Exploring genetic causation in biology

by John McLaughlin In both popular culture and the technical literature in biology, the word “genetic” is ubiquitous. Despite its common usage and universal recognition, discussions centered around this concept usually leave its meaning taken for granted. We have the vague sense that it relates to DNA, genes, heredity, and inheritance, but what does it … Continue reading Exploring genetic causation in biology

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Heritability: a handy guide to what it means, what it doesn’t mean, and that giant meta-analysis of twin studies

by Jonathan M. Kaplan Recently, Nature Genetics published a paper by Polderman et al. entitled “Meta-analysis of the heritability of human traits based on fifty years of twin studies,” [1]. It has already garnered a lot of attention: blog posts and various news sites are trumpeting its conclusions, and putting their own spins on the … Continue reading Heritability: a handy guide to what it means, what it doesn’t mean, and that giant meta-analysis of twin studies

The Extreme Warrior gene: a reality check

by Alondra Oubré MAOA — Genetic culprit for violence? Theories about inborn race-based aggression, violence, and criminality are back in the news [1]. In the ongoing search for genes underlying social behavior, none has sparked more curiosity, if not controversy, than the gene that codes for monoamine oxidase A — MAOA [2, 3, 4]. Nicknamed … Continue reading The Extreme Warrior gene: a reality check