¿Genes criminales?

¿Pueden los genes predisponer a una persona para ser un delincuente? Algunos abogados estadounidenses están usando ahora el argumento “genético” como atenuante para asesinos convictos. ¿Existen genes para el alcoholismo? ¿O genes que lo hagan a uno gay, religioso, propenso al divorcio o incluso genes que determinen la preferencia electoral? Si uno cree las afirmaciones de algunos científicos que se autodenominan “genetistas conductuales”, muchos aspectos del comportamiento humano están determinados de alguna manera por nuestros genes.

Las declaraciones de este tipo tienen una larga y desprestigiada historia que data del movimiento de la “eugenesia” de principios del siglo XX, iniciado por su “fundador”, Francis Galton, en la Inglaterra victoriana. Pero cualesquiera que hayan sido los postulados extravagantes del movimiento de la eugenesia y sus crímenes sociales, que incluyeron la esterilización forzosa de miles de personas (en su mayoría, mujeres) en Europa y los Estados Unidos, hoy se supone que es distinto. En la actualidad, se supone que las afirmaciones están respaldadas por los avances en la verdadera ciencia molecular, en la genética.

Por supuesto, muchos problemas sociales son de familia; nuestras sociedades no son igualitarias; la gente que vive en la pobreza tiende a criar hijos que viven en la pobreza. Sin embargo, esto no hace que la pobreza sea genética. De la misma manera, los hijos de padres ricos pueden heredar riquezas, pero se trata de herencias sociales, no genéticas.

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