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posted by martyb on Wednesday January 22 2020, @03:28PM   Printer-friendly
from the 60%-likely-is-40%-unlikely dept.

MedicalXPress:

How similar do you think you are to your second cousin? Or your estranged great aunt?

Would you like to have people assess your behaviour from what your great aunt has done? How would you feel if courts used data gained from them to decide how you are likely to behave in the future?

Scientists are making connections between a person's DNA and their tendencies for certain kinds of behaviour. At the same time, commercial DNA databases are becoming more common and police are gaining access to them.

When these trends combine, genetic data inferred about offenders from their relatives might one day be used by courts to determine sentences. In the future, the data from your great aunt could be used by a court to determine how severely you are punished for a crime.

[...] A Florida judge recently approved a warrant to search a genetic genealogy , GED Match. This American company has approximately 1.3 million users who have uploaded their personal genetic data, with the assumption of privacy, in the hope of discovering their family tree.

The court directly overruled these users' request for privacy and now the company is obliged to hand over the data.

[...] This might be used by the prosecution to make the case for a longer sentence. In some jurisdictions and circumstances, the prosecution may have a means of obtaining a sample of DNA directly from the offender. But where this is not legally possible without the offender's consent, the inference from relatives might fill a gap in the prosecution's case about how dangerous the offender is.

Your ability to be granted bail may hinge on your genes.


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday January 22 2020, @03:32PM (2 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 22 2020, @03:32PM (#946845) Journal

    It has always been true that if you were descended from royalty, or a billionaire, you got a light sentence. If you're the son of a sharecropper, not so much. If you're the son of a convict, you're screwed. All this does, is widen the search for billionaires, sharecroppers, and convicts.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday January 22 2020, @03:36PM (1 child)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 22 2020, @03:36PM (#946847) Journal

      I just looked. Aristarchus is a 48th cousin by marriage on my mother's side of the family! I KNEW THERE WAS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE MATERNAL SIDE!!!!

      • (Score: 1) by shrewdsheep on Wednesday January 22 2020, @08:49PM

        by shrewdsheep (5215) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @08:49PM (#947009)

        Being into DNA homeopathy much, eh? You two can get close arguing about the 2^-17 base pairs you share.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by bart on Wednesday January 22 2020, @03:58PM (2 children)

    by bart (2844) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @03:58PM (#946854)

    "the land of the free", yeah right.

    • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:23PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:23PM (#946864)

      Yes, we should look to somewhere like the Continent for moral guidance on genetics issues. Specifically Europe. Hmm, "European genetics" is quite a mouthful. Perhaps we should contract it down to something easier to say, like EU-genetics or something.

      Damn, that sounds familiar. Now where have I heard that before ? ? ?

      • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @08:02PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @08:02PM (#946982)

        From the Society of Biodemography and Social Biology? Formerly known as the Society for the Study of Social Biology... and the American Eugenics Society?

        Europe is not clean, but so is the U.S.. But at least we know a little bit about history...

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:22PM (44 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:22PM (#946863)

    What if when you look at repeat violent offenders, let's say 80% of them share a certain genetic characteristic that otherwise only again let's say 10% of the general population shares? Should we really just ignore such valuable information? Keep in mind this isn't putting somebody in jail for their genes, this is determining how long an already determined 'bad guy' should stay in jail.

    People create a false dichotomy - you either do nothing with genetic information or you're full Gattaca. Makes no sense. There's a vast ocean of room between the two extremes where data can be judiciously utilized to create better outcomes for everybody. And not having somebody out on the street who's already done bad things and will almost certainly do them again is win win for everybody. In particular I think where we can make a lot of progress is not in deciding outcomes based on genetics but using genetics as a compliment, such as in the case of sentences. Other things could be to encourage people to pursue certain things that they might have a natural talent for. If they're not interested in such, more power to them. But sure beats wasting 30 years before you finally find your niche by dumb luck. I suspect many never do.

    There's also even a logical issue that Gattaca got completely wrong. Take two guys who are otherwise roughly equal in apparent ability, as was a core premise of the movie. One has great genetics, the other awful. Who do you pick? I'm picking the awful guy in a heartbeat. The reason should be self evident. The dude who got where he is on genetics is lazy and untapped potential is as good as nonexistent potential, the other guy is a hard worker. When it comes down to actually doing things, the bad genetics guy is going to crush. This basic logic already plays a major role in employment today.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by NateMich on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:31PM (1 child)

      by NateMich (6662) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:31PM (#946870)

      What if when you look at repeat violent offenders, let's say 80% of them share a certain genetic characteristic

      Hmm, interesting question. What if that certain genetic characteristic is that they are black? Just for example.

      How well do you suppose that will go over?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23 2020, @06:02AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23 2020, @06:02AM (#947267)

        Something that's important is to of course ensure any such genetic trend isn't spurious. Let's assume we did that here. We found a similar pattern in other races and we also performed the same test in e.g. Central Africa and also found a similar pattern there in that those without the gene tended to live valid lives while those with it tended to engage in crime. So the only difference is that the gene was more common in some group or another. If this happened, then I think many would be upset, but I don't understand why. It seems like something we should rejoice about. We could finally put to rest all of the mindless self flagellation in the process of trying to create equal outcomes or explain why they aren't equal. And we could actually get to work trying to solve the problem. For instance it's almost certainly a given that any trait will be probabilistic. So if e.g. 15% of one group who has the trait end up living perfectly valid lives, what separates them from those who engaged in crime? How can we get the latter to mimic the former?

        Genetics doesn't mean you have to start going full eugenics or genetically experimenting on folks to try to remove the gene or whatever. It can simply inform much more intelligent social policies that might actually, after decades to centuries, finally have a chance of achieving something other than social division. Today we like to pretend there is no genetic link to crime because it makes us feel good; like we've made social progress or gained some new enlightenment. But the big danger with this is that it means that if we're wrong then we stand absolutely 0 chance of longterm progress because we're looking in the completely wrong spot for answers.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:34PM (10 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:34PM (#946872)

      This will be the latest scourge inflicted upon us by the "social scientists". Once they get a new tool in their hands, like statistical techniques, or fMRIs or ANY other thing that they really don't understand but is "high tech", they unleash a trove of this behavioral nonsense on society. It quickly gains steam, at least the parts that support the leading (or most vocal) social theories, because it is backed by "science"! Let's measure cranial dimensions, or perhaps quantify the bumps on someone's head! Now let's do the same damn thing but using x-rays or fMRI images. Oh look, these undesirable people correlate with an odd number of bumps! Or their brains light up in the right sections when they're shown a picture of a child! Ooh look, this dead fish is a criminal too! Now let's propose rounding up these people for "reeducation" or to send them somewhere to try to "help" them. I understand electroshock is very good for these things because I have some EKGs and other fancy stuff showing correlations here too!

      But I'm sure it will all work out THIS time. Because, you know, DNA sequencing! WAY more reliable than those other methods.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by ikanreed on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:45PM (9 children)

        by ikanreed (3164) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:45PM (#946877) Journal

        It's weird the things you conflate.

        You conflate the very different fields neuropsychology(the field with the fMRIs) with social science(with is the study of societies), and social psychology(examining psychology with hypotheses built on theories of behavior), correctly arriving at the conclusion that neuropsychology has the biggest reproducibility problems, but somehow laying it at the feet of social psychology, which you incorrectly term social science.

        And people trying to shortcut reductionist theories of human behavior straight to DNA are called "evolutionary psychologists" and they are all, almost without exception, massive shitheads and have been for decades now.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:23PM (6 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:23PM (#946922)

          people trying to shortcut reductionist theories of human behavior straight to DNA are called "evolutionary psychologists" and they are all, almost without exception, massive shitheads and have been for decades now.

          Decades? The scientific racism of the 19th Century was unscientific and pushed by massive shitheads, I don't think you can extrapolate that to modern, peer reviewed academia without you being a massive shithead. Why not explain the error in methodology or falsify the data [twitter.com] if you're so convinced?

          • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:57PM (5 children)

            by ikanreed (3164) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:57PM (#946947) Journal

            "Falsify my spurious correlation or else absolute biological determinism is true". This isn't how a scientist thinks. This is how a lazy-ass racist thinks. Goddamn, what a shitty and worthless position.

            This is up there with "number of leaves on an oak tree correlates with temperature, and number of leaves on an oak tree correlates with height, and since this tree is 80 feet tall, it must be summer" level of failure to reason.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:13PM (4 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:13PM (#946959)

              "Falsify my spurious correlation or else absolute biological determinism is true"

              What are you talking about? How is it a "spurious correlation" when the results are one of the most widely replicated in social science?

              This isn't how a scientist thinks. This is how a lazy-ass racist thinks. Goddamn, what a shitty and worthless position.

              You've yet to refute any data and we are just getting started [nature.com]

              One of the best-established findings in cognitive science is that individual differences in performance on diverse cognitive tasks correlate about 0.30 and that a general factor explains about 40% of the total variance. This general cognitive ability factor, usually called general intelligence (‘g’), is one of the best predictors of important life outcomes including education, occupation, and mental and physical health. General intelligence is also one of the most heritable behavioural traits, with heritability increasing from 40% in childhood to 80% in later adulthood.

              This is up there with "number of leaves on an oak tree correlates with temperature, and number of leaves on an oak tree correlates with height, and since this tree is 80 feet tall, it must be summer" level of failure to reason.

              Cute - will be mentioning my "unscience" at your next flat earth society meeting?

              • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:19PM (3 children)

                by ikanreed (3164) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:19PM (#946963) Journal

                It speaks volumes that, when criticizing your lazy-ass racial theories, you assume I'm denying the correlation of IQ to life outcomes. There's the whole bird-watching argument to have about that, but at least it's predictive, unlike Murray's rambling bullshit.

                What it says to me is that you don't actually read criticism of your theories, but just have canned replies that you assume address all criticism. Equally brainless, but, as a huge win for internet argumentation, much more annoying.

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:54PM (2 children)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:54PM (#946978)

                  you assume I'm denying the correlation of IQ to life outcomes.

                  Isn't that exactly what you're doing? Postulate mysterium all you like [twitter.com] but I'll withhold judgment until I see some hard data.

                  It speaks volumes that, when criticizing your lazy-ass racial theories

                  What racial theories? If we are not discussing observable traits then why do positive discrimination affirmative action SAT penalties correlate inversely with observed racial IQ scores? What "racial theories" did Harvard & UNC apply and why did California ban affirmative action in '96?

                  you don't actually read criticism of your theories,

                  My theories? I haven't presented any of my own theories.

                  • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Wednesday January 22 2020, @08:37PM (1 child)

                    by ikanreed (3164) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 22 2020, @08:37PM (#947001) Journal

                    Why should I?

                    My own theories are irrelevant to Murray being a dumbass inventing racist just-so stories.

                    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @09:56PM

                      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @09:56PM (#947036)

                      My own theories are irrelevant to Murray being a dumbass inventing racist just-so stories.

                      Sowell performed the most eloquent dismissals. [claremontreviewofbooks.com] The problem is that the available data remains consistent which isn't something to be dismissed if we actually want to understand what's going on.

        • (Score: 3, Touché) by aristarchus on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:53PM

          by aristarchus (2645) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:53PM (#946977) Journal

          and they are all, almost without exception, massive shitheads and have been for decades now.

          Hmmm, probably something wrong with their DNA, then.

        • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday January 22 2020, @08:41PM

          by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 22 2020, @08:41PM (#947004) Journal

          You conflate the very different fields neuropsychology(the field with the fMRIs)

          Because fMRI-ing a dead trout under interrogation was exclusively a prank, not a warning about faulty methodology, right?

          --
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by mhajicek on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:41PM (14 children)

      by mhajicek (51) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:41PM (#946875)

      If it turns out there are genetic predispositions for crime, then can't the accused argue that it's not his fault, he was just born that way?

      --
      The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
      • (Score: 2) by BsAtHome on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:48PM

        by BsAtHome (889) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:48PM (#946878)

        Yes, and then argue that the parents must be punished for conceiving the accused. Because, if it is genetic, then it is the parent's fault.

        Why stop with the parents? Just blame the whole family and retrospectively punish the family lines as far as history goes. That'll teach 'm!

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by ikanreed on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:56PM (10 children)

        by ikanreed (3164) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:56PM (#946883) Journal

        What is fault?

        In our legal system, fault is committing an action knowing the consequences might be harmful(mens rea). When someone makes an argument for insanity as reason they're not liable in court, the case is based on literally being incapable of understanding the consequences of their actions. No "predisposition to crime" (which by the way is a ludicrously over-reductionist connection between biology and behavior) will render you unable to do that.

        What it might cause(and our long-standing social psychology and psychiatry research already knows this as anti-social personality disorder) is poor impulse control or lowered empathy. In the end, it points the same place all research on criminality already does, which is that it's something that requires treatment and reeducation more than punishment.

        • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:08PM (2 children)

          by hemocyanin (186) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:08PM (#946917) Journal

          There are gazillions of crimes in America for which intent is irrelevant. https://www.deseret.com/1997/1/10/19288638/unser-says-he-was-lost-when-he-went-into-wilderness-area [deseret.com]

          • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:07PM (1 child)

            by ikanreed (3164) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:07PM (#946956) Journal

            You're confusing "intent to break the law" with "doing something you know risks breaking the law, recklessly". The latter has always been prosecutable. Mens rea isn't restricted to "purposeful" merely "willful". See: killing someone while drunk driving(which by the way, was part of the reason Usner was alleged to have been acting recklessly; your article didn't mention that)

            It's just like the example I gave, pulling trigger on a revolver with just one round, and arguing you didn't intend to commit murder. Your intentions matter inasmuch as they can construct a case where you intended to do the right thing and avoid breaking the law to the best of your abilities. It's really the same deal as entrapment, if all that happened is you got talked into doing something illegal, you were willing to do something illegal. Whereas if you were coerced into doing something illegal by lawful order(i.e. you know a cop is telling you to do it), then you're entrapped.

            • (Score: 4, Interesting) by hemocyanin on Wednesday January 22 2020, @09:54PM

              by hemocyanin (186) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @09:54PM (#947035) Journal

              doing something you know risks breaking the law, recklessly

              There are so many laws even the ABA can't count them due to the way we have statutes and agency rules interpreting them. Your view of the legal system in the US is not consonant with reality. Breaking the law -- not just infractions, but actual felonies -- is probably a daily occurrence for most people as a result of the vast number of laws for which intent is not an issue: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704471504574438900830760842 [wsj.com]

              See also: https://fedsoc.org/commentary/publications/morally-innocent-legally-guilty-the-case-for-mens-rea-reform [fedsoc.org]

              I just realized that I've committed the Federal Crime of writing a check for less than a dollar, as has the State in which I live also violated that Federal law -- I once got a check for 7cents from the state: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/336 [cornell.edu]

              Whoever makes, issues, circulates, or pays out any note, check, memorandum, token, or other obligation for a less sum than $1, intended to circulate as money or to be received or used in lieu of lawful money of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @10:18PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @10:18PM (#947045)

          You can't "treat" or "reeducate" the sociopath, especially if they have good acting abilities. The most humane thing to do with them is isolate them. Of course what we don't know is if sociopathy is genetic, something that can be found in other life forms, or if it is nurtured by one's environment.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @11:55PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @11:55PM (#947103)

            what we don't know is if sociopathy is genetic [...] or if it is nurtured by one's environment.

            There are both genetic predisposition and environmental triggers for Personality Disorders. [nih.gov]

            something that can be found in other life form

            No [psychologytoday.com] - until you meet the sadistic, manipulative little bastard that is my cat.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @11:26PM (4 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @11:26PM (#947088)

          What it might cause(and our long-standing social psychology and psychiatry research already knows this as anti-social personality disorder) is poor impulse control or lowered empathy.

          Prenatal exposure to elevated testosterone levels correlate strongly with lowered empathy. Poor impulse control correlates with low IQ but also OFC [nih.gov] impairment. ASPD [tandfonline.com] is nowhere near granular enough to be an effective diagnostic criteria.

          In the end, it points the same place all research on criminality already does, which is that it's something that requires treatment and reeducation more than punishment.

          I'm disagreeing here; ASPD and NPD are notoriously untreatable and attempts at therapy typically make the subject worse. If classical conditioning works for a subject diagnosed with ASPD due to low IQ and machiavellian traits, it doesn't work [sciencedirect.com] for the rest. Malevolence through the dehumanization and objectification of others, combined with playing the victim themselves is the sociopaths modus operandi. I afford them zero sympathy, if any subgroup deserve to be dehumanized they alone earn that right. Unfortunately, I doubt a DNA test alone will ever be sufficient to reliably identify them.

          • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Thursday January 23 2020, @12:25AM (3 children)

            by ikanreed (3164) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 23 2020, @12:25AM (#947120) Journal

            The only exceptions I make for people never deserving dehumanization is those choosing to engage in what Kant termed "radical evil", which is the conscious and purposeful decision to engage in moral calculus that places yourself above others. Merely failing to be moral is nothing compared to understanding morality and choosing to not heed it.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23 2020, @02:03AM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23 2020, @02:03AM (#947169)

              Kant is close to cancelled [openculture.com] and the postmodern interpretation eschews the moral imperative in favor of the immorality of morality:P Did you know the original terminology for what we call sociopathy was "moral imbecile"? [wiley.com] Does lacking a conscience [webmd.com] and being incapable of understanding a moral calculus make predatory behavior excusable?

              I say not and do not consider the imposition of morality on the amoral to be immoral. Also, that last sentence should never be read aloud.

              • (Score: 2) by ikanreed on Thursday January 23 2020, @02:22PM

                by ikanreed (3164) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 23 2020, @02:22PM (#947393) Journal

                Of course it's not excusable. It always represents something gone wrong when one person harms another. I just think it's quite rare that the problem is insufficient punishment and deterrence

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23 2020, @05:31AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23 2020, @05:31AM (#947252)

              One thing you should keep in mind is that I think that those who engage in substantially amoral behavior probably do have literally different brains in that they may perceive the wrongness of their action, but in a different way than you or I such that it obviously doesn't have the same repugnaciousness.

              People like to imagine that environmental situation drives people to crime, but it's well argued against by a simple observation. The vast majority of those in poverty do not resort to crime. I have lived through times being dirt poor in poverty where each meal was a struggle. I never once even considered going to get a gun (and yeah, I did have sufficient 'connections' to get a gun for about $20 if I wanted) to start trying to rob people to get some money. That's just plainly absurd. You can also see the same thing in places with deeply impoverished nations, but ones with little genetic proclivity for crime. China is a land of massive poverty, and also will soon have the largest number of billionaires in the world. Yet crime remains completely negligible. Again so many social science theories are easily refuted by observation. The one I reference there is that wealth inequality causes crime.

              The point I make with all of this is that it's comforting to imagine we might only punish those who were, more or less, like us yet chose to 'turn to the darkside.' Yet there's every possibility that such a person simply does not exist. So ultimately I have no problem dehumanizing those who make society unsafe. The exceptions I make are for 'crimes of the moment.' I've no doubt there's more room for rehabilitation from a man who killed another in a heated argument than there is for a man who picked up a gun and went around robbing strangers.

      • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:58PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:58PM (#946884)

        When a dog attacks a person few would think the dog is truly, cognitively, at fault. They're animals and animals brain's don't necessarily have the same ability to control themselves or process information in the way that we do. Yet far from being an argument for the dog's innocence, that is exactly the reason that they tend to be put down after such a situation. Because that animal has shown itself to be unable to behave within a civilized society and so there's a real risk of it acting out again.

        For a person we of course grant greater rights to, but it's really the exact same thing. Some guy claiming that he can't control himself is not a defense. Especially if it's true, he needs to be locked away for a long time. Some might propose shipping him off to a mental asylum to be pumped full of anti-psychotic and other "medications" but all these things really do is dull somebody to the point of them becoming a human zombie. I find jail, ironically, more humane.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24 2020, @07:47PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24 2020, @07:47PM (#948086)

        can't the accused argue that it's not his fault, he was just born that way?

        Don't go too far down that path because if the accused keep arguing that they can't control themselves then the State will conveniently try to control them even more... Or discarded even more easily.

        As for genetic dispositions see the cases of domesticated foxes/rats/etc:

        https://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/25/health/25rats.html [nytimes.com]

        On an animal-breeding farm in Siberia are cages housing two colonies of rats. In one colony, the rats have been bred for tameness in the hope of mimicking the mysterious process by which Neolithic farmers first domesticated an animal still kept today. When a visitor enters the room where the tame rats are kept, they poke their snouts through the bars to be petted.

        The other colony of rats has been bred from exactly the same stock, but for aggressiveness instead. These animals are ferocious. When a visitor appears, the rats hurl themselves screaming toward their bars.

        There was far more to Belyaev’s experiment than the production of tame foxes. He developed a parallel colony of vicious foxes, and he started domesticating other animals, like river otters and mink.

        https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/mans-new-best-friend-a-forgotten-russian-experiment-in-fox-domestication/ [scientificamerican.com]

        Interestingly there seems to be a link to appearance too:

        Domesticated animals of widely different species seem to share some common traits: changes in body size, in fur coloration, in the timing of the reproductive cycle. Their hair or fur becomes wavy or curly; they have floppy ears and shortened or curly tails.

        So it's likely it would be possible to breed even tamer humans. Our self-domestication and "breeding program" has certainly been a lot more haphazard ;). But should tameness really be a priority goal?

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @05:32PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @05:32PM (#946905)

      Yeah, but there's a plentiful base of examples of false accusation. Once someone is in court, without adequate defense, the supposition automatically falls against them, and especially under the prerogative of a jury. So being able to present correlative genetic "evidence" only drives the courts to ascertain that someone innocent may be inherently malicious and should be condemned for one act or another despite the circumstances. Another issue is correlation, the human genome is complex, and the emergent features of the systems therein even more so. Downstream effects of one gene might me mitigated in their entirety by another, or perhaps amplified. Ascertaining which, where, when also begs questions in epigenetics that are thus far unanswered. It's entirely possible that you share plenty of correlate genetics with psychopathic murderers, but that the environmental stimuli required to activate the genes contributing to hyper-aggressive behavior were never presented to you, and perhaps you escaped the critical period wherein you were susceptible to such prolific alterations.

      This might be practically and philosophically just in the distant future, but I'd postulate our grasp on genetics from a holistic perspective is extraordinarily limited in the present. It strikes me as only a novel means to interject the processes of an already convoluted justice system with even more complications.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday January 22 2020, @05:50PM (2 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @05:50PM (#946910)

      What if

      What if we save the what ifs for actual reality. There's enough data out there to throw around the statistics - what's the actual jury biasing toward stricter sentencing based on genetic evidence? How does this compare to simple racial, or socio-economic biases that are already present, however illegal and court instructed against they may be?

      There's a 50 year old no good crackhead with my same last name in a small town in central Florida where I used to go somewhat frequently. I was asked more than once if we were related - I checked, we're not, at least not within the last 6 generations. However, if I ever were to go on trial in that town, with a randomly selected jury "of my peers," they'd certainly be biased by their knowledge of that one other guy with an uncommon last name the same as mine.

      People are prejudiced, and we're not going to legislate that away completely, but it can be reduced.

      Now, on the other hand, if your genetic profile shows a pre-disposition toward addictive behaviors and risk taking lifestyles, that might inform the court to direct you toward intervention programs that have been shown to have a much lower rate of recidivism than simple punitive incarceration. But, if your genetic profile shows no such pre-disposition, and you've already been through the programs, and you're still acting like a crackhead - might as well throw you in the hole and save the intervention program slots for people it might actually help.

      --
      🌻🌻 [google.com]
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by HiThere on Wednesday January 22 2020, @08:31PM (1 child)

        by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 22 2020, @08:31PM (#946995) Journal

        The problem is, courts have shown little interest in effective crime reduction as opposed to punishment. This was driven by a combination of short term economics, politics, and the long term economic benefits of slave labor.

        It's difficult to even get courts to reject "medical treatments" that have no proven value, when employed against unpopular behavior. Look into various "treatments" for homosexuality over the decades.

        I suspect that a part of the problem is what's required to qualify as an "expert witness", but this is just a guess, based on some of the "expert witness" testimony that was, frankly, flaky. It's quite easy for an expert in one field (say law) to be fooled by a fake expert in another field...especially if they want to be convinced.

        --
        Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday January 22 2020, @09:47PM

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @09:47PM (#947031)

          Friend of ours works in a liberal university town, surrounded by a highly conservative county. She does psychological counseling for drug offenders. When the offenders get put in her program, their recidivism rate drops by over 50%. The liberal university people are managing to barely fund her to run a shoestring program that gets to treat about 10% of the total offenders that come through the county courts. The conservative county would rather ship them straight to jail, then back to jail when they relapse.

          Maybe understandable, my neighbor in that town was a prison guard - apparently payed pretty well. His son recently graduated and is already working his way in to be a prison guard like his dad...

          --
          🌻🌻 [google.com]
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by vux984 on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:09PM (8 children)

      by vux984 (5045) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:09PM (#946918)

      "Take two guys who are otherwise roughly equal in apparent ability, as was a core premise of the movie."

      I disagree. It's a movie about an advantaged person without great drive against a disadvantaged person with great drive; arguing that the drive to succeed is more important than genetics. It's a great message and yes drive makes a huge difference to outcomes.

      But is drive enough? Of course not, in the real world, the person who wants it most and is working hardest and making the most sacrifices for it is frequently crushed by the competitor who has other advantages. Some people put everything they have into their goal, make every sacrifice, and still fail. That would make for a pretty down movie movie though, but that's frequently reality.

      "One has great genetics, the other awful. Who do you pick? I'm picking the awful guy in a heartbeat. The reason should be self evident. The dude who got where he is on genetics is lazy and untapped potential is as good as nonexistent potential, the other guy is a hard worker. When it comes down to actually doing things, the bad genetics guy is going to crush. This basic logic already plays a major role in employment today."

      If that were true tall attractive people wouldn't find it easier to get jobs and promotions, and they wouldn't get paid more for doing them. Because employers would be valuing the short ugly's who have to work harder higher. But that's not how it works.

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @08:40PM (7 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @08:40PM (#947003)

        Chess is an interesting little microcosm of life. I've coached all sorts of players and of all ages. What many don't realize about the game is that the 'secret' to improvement is work. Thousands of hours of arduous, mentally taxing work that often yields no clear improvement in short-term (let's say less than a year or so) results whatsoever. People often break down into two categories - those that give up and make excuses, and those that trudge forward. I've never once failed to have anybody in the latter group achieve substantial success. And the former group of course fulfill their own prophecy and never achieve anything.

        Incidentally even among those who do achieve success, the difference often comes down to work. I'm a pretty decent player - strong enough to have a whole lot of Grandmaster scalps, but I could be vastly stronger. Reason I'm not is because I got lazy. And I think this is primarily the reason people fail to succeed in just about everything. The talk of privilege is so absurd. Like many, I came from abject poverty. The full experience - drive by shootings at my school, ultra high crime neighborhood, mostly absent single parent, riding city bus to get to school, having delicious dinners of iceberg salad and ramen noodles. Yum! What exactly were my advantages? It's so stupidly easy to succeed in America today:

          - Do half decent in school which is not hard in a public school because 70% of the kids aren't even trying.
          - Get into a decent college - made easy by first step. Even better if you come from a shit background because that means more access to grants.
          - Pick a real major. Almost slipped up on this one. I'm now just a few courses from a major in philosophy. Fortunately, government money doesn't care if you go to school for 7 years.
          - Get a decent job, work hard. Job hop to bump the salary. Unemployment rate of 3.5% = you're the king.
          - And you're pretty much done.

        Alternatively, screw all that and pick a trade. Even better because you don't have the debt of college. Everywhere needs plumbers, welders, ac guys, electricians, and a million other skilled tech positions.

        ---

        No, this path alone will probably not have you living better than somebody born filthy rich, but that's a pointless standard. The goal is to create a society where everybody can do well if they put forth the effort and I think we've succeeded hard there. And in any case even modest success gives you a chance to raise your children better than you were raised and help them do even better. And there is a difference between *can* and *will*. Most people will not do well. That does not matter. What matters is that they *could* do well.

        I'll grant there's some one in a million circumstance where somebody genuinely had some completely absurd scenario in life where he's just screwed. But in discussion like this people aren't talking about these - they're talking about normal folks born into situations similar, if not better, to mine - who fail to succeed. And then trying to blame outside circumstance. Those guys? Screw em.

        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by vux984 on Thursday January 23 2020, @06:44AM (6 children)

          by vux984 (5045) on Thursday January 23 2020, @06:44AM (#947287)

          The whole chess argument you made could just as easily be simple confirmation bias.

          Here's a simple thought experiment; imagine if everyone was equal. truly equal, equally motivated, same genes, same temperament, same aptitudes. They ALL each bought into this idea that if they work hard, as hard as they can, they'll achieve their dream, so they all do. They all want to be an astronaut.

          So we have 5 billion astronauts? Or do nearly all of them fail? There's still only a few seats in the space program.

          That's not to say that most of us couldn't do more than we do, or couldn't be more than we are. I agree with you that nearly all of us could do more.

          But its about priorities -- you said you got lazy; but did you really? Or did you just focus on something else ? The effort to go further in chess -- would it have paid off; or do you value what you did with your life instead of pursuing chess more? Do you regret it? Or or value what you did instead -- even if that was simply spending time with family. Is that being lazy? Choosing to live the life you want to live isn't regrettable.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24 2020, @01:59PM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24 2020, @01:59PM (#947924)

            But it's not confirmation bias. I've been coaching for years and I can look back on the people who gave up on the work - they are literally all still weak, even though most of them still play. But for those who put in the work not a single one didn't see very significant results and improvement. And yes I literally got lazy. I work at home and have far too much free time. If I spent my time studying the game instead of shit posting on the internet I have little doubt I'd be pushing towards a GM title. Even of my friends who are GMs the exact same is also true. Not a one quit because they hit their peak - it's all because they got lazy. As you get better at something it requires more and more work to get that much better again. It's hard work, and very few people are truly willing to consistently endure never-ending hardwork - those that are become the best in the world.

            Let's look at an even easier example because we can all but entirely remove extrinsic factors. Who wants to be fat? Some people, in sort of neu-think might try to claim they do, but I suspect nobody genuinely wants to be fat. Bad for your health, your looks, and just about everything. How do you not become fat? It's really simple - don't eat much and certainly don't drink much alcohol or sugar drinks. It's not especially comfortable, but it's absolutely trivial to do. You're not even actually doing anything, instead you're *not* doing something. You don't need to got the gym or anything like that. You don't burn calories at the gym anyhow - a mile run burns around 100 calories, a fraction of a slice of pizza. That can help, but your weight is physically little more than a property of your consumption. Consume less and it is physically impossible to become fat.

            Yet in America an ever larger chunk of the population, especially the poor, are becoming grossly fat. This is probably the clearest possible illustration of how the real issue is not extrinsic forces, but intrinsic ones. And it applies to everything. Even with the fat thing, people try to blame outside forces but it's becoming increasingly absurd. Eating unhealthy food is not what makes you fat - eating too much food is.

            • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Saturday January 25 2020, @06:24AM (1 child)

              by vux984 (5045) on Saturday January 25 2020, @06:24AM (#948381)

              That still looks like there is ample room for simple confirmation bias. You remember those that put in the work and improved. And you clearly feel those that didn't improve have not put in the work; clearly they *must* not have put in the work.

              There's also likely some selection bias in the group itself; and feedback loops that actively push out the people who peak.

              "Even of my friends who are GMs the exact same is also true. Not a one quit because they hit their peak - it's all because they got lazy."

              So they all could have been #1 if only they weren't lazy. All at once even? ;)

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25 2020, @09:06PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25 2020, @09:06PM (#948608)

                The point of the weight analogy was a perfectly clear response to this. All Americans want to be a healthy weight. And all of them could be a healthy weight by literally doing *less* than they currently doing (eating less in particular). There's no external force making it where only 28% (and declining) of Americans be can be a healthy weight and the rest cannot. The issue is simply that the vast majority of people are lazy, self indulgent, and unwilling to engage in discomfort for gains even when it means they're literally shortening their lives through such behavior.

                So how many people can or cannot theoretically achieve some task is completely irrelevant when we can clearly demonstrate that it's these sort of factors such as laziness/self indulgence play such disproportionate roles. This is why your thought experiment needs to start with the assumption of identical people, yet it fails there too, though for different reasons.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24 2020, @02:18PM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24 2020, @02:18PM (#947933)

            As an aside, it's interesting because I used to be on the exact opposite side of this conversation. Not sure if it's age or experience that changes us. Everybody knows you trend rightward as you age, yet everybody also thinks that'd never happen to them. Haha, such self determination we have, eh?

            Incidentally I've also used the exact same thought experiment. Except in my scenario it was Elon Musks. If everybody was Elon Musk do we have 8 billion billionaire entrepreneurs? No, we have Elon Musk asking if you'd like fries with that or dying of malaria in Africa. One thing I had not considered (though in hindsight I think I was probably just tucking it outside of my mind), is what then? I mean, of course this is true in the short run. But what happens in 100 years? Do we still have Elon #4,372,238 asking if you'd like fries with that? I don't think so. These sort of logical, intelligent, and creative minds working at every level of society would revolutionize our entire world in ways that are much more difficult to do in today's world where people are illogical, unmotivated, and driven by emotion more than intelligence. In 100 years (and very possibly much sooner) it's likely such menial roles would no longer even exist in society. When you think about the future it rather reveals the flaw of the thought experiment.

            • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Saturday January 25 2020, @05:44AM (1 child)

              by vux984 (5045) on Saturday January 25 2020, @05:44AM (#948369)

              "These sort of logical, intelligent, and creative minds working at every level of society would revolutionize our entire world in ways that are much more difficult to do in today's world where people are illogical, unmotivated, and driven by emotion more than intelligence."

              That doesn't refute the thought experiment -- the point of the thought experiment is simply that 'not everyone can win'. Someone has to be be at the top, and someone at the bottom.

                You are now arguing, essentially, that if we made the average person 'better/smarter/etc'; that humanity would advance and accomplish more collectively. I don't disagree with that.

              I'd even double down on that, and say that distributing wealth in the form of social security, health care, free education etc is our best path for making the average person 'better'.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25 2020, @08:48PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25 2020, @08:48PM (#948603)

                I'll respond to the thought experiment above - here I want to respond to this exact tangent. There is macro and micro-level evidence against what you've said here about free stuff for everybody would make things better. The micro-level evidence is social psychology stuff. Currently, some degree of struggle in early life is associated with far better late life outcomes. It probably builds character. My early life was pretty awful, but I wouldn't have had it any other way because I think it played a large part in shaping who I am today in a very good way. I've no doubt the same is true of folks like Musk. Okay, but social psychology is not so useful. The much more striking evidence is the macro-level.

                Life on the equator on Earth is pretty awesome. There tends to be tremendous vegetation and wildlife with relatively little variation in temperatures. If there was a natural paradise, at least as far as human needs go, it would be on the equator. Yet there is an extremely strong correlation between IQ and distances from the equator. Not hard to see why. When life is hard, you get smart - or you die. When life is easy, even idiots can survive without a cause in the world and they tend to massively overbreed. Even if you want to reject IQ, as is the trend today among some today, the same holds true by every other metric as well. For instance you see a similar pattern among GDP [forbes.com]. And again it's not hard to see why. You start building, storing, and developing - or die. On the equator? Who cares, free food for everybody with no problems.

    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:48PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:48PM (#946936) Journal

      Maybe it's good, maybe it's bad, I dunno.

      But what really grinds my gears is the slippery slope fallacy!

      If you're reading phrases like "might one day be used by" you might just be on a slippery slope.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @11:46PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @11:46PM (#947098)

      Your punishment should be based on what you've actually done. Anything else is profoundly unjust.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23 2020, @02:31PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23 2020, @02:31PM (#947401)

      Considering one of the biggest factors in making parole is how close your hearing is to when the judges last had something to eat*, as a society we're not advanced enough to fairly apply anything we learn about genetics. Especially since nurture far, far outweighs anything for crime compared to nature. And anyway, we already have enough knowledge of genetics to apply your judgements. According to you, if your DNA says you have dark skin then you should get harsher sentences. That completely ignores society and that giving those people harsher sentences will also lead them to more crime which further skews the stats toward that DNA trait, It's a never ending downward spiral until people who are likely to give birth to those types of people are killed when they're born (and then those parents are sterilized to prevent another accident). We already fought a world war over this.

      *Due to decision fatigue. Eat something to give your brain more energy to make better decisions. Citation: Read the book "Willpower"

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mordac on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:58PM (3 children)

    by mordac (6108) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:58PM (#946885)

    Lets do this. But we start with the politicians and judges, because surely it's more important that we know that they are not genetically predisposed to corruption and law-breaking.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:43PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:43PM (#946933)

      Don't forget the cops.

    • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:40PM (1 child)

      by krishnoid (1156) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:40PM (#946973)

      How difficult do you think it would be to get a blood/hair/uh, other bodily fluid sample from those people?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23 2020, @02:04AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23 2020, @02:04AM (#947171)

        I can imagine a good success rate by bribing the local hookers, bartenders, and drug dealers.

        Oh, and since we are talking politicians specifically, check the genitals of the local livestock. ;-)

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @05:25PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @05:25PM (#946903)

    So now we're handing out sentences based on things that CANNOT be changed? Yea I stole money, but because my great grandmother was black and ran away from her slave master (which was illegal), I now get a longer sentence that someone who was white and stole the same amount of money and before the same judge?

    SCREW. THAT. NOISE.
    ----
    Can we just go ahead and call anyone involved with moving forward with this idea a racist and Anti-American?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:15PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:15PM (#946920)

      Racist (or at least bigotted), yes. Anti-American? No. Not for the current definition of American. Welcome to the new way, just like the old way, but "science".

  • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:13PM

    by hemocyanin (186) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @06:13PM (#946919) Journal

    I would like to do one of these tests and I'd be interested in the results. It's really screwed up there isn't any way to just buy the freakin' results meaning I get my report and the data exists nowhere else. Someone should take up that business model -- sort of like a VPN seller who keeps no logs or something similar.

  • (Score: 2) by EJ on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:03PM (1 child)

    by EJ (2452) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:03PM (#946951)

    Until you get a warrant to test MY DNA, you can't prove that person is my biological cousin. For all you know, I could have been switched at birth in the hospital, and I have no biological relationship to my cousin.

    • (Score: 2) by Common Joe on Friday January 24 2020, @10:34AM

      by Common Joe (33) <common.joe.0101NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday January 24 2020, @10:34AM (#947891) Journal

      You missed the point. Let's assume legitimate use for this and ignore the other ugly stuff.

      They know that a crime has been committed. DNA was at the scene. Five people are cousins to this potential criminal. They go and look at the family relationships in the nice big database cobbled together by Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, and Google. Oh... there are two potential people. It can only be one of these two people. They get a warrant and do a DNA test on both. Potential criminal found, detained, and questioned in a legal way... or not because of a hospital mix up. The fact is, they can (or will?) force you to get a DNA test via a warrant. That's if they are playing by the rules.

  • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:38PM

    by krishnoid (1156) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @07:38PM (#946971)

    Your ability to be granted bail may hinge on your genes.

    Good news: Financiers' blood runs in my family's veins, so they'll have the cash
    Bad news: I gotta bail out that loser again? Urge to kill ... rising ...

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23 2020, @07:25AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23 2020, @07:25AM (#947291)

    nuff said.

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