In September 2014 a special issue of Time appeared at supermarket checkouts: “How DNA shapes your life.” “Having tried to harness the power of DNA for decades,” the introduction begins, “we’re finally getting somewhere.” The special issue and its articles are clearly optimistic, even boosterish, without much nuance. What would it take, we might ask, to make a special issue that delved into the range of meanings of genes and genetic, that treated the audience as capable of thinking about the complexities that surround the application of genetic knowledge. We might start by listing the variety of reasons one might look for the genetic basis of something and, for each, think about issues that confound or complicate the situation or claims being made. This was the idea behind a series of 50 posts by Peter Taylor, now assembled on a wordpress blog. Other people, including participants in the CE, are invited to become new contributors or suggest edits to clarify the existing posts. The posts are currently organized in 8 categories:
  • Development & functioning of organism
  • Diagnosis by genetic type/sequence
  • Origin by Descent
  • Production
  • Selection-artificial & natural
  • Therapeutics & other interventions
  • Tool use & development
  • Variation within & between groups