Just Two Weird
The story of Jim Springer and Jim Lewis will put you firmly on the side of nature when it goes up against nurture.
The two Jims — born together, adopted, reared and settled in Ohio — were separated at 4 weeks old and didn't find each other again until they were 39, in 1979. The identical twins led remarkably similar lives in those nearly four decades, as Edwin Chen notes in his New York Times article:
- They were both married, and divorced, to women named Linda.
- They both remarried. To women named Betty.
- Their first sons were both named James. The sons' middle names are Allan and Alan.
- They both enjoyed woodworking.
- They were both nail biters.
- They both suffered from stress headaches.
- They both, as children, owned a dog named "Toy."
- They were both in law enforcement.
"If someone else brought this material to me and said: 'This is what I've got,' I'd say I didn't believe it," psychologist Thomas J. Bouchard Jr., told The New York Times in 1979. Bouchard was the director of the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart Project, a precursor to the MTFS. "The probability of two people independently being given the same name is not that rare. But when you start to compound the coincidences, they become highly unlikely very quickly. In fact, I'm flabbergasted by some of the similarities, " Bouchard continued.
To many, the story of the Jim Twins provides a slam-dunk answer to the nature-nurture debate. Here's what the Minnesota Center for Twin & Family Research had to say:
In the end, finding out what makes those separated at birth so alike, and so different, is almost certainly not a question of either-or. Which, in the end, is what makes them so fascinating.
Author's Note: 5 True Stories of Twins Separated at Birth
My dad was a twin. My wife has twin brothers. I thought Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger were passably funny in that 1988 film. Other than that, though, my experiences with twins are sadly limited. So what if, tomorrow, my heretofore unknown twin brother calls me up and wants to meet in downtown Atlanta? Well, I guess I'd hope he wasn't better looking than me. I'd be disappointed if he were a jerk. I'd be crushed if he were a Republican. But, heck yeah, I'd sit down for some barbecue and a beer and some good conversation with him. And if he's not up for that, well, then no way he's my kin. Can't be.
- Almasy, Steve and Jack Hannah. "Twins reunited after 78 years." CNN. May 5, 2014. (July 26, 2018) https://www.cnn.com/2014/05/05/living/78-year-old-twins-reunited/index.html
- Baker, K.C. "How a Friend (and Facebook!) Helped Reunite Twin Sisters Separated at Birth: 'We Were Just Gobsmacked'." People. July 24, 2015. (July 26, 2018) https://people.com/celebrity/anais-bordier-found-long-lost-twin-sister-thanks-to-friends-and-social-media/
- Bordier, Anaïs (as told to Antonia Blyth). "Experience: I found my identical twin on YouTube." The Guardian. July 10, 2015. (July 26, 2018) https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jul/10/experience-found-identical-twin-youtube
- Chen, E. "Twins Reared Apart: A Living Lab." The New York Times. Dec. 9, 1979. (July 26, 2018) https://www.nytimes.com/1979/12/09/archives/twins-reared-apart-a-living-lab.html
- Cosoy, Natalio. "Brotherly love: Colombian switched twins pull together." BBC. Jan. 6, 2016. (July 26, 2018) https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35220779
- Dominus, Susan. "The Mixed-Up Brothers of Bogotá." The New York Times Magazine. July 9, 2015. (July 26, 2018) https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/12/magazine/the-mixed-up-brothers-of-bogota.html
- Fallon, Kevin. "'Three Identical Strangers': The Disturbing True Story of Triplets Separated at Birth." The Daily Beast. Jan. 19, 2018. (July 26, 2018) https://www.thedailybeast.com/three-identical-strangers-the-disturbing-true-story-of-triplets-separated-at-birth
- McLeod, Saul. "Nature vs. Nurture in Psychology." Simply Psychology. 2015. (July 26, 2018) www.simplypsychology.org/naturevsnurture.html
- Minnesota Center for Twin & Family Research (MCTFR), University of Minnesota. (July 26, 2018) https://mctfr.psych.umn.edu/
- MovieClips Indie. "Twinsters Official Trailer 1 (2015) - Documentary HD." YouTube. March 10, 2015. (July 26, 2018) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y72med6m7ho
- NPR. Transcript: "'Identical Strangers' Explore Nature Vs. Nurture." Radio Diaries. Oct. 25, 2007. (July 26, 2018) https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=15629096
- Richman, Joe. "'Identical Strangers' Explore Nature Vs. Nurture." NPR, Radio Diaries Series. Oct. 25, 2007. (July 26, 2018) https://www.npr.org/2007/10/25/15629096/identical-strangers-explore-nature-vs-nurture
- Segal, N. "Accidental Brothers: The Story of Twins Exchanged at Birth and the Power of Nature and Nurture." St. Martin's Press, 2018.
- Suh-young, Yun. "Reunited twins give hope to adoptees." The Korea Times, Feb. 29, 2016. (July 26, 2018) https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/culture/2016/03/316_199318.html
- Sundance Institute. "U.S. Documentary Competition: Three Identical Strangers." YouTube. Dec. 20, 2017. (July 26, 2018) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iEgn_JvRW8
- Venema, Vibeke. "Longest-separated twins find each other." BBC. May 2, 2014. (July 26, 2018) https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27188642
- Winston, Robert. "The Secret Lives of Twins." YouTube. Dec. 27, 2010. (July 26, 2018) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw3S35wGgT8
- Zeitchik, S. "A Sundance documentary about adoption hurls questions at a well-known charity." The Washington Post, Jan. 28, 2018. (July 26, 2018) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/01/28/a-sundance-film-about-adoption-hurls-questions-at-a-well-known-charity/?utm_term=.73c539283425
Epigenetics – instructions on how genes are read – proves that your body is not permanently set on a specific course from the moment you're born.