Cognition & Reality

Friday, 19 November 2010

Behavioral Genetics: An Alien Invasion

Filed under: Behavioral Genetics,Propaganda,Psychomyths — drtone @ 12:50 pm

This article from about.com offers a balanced, rather critical, appraisal of research on the genetics of alcoholism. It is interesting that a middle-of-the-road organ assumes such a critical stance, showing that the truth about behavioral genetics, that it walks on thin evidential ice, has filtered into the secondary and tertiary literature. Academics have begun to acknowledge the flaws in twin studies and the conundrum posed by the failure of research based on the Human Genome Project to yield direct relationships between DNA and behavior. Presumably because the expected evidence has failed to accumulate, the problems with behavioral genetics are becoming widely known.

Nevertheless, the note at the end of the article, by Enoch Gordis, MD, ignores most of the content that precedes it, passing over the various problems the article explores. “We know,” Dr. Gordis says, “that more than one gene is responsible” for vulnerability to alcoholism. He says this in spite of what it says in the article, that animal studies have so far not found “a single gene responsible for alcohol-related behaviors.” Gordis, making the fundamental error in this domain, presupposes that, in the absence of single-gene linkages, genes will be discovered that account for personality traits related to alcoholism. The level of faith underpinning the medical profession’s belief in behavioral genetics far outstrips the evidence, such that only the faith remains. Physicians ignore rules of evidence that they, as “scientists,” would presumably respect if the issue were, say, the existence of extraterrestrial life, a rational appraisal of which would not begin with the assumption that the search for extraterrestrial life has been successful.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Thus, the “scientific consensus” can be dead wrong, sometimes with a moral attached. Practically since the beginning of the serious study of neurophysiology, it was axiomatic, the “scientific consensus,” that brain cells do not regenerate. The idea that they do regenerate was considered laughable. Now they do. The “Big Bang theory” was once derisively dismissed by astrophysics, who then almost universally accepted a “steady-state” theory of the universe. Now the Big Bang rules the roost. In the nineteenth century, the “scientific consensus” was that mental disorders were inherited. In the twentieth century, under the influence of Freud, that view was overthrown. In the the twenty-first century, the “scientific consensus” has returned to the view held in the nineteenth, a topic on which I have commented several times, including here. […]

    Pingback by Scientific Consensus « Cognition & Reality — Thursday, 6 January 2011 @ 3:20 pm | Reply


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