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A New Chapter in the Nature/Nurture debate.
on 15 July 2012
What makes us who we are? Is everything predetermined by our genes or does upbringing and environment have the major role?
In recent years the pedulum has swung from belief that upbringing had most impact on personality to genetics. Reading the popular press you could be forgiven for thinking that there is a gene for everything from eye colour to athletic ability not to mention homosexuality or criminal tendencies. Someone even tried to use genetics as a defence in a criminal court (unsuccessfully).
Until recently Tim Spector was, in his words, "one of the many scientists who took the gene-centric view of the universe for granted...But I had a nagging doubt that we were missing something." This book explains in a very readable way just what that "something" was.
Years of work with twins, particularly identical twins has provided evidence that things are more complicated that the straightforward choice between nature and nurture. So much so that that debate becomes almost irrelevant.
The book is very easy to read, full of fascinating twin case studies and amusing references to modern popular culture. Although it explains the science well it is nothing like a textbook so suitable for anyone interested in the topic.
There's a lot of thought provoking information here especially about plastics, IVF and probiotic yoghurts. If you were dreading the future of Genetic testing dicating access to everything from insurance to jobs, you can probably relax. We may have half the number of genes than a tomato but we humans are still too complex to be completely predictable. The scientists have a lot more work to do.
An informative and enjoyable read.