Nature Via Nurture
follows on from Matt Ridley's bestselling Genome
. He takes on a centuries-old question: is it nature or nurture that makes us who we are? Ridley asserts that the question itself is a "false dichotomy". Using copious examples of human and animal behaviour, he presents the notion that our environment affects the way our genes express themselves.
Ridley writes that the switches controlling our 30,000 or so genes not only form the structures of our brains but do so in such a way as to cue off the outside environment in a tidy feedback loop of body and behaviour. In fact, it seems clear that we have genetic "thermostats" that are turned up and down by environmental factors. He challenges both scientific and folk concepts, from assumptions of what's malleable in a person to sociobiological theories based solely on the "selfish gene".
Ridley's proof is in the pudding for such touchy subjects as monogamy, aggression, and parenting, which we now understand have some genetic controls. Nevertheless, "the more we understand both our genes and our instincts, the less inevitable they seem". A consummate populariser of science, Ridley once again provides a perfect mix of history, genetics, and sociology for readers hungry to understand the implications of the human genome sequence. --Therese Littleton, Amazon.com
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
‘This clever and ambitious book is full of novel insights and reflections.’ James Le Fanu, Sunday Telegraph
‘Ridley belongs to the coterie that truly pushes science forward and brings it within the broader purlieus of “culture”. Nature via Nurture is another fine contribution to an already outstanding oeuvre.’ Colin Tudge, Independent Magazine
‘An unrivalled view of cutting-edge research into the roots of human behaviour.’ Clive Cookson, Financial Times
‘A balanced, entertaining gallop through the world of environmental influences and genetic impulses.’ Robin McKie, Observer
‘Eminently readable.’ Dylan Evans, Evening Standard
‘Profoundly intelligent and persuasive.’ John Cornwell, Sunday Times