DNA Testing Finds That Beethoven Wasn't Very Musical

For centuries, scientists have tried to classify human beings by scientific parameters, and human beings constantly confound such efforts. When I was young, children were given aptitude tests to see what areas of study or career they might succeed in, and such tests often doomed young people to low expectations they could easily exceed if they weren’t stigmatized by test results. Now we can test and classify people at the molecular level, but DNA tests still aren’t great at pigeonholing people.

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No one will argue that Ludwig von Beethoven wasn’t a great musician and composer. Yet recent analysis of his DNA would have one believe he had little potential in music. His DNA was scored against a database of 69 genes associated with musical ability gleaned from modern subjects with known musical ability, or lack thereof. The specific talent analyzed was beat synchronization, or the ability to keep a steady beat. Studies by both the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and Vanderbilt University found Beethoven to score at the ninth percentile and 11% percentile respectively. Previous studies show that musical talent is 42% heritable, but we can see right there that genes don’t tell the whole story. If DNA had been used for aptitude testing when Beethoven was a child, it might have discouraged one of the greatest musical geniuses from ever pursuing his art. Read more about this study at New Atlas. -via Strange Company

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Source: neatorama

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