Segments in this Video

Genetics: Examining Family Traits (01:53)


Scientists can examine genes that are responsible for certain traits by looking at families who exhibit those traits. Harvard Law School's Charles Ogletree introduces genetic studies as a topic for debate.

Research: Genetic Links to Alcoholism (05:05)

Panel members discuss the pros and cons of participating in a scientific research study that would help families identify a gene associated with the propensity toward alcoholism.

Genetic Discrimination and Stigmatization (04:47)

Genetic studies in the past have been used as a means to discriminate against groups of people whose genes were considered to be inferior. Stigmatization is an issue of concern when targeting any group of people for genetic research.

Community Issues Around Genetic Research (05:30)

Complex issues arise from targeting a small group of people for a genetic study. In order to study any particular community, the entire community needs to be made aware of the potential consequences.

Genetic Research as Represented by the Media (05:22)

At some point, clinical research is affected by media representation and publication. The Media helps provide information to the public before, during, and after the study but the information provided by the media is only as accurate as its sources.

Publication of Research and Conflict of Interest (04:40)

Well-intentioned scientific research studies can have a huge detrimental social and ethical impact. Conflicts of interest make it difficult to determine when scientific data is ready for publication.

Limits of Personal Responsibility: Hypothetical Scenario (05:37)

Could a genetic predisposition for alcoholism be a legitimate legal defense for a person accused of second degree manslaughter? Attorney Johnnie Cochran discusses the legal significance of this hypothetical case.

Limits of Personal Responsibility: Genetic Defense (03:27)

If a person with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism commits manslaughter then he or she may potentially have a better legal defense. Research indicates that a person with this link is twice as likely to become an alcoholic.

Limits of Personal Responsibility: Legal Precedence (04:47)

Legal precedence states that a person who drinks, does so of his or her own free will and is responsible for his or her actions when drinking. Scientists do not believe that a predisposing factor toward alcoholism overrides free will.

Limits of Personal Responsibility: Social Consequences (03:15)

If faulty genes limit personal responsibility then there is a potential for adverse social consequences for the entire group of people who share those genes.

Defense Against Bad Press (03:55)

Scientific studies can be abused and misrepresented through sensationalism and individual political agendas. The media can be a valuable tool in presenting factual data and correcting misleading information.

Future Genetic Studies (04:22)

Further scientific research must be applied responsibly, considering risks to individuals or racial groups. It is important that genetic studies have clearly defined outlines as to what constitutes disease and what constitutes normal behavior.

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Genes on Trial: Genetics, Behavior, and the Law-A Fred Friendly Seminar

Part of the Series : Our Genes/Our Choices-A Fred Friendly Seminar
DVD Price: $149.95
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $149.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $224.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $149.95



Could genetic research stigmatize people who carry a “bad” gene? Could their behavior actually be determined by that gene? If so, then just how free is free will? Moderated by Harvard Law School’s Charles Ogletree, this Fred Friendly Seminar scrutinizes social, ethical, and legal issues involving genetic research into undesirable traits such as addiction to alcohol by exploring the relationship between the genetic basis for addiction and the limits of personal responsibility. Panelists include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer; journalist Gwen Ifill, managing editor of Washington Week in Review; high-profile attorney Johnnie Cochran, Jr.; Alan McGowan, president of The Gene Media Forum; Patricia King, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law, Medicine, Ethics, and Public Policy at the Georgetown University Law Center; and David Goldman, chief of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (58 minutes)

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL30802

ISBN: 978-0-7365-5383-4

Copyright date: ©2003

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

Recognized in article, Science Books & Films Best Science Videos from the past five years, 2004

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Only available in USA and Canada.