Image compliments of Gary DeVaney

This web page was produced as an assignment for an undergraduate course and Davidson College.


The Idea                                   

The average person may define spirituality as a feeling or state of mind. The scientist may see it as an adaptive trait, benefetting our survival for generations. But Dean Hamer, a molecular biologist and geneticist at the National Cancer Institute, offers a different perspective. Author of The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired Into Our Genes, Hamer claims to have uncovered "The" gene responsible for feelings of unity and connection to a higher power. Naturally, Hamer has become somewhat of a controversial figure for this notion, but can science--the very tool he touts--truly back his claim?

The Problem

As is often the case, popular press paints science using a very different color palette. While the media scarfed up Hamer's exhaltation of VMAT2, scientific literature provides no support for this role of the gene. In fact, Hamer has not published his findings in any peer-reviewed journal, much to the dissatisfaction of many scientifically inclined minds.

To learn more about this story, please check out the following links:

The Gene                                         

Popular Press vs. Journal Publications



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