22.07.2012

Comment on "The Shock of the New: Progress in Schizophrenia Genomics" by Moore, Kelleher, and Corvin (Current Genomics, 2011, 12, 516-24)

Quote from 
The Shock of the New: Progress in Schizophrenia Genomics
Current Genomics, 2011, 12, 516-524
Susan Moore, Eric Kelleher and Aiden Corvin


"... (a)s has been the consistent theme across common disorders, initial schizophrenia GWAS findings explain only a modest proportion of the variance in susceptibility. A significant proportion of the remainder may involve a polygenic component including hundreds, if not thousands, of common alleles of small effect. Using a polygene score method, the International Schizophrenia Consortium identified substantial overlap in common putative risk alleles of small effect across both  schizophrenia and bipolar samples and estimated that these explained at least one-third of total variation in liability. From the emerging GWAS data, many of the associated loci appear to confer liability to both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder."

Comment: 
"The shock of the new" was an a posteriori justification of early modern works -ethically, esthetically, and epistemologically.

The article I cite above has a strictly empiricist approach to mental illness; therefore it is not surpising that the title refers to the "shock" metaphor: Logical empiricism, like the art, fiction, or the poetry of the time,  represents the early 20th century modernity, and the cited paper attempts to justify a purely empiricist approach to mental illness in the same manner.
The problem here is that defending a purely atheoretical (hypothesis-free), highly technology-dependent (i.e., highly disinterested) empirical approach to mental illness is not as straightforward as the article implies: Compared to illnesses defined by a uniform -though not necessarily absolute- somatic manifestation that is observable or measurable out of a context involving subjective experience and human interaction, mental phenomena -including mental illnesses- present a bigger challenge to scientific investigation. Type 2 diabetes is a good example for the former -being based simply on blood glucose levels for identification (diagnosis) without a specific cut-off point or even a level of measurement sensitivity that remain constant in the view of experts-; all the more so because the GWAS findings for DM2 are almost equal in their degree of robustness / controversiality to, say, schizophrenia.   
i.e., while empirical scientific scrutiny may be a reasonable method in the search for the mechanisms of phenomena that are perceived / recognized on a uniformly empirical basis at all times, the same method may be misleading in the investigation of phenomena that are perceived/ recognized in the context of human interaction.
i.e., objects and phenomena lend themselves to empirical investigation only if they are uniformly identified by empirical observation. 
My argument is value-laden (it involves a value choice and it is not justifiable by facts alone) in that it attributes a special -an arguably anthopocentric, hence value-laden- quality to human interaction, differentiating it from other natural phenomena and placing it beyond the realm of disinterested observation. Then again, what would falsify this argument, if all human behavior, including scientific inquiry, involves varying degrees of subjectivity / value choice?
Does all human behavior, including scientific inquiry, involve varying degrees of subjectivity / value choice?
That no answer to this question can be defended on solely rational grounds is a dilemma -at least to my poorly human capacity of ... reasoning (or calculating, if you will).

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