Monday, November 12, 2007

Important New York Times Article   posted by Jason Malloy @ 11/12/2007 03:20:00 PM

In DNA Era, Worries About Revival of Prejudice by NYT genetics reporter Amy Harmon is a frank and sensitive look at the burgeoning implications of genetic science to our political and social landscape.

Nothing quite like this article has ever really appeared in the press. The underlying message is that the biological information environment is changing rapidly and if we don't start opening up the tightly monitored public forum for it right now, we are endangering our ability to handle its potential revelations with any sort of real preparedness or rationality. We, as a civilization, can't just keep silencing and punishing everyone who broaches these topics in a way that challenges our hopes and visions about human equality. The result is to shut down the discussion completely and disarm ourselves to ideas that are most likely - to some degree - correct.

I appear in this article. The quote is a tiny part of many emails and phonecalls I shared with the reporter in which I stressed that the political implications of genetic differences are still open. I urged that liberals and people of all ethnic groups stake out a territory right now, so the rug doesn't get pulled out from under them. I urged progressives to stop predicating their ideas of justice so religiously on empirical matters which might very well get falsified (leaving the door wide open for rival ideologies). When they do this, open talk or diverse public opinions about genetic differences will not evoke the same level of political threat. Ideally it would be irrelevant.

The time for taboos on this topic needs to end. It needs to end because these are issues we, as a diverse world and society, need to discuss and debate openly and fairly, in order to prepare for and accommodate our natural differences as human beings.

And for new readers coming in through the Times, my defense of James Watson mentioned by Harmon, James Watson Tells the Inconvenient Truth: Faces the Consequences, is here.

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