So you decide to clone yourself, obviously the clone is a infant, but other wise looks perfectly identical. However, you start to think of how your new clone could be perfectly like you, in body structure, in thinking, and even personality.

Now, you somehow create a environment that perfectly simulates what your childhood was like from when you were born, to when you are a adult. Ignoring how that would be possible, let’s get into the question, which is:

could you feasibility make a clone with the same personality through making a perfect copy of your childhood, or would it be different?

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    $\begingroup$ Since: science-based what has your research into the subject of twin-studies shown? What did you not understand that needs untangling here? $\endgroup$ – BLT-Bub Feb 13 at 1:21
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    $\begingroup$ This is more of a philosophical question than a world building question. Essentially what you're asking is if a person will exhibit the same reactions given identical stimuli, and that gets into nature vs nurture debates. $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed Feb 13 at 1:22

Short answer; We don't know.

This is a far more complex question than it looks, but let me at least break down what I see as the major points to how to answer it.

In behavioural science it is generally thought that there are two primary contributors to behaviour and personality. Genetic (nature) and Environment (nurture). By taking out one of those variables and saying that the only consideration is environment, one could argue that the answer is yes; if the genetics AND the environment is the same, then so will be the person.

The problem I have with that is that it assumes that free will is a lie.

This is where I see that we miss a third pillar in our understanding of behavioural science; choice. Do we have the capacity to extend beyond our genes AND our environment and make choices to go in a direction different from both of these? The answer to this, and to what degree if the answer is yes, is essentially the part of the equation we don't know. That said, I'll spell out the cases for and against below. Let's start with the Against argument - that free will is not a contributor to personality and behaviour.

Stanford Prison Experiment
There is a lot of material available on line about this behavioural sciences experiment from 1973 and what happened during its execution. On the surface, it seemed to imply that force of personality and personal choice, in people who should have had an ample reserve of both, instead acted according to their environment which fundamentally changed their personalities during the course of the experiment.

This is the primary argument for the YES case; if you maintain the same environment, you'll make the same choices and be the same person because fundamentally, you are driven to do so. Of course, the implications are that this is that what we call free will or choice is really just a conditioned response to the environment and therefore we are all victims of the environment, not our own choices.

On the For side of free will however, there are other studies to discuss.

Explorer Mice
A behavioural sciences researcher has conducted experiments on cloned mice, putting each in an isolated but identical environment, then watching how they explore their environment. It seems that they develop very different characteristics in their exploration 'personality' and that they end up being very different creatures more often than not. This goes in direct contravention of the experiment cited above, but more, it is counter-intuitive in that if anything, you'd expect the mice to be identical (starting from scratch, with no manifest personality to intrude on their choices or free will) and the prison experiment to fail due to force of personality thanks to the established minds of those in the experiment.

So, what is happening?

We honestly don't know, but the thought may well be that free will finds it harder to intrude on minds already established with many patterns to fall back on and which make every new stimulus a smaller percentage of the world view in which it is to be integrated. This could explain the concept of old people 'being set in their ways' and the innate curiosity we see in babies, where their sense of wonder is enhanced by every new stimulus being a much larger proportion of their existing world view.

In your example, this kind of thinking means that your experiment is likely to fail on grounds that you are starting from scratch. That means that the baby clone has the ability to explore the early stages of his or her environment in different ways, and the early but minor differences then intrude on your clone's personality in manifestly fundamental ways later down the track.

I think that your better option would be memory transplantation (if you can develop or handwave the tech for it) as that would establish a strong body of patterns in the mind that are already learned and manifest. Starting at that later point, identical environments are more likely to have the desired effect as each new discovery is such a smaller component of the overall base of knowledge and ideas stored in the mind, meaning that each variance from your own experience has less impact on the now well established personality matrix.

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    $\begingroup$ Zimbardo's Stanford Experiment was well-publicized and mythologized crap. See vox.com/2018/6/13/17449118/… for a story on the many problems, including outright fraud, involved in it. It isn't proof of anything and shouldn't be cited as such. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Feb 13 at 5:29

Pretty much impossible. You don’t remember enough of your formative early years to recreate your parents. You cannot generate the culture you grew up in (just try to get people to wear clothes from earlier era, or give up their cell phones for the model of N years ago). You can’t keep your clone boxed up in a room unless you were raised that way.

Even if you were raised in extreme isolation and can recreate that, you cannot guarantee that early experiences match. You’d need a mother who can match your mother’s milk... even if you are a woman, it’s not the same, and you aren’t her. You don’t have the same instinctive reactions of either of your parents. In short, you are not them.

Not possible at all.


You can't simply take an infant, because who you are, physically and mentally, is influenced not just by your genes but epigenetically by the environment in the womb, which means to get to an infant stage you have to not only clone yourself, you need to clone your mother and as perfectly as possible duplicate the pregnancy. Did your mother eat particularly iron-rich food during one critical point during fetal development? Did she come down with the flu at another point, weakening her overall system? Did she have a few too many drinks at another point during neural development?

So not only do you need to perfectly replicate your childhood, you might have to duplicate your mother's life as well, but then you come into other issues; you're making sure that you've duplicated her previous pregnancies (if you weren't first born), yeah? Because although the mechanism isn't clear, there's empirical evidence showing that having having more older brothers--from the same mother--increases the probability a man will be gay.

So yeah, tad more complicated than just taking a clone and sticking them in some kind of simulated childhood.


Ignoring the problem of providing an 'exactly identical' environment, probably not.

First - consider the butterfly effect in classical systems. On the larger scale (i.e. cellular level and upwards) a human can be considered as a classical (i.e. Newtonian) system. Most complex systems exhibit chaotic behavior in some circumstances. That is to say that the most minute difference in a local input eventually results in an arbitrarily different final state.

Second - consider quantum effects. On the smaller scale (i.e. molecular interactions and downwards) the bits that make up a human will follow the laws of quantum physics. That is to say that two initially identical quantum states can result in different outcomes upon 'measurement'. Without going into too many details on what measurement is, a reasonable interpretation is that a 'measurement' is any interaction of the system with an external influence. So it is likely that different results can occur from 'identical' inputs, in the molecular-scale interactions that happen at the synaptic interface between two neurons. Similarly, the detection (or non-detection) of individual photons in the cells of the retina may be influenced by quantum probability. Or an alpha particle from decay of a radium atom may or may not cause damage in a DNA strand that then may or may not lead to senescence of an individual cell (or cancer).

Combining the two arguments above, an individual consists of a complex chaotic system that is almost inevitably going to be perturbed by random quantum events. So at some point the clone will by necessity be 'different' from the original at some scale. And then the butterfly effect will be likely to amplify these differences until the clone is microscopically different.


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