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February 27, 2019

The Insight Show Notes — Season 2, Episode 16: Blueprint, a conversation with Robert Plomin

Filed under: Behavior Genetics,blueprint,Genetics — Razib Khan @ 4:54 pm

The Insight Show Notes — Season 2, Episode 16: Blueprint, a conversation with Robert Plomin

Correlation on a scatterplot

This week on The Insight (Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Google Podcasts) we discuss behavior genetics with Robert Plomin, one of the eminent researchers in the field.

Much of the discussion was around Plomin’s new book, Blueprint: How DNA makes us who we are. He admitted that many people were not happy with the book. Nature, in particular, published a rather negative review. But in general, Plomin was happy about the reviews (e.g., a relatively positive review was published in National Review by the author of this post!).

There was some discussion about the history of behavior genetics, the study of individual differences, and the origins of differential psychology with Francis Galton.

We also discussed the “blue period” of the field when Plomin was studying psychology in the 1970s when most researchers were not interested in heredity.

Rather, Behaviorism was in vogue in academia, and Freudianism in the general public.

Moving into the 21st century, we discussed polygenic risk scores, which synthesize genomic technology with behavioral genetic statistics, and Plomin’s enthusiasm for them as tools for discernment. In particular, he discusses his own background as someone from a working-class family where he was the only one to go to college.

We also discussed the difference between heritability, shared environment (family), and non-shared environment, and why genetics is the signal we can understand. In this context, we brought up the late Judith Rich Harris, who emphasized how much we talk about the shared environment, even though it seems rather marginal for many characteristics.


The Insight Show Notes — Season 2, Episode 16: Blueprint, a conversation with Robert Plomin was originally published in Insitome on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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