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Science With A Political Agenda

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  • Science With A Political Agenda

    I will be following this one closely:

    DNA of Newtown Shooter Adam Lanza to Be Studied by Geneticists

    Geneticists have been asked to study the DNA of Adam Lanza, the Connecticut man whose shooting rampage killed 27 people, including an entire first grade class.

    The study, which experts believe may be the first of its kind, is expected to be looking for abnormalities or mutations in Lanza's DNA.


    The problem here is what exactly are they going to be looking for? And what good is whatever information gleamed when the sample size was only one person?

    As addressed in the article, quote:

    "They might look for mutations that might be associated with mental illnesses and ones that might also increase the risk for violence," said Beaudet, who is also the chairman of Baylor College of Medicine's department of molecular and human genetics."

    And they might find a picture of President Bush formed by the folds in his chromosomes. I mean it has to be Bush's fault some how.

    But seriously, nothing of any value will be found by sequencing this guys DNA. Everyone has mutations to be found within their DNA, most of which have been inherited through the germ line and many of which fall into the catagory of Polymorphisms. As such they are "natural variations" in genes, and typically have no adverse effect on individuals.

    There is really little to be gained here. In order to identify some form of "violence gene", the researchers would either first have to know what they are looking for, or have a much wider sampling. As in a whole host of mass murderers from which to compare their genetic code. But even then not all mass murderers will express the same genetic markers as the remainder of the sampling pool.

    By looking at only this one sample all that can really be identified would be a group of false markers, or perhaps a "susceptibility locus". This is a location along a genetic sequence which is susceptible to a particular mutation, but this does not mean the associated characteristics of this mutation will be expressed.

    My sense is this particular study falls under the category of people feeling as they have to do something. My fear is the "sci-blogs" and the media at large will attempt to pass the results off as proof of something, that something most likely at attempt to identify people with this or that particular genetic sequence as potentially susceptible to committing some form of mass violence. And therefore unable to own firearms. Or those who live with them either, for that matter.

    In other words science with an agenda. Or at least questionable science used to support an agenda.

  • #2
    From another article on this subject.

    On Christmas Day in 1965, two researchers published a paper saying men with an extra Y chromosome, the chromosome that confers maleness, were “super males” and born criminals. The hypothesis was helped along by the fact that these men “fit the classic Hollywood criminal — big, awkward, thuglike and with low I.Q.’s,” said Dr. Philip Reilly, a lawyer and clinical geneticist who has studied this history.

    The idea persisted for about 15 years, Dr. Reilly said, but eventually the epidemiological evidence convinced scientists that these men were no more violent than men without an extra Y chromosome.


    • #3
      More people who think this is a bad idea:

      The Trouble with Adam Lanza's DNA

      The Truth About the "Warrior Gene"
      Any metaphor will tear if stretched over too much reality.

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