In genetics, veritas

This blog is a companion to one that I wrote a long time ago, dealing with the complexities of the human brain. In that blog I argued that the human brain did not function exactly how it was being depicted because of a simplistic approach to the manner in which the different aspects of intelligence combine together. The newest issue of Supergirl sort of addressed this concept again, though in a less direct manner. The problem which arose was that of Dr. Veritas. Due to some anomaly of her interstellar travel, she was forced to place the Block at the center of the Earth, and everyone that had been on board her spaceship assumed her DNA, and thus her appearance.

As a soft science principle this works fine, but there are some gaps in the concept, namely that of the old debate between nature and nurture. The brain is a complex organ, the most complex in fact, but it is still nonetheless based somewhat on the genetics which make up the organism (the person.) Thus mental attributes, whether good or bad can be hereditary. They can also of course be nurtured that way. Take for instance two people that are intelligent in the same way, and if they are raised in different households, they are going to develop different abilities. The base of their genetic intelligence might be similar, but the end result is not. In general though, it is quite difficult to conceive of a world where humans have nearly identical genetic codes defining their intelligence. Even among siblings there are so many variables to make direct similarities almost impossible.

When extended to the sci fi concept of strangers taking on a consciousness of another where this doesn't really fit at all. Veritas is a super genius, and to push her mental ability on others wouldn't work, even if they were also super geniuses. The inverse also holds though, that putting other's mentalities in her genetic frame would cause much confusion (and this is what is described to have happened.) It would be like trying to pick up a building and putting it down on another foundation and expecting the electricity, plumbing and heating to still work perfectly accurately. In truth there are no such connections, as putting a person's mentality on another brain would lead to a mismatch. This is just a hard science approach to a soft science concept, but I had to say it after seeing it, as it was one thing about the issue which bothered me.

7 Comments
7 Comments
Posted by cbishop

It does seem a little weird that they would go with Dr V's mind/appearance overwriting other people's, when it would have been far "easier" to say that she cloned herself multiple times. Replacing a bunch of "red shirts" this way just seems like extra for the sake of extra. It serves no useful purpose.

Posted by SC

I have always wanted a Mr Mxy series where he just invades other characters past stories and starts ranting about the plausibility of a characters account, asking them hard questions and just being an around nuisance and troublemaker. The brain has always given me the most trouble as far as thinking about my own stories and how things could possibly work without being too inorganic and forced.

Anyway nice blog, subject sort of reminds me of the disparity in how people treat physical health problems and mental health problems. Humans generally have better intuition about physical health problems, but there is still this stigma and negative sense about mental health problems basically because its much more abstract and not immediately discernible to our immediate senses. I like your analogy with the swapping off buildings an expecting electrify and plumbing to work, even in a way its a bit like two people thinking you can just pull off ones arms and swap it casually and it'll work just fine, forgetting about blood loss, physical differences, veins, nerves etc

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Edited by RazzaTazz

@cbishop: Interesting tie in to the red shirt concept, I hadn't even thought of that.

Posted by RazzaTazz

@sc: That would be interesting, though only a handful of people would read it I think. Its true as well what you wrote about mental illness, I had a few sentences written about that for this blog but then deleted them, as it was opening too big of a topic.

Posted by cbishop

@razzatazz: Well, I said it serves no useful purpose, but I could only hope that I'm wrong. Hopefully, those "red shirts" will start to resurface, and it will cause some interesting story problems. Or alternatively, there will be a more sinister reveal about how Dr V. "overwrote" all those bodies. Otherwise, why mention any other people onboard?

Posted by RazzaTazz

@cbishop: I hope you are right, though comics as a medium has a tendency to simply forget things.

Edited by cbishop