Seeking The Roots of Violence

The search for biological clues to crime is igniting a brutal political controversy

It's tempting to make excuses for violence. The mugger came from a broken home and was trying to lift himself out of poverty. The wife beater was himself abused as a child. The juvenile murderer was exposed to Motley Crue records and Terminator movies. But do environmental factors wholly account for the seven-year-old child who tortures frogs? The teenager who knifes a teacher? The employee who slaughters workmates with an AK-47? Can society's ills really be responsible for all the savagery that is sweeping America? Or could some people be predisposed to violence by their genes?

Until recently, scientists had no...

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