Predicting Our Future: Lessons from Winnie-the-Pooh


  • Benjamin Wilfond


In this issue, Greer Donley, Sara Chandros Hull, and Benjamin E. Berkman explore the implications of using whole genome sequencing in the prenatal context. They focus on how whole genome sequencing may refine pregnancy expectations, impact child-rearing decisions, and foreclose children's desire not to know more about their future. Their paper inspired me to reimagine the predominant worldviews of genomics prediction. One worldview is characterized by woe: the world as we know it will be forever changed unless we avoid the perils of genomics. I found myself thinking of this as the Eeyore phenotype. The Tigger phenotype is a worldview characterized by confidence: the world as we know it is forever changed, and we should embrace our genomic future. Donley, Hull, and Berkman adopt a new phenotype, one that perhaps resembles Christopher Robin. This worldview is characterized by its commitment to moving forward, nurturing relationships, and deliberating thoughtfully: it applies the evidentiary model to whole genome sequencing. Like Christopher Robin, who accepted that growing up was inevitable, the authors appreciate that progress is inevitable. Their response is to offer recommendations for research that might help the Eeyores and Tiggers find common ground.