The white supremacist who drove 200 miles to a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket and opened fire, killing 10 people, had posted a screed.
Most of the people he killed were Black. The document’s 180 pages cited not only racist conspiracy theories, but also scientific research on behavioral genetics. The research focused on finding heritable differences in IQ and propensity to violence between racial groups.
There’s no reason to believe, on the basis of his screed, that the Buffalo shooter understood, or even read, the scientific papers. It’s more likely that he collected them, like the racist tropes he reproduced in the document, from message boards and social media channels whose users latch on to titles that seem to promise scientific support for white supremacy.
Scientists who research genetic bases for complex behavioral traits using genome-wide association studies have urged care in the conclusions drawn from population means, and especially in how their scientific results are communicated to general audiences.
But there is compelling evidence that research on the evolution of sociobehavioral traits finds an eager audience among white nationalists.
Domestic dogs come in more sizes than any other mammal species. Now, researchers say a genetic mutation that emerged in wolves before they were domesticated is responsible.
On appearances alone, it may be hard to believe dogs like fluffy Pomeranians or spritely Chihuahuas really are descended from wolves.
But new research both illuminates and solidifies this relationship, while providing a new explanation as to why owners are even able to pick teacup poodles and short-snouted Shih Tzus out of the pack.
Domestic dogs come in more sizes than any other mammal species on Earth. This is a result of human preference and selective breeding — but this wide range of sizes is foundationally possible because of a newly discovered genetic mutation.
This mutation corresponds to small body size and it emerged in wolves before they were domesticated.
Large samples of dog DNA and behavioral information are hard to come by, so two research projects are asking “citizen scientists” to collect it from their pets.
“We know a lot more about the bodies of our dogs and how they can break down, more than what we know about their brains and behavior,” Hare said. “The reason we do not know about genes involved with brain and behavioral problems is there has never been a large scale study combining behavioral and genetic data on thousands of dogs.”