E41 Brian Boutwell: Criminologist

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In Ep#41 I was joined by biosocial criminologist, Brian Boutwell, PhD. Brian works as an associate professor at St Louis University in the US and his passionate pursuit of the primary causes of crime is contagious. Boutwell’s writing on the often overlooked role of heritability as a driver for behaviour is compelling and thought-provoking.

Brian’s current research into the biosocial impact of race differences on behaviour is likely to provoke as vociferous a reaction as his recent assertion that it’s parents, not parenting, that shape who we become. This episode is fast paced, packed full of brilliant ideas and science, and somewhat annoyingly caused me to reassess the way I’ve looked at much of social life for the last 20 years!

My conversation with Brian included the following topics;

  1. Definitions of criminology and biosocial criminology.
  2. A brief discussion of the effectiveness of prisons as institutions of reformation and/or punishment.
  3. How our parents imprint very little on our personality that continues into adulthood.
  4. The strange feeling of predetermination that comes with acceptance of the power of heritability.
  5. I try to nail Brian down on the percentages of nature vs nurture. It turns out it’s not as simple as it sounds but he gives it a damn good go!
  6. Brian explains that much of modern research into human behaviour is deeply flawed due to it’s failure to account for inherited traits.
  7. Brian explains the importance of twins in studies of criminal behaviour.
  8. Brian recommends a load of good books, podcast, and films/tv.
  9. Oh yeah, Brian also dismantled my favourite theory for reforming the current irish criminal justice system.

Brian was an excellent guest who I’m already planning on having back on the show soon. Our conversation raised almost as many questions for me as it answered, an experience I’m sure you’ll share upon listening.

Enjoy the episode. Dave

If you enjoy the show please leave a rating on iTunes to keep us up the charts.
You can follow Brian on twitter here or check out his academic page here.
Brian's an excellent writer and you can check out his work for Quillette here
or if you're only going to read one, read this one.
You can also read a piece Brian co-authored for the Boston Globe here.
Check back here in 2 days for Brian's podcast, book, and tv recommendations.


It's good to talk

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