One of the world's leading cultural psychologists debunks the hype surrounding DNA testing and puts to rest our mistaken anxieties about our genes.
Do you fear what might be lurking in your DNA?
Well, now you can find out, and you most likely will. Scientists expect one billion people to have their genomes sequenced by 2025, and as the price drops it may even become a standard medical procedure. Yet cultural psychologist Steven Heine argues that the first thing we'll do upon receiving our DNA test results is to misinterpret them completely. We've become accustomed to breathless media coverage about newly discovered "cancer" or "IQ" or "infidelity" genes, each one promising a deeper understanding of what makes us tick. But as Heine shows, most of these claims are oversimplified and overhyped misinterpretations of how our DNA really works. With few exceptions, it is a complex combination of experience, environment, and genetics that determines who we are, how we behave, and what diseases will afflict us in the future.
So why do we continue to buy into the belief that our genes control our destiny? Heine argues that we are psychologically ill equipped to deal with DNA results, repeatedly falling into predictable biases—switch-thinking, essentialism, fatalism, negativity dominance, and more—that mold our thinking about the information we receive. Heine shares his research—and his own genome-sequencing results—to not only to set the record straight regarding what your genes actually reveal about your health, intelligence, ethnic identity, and family, but to also help you counteract these insidious cognitive traps. His fresh, surprising conclusions about the promise, and limits, of genetic engineering and DNA testing upend conventional thinking and reveal a simple, profound truth: your genes create life—but they do not control it.