Behavior: Are Criminals Born, Not Made?

A new book looks at the predisposition toward lawbreaking

Cesare Lombroso, a high-minded 19th century Italian physician, is remembered for his series of skull measurements purporting to show that criminals have smaller brains than law-abiding citizens. Few criminology textbooks go to print without elaborate coverage of Lombroso's folly, a reminder to students that nurture, not nature, is responsible for criminal behavior. Now, however, two prominent Harvard professors, James Q. Wilson and Richard Herrnstein, argue that Lombroso was on the right track: no one is born a criminal, but many are born with "constitutional factors" that predispose them to serious crime. "There is mounting evidence," the professors write in their new...

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