The problems with genetic determinism.

Before I stopped reading the Jacobin for being anti-women, I took note of a few of their articles. This one on genetic determinism (like evolutionary psychology, although it’s not specifically addressed) is pretty interesting.

Biological determinism seems plausible precisely because it gives the illusion that it is grounded in scientific observation. No scientist disagrees that the basic building blocks of an organism are encoded in its genetic material, and that evolution, through some combination of genetic drift and selection, has shaped those genes. But trying to ascribe human behavior, whether eating a whole bag of potato chips or waging war, to a set of genes is clearly a quixotic exercise…

The appeal of biological determinism is that it offers plausible, scientific explanations for societal contradictions engendered by capitalism. If Type II diabetes is reduced to the problem of genetics (which it surely is to some degree), then we don’t have to think about the rise of obesity and its underlying causes: the agro-business monopoly, income inequality, and class-based disparities in food quality. Combine this with the prevalence of drug-based solutions to disease pushed by the pharmaceutical industry and it is no surprise that we are left with the impression that complex social phenomena are reducible to simple scientific fact.

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