The Corner

Genes, Again

Yesterday’s New York Times op-ed page ran a long opinion piece refuting the evidence of racial/ethnic IQ distinctions. Meanwhile, the far better read Style Section ran a more interesting story on the related subject of neuroscience and genetics. In between the party pictures, wedding announcements, and ads for $2000 purses and baubles that cost significant multiples of that, was an interesting story headlined, Your Child’s Disorder May be Yours, Too.

It made the point that, as neuroscience advances, and various misery inducing and personally limiting behaviors (from Aspergers to ADD to bipolar disorder) have been categorized and (in some cases) made treatable by the discovery of drugs to balance brain chemistry, some parents of children with such diagnoses have had to confront similar traits in themselves. Some may have had milder versions of the same traits, which the child’s diagnosis caused them to understand as part of a pattern. Most had found ways to compensate in their lives. Many feel guilt about passing these problems on to children (something all but the most oblivious parents occasionally feel about one thing or another).

You read this and think, DUH….of course the kid got the wiring from somewhere. But, as a social phenomenon it is very interesting that the PC Times, and by extention the intelligentsia for and about whom they write, acknowledges heritablity of mental bio-chemistry — in a sympathetic, sophisticated manner.  Somehow the idea that intelligence itself is similarly inherited — and might be regarded with equally constructive social responses — remains beyond the pale.

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