Category Archives: General -Thèmes Généraux

The Economic Outlook of Turkey in June 2021

From humble beginnings Recep Tayyip Erdogan has grown into a political giant, reshaping Turkey more than any leader since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the revered father of the modern republic.

But in recent years the economy has deteriorated. Inflation is nearly 12% and the Turkish lira has slumped against the dollar. Coronavirus is exacerbating Turkey’s economic woes.

When he became Turkish leader back in March 2003 the lira rate was 1.6 to the dollar – now it is above 8.0. His early years in power were marked by solid growth and a development boom.

1: Turkish Lira Exchange Rate to US Dollar, Source: XE

The World Bank on April estimated that Turkey’s poverty rate rose to 12.2% last year, from 10.2% in 2019, and said returning to pre-pandemic levels would be a challenge. The World Bank also states that Turkey’s economic and social development performance since the early 2000s has been impressive, leading to increased employment and incomes and making Turkey an upper-middle-income country. However, in the past few years, growing economic vulnerabilities and a more challenging external environment have threatened to undermine those achievements. 

The World Bank said the impact of the pandemic would be a “struggle to shake off” globally but that Turkey’s economy is expected to grow 5% this year due a recovery in exports.

It warned that rising inflation in advanced economies could lead to “destabilising movements in global liquidity away from emerging markets” and added that growth prospects could also be hit by a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.


For most of the period since 2000, Turkey has maintained a long-term focus on implementing ambitious reforms in many areas, and government programs have targeted vulnerable groups and disadvantaged regions. Poverty incidence more than halved over 2002–15, and extreme poverty fell even faster. 

During this time, Turkey rapidly urbanized, maintained strong macroeconomic and fiscal policy frameworks, opened to foreign trade and finance, harmonized many laws and regulations with European Union (EU) standards, and greatly expanded access to public services. It also recovered well from the global financial crisis of 2008/09.

The Turkish economy was one of few globally to expand in 2020 despite coronavirus fallout, thanks largely to a credit boom around mid-year.

Overall inflation was around 12% – and near 20% for food – for much of last year before climbing. Tourism revenue sharply declined and exports fell, leading to a large current account deficit.

The government in response topped up employee wages and banned layoffs, keeping a lid on the unemployment rate.

The recent Turkish crisis, started in 2018, was caused by the Turkish economy’s excessive current account deficit and large amounts of private foreign-currency denominated debt, in combination with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s increasing authoritarianism and his unorthodox ideas about interest rate policy.  Some analysts also stress the leveraging effects of the geopolitical frictions with the United States and recently enforced tariffs by the Trump administration on some Turkish products such as steel and aluminum.

The Turkish lira keeps to fall when comparing to the dollar and euro (as strong currencies) and has come under more pressure in recent weeks, in a continuing crisis that started in 2018, as investors try to assess whether the country’s central bank will heed the demands of its president to cut interest rates. But a rate cut could drag the lira down further at the same time that the country’s high inflation rate is already diminishing the currency’s buying power.

The overall macroeconomic picture is more vulnerable and uncertain, given rising inflation and unemployment, contracting investment, elevated corporate and financial sector vulnerabilities, and patchy implementation of corrective policy actions and reforms. There are also significant external headwinds due to ongoing geopolitical tensions in the subregion. 

COVID has deepened gender gaps and increased youth unemployment and the poverty rate. The risk of inequalities has also been increasing. The COVID-19 crisis is expected to have severely negative consequences for Turkey, further weakening economic and social gains.

There is an “exchange rate illusion” in Turkey’s economic growth data, according to Enver Erkan, chief economist at Istanbul-based Tera Yatirim, who’s ranked by Bloomberg as the most accurate forecaster on Turkish GDP data.

Noting that the GDP per capita in U.S. dollar terms dropped nearly 40% since 2013 to around $7,700 last year, Erkan said Turkey’s recent economic model isn’t sustainable as the growth is mainly driven by consumption supported by government spending and loan campaigns.

A stronger dollar would also add further pressure to the Turkish lira. Turkey’s currency hit a record low on June 4, when it fell to 8.7532 lira to the U.S. dollar, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for lower interest rates by July or August. That has left investors to assess whether the country’s central bank will heed Mr. Erdogan’s demands.

Mr. Erdogan has fired three central bank chiefs in less than two years, and he prefers low rates as a part of a strategy to encourage growth. His reluctance to have higher interest rates could mean that investors’ returns are eroded. A recent rise in the cost of oil past $70 a barrel is also likely to boost inflation in Turkey.

Turkey’s consumer price inflation eased to 16.59 percent year-on-year in May 2021, from a near two-year high of 17.14 percent in the previous month and below market expectations of 17.25 percent. Still, the rate remined well above the central bank’s medium-term 5 percent target, with upward pressure coming from food and non-alcoholic beverages (17.04 percent vs 16.98 percent in April), transport (28.39 percent vs 29.31 percent), housing and utilities (14.08 percent vs 13.60 percent), furnishings, household equipment and routine maintenance (21.79 percent vs 22.27 percent), hotels, cafes and restaurants (17.73 percent vs 16.81 percent), clothing and footwear (5.75 percent vs 11.03 percent), and miscellaneous goods and services (17.92 percent vs 18.27 percent). The core consumer price inflation rate, which excludes volatile items such as energy, food and non-alcoholic beverages, alcoholic beverages, tobacco and gold, slowed to 16.99 percent in May from 17.77 percent in April.

2. Turkish Inflation Rate, Source: Trading Economics

Turkey’s Industrial Output

3.Turkey’s Industrial Output in March 2021

Turkey grew faster than all Group of 20 nations except for China in the first quarter after nearly stalling a year ago when Covid-19 struck. It’s been bolstered by robust consumption on the back of last year’s government-led push to cut interest rates and boost lending.

Gross domestic product rose 7% from a year earlier and 1.7% from the fourth quarter. The median of 22 forecasts in a Bloomberg survey was for 6.3% growth compared to the same period in 2020.

“This comes at the expense of lira and price stability,” he said.

The government pushed banks to ramp up lending to help businesses and consumers ride out last year’s Covid-19 emergency. The credit boom was coupled with a front-loaded easing cycle that helped prime the economy. That growth push weakened the currency by 20% last year and kept headline inflation in double digits. The size of the economy dropped to $717 billion last year from $760.8 billion a year earlier.

  • Automotive Industry

Turkey’s automotive production, including light commercial vehicles, tractors, and automobiles, amounted to 532,441 million units in January-May, a sectoral report revealed on Monday.

The sector posted a strong recovery with a 28.2% increase year-on-year in the January-May period, after dramatic falls last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic measures.

Last year, the automotive production narrowed by 11% versus 2019 and decreased by 34% year-on-year in the first five months.

While the sector surpassed 2020 figures, it could not reach 2018 and 2019 figures yet, when the production was 712,022 and 625,946 units, respectively.

4. Turkey’s economy Outperforming in first quarter of 2021, Source : Bloomberg
  • Exports

According to the country’s Trade Minister ,Turkey’s foreign sales powered ahead as exporters achieved their second-best May ever.

Exports surged 65.5% year-on-year to reach $16.6 billion (TL 142.48 billion) last month, Muş told a news conference in the capital Ankara.

Sales were up from nearly $10 billion a year ago, battered by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic that had temporarily shut borders.

They increased despite the strictest lockdown yet that covered part of May. Turkey remains a big trade power in the world as its trade continues rising.

Turkey shipped US$169.5 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2020. That dollar amount reflects an 18.8% increase since 2016 but a -0.9% drop from 2019 to 2020. That figure also represents roughly 0.9% of overall global exports estimated at $18.709 trillion one year earlier during 2019 (calculated as of February 17, 2020).

Applying a continental lens, 55.7% of Turkey’s exports by value were delivered to European countries while 26% were sold to Asian importers. Turkey shipped another 9% worth of goods to Africa. Smaller percentages went to North America (6.9%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1.7%) then Oceania led by Australia, Marshall Islands and New Zealand (0.7%).

5.Turkey’s Trade with the European Union, Source: EUROSTAT
6.Turkey among the world’s largest traders of goods, 2019, Source: Eurostat
7. Turkey’s Top Trade Partners, 2019 , Source: Eurostat
8. Turkey among the EU’s main partners for trade in goods, 2020, Source : Eurostat
9. EU trade with Turkey by product group, 2010 and 2020, Source Eurostat

The breakdown of EU trade with Turkey by SITC groups is shown in Figure 6. The red shades denote the primary products: food & drink, raw materials and energy, while the blue shades show the manufactured goods: chemicals, machinery & vehicles and other manufactured goods. Finally, other goods are shown in green. In 2020, EU exports of manufactured goods (84 %) had a higher share than primary goods (12 %). The most exported manufactured goods were machinery & vehicles (44 %), followed by other manufactured products (22 %) and chemicals (18 %). In 2020, EU imports of manufactured goods (87 %) also had a higher share than primary goods (12 %). The most imported manufactured goods were other manufactured products (43 %), followed by machinery & vehicles (39 %) and chemicals (6 %).

10. EU trade with Turkey by group, 2010-2020, Source: Eurostat
11. EU imports of goods from Turkey, 2020 Source Eurostat
12. EU exports of goods to Turkey, 2020, Source: Eurostat


1; The Wall Street Journal: Turkey’s Troubles Point to Emerging-Market Risks as Economies Recover, Accessed: 19th of June 2021

2. World Bank. Country : Turkey : Overview. Accessed : 19th of June, 2021

3. Wikipedia: Turkish Currency and Debt Crisis, Accessed : 19th of June, 2021

4. Bloomberg: Turkish Economy Likely Outperformed Most Peers But at a Cost, Accessed : 19th of June, 2021  

5. Borzou Daragahi (25 May 2018). “Erdogan Is Failing Economics 101”. Foreign Policy.

6.“Inflation rise poses challenge to Erdogan as election looms”Financial Times. 5 June 2018.

7.  Matt O’Brien (13 July 2018). “Turkey’s economy looks like it’s headed for a big crash”Washington Post.

8. “Turkey’s Lessons for Emerging Economies – Caixin Global” Retrieved 20 August 2018.

9. Goujon, Reva (16 August 2018). “Making Sense of Turkey’s Economic Crisis”Stratfor. Archived from the original on 16 August 2018.

Les plus grands succès francophones du Concours Eurovision de la Chanson

Toujours populaire jusqu’au aujourd’hui, le Concours Eurovision de la Chanson… mais presque toujours en anglais! Pourtant, la langue de Molière a eu souvent sa chance sous couleurs françaises, belges, luxembourgeoises et monégasques dans les premières places du Concours. Voici ma sélection des quelques titres chantés en français :

  1. “Ne partez pas sans moi” Céline Dion -1988

Le Concours Eurovision de la Chanson 1988 permettra à la jeune chanteuse québécoise Céline Dion d’offrir une seconde victoire à la Suisse et servira de tremplin à sa carrière internationale.

Ecrite et composée par Nella Martinetti et Atilla Şereftuğ, Ne partez pas sans moi est la dernière chanson interprétée en français ayant gagné le concours à ce jour.

Le 6 février 1988, la Québécoise remporte la sélection suisse au théâtre de Beausobre à Morges.

2. “C’est le dernier qui a parlé qui a raisonAmina Annabi -1991

Amina a représenté la France à l’Eurovision en 1991, avec la chanson C’est Le Dernier Qui A Parlé Qui A Raison. Cette année-là, la France frôle la victoire. Avec 146 points, Amina arrive première ex aequo en nombre de points avec l’Irlande. En cas d’égalité, ce sont les votes maximums qui comptent. Sa concurrente irlandaise avait obtenu comme elle quatre fois la note maximum, de 12. Ce sont donc les “10 points” qui les ont départagées. Amina a obtenu deux fois cette note, contre cinq pour Carole et termine ainsi deuxième.

3. “Poupée de cire, poupée de son”, France Gall -1965

” Poupée de cire, poupée de son “, une chanson écrite par Serge Gainsbourg et avec laquelle France Gall remporte en 1965 le Concours Eurovision de la Chanson pour le Luxembourg.

” Poupée de cire, poupée de son ” est une petite chanson sucrée comme un bonbon… Une chanson rose bonbon… C’est d’ailleurs une des deux couleurs prédominantes du texte, avec le blond. C’est un tube énorme en 1965, devenu un classique du hit-parade, un chef-d’œuvre d’art mineur parce que derrière ce que l’on entend, il faut entendre plus.

C’est l’histoire d’une jeune chanteuse innocente qui est la chose de son auteur qui lui fait tenir des propos dont elle ne saisit pas la portée. C’est l’histoire d’une jeune chanteuse innocente qui est l’objet de sa maison de disques qui lui fait enregistrer des tas de chansons qu’elle n’aime pas –  ce qui est le cas à l’époque. Sciemment et consciemment, Gainsbourg prend pour objet d’étude France Gall elle-même. ” Poupée de cire ” est une chanson sur le business du disque et sur la fabrication d’une idole matraquée (” je suis partout à la fois. “). C’est un témoignage sur le métier de potiche professionnelle, un métier public qui n’a pas bonne réputation car c’est un métier d’exhibition, impudique (” mes disques sont un miroir dans lequel chacun peut me voir. “). D’où la phrase : ” Suis-je meilleure. Suis-je pire. Qu’une poupée de salon. “.

4. Minouche Barelli – “Boum-badaboum” -1967

Boum-Badaboum est la chanson ayant été sélectionnée pour représenter Monaco au Concours Eurovision de la chanson 1967 le 8 avril à Vienne, en Autriche. … La chanson est intégralement interprétée en français, langue officielle de Monaco, comme l’impose la règle entre 1966 et 1973. Elle a fini à la cinquième place.

5. “J’aime la vie”, Sandra Kim -1986

Sandra Caldarone alias Sandra Kim est une chanteuse belge d’origine italienne, née en octobre 1972 à Montegnée près de Liège.

Le 3 mai 1986, elle remporte le Concours Eurovision de la Chanson à Bergen (Norvège) en représentant la Belgique avec ” J’aime la vie “. Elle n’a alors que 13 ans et demi. Elle est la plus jeune gagnante de l’histoire du concours puisque, par la suite, la limite d’âge sera fixée à 15 ans.

” J’aime la vie ” en peu de temps devient double disque de platine. Plus de 350.000 singles vendus en Belgique, 1.400.000 à travers le monde et numéro 1 au Top 50 belge, et ce durant plusieurs semaines.

6. « Je n’ai que mon âme » Natasha St-Pier -2001

Natasha St-Pier s’est fait connaître en 2001 grâce à l’Eurovision, où elle était arrivée quatrième pour la France avec “Je n’ai que mon âme”.

Natasha St-Pier, de son vrai nom Natasha Saint-Pierre, est une chanteuse et animatrice canadienne, d’origines acadienne, bretonne et italienne, née le 10 février 1981 à Bathurst, au Nouveau-Brunswick (Canada).

Dans le clip, elle interprète la chanson intégralement en français. Plusieurs jours avant le concours, dans les médias, elle laisse planer le doute quant à l’utilisation ou non de l’anglais lors de sa future interprétation sur la scène de l’Eurovision.

Le 12 mai 2001, à Copenhague au Danemark, lors de son passage, tout en conservant le titre français, elle interprète la chanson pour les 2/3 en français et le dernier couplet en anglais. Elle obtient trois douze points attribués par la Bosnie-Herzégovine, le Portugal et la Russie. Au même niveau de Patrick Fiori en 1993 et Nathalie Santamaria en 1995, Natasha St-Pier donne la 4e place à la France sur vingt-trois pays, un résultat jamais égalé depuis.

7. “J”ai chérché” , Amir -2016

En 2016, Amir est officiellement désigné pour représenter la France au concours de l’Eurovision. Pour l’occasion, le chanteur franco-israélien choisit d’interpréter le titre “J’ai cherché”. Il faut savoir que ce titre était déjà prévu pour figurer sur le premier album d’Amir, “Au cœur de moi”, enregistré après son parcours dans “The Voice”. Le succès de son interprétation au concours de chant participera activement à la promotion de cet album.

“J’ai cherché” se positionne très rapidement parmi les chouchous des bookmakers et des observateurs spécialistes du concours. Si le titre fait plus que bien se défendre, il terminera finalement sixième du concours avec un excellent score de 257 points. Cela n’empêche pas le titre de cartonner dans les bacs.

Atteignant la deuxième place des ventes de singles et la première en ce qui concerne les diffusions radio, “J’ai cherché” reste l’un des plus gros succès commerciaux du chanteur, terminant disque de platine. Il sera par ailleurs nommé à la Victoire de la musique de la Chanson originale de l’année, s’inclinant face à “Je m’en vais” de Vianney. Fin 2019, le cinéaste québécois Xavier Dolan la remet au goût du jour en l’intégrant dans une séquence de son film “Matthias et Maxime”.

8. Tu te reconnaîtras“, Anne-Marie David -1973

Ce fut la quatrième victoire du Luxembourg et la deuxième consécutive.

En 1973, Anne-Marie DAVID obtient le Grand Prix international du disque de l’académie Charles CROS avec la chanson “Aimer et gagne” . Gagnant ainsi une reconnaissance, Anne-Marie DAVID est choisie pour représenter le Luxembourg à l’Eurovision qu’elle remporte avec le titre “Tu te reconnaitras”. C’est une année fantastique  puisque qu’elle obtient également un Prix d’Interprétation au World Festival Song à Tokyo.

La chanson gagnante “Tu te reconnaitras ” remporta 129 votes sur 160 possibles, soit 81 % du maximum. Il s’agit d’un record, tous systèmes de vote confondus.

Après son succès en 1973, Anne-Marie DAVID, retente sa chance à l’Eurovision, en 1979 en représentant alors la France avec ” Je suis l’enfant soleil” et se classe troisième, avec 106 points.

Bonne écoute en espérant que les chansons chantées en français finiront dans le podium. Il y a beaucoup de chances que la France et la Suisse remportent le Concours cette année. Toutes les places sont trustées par des titres en français : « Je me casse » de Malte à la première place, « Voilà » de la France en deuxième place, et « Tout l’univers » de la Suisse sur la dernière marche.

Bonne chance !

5 court-métrages à propos d’Iran (la Perse)

De façon générale, les Occidentaux semblent mal connaître l’Iran, car ils le considèrent souvent comme «un pays arabe». Ne vous étonnez pas si vous voyez les Iraniens devenir choqués, offensés et même agressifs si vous leur dîtes : « Vous les Arabes… »; « votre langue arabe… », etc..

Vous risquerez d’en « prendre plein la gueule » Il est vrai que l’Iran est un pays musulman dont l’écriture est basée sur l’alphabet arabe. Le persan moderne ou farsi est la principale langue parlée en Iran Néanmoins, les ressemblances s’arrêtent là. Les Iraniens sont d’origine indo-européenne, un tout autre peuple, une civilisation très ancienne et totalement différente, avec une culture et un mode de vie propre à eux.

Le site archéologique de Persépolis, les mosquées d’Ispahan, les jardins de Chiraz, les tours du vent de Yazd et le grouillement de Téhéran : la richesse de l’Iran semble infinie. Y aller pour la première fois n’est pas anodin. C’est l’un de ces voyages qui vous conduisent à la rencontre d’une civilisation. Mais si la République islamique s’ouvre aux touristes, elle reste une théocratie sanglante, où la peine de mort est pratiquée massivement.


A Dangerous Form of Eugenics Is Creeping Back Into Science

Garland Allen– Feb 5, 1989

Most people think we have come a long way from the sordid days of blatant eugenics, when everything from thalassophilia (love of the sea, or nomadism) to prostitution, rebelliousness, criminality, mental illness, and personality traits were thought to be inherited. That was all supposed to have ended when the Nazis revealed the true nightmare of eugenic ideas with their “final solution.” But like the endless number of movie sequels that have overrun our theaters, eugenics is back with a new cast of characters and a slightly different script, but the same tired and dangerous old plot.

No one will admit it, of course, and no honorable scientist will say that current research on the inheritance of social or behavioral traits perpetuates the old notions of eugenics. Yet in the last several years, book after scientific book and paper after paper have reported genetic links to everything from alcoholism and criminality to homosexuality, shyness, “risk taking,” and psychiatric conditions such as manic depression and schizophrenia.

What is even more startling is that these ideas are being popularized at a great rate. Since 1987, Time, U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal have all run major stories describing how “new” genetic research has shown that many human social and behavioral traits are to a large extent genetically controlled. The popular accounts have all stressed that the new research is much more “clear-cut” than the eugenics of 50 years ago. They have also stressed that understanding the genetic basis of “antisocial behavior” (meaning such social problems as crime, prostitution, mental retardation, or alcoholism) would be helpful in counseling “at risk” patients and possibly preventing them from carrying out their biological destiny.

There are several reasons for concern about this new rash of “research” and the popular accounts of it. First and foremost, the new results are in most cases no more conclusive than the results of eugenicists 50 years ago. In order to study the inheritance of any trait, it is first necessary to define the trait precisely and unambiguously. Yet human social or behavioral traits are not unambiguous because, by their very definition, they arise in, and take their meaning from, a social context. Whereas blue eyes or physical height are largely independent of the social contexts in which they are defined, crime is not. What is criminal in one context–for example, killing in time of peace–becomes noncriminal, even heroic in another context–wartime. Similarly, what is defined as alcoholism is dependent on social definition and setting.

Thus, the very traits that scientists are trying to show to be genetic are defined in quite varied and subjective ways. If you cannot define a trait unambiguously, you certainly cannot study its inheritance.

Another reason why current claims about genetically determined traits are flawed is that behaviors like criminality or alcoholism are not simple entities like height, hair color, or diabetes. Alcoholism includes not only dependency on a chemical substance, but also the inability to control behavior and to anticipate the consequences of an action. Alcoholics may vary in the degree to which their problem results from one or several of these factors. To dissect out the specific behavioral component behind each individual’s chemical dependency may be impossible. Yet to treat the behavior (even if definable) as arising from the same causes in every person is a gross oversimplification. It would be like trying to determine why people are “bad drivers”.

An additional problem is that human beings, unlike fruit flies or laboratory mice (a few of the common animals used for genetic studies) have social as well as biological inheritance. We transmit to our offspring not only physical characteristics like eye color and skin color but also social characteristics through what we teach. Developmental psychologists have been emphasizing for years the importance of early learning experiences in the growth of personality and social behavior in children. It is thus virtually impossible to disentangle the learned from the biologically determined aspects of human behavior.

While no modern geneticist would deny that there is a genetic basis for general aspects of our behavior (for example, our ability as humans to learn language, or to think abstractly) it is extremely difficult to show genetic influences on such specific traits as ability to learn math, or the risk of becoming dependent on alcohol and other drugs. The only way a modern geneticist can separate genetic from environmental influences is to breed organisms and raise the offspring under highly controlled environmental conditions. Since our ethical standards (thank goodness!) forbid carrying out such experiments with human beings, there is never likely to be any rigorous way to separate such subtle influences as heredity and learning in the development of human personality. What is empirically clear is that human beings have an enormous capability to learn–with far greater flexibility than any other known animal. Thus, if there are genetic tendencies toward one or another specific behavioral trait, they are minuscule by comparison to our overall ability to adopt new behaviors, that is, to learn. After investigating a number of such claims, past and present, I simply have not found any clear-cut or meaningful data to support the claims.

Now what makes all of this so troublesome? Is it not just another academic argument? The answer is an emphatic “no.” As an historian of science, I have noted that genetic explanations for human social problems always seem to recur at times of economic and social crisis. Eugenics rose to prominence in the early 1900s, in association with the economic cutbacks related to World War I and then the Great Depression. They arose again in the early 1970s during the economic crises surrounding the scaling back of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society.” Finally, with Reaganomics, we see the theories gaining prominence again. And, of course, the most extreme example was the enormous economic austerity of Nazi Germany and that nation’s virulent eugenic policy.

At all of these times, the hereditarian argument has served to turn attention away from the environmental causes of social behavior–such as cuts in wages and benefits, inflation, stress in the workplace–by focusing on internal, genetic causes. Thus the victim is blamed for having the problem in the first place. There is a perfectly good social explanation for why crime and rates of alcohol abuse increase during these times, but to those in government and private enterprise such conclusions are less than savory. Discontent is easier to control if it can be focused on innate faults (biological, in these cases) rather than faults in our society.

In Germany, belief in the biological inferiority of Jews allowed many citizens to look the other way when racist campaigns were mounted against those of Jewish descent. Fascism feeds on blaming the individual. Thus a climate that promotes the idea that alcohol abuse or criminality is biologically based is a climate in which other Fascist ideologies can take root.

If the genetic studies were clear, there would be no ideological reason to reject claims that certain human behaviors are hereditary. But the science is at best equivocal, and at worst flagrantly wrong–as in the now-famous case of British psychologist Sir Cyril Burt who, earlier in the century, faked much of his data on the inheritance of IQ. The recent Minnesota twin studies, for example, have been widely quoted in the popular press, but only one brief account has ever appeared in a refereed scientific journal. Thus, based on past and present history, there is every reason to oppose the widespread popular dissemination of studies purporting to show genetically based behavioral traits on scientific grounds alone.

But what is most worrisome is how those scientifically questionable views might be used. History shows us that hereditarian arguments have almost always been associated with the idea that biologically “defective” individuals should either not be born at all, or, as in the Nazi case, should be exterminated so as not to be a burden on society. They have provided ammunition for discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and economic status. Scientists now have a responsibility to prevent these dangerous ideas from creeping back into science–and into our society.

Garland E. Allen is professor of biology and history of science at Washington University in St. Louis.

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