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Thread: The Warrior Gene

  1. #1 The Warrior Gene 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
    New Zealand
    Article in New Scientist about the gene MAOA-L and its effect on human behaviour.

    This gene produces a protein that mops up left over neurotransmitter substances. A variant of the gene was found in a Dutch family where the men had a terrible propensity to violence. Instead of a fully functional MAOA gene, they had a mutation that operated at a much lower level, allowing left over neurotransmitters to accumulate. This led to 'over-excited' behaviour.

    The gene did not operate in isolation. Violent behaviour was statistically greater among men with that gene, but a third of all western men have that variant, and most are not violent. It appears to operate along with environmental influences. Violent upbringing. Physical punishments etc. It is also more likely to manifest when the guy is stressed.

    My question is how society should respond to this. For example : if a violent offender is found to have this gene, should he receive a longer sentence to keep society safe, or a shorter one because it is not is fault? What is your reasoning?

    Should we routinely test people? How should we respond to a guy with this gene variant, knowing it increases his likelihood of violence, but also knowing that most guys with that variant are not violent?

    What if we learn to use gene therapy to 'heal' the defect?

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  3. #2  
    Forum Freshman Biomass's Avatar
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    Apr 2010
    I think it would be within our best interest to try to breed it out. A little like we do with say Muscular Distrophe and Hemophilia for instance. I don't think its appropriate to give people longer sentences based on what their genes suggest they might be capable of, but to perhaps have more psychological evaluations and make people aware that such a "condition" does in fact exist would be a good idea.

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