptors in my decision making process, but that’s just me.

  21. I think that there is something to be said for trial and error.

    Bullheadedness may lead people to make many of the same mistakes over and over… but it also leads people to keep trying.

  22. Could this lead to a cure for the kind of consistent wrongheaded thinking that leads some to persistently call for more gun control in the face of overwhelming evidence that it does not reduce violent crime?

    Perhaps a scrapping of the war on drugs, when more people come to realize the immense harm to society that outweighs any benefits of our current drug policy?

    Hmm. Of course the big ethical quandary here is: Can it ever be right to force someone to change their thinking? And would repairing the stubbornness gene be considered forceful or just “compassionate?”

    Nothing like a little re-education medicine.

  23. It turns out that those of you who stick to your mistaken beliefs in the face of all evidence may suffer from a shortage of one kind of dopamine receptor. Perhaps this explains President Bush and certain Hit & Run commenters? (We all know who you are.)

    I’d go so far as to explain just about ALL of us H&R commenters!

    🙂

  24. thoreau, any chance I might be able to change your mind on that?

  25. I think there is a mutated gene responsible for people who use the word “sheeple.”

  26. This might be a good time to link to those threads about the Venezuelan election.

  27. This provides a genetic basis for true believers of all stripes.

  28. Or to the data showing that global average temperatures have stalled out over the last several years, even though all the global warming models say warming should be accelerating.

  29. Edward | December 31, 2007, 4:03pm | #
    This provides a genetic basis for true believers of all stripes.

    vot if you are a Nihilist und you believe in nothing?

  30. Wow, great op-ed piece from a political columnist, RC.

  31. I was going to make a learned and lengthy post responding to this, but it proved too difficult, so I gave up. Thank God I don’t suffer from that horrible stubborness gene!

  32. “Or to the data showing that global average temperatures have stalled out over the last several years, even though all the global warming models say warming should be accelerating.”

    [head ‘splodes!]

  33. Klein and Ullsperger theorise that the lower output of dopamine means that some people simply are not satisfied when a decision or action turns out to be a mistake. So they repeat their mistakes.

    Hmm, this seems more than ‘stubbornness’. I mean, I guess we call this being stubborn, but I call repeating the same mistake over and over again something else.

  34. Wow, great op-ed piece from a political columnist, RC.

    Oh, for a second I thought you were referring to An Inconvenient Truth.

  35. Layman stating the position of an overwhelming consensus of scientists = highly credible.

    Layman stating an eccentric belief at odds with what the overwhelming majority of scientists in the relevant fields have concluded = high level of proof required.

  36. Layman stating the position of an overwhelming consensus of scientists = highly credible.

    Riiiiiiiight.

  37. EH?
    Paul, did you even read the article you linked to?

    “He hastens to add that global warming is, indeed, responsible for the fact that nearly every other glacier around the globe is melting away. Kilimanjaro just happens to be the worst possible case study.”

    …plenty of comments like that one in your article.

  38. additionally, Paul, the guy the article is reporting on allows for the possibility that the loss of moisture for Mt. Kilamanjario was potentially due to global warming.

  39. joe,

    To be fair to RC Dean,

    Prof Bob Carter is a geologist at James Cook University, Queensland, engaged in paleoclimate research

    Not that it makes the non-sequitor any less odd.

    RC Dean.
    You have the gene…

  40. Ron, nice title. Here’s another:

    The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.