Do certain genes determine someone’s “criminal” nature?

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[The year 1871 brought about] the theory of ‘the criminal man’, the idea that certain people are biological criminals. According to [talian criminologist Cesare Lombroso], these people represented an evolutionary throwback who…had inherited the brain structure of their primitive forbearers…At trials, Lombroso could identify a guilty person simply by observing his physical features.

The idea remained popular until an international team of scientists definitively debunked it with a much larger study in 1976.


You would think that after all these misbegotten studies scientists would have given up on their efforts to find a biological basis for crime. But no: in recent years there’s been a renewal of the science, most recently in the studies of an apparent ‘warrior gene’ that makes some men…inherently violent.

[I]t’s hard not to come to the conclusion that biology plays some role in criminal behaviour, impossible to quantify. The new science of epigenetics proposes an interaction between environment and heredity[.]

‘In this context,’ writes [Adrian] Raine, ‘how moral is it for us to punish many criminals as harshly as we do?’



Read full, original post: The inheritance of crime

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