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Entwined Lives: Twins and What They Tell Us About Human Behavior

Entwined Lives: Twins and What They Tell Us About Human Behavior [Kindle Edition]

Nancy L Segal , Thomas J Bouchard Jr

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Product Description


"The most significant survey of twin research to date...for anyone interested in twins or in questions of human development and evolutionary psychology...Excellent...Recommended". -- Library Journal

Product Description

ENTWINED LIVES offers a comprehensive overview of research on psychological and biological aspects of identical and fraternal twins. Included among the 16 chapters are specialty sections and chapters on twins reared apart, virtual twins (unrelated same-age individuals reared together), legal cases involving twins, school separation, athletic prowess, assisted reproduction, conjoined twins, human reproductive cloning, famous twins, loss of a twin and much more.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3605 KB
  • Print Length: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Nancy L. Segal (Author); Publisher (Dutton/Plume) (19 May 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CWL29IG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #450,826 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars At times interesting but more often long-wided and anecdotal 10 Oct 2003
By MS - Published on
In Entwined Lives, researcher Nancy Segal draws upon hundreds of case studies to explore the physical development of twins, and to tackle the thorny nature-versus-nurture question. Segal is competent and often interesting when she sticks to the former; her forays into the latter, on the other hand, are long-winded and anecdotal, and clearly highlight her shaky grasp of statistical methods, not to mention the benefits of editing.
Among the more interesting ideas raised in the book is a detailed description of the different ways in which twins develop in utero from conception onward. I also found intriguing a description of a third type of twin, one in which both siblings share their mother's, though not their father's genes. This second topic, though, is barely developed, and there is little mention of how twins of this type are identified. This is typical for the book - interesting ideas are raised and then promptly abandoned, leaving the reader with little understanding or context.
At the same time, Segal does not hesitate to make broad generalizations about genetics and socialization from small collections of anecdotes. Much of the book is devoted to demonstrating the influence of genetics upon intelligence, behaviour, and athletic ability. A chapter on twins separated at birth is well-written and its methods well-described, but it's the exception. On the whole, this section is filled with dozens of case studies and stories from which Segal draws a multitude of conclusions, some better founded than others. She has ample data to support her uncontroversial claim that genetics play a large role in determining intelligence and similarities in abilities, and belabours this obvious point for several chapters during much of the book. (Do we really need several paragraphs explaining that height and weight play a role in determining athletic ability?)
But she is just as prepared to base her theories on a story here, a fact there: one identical pair's preference for very rare meat, for instance, prompts Segal to hypothesize that not only do identical twins share preferences, but that the things they enjoy are likely to lie outside the mainstream. She also ponders at length the significance of one athletic twin claiming an Olympic gold while his cotwin ended up with the silver. After a paragraph of grade-school-level speculation, she raises the (most likely) possibility that the medal discrepancy doesn't mean anything. This book is filled with these sorts of useless, irrelevant tangents (the most bizarre involving a mention of the wholly theoretical "twins paradox" from special relativity in a section on a pair of identical astronauts) that go absolutely nowhere, and that should have been edited out of the first draft of the book. She devotes virtually no space whatsoever to explaining which of her data are statistically meaningful, but rambles at length about very minor aspects of her methodology, such as choosing the most suitable acronym to denote biologically unrelated same-age siblings.
The stories in Entwined Lives make for entertaining, if light, reading, and would have been more enjoyable if Segal didn't keep interrupting them with unsupported generalizations, or with the dozens of "see? Genetics ARE important" assertions that appear over and over again. And the scientific data would have been more useful had it been better, or more rigorously developed. As a book about human behaviour, which it claims to be, it is too long, and explains too little.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 3 Nov 2001
By Amazon Customer - Published on
This book provides an encyclopedic overview of research about twins. When I first opened the book, my initial reaction was "ouch", because of the densely packed font. The reason for the denseness is that Segal has so many topics to cover and so much information to share with us that the letters had to be squeezed to get it all into one volume. But not to fear - - there are pictures sprinkled throughout the text.
Segal, a twin herself, has been researching twins for over 20 years, since her undergraduate studies. This book sums up much of that research in a format that is approachable by general audiences (and includes extensive endnotes to help interested readers find the studies that are cited). The many topics in her book include: identical twins, fraternal twins, twins reared apart, children adopted together, conjoined twins, non-human twins, friendship between twins, loss of a twin, famous twins, mental skills, athletic skills, and behavioral traits.
One of the most interesting results of Segal's and others' twin research is the strong influence that genes have on intelligence, behavioral traits, and athletic ability. Segal reports that identical twins, reared together or apart, are remarkably similar in these areas, and become more so as they get older. The similarity is weaker with fraternal twins, siblings, and cousins, and hardly found at all between unrelated same-aged children raised together. Certain health factors on the other hand, seem to be more dependent on environmental factors and life choices than on genetics, such as aging of the skin and heart disease. Many of Segal's results come from research on identical twins reared apart, in whom strong similarities point to genetic programming since the environments in which they were raised were different. The logical opposite of identical twins reared apart is unrelated same-aged children reared together, in whom any similarities would suggest environmental influences. Segal has a short chapter on such siblings, but this area could really use more research to complement what has been done with twins reared apart.
This book is absolutely fascinating for what it says, not only about twins and other multiples, about the siblings and parents of twins, about adopted children, but also about humans in general.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An informative and enjoyable book on twins for everyone! 16 Sep 1999
By A Customer - Published on
I love this book! It is a gold mine of information, of anecdotes, of insightful observations. Twin research to Segal is "bliss." She reveals this in the very personal "Afterword: Part of Me". Her enthusiasm is infectious. Her bliss in contagious. Entwined Lives is a monument to twinship. Segal's book comes with glowing tributes on the back from Professor David Lykken and Professor Irving Gottesman. Their enthusiasm for the book is surpassed by the enthusiasm of the author for her subject and all the twins she has met. The book is described with exclamation by Thomas J. Bouchard, Ph.D. in his Foreword as a "book extraordinaire!". It certainly is. Nancy Segal writes about twins with verve and enjoyment in a style which will appeal to the general reader. All readers, including academics, will learn. There are extensive notes and references for each chapter and a Glossary to explain more technical terms, although these are avoided where possible. The personal style of the book intentionally and very successfully allows easy translation of the technical into the generally comprehensible.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly written and brimming with twin/human revelations 21 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Dr. Nancy Segal has further drawn back the curtain shrouding the mysteries of human behavior with this enduring observation. I found the book reveals an enormous amount about ourselves through the study of twins. Dr. Segal is a gifted researcher with an exquisite writing style. She takes elaborate research topics and explains them in ways that we all can understand. Page after page, the book reveals new information about how we humans develop through nature and nurture, the end result being that our genetic design has more to do with who we are than we every imagined.
The book gives us significant insight far beyond the surface interest most have in twins. I found the book also very entertaining with its numerous ancedotes and real-life stories about twins. Being a twin myself, the book helped me gain new perspective about my twinship and eliminate many eroneous perceptions/myths about twins.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Marvelous Book about Twins--and non-Twins 15 Nov 2000
By Merritt Ruhlen - Published on
This is the best book ever written about twins. It provides a synthesis of the scientific literature written by a scholar who is herself one of the experts in the field of twin studies and the writing, unlike that of many scholars, is elegant. One will find all of the fascinating stories about twins that often captivate the imagination of laymen, even some that are little known, such as identical twins of different sexes, or twins who marry one another (by accident, of course). Any twin or parent of twins (both of which I am) will find the book irresistable, but even people with no particular concern for twins may well find this book of great interest because the book is not simply a compendium of twin stories, but is rather an attempt to discern the origins of human behavior--why people are they way they are. Though traits like eye color are determined by one's genes, while the particular language one speaks is determined exclusively by the environment, much of human behavior is the product of the complex interaction of genes and environment. For example, studies of identical twins indicate that homosexuality is influenced by one's genes but is not strictly determined by them. This is because if one identical twin is gay, the other twin has a one in two chance of being gay, whereas for non-twins (or non-identical twins) the odds would be something like one in ten. The import of twin studies for many other aspects of human behavior is discussed in detail. Anyone interested either in twins or the origin of human behavior will find this book both fascinating and informative. It will certainly be the definitive study of twins for the foreseeable future.
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