In his latest post, the behavioral psychologist Eric Turkheimer writes that in Blueprint, Robert Plomin appropriates his ideas without attribution and twists their meaning. You may have heard of the so-called First Law of Behavior Genetics: All human behavioral traits are heritable.” Turkheimer coined this and two further “laws” to point up ironies in the way behavior genetics was being practiced. “I wasn’t making the case that genes are the ultimate force that explains everything,” Turkheimer writes. “I was suggesting that if everything is heritable, maybe heritability is just an unsurprising part of the ordinary world, not a deep genetic insight into ‘what makes us human.’”
In effect, Turkheimer’s criticism of Blueprint is that its central thesis is based on a simplistic misreading of his (Turkheimer’s) work. This misreading makes Plomin’s book, Turkheimer writes, “simultaneously grandiose, boring and dangerous.” Ouch.
Here are the citations and links for Turkheimer’s original formulations of the “laws”:
- Turkheimer, Eric, and Irving I. Gottesman. “Is H2 = 0 a Null Hypothesis Anymore?” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14, no. 3 (September 1991): 410–11. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X00070540.
- Turkheimer, E. (2000). Three Laws of Behavior Genetics and What They Mean. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9(5), 160–164. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8721.00084