Learning Goal: I’m working on a anthropology discussion question and need guidance to help me learn.
One of the increasingly popular things to do now in America is to have your genetic profile “tested,” whether it is to discover more about one’s ancestors or to screen for serious or potentially deadly diseases. And like many human endeavors, “It’s all great fun until someone loses …” — in this case, not the proverbial eye, but perhaps their established sense of self, or their affiliation with a specific ethic community, or their optimism for a long and healthy life.
Despite what one sees in happy TV ads, finding out that your ethnic or biological heritage is not what you always thought it was can be devastating for many people. Companies who provide these various tests are now starting to realize this, either by making their customers aware of these possibilities, or (especially when someone is being tested for medical conditions) requiring professional counseling before and after the tests. Tests specifically looking for medical issues can be ordered by a medical doctor (I would recommend only this option if medical information is what you are looking for), although some of the popular commercial sites are also offering limited services in that area. Recently, after some information in some of these genetic testing/ancestry sites was used to hunt down criminals, there have been increasing questions about who controls access to your very personal DNA information once you have submitted it, what it can be used for, whether it is kept or destroyed, if it can be sold, and how that information is protected from hackers.
WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?
Although not often acknowledged, there is almost an aura of magic about sending a bit of your bodily fluids or tissue to an expert practitioner who can, in a sense, see into your past or your future — the ancient oracle’s practice in the guise of acceptable modern science. In this sense, this discussion should give you a fresh perspective on how cultural world views can shape behaviors – our own perhaps not being so much magic as a belief in science and technology and what the oracle/scientist tells us. More directly, it informs both our ideas of “family” and our understanding of the powers and limitations of genetics.
This is such an rapidly changing field: just within the past couple of years we have heard from reliable sources that there are companies that “Scrape” social media sites (e.g. Facebook) and hundreds of other sites (e.g. Maps) to get more information about us, legally or illegally, than we would ever have dreamed possible. Much of this is being gleaned to help develop more sophisticated facial recognition software, and combined with these DNA sites’ information can make it possible to track an individual’s network of friends and family, and many, many other things. What was mostly science fiction just a few years ago is alive, well, and expanding today.
This assignment targets the chapter goal to analyze the social consequences of biotechnology and genetic testing.
YOU CAN USE THE FOLLOWING PROMPTS TO INSPIRE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE SOCIAL AND PERSONAL CONSEQUENCES OF GENETIC TESTING. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS SPECIFICALLY, BUT THEY CAN BE A GUIDE FOR YOUR OWN DISCUSSION. YOUR MAIN POST SHOULD BE AT LEAST 1 PAGE (250 WORDS) LONG, AND NARRATIVE (ESSAY, NOT POINT FORM).
So, would you do it – have your DNA tested? Have you done it already?
- Would you want to know that your mother, or father, or both, or their parent(s) were almost certainly not your biological relatives?
- Would you want to know if you have a gene that will possibly, or probably, result in your eventually having a disease or disorder for which there is no cure?
- Who should have access to this information? Who should be responsible for ensuring that privacy restrictions are adhered to?
- In what ways to you see genetic testing as being a positive thing for the individual and society, and in what ways is it negative? Be sure to refer to the information at the beginning of this chapter in the text book about the use of genetic testing as a condition of employment/compensation.