29 February 2016

Sir Michael Marmot, genetics and health

Were we to find a chemical in the water, or in food, that was damaging children’s growth and their brains worldwide, and thus their intellectual development and control of emotions, we would clamour for immediate action. […] Yet, unwittingly perhaps, we do tolerate such an unjust state of affairs with seemingly little clamour for change. The pollutant is called social disadvantage and it has profound effects on developing brains and limits children’s intellectual and social development. […]

I have spent my research life showing that the key determinants of health lie outside the health care system in the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age; and inequities in power, money and resources that give rise to these inequities in conditions of daily life. […]

As doctors we cannot stand idly by while our patients suffer from the way our societies are organised. Inequality of social and economic conditions is at the heart of it. […] I invite you to: [quoting Pablo Neruda] Rise up with me … Against the organisation of misery.

(Professor Sir Michael Marmot, inaugural Presidential speech to the World Medical Association)
In the speech by Michael Marmot from which the above extracts are taken, there is no reference to statistical differences in IQ or to other possible genetic influences. This is almost universally the case in modern analyses of any situation. Differences between various sections of the population are taken to be caused by the different circumstances of their members, and not by genetic differences between individuals.