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In her new book, Kathryn Paige Harden is full of hope that insights from genetics will become powerful tools for advancing a left-leaning political agenda. Her hope rests on the argument that if people understand the extent to which their socioeconomic status is influenced by their luck in the genetic lottery, they will understand that they do not merit that status and will become committed to social policies that favor redistributing resources. That is, she hopes the field of sociogenomics, in which social scientists use genetic data to predict outcomes as complex as educational attainment, will be used—not to justify—but to reduce social inequality.

Moreover, Harden is full of enthusiasm about the potential of sociogenomics for creating concrete social interventions that can reduce social inequality. Her enthusiasm rests on the argument that, if social scientists begin to control for genetics when they seek to understand social outcomes, they can start to create social interventions that actually work and contribute to reducing the obscene inequalities that plague our society. Not only is Harden, a behavior geneticist and psychologist at... see more