SFU The Abuse Suffered by Individuals Historically Discussion

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Discussion Topic: There are many reasons why there has been resistance to accepting any form of biological influence on behavior. Explain and discuss these.

Read Chapter1-3, and the discussion moderator's original post (400 words) after finish reading the textbook (chapter 1-3).

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1 Biology and crime Introduction Since prehistory, we have tried to understand why people commit crime. Innumerable explanations have been put forth over time—many ludicrous, some plausible. Medieval “biological” explanations, for example, found criminal character rooted in a system of humors: large-scale influences on behavior brought about by balances and imbalances within specific organs of the body and their secretions. Moral theories of crime as an evil influence have been historically predominant. In about 400 bce, Plato thought that criminality was caused by an obscurity of thought—the imprisoned human mind was blocked from enlightenment as if it were locked in a cave and thus acted irrationally. In the first century ce, St Paul thought that it was caused by sinfulness, our inability to fulfill the law of God. In the nineteenth century, Cesare Lombroso put forward a more modern biological theory, a concept of facial types, or atavisms, by which one could identify the criminal; his findings were supposedly based on science. With misunderstood beliefs in genetics, the eugenics movement began in the nineteenth century and culminated in the atrocities and genocide by Nazi Germany in World War II. After the horrors of the eugenics movement were fully understood, social scientists turned 180° away from any thought of a biological role in criminal behavior, or indeed in any behavior, and focused solely on social science explanations for crime. As we will show, although the concept of eugenics is appalling, the truth is that it had nothing to do with science or genetics but was rather a racist political ideology. This violent rejection of biological explanations for criminal behavior was extremely unfortunate, as it delayed the opportunity for a much more embracing understanding of criminal behavior. However, the vast amount of legitimate research that has been conducted in this area has reached a stage where it cannot be ignored and has shown that the new field of biosocial research is not only valid but offers tremendous promise for ways in which we may be able to intervene and even prevent crime. Anyone who has ever known a newborn baby knows that babies are not born as blank slates. They already have a strong personality, which may have even made itself felt in the womb. The strong empirical body of research that has been published recently, some of which we will cover in this text, has resulted in the new field of biosocial criminology.1 Of course, biology does not cause crime, but then neither does social status, psychology, or ­experience. It is a combination of all the factors of a person and an environment that can lead to that person behaving in a certain manner that could lead to a criminal act. It is unlikely that we will ever understand what “causes” crime, but a more informed consideration, looking at all ­factors, ­including a person’s biology, is likely to bring us closer to reliable and more humane answers. We work, therefore, on the principle that in the effort to understand a complex human phenomenon such as crime, all factors must be considered. And in this introductory chapter, we first try some critical thought experiments to clarify this complexity. With luck, these will give rise to a healthy skepticism about research in human behavior and especially about scientific research that purports 1 2 Biology and crime to explain crime. We next explore how many of the biological bases for particular criminal behaviors are, at least in potential, treatable. This is the promise of biological research into crime. While biology may offer a limited answer to larger, more philosophical questions about crime, the approach explained in this text has some distinct advantages. From this discussion, some further cautions about studying crime in general are explored. For example, we evaluate scientific methods throughout this text, and we need to engage some of the problems that can occur in any scientific research. This chapter reviews some of the social history from which this approach to crime has arisen. Up until the very recent past, the topics discussed in this text were considered too controversial to discuss in criminology. Even when the first edition of this text was published, the subject matter was still considered contentious. One of the important areas of controversy is, of course, the use of genetics to explain criminality. When social scientists respond negatively to biological ­explanations, they often assume that they are based on genetics. Until recently, genetic explanations of criminality were much out of favor, because they were not understood and because such misinformation has been used reductively (and dangerously) in the past. They are now often strongly associated with past mistakes, such as the eugenics movements, or with the genocidal regimes of Nazism and Stalinism, in which whole populations were denied human rights based on supposed genetic differences. There are, then, some very good reasons to be cautious of their use. In relation to the approach developed in this book, it is important for the reader to realize that any reduction of the causes of crime to genetics alone can be a serious and dangerous distortion. Through a critical look at the field’s checkered past, we hope in the following chapters to explore its much brighter future. The question of biology, crime, and the environment What then is the general place of biology in an explanation of crime? To explore this question, we first consider a less controversial but parallel question about genetics. We could ask, for example, a good biology question: Do our genes govern how we write? One advantage we would expect in taking this “genetics alone” approach is that we should receive a clear and precise answer. This, after all, is what scientific research promises. Is writing learned environmentally or controlled genetically? Both common sense and scientific evidence tell us that the way we write is affected by our physical ability—how dexterous we are and how well we can manipulate objects with our fingers. Dexterity could then be determined by genetic makeup, the facility with finger movements and hand-eye coordination we are born with. But without much effort, one can probably find an important ­qualification. Our ability to write is obviously also governed by non-genetic influences. Conditions in the womb, for example, have an influence on the development of hands and arms and can therefore affect later dexterity and thus later writing skills. Another qualification: we are not born able to write; we have to learn how to write. We write in a particular way because we were taught this way. We incorporate and model the scripts of the people who are significant in our early lives—teachers, older siblings, and parents. It is not too difficult to find an increasing array of other clearly environmental influences. A hand injury in childhood could also affect the way we learn to write, and equally, an injury in adulthood can change the way we write, as we learn to compensate for the injury. Considering this multiplicity of real and potential environmental influences, how much of handwriting can be considered truly genetic in origin? The answer is that not much of it is genetic—it is really almost all a learned behavior. But we can now take our thought experiment a bit further and ask a question to which the reductive genetic approach might provide a better answer. The ability to write might have The question of biology, crime, and the environment 3 evolved with the human species, and perhaps, there is a genetic influence on this level. We might now refine our original question to “What makes us, as a species, capable of writing? What abilities do we have that other species do not? Why, for example, can a dog not write?” Part of the answer involves degree of intelligence—the relative size, organization, and ability of the brain. For this reason, most dogs probably could not figure it out (border collies may be an ­exception). In general, we would think that dogs would not have the higher-level skills in abstraction, ­sensory focus, dexterity, and memory that are required for writing and reading. What else, then, do we (and perhaps chimps) have that allows us to write while dogs cannot? Another part of the puzzle is that we have opposable thumbs and dogs do not; it is difficult to hold a pen (or type) without an opposable thumb, although some birds manage to use sticks to get at insects, and chimps can be trained to use many tools. Moreover, people who have lost hands can write and even paint by using their toes or teeth. In general, however, dogs do not have this ability. Thus, if you go back far enough into any feature or skill involving the body, it does appear to come down to genetics. Genes produce the specific attributes of the physical body that make us capable of writing—that is, a hand with fingers and a thumb, and a relatively capacious and intelligent brain that can instruct that hand to learn how to write. Is writing then “caused” by genes? The problem is that at this level, the genetic argument p ­ roduces a form of absolute certainty by what might be termed reductive generalization. Such certainties bother scientists—they are always either untrustworthy or of no real use. Yes, we can strongly and confidently assert that the brain itself is inherited and under genetic control and that opposable thumbs are likewise under genetic control. You have a brain because humans evolved one, and the trait of producing a big brain and opposable thumbs is certainly inherited. Such assertions cannot be really contested. But the problem with them is, again, that even on this more general level, they are reductive of actual behavior. You are born with a brain, but what you do with it is a complex mixture of the brain itself, the inherited part, and the social environment—the most important part. The inherited big brain, the finger dexterity we share with the great apes, and the social environment that trains you (for better or for worse) in the necessary skills of script production and interpretation are all vitally necessary for you to write well, to be understood, and to understand writing by ­others. Learning how to read and write is a highly complex social and biological matter, as any speech therapist will tell you. Genetics is certainly not the only factor in acquiring this ability. Thus, if you go back to the evolutionary level, you can relate even writing to genetics as a cause. But you may be able to now see that it is a rather one-sided explanation as far as behavior is ­concerned. Social development, education, and many other environmental influences are utterly necessary as well. Unfortunately, genetics alone cannot give us the magic explanation we wish, because so much more is involved in any aspect of our functional, social interpretive, painfully learned, and all too human behavior. Is there more to biology than just genetics? The argument for purely genetic explanations of behavior, and thus crime, can be qualified in another way. Although genetics is part of biology, biology, as the “science of life,” covers much more physiological territory than genetics. In this text, we certainly consider genetics, but we will also examine a host of other biological explanations, such as hormone levels; the effects of disease, diet, and pollution; neurotransmitters; brain injury; and prenatal problems. Some authors place such material under genetics, but I think such presentations can be confusing. Note again their tendency to reduction. Biology, when it is good science, cannot be reductive. Resistance to biological explanations Over the last decades, there has been considerable resistance to even thinking through the issues involved in biological approaches to crime. A behavioral scientist recently stated that for the past 4 Biology and crime 30–40 years, “most criminologists could not even say the word ‘genetics’ without spitting.”2(p972) Even in 1992, the National Institute of Health in the United States withdrew funding for a ­conference on crime and genetics, citing that a genes-crime link “stood for racism and eugenics.”2 (p972) In many cases, social scientists were afraid even to conceive of biological causes for crime. As mentioned in the preface, Wright and Miller showed in “Taboo until Today”3 that even the highly educated boycotted the possibility of considering genetic and biological explanations. According to the article, this reaction comes from the idea’s association with the vicious prejudices of the past, including the horrors of ethnic cleansing, slavery, and the genocides of World War II. However, the fact that an idea has been abused and misused does not mean that it should be ­forgotten or that it is wrong. It is vitally important to realize that although these atrocities were horrific, they were not based on science. They were based on the prejudices and psychopathic policies of people in power who decided to misquote science to an uneducated public to fulfill their own immoral agendas. There is the danger of repeating the prejudices of the past if we do not understand the truth of the science. It was the public’s ignorance of the true facts that allowed such people to use these misrepresentations as weapons. Another reason for the resistance is that some also think that a biological explanation means there is no hope for treatment. Some fear, for instance, that such an approach may lead politicians to make laws that require incarceration of people with a biological predisposition for antisocial ­behavior—they must be locked away because they can never “get better.” This view is, again far from the truth and underscores the weakness of this kind of criticism. The biological view actually offers much more hope for those afflicted with these predispositions than social explanations. For example, as a ­society, we now seem to accept that terrible abuse during childhood could predispose a child toward ­criminality in later life. But this explanation offers no cure; we can never take away that abuse. We can try to ameliorate it, we can try to change society for the better, but we can never change the fact that it has occurred. In contrast, the outcome is actually much more hopeful if the behavior has a biological basis, because there are many biological states that we can treat or change. The promise of biological research With these initial cautions in mind, a picture is emerging of careful testing of the areas where this research paradigm can be applied, where it cannot be applied, and where it might offer a positive benefit. The most exciting thing about looking at biological research is its promise of providing successful treatment. Here are some examples where biology certainly has a profound influence on a disease or behavior and in which successful treatment has been found. They are not all related to crime, but they set the stage for our approach in that they can show biological conditions for which, through research and treatment, predicted outcomes changed dramatically. These examples should give us some hope that a similar change in biologically based types of crime could, with adequate research, be available and that they could be arrived at in a similar way. 1. Phenylketonuria In the old days, a percentage of children were born with a genetically based disease called phenylketonuria (PKU). Children who have PKU are unable to digest or metabolize phenylalanine, an amino acid that is essential for life.4 We get some amino acids from a balanced diet and make others ourselves; phenylalanine comes from diet. In children with PKU, the amino acid builds up to toxic levels that cause severe intellectual disability by the age of 5 years. In fact, most people with intellectual disabilities in the past had this disease. The cause of the disease was discovered in the 1930s, and the genetic basis was finally understood by the 1950s,5 making treatment easy: simply keep most phenylalanine out of the diet The promise of biological research 5 (a tiny amount is required, but no more) until children are at least 7 years old, at which point high levels can build up with much less damage. Once this was understood, children born with the inability to metabolize phenylalanine no longer showed brain impairment, and the level of intellectual disability in the population dropped dramatically. Now, all babies are tested at birth (their toes pricked for tiny blood samples), and those at risk are fed restricted diets. The dramatic result is that there are no more children with PKU. Actually, that is not true; the disease is still prevalent. In fact, it is more prevalent than before because these children have grown up normally and had children themselves, passing the disease on. But their offspring do not show the effects of the disease because we have changed the biological outcome. This was one of the first cases to prove that we are not completely ruled by our genes. With the right knowledge, we have the ability to change our genetic future. 2. Cystic fibrosis This terrible disease has been traced to just one gene.6 People who have cystic fibrosis (CF) lack this gene and therefore develop serious lung problems that eventually result in early death. Scientists have been experimenting with ways to implant the missing gene in people. To simplify, it is possible to use a virus to place a gene somewhere; this is termed gene therapy. Scientists put the required gene into the virus, and the virus carries the gene into the person. A virus works by getting inside your cells. To kill a virus, one must kill the cell it is in. Unfortunately, in the process, the host is often killed; this is why the common cold is so difficult to cure. Scientists have experimentally placed the missing gene that causes CF into a flu virus, which is modified so that it is incapable of causing the flu but still capable of penetrating a cell.7 When a person inhales the impregnated virus, in the way one might inhale an asthma medicine, the gene rides the virus straight into the mucosal tissue and the lungs and thus directly into the target cells. The gene only lasts in those cells for a few weeks, because cells die ­constantly. While most of us ­produce new cells that have all the right genes, people with CF do not. The gene is missing from their original DNA, so the replacement cells do not have it either—but the person can inhale it again. More recently, non-viral methods of delivering the gene are being explored.8 This treatment is still being researched, but if it continues to show promise, it might help people with CF live beyond their mid-twenties. Even more exciting, if people who are missing this gene are treated from birth, they might escape all the terrible side effects of the disease and enjoy long, normal lives. Similar gene therapy is now being used to treat numerous diseases, including blood, liver, and eye disease and cancer.9 Both these examples are unusual because they each concern just one gene, which is rare. Behavior on the other hand involves many genes and is, as we have discussed, heavily influenced by the ­environment. Here is a more crime-related example. 3. Serotonin Serotonin is a substance that the brain uses to facilitate communication among cells. Low serotonin levels have been found to result in impulsivity and violence. We will look in depth at this ­neurotransmitter in Chapter 9. Low serotonin can result from genetics, alcoholism, and various other factors, and it can be corrected by something as simple as diet. In sum, these three examples show us that DNA does not necessarily mean destiny. You might now be able to see that fear of reductionism and a potential repetition of the errors and moral outrages of the past should not blind us to the potential of modern biological research to help solve some parts of the puzzle of criminogenic behavior. 6 Biology and crime Some obvious examples of biology’s effect on behavior In case you yet have a doubt that biology has an effect on our social and emotional lives, consider the following examples of some clear biological influences on behavior. Puberty Puberty is an example with which everyone is familiar. During the transition from childhood into a sexual world, teenagers go through some profound emotional and behavioral changes, usually suffered along with them by their parents, other relatives, and teachers. Eventually, they mature and become adults, but, in the years of puberty, the change in outlook and disturbance of ­behavior can be profound. But again, the environmental influences are crucial in how puberty, a b ­ iological change, is realized. As we all know, puberty occurs when a lot of other changes are occurring in children’s lives. Adolescents have a growing awareness of adulthood and their role in a peer group, and they often think that they have become adults and should be treated as such, whereas adults around them continue to treat them as children or at least as teenagers. Their hormone fluctuations result in mood swings and behavior changes, and these cause very real, and often ­embarrassing, situations to occur. Eventually, at biological maturity, the hormones level off and the mood swings cease. Negotiating the new pitfalls of a social life that now includes sexuality and managing the integration of the new sexual needs and awareness (biology) with peers and adults (society) are major problems that confront teens; most make the adjustment. Can you think of any benefits of such early and biologically based behavior from an evolutionary point of view? Medically, the ideal age for childbirth is when women are young, and not very far back in the past, most women reproduced at a very young age. In addition, young boys became men early, fighting in wars, working, and marrying at an early age. The mean age of death was also lower by far than today, so if people did not reproduce when they were young, they would not live long enough to raise and protect their children. Thus, these biologically based changes in behavior may stem from earlier days when people reached maturity much earlier, competing for mates and resources and reproducing during their teenage years. Pregnancy Pregnancy also affects hormones and therefore emotions. In many cases, a woman seems calmer than usual when pregnant, not reacting as she normally would to the stresses of work and life. Hormones in pregnancy have a lot of functions, including effects on mood. Can you think of any evolutionary reason why women should be calmer during pregnancy? We will consider evolution and natural selection in the next chapter to explain the mechanisms, but, in most cases, for a trait to be kept through many generations, it must have some benefit (even if the benefit is rather obscure) and it must be genetically controlled. The benefit of feeling calm during pregnancy is fairly obvious. We all know that stress is bad for us. If you are stressed, you are also more likely to become sick. Stress can be even more severe during pregnancy, not only because it may harm the mother but also because it could have severe deleterious effects on the fetus. Therefore, hormones that protect against stress have major effects on behavior, which are beneficial to the fetus. Menstruation Menstruation affects some women more than others, but many have more mood swings during, and just before, menstruation. The reason is that women’s hormones change drastically during this time, with dramatic up and down surges of estrogen and progesterone. Resistance to biological criminology 7 We can see more clearly, then, that biology is an important influence on behavior and that scientific research can help us find out what this influence is. Our thought experiments were designed to show that biology and society, the body and behavior, learning and genetics, phases in physical development and social mores are interactive. Resistance to biological criminology If we actually think about it, there are myriad examples of the way biology affects behavior. So why is there still such resistance to this idea? Next, we need to explore more fully where this resistance comes from. In the past, some people erred strongly in the opposite direction and pronounced biology—and especially genetics (long before genes were discovered, let alone understood, in many cases)—as the key to the understanding of all behavior, and the present resistance in the social sciences has a lot to do with this error. According to the older uses of biological models, social life did not count for much as an influence; the great “new” idea of the late nineteenth and early twentieth ­centuries was to see biology as the inevitable and sole cause of criminal behavior. In the past, there were many efforts to explain crime simply and directly, through biology. However, as we will see, the data (if they can be called that) on which this view was based were often wrong. These ideas resulted from poorly designed experiments or experiments performed in deliberate attempts to support specific ideas. Many of the individuals involved believed that behavior could be explained entirely by biology, which as we have seen with the case of genetics, is simply not true. Today, no right-minded scientist would try to tell you that any complex behavior could be entirely biological in origin. Some very simple behaviors are under total genetic control, as we will see in Chapter 2, but no complex behaviors could be. There is always going to be an environmental component—usually a large one. In the early nineteenth century, inaccurate science or pseudoscience was used to support many proposed theories, such as that of phrenology, a belief that the shape and characteristic bumps of the head could be used to determine personality. It was an extraordinary idea by today’s standards, but in the 1800s, it was an accepted practice. The erroneous belief that crime was entirely biological has also led to many horrible political decisions, most notably in Nazi Germany. It is important to point out, however, that although some people believed these theories and managed to convince people in power to act on them, most people—particularly scientists—did not believe them and in fact derided the believers at the time. Unfortunately, these right-minded individuals were ignored, as most of the general public did not understand science well enough to be able to dispute the claims. The author hopes that this book will help people understand the true science of behavior and also make them ready to dispute false science or pseudoscience if it is ever misused again. Since that time, much more unbiased research has been performed, and that is what we look at throughout this book. It is not a good idea to ignore the good research that has been performed rigorously in more recent years simply because people in the past twisted the theories to support their bigotry. Honest research should not be dismissed or suppressed for the fear that politicians or others will misuse it. A tool can be used in many ways. It is one of the ethical cornerstones of this text that if scientific research into criminal behavior is used properly, it can prevent social injustice. The history of biology and crime One of the biggest stumbling blocks facing researchers in this field for many years is the fear of determinism. Because the early attempts to understand the basis of crime were, in most cases, unscientific, biological explanations of crime and violence came to be viewed as deterministic and oppressive. 8 Biology and crime There were major errors in many other fields as well at the time, but their failed theories are not used to judge the present work. Unfortunately, in this field, some of the old ideas resulted in horrible actions that have not been forgotten. It must be clearly understood that past atrocities were not based on true science but occurred when people with very specific agendas used public ignorance of science to further their own causes. Long before people understood almost anything about science, they were trying to understand why some people committed crimes and others did not. Because we can see and measure physical attributes, the search for the difference between those who kill and those who do not began, with attempts to correlate physical features with personality traits. Franz Gall and phrenology, eighteenth and early nineteenth century Franz Gall (1758–1828) was a physician and anatomist who believed that there was a relationship between a person’s mental attributes and the shape and size of the head. He believed that he could determine which parts of the brain were responsible for different emotions and behaviors and that the relative size and shape of bumps in the skull over each area related to the size of the part of the brain beneath the bump and so could be used to predict a person’s personality and subsequent behaviors. This theory was termed phrenology. Phrenology now seems absurd, and there were certainly many people who considered it absurd at the time. We tend to think that it was generally accepted, but Gall had many critics at the time who pointed out the obvious holes in his theory when it was first put forward. They argued that his theories were not based on any scientific evidence or clinical data. He leapt to conclusions based on observations seen in just one patient. For example, he stated that dangerousness could be predicted based on the presence of a lump close to the ear, as he had observed such a lump both in a student who tortured animals and in an executioner.10 This was the sum total of his so-called evidence. His “research,” such as it was, was no more accepted by intelligent people then than it would be now. Nevertheless, Gall attracted an international cult following. Gall’s ideas were brought to the United States by one of his supporters, an American doctor named John Bell. Bell founded the Central Phrenology Society in the United States in 1822 and ­lectured throughout the country.10 One of the so-called studies that he was fond of quoting was written by Spurzheim, one of Gall’s students. Spurzheim had phrenologically examined 30 women who had been convicted of killing their own children. According to Spurzheim, 26 of these women had an underdeveloped brain area, which he believed was the part of the brain linked to love of ­children, and thus, he concluded that these women’s crimes were the result of their physically ­defective brains.10 These claims resemble the much more recent misunderstandings of the XYY “super male” in the 1960s, which we will discuss in Chapter 4.11(p1) In both cases, researchers looked only at offenders, a closed population, so they came to their conclusions without seeing how common the trait was in the general population. A true control for Spurzheim’s study group could easily have included 30 women who had not killed their children, which would probably have disproved the theory immediately. When we look at any experiment, it is important to see whether it is valid, and although there are many parts of an experiment that are important, choosing an appropriate control group is vital. Lombroso and atavisms, nineteenth century Interest in phrenology began to die out and was finally destroyed when actual experiments and data failed to support it. Public interest collapsed when the scientific community finally managed to convince the public that there was absolutely no empirical evidence to support the theory. However, the belief that it was possible to determine a person’s personality and behavioral ­patterns from assessing some aspect of their physical looks was still attractive and was taken up by the Italian criminal anthropologist Cesare Lombroso in the latter part of the nineteenth century.10 Lombroso is frequently considered to be the father of criminology. Resistance to biological criminology 9 Lombroso performed examinations of a range of people, including convicted criminals, people in mental institutions, and cadavers, and compared his results with those from non-incarcerated ­individuals.10 He believed that some criminals were born to be criminals and that their criminal behavior was not a product of their environment. He reported that certain features, such as sloping foreheads, jug ears, a prognathic jaw, nose size, skin wrinkles, twisted lips, and even clearly environmental features such as tattoos, were more commonly seen in criminals than in law-abiding ­citizens.10,12 Lombroso referred to these features as atavisms and declared that people possessing such atavisms had lesser or more primitive levels of development than non-criminal people.10 He was particularly interested in those who had committed violent offences, as he considered them to be inferior “morally, mentally, and physically” and likened them to Neanderthals.10(p8) Incidentally, there is no evidence that early humans were any more violent than modern humans, but people still regularly accuse uncouth and violent people of “acting like Neanderthals.” Lombroso thought that such people were born to be criminals and could not change.10 He felt that female crime rates were lower than male crime rates because women were caregivers, generally passive and weak, with low intelligence; so, when women did offend, they had to override these obstacles to crime and thus were particularly evil.13 Lombroso believed that, as biology could not be changed, such criminals should be punished owing to their perceived increased threat. He stated that approximately a third of the criminal population were born as criminals and that the rest were those who had fewer of the physical traits than the born criminal and needed an adverse environmental trigger before they offended.12 Of course, now it seems totally absurd to use the way people look to predict whether they are violent criminals. However, people do make similar personal assessments all the time. The average person puts a lot of emphasis on what can be seen. First impressions are very important; when we look at someone, we automatically size them up. We make assessments of people’s personalities and abilities by the way they look. We reassess our opinions when we get to know the individuals, but those first impressions are based entirely on looks. Women can probably relate to this fact more than men. A woman walking alone at night probably watches and assesses anyone approaching more than a man would. Most people can remember embarrassing instances of rapid assessments based on appearance, clothing, hairstyle, and so on, many of which turned out to be entirely wrong on later assessment. Of course, this is quite different than stating unequivocally that a certain look results in a dangerous person, but it does perhaps make it easier to understand why Lombroso’s theories seemed, at first, acceptable to the non-scientific and often uneducated public of the time. Francis Galton and the start of eugenics Owing to the lack of scientific support for Gall’s and Lombroso’s theories, they eventually fell out of favor. At around this time, however, Darwin’s theory of evolution was first being discussed.14 Darwin revolutionized the way people looked at all aspects of science. His work was solid and based on years of studies. His theories had nothing to do with criminal behavior or any suggestions of attempting to control destiny, but other people began misreading his work, and dangerous and entirely erroneous relationships between evolution and crime began to be considered.10 Darwin’s theory of evolution explained how traits such as beak size and shape in birds could be selected for over time, based on environmental conditions and changes (see Chapter 2). People already knew that offspring inherited some of their parents’ features, as children resembled their parents, inheriting, for example, eye and hair color. Farmers had used such information to breed the best farm animals for centuries. Darwin’s work was sound, but evolution and natural selection can only work on heritable traits, those under genetic control (see Chapter 2). It was other people, most notably Darwin’s own half-cousin, Francis Galton, who began to suggest that just about everything was a heritable trait, including poverty and crime. Thus, not long after evolution was first understood, in some cases, it was used as a framework for developing ideas to control such things as prostitution, petty crime, poverty, promiscuousness, and ­destitution. This was a complete misunderstanding and misuse of Darwin’s work, as such characteristics are clearly not inherited. However, many people jumped on this bandwagon as a way to control the Victorian “lower classes.” 10 Biology and crime It was then that the terrifying idea of reproductive control was first suggested. There was concern among the more powerful Victorian families that the large numbers of children born to the poor were contributing to the moral decay of society. Galton argued that the more “exemplary” members of society (meaning the rich) should have larger families, whereas the “lesser” members (meaning the poor) should be encouraged to have fewer children.10,15 Galton called his theory eugenics, after the Greek word eugenes or “good in birth.”10 Galton’s proposal was actually positive eugenics, wherein those considered most fit were to be encouraged to have more children. It is important to remember that Galton did not suggest that those considered less fit should be prevented from reproducing. Positive eugenics is what farmers have done for centuries, breeding the best to the best. Needless to say, however, it was not long before some began to advocate negative eugenics, wherein people considered unfit, for whatever reason, were actively discouraged and even prevented from reproducing.15 This frightening misunderstanding and misquoting of science drew support from around the world. At the beginning of the twentieth century, eugenics advocates in Britain, America, and Germany began to collect information on hundreds of thousands of people and, using this supposed “hereditary data,” they began to initiate what they referred to as “genetic hygiene” measures, which ranged from segregating the supposedly unfit from the rest of society in “work colonies” to compulsory sterilization.10,15 The eugenics movement The eugenics movement took off in the United States, as Americans were afraid that the large numbers of immigrants arriving on their shores would take their jobs and produce so many children that they would overrun the existing population (conveniently forgetting that they themselves had recently done the same to America’s indigenous peoples). Politicians pointed out that the immigrants came from countries where, traditionally, larger families were the norm, in comparison with the upper classes of New England. They declared that this would result in greatly increased rates of crime, poverty, and insanity. Some even blamed labor unrest and strikes on genetics.10 These few people managed to convince many citizens that immigration would mean the end of the average American. Things got much worse when these so-called superior people began to claim that race was a major issue and swore that their intent to control both immigration and reproduction of non-whites and eastern Europeans was not prejudice but merely an attempt to maintain the so-called purity of the whites.10,15 This sort of terrifying propaganda resulted in the passage of immigration laws that limited the number of immigrants allowed into the Unites States from so-called undesirable countries and in miscegenation statutes that outlawed interracial marriages.10 What these proponents of negative eugenics were doing was a form of genocide, with absolutely no basis in scientific fact. In Europe, similar measures were being taken, which escalated with Hitler’s regime into genocide. Measures that had begun with public education escalated to forced abortion, sterilization, and finally death camps.10 At the end of World War II, when the enormity of the atrocities was uncovered, the general public declaimed eugenics, and the movement thankfully began to collapse, although forced sterilization continued for several decades in America and still occurs today. Eugenics in the latter part of the twentieth century It is often forgotten, however, that some forms of eugenics still remained in both the United States and Canada well into the 1970s, with people, frequently children, subjected to compulsory ­sterilization. It is interesting to note that while Nazi Germany at its height sterilized 75–80 ­people per 100 000 per year, Delaware sterilized 18. Although this is much less than Nazi Germany, Delaware was part of a democracy, not a totalitarian society that shortly afterward committed genocide.16 In 1927 in Virginia, an attempt to withdraw the state’s statute on involuntary sterilization was dismissed,17,18 with the judge stating, “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.”18(p946) Resistance to biological criminology 11 Boys as young as 14 years were castrated for something as clearly non-criminal as masturbation.16 In the 1970s in America, Native American women were sterilized against their will, with estimates as high as 25% of women of childbearing age.16 Even as late as 1979, compulsory sterilization was practiced in some US states for crime prevention or punishment, and at some points, more than two-thirds of states enforced sterilization, with over 60 000 disabled people ­sterilized.16 Most were sterilized owing to mental illness or if people were of very low socioeconomic status (SES).16 There are many people alive today who were sterilized without their knowledge, mostly at the request of parents who found them unruly or promiscuous. Today, we would like to believe that eugenics is not being practiced in our modern world—but is it? In Canada, coercive sterilizations in which indigenous women are “persuaded” to undergo tubal ligation while giving birth, in pain and under medical sedation and before being allowed to see their infants, are claimed to have occurred as recently as 2017, and cases are presently in the courts.19 There are also more subtle forms of eugenics. One could describe lengthy prison sentences as a form of eugenics. Men and women who are incarcerated for long periods of time during their reproductive years are, in a sense, being prevented from reproducing. The right to have conjugal visits under some circumstances could be said to offset this, but still, reproduction remains heavily restricted and, in most cases, curtailed. In all these historic cases of appalling atrocities, both the theorists and average people were ignorant of the facts. They did not understand genetics, and the public did not understand that there were no valid data on which to base these theories. The media promoted the ideas of eugenics, so they were accepted by the public. Often, theories were supported by people who were already racially prejudiced. Facts that are not understood are often misused. This is why it is so important in this subject and others to prevent such public hysteria from breaking out again. There will always be people who believe this kind of propaganda, so it is essential that there also be informed people who can say with authority, “That is not true; it does not work that way.” Immigration and intelligence quotient testing At the height of the eugenics movement, the average person did not understand genetics, but certain people found the theory useful to support their causes. In the early twentieth century, for example, most Americans believed that intelligence was based entirely on genetics (not on a mix of genetic and environmental influences, as would be more accurate), and new immigrants were forced to take intelligence quotient (IQ) tests. The original idea behind the IQ test was that it would provide a teaching aid for children under the age of 14 years. A child’s answers to a set of questions were compared with the answers given by a large number of children of the same age. In other words, an IQ test gave an idea of where those tested stood in relation to others in their peer groups. American immigration officers used this test on adults, which made the results invalid. They misunderstood the very limited knowledge available about intelligence and used a test that had no validity in the situation and was particularly inappropriate to use on those who did not even speak English. Thousands of immigrants were sterilized before 1935 in certain states because they were not considered intelligent enough to be allowed to contribute their genes to the country. It was only with the rise of Hitler that people began to realize that what was going on in the United States was not so different, and the practice stopped. Endomorphs, mesomorphs, and ectomorphs Meanwhile, people were still trying to use physical attributes to determine a person’s behavior. William Sheldon (1898–1977) classified people into three different groups: (1) endomorphs, (2) ­mesomorphs, and (3) ectomorphs. Endomorphs were those with relatively soft, rounded bodies; mesomorphs were the more athletically built types; and ectomorphs were thin people.20 Sheldon thought that certain behaviors correlated with each of the three body types. Although these terms acquired support and are still referred to today, this classification, again, was not valid. Some studies have shown that there may be some relationship between body type and behavior, but most such studies have used small samples and have not been repeatable. 12 Biology and crime We still judge people today by the way they look—“I wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley”—although we are now reluctant to admit it. It is important to remember that factors that clearly have genetic components result in major phenotypic “looks.” People’s body builds are inherited to a large extent and may affect their behavior—not in the direct manner Sheldon meant, but indirectly. For example, a large child may discover quite early that an effective way to end conflict is to use his build—in other words, to use violence—to win a conflict. A smaller person learns quickly that physical violence is not a good way to settle disputes and develops other methods to resolve disagreements, such as skillful dialogue. Early success in violence and bullying to resolve social conflicts may encourage a person to use force in adulthood. So, body build might indeed be linked to delinquency and crime in later life, but the link is most probably through social learning, not through genes. In other words, the genes give the child a large body and thus exposure to a different environment than would be experienced by a smaller child. This is yet another example of how no factor linked to crime should ever be viewed in the old terms of genetics versus the environment. Instead, we must look at both and try to understand how the two factors work together. Although the history of the misuse of biological explanations for criminal behavior is horrific and has certainly scared people away from wanting to consider biology within a criminological framework, it is not difficult to see that there was no true biology involved. Even the simplest scientific exploration exposed these theories as fraudulent, so right-minded people should not use history as an excuse not to explore biological evidence more closely. However, there are many other considerations that contribute to this resistance.21 Determinism One of the great fears that many people have in even considering biological influences on criminal behavior is the fear of determinism—the idea that everything, including health and behavior, is predetermined, in this case by a person’s biology. Determinism can be considered the opposite of free will. This leads people to think that there could be a “gene for crime.” Most people who may have had a small amount of education in genetics at school consider only Mendelian genetics and think that there is a one-to-one relationship between genes and behavior; that is, one gene causes x type of behavior.21 This, as we will see in subsequent chapters, is patently not possible. Even before we actually look at the science, which prevents the possibility of one gene causing a complex ­behavior, there are clear criminological reasons against it. Crime is not an entity unto itself; there are vast numbers of crimes with many different nuances, from theft (shoplifting to bank robbery) to serious crime (assault to genocide). No one mechanism, be it biological or sociological, could account for all. Also, as we will see when we delve deeper into genetics, it is very rare for one gene to cause one trait, even one so simple as hair color. A large number of genes act, using a variety of mechanisms, on almost all traits and especially on highly complex and variable traits such as behavior. One overarching fear about biological determinism can be separated into two opposing concerns: people could be considered to be not responsible for their actions and therefore should not be convicted for something they could not help, or conversely, they can never be rehabilitated, and so, they need to be locked up for the rest of their lives. Even if biological factors were accepted as having a role in people’s behavior, could it be argued that this makes them less culpable?21 We will explore this concern at length in the last chapter. Racism and sexism Another concern is that biological studies are racist, sexist,21 or many other types of “ists.” This is a very important concern, particularly in the United States, where racial tension is so high, and it has been bolstered by inaccurate and unscientific studies that purported to show that one racial Resistance to biological criminology 13 group had higher crime rates or lower cognitive skills than another. These studies have all been shown to be completely unsound, and they also reflect the problems seen in the past. Even though such studies have been entirely discredited, there is still fear that biological studies are underhanded attempts to promote racism or sexism.21 This is clearly untrue, and an analysis of an experiment will easily determine whether it is strong science or not. However, there is an important caution that must be stated here. When we look at heritable characteristics that result in a physical attribute that in turn has social implications, it is often difficult to distinguish the biological from the social effect. For example, if possessing a particular genetic trait, such as sex or skin color, places a person at a social or educational ­disadvantage in a given society, then social failure will be attributed to the genetic characteristic,22 when, in ­reality, the genetic makeup has nothing to do with the social failure. The genes produce a particular trait, say, sex, and society decides that a person with that trait will have less opportunity than someone with the opposite trait. As a result, the person is disadvantaged, but the reason is not biological but purely environmental. In the not-so-distant past, women in Western societies were considered much less intelligent than men. Women were thought to be delicate and incapable of intelligent discourse on weighty subjects. In the Victorian age and earlier ages, it was probably true that conversing with the average woman of any social class would show that she had very little knowledge of history, geography, mathematics, science, or politics. If a researcher had used such subjects to assess the intelligence of men and women at the time, the results would surely have shown that the men were more ­intelligent. But would that have been a correct assumption? And why not? The answer is simple: men, particularly of the higher social classes, were educated, and women of any social class were not. Many women were not even taught to read, and any sort of education was considered “wasted” on a woman. After all, why did she need an education to have babies, cook, and clean? Even at social levels in which a woman was taught to read and was given an education, it was a very different education from that received by men of similar social standing. Such women were educated in music, sewing, and running a household and usually not allowed to read anything that might distress their fragile dispositions, such as newspapers. The belief then developed that women were much less intelligent than men. This was due to a simple lack of education. In such cases, it is difficult to determine what is genetic and what is purely environmental. In the past, much emphasis was placed on racial contribution to criminal behavior, and assumptions were frequently made about the intelligence of certain racial groups. However, the skin color and the racial background have, particularly in the past and even today, a tremendous effect on the level of education people receive and the type of job and life they can expect in general. In such cases, the only hereditary factor is the race or skin color, which then leads to people, environmentally, being treated very differently from those of other skin colors. Further concerns have been postulated in relation to the excellent and prolific scientific studies that have shown that men are more likely to commit crimes, particularly violent crimes, than women (as we will see throughout this text).23 Much of this relates to higher levels of impulsivity, antisocial behavior, hyperactivity, and externalizing behaviors in males than in females.21 In the next chapter, we will look at various evolutionary theories that indicate why some behavior considered to be antisocial or violent today may have been evolutionarily advantageous in our ancestral past, including gaining more resources and mate options. This has led to the fear that, if men are considered to have more biological risk factors for such behavior than women, this might be misinterpreted to support or even justify such male behavior, suggesting that men are less culpable for crimes such as violence against women.21 Mental illness and medicalization of crime There is also a concern that mental illness, which may result in a lack of self-control, and antisocial behavior, which may include many externalizing behaviors, such as aggression, stealing, lying, 14 Biology and crime and property damage, may be similarly confused. Such a misunderstanding could suggest that antisocial behavior is not an act of choice, indicating that it may be unavoidable in some individuals, thereby reducing its social stigma and culpability.21 There is a definite trend for the public to feel in the case of particularly brutal acts of violence that the offender must be a “crazy person” to do such things, when, in fact, the person is not mentally ill and the acts are those of choice. On the other hand, increasing the social stigma of antisocial behavior can result in labeling, particularly in youth, which can have severe overall behavioral impacts over the life course.21 There is also a concern about medicalizing the justice system and making judges into doctors when they are asked to make decisions about whether a person should be treated pharmacologically— for example, imposing chemical or surgical castration as a punishment, treatment, or condition of release (see Chapter 7). Also, there is further concern that considering biological influences on criminal behavior could medicalize the behavior, again reducing ­culpability and indicating ­medical rather than punitive treatments.21 This leads back to the fear of determinism21 and the frequent tabloid headlines of “my genes made me do it.” This is an area that we will explore in the final chapter. There are therefore many reasons for resistance to considering biological influences on criminal behavior, most of which can be easily argued. However, we must still be cautious in our interpretation of all data to ensure accuracy and that results are not misunderstood or used in any political agenda. Other cautions that must be considered When we start to consider studying biological influences on criminal behavior, or in fact any ­influence on criminal behavior, there are many issues that we must consider. Predisposition It is extremely important, now and throughout this text, that you have a very clear idea of the concept of a predisposition. Any risk factor for criminal behavior is exactly that—a risk factor. It is not a certainty. No factor will definitely cause crime. Certain factors, such as low SES, child abuse, poor peer relations, and dropping out of school, may predispose a person to criminal ­behavior, but they most certainly don’t result in crime, and in fact, most people who experience one or more of these factors lead normal, non-criminal, productive lives. In the same way, any biological risk ­factor that we discuss is only a predisposition. DNA and biology in general are not destiny. They can be changed. A very simple example with which we are all familiar is whether a person with a predisposition for a heart attack is destined to have a heart attack. A person may have a genetic predisposition from both father and grandfather, but a healthy diet and regular exercise can frequently prevent an attack. Therefore, it is extremely important that we remember that any potential biological influences we may find will result only in a predisposition toward a particular behavior. There is no gene for crime, and none will ever be found; as a scientist, this author knows that genetics does not work in that way. Because even hair color is the result of multiple genes, there certainly could not be a single gene for a behavior. And even if there is a genetic predisposition, that is all it is—a predisposition. It is likely that some genes or hormones contribute to proteins that have effects on certain behaviors, which are then greatly affected by situations, environments, and social upbringing. The influences can also be indirect. For example, biological influences on intelligence might affect the chances that a person who commits a crime will be caught, and from the other direction, biological influences on impulsivity might have a bearing on whether the person will commit a crime in the first place. To explore the idea of predisposition a little further, here is another thought experiment. Let us, once again, propose a genetic basis for behavior, one like those discussed previously that have a Other cautions that must be considered 15 known genetic risk factor. This time, however, we can find an example of criminal behavior that is well documented as having a definite genetic predisposition. The high-risk genotype for this factor is detectable at birth and often before, and the person who has it is almost 100% more likely to be convicted of a specific crime than a person with the low-risk genotype. What crime are we referring to? Rape. And the genetic predisposition? Possession of a Y ­chromosome—that is, being male. A male is much more likely to commit rape than a female. However, maleness is only a predisposition to the crime of rape. If you think a predisposition means ­something will happen or even most likely will happen, you must believe that all men are rapists—and we know that is not true. Only a very small percentage of men are rapists. The Y chromosome is a predisposition only—nothing more, nothing less. Thus, biology and social environment always work together, and they do so in complex, subtle, nuanced ways. Almost all the research that indicates genetic or biological influences on criminal behavior also shows strong environmental components. But this is the beauty and challenge of most biological studies. By their nature, they must consider both the genes and the environment. In trying to distinguish the effects of biology from those of the environment, scientists must study both; they thus accept both. Biological studies never exist in a vacuum. Much sociological research, on the other hand, does not take biology into account at all. Biological studies of crime must look at both environment and physiochemistry in order to compare the two and determine the effect of one versus the other. All biological studies fully recognize the importance of the environment and use it as a comparable variable. In fact, biological studies have done more to prove the ­existence of an environmental influence, particularly as an ameliorating effect, than sociological studies ever have. Biology, after all, gave us the basis for the Green movement. What is crime? We can now turn to the way in which we can use this interactionist biological explanation of behavior to approach crime. My hope here is to lay down a few of the conditions for our upcoming study. Let us begin with a fundamental question. If we are going to study the biology of crime, we will need to have a good working definition of crime. What then is crime? And a related question: What is antisocial behavior? These are actually difficult questions to answer; definitions are difficult because crime is a social construct. We cannot simply equate breaking the law with a biological cause such as disease or genetics. We might seem to do this when we refer to programs in prisons and counseling for ­juvenile offenders as treatment, which indicates that we think crim as an illness—but these programs of “treatment” are clearly not based on medicine or biology. The disease metaphor for the definition of crime is highly limited. Some forms of civil disobedience, for example, are the result of fiercely believed moral values and are designed to change policy, the law, or the prevailing practice. In the nineteenth century in Canada, Louis Riel fought for the rights of his fellow Métis and at the time was judged a criminal and hanged. Now, we recognize him as a hero. Women broke the law during the early part of the past century to win the right to vote. In the 1960s, civil rights protesters such as Martin Luther King broke the law, as they tried to eliminate racial segregation in the United States. These types of “crime” are not the result of the biological backgrounds of those who protested, any more than they are, in any determined way, the result of their environments. They arose from particular injustices and appeared at specific times—they were based on a rational moralism of choice. Legally, they broke the law, but today, they are celebrated as heroes, and no one could possibly consider them criminals. There are also many so-called crimes, such as smoking marijuana, or the ancient peyote cults that are accepted by the groups that practice them and often by society at large. Some behaviors that are labeled crimes, such as smoking and drinking, are only crimes when people below a certain age indulge in them, and this age limit varies depending on where you are in the world.24 Eminent researchers Ellis and Walsh referred to this as the “moving target perspective.”25(p5) There are numerous examples of actions that are considered criminal in one region or country 16 Biology and crime but are perfectly acceptable in others, such as female genital mutilation or marriage of young girls to adult men, which are widely practiced in some parts of the world and yet are considered child abuse and rape in others.25 Moreover, behaviors and actions that were once considered criminal are no longer a crime today, and vice versa. For example, in the past, homosexuality was a crime punishable by castration and even death. Conversely, in the late 1800s, in the United States, the Bayer Drug Company, now famous for producing Aspirin, legally sold heroin over the counter as a cough ­suppressant.25 The use of marijuana, which resulted in criminal records for many people for decades, is now legal in Canada and many US states. It must not be forgotten that crime in itself is a legal concept based on political processes. As such, all crime in a country could be eliminated in one sweep by simply eliminating all its criminal statutes. This would effectively eliminate crime but would have no effect whatsoever on criminal behavior.25 Although this is a bit far-fetched, countries are always changing and revamping their criminal statutes, thereby redefining what is or is not legally considered a crime. If we try to restrict the concept of antisocial behavior to the one that is socially disapproved of in practically all societies, such as killing someone, we find that, in war, even this most violent of acts is positively approved.24 In war, killing in defense of your country is usually not thought of as a crime but as an act of bravery and survival and often an act of heroism for which medals are awarded. The act is the same; the interpretation is radically different. Tendencies that are bad in some situations may thus be useful in others. Aggression may lead to violence, for instance, but in some professions, such as the military, this is useful behavior; politicians or entrepreneurs who have retiring personalities will rarely do well. Ellis and Walsh distinguished between acts that are almost always criminalized, such as intentionally killing or harming someone or stealing someone’s property, versus those behaviors and actions that are sometimes criminalized and sometimes not. The usual practice in criminology is to refer to them as mala in se and mala prohibita, respectively. Mala in se refers to something that is inherently bad, and mala prohibita refers to something that is bad because it is prohibited. This is referred to as the stationary core perspective25(p7) in criminology and has use for this introduction. The distinction helps us understand that we are not usually concerned with biological influences when we consider socially constructed labels of criminality. When we think of crime in the context of biology, we almost automatically think of violent crime; that is, we suppose that a violent nature may be inherited or is caused by physiological determinants such as hormones. Violent crimes are defined as those that “cause or threaten to cause bodily harm to another person.”25(p27) Although in this text, as in most research into crime, we concentrate on violent crime, we must remember that violent crime is actually quite rare. We think of it more often than common crimes such as ­shoplifting because the popular media too often emphasizes and exploits violence. So, although the bulk of the research we discuss concentrates on violent crime, we must also consider non-violent crime in our study. As we will find, some research also shows a predisposition to nonviolent crime. Cautions for all criminological research As we found with our thought experiments on genetics and its value in explaining behavior in general, any criminal research, not just that dealing with biology, requires equal caution and an appreciation of interaction with environments. Many of the following cautions were first examined by Trasler in his chapter of The Causes of Crime: New Biological Approaches, when people were just beginning to be challenged to reconsider biology as a part of criminological study.22 These cautions are still valid today and have since been further examined by other researchers. The following basic facts about crime and crime statistics must be considered before beginning our study into biological influences.22 Other cautions that must be considered 17 1. Adolescence Crime in adolescence is very common; in fact, it is almost the norm.26 Studies in many countries have repeatedly shown that a surprisingly large number of adolescents are involved from time to time in minor crimes, such as theft and property damage. In the past, only a few adolescents were thought to take part in such crimes, but this is clearly not so. It appears to be so common that it could almost be considered a normal part of growing up in much of Western s­ ociety. 22 In fact, Moffitt in 1993 defined crime as either occurring in a small number of individuals throughout the life course (“life-course-persistent antisocial behavior”) or occurring in a large number of adolescents but ceasing after the adolescent period (“adolescence-limited antisocial behavior”). 27(p674) This means that much of crime is ephemeral; that is, delinquency is often a transient or passing phase. In the past, some believed that such individuals stopped because they were locked up and thereby “cured.” However, self-report studies show the opposite. People who admit that they committed crimes as juveniles are also a subset of the whole. Although the admission is voluntary and anonymous, we have to ask whether it is representative. Still, in such self-reporting studies, it appears that many young people just seem to stop committing crimes. Their behavior may be a natural part of maturation or adaptation to the different circumstances of adult life. For example, peer pressure is immensely important in the teenage years, and teenage crime is often a social activity and an adventure. As people grow up, they develop other interests and can gain satisfaction from jobs, girlfriends, or boyfriends and eventually spouses and children and have much to lose by committing a criminal act. They become less dependent on peers, and their new life patterns are inconsistent with delinquency, so they simply outgrow it.22 2. Research samples Many studies compare offenders with non-offenders. However, people with criminal records are not necessarily representative of all the people who have committed offenses. Studies l­ooking at the factors that affect whether a police officer will record or overlook an offense—that is, charge a person or just give a warning—indicate that such decisions can selectively exclude some people and include others.22 As a result, the people convicted of particular crimes are just a small sample of the people who commit such crimes and may be a biased sample. Other factors, such as lack of skill or intelligence, impulsivity or lack of impulsivity, planning, and plain luck, may affect whether a person is caught. Caught offenders may also not be representative of all who offend. A study in the late 1970s28 showed that there was a distinction in arrest rates between intensive offenders, who were continuously engaged in crime, were committed to criminal lifestyles, and were careful to avoid arrest, and those who committed crimes irregularly, with less care and planning. This research ­estimated that the average intensive offender committed 10 times as many crimes as the intermittent offender but was 5 times less likely to be arrested for any one crime. Once arrested, the intensive offender was also less likely to be convicted and incarcerated. So, caught offenders are not necessarily representative of all offenders, as many offenders are not caught. This means that the converse is also true: non-offenders are not necessarily representative of people who do not commit crimes, as clearly, many people are committing crimes and have not been caught. The tremendous number of unreported sexual assaults, particularly emphasized by the #MeToo movement, shows that most rapists are not caught. 3. Underreporting of crimes This leads to the problem of the underreporting of a large number of crimes, from very serious crimes such as sexual assault to much more trivial crimes such as shoplifting. Many crimes, such as shoplifting and vandalism, are not reported unless the culprits are actually caught in the act. However, estimates of stock losses in retail stores show that such minor crimes take place on an enormous scale, so they must involve a large number of people.22 18 Biology and crime 4. Self-reporting Many studies measure crime or antisocial behavior by using self-report measures, such as questionnaires and interviews. These may be inaccurate, inflated, or deflated. Also, it is often difficult for respondents to give accurate information about breaking the law. Many people may not fully understand what being arrested entails and may believe that a simple street contact with a police officer was an arrest.22 Moreover, people may underestimate the number or seriousness of the crimes that they have committed or may exaggerate them in order to boast. In some cases, incorrect reporting may be as simple as not wanting to fill in more questions. For example, people learn quickly that if they admit to an offence, they will be asked many more questions, so they may opt for “no” to avoid more questions. This is termed a testing effect.29 In one study, the self-reported arrests, jail terms, and prison terms of 700 incarcerated men were compared with their official records for the same time period and showed significant errors in self-reports of arrests, although jail and prison time reporting was more accurate. Men with very high numbers of arrests had the poorest self-report accuracy.30 5. Consent Many studies involve incarcerated offenders; this leads to a major ethical issue. Can an incarcerated individual every truly give free consent? People have their entire lives under the control of others while incarcerated. Therefore, they may feel that participating in a study may help their chances of parole or may increase privileges in prison and that refusing may hinder their chances of parole. This means that even when consent is given, it could be considered coerced, even if the coercion is perceived rather than actual. In addition, are there differences between offenders who are willing to participate and those who are not? Do some have personality types that want to be involved, or do they wish to boast (or lie) about their criminal histories? In many cases, it has been suggested that taking part in a study alleviates the boredom of prison life and may even result in a trip outside the prison walls. A female colleague recently stated that when an offender was asked why he was participating in the study, he said that it was because he had not seen a woman in 30 years. The future of biosocial criminology As this text, and many others, will show, there is now no denying that biology has a role in our behavior and that includes antisocial and, yes, even criminal behavior. The vast wealth of good empirical research, which we will barely be able to touch upon in this text, shows that our biology interacts with our environment and affects every aspect of our being. More recent understanding of gene × environment interactions and epigenetics has now shown the mechanisms by which our genotype interacts with and is molded by our environment and our life experiences to shape our behavior. In this chapter, I have briefly discussed the misuse of biology in early criminology and its insidious impacts on subsequent research in this area. But finally, there appears to have been what many consider a paradigm shift toward a better understanding of the interrelationships between our biology, our environment, and our behavior. Others have suggested that rather than a paradigm shift, it is a natural maturing of the field,31 perhaps a coming of age. Social scientists are becoming much more open to accepting the role that biology plays in our lives and consequently our behaviors. The tremendous increase in solid empirical research published in the last few years supports this.32 A particularly telling legal decision is discussed by Gajos and colleagues in an article on genetically informed prevention, which perhaps best illustrates this paradigm shift or maturity.33 Roper v. Simmons (2005)34 was a landmark US decision in which the death penalty was abolished for juvenile offenders, and it is considered to be one of the most important and powerful legal decisions that has been made References 19 in the last two decades.33 Although this decision was important, its most interesting aspect relates to the evidence on which the decision was based. The court did not consult the two foremost criminology societies in the United States, the American Society of Criminology (ASC) and the Academy of Justice Studies, nor did they utilize research from their highly prestigious journals; instead, the courts relied on neurological and neurocognitive scientific research, which proved that the adolescent brain was not fully developed by the age of 18 years.33 Despite the fact that the ASC had worked for years in an effort to abolish the death penalty, it was biosocial research rather than traditional social criminology that influenced this important legal decision.33 This decision is one that perhaps illustrates the fact that biosocial research can be used to impact very major and liberal justice policies.33 It now behooves us to better understand the interrelationships between and within our genotype and our environment in order to manage antisocial behavior. Biological influences on criminal behavior exist and provide us with new insight into ways to moderate, ameliorate, or even prevent poor outcomes and stimulate prosocial development. Conclusion The study of criminology has been remiss to the extent that it has not, until quite recently, included biology as one of its necessary subdisciplines. The reasons are understandable; the atrocities of the past are powerful deterrents. But these were, as we have seen, based on bad science, inhumane political agendas, and execrable ethics. We now have many valid empirical studies and a humane ethic on which to base ­serious analysis of the biological dimension of behavior—and, as we will see, criminogenic ­behavior. The effects of biology on behavior are very clear. Inherited diseases, hormonal changes, and ­physical changes during pregnancy are some of the aspects of biology that impinge on our existence and influence our behavior in serious ways. We have also begun to see the ways in which science itself can go wrong in the study of behavior: small sample size and poor experimental design can vitiate results. This provides a good way to evaluate all the studies we will be surveying in the following pages. Questions for further study and discussion 1. Explain the problems with attempting to use the term crime. 2. If a researcher were to compare the crime rates in people from, for example, one racial group with another and found that crime rates were much higher in one particular racial group, what major caution should be considered, and what other research would be needed? 3. There are many reasons why there has been resistance to accepting any form of biological influence on behavior. Explain and discuss these. 4. Discuss why imprisonment could be considered a form of eugenics and explain whether it is positive eugenics or negative eugenics. References 1. Walsh, A. and Beaver, K.M. 2009. Biosocial criminology, In: Handbook on Crime and Deviance, Korhn, M.D., Lizotte, A.J., and Hall, G.P., editors. Dordrecht, Germany: Springer. pp. 79–102. 2. Denno, D.W. 2011. Courts’ increasing consideration of behavioral genetics evidence in criminal cases: Results of a longitudinal study. Mich. St. L. Rev 967–1047. 3. Wright, R.A. and Miller, J.M. 1998. Taboo until today? The coverage of biological arguments in criminology textbooks, 1961–1970 and 1987–1996. J. Crim. Justice 26(1): 1–19. 20 Biology and crime 4. Singh, R.H., Cunningham, A.C., Mofidi, S., et al. 2016. Updated, web-based nutrition management guideline for PKU: An evidence and consensus based approach. Mol. Genet. Metab. 118(2): 72–83. 5. Mednick, S.A. 1987. Biological factors in crime causation: The reactions of social scientists, In: The Causes of Crime: New Biological Approaches, Mednick, S.A., Moffitt, T.E., and Stack, S.A., editors. New York: Cambridge University Press. 6. Rommens, J.M., Iannuzzi, M.C., Kerem, B., et al. 1989. Identification of the cystic fibrosis gene: Chromosome walking and jumping. Science 245: 1059–1065. 7. Moss, R.B., Rodman, D., Spencer, T.L., et al. 2004. Repeated adeno-associated virus serotype 2 aerosol mediated cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator gene transfer to the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis: A multicenter, double-blind, placebocontrolled trial. Card. Crit. Care J. 125(2): 509–521. 8. Alton, E.W.F.W., Armstrong, D.K., Ashby, D., et al. 2015. Repeated nebulisation of non-viral CFTR gene therapy in patients with cystic fibrosis: A randomised, double-blind, placebocontrolled, phase 2b trial. Lancet Resp. Med. 3(9): 684–691. 9. Naldini, L. 2015. Gene therapy returns to centre stage. Nature 526(7573): 351–360. 10. Niehoff, D. 1999. Seeds of controversy, In: Biology of Violence: How Understanding the Brain, Behavior and Environment Can Break the Vicious Circle of Aggression, Niehoff, D., editor. New York: Free Press. pp. 1–30. 11. Mednick, S.A. 1987. Introduction: Biological factors in crime causation: The reactions of social scientists, In: The Causes of Crime: New Biological Approaches, Mednick, S.A., Moffitt, T.E., and Stack, S.A., editors. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Proceedings NATO Conference, Skiathos, Greece, September 20–24, 1982. pp. 1–6. 12. Baum, M.L. 2011. The monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) genetic predisposition to impulsive violence: Is it relevant to criminal trials? Neuroethics 6(2): 287–306. 13. Lombroso, C. and Ferrero, W. 1898. The Female Offender. New York: D. Appleton and Company. 14. Darwin, C. 1859. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection; or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. London: John Murray. 859 pp. 15. Kupferman, I. 1991. Hypothalamus and limbic systems: Peptidergic neurons, homeostasis and emotional behavior, In: Principles of Neural Science, Kandel, E.R., Schwarz, J.H., and Jessell, T.M., editors. East Norwalk, CT: Appleton and Lange. pp. 735–749. 16. Kaelber, L. 2012. Eugenics: Compulsory sterilization in 50 American states. Accessed November 22, 2018; http://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/. 17. Buck v. Bell, 247 U.S. 200 (1927). 18. Appelbaum, P.S. 2014. The double helix takes the witness stand: Behavioral and neuropsychiatric genetics in court. Neuron 82(5): 946–949. 19. Moran, P. 2018. 13 November. Indigenous women kept from seeing their newborn babies until agreeing to sterilization, says lawyer. CBC Radio. https://www.cbc.ca/radio/­thecurrent/ the-current-for-november-13–2018-1.4902679/indigenous-women-kept-from-seeingtheir-newborn-babies-until-agreeing-to-sterilization-says-lawyer-1.4902693. 20. Sheldon, W.H., E.M., H., and McDermott, E. 1949. Varieties of Delinquent Youth: An Introduction to Constitutional Psychiatry. New York: Harper. 21. Berryessa, C.M., Martinez-Martin, N.A., and Allyse, M.A. 2013. Ethical, legal and social issues surrounding research on genetic contributions to anti-social behavior. Aggress. Violent Behav. 18(6): 605–610. 22. Trasler, G. 1987. Some cautions for the biological approach to crime causation, In: The Causes of Crime: New Biological Approaches, Mednick, S.A., Moffitt, T.E., and Stack, S.A., editors. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Proceedings NATO Conference, Skiathos, Greece, September 20–24, 1982. 23. Ellis, L. and Hoskin, A.W. 2015. Criminality and the 2D:4D ratio: Testing the prenatal androgen hypothesis. Int. J. Offender Ther. Comp. Criminol. 59(3): 295–312. References 21 24. Rutter, M. 1996. Introduction: Concepts of antisocial behaviour, of cause and of genetic influences. Ciba Found. Symp. 194: 1–15. 25. Ellis, L. and Walsh, A. 2000. Evolutionary biosocial theories, In: Criminology: A Global Perspective. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. pp. 432–468. 26. Boyd, N. 2000. The testosterone connection, In: The Beast Within: Why Men Are Violent. New York: Greystone Books. pp. 115–138. 27. Moffit, T.E. 1993. Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: A developmental taxonomy. Psychol. Rev. 100(4): 674–701. 28. Petersilia, J., Greenwood, P.W., and Lavin, M. 1978. Criminal Careers of Habitual Felons. Washington, DC: National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. 29. Krohn, M.D., Thornberry, T.P., Gibson, C.L., and Baldwin, J.M. 2010. The development and impact of self-report measures of crime and delinquency. J. Quant. Criminol. 26: 509–525. 30. Roberts, J. and Wells, W. 2010. The validity of criminal justice contacts reported by inmates: A comparison of self-reported data with official prison records. J. Crim. Justice 38(5): 1031–1037. 31. Rocque, M. and Posick, C. 2017. Paradigm shift or normal science? The future of (biosocial) criminology. Theoret. Criminol. 21(3): 288–303. 32. Jones, O.D., Marois, R., Farah, M.J., and Greely, H.T. 2013. Law and neuroscience. J. Neurosci. 33(45): 17624–17630. 33. Gajos, J.M., Fagan, A.A., and Beaver, K.M. 2016. Use of genetically informed evidence-based prevention science to understand and prevent crime and related behavioral disorders. Crim. Public Pol. 15(3): 683–701. 34. Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005). 2 Evolution, natural selection, and behavior Introduction This chapter introduces biological concepts such as evolution, natural selection, and behavior that should first be understood in order to follow the approach to crime that we will develop in the text. We introduce natural selection and then compare the behaviors of humans and other animals. More specifically, we look at the questions of how natural selection or evolution works, how organisms adapt to their environments, and how some traits are selected over others and passed to the next generation. These traits include not only structural, biochemical, and physiological adaptations but also, and more importantly for our study, behavioral traits, which are equally adaptive. We also look at the nature-versus-nurture argument and show that there is really not a dichotomy but an interaction between these influences; neither works in isolation. We discuss how natural selection occurs and how behavior can be either entirely genetic or a mixture of genetics and the environment, the contribution of each varying with the behavior. We will then consider criminal behaviors and crime types and discuss how, in our ancestral past, they may have been advantageous. Finally, we will consider various evolutionary theories that seek to explain why such behaviors may have been adaptive. Natural selection Natural selection is what drives evolution, and a brief explanation of it is given. You will soon see why a basic understanding of natural selection is important in this field. All living organisms adapt to their environments, and these adaptations lead to increased survival and reproductive success for organisms that possess them. Adapting does not mean that a single organism can adapt—it cannot. Adaptation occurs over generations, usually over a great many generations. So, when we use the term adapt, we do not mean it in the casual sense of, say, a person adapting to a new culture or a new climate after immigrating. In that case, a person is getting accustomed or acclimated to something. For example, a population of rats in New York City may adapt over many generations and become resistant to a poison designed to kill them. The individual rat does not adapt, but some of its offspring are slightly more resistant to the poison than others, so perhaps two of 100 offspring will survive and reproduce. Something in their genetic makeup makes them more likely to survive than the others; perhaps they have slightly more of a body chemical that protects them from the toxin, or maybe they are fatter and can store the toxin better, or possibly they are more shy and do not go near new potential food sources. Whatever it is, something genetic makes these rats less likely to be poisoned. So, out of that particular family of rats, only two survive and reproduce. 23 24 Evolution, natural selection, and behavior A trait such as avoiding new foods, having extra fat, or being shy must be genetically controlled in order for evolution to act on it. So, anything that is modified by evolution has a genetic component; otherwise, it would not work. Evolution selects individuals with genes that result in traits that help them survive and reproduce. They pass on this favorable trait. So, for example, if you are short, it might be genetic. Similarly, having brown hair is genetic. These are traits that you might pass on to your offspring. However, if you were to lose an arm in an accident, would your child be missing an arm? No, of course not. A trait is selected because it is favorable, but this relates entirely to the environment and the time frame. Something may be very favorable at certain times but not at all favorable at other times. For instance, in the example of the rats, let us say that the favorable trait was avoiding new types of food. When a poison is put out, this trait is definitely a benefit, because rats with this trait will not go near it. However, the trait could cause problems if the normal food supply dwindles and the rats have to find a new food supply. These unadventurous rats will die off. Another example is seen in the finches that Darwin observed in the Galapagos Islands.1 It was these finches and many other animals in these islands that led Darwin to first understand natural selection.2 In the natural population, the finches have considerable variation in beak or bill size (Figure 2.1). Some of the birds have very long beaks and others have very wide beaks, but most have average beaks. In 1977, there was a prolonged drought that killed 70% of the finch population. It was found that finches with the extreme beaks, whether very long or very wide, had survived, whereas the intermediate birds had died out. So, the extremes were favored by natural selection. Why? Under normal conditions, many food sources are available, such as insects (out in the open or under bark that can be peeled off), large seeds, small seeds, and everything in between, as well as cactus fruits. There is a great range of food available for birds with average beaks, so this beak size is normally favored by natural selection. That is, birds with average beaks were the most successful, so they survived longer and produced more offspring, passing on the trait of an average beak size to more offspring. The drought brought a new selective pressure; many food sources, such as small seeds and insects, were rapidly depleted because all the population could eat them. The small seeds were Figure 2.1 Finches with different-sized beaks adapt better to different environmental conditions. (From SFU Publications, Burnaby, Canada.) Natural selection 25 not replaced, and the insect population was greatly reduced. There were only a few food sources left. Only the wide-beaked birds could crack the large, hard seeds and get at the insects under the bark of trees. The long-beaked birds could open up the cactus fruits to get at the seeds, so they also survived. Meanwhile, the birds with average bills starved.1 So, something that is a good trait may become unfavorable if circumstances change. Think about this in terms of a behavior that might have been advantageous once but is no longer advantageous because society has changed. Violence may be an example. Types of adaptations So, all living organisms, including humans, are adapted to their environment. This adaptation takes many forms. Structural modifications The modifications may be structural modifications, which enhance survival and reproduction. Examples include the development of complex organs such as eyes, ears, and wings. A more specific example is that of an orchid, in which the flower has become modified so that it resembles a female wasp. Male wasps attempt to mate with the flower and will then attempt to mate with another orchid, thereby pollinating the flowers.3 The wasp does eventually learn and will find a real wasp. What would happen to wasps that failed to learn? They would never successfully mate with a conspecific, so would not pass their genes to the next generation. Many examples are seen in insects; for example, flies in the order Diptera have modified the second set of wings into a smaller club-shaped balance organ that allows them to hover and turn very accurately in flight, and fleas in the order Siphonaptera have completely eliminated wings, as they would be disadvantageous in their habitat—a mammal’s dense coat. Some bird species have evolved strategies to allow them to quickly identify and pounce on a potential food source, and many insects have evolved strategies to avoid such predation by developing structures that focus a predator’s attack on a less significant body part. Many butterflies have bull’s-eye patterns on the tips of their wings, which simulate eyes. This not only suggests that the tiny, delicate butterfly is more dangerous than it really is but also deceives the predator into striking this area, thinking it is the head. Instead, it merely strikes the outer edge of the wing, allowing the butterfly to escape. The damage to the wing is very minor in comparison with an attack to the head or body. All these modifications increase the organism’s survival and reproductive success. Biochemical pathways The modifications may be changes in biochemical pathways, such as the development of metabolism, photosynthesis (plants’ ability to convert sunlight energy to food), and respiration, which increase survival and reproductive success. For example, the pine beetle, the forest pest, has shown metabolic adaptations that allow it to survive in colder temperatures, allowing it to spread north and east.4 Behavioral adaptations The modifications may be behavioral adaptations that increase survival and reproductive success, such as learning to avoid predators or developing courtship dances that enable individuals to find strong, suitable mates. Some caterpillars not only develop patterns on their furthermost segments to look like a head, such as the butterflies mentioned above, but also show behavioral adaptations by making striking moves to reinforce the suggestion that this is the head end and it is dangerous. Some birds also exhibit behavioral counterstrategies, such as females that pretend to be wounded and therefore easy prey to lure predators away from their nest. A species of harmless fruit fly has developed structural modifications so that it looks like a jumping spider and behavioral adaptations so that it actually assumes the posture of a jumping spider.5 26 Evolution, natural selection, and behavior Conditions required for natural selection to act The process that results in these adaptations is called natural selection, which is the differential ­survival and reproduction of individuals within a population. That is, some individuals in a population have a better chance of living to reproductive age and having offspring that will carry the same traits that helped their parents survive and reproduce. Thus, adaptations are behavioral, structural, physiological, or biochemical pathway changes that enhance the survival and reproductive success of an organism. Remember that natural selection acts on a population, not on an individual. There are three conditions necessary and sufficient for natural selection to occur.2 1. Variation There must be variation among individuals. Many variations of different traits are obvious in any population. The variations can be structural, behavioral, physiological, and/or adaptations in the biochemical pathways. One can see lots of variation in our own species. Genetic variation is critical for natural selection to act. Genetic variation could be in, for example, strength, attractiveness, physical dexterity, intelligence, or longevity.6 2. Heritability The variation must be heritable; that is, it must be under genetic control so that it can be passed on to the next generation. Natural selection only acts on the phenotype, that is, the way the genetic information is expressed—for example, the way a person behaves or looks. This will become clearer when we discuss basic genetics and phenotype and genotype. 3. Fitness consequences The individual must differ in its ability to survive or reproduce depending on this trait. That is, the trait must give the individual a better chance of surviving or help it produce more offspring. In the above examples, increased strength, attractiveness, physical dexterity, intelligence, and longevity would impact survival and the ability to reproduce.6 If all three conditions are met, certain individuals will leave more offspring because they are better able to survive and reproduce, and the trait will become increasingly represented in s­ ubsequent populations. Eventually, a change in the population occurs that makes it better adapted to the environment. One of the most famous examples of natural selection is the English peppered moth.7 There are two varieties of this moth. One is light colored, with splotches of dark pigment, hence the name “­peppered.” The other variety is dark all over. So here, we have variation in the population, and it is inherited. Peppered moths feed at night and rest during the day, and they like to rest on rocks and trees that are encrusted with light-colored lichens. In this situation, the light moths are well camouflaged, but the dark moths are easily spotted by their main predators, birds (Figure 2.2). Before the industrial revolution in England in the late eighteenth century, dark peppered moths were rare, presumably because they became bird food very quickly and rarely got a chance to pass on their genes to the next generation. So, one can see that this trait for color, which varies and is heritable, also has fitness consequences: because of this trait, the individual has a better or worse chance of surviving and therefore of living long enough to reproduce. In this situation, being a light-colored moth was definitely an advantage. However, the industrial revolution brought heavy pollution, and in the late 1800s, most of the lichens died off, leaving the general background of tree bark, which is much darker. The environment had changed, and the dark moth was now at an advantage, because it was well camouflaged against the dark tree bark and the light-colored moths were easier to see (Figure 2.3). After a while, there were many more dark moths around than light ones, because the light ones were more often eaten before they could reproduce. This phenomenon also occurred in many other moth species. The happy ending to this story is that now we have realized what pollution is doing to Natural selection 27 Figure 2.2 The dark English peppered moths are easier to spot on trees covered in light-colored lichens. (From SFU Publications, Burnaby, Canada.) Figure 2.3 The dark moths are better camouflaged and therefore selected for when the tree bark is dark colored. (From SFU Publications, Burnaby, Canada.) 28 Evolution, natural selection, and behavior us, apart from affecting moth populations. England has made great efforts to reduce atmospheric pollution. The lichens have returned, and the moth population is once again primarily light colored. These examples demonstr...
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I concur that biological influence resistance emanates from the abuse suffered by
individuals historically. Such strains comprise eugenics, genocide, and sterilization (Anderson,
2020). These experiences give people a reason to oppose multiple claims by biology scholars
regarding crime. Lombroso, a significant proponent of biological theory, posited that individuals
are bo...


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