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Customer Review

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent science book on evo-devo, 7 July 2009
This review is from: Mutants: On the Form, Varieties and Errors of the Human Body (Paperback)
This one is all about how phenotypic mutations help us understand what's going on in genetics and embryology, so it covers lots of freakish stuff like hairy faces, extra fingers, dubious genitalia, unusual longevity, etc. It was interesting as it went along, but I came away a little underwhelmed. Diagrams of the embryology described would have been helpful. And it lacks a big finish.

Also, editors, where art thou? 'Elephant Man' John Merrick is referred to as James Merrick twice in the main text, and as Joseph Merrick in the notes. The last chapter presents (incomprehensible) figures based on the premise that each human has 300 deleterious mutations; whereas the first chapter says we have about 100 mutations overall, of which most are neutral and about 3 deleterious (and 1 beneficial). And, this being one of those "P.S." paperbacks with extras at the back, I am informed therein that Dawkins' "Climbing Mount Improbable" PRECEDES "The Selfish Gene"!

Still, it's a sound science book, smoothly written.
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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Sep 2009 23:04:25 BDT
J. Braga says:
I'm here, sorry, your humble editor. I have only a minor correction to make: do you mean 'editor, where art thou?' or 'editors, where are you?'

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Dec 2009 16:32:58 GMT
Jason Mills says:
Ha! Touché.

Posted on 30 Sep 2010 19:36:39 BDT
Ben Thurston says:
I too picked up the reference to James Merrick. But, I think that Joseph is correct, I believe that John Merrick is used in the the film of the Elephant Man.

Posted on 5 Oct 2010 20:18:31 BDT
Ben Thurston says:
Sorry, went back to the book to check - the reference to 300 deleterious mutations is also there in the first chapter (3 deletrious mutations new in each generation, 300 accumulated over generations) - the editor is now down from 4 errors to 2.

Posted on 9 Apr 2011 15:32:41 BDT
C. Mason says:
Yep, Joseph is Merrick's name, as outlined in the marvelous book "The True History of the Elephant Man" by Michael Howell and Peter Ford which I've read. A suberb historical document, and the book which Lynch based his film around. In the film Joseph's doctor erroneously calls him 'John', a fact that confused the authors of above book since he was aware that his patient's name was Joseph - perhaps he just preferred to call him John. I've no idea where James comes from. Maybe someone else also called him James.
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