Gene of the Week: Attack on the "Warrior Gene"
Interestingly, Horgan also looks to unpack the “blame-it-on-your-genes-craze,” noting (and again defending in a later post) two factors:
First, the quest for correlations (in behavioral genetics) between thousands of genes and thousands of traits and disorders is prone to false positives, especially when traits are as squishy as "aggression" and "childhood trauma" (the variable that helps some researchers link MAOA-L to violent behavior). Second, the media—including respected scientific journals like Science and PNAS as well as shows like Dr. Phil—are prone to hyping "discoveries" that will attract attention.Horgan also notes that such claims are not without consequences, pointing out that misunderstandings of the “warrior gene” have been disturbingly utilized to promote inequality and racism.
Previously on Biopolitical Times:
- Gene of the Week: One-night stand
- Gene of the Week: the Ruthless Dictator Gene
- Gene of the Week: American Exceptionalism