In this episode, Xavier Bonilla has a dialogue with Kathryn Paige Harden about genetics and their interactions with the environment. She explains her background and reasoning for writing her book. They lay the groundwork for the conversation by considering why it is important to study human variation at all and give the framing for why genes can be seen as luck or a lottery. They discuss the differences between genetic variance vs. genetic shift and why this can be contentious at times. They discuss Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) and explain the many aspects surrounding this tool and some of the opinions people have about them. They dialogue about how to separate the tools from the scientist and how this could be done appropriately. She discusses her agreements and disagreements with various camps in the genetic research world and why understanding author’s intent is important. They also talk about equality and impact the environmental interaction has on genetic data.
Kathryn Paige Harden is a tenured professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas, Austin where she heads the Developmental Behavior Genetics lab and co-directs the Texas Twin project. She obtained her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Virginia and has published over 100 scientific publications on child cognitive development, academic achievement and other familiar topics. She is the author of the book, The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality, which can be found here. You can find her various publications at her website. Twitter: @kph3k