dear sociology: go learn some behavioral genetics

An article in Nature Genetics presents a new meta-analysis of twin studies:

Despite a century of research on complex traits in humans, the relative importance and specific nature of the influences of genes and environment on human traits remain controversial. We report a meta-analysis of twin correlations and reported variance components for 17,804 traits from 2,748 publications including 14,558,903 partly dependent twin pairs, virtually all published twin studies of complex traits. Estimates of heritability cluster strongly within functional domains, and across all traits the reported heritability is 49%. For a majority (69%) of traits, the observed twin correlations are consistent with a simple and parsimonious model where twin resemblance is solely due to additive genetic variation. The data are inconsistent with substantial influences from shared environment or non-additive genetic variation. This study provides the most comprehensive analysis of the causes of individual differences in human traits thus far and will guide future gene-mapping efforts. All the results can be visualized using the MaTCH webtool.

Social constructionists, give it your best shot.

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Written by fabiorojas

May 29, 2015 at 12:01 am

Posted in uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Thanks for posting this, Fabio! I couldn’t agree more. Since academics’ research tends to reflect our personal experiences and knowledge, I would highly recommend anyone who is interested in genetics first start by doing their own DNA (my favorite company is 23andme– the prices of all kits dropped tremendously over the last years due to a VC boost in capital and the importance of ‘network effects’ to get a genetic testing start-up off the ground- they are only $100) and then also throwing their results into and If you want to be anonymous, you can order the kit under a pseudonym. I have been doing genetic genealogy for two years now and it is so rewarding– so easy to see how some marker is reflected in individual behavior (for example, dna can give you some indication of your intelligence, endurance, etc) and so many great stories of meeting relatives near and far. If you take the time to figure out how some distant cousins are related then you can learn some fascinating historical sociology such as how the shift from home to hospital births (for example in the US in the early 1900s) led to many switched-at-birth incidents that are only now discovered, or how many southern men had families with their African-American slaves in remote parts of the South and then bought these children’s freedom, and even how babies born to families that were not friendly to Chile’s Pinochet regime were then adopted into regime-friendly families. I think that researchers in Sweden, Denmark, and Finland can already connect the registrar (individual and firm data) to genetic data. Iceland has almost the entire population’s genetic data but unfortunately doesn’t yet link this to much individual level data. As a twin mom, I also have to remind you that there is quite a big difference between identical twins (same DNA, different fingerprints) and fraternal twins (only as similar to one another as they are to any other sibling, about 50% DNA).

    Liked by 1 person

    Siri Terjesen

    May 31, 2015 at 9:25 pm

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