I would like to take exception to the views presented by Garland E. Allen in the February 6, 1989, issue of The Scientist (page 9). Allen sees a resurgence in both the scientific and the popular presses, of reports of new evidence suggesting genetic contributions to the development and expression of complex social behaviors, such as alcoholism, shyness, and manic depressive illness. Allen finds the appearance of these reports threatening to the public, in that historically such ideas were used for political purposes to “blame the victim” and turn attention away from the failure of government to moderate environmental contributions to social problems. Allen is, I believe, rightfully concerned about the potential misuses of science, but to lump together all research on the genetic bases of social behavior and reject it on the grounds of being both poor science and poor politics is absurd and inflammatory. I believe that attacks...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!