Conclusion Context Placebos and Nocebos

It should now be clear that the major issue, the major concern, the major variable in all of these discussions about the ethics and social consequences of genetic disclosure is not whether information is disclosed, but the character of the social milieu into which that disclosure is disseminated. And the width and band of that social milieu is critical, from nation to culture to region to family unit. One family environment (or nation-state) may be safe and supportive for a child with Down...

C elegans as a Model Organism for Both Biology and Philosophy

The cover of the 1995 annual issue of Science magazine on the Human Genome Project (October 20) displayed the outline of a human and a worm. The worm was Caenorhabditis elegans, or C. elegans for short, and its attractive features are the subject of the centerfold for that issue of Science. C. elegans is known as a model organism, which means that it is an ideal organism for learning about fundamental biological processes that obtain both in the worm system and in other organisms, including...

Predicting Future Acts

If genetic predispositions are identified for antisocial acts, there may be a strong social interest in attempting to prevent the commission of the acts in the first place. A program of prevention might include any or all of the following phases identifying people who have the antisocial genes, attempting social means to dissuade them from antisocial behavior, keeping such individuals under surveillance, mandating treatment to counteract the genetic propensity, or preventively detaining them to...

The Scientific Evidence

At the outset, it is important to determine whether, as a matter of science, one's genotype really does unalterably predetermine one's physiological, let alone behavioral, future. To some extent, the language and symbols of the debate have been captured by the popular culture and the salesmanship or grants-manship of the genetics community. Thus, the Human Genome Project has spawned images of the Rosetta stone and the holy grail of biology, and the individual's genome as his or her coded future...

Two Recent Discoveries in Psychiatric Mental Genetics

Two recent discoveries in the genetics of mental phenomena, one from the genetics of schizophrenia and the other from a genetic discovery involving a personality trait known as novelty seeking, illustrate the problems of a purely genetic approach to mental illnesses. The following sections discuss some of the methodological problems with the research in these areas and argue that the genetics of mental health are best understood through a study of behavioral genetics. A review of recent...