"People seem to have little difficulty in acception the modifiability of ‘environmental’ effects on human development. If a child has had bad teaching in mathematics, it is accepted that the resulting deficiency can be remedied by extra good teaching the following year. But any suggestion that the child’s mathematical deficiency might have a genetic origin is likely to be greeted with something approaching despaire: if it is in the genes ‘it is written,’ it is ‘determined’ and nothing can be done about it: you might as well give up attempting to teach the child mathematics. This is pernicious rubbish on an almost astrological scale. Genetic causes and environmental causes are in principle no different from each other. Some influences of both types may be hard to reverse; others may be easy to reverse. Some may be usually hard to revers but easy if the right agent is applied. The important point is that there is no general reason for expecting genetic influences o be any more irreversible than environmental ones.
What did genes do to deserve their sinister, juggernaut-like reputation?…Why are genes though to be so much more fixed and inescapable in their effects than television, nuns, or books? Don’t blame your mates for sleeping around, ladies, it’s not their fault they have been inflamed by pornographic literature! The alleged Jesuit boast, ‘give me the child for his first seven years, and I’ll give you the man,’ may have some truth in it. Educational, or other cultural influences may, in some circumstances, be just as unmodifiable and irreversible as genes and ‘stars’ are popularly thought to be”