Episode 930: Twins : Planet Money Scientists have studied twins for years, hoping to figure out how big a role genes play in human behavior. Our very own pair of twin reporters are on the case.
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Episode 930: Twins

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Episode 930: Twins

Episode 930: Twins

Episode 930: Twins

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/747723076/747796998" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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One of these babies is Planet Money correspondent Karen Duffin; the other is her twin, Marie. We have no idea who's who (and neither do their parents). Karen Duffin hide caption

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Karen Duffin

One of these babies is Planet Money correspondent Karen Duffin; the other is her twin, Marie. We have no idea who's who (and neither do their parents).

Karen Duffin

Twins are used to fielding all sorts of questions, like "Can you read each other's minds?" or "Can you feel each other's pain?" Two of our Planet Money reporters are twins, and they have heard them all.

But it's not just strangers on the street who are fascinated by twins. Scientists have been studying twins since the 1800s, trying to get at one of humanity's biggest questions: How much of what we do and how we are is encoded in our genes? The answer to this has all kinds of implications, for everything from healthcare to education, criminal justice and government spending.

Today on the show, we look at the history of twin studies. We ask what decades of studying twins has taught us. We look back at a twin study that asked whether genes influence antisocial behavior and rule-breaking. One of our reporters was a subject in it. And we find out: are twin studies still important for science?

Also, if you want to more niche economic topics to bring up during competitive small talk, subscribe to our weekly newsletter: https://www.npr.org/newsletter/money

A great book that we consulted while working on this episode is The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

Music: "Guinguette", "Holy Science" and "Sun Run."

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