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DNA of risky skiing

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Times article about the DNA of risk-seeking types (downhill racers, slope style competitors, etc.).

 

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/19/the-genetics-of-being-a-daredevil/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

post #2 of 10

Not saying it isn't dangerous.

 

But it only looks really risky and dangerous to the casual observer.

 


For example: Paintball looks like an "extreme dangerous" sport. But in reality, it isn't that much of a big deal and it is actually one of the safer ones. 

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by diesel47 View Post
 

Not saying it isn't dangerous.

 

But it only looks really risky and dangerous to the casual observer.

 


For example: Paintball looks like an "extreme dangerous" sport. But in reality, it isn't that much of a big deal and it is actually one of the safer ones. 

 

 

I'd guess hurtling down an icy slope at 80 mph might be slightly more dangerous than paintball -- to any observer, participant included.  You wouldn't catch me doing it, though I ski fast now and then.  That's the point, I think.  Some folks like to put themselves into situations that seem risky (whatever the facts); some don't.

 

Paintball's never struck me as risky.

post #4 of 10

You have things going on with gene activation and gene blocking that probably account for more than the "raw" DNA that they were attempting to correlate with the study. 

 

This is of course anecdotal, but it is often very common for one twin to be drawn to more risk loving behaviors than the other.  And lets just get it out there, risk loving = physical activity.  Risk averse = "indoor / intellectual" pursuits.  At some level, say for a 2 y.o., riding a bike is no more risky than skiing down a black diamond.  My 4 y.o. skis much more aggressively than my 9 y.o., but is madly afraid of getting the training wheels off her bike.

 

Which brings up another point.  Coded in our genetic makeup, going all the way back to the primates, is an intellectual capacity to copy PHYSICAL activity.  Chimp #1 watches chimp #2 killing bush babies with a "tool", chimp #1 now will be able to do it him/her -self.  You don't learn to read by watching someone else do it.  My 4 y.o. has no interest in copying her sister, who is riding on 2 wheels, until she sees that her sister can ride a lot faster than her.  In the same way, that 13 y.o. kid doing a back flip may have no particular genetic propensity to "take risks", other than the fact that he sees the kids with the helmet cam videos getting all the attention around the homeroom locker. 

 

For a study like this to be anywhere near robust, it would have to include control questions such as, Do you record your tricks / runs / etc.  How many times will you need to observe someone performing a trick before you will attempt it?  Do you ever attempt to invent new tricks you have never seen?  At what age did you begin the supposedly "risky" activity....

 

Remember, there are a folks out there - mainly women - born in the 40s and 50s who never learned to ride a bike, and I dare say you would have an easier time convincing them to ski than to try to ride a bike well on into adulthood.

post #5 of 10

Human genetics and discovering genes underlying various traits is my specific area of expertise.  Aside from questionable validity of the questions asked by the researcher, this type of study design carries a hidden fatal flaw that leads to very frequent "false-positives", and so is no longer considered a generally valid or convincing approach by the genetics community. The original paper was published in the Scandanavian Journal of Medical Science in Sports, not quite so highly regarded as Nature or Science. But the story makes for titillating reading in a NYT blog during Olympics week.

post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by raspritz View Post
 

Human genetics and discovering genes underlying various traits is my specific area of expertise.  Aside from questionable validity of the questions asked by the researcher, this type of study design carries a hidden fatal flaw that leads to very frequent "false-positives", and so is no longer considered a generally valid or convincing approach by the genetics community. The original paper was published in the Scandanavian Journal of Medical Science in Sports, not quite so highly regarded as Nature or Science. But the story makes for titillating reading in a NYT blog during Olympics week.

This is interesting.  Thanks for your input. 

 

I've actually been wondering about this kind of thing because I'm more of a risk taker than anyone else in my family, and yet I'm on the moderate side of risk seeking.  In fact, in my part of the world I'm a bit of a chicken. 

 

Then you have families like the Backstroms who have three kids Arne, Ingrid, Ralph, who are all known for their sense of adventure/risk, yet what I've seen of Ingrid and what I've heard about Arne is that they seek risk at an intellectual level and still use good sense while "risking it all" 

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by raspritz View Post
 

Human genetics and discovering genes underlying various traits is my specific area of expertise.  Aside from questionable validity of the questions asked by the researcher, this type of study design carries a hidden fatal flaw that leads to very frequent "false-positives", and so is no longer considered a generally valid or convincing approach by the genetics community. The original paper was published in the Scandanavian Journal of Medical Science in Sports, not quite so highly regarded as Nature or Science. But the story makes for titillating reading in a NYT blog during Olympics week.

 

 

The above belongs in the comments section of the article in question.

post #8 of 10

it also becomes a false positive because of it's  novel result.

 

If there were 10 other studies that said business as usual nothing new, don't get any press.

 

There's a pretty long article in the new yorker that went through several of the concerns and issues related to scientific research, that despite the best-of-human-ability gold-standard double-blind scientific protocols, they still result in conclusions that cannot be confirmed or ever fully accepted as truth.

post #9 of 10

It wouldn't surprise me if there is some link between our DNA and how risk adverse/risk seeking we are, but even this article says

 

"The variant’s overall effect was slight, explaining only about 3 percent of the difference in behavior between risk takers and the risk averse, but was statistically significant and remained intact, even when Dr. Thomson and her colleagues controlled for gender and sport expertise."

post #10 of 10

Is it risk-seeking or excitement-seeking?  I think a lot of extreme sportists seek excitement while trying to minimize risk...that's what all the training, gear, and practice is for.  You want risk, go ski an exposed steep backcountry slope in high avy danger.  Skydive with a pre-packed parachute you found in a closet.  I think people who actively ignore risk have mental problems.

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