Judith Rich Harris Interview

Don’t miss the latest installment of Gene Expression’s outstanding "10 Questions"series, in which the plain-spoken scholar-provocateur, Judith Rich Harris, chews over some difficult issues raised by her shibboleth-shattering research on child development and the surprisingly negligible role of parental influence in shaping children’s destiny. 

Her reply to the throw-away tenth question turns out to be especially revealing:

Interviewer: If you could have your full genome sequenced for $1000, would you do it? (assume privacy concerns are obviated)

Harris: I’d
jump at the chance, and I wouldn’t give a damn about privacy concerns –
I’d want the information to be made freely available. My father spent
his adult life crippled by an autoimmune disorder called ankylosing
spondylitis. His father died young of an autoimmune disorder called
pernicious anemia. And I have been ill most of my adult life with an
autoimmune disorder that has launched attacks on several different body
systems. So I think my genes might have something interesting to tell
medical researchers.

If you have yet to catch up on Harris’s heresy, The Nurture Assumption, which has held up pretty well in the face of voluminous and intense criticism, is a must-read. For a good summary of her "dangerous idea," check out the short essay she filed for John Brockman‘s latest "Edge Annual Question" symposium.

Harris’s new book, No Two Alike, promises a deeper exploration of the Darwinian dynamics underlying individual differences. Should be good fun.