The Gattaca Effect

The movie Gattaca is about a world where genetic manipulation has reached a level to where unborn fetuses can be genetically modified so that they come out with higher levels of intelligence, physical abilities, and life expectations. In the movie there are two brothers, one who was born after the procedures became available or mainstream and one who was born before.

There is a pivotal scene, once the boys are adults, that is the basis of my term “The Gattaca Effect”. The two men start swimming out to sea, playing a game of chicken. The first one to stop loses. Despite the fact that the genetically altered child always won as children he finds himself unable to keep up with his brother. Stopping, he asks why it is that he, the genetically superior specimen, can’t keep up. The answer from his genetically natural brother is simple: “I don’t save enough energy for the trip back.”

This has always struck a chord with me. I call it “The Gattaca Effect” simply because I have yet to see another term that accurately depicts the trait. “Heart” comes close but doesn’t entirely embody the calculated do or die mentality. Whatever you call it, there is a right time to use it and a wrong time.

Sometimes you have to put it all on the line and risk the loss of everything in order to find success. Other times there are plenty of options available that do not require such a risk. Determining the right time to do each is really an art. Understanding that losing everything is an option and being able to entertain that idea is something that is rare.

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Jason McDonald

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1 Comment

  • Man, what a great illustration. Thanks for posting it.

    Your last statement is a great example of the difference between knowledge and wisdom.


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