The crime-is-in-our-genes notion has popped up in the news (again).  100 years ago it was all the rage.   Charles Davenport, founder of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, expressed concerned that immigrants from southeastern Europe were "given to crimes of larceny, kidnapping, assault, murder, rape and sex immorality." Italians, Davenport asserted, were prone to "crimes of personal violence," and "Hebrews" to "offenses against chastity", John Horgan tells us in the Chronicle.

The bad seed theme pops up every so often, mostly recently with a gene that produces the enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), what some called 'the Warrior gene' when claiming it was more prevalent in Maori tribesmen.   And they are violent - hey, I saw "Once Were Warriors", movies don't lie - but it may not have anything to do with genetics.  

Dismissing a genetic basis for crime is the purview of politically correct, bleeding-heart liberals who attribute all wrongdoing to nasty nurturing - and then Horgan admits to being a politically correct, bleeding-heart liberal while he dismisses the notion that it's possible even while he admits that physical aggression is in part a variable, heritable trait.

Labeling children as bad seeds will do more harm than good and has little scientific justification, he notes, and cautions that if genes were all it took, there would be little variations in crime rates and the US homicide rate has been halved since the early 1990s.

Unless psychopaths have more abortions, but that is a different study.

Born Outlaws? A Criminally Feeble Proposition - by John Horgan, The Chronicle Review