chapter  6
The Increasing Appropriation of Genetic Explanations
Pages 19

In the mid-to late 1970s, both the popular media and scientific journals published an explosion of articles that staked a renewed claim to the genetic explanation of matters that the previous two decades had “laid to rest” as social and environmental. A review of the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature from 1976 to 1982 revealed a 231 percent increase in articles that attempted to explain the genetic basis for crime, mental illness, intelligence, and alcoholism during this brief six-year period. Even more remarkably, between 1983 and 1988, articles that attributed a genetic basis to crime appeared more than four times as frequently as they had during the previous decade. This development in the popular print media was based in part upon what was occurring in the scientific journals. During this period, a new surge of articles (more than double the previous decade) appeared in the scientific literature,1 making claims about the genetic basis of several forms of social deviance and mental illness.2