If a particular genetic composition meant that a person had a significantly higher propensity for criminal behavior, how important would you rate this information?
Suppose we define "significant" like this: if you have this set of genes, you are 800% more likely to commit a violent crime than if you didn't - and you are 10 times more likely to commit murder! (1)
Would knowing whether your friends, family members, boss, babysitter, teacher, or even the next presidential candidate carried this genetic makeup be something you would desperately want to know?
What would you even do with this information?
If a massive proportion of the population was found to have this set of genes and there was no practical solution, how might this affect society?
Would you agree that this would be so concerning that some level of action would need to take place? With this knowledge and the ability to determine who has this genetic composition, surely you couldn't just turn a blind eye.
Though this sounds like science fiction, the reality is that about half the human population does have this genetic composition, and the statistics above are from the US Bureau of Justice Statistics.(2)
David Eagleman, in his book Incognito, provides even more glaring details:
"About one half of the human population carries these genes, while the other half does not, making the first half much more dangerous indeed. It’s not even a contest. The overwhelming majority of prisoners carry these genes, as do 98.4 percent of those on death row."
Who are they? What do we do?
Does the knowledge that half the population is overwhelmingly more prone to violence than the other half seem unrealistic?
This particular set of genes is what makes up the Y Chromosome - that which makes a male.
(1) - For instance, if there are 90,000 violent crimes and 110 murders, the 800% means that 80,000 of the violent crimes and 100 of the murders were committed by those with this particular set of genes (800% and 10x).
(2) - http://www.bjs.gov/
For more Thought Experiments like this, visit:
(Artwork by: Mag Raven)
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