Hey Bill Nye! Our Brains Are All the Same, So Why Aren’t People Identical?

Television Host and Science Educator

Our brains are the same organ, but no way are we all the same people. So why do we like different things, if we’re all made of roughly the same parts? Everybody’s brain development is a little bit different, explains Bill Nye, whether that’s physiologically through chemical variations in air, water, and agriculture; or culturally through societal influence and tradition. Our genes too are different, determining what tastes, sounds, and other stimuli we might like. Our differences usually reside in those trivialities – we have favorite flavors of ice-cream, we find harmony in radically different music, we either love or hate chili. But when you take a wider view and examine our emotional lives, ambitions, and sense of self, those predilections fade away. “If nothing else,” says Nye, “I have learned in life people are a heck of a lot more alike than they are different.” Bill Nye's most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.

Bill Nye's most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.

  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Bill Nye: Shouldn't we all have the same favorites? Aren't we all the same? Don't our brains all grow the same? The answer is no and yes. That is to say we have much more - we are much more alike than we are different. This old question if I see red is it the same to you as it is to me like what I think is red is really green and your brain learns to call what your green is my red and so on? Okay these are good questions, but I think the reason we have favorites is that we all are slightly different. We do not look identical. We are not biological clones. Everybody is a little different. Everybody is exposed to different experiences and different chemicals, different things in the air and water as you grow up. So what you prefer in food could change from one place to another based on your environment. And everybody's genes are different. One exception might be identical twins. But everybody's genes are different and so what we prefer, what we like, what we find as favorites is different from one person to another. But if nothing else I have learned in life people are a heck of a lot more alike than they are different.

You'll find that if you like a yummy chocolate dessert it's very likely that someone else will like that yummy chocolate dessert. That your favorites you maybe surprised are favored by a great many people. When you get into disagreements it's often I think a result of your experiences. Like I've had great experience eating ice cream with honey, vanilla ice cream with honey. Every time I think about it I think about my dad and I have good thoughts. But there's other people who think vanilla ice cream, that's not interesting enough to me. Honey, that's too commonplace. I won't say I feel bad for you but that means more vanilla and honey for me. You'll find people are more alike than they are different and enjoy the favorites, celebrate these little differences. It's part of what makes life fun. Carry on.