Darren Staples / Reuters

A recent op-ed in The New York Times by geneticist David Reich touched off a heated public debate about race and genetics. In response, The Atlantic weighed in with an essay from the biologist Ian Holmes, taking on the accusation “that truculent and overly PC anthropologists, unobstructed by timid geneticists, are suppressing discussion of genetic variation.” Holmes wrote, contra Reich, that “scientists have continued to explore human variation, outside the grips of any orthodoxy.”

“Talking about race and genetic differences has always been a lightning rod,” Sarah Zhang, who covers science for The Atlantic, told me. And even beyond political controversies, there are a number of tripwires scientists have to navigate. In today’s issue, we’ll hear more from our science reporter, Sarah, about the factors that limit scientific inquiry. And Karen Yuan reviews what can happen when policymakers get genetics wrong.

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