By Chet Yarbrough
Blueprint (How DNA Makes Us Who We Are)
By: Robert Plomin
Narrated by: Robert Plomin
Robert Plomin (Author, American Psychologist and behavioral geneticist.)
As a psychologist and clinical geneticist, Robert Plomin seems well suited to explain how understanding of DNA has the potential of mitigating (possibly curing) many human psychological maladies.
The scientific community notes that 70% of human variability is based on genetic differences among people.
With a perfect picture of a person’s DNA, there is potential for reducing human mental disorders. However, Plomin’s argument seems weakened by his research and experience.
Plomin has spent a great deal of his life researching DNA and genetic inheritance.
What “Blueprint” reveals is how much progress has been made but, at the same time, how far science must advance to clearly understand what the other 30% of human experience has to do with who we are, how we think, and why we act as we do.
Plomin acknowledges there are different patterns of genetic inheritance. These patterns show susceptible psychological maladies and other genetic anomalies that cause Huntington disease, Marfan syndrome, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, hemophilia, and others. The inheritance patterns suggest those diseases are probabilities, not certainties.
Plomin acknowledges DNA analysis remains too complex for precise understanding of the correlation between cause and effect. Without precise understanding of genetic manipulation there will be unintended consequence, ranging from disability to death. Further, there is the ethics of gene splicing that implies creation of a utopian society.
Who would have the right to determine another’s role in society? Whether as a philosopher king envisioned in Plato’s “…Republic”, or an Aryan race envisioned by Hitler, genetic manipulation opens a door to predetermined roles for human beings. Who will make these decisions? Is a planned society a good thing? Does a human being want to be classified as a worker, a leader, a thinker, a doer because someone suggests society needs those classifications?
Listening to “Blueprint” leaves little doubt that understanding DNA is important. What is in doubt is how that understanding is used. Humanity has survived an estimated five or six million years. To date, human survival has been based on random modifications of DNA and life experience.
Maybe genetics offer the next stage in human survival, but abandoning natural selection carries risks based on human thought and action rather than natural selection. Should science open Pandora’s box?