Another Nine-Inch Nail for Behavioral Genetics!

Commentary Human Development 01/2006; 49:336-342. DOI: 10.1159/000096532

ABSTRACT About the time that I was completing my doctoral training (in 1971), reactions to Jensen's [1969] paper in the Harvard Educational Review about the heritability of intelligence were beginning to be published [e.g., Hebb, 1970; Hirsch, 1970] and were explaining to social and behavioral scientists the egregious flaws in theory and meth-od associated with behavior genetics. As a neophyte in developmental science, I na-ively believed that the matter of genetic reductionism would have been settled by this exchange, and by the classic paper of Anastasi [1958] and the earlier one by Schneirla [1956]. I was certain that no one would again take seriously the idea that genes (na-ture), split off from the environment, from the multiple levels of the context (or ecol-ogy) of human development (nurture), could provide an independent, noninteractive source of intelligence or of any other functional (or structural) feature of human de-velopment, no matter what dazzling statistical [but ill-founded; e.g., Feldman & Le-wontin, 1975; Layzer, 1974; Wahlsten, 1990] methods were used to estimate the addi-tive and isolated influence of genes on behavior. I was wrong. Across the ensuing third of a century the erroneous claims and mis-interpreted data of behavioral genetics, and of associated biologically reductionist ac-counts of human development (such as sociobiology or evolutionary psychology), have continued to 'rise from the grave' [e.g. Rushton, 2000], despite the biological, psychological and statistical scholarship that should have kept these ideas 'dead and buried' [e.g.

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