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Does Crime Leave a Genetic Trace? 160

gallifreyan99 writes "Scientists have spent decades trying to understand and fix social problems like violence and alcoholism, usually focusing on the poor and disadvantaged. But now a small band of researchers is claiming that biology plays a vitally important role — because trauma can change you at a genetic level that gets passed on to kids, grandkids, and perhaps even beyond." Part of the research involved testing the effect of stress on the genetics of mice. A number of mice were subjected to stressful situations and then allowed to raise their children. The children, when later subjected to stress, were more vulnerable to it than normal mice (for example, they would stop struggling in a potentially fatal situation earlier than 'happy' mice). This was expected. What's interesting is that when those children were later bred with normal mice, and that third generation was raised by normal mice (so that parental neglect wasn't a factor), they still showed the same vulnerability to stress. A subsequent generation showed the same.
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Does Crime Leave a Genetic Trace?

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  • We're just a hop skip and a jump away from eugenics.

    • by IgnorantMotherFucker ( 3394481 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @06:49PM (#46280547) Homepage
      ... fertilization. I think it was the NYT that discussed this a week or two ago. A woman who carried a gene for a cruel genetic disease wanted to have children, but not to pass on the disease. So she opted for In Vitro Fertilization, with the fertilized zygotes being genetically tested. She has had I think two or three children from zygotes that tested negative. If everyone who carries her disease gene does this, than a rare but terrible scourge could be eliminated from the earth. Her father, for example, is doomed to die young and is already suffering. However I myself have Bipolar-Type Schizoaffective Disorder [warplife.com]. It is as yet unclear whether that is a unique disease or the, uh, "lucky" combination of Manic Depression and Schizophrenia. The cause of Schizophrenia is as yet unclear but is thought to be due to infectious disease of the brain. It may have other causes, as it is likely to be more than one disease, each of which causes the psychotic symptoms of delusions and hallucinations. Manic Depression is quite clearly genetic, due to studies in which twins were adopted out to different parents at birth. There is a strong correlation between whether one twin is Bipolar, and whether the other is. That can't be due to environmental factors, or how one is raised. Manic depression is arguably a horrible disease. I myself have attempted suicide in a serious way a number of times, the last time in 2010 when I wrapped my car around a concrete highway overpass post at a hundred miles per hour. But dammit I forgot to unbuckle my seatbelt. It was a sudden decision, the end it all, you see. However Manic Depressives are well-documented to be uncommonly creative. Besides coding, I have a BA in Physics, while I did not complete my doctorate I stymied my fellow students, even the faculty, with my insight into the nature of reality when was in grad school. I draw, paint, sculpt, compose for and play the piano, sing and play drums. I invent all manner of things. I could have lots of patents if I could be bothered to ever file for them. Kay Redfield Jamison is a noted authority on manic depression, and a Johns Hopkins University psychology professor. She speculates that Manic Depression has persisted through evolution despite its obvious disadvantages because "it brings new ideas into the social consciousness". Hollowell and Ratey propose a similar theory for why Attention Deficit Disorder has persisted through evolution as well. Their theory is that people with ADHD are able to connect otherwise unrelated ideas in a way that the brains of normal people would be incapable of, thereby synthesizing novel ideas. For example despite being bent on suicide the whole time I worked at Medior, I invented then implemented a novel lossless bitmapped graphics compression algorithm and format, that enabled the company to stuff more assets on its multimedia CD-ROMs. Now suppose you chose In Vitro Fertilization because you or your mate had spent your whole lives contemplating suicide. You have a choice of a normal zygote, or one that will quite obviously bear a child who will be Bipolar as an adult. Which one do you choose? Were manic depression eliminated from the species, what would our society be like a thousand years from now? Jamison's new ideas wouldn't be getting contributed to the social consciousness nearly as much anymore.
    • And what's wrong with eugenics? Hitler gave it a bad name with his fancifully eugenic atrocities, but it's not like we don't already apply the principles to every other species we domesticate. We even do it to ourselves - all else being equal, I assume you would prefer a beautiful, healthy, and probably smart and/or strong reproductive partner. Eugenics just requires doing what we're already doing to ourselves bit more consciously.

      As for biological psychology, I'll admit it can be abused in fanciful ways

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Yea, and whats wrong with Communism? All of those mass genocides just gave it a bad name. Surely we can do it right if we try again.

        Sorry, some ideas are poisonous, and can be identified as such from the results of every time they were attempted. How many times should we attempt eugenics before concluding that it just leads to genetic discrimination, forced euthanasia, and forced sterilization?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          ""As for biological psychology, I'll admit it can be abused in fanciful ways, just as Social Darwinists abuse the principles of evolution. But ignoring it leads to such patently ridiculous claims as Tabla Rasa and the sameness of the sexes.""

          ""Yea, and whats wrong with Communism? All of those mass genocides just gave it a bad name. Surely we can do it right if we try again.""

          There is no defined definition of "Communism" and with it, or without it, you cannot stop a leader who decides to abuse there power an

          • Any sort of eugenics that is embraced will shortly become mandatory, and necessarily involve telling people who may and may not mate, and with whom.
            Brings back shades of the "kill the infirm and sterilize the unsound" policies of Nazi Germany. Gotta breed that master race, dontchakno.

            This isnt even hyperbole. Eugenics by its nature will necessitate telling some people that they are inherently worth less than others, in a moment undoing years of civil rights activisim. Doesnt mean much if "black and white

        • by N1AK ( 864906 )

          Yea, and whats wrong with Communism? All of those mass genocides just gave it a bad name. Surely we can do it right if we try again.

          I'm not sure Communism is the best comparison to make. Sure it's easy to point out the huge failures of the extreme examples but where are the extreme examples of capitalism (no government involvement in trade or industry)?

          I'm not in favour of sterilising people, but I guess I believe in eugenics on some level because I think government policy in the UK should be changed. Ou

          • The comparison with Communism is that like with eugenics its basically a couple of ivory tower intellectuals deciding that for the good of humankind a bunch of people have to take one for the team. Eugenics is quite a bit worse because in this case "take one for the team" isnt "work harder than the rest", its "get sterilized and /or liquidated as inferior".

      • And what's wrong with eugenics?

        The key question in any eugenics debate is "who gets to decide?". Most people who favour the idea assume that THEY will get to make those decisions, and that everyone else will just be delighted at their inspired decision-making.

        Most people who favour the idea are, in fact, wrong about who will be making the decisions.

        but it's not like we don't already apply the principles to every other species we domesticate.

        Off the top of my head, I can't think of a domesticated animal

        • by pellik ( 193063 )
          I dunno, would descendants who are 100% dependent on an advanced technological society to survive live in an advanced technological society which is significantly more likely to persist than one who's occupants are not genetically adapted?
        • >Who gets to decide?

          How about everyone? It doesn't need to be handed down from on-high, we could go a more grass-roots GATTACA route and simply encourage people to be more conscientious about choosing their genetic pairings, and give them access to the information to do so (hopefully with protections against genetic discrimination by governments and corporations). Some social changes could also help - for example encouraging a distinction between choosing a spouse and choosing a reproduction partner.

          • BLOCKQUOTE>How about everyone? It doesn't need to be handed down from on-high, we could go a more grass-roots GATTACA route and simply encourage people to be more conscientious about choosing their genetic pairings, and give them access to the information to do so (hopefully with protections against genetic discrimination by governments and corporations).

            Of course, letting people choose who to reproduce with is hardly eugenics - they might make the "wrong" choice, after all.

            And once you have to add laws

            • Yes, letting people make their own choices gives them the freedom to make the "wrong" choice. So what? Eugenics doesn't have to mean taking things in some decreed-by-God "right" direction, it can just mean actually paying attention to the road you're driving down. Just look at what we've done with dogs - nobody ever decreed that there was a "right kind of not-wolf" we were aiming for, every individual dog breeder nudged the species in a direction that seemed good to them, and a whole bunch of interesting

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        While eugenics seems harmless enough on it's face, as far as I know, no eugenics program has ever turned out well. Hitler's program is, of course the most imfamous but the lesser known American program had it's own serious ethical failures including involuntary sterilization. It eventually comes down to who is the arbiter of genetic fitness and who watches the watcher. In the U.S. the 'feeble minded' were to be sterilized, but some of the victems turned out not to actually be 'feeble minded' at all and, of

        • Congratulations on being an actual well-considered counterpoint, you've cut to the heart of of the most serious objections to eugenics, and I can't refute them. I can only say that with dirt-cheap DNA sequencing on the horizon, and an ever-expanding understanding of what it says, some degree of intentional eugenics is pretty much inevitable, and we'd be well advised to shed the knee-jerk "Aaah! Eugenics = Evil" mentality and start discussing how the inevitable could be approached to minimize the abuses.

      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        And what's wrong with eugenics?

        Don't you have wikipedia? That is the absolutely most retarded question I've heard all week! Do you want YOUR children sterilized? Trying to make the best human offspring for yourself is fine, but messing with someone else's genetics without their permission is just evil and I can't for the life of me figure out why ANYONE would think it was all right.

        In other words - working that horrible high-stress job so that you'll one day be able to bring your children into a better life

        • You are discussing eugenics as an autocratic institution. There's no particular reason it has to be that way. It's basically just animal husbandry as applied to yourself - look at what we've managed to turn domesticated wolves into without any sort of organized intent.

          >eugenics means breeding certain traits out of a species
          It can be. It can also be breeding traits in to a species. Look at how the Vikings managed to beautify the nordic gene pool with their routine kidnapping of foreign beauties. If y

          • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

            You are discussing eugenics as an autocratic institution.

            That's the only way eugenics works. You like eugenics? Move to North Korea where they make mothers drown newborns who aren't 100% Korean.

            There's no particular reason it has to be that way. It's basically just animal husbandry as applied to yourself

            Deciding your own offspring's traits isn't eugenics. Eugenics is, according to Websters, "The study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, esp

            • Damn man, that's some grade-A strawman boxing there.

              >...especially by such means as...
              notice they say especially, not exclusively?

              Intentionally breed animals for certain traits = animal husbandry
              Intentionally breed humans for certain traits = eugenics
              It's like the difference between sweating and perspiring. Animals sweat, humans perspire (or so it was once upon a time). Is there any real difference between the two? No, it's purely linguistics.

              Did I say anything about approving of rape? HELL no, I didn

    • Crime is a social construct. It's usually a case of being rather poor and/or having opportunity outweighing the risks.

      In some fundamentalist country homosexuality is a crime by law. If the regime would be toppled today, and said laws
      would be reversed, would the genetic makeup of aformentioned criminals suddenly flip?

      • Quote GK Chesterton, âoeThe blue cross":

        "Reason and justice grip the remotest and the loneliest star. Look at the stars. Don't they look as if they were single diamonds and sapphires?" well, you can imagine any mad botany or geology you please. Think of forests of adamants, with fields of brilliants.think the moon is a blue moon, a single elephantine sapphire.But don't fancy that all that frantic astronomy would make the smallest difference to the reason and justice of conduct. On plains of opal, unde

  • Lamarck Vindicated? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by man_ls ( 248470 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @06:22PM (#46280341)

    Does this mean Lamarckian evolution is partially correct after all?

    • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @06:32PM (#46280407) Journal

      Ehhhhh...I wouldn't go that far. Lamarkianism relies on a feedback mechanism to pump info back into genes, which is far more complicated that natural selection, where variation introduces info into genes, then the less-well-adapted genes survive less well and are replaced in subsequent generations by omission.

      This is probably more related to epigenetics, where certain chunks of DNA are coated to stop their effect, and this can be responsive to the environment as well as passed down to children.

      Also the exact causal relationships, if any, between stress, abdominal belly fat deposition (in the gut), and things like heart disease and insulin resistance, and even bacterial fauna population differences is also a hot area of research, and much of thatccan be passed on via non-DNA methods.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        The strongest objection to Lamarckian evolution was the lack of any known mechanism for an organism's genome to be altered by it's environment or behavior.

        We now know that epigenetic modifications are heritable and can persist for multiple generations, so there IS a mechanism to support something like Lamarckian evolution.

        It doesn't prove the theory but it does call for a serious re-evaluation.

    • by kaliann ( 1316559 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @06:52PM (#46280567)

      In the broad general understanding that the environment can induce acquired changes that can then be inherited, yes. It's called epigenetics, and it's a fascinating field, wherein modification of packaging on DNA affects how and when it is read.

      In the specifics of pretty much any of the claims made by Lamarckian adaptation, no, that's bunk.

      One of the major differences is that epigenetic changes aren't always adaptive; that is, they aren't necessarily helpful to the organism's reproductive success. These changes can result from environmental stresses as a kind of "side effect", and the change affects later generations. Epigenetic changes are inherited, but they can be reversed in as little as a generation or passed on, and they are never responsible for new transcripts or proteins being produced. They modify amounts and timing of products from existing genes - and that's impressive - but they do not introduce novel products on a cellular level, the way changes in genetic code does.

      • I guess it depends on what you mean by 'adaptive'. We can make a jump here and assume that abuse and stress will cause your offspring to have lower intelligence- making them more able to survive under those conditions.

        • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

          I agree. I'd be very hesitant to describe a widespread natural biological process that clearly survived intense selection over a very long time as something that doesn't provide an advantage. If organisms were better off starting with "clean programming" then I'm sure that germ cells would avoid applying epigenetic changes to their DNA, or that embryos would somehow reset themselves.

          Advantage isn't determined by a panel of judges. Advantage is determined by going out into the world and out-breeding the c

    • It depends what you mean by Lamarckian evolution.

      Lamarck's theory of evolution was teleological and argued that evolution tended towards complexity in a deterministic way. His inclusion of Soft Inheritance - inheritance of characteristics acquired during the lifetime of the organism - was peripheral and placed in order to explain adaptation of organisms to the environment. What was later called (perhaps misleadingly) (Neo)-Lamarckianism argued that most of the evolutionary phenomenology is best explained b

  • Curious (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @06:23PM (#46280347) Homepage

    I'd be curious to see how many generations will exhibit this characteristic, of course using the initial pre-stressed generation as the baseline for what normal behavior would be considered.

    I always find it interesting when science proves something from ancient verbally-passed records, particularly when it's something which couldn't possibly* be scientifically concluded as truth in ancient days. Specific to this case, I believe the Bible says something like "your sins will be visited upon your children and your children's children for seven generations" or some such thing. Ignoring the biblical propensity to refer to everything in 'sevens', it'd be interesting to see if there's correlation.

    * per our current understanding of ancients and their scientific capabilities

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I always find it interesting when science proves something...I believe the Bible says...

      A stopped clock is right twice a day.

      • It has a great deal of wisdom about human nature. That it is unscientific in origin doesn't make it false, or like your stopped clock analogy, only coincidentally true.
        • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

          But of course it's false. Gods and the supernatural are fantasy concepts, and it shouldn't need to be pointed out here that they don't exist in the real world.
          • human nature, for example. I don't believe in G-d, but I own a bible and read it from time to time. It helps me to understand other people. G-d has nothing to do with that.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Sabriel ( 134364 )

              Um, just curious: if you don't believe, why are you self-censoring?

              • That's funny you bring that up- was raised Orthodox Presbyterian but am now agnostic at best. However I am respectful of others religious beliefs and tend to do that myself.

              • Some of my best friends are Jewish. Actually it was Kuro5hin's LilDebbie who started doing it over there. I picked it up from him. The Jewish faith holds that it is disrespectful to ever destroy a document that has the word "God" written on it, if it is spelled correctly. The explanation I read pointed out that the attics of very old synagogues held used collection of worn-out Torah, because they spell the word correctly and so would be disrespectful to destroy. My understanding is that it is not consi
          • by Anonymous Coward

            To call "gods" a "fantasy concept" is like calling a sword a "fantasy weapon". Yes, it's obsolete now, but once upon a time it was a state-of-the-art mental model that people found very useful to make sense of the world.

            And just as people killed by swords are still dead, so conclusions reached by people who used "god" as their mental anchor - may still, in many or even most cases, be valid.

          • But of course it's false...

            Nope. As the title of GP's post makes clear, the bible was written/translated by human beings, not "God". Nothing in it is of supernatural origin. GP's point that the bible contains insights into human nature is completely valid. Other cultural mythologies are also great sources of insight into the human condition.

            Because the faithful believe that their particular scripture is the "Word of God" doesn't diminish the sapience contained therein.

          • by Livius ( 318358 )

            The fantasy concepts were metaphors, and were always intended to be understood as such.

            So "false" really doesn't apply to them, any more than "true" does.

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            The model may have been wrong (much like epicycles didn't work out for astronomy), but the observation looks like it could be valid.

        • And a lot of that "insight" has to do with influence by evil spirits and demons, hence Jesus' and others' exorcisms and such. Yeah, on the vague surface, they recognized that some but not all people do bad things. On detailed examination, they had no clue as to why.
        • So bats are birds, pi = 3 and a man is able to sustain an erection while asleep?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Ramirozz ( 758009 )
      In theory as many as possible... but one thing to remember... that predisposition (not predetermination) can be corrected if the ofspring is given the opposite that caused that epigenetic change... meaning with that: love, empathy, education, safety. I always wonder why studies do tests with the most harming techniques and not the opposite.
      • by Lotana ( 842533 )

        I always wonder why studies do tests with the most harming techniques and not the opposite.

        My guess would be because causing harm is so much easier, reproducible and gives back obvious and immediate results.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      People with religious insanity, or any other delusional belief, will try to shoehorn facts into their delusion. Passing traits to your children and grandchildren does not have anything to do with anyone's superstitions.
    • The bible says that the sins will be visited on the descendants of the perpetrator.

      This research says that there will be an effect on the descendants of the victim.

    • Suffering a traumatic experience (as the mice in the experiment did) isn't a sin any more than having blue eyes or inheriting your parents' house when they die. The bible is very specific about what constitutes "sin" and nothing in this study is even remotely close.

      You're taking a very specific statement in the bible and generalizing in a ridiculously broad way to make it fit the situation, then claiming that the bible predicted it. Sadly, this is a fairly typical for arguments that "the bible said it", e

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      In general, things like that should be taken as meaning "for a long time".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @06:28PM (#46280371)

    The reasons should be plainly apparent:

    My family was in no way disadvantaged. My father came from a family of modest means, but he was raised in a comfortable home in the country that his father built himself.

    My father was a raging alcoholic, violently and sexually abusive to me, verbally abusive to my mother, sexually abusive to my sister.

    But he was a good provider. He was a career military officer who retired at thirty, and served honorably in vietnam.

    When I was a boy I was brutally bullied by my classmates. I don't know what I did to bring that on, but it was everything I could do to survive elementary school. Why didn't the teachers or the principal intervene when I was being beaten?

    The result now is that while I am not an alcoholic, I surely would be if I ever touched alcohol. That becomes plainly apparent to me if I ever do get drunk so I choose not to drink.

    I am fucked up beyond all repair. I've spent a lot of time in psychiatric hospitals.

    I have a degree and am a good coder, but it is very difficult to provide for myself. I do my best to do right by others, but I myself am poor and disadvantaged. If I can get a job at all I earn more than 100K, but it is very difficult for me to get a job that I can tolerate.

    • by SternisheFan ( 2529412 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @07:23PM (#46280833)

      I am fucked up beyond all repair.

      No, you're not. The fact that you're you are alive proves that you're a tough survivor.

      Kids do not have power over adults who bullied them. As a grown adult you do have the power over screwed up, bullying controlling types. Power to not allow it to happen to you again, at least not without one hell of a good fight from you. You are now stronger than you might realize right now, but strong you are. That strength may come in very handy as you go through life. While your growth as a child was changed, you are not 'fucked'. You would not do the things that were done to you to another human being. That makes you way better than the cowards who harmed you back then. I salute you. Keep on moving forward, maybe just so the bastards don't ''win''.

    • by Laxori666 ( 748529 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @08:19PM (#46281369) Homepage
      Everybody is fucked up in one way or another. The great lie of society is that there is such a thing as normal. Yet this is impossible. It is each person's task - given to him by nobody other than himself - to do the best he can so as to make his way through this fucked-up-ness and figure out why it is so endemic and how he can help himself and others around him out of it. You clearly value your own life as you avoid alcohol because it would harm you. This is a good trait! Use it well. Life gets better the more you work at improving it - this is the joy of being an intelligent animal.
  • The linked website looks like fad journalism. Big splashy page with a headline. Screems bias found here.
    • Isn't your judging a scientific article by the typesetting of the site that presents it a bias?
    • Not to mention, even the research in the study is dubious at best, as they completely ignore the 'nurture' aspect of rearing offspring:

      Part of the research involved testing the effect of stress on the genetics of mice. A number of mice were subjected to stressful situations and then allowed to raise their children. The children, when later subjected to stress, were more vulnerable to it than normal mice

      So, then, was it a genetic anomoly passed down from the parents that cause the behavior, as the "researchers" hypothesis, or was the behavoir learned, i.e. the traumatized parents taught, either through intent or inadvertently, the offspring to react to certain things in certain ways?

  • Not so complex (Score:1, Insightful)

    by The Cat ( 19816 )

    Violence happens when otherwise friendly people are provoked. In the case of the poor, it's usually when they are goaded by someone in a position of power. We've all seen the peculiar attitude rich and powerful people develop when they feel free to jut out their chin and say "what are you going to do about it?"

    Alcholism happens when powerless people have nowhere else to hide.

    People who are powerless become destructive: either to themselves or others. The reason this situation persists is because there

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      Some people are just selfish assholes, so sometimes violence and alcoholism is just and only about selfish assholes going with what they feel like they should do(and strongly connected, since thinking that you're not a selfish asshole is much easier when you're drunk, so thinking reasons for violence is easier when you're drunk and there we have a cycle).

  • Doubtful (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DumbSwede ( 521261 ) <slashdotbin@hotmail.com> on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @06:49PM (#46280537) Homepage Journal
    I will go on the record predicting this research will widely be discredited within the next 5 years. I’m not saying there is no epigenome, but why would it work in an apparent anti-Lemarkin fashion, let alone anti-Darwinian? The implication is that nobody gets bad-genes, just that genes get shunted aside for multiple generations due to changes in the epigenome.

    I think there is some huge motivation on the part of the research here to explain why certain segments of the population remain in a loop of poverty and violence. I think social factors can adequately explain the problems we see. Perhaps there is a genetic component as well to why some groups do better than others, but research of that kind routinely gets the authors in trouble. Here we can have a quasi -genetic predisposition explanation that does away with the shame of having bad genes and suggests that it is society’s fault for not preventing the stressors in earlier generations that lead current generations to underperform.

    What is a little strange is the implication that the changes to the epigenome stay permanently, of course only if they are negative changes.
    • by burki ( 32245 )

      Good analysis. If you look at the following graphics, http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.... [europa.eu] you find massive (in some countries up to 20%) changes in Homicide rates within less than five years. I just don't see how genetics would be of any help if you want to understand these trends.

      • There has been a massive reduction in all crime over the last 40 years, which coincidentally started just about the time they widely banned widespread lead use, particularly in paint and gasoline. And that the last generation routinely exposed to lead paint and gasoline during their 0-20 years is the baby boomers who are in the process of retiring.

        It will likely be impossible to ever confirm this but I believe the dramatic reduction in crime rates can be attributed to reduction of lead in the environment. L

        • It will likely be impossible to ever confirm this but I believe the dramatic reduction in crime rates can be attributed to reduction of lead in the environment.

          It is difficult to confirm, but lead was phased out of alcohol on different dates in different parts of the country. By looking at the on time sequence of phase out with the time sequence of onset of crime rate reduction, we could see if there is any correlation. And Rick Nevin did look. He found a correlation. Leaded gasoline was a significant cause for the crime. (Just stay away from the home page. Unless you are ready for a sudden on slaught of geocities meets blogger kind of traumatic experience.) http [ricknevin.com]

          • but lead was phased out of alcohol on different dates in different parts of the country

            But I like lead in my booze! Damn nanny state.

    • by LF11 ( 18760 )
      Your critique is flawed.

      It may well work in both directions, but the researchers did not investigate the transmission of positive behaviors. I wouldn't be so quick to discount the results. We are still learning about epigenetics, and there is tremendous knowledge still to be gained. Part of the problem is that the mechanisms of epigenetics are largely invisible to sequencing technology. Our knowledge of epigenetics is hobbled by this.

      We already know that dietary factors can be transmitted epigenetically
    • If you think about it epigentics gives an organism tremendous adaptive capability. Sad to say, but in hard times crime does pay....

    • I guess it depends on what you mean by 'bad'. Epigenetics gives an organism a tremendous adaptive capability- and like it or not, under severe environmental pressures 'crime' does pay.....

    • Just because you don't like the politics of science doesn't mean it can't be true. It may well be shown that this research is flawed and their conclusions are wrong. Likewise, the fact that there is one study that seems to indicate it doesn't mean we should all jump on the bandwagon to do whatever people see as the logical outcome of this finding.

  • by weilawei ( 897823 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @06:51PM (#46280553) Homepage
    Don't mention this to the Aussies.
    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Don't mention this to the Aussies.

      Definitely not to the Brits.

      They sent all the petty criminals and Irish to Australia (back in those days, displaying the Irish flag was considered sedition) meanwhile all the rapist and murderers were kept in merry old England.

  • We're all stressed out, and can't deal with it.
  • On the one hand, nobody wants the poor to suffer, especially poor children. And nobody wants the government to decide who has the right to have kids. On the other hand, you get more of what you subsidize, and our society pays poor people to have children. How much crime, poverty, and general misery is caused by people who should never have children, and yet have children? (Often, lots of children?) People worry about "income inequality," but here's a not-insignificant source of at least part of it.

    It's temp

    • If welfare offered everyone a basic standard of living, as in Scandinavia, that could remove the incentive to have kids for money.
    • by dryeo ( 100693 )

      Pay the non-poor even more for having kids? Even a better idea considering the low birthrates in most developed countries.
      Unluckily the opposite is happening, my Provinces newest budget (claimed once again balanced) increased spending for the over 65 demographic and once again cut spending for the under 45 demographic. They just don't care about the future, just getting elected and the over 65 demographic wants increased spending on themselves and less taxes and does vote.

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      If the poor have better opportunities to become less poor, there will be less of this.

  • I am no psychologist but from the stories it sounds as if the people were surrounded by chaos. They had no loving parent, no guidance and no one to rely on for help. Essentially they are lost souls. They go from one bad situation to another and make poor choices simply because they can't understand a normal life. And even though people try to do better later in life they have a lot of emotional baggage from their youth that comes back to haunt them. And that is when history repeats itself.

    Imagine never grow

  • This sounds familiar except it was about diet.
    Ah yes here it is:


  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @07:31PM (#46280915) Journal

    I'm pretty sure the amount of lead in the environment is a more useful predictor of violent behavior than genetics.

    If you look at violent crime in the US, for instance, you see a big drop-off starting with the generation after the regulations were put on lead.

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

      I'm pretty sure the amount of lead in the environment is a more useful predictor of violent behavior than genetics.

      This was a study on rats. I think it is a bit premature to conclude anything about humans from it, but certainly it is suggestive.

      Lead may very well be a major contributor to violent behavior - it might even be the largest one. That doesn't mean that there aren't others as well. People are complicated; there is no one cause for anything that a person does.

      Some people seem to gain weight no matter how hard they try to lose it. That doesn't mean that if you locked them in a cell and fed them 1500 kcal/day

    • by dryeo ( 100693 )

      I think all or at least most heavy metals are as bad. Lead being a major one in our countries.
      What is worrying is the amount of depleted uranium that America has spread around, particularly in the middle east as my understanding is that depleted uranium is as bad as lead for brain development.
      To answer the AC below, compare Canada and the US, crime has dropped in both nations with the drop in the use of lead even our gun cultures are quite different. One problem we're seeing is high death rates in swans and

  • Hopefully, if there ever is another Minority Report cinematic adaptation, this new research will be taken into account. Because if the propensity or inclination for crime can be inherited in a Biblical sense as a couple of people have already posted, then this should make for a more interesting movie about how the society in that PKD story's universe (or the society that it is commenting about, namely us) can persecute and condemn not only one man members of his family and even their descendents.
  • Please tell me the browser cache is screwing with me. Please tell me that my wife wants to have sex more often ( ok that isn't going to happen, I have a 12 and 15 year old) Do we really have Slashdot.org back?
  • What disturbs me most about this story is that the "stressful situations" must essentially be mouse torture. Having to do things like that are why I'd never be able to do lab work involving live animals. I'd probably end up releasing them or smuggling them out and turning them into pets.

    • To save a mouse from torture is to subject a starving snake to torture. Nature is unpleasant.
      • You really don't see the difference in intentionally harming something vice consuming it for survival?

        Snakes have to eat. Men do not have to torture ... anything.

        But if you subscribe to the contrary, then experiments on humans should be cool, right? It's just a matter of shifting your benchmark for 'acceptable' slightly AND the results are far more validly extended to our species than mouse experiments.

        • Somebody has to feed the lab mouse to the lab snake, which will cause obvious torture to the mouse. I wouldn't be able to do it, but I don't object to it.
  • I knew I shouldn't have ejaculated all over the display model before stealing that TV.
  • And so Cesare Lombroso wasn't so wrong after all!
  • Any child raised by mice would have disturbing psychological behaviours.

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain