Kathryn Paige Harden (@kph3k): A critical review of The Genetic Lottery by @nccomfort is up. Nathaniel and I have had many opportunities to discuss these issues, so few surprises, BUT... (1/n) https://www.americanscientist.org/article/the-house-always-wins

Kathryn Paige Harden (@kph3k): @nccomfort ... one line encapsulates, for me, what I think is a central disagreement in these debates, which is not really about genetics. It's about, What is social science for, and more specifically, What is the relationship between social science and social policy?

Kathryn Paige Harden (@kph3k): Nathaniel: "Parsing nature from nurture has never made good social policy."

From my perspective as a developmental / clinical psychologist, this is really striking and counterintuitive claim.

Kathryn Paige Harden (@kph3k): Do we think that identifying what causes what in children's lives is a worthwhile endeavor? That sort of causal inference necessarily entails 'parsing nature from nurture' in a world where most children's environments are shaped by their biological relatives.

Kathryn Paige Harden (@kph3k): Do we think that social policy is generally better if we have a better understanding of what causes what? I do. Or at least, I think that social policy is generally worse if we have a worse understanding of what causes what.

Kathryn Paige Harden (@kph3k): The reviews of TGL have revealed, however, that 'empiricism is good for policy' is surprisingly out of fashion? One of the biggest weaknesses of my book, in retrospect, is that I wasn't better at making the case for this point, or realizing that the case needed to be made.

Kathryn Paige Harden (@kph3k): On the whole (obviously there are exceptions), the most critical responses of TGL have come from people who are most removed from the daily grind of studying which environments cause what for which free-range humans.

Kathryn Paige Harden (@kph3k): What is genetics for? It's a tool for making social science better. Whether you think that matters for social equality, I'm learning, scales pretty closely with (1) how difficult you think social science is to do well ...

Kathryn Paige Harden (@kph3k): (2) how much you think doing good social science matters for bringing about the sorts of outcomes you want in the world.

Kathryn Paige Harden (@kph3k): In my view, the thing that has never made for good social policy is ignorance.