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Book Launch | Misbehaving Science: Controversy and the Development of Behavior Genetics

The Institute for Public Knowledge invites you to join us for a conversation with Aaron Panofsky, Ann Morning, and Dalton Conley on Panofsky’s new book, Misbehaving Science: Controversy and the Development of Behavior Genetics.

Behavior genetics has always been a breeding ground for controversies. From the “criminal chromosome” to the “gay gene,” claims about the influence of genes like these have led to often vitriolic national debates about race, class, and inequality. Many behavior geneticists have encountered accusations of racism and have had their scientific authority and credibility questioned, ruining reputations, and threatening their access to coveted resources.

Panofsky argues that persistent, ungovernable controversy in behavior genetics is due to the broken hierarchies within the field. All authority and scientific norms are questioned, while the absence of unanimously accepted methods and theories leaves a foundationless field, where disorder is ongoing. Critics charge behavior geneticists with political motivations; champions say they merely follow the data where they lead. But Panofsky shows how pragmatic coping with repeated controversies drives their scientific actions. Ironically, behavior geneticists’ struggles for scientific authority and efforts to deal with the threats to their legitimacy and autonomy have made controversy inevitable—and in some ways essential—to the study of behavior genetics.

Aaron Panofsky is an Associate Professor in Public Policy and the Institute for Society and Genetics. Prior to joining UCLA in January of 2008, he was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar at UC Berkeley from 2006 through 2007. Panofsky received his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University in 2006. Panofsky’s main research interest is in the sociology of science and knowledge with a special focus on genetics.

Ann Morning is an Associate Professor of Sociology at New York University and the author of The Nature of Race (University of California Press, 2011).  She has published many scholarly articles on the topics of census racial classification as well as individuals’ concepts of racial difference, and at NYU she teaches courses on the sociology of race, the sociology of science, and sociological research methods.

Dalton Conley is University Professor at New York University. He holds faculty appointments in NYU’s Sociology Department, School of Medicine and the Wagner School of Public Service. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Community Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and as a Research Associateat the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). In a pro bono capacity, he is Dean of Arts and Sciences for the University of the People–a tuition-free institution committed to expanding access to higher education. He has previously served as Dean for the Social Sciences and Chair of Sociology at NYU. Conley’s research focuses on the determinants of economic opportunity within and across generations.

Date –         Wednesday, November 05, 2014  
                      6:00 PM – 08:00 PM
Location – The Institute for Public Knowledge 
                     20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10003, USA

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