The Uncontrolled-Urges Gene
Today, we shall once again forfeit the safe haven of unequivocally animal species, and venture into the strange realm at the frontier between life and chemistry, where commmonly accepted definitions lose their power and speculation takes over. But first, we must take a quick detour to examine the notion of “parasite” genes.
These genes are so called because they contribute little to the functions necessary for life and reproduction. Instead of, for example, determining the way muscles are placed, or our visual accuity, they simply reproduce themselves within our genome, using up resources the organism could otherwise use to further its cause as a whole. One of these genes is the uncontrollable-urges gene, or, as scientists like to call it, the Britney-Spears gene (“oops, I did it again”), BS gene for short.
This gene, in addition to shamelessly self-duplicating, also has another effect, which, in the eyes of some biologists, takes it out of the category of “selfish” genes: when in the presence of alcohol, it undermines our ability to restrain ourselfs, shutting down communication between our frontal cortex and the reptilian brain.
Analysis of the genome of excavated skeletons through the ages show that the BS gene appeared around one-hundred thousand years ago. At that time, many human populations had already mastered the art of fermentation, and it seems that the gene spread rapidly through all spheres of primitive human society.
Today it is present in over 99% of humans, and scientists estimate it is responsible for over 30% of births, and 70% of minor misdemeanors, worldwide. After its recent discovery, people accused of crimes commited while under the influence have argued that the BS gene, by inhibiting their inhibation mechanisms, made them non-competent, and that thusly, they cannot be held responsible for their actions. Judges have argued that “everybody knows alcohol makes you do stupid shit since long ago, and that has never meant that people are not responsible for their actions when drunk”.
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