Culture Genetics Intelligent Design

Why genetic determinism can’t simply be disproven

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Reviewing behavioral geneticist Robert Plomin’s Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are, a history of medicine prof writes,

Crude hereditarianism often re-emerges after major advances in biological knowledge: Darwinism begat eugenics; Mendelism begat worse eugenics. The flowering of medical genetics in the 1950s led to the notorious, now-debunked idea that men with an extra Y chromosome (XYY genotype) were prone to violence. Hereditarian books such as Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein’s The Bell Curve (1994) and Nicholas Wade’s 2014 A Troublesome Inheritance (see N. Comfort Nature 513, 306–307; 2014) exploited their respective scientific and cultural moments, leveraging the cultural authority of science to advance a discredited, undemocratic agenda. Although Blueprint is cut from different ideological cloth, the consequences could be just as grave.

Ultimately, if unintentionally, Blueprint is a road map for regressive social policy. Nothing here seems overtly hostile, to schoolchildren or anyone else. But Plomin’s argument provides live ammunition for those who would abandon proven methods of improving academic achievement among socio-economically deprived children. His utopia is a forensic world, dictated by polygenic algorithms and the whims of those who know how to use them. People would be defined at birth by their DNA. Expectations would be set, and opportunities, resources and experiences would be doled out — and withheld — a priori, before anyone has had a chance to show their mettle. Nathaniel Comfort, “Genetic determinism rides again” at Nature

Although Comfort doesn’t quite say it, genetic determinism is not something one can simply disprove. It is a mindset, an attitude to life and to people: In popular culture, the thought is expressed as “It’s not me, it’s my genes.” Among our betters, couched in bureaucratic terms, the thought is “You’re right and we could do with fewer genes like yours.” We can’t stop people from believing that stuff; the best we can do is make sure it doesn’t impact public policy much.

The review offers a number of walks on the wild side of genetics.

See also: There’s a gene for that… or is there?

5 Replies to “Why genetic determinism can’t simply be disproven

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    “Hereditarian books such as Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein’s The Bell Curve (1994) and Nicholas Wade’s 2014 A Troublesome Inheritance (see N. Comfort Nature 513, 306–307; 2014) exploited their respective scientific and cultural moments, leveraging the cultural authority of science to advance a discredited, undemocratic agenda.”

    Um, have you READ “Bell Curve” or any of Charles Murray’s later analyses? Murray argues AGAINST undemocratic government programs that INSIST that long term, objective observation of the measurable differences in achievement between races MUST be ignored because it CAN’T be true. And even if IS true, we must PRETEND the differences don’t exist because Liberal social programs DEPEND on “equal outcomes” not “equal opportunities”.

    But clearly any theory that requires “equal outcomes”, regardless of talent, is fundamentally “a discredited, undemocratic agenda”. Should there be quotas for white boys in the NBA? Should 10% of all symphony orchestras be black? And we are now seeing cases of elite colleges discriminating against Asians because, well, the Asians simply do too good on tests. So blacks whose test scores disqualify them are admitted, and Asians whose test scores qualify them are rejected SOLELY on race. Which is entirely in keeping with “equal outcomes”.

  2. 2
    AaronS1978 says:

    I read this article couple days ago.
    I do agree with what he is saying but it’s still scary, often the idea of genetic determinism undermines free will and makes us all puppets to the protein coding that created our cells. People like Nancy Segal, go out of their way, to tote this point by showing the similarities between twins raised apart prove genetic inheritance of both personalities and traits. I understand that genetic determinism is a mindset and hard to disprove, but as long as people like Plomin and Segal keep showing to the public that they are right, it’s going to become near impossible to stop them from directly influencing public policy. So I think the only way to stop them from having an impact is by directly in validating their points of view which I don’t know how to do very well

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “So I think the only way to stop them from having an impact is by directly in validating their points of view which I don’t know how to do very well”,,,

    Here is one way to invalidate their reductive materialistic points of view with empirical evidence:

    Darwinism vs Biological Form – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyNzNPgjM4w

    Here is another way:

    Michael Egnor: Is free will a dangerous myth?
    October 6, 2018
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/michael-egnor-is-free-will-a-dangerous-myth/

  4. 4
    AaronS1978 says:

    I appreciate your posts you put a lot of work into them.

  5. 5
    News says:

    Aaron1978 at 4, thanks! Glad to help.

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