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Behavior genetics has always been a breeding ground for controversies. From the "criminal chromosome" to the "gay gene," claims about the influence of genes like these have led to often vitriolic national debates about race, class, and inequality. Many behavior geneticists have encountered accusations of racism and have had their scientific authority and credibility questioned, ruining reputations, and threatening their access to coveted resources.
In Misbehaving Science, Aaron Panofsky traces the field of behavior genetics back to its origins in the 1950s, telling the story through close looks at five major controversies. In the process, Panofsky argues that persistent, ungovernable controversy in behavior genetics is due to the broken hierarchies within the field. All authority and scientific norms are questioned, while the absence of unanimously accepted methods and theories leaves a foundationless field, where disorder is ongoing. Critics charge behavior geneticists with political motivations; champions say they merely follow the data where they lead. But Panofsky shows how pragmatic coping with repeated controversies drives their scientific actions. Ironically, behavior geneticists' struggles for scientific authority and efforts to deal with the threats to their legitimacy and autonomy have made controversy inevitable-and in some ways essential-to the study of behavior genetics.
List of Illustrations
Studying Misbehaving Science
Founding the Field to Avoid Controversy
The Young Field Disrupted: The Race and IQ Controversy
Animals or Humans to Study Behavior? Conflict over the Shape of the Field
The Power of Reductionism: Valorizing Controversial Science
From Behavior Genetics to Genomics
Responsibility, Notoriety, and Geneticization
Misbehaving Science: Behavior Genetics and Beyond
Aaron Panofsky is assistant professor in the Department of Public Policy and Institute for Society and Genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles.
"Panofsky's book is the best empirical and conceptual extension to date of Bourdieu's perspectives on the sociology of science. This history of the fascinating understory of behavioral genetics will revive studies of scientific specialities by opening up new and fruitful questions."
- Thomas F. Gieryn, Indiana University
"In this pioneering expedition across the 'archipelago' of approaches that make up behavior genetics, Aaron Panofsky charts a new course for understanding how scientific fields become enmeshed in controversy. Misbehaving Science sheds new light on the troubled quest to locate human behavior in our genes, revealing how the fragmentation of the field, and the absence of consensus about 'good science' within it, has left it mired in debate. Based on careful scholarship, this is a first-rate history of a scientific domain that also proposes new directions for critically evaluating the modern organization of knowledge production."
- Steven Epstein, author of Inclusion: The Politics of Difference in Medical Research
"Panofsky has successfully captured the tensions that lie at the foundation of behavioral genetics. His approach is both engaging and provocative, most notably his characterization of the field as constituted of archipelagos. The analytic purchase is significant, and Misbehaving Science will likely find a high place in the rapidly expanding literature in social studies of science."
- Troy Duster, author of Backdoor to Eugenics