Debating direct-to-consumer genetics and medical ‘paternalism’

How much background is needed to make sense of genetic analysis? How to people react to such information? Do we need to think differently when talking about direct-to-consumer analysis versus the type of information one is likely to receive in the medical arena from a certified genetic counselor?  These questions come up whenever pgEd is talking with students, and even in our more informal conversations with friends, colleagues and neighbors.  Recently, several writers have tackled some of these questions, with sometimes divergent conclusions. We appreciate the nuanced arguments both Virginia Hughes and Laura Hercher make in their articles.  We think these pieces also could find a place in the classroom, maybe to augment our lesson about “Genomes for All.”  We could also see teachers finding these pieces great as background reading ahead of teaching almost any of the pgEd lessons.

Virginia Hughes in Slate: It’s Time to Stop Obsessing About the Dangers of Genetic Testing 

Laura Hercher (via David Dobbs’ Wired blog): The Case for Paternalism in Genetic Testing