Genetics is relevant to many aspects of our lives. According to the deficit model of public understanding, any misgivings that people have about genetics and its applications are caused by a lack of understanding. Consequently, education in genetics is expected to lead to improved literacy in, and therefore support for, this area. However, studies show that education does not automatically lead to increased public support and that increased knowledge of controversial research may lead to decreased support for it. Understanding is thus a complex and dynamic process which depends on people's prior knowledge and on their social and cultural locations. Members of the public should not be seen as deficient in understanding. Rather, they have sophisticated understandings which should be acknowledged. Public support for genetics cannot be improved simply through more or better education; alternatives such as public engagement in science or institutional changes promoting trustworthiness may be more useful.