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Reply to Walters and White: Heredity and Crime

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 28 Issue: 4 Dated: (November 1990) Pages: 657-661
Date Published
5 pages
This article critiques Walters and White's (1989) review article, "Heredity and Crime: Bad Genes or Bad Research?" which presented their methodological concerns about family, twin, adoption, and gene-environment interaction studies.
Walters and White conclude that "current genetic research on crime has been poorly designed, ambiguously reported, and exceedingly inadequate in addressing the relevant issues." The major flaw in many of Walters and White's critical comments is their lack of specificity. They repeatedly present vague or global criticisms of the research, without specific supporting arguments. The most obvious examples of unsubstantiated criticisms in Walters and White's review can be found in the tables presented throughout their paper. In these tables, they list family, twin, and adoption studies by authors' names and evaluate them on their handling of relevant methodological concerns. Each study receives a plus or a minus for each methodological category. The reasons for assigning the plus or minus, however, are not discussed in depth. The reader is left to guess at the basis of the evaluation. When Walters and White do make specific critical comments in their review, their logic is often questionable or at least incomplete. The title itself implies that Walters and White have determined that all research that focuses on heredity as a factor in criminal behavior is "bad" research. This suggests that they entered their evaluation with a bias against such research. 5 references

Date Published: January 1, 1990