grid of many people

Hastings Center News

The Genomics of Social Traits is Contentious. And an Opportunity.

For anyone familiar with the history of eugenics, the mention of research into the genomics of an outcome like educational attainment can inspire dread. And for anyone who knows that the 18-year-old white supremacist who murdered 10 Black people in a Buffalo supermarket cited a paper on the subject in his disturbing manifesto, such research can inspire outrage. Indeed, one might be so full of dread or outrage as to propose banning such research.

“I sympathize with that impulse, and I want to push back against it,” writes Hastings Center senior research scholar Erik Parens in Undark. Read his commentary.

The commentary references a recent Hastings Center consensus report, “Wrestling with Social and Behavioral Genomics: Risks, Potential Benefits, and Ethical Responsibility.”