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Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  300 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Ideas about heredity and evolution are undergoing a revolutionary change. New findings in molecular biology challenge the gene-centered version of Darwinian theory according to which adaptation occurs only through natural selection of chance DNA variations. In Evolution in Four Dimensions, Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb argue that there is more to heredity than genes. They t ...more
Paperback, 462 pages
Published September 8th 2006 by MIT Press (MA) (first published 2005)
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May 28, 2010 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, nonfiction
This is indeed, a very good book. Well written, well organized, and...quite a difficult book to read through. There is something about the style--it is a rather academic style, and some of the earlier chapters are quite dense--makes it tough reading.

Also, I didn't find the title to be quite accurate--it seems like it should be something like "Heredity in Four Dimensions". The reason is that the main theme of the book is how organisms inherit various traits; it is only indirectly about evolution.
Charlene Lewis- Estornell
Jablonka is one of my favorite researchers of all time. Her papers and books opened my eyes to the world of epigenetics. She is a pioneer, who worked tirelessly to be heard, despite the horrible treatment she received from Elitist scientists, such as Richard Dawkins, whose own work is stuck in the dark ages of genetic research, while Jablonka's work remains on the cutting edge.

Jablonka is never included in John Brockman's Edge books. Yet, fossils like Dawkins are. It's shocking to me, consideri
Aug 11, 2011 Ed rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biology, my-reviews
Jablonka and Lamb pull together many ideas about evolution to suggest that the Modern Synthesis prevalent since the 1930s is due for a reconceptualization. They argue that evolution involves not one but four kinds of inheritance systems: genetic, epigenetic, behavioral, and (in humans) symbolic. Epigenetic systems involve cellular variations appearing in the course of development, so that cells with the same DNA can develop in quite different directions. Since this information is preserved when ...more
Sep 12, 2010 Bria rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: biological organisms
I read this book slowly over several months, which only amplified the effect that I think it may have had anyway, which is that I so thoroughly integrated the whole paradigm it describes into my belief system that I no longer know what I learned from it. Besides being exquisitely explained and supported, the authors' attitudes are really what makes me swallow it up. Never do they hunker down and claim that everybody else is wrong and they are right, never do they dismiss counter-arguments, never ...more
May 02, 2013 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I found that the chapters I had some background in were very readable. However, I often had to reread portions that discussed material that was brand new for me. This was made worthwhile by last two chapters, which brought all the material together. They did loose me a little when they suggested language was a heritable unit, but the discussion of the reigning hypotheses of the evolution of language was interesting. Despite this, I think that their overall theory holds together without language ...more
Rian (͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Nejar
Jun 26, 2015 Rian (͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Nejar rated it really liked it
An excellent, comprehensive, very well-written volume on genetics, epigenetics, and a plethora of nature, nurture, and other influential causes to determining physical and behavioral evolution.

Jablonka and Lamb's writings are pithy and most insightful. For instance, here's an excerpt:
{"The belief that a person's character is 'written in the genes' is one of the reasons for the hysterical public reaction when cloning produced Dolly the sheep. That little lamb conjured up a strange mixture of fe
Jon Edward
Nov 23, 2009 Jon Edward rated it it was ok
I'm not a scientist, so I feel like I don't have the background to assess the validity of the points set out in this book. However, the authors seem to make a compelling case, in as ordinary language as possible, for why DNA is not the only feature involved in evolution.

The authors claim that epigenetic, behavioral and even symbolic variation has the capacity to influence heredity because they each have the power to favor the survival of certain genetic features. (I hope that makes sense.) Essen
Nov 22, 2012 Cameron rated it liked it
Shelves: finished
I was excited to read this book as the growing field of epigenetics is finally gaining interest and momentum in the scientific community. It's adoption will change the face of evolutionary theory. In this book, the authors define four basic categories of epigenetic transmission of information and develop them fully including providing evidence of how this information is passed. The authors are renowned in this field for their work. I was hoping to discover a little more profundity in their work, ...more
Apr 07, 2015 Miklos rated it liked it
The authors make the point in their foreword that certain parts of the book are meant for scientists and academicians and others for the lay public. While the lay chapters are fascinating, describing both the behavioral and symbolic types of generational transmission of information, the other two types; genetic and epigenetic are far tougher. While the arguments that the authors lay out appear to be compelling, the sheer density of some of the content may make it difficult to justify this readin ...more
I cannot express how relieved I was to find out about epigenetics!!!! It is so hard to dispute folks who refute any kind of social progress with "it's against Nature" arguments. Like most of us I yearn for undeniable "proof" for my beliefs, but if we are all hard-wired for certain behaviors and social relationships, then I am just engaging in the same kind of wishful thinking religious folks do, right? Epigenetics saved me! Our outsides DO influence our insides! Mille remercies to PBS and "Nova" ...more
Jul 17, 2007 Allison.e.edgar rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in life
Evolution in Four Dimensions is absolutely fantastic. The authors provide a clear account of basic biological principles and history of ideas relating to evolution for the layperson. Then, Jablonka and Lamb synthesize biology with other disciplines to argue for a relatively bold new interpretation of human evolution. They argue cogently and entertainingly--an unfortunately rare thing in science writing. Many of the figures, however, are worse than useless.
Sep 22, 2011 Michiel rated it really liked it
Shelves: evolution
A very good and enjoyable book about evolution. This book is in a similar vein as 'Evolutionary development biology', where the gene centered view we all know and love thanks to Dawkings is critically evaluated. The authors skillfully lay their theories using interesting examples, critical dialogues and very funny and nicely drawn cartoons.

May 27, 2012 John rated it really liked it
A wonderful, and well simplified explanation of the extremely complex subject that is evolution. Jablonka and Lamb do an incredible job of explaining how epigenetics, symbolic and behavioral inheritance rival the importance of our DNA in the process of evolution. A highly recommended read for both scientists and lay persons alike!
Apr 03, 2011 K8barton rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biology
Fantastic book on evolution - perfect for anyone with even a little background in biology. First section is the best history of the theory of evolution that I've ever read, from Darwin to today. Next is about different ways living things inherit stuff - other than genes - and how that shapes us.
Nov 10, 2011 Xin rated it it was amazing
A very good book that complements well the standard, gene-centered view of evolution. The sections about epigenetics are particularly good. The book is more about evolutionary theory, though, than about the molecular mechanisms of epigenetics (a hot research topic). And the book is a bit too long.
Apr 28, 2015 James rated it it was ok
This is probably a fantastic book if you're really, really, really into evolution. But, for me, it was some 400 pages which could have been summarized in a short article. The examples were nice, but it just seemed to drag on and on for me.
Aaron Jacob
Mar 11, 2013 Aaron Jacob rated it it was amazing
Really interesting read... evolution does not occur in a Darwinian vacuum. Note: i skipped the dialogues with I.M. ... i think those would be a great learning tool if this book was used as a course book, but for me, they just slowed me down.
Theresa Truax-Gischler
Cannot wait to read this book, which integrates a dynamic systems theory biology (genetics and epigenetics), behavior and symbolic behavior (verbal behavior) to describe both human development and human evolution, Very, very exciting!
Jul 10, 2008 John rated it really liked it
I learned about epigenetic inheritance in some detail. I had only the vaguest idea before that. The authors take some nice thrusts against the standard "selfish gene" model, and you learn a lot of biology along the way.
Jul 06, 2008 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I struggled with this at first, but picked it up again recently. It is very well written (and well illustrated). I learned a lot from it, since I know little about any of the stuff they were describing.
Jun 22, 2011 Dgg32 rated it it was amazing
A new complementary view of evolution. I suppose this book is for guys with biological backgrounds, well college level background to be precise.
Jul 15, 2012 Uyar rated it really liked it
i read turkish translation. lots of ideas are spread in the book but sometimes confusing. Nurture seems to catagorize as genetics
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