February 22, 2024

Gene of the week

Hi there,

Biopolitical Times, at the Center for
Genetics and Society, has an entertaining feature – its nominations for “gene
of the week”. This highlights genetic hype – genes for everything ranging from
IQ to breast cancer to debt. It has even cited a journal article which alluded
to a genetic disposition for hybrid cars, chocolate, science fiction movies,
mustard and jazz.

This may seem comical, but it is also
dangerous. The result of the last serious bout of genetic determinism was

That is why it was so disturbing to read in
the New York Times recently that a US judge had handed down a relatively harsh sentence
to a man convicted of possessing child pornography because he had a “porn
gene”. Trouble is, there’s no such thing. The judge simply asserted that he was
sure that it would be discovered within 50 years. Talk about blind faith!

Admittedly, genetics is a powerful
influence. But there is still no evidence that all of our behaviour is
genetically determined. Is it a worrying sign that a Federal Court judge thought

Read the article and leave your comments.


Michael Cook