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The Sciences

Is publishing your genotype unethical?

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanOctober 12, 2011 6:49 PM

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Larry Moran thinks that I had to ask my parents and siblings for permission before publishing my genotype. Interestingly, most of his readers seems to disagree with Larry on this, so I won't offer my own response in any detail. They're handling it well enough. I would like to add though that obviously this isn't a either/or proposition. If my family had a history of a particular genetic disease which was well characterized in terms of causative alleles I might not have published my genotype. As it is, we don't. So I didn't see much of a downside. I would also add that in my case It wasn't possible to have genuine consent in the first place. My mother isn't much into science, and we don't share a common first language. There's really no way that I could have gotten substantive consent, insofar as my mother understood what I was doing. More broadly though I think it is useful to broach this question and think about it. People do have social responsibilities by and large, and we're embedded in a broader fabric. This isn't true in all cases, some people have such horrible relationships with their families (e.g., victims of abuse) that it's obviously ridiculous to wonder if they should ask their family for consent.

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