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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Astrology, DNA, free will and Trading Places

Since our youth we have been told - by parents, teachers, friends - how special and unique we are. Nevertheless, most of us prefer being unique within a group. Amongst friends, at school and at work. Somehow being too unique does not feel safe. Rich people are eccentric, others just weirdos.

When comparing the Chinese and Western horoscope, it appears that the Western one has a cycle of 12 months (signs). The Chinese one has a main cycle of 12 years (signs, e.g. Rat) and an additional sub cycle of 5 years (i.e., wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) which gives a total cycle of 12x5= 60 years. The length of the Chinese horoscope in itself already allows for a better personality matching.

My Chinese horoscope (1960 metal Rat) already gives a good match with my personality. It gets even better when my Western (Pisces) horoscope is added. I feel it's close to an 80% match. If a generic horoscope can give an estimated 80% personality match then does that imply that I am not really unique as a human being? Or does the remaining 20% make me unique?

In April 2006, I received the predictions of a New York Feng Shui Master as my birthday gift. This guy only had my birthday, time and place. The results were astonishing. He said that the last 5 years (2001-2006) had not been smoothly, career and health wise. He also predicted that the next 5 years (2006-2011) of my marriage would not be good and that there was a tendency of getting divorced or separated. In 2010 I separated by moving to Belgium and I subsequently divorced early 2012. If someone is able to know and to predict this solely based upon my birthday, time and place then to what extent do we even have a free will left???

Recently, the FT featured an article by Julian Baggini, published in The Guardian on 19 March 2015. Source: www.theguardian.com/science/2015/mar/19/do-your-genes-determine-your-entire-life?? That article makes clear that studies on twin sisters and twin brothers - and their many examples of uncanny similarities in the behaviour of twins - have led to similar discussions on free will.

Other studies at the world-leading Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research suggest that many of our traits are more than 50% inherited, including obedience to authority, vulnerability to stress, and risk-seeking. Researchers have even suggested that when it comes to issues such as religion and politics, our choices are much more determined by our genes than we think.

Many find this disturbing. The idea that unconscious biological forces drive our beliefs and actions would seem to pose a real threat to our free will. We like to think that we make choices on the basis of our own conscious deliberations. But isn’t all that thinking things over irrelevant if our final decision was already written in our genetic code? 

Our free will is determined - or restricted - by our personality (astrology, belief systems, ethics, moral compass) and our genetic human template ("unknown knowns"). Our environment (parents, study and work) provides the finishing touch (e.g., the remaining 20%).

There is a superb comedy (Trading Places, 1983, IMDB 7.5) about front running on orange juice futures on the Exchange that also involves a social experiment by two billionaires (Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche) that they can turn an Afro American street hustler (Eddy Murphy) into a successful business man and - at the same time - turn a successful business man (Dan Aykroyd) into a social outcast and then reverse the entire process. The movie shows that the differences in our environments are ultimately decisive for who we turn out to be as human beings and the choices we make in life. And also that in a level playing field, genetics and personality become leading.