The Secret Life Of Twins Review: Double Science

September 30, 2009 by  
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4THE SECRET LIFE OF TWINS: Wednesday, 30th September, BBC1, 9pm ALERT ME

Do your genes determine the type of food you like, whether you will get divorced, and even your religious beliefs?

Have many of your life decisions have already been made for you by your DNA?

I’m not talking about some kind of genetic-Matrix, but a range of ideas put forward in this fresh and fascinating two-part documentary from the BBC.

The debate between nature and nurture has stimulated debate for centuries with both scientists and psychologists accepting that no better way for testing their various theories exists than the analysis of identical twins.

This programme puts forward some remarkable ideas suggesting that a person’s environment might not be quite as important as we first thought.

Indeed some case-studies shed new light on the debate in spectacular fashion.

Take the Sotherthwaite brothers: Ian is an incredibly healthy middle-aged man who lives in New Zealand. He doesn’t smoke or drink and spends his spare-time kayaking and hill-walking. His brother Paul lives in Northumberland and does exactly the opposite.

As you can imagine, Paul soon had a heart-attack, but when Ian made the long-distance call to check on his twin, he got a nasty surprise.

“The nurse in the UK told me that I should get checked out,? he explains. “Eventually I agreed, and after a few tests I was told I was heading for a major heart-attack. That was a bit of a shock.?

After a lifetime of healthy living, Ian had developed exactly the same heart-condition as his twin brother, suggesting that no matter what a person does, their genes will catch up with them eventually.

Scientists admit that cases like this are not common, but other spooky examples come thick-and-fast, with explanations flowing quickly.

We begin to ask questions about whether criminals are born or made, whether a person’s DNA causes their depression, even if scientists can predict that certain people will remain in unhappy marriages while others will file for divorce.

The debate of nature and nurture is as close as ever.

Sean Marland

Fancy a head-spin of a different kind? Check out our review of Five’s brand new US import FlashForward (touted as the ‘New Lost’), or get as scared as Sean did watching this by heading down to your local multiplex to see new sci-fi thriller horror Pandorum…..