Almost all human traits are partly heritable. That’s been known for decades. But until a few years ago, no one knew what specific bits of DNA code determine any given trait. Now, however, geneticists have identified at least a few hundred variants in the DNA code that are statistically associated with important traits such as intelligence, depression and risk tolerance. Over the next decade, they are on track to identify thousands of variants associated with dozens of traits. That achievement will open up the ability to score genetic potential on those traits and thereby revolutionize the social sciences.
Polygenic scores are revolutionary because they are causal in only one direction. They don’t drop because tests make you nervous or rise because you grew up rich. They’re impervious to racism and other forms of prejudice. Socioeconomic and cultural environments can play an important role in how those bits of DNA are expressed, but they don’t change the codes themselves. That means polygenic scores will offer social scientists something they’ve never had before: a secure place to stand in assessing what is innate and what is added by the environment.
When the environment is a pervasive and complex force, the comparisons of polygenic scores and actual behavior will reveal that complexity and be a rich source of information for future research. But it’s also possible—at least for some traits in some populations in some situations—that the role of the environment is neither complicated nor significant. That too would be an important finding.
“Journal of Genetics and Genomes” publishes peer-reviewed research work on the discoveries and current developments in the field of Genetics relating to all the domains of life, from humans to plants to livestock and other model organisms, headed by pre-eminent Editorial Board to ensure article quality and to provide unbiased and efficient publishing process.
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