Don’t Overlook the Power of Genes

I have a special fondness for those who think against the grain–not so much because they are correct when doing so, but because they have personalities that challenge us. Or as Judith Harris might say, “they have a genetic proclivity to be naughty.”

Harris has followed her  provocative attack on parental and professional hubris, The Nurture Assumption, with a 2nd assault on simplistic psychological models of human nature and humanistic overreaching when it comes to explaining human behavior.

No Two Alike:Human Nature and Human Individuality is a carefully worded critique of psychological research for its ignorance of genetic biology. She did not say, but I would, that the pervasive humanistic assumption about the promise of human rationality to design our way out of problems among academics causes  a lack of interest in genes or any other causal factor that might impede the malleability of personalities.

Don’t miss the chart on 242 and 243 for a tripartite model of the role of status, relationships, and socialization in interacting with genetic predispositions to fashion our identity.  See Robert Burton’s “hidden shapers” for a related analysis of our behavior.

The underlying strength of the book is that it is written by a non-academic who consequently needs not be blind to the work in multiple disciplines. Yet, she realizes that her work depends on the microscopic tendencies of disciplinary scholars.

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