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Behavior Genetics Research: A Far Cry From Fascism

It was disheartening to read in The Scientist that one’s research activities are “tired,” “flagrantly wrong,” “dangerous,” and even “fascist.” Garland Allen’s (February 6, 1989, page 9) assault was directed at modern behavior genetics generally, but since the twin research going on at the University of Minnesota is the only work Professor Allen refers to directly, we would like to offer a rebuttal. Allen’s first argument is t

D. T. Lykken

It was disheartening to read in The Scientist that one’s research activities are “tired,” “flagrantly wrong,” “dangerous,” and even “fascist.” Garland Allen’s (February 6, 1989, page 9) assault was directed at modern behavior genetics generally, but since the twin research going on at the University of Minnesota is the only work Professor Allen refers to directly, we would like to offer a rebuttal.

Allen’s first argument is that human behavioral traits cannot be defined unambiguously—he cites criminality and alcoholism as examples—and that, “if you cannot define a trait unambiguously, you cannot study its inheritance.” Scandinavian studies, defining “criminality” as being listed on the National Police Registry found that adopted-away offspring of criminal biological fathers were more than twice as likely to be criminal themselves than adoptees whose biological fathers were noncriminal, even when the adoptive fathers who raised these offspring were themselves criminal. Being listed in the police registry is...

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