I am someone who cannot stand the sound of someone chewing. I get a chemical reaction in my body that spurs me to want to grab the nearest object and toss it in the direction of that person’s cranium with an aim at their nasolabial fold. I always thought it was just a personal pet peeve, and that I simply had to do my best to contain myself when surrounded with squashing crunch and chomp chewing people, and tie myself down with the shackles of diplomacy and kindliness in hope that the mandibular gyrations do not cause me to be overcome me with murderous intentions. It’s been tough but so far, so good…
Well, it turns out that my irritated reaction might actually be completely DNA linked… As the neuroscientist Aage R. Moller put it, “It is hard-wired. Like being left-handed or right-handed.”
23andme.com, the genomics and biotechnological company that tests for genealogy and genome sequencing, is a company that conducts tests and surveys on human DNA to figure out the links between inherited traits and genealogy of people… and they’ve been finding out that there’s a lot more attributed to biology than we thought.
The results of the survey “Does the sound of other people chewing fill you with rage?” have so far yielded the following:
YES – 20%
NO – 74%
Not sure – 4%
First of all, this is actually a scientific question and it has been yielding scientific results. Through a series of similar questions, 23andme has gathered enough information from their pool of 50,000 customers and inferred that our tastes in life may simply be ordained by our genetics. Interestingly enough, their biggest finding insofar has been our genetic opinion of cilantro (coriandre or الكزبرة). This is one of the most controversial herbs because while there are people who are not bothered by it, there are people who hate it so much that they have set up a website advocating for the annihilation of cilantro: www.ihatecilantro.com
Indeed for some people, cilantro destroys their meal so badly that they wish to set fields of cilantro on fire. To them it tastes like soap, or like stingbugs and dirt, or like the plague. Funny. Why do some people love cilantro, while others hate it with every fiber of their being?
Well, when they compared the DNA of the cilantro haters to the DNA of cilantro lovers, ’23andme’ found a genetic variation called rs72921001 to be associated with the trait in a subset of about 25,000 people with European ancestry. (About 39 percent of surveyors with European ancestry answered that cilantro tastes awful.) People with the less common version of rs72921001 had lower odds of perceiving a soapy taste and of disliking the herb. And they uncovered that there is a genetic variation associated with olfactory receptors. Indeed, it may be that genetics and taste most likely have a causal relationship. And that same chemical set off by smells can be found in both appealing and unappealing places yet mean different things to different people— it’s like that with the smell of cheese and body odor. That is also probably why Chinese people smell “Chinese” to white people, and white people smell “white” to Chinese people, and in many cases, it’s not “appealing.”
Now, although none of these studies are 100% conclusive, we now actually have proof that there is an actual scientific reason as to why we should simply NOT JUDGE PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT FROM US. Those who have different tastes, or attractions, no matter how repulsive to you, are subjected to a matter of biology…
It all comes full circle doesn’t it? The wisest of humans will tell you that wisdom and compassion are the essence of an enlightened life. Wisdom and compassion are inextricably linked in acceptance and tolerance. And now the study of life in its essence is showing us through its wisdom that there might be no other way to live life but through compassion and tolerance because being intolerant to DNA is being intolerant to life. How can you win?
So what they say in French is true: “les goûts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas” trans. “Tastes and colors are not to be debated”… الأذواق والألوان لا تناقش… Tolerance is the way to an enlightened life…
But for the love of God, please chew properly with your mouth closed with minimal sound. You never know if the person next to you harbors the genetic variation “becomes-murderous-when-exposed-to-mandibular-gyrations”. You’ll be sorry. You’ll be very sorry…