No Turning Back

Garland Allen expresses concern about genetic research on human behavioral traits (The Scientist, February 6, 1989, page 9). His implicit solution, however—ending research and discussion of the genetic basis of human traits—does little more than turn back the clock to a period of ignorance. Do we really want to return to a time when psychiatrists thought that schizophrenia was a result of cold and and loving mothers—and blamed the mother for a child’s illness? Do we really want to deny individuals suffering from serious mental illnesses the possible benefits of identifying major genes underlying their diseases?

Allen complains about the limited methods available to the behavioral genetic researcher. Yet some of the problems identified— such as adequately defining traits— persist in all of behavioral science. His other examples are hardly representative of current work, which includes a large, prospective adoption study of infants (the Colorado...

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