SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN ARTICLE

Steve Firth steve at firthcom.demon.co.uk
Fri Mar 10 12:54:47 EST 1995


In article <D57z1p.Ir4 at demon.co.uk>, Anthony Tomlinson writes:

>Maybe I missed something, but what exactly is your point?  Is is that
>all men are intrinsically violent and criminal and we should treat
>them as such, or is it that all men cannot help the bad things they do
>because it's in their genes?

Sorry, I realise that for many people irony is something that is worth 
slightly less than goldy or bronzy. I am not making either of the points 
that you suggest.

I hoped that what I was doing was pointing out the stupidity of trying 
to discover a genetic marker for criminal behaviour. We have one, it is 
I believe a better marker of criminal tendency than any of the markers 
suggested by those working in the field. If in this case we regard any 
attempt to link the 'Y' chromosme to criminality as ludicrous (as your 
reply seems to sugggest). Why are some biologists so eager to accept 
other (weaker) markers so readily?

The case of males and criminal behaviour also shows up the futility of 
the search for these markers. We may posit perfectly well that if we are 
told that person "Z" is a criminal, then there is a very high 
probability that "Z" is male. We may not however conclude that if we are 
told that "Z" is a male that "Z" is also a criminal, or about to become 
one. The same logic will apply with other supposed markers of criminal 
tendencies, hence they will be of no real practical significance. 
Furthermore we can assume that these markers have been distributed 
amongst the population in approximately the same ratio throughout the 
existence of the human species. Hence the current belief that we exist 
in times of rising criminality, can have no basis in genetics - it must 
be a function of social circumstances (or be an invalid observation). So 
to affect criminal behaviour, we should pay more attention to social 
rather than genetic remedies.

As I read these claims of a genetic link to criminal behaviour, I hear a 
strange noise in the distance. It sounds like gas burners being ignited 
and comes from the direction of Poland.
.......................................................................
Stephen Firth                                           Matthew: 27,  5
steve at firthcom.demon.co.uk                               Judges:  7, 17
CIS: 100023,3414




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