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Geneticists And Economists Clash Over "Genoeconomics" Paper 213

scibri writes "One side is accused of supporting ethnic cleansing; the other of being intellectually naive. Geneticists and economists are struggling to collaborate on research that explores how our genes influence and interact with economic behavior. Top economists are publishing a paper that claims a country's genetic diversity can predict the success of its economy. To critics, the economists' paper seems to suggest that a country's poverty could be the result of its citizens' genetic make-up, and the paper is attracting charges of genetic determinism, and even racism. But the economists say that they have been misunderstood, and are merely using genetics as a proxy for other factors that can drive an economy, such as history and culture."
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Geneticists And Economists Clash Over "Genoeconomics" Paper

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  • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @01:15PM (#41609497)

    Maybe it's the other way around, I would say it's more likely that economic success causes immigration, and therefore diversity.

  • by mdarksbane ( 587589 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @02:22PM (#41610409)

    The argument of the paper is *NOT* that there is a genetic driver to culture. The argument is that genetics is a useful *proxy* for culture, and one on which there is much clearer data. Most culture is strongly influenced by your family, who also happen to be your genetic influences. If you can track genetics you can also track culture.

    For example - immigrants from Sweden to the US are going to have similar genetics to people who remained in Sweden. But they are also going to bring their culture with them as well, which is going to continue to influence their lifestyles significantly.

    It is very hard to get data on how many people in the US have similar cultural influences to Sweden, but it is much less hard to find the people who have a genetic link to it, and therefore have an increased probability of having similar cultural influence.

    You don't have to make any claim at all about genetic influences over cultural ones for this to be a useful line of study.

  • by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2012 @02:30PM (#41610521)

    No, you miss the point. I'll illustrate.

    Verifiable fact: there are more black people in jail than whites in the US.

    Said such a thing one, time, instantly branded racist. But you will note that the statement makes no claims about who commits more crimes, about whether more black people actually get charged or found guilty vs non-blacks where were not charged or found innocent, whether the number is a raw total, or a ratio of population at large.... just states the current state of jail population. no conclusions, no innuendo. just a simple number. (well, quantity comparison anyway)

    And if you say it, the first thing people say is "racist".

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.