New literacy challenge: genetic knowledge is poor even among well educated

Yulia Kovas, Fatos Selita

Published online by Journal of Community Genetics: April 2019

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The beginning of the 21st century marked the beginning of the genomic era and of a new literacy challenge – genetic literacy. From genes we can now extract information related to all aspects of peoples’ lives. This information can be used to predict traits (e.g. intelligence, aggressiveness), assess health risks, and prevent and treat illness and disability. To benefit from genetic advances, individuals must have their genomes sequenced (genotyped). However, the information obtained from sequencing may also be misused by others (e.g. insurance companies, employers and the state), and by people themselves – if they lack sufficient genetic knowledge.

 

Genetic data misuse: risk to fundamental human rights in developed economies

Fatos Selita

Published online by Legal Issues Journal: January 2019

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The unprecedented and growing amount of predictive information we can draw from an individual’s genetic data poses serious threats to fundamental human rights for a number of reasons. Large-scale whole genome sequencing and data sharing, enabled by technological advancements, are ongoing internationally. The extent of data availability, and genetic data being the ‘gold mines’ of the 21st century, has led to large-scale data breaches being regular and unavoidable. The traditional protective measure – anonymisation of data – is ineffective in preventing re-identification of individuals. Moreover, genetic data are useful for more than a generation. Therefore, once information is extracted from genetic data and is in possession of potential misusers, even the discarding of sequenced genomes does not protect individuals from the numerous potential misuses of genetic information. Protection provided by the law is either non-existent or scattered across a number of legislations even in countries with recently updated laws, with fundamental rights being under threat. This threat is particularly imminent in developed economies, as genomic testing is becoming common and genomic medicine a reality. To protect individuals, societies must enact specific laws to regulate existing and anticipated uses of genetic information.

 

“I Blame the Parents”, but should we…

Maxim Likhanov

Published online by TAGC – The Accessible Genetics Consortium: May 2018

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Approximately 20% of people in the developed world experience victimization by perpetrators of violent and nonviolent illegal behaviour each year (U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2002). The best well-designed and amply funded interventions reduce antisocial behaviour by only a modest rate, which indicates that there is much about antisocial behaviour we still do not understand. This issue has been noted by Terrie E. Moffit. In her paper she focuses on antisocial behaviors, their development and cause. Traditional studies of antisocial behaviour are often only able to demonstrate correlations between factors. E.g. that antisocial behaviour correlates highly with poorer performance at school.

 

Your genes can help predict how well you’ll do in school – here’s how we cracked it

Emily Smith-Woolley

Published online by TAGC – The Accessible Genetics Consortium: Jun 2018

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Understanding why some children naturally excel at school while others struggle – and working out what to do about it – is a major goal in many areas of research. Previous studies have shown that genetics plays a big role in these differences but, of course, environment matters too. We know from twin studies, which compare genetic similarity between twins to estimate the effects of genetic and environmental effects, that 60% of the individual differences in educational achievement is down to genetics, and 40% is explained by the environment. However, these studies do not tell us much about individuals’ genetic risk and resilience.

 

The Face of Genetics

Robert Chapman

Published online by TAGC – The Accessible Genetics Consortium: Jun 2018

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Have you ever noticed faces in clouds, or in the knots in trees? Most people have a strong tendency to see faces even when there are none, and human faces tend to capture our attention considerably more than other visual stimuli. The fact this happens, and even the mechanisms behind it have been studied extensively; however, until recently noone has looked into the origins of why this happens? Could our genes be a driving force in our fascination with faces?

10 Robust Things we Know About Genes, Environments and Behaviour

Maxim Likhanov, Robert Chapman

Published online by TAGC – The Accessible Genetics Consortium: June 2017

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The Psychological sciences (and many other disciplines as well) are suffering a so called “replication” crisis. The problem is that many reported scientific findings do not replicate when other research groups try to redo the study. For example, an attempt to test psychological studies for replication showed that out of 100 studies only 36% showed significant replication (Open Science Collaboration, 2015). We can’t trust the findings which do not replicate, because the final say on whether findings are robust depends on reproducing the previous results. The percent of replication varies inside the psychological science, e.g. the replication for behavioural genetics is much higher than for neuroscience. In his paper, Professor Plomin presents 10 findings from behavioural genetics, which have showen consistency in replication and thus can be considered trustworthy. These findings are crucial and have a huge impact on psychological science.

 

Response to Oliver James’ Article in the Daily Mail: Bit of a Dimwit? You can’t blame your genes

Robert Chapman 

Published online by TAGC – The Accessible Genetics Consortium: Apr 2016

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Much like Oliver James, when I was ten every school report I received told me that I was a nice kid, just not very bright, and not really able to apply myself. A theme that followed me throughout my schooling. I now have two degrees, have just started my PhD and am a founding member of “The Accessible Genetics Consortium”. The fact is that genes are important in the development of who we are. However, what needs to be understood is that genes are…read more

 

Science reporting should be about science not science fiction

Fatos Selita, Robert Chapman, Kaili Rimfeld, Yulia Kovas

Published online by TAGC – The Accessible Genetics Consortium: Aug 2015

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As genetic science advances, the interest of media and the public increases. However, genetic science is the fastest developing and one of the most complex sciences and misrepresentations are likely to occur, especially considering the pressure created on science journalist by the current media system. In this article you will find examples of bad/harmful reporting of science and how such reporting can be minimised.