From Ed Yong at the Atlantic:
What If (Almost) Every Gene Affects (Almost) Everything?
Three Stanford scientists have proposed a provocative new way of thinking about genetic variants, and how they affect people’s bodies and health.
In 1999, a group of scientists scoured the genomes of around 150 pairs of siblings in an attempt to find genes that are involved in autism. They came up empty. They reasoned that this was because the risk of autism is not governed by a small number of powerful genes, which their study would have uncovered. Instead, it’s likely affected by a large number of genes that each have a small effect. Perhaps, they wrote, there might be 15 such genes or more.
Two decades later, that figure seems absurdly and naively low. If you told a modern geneticist that a complex trait—whether a physical characteristic like height or weight, or the risk of a disease like cancer or schizophrenia—was the work of just 15 genes, they’d probably laugh. It’s now thought that such traits are the work of thousands of genetic variants, working in concert. The vast majority of them have only tiny effects, but together, they can dramatically shape our bodies and our health. They’re weak individually, but powerful en masse.
But Evan Boyle, Yang Li, and Jonathan Pritchard from Stanford University think that this framework doesn’t go far enough. More.
So all that literature about the gene-for-this and the gene-for-that, which dominated discussion for decades, is basically garbage? Never mind the immense social harm wrought by Darwinian eugenics, never properly evaluated as a direct outcome of Darwinism …
See also: There’s a gene for that… or is there?
Modern eugenics was, first to last, a Darwinian project:
About 45 years ago, I O’Leary for News was briefly involved in the campaign to get rid of the practice [of involuntary sterlization] in a Canadian province where – surprise, surprise – east Europeans were far more likely to be forwarded for involuntary sterilization through the mental health system than west Europeans were.
The campaign didn’t need to last long because by then the practice was not tenable by any standard – but that raised the question, what had been the previous standard and why?
It was Darwin, Darwin, and his cousin Galton. That’s why.
While we are here: Modern racism is a Darwinian project too, actually. See “The alt right, Donald Trump, and – oddly enough – Darwin. Anyone not committed to Darwinian survival of the fittest cannot be ‘alt right’.”