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Can progressives be convinced that genetics matters?

white woman in black dress, Kathryn Paige Harden
Kathryn Paige Harden '03. Photo by Dan Winters for The New Yorker.

Kathryn Paige Harden’s book, “The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality,” will drop September 21. Ahead of its release, Gideon Lewis-Kraus, staff writer for The New Yorker, offers an in-depth look at what might be “instantly recognized as the most important book about behavior genetics that has ever been written,” according to Harden’s graduate school mentor Eric Turkheimer, a professor at the University of Virginia.

Harden, a 2003 Furman University psychology graduate, “argues that an appreciation of the role of simple genetic luck—alongside all the other arbitrary lotteries of birth—will make us, as a society, more inclined to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy lives of dignity and comfort,” Lewis-Kraus writes. In her book, Harden writes, “I think we must dismantle the false distinction between ‘inequalities that society is responsible for addressing’ and ‘inequalities that are caused by differences in biology.’”

Harden is professor of clinical psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, where she is director of the Developmental Behavior Genetics Lab and co-director of the Texas Twin Project. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.

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