Sci-fi still influences how society thinks about genes – it’s time we caught up

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Abstract

We used to think that our fate was in the stars. Now we know in large measure, our fate is in our genes.

When the Nobel laureate and co-discoverer of the DNA double helix James Watson made his famous statement in 1989, he was implying that access to a person’s genetic code allows you to predict the outcome of their life.
The troubling implications were not lost on people, of course. A few years later they were explored in the American film Gattaca, which depicted a civilisation in the near future that had embraced this kind of genetic determinism.  It was a world in which most people are conceived in test tubes, and taken to term only if they passed genetic tests designed to prevent them from inheriting imperfections ranging from baldness to serious genetic diseases. 
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
PublisherThe Conversation UK
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2016

Keywords

  • Genetics
  • Genome
  • Eugenics
  • James Watson

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