Mark Fallon's Reviews > Genome: the Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

Genome by Matt Ridley
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's review
Jul 02, 2009

it was amazing
Read in June, 2009

Are your body and brain pre-wired for certain tendencies? That’s one of the questions raised in Matt Ridley’s Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters. Using a gene from each of the 23 pairs of chromosomes that make up our DNA as a launching point, Ridley discusses what we’ve learned about the history of the human race. Some concepts about heredity are confirmed, while others are discarded.

Through the Human Genome Project, scientists have mapped out the complete set of human genes. With that map, we can discover more about the causes of disease, develop therapies, and improve the quality of life. We’re also learning about how our genes impact our behavior, resurrecting the “nature vs. nurture” argument on human behavior.

Ridley is able to write about these technical discoveries and theories in layman’s terms. He emphasizes that gaining knowledge through gene research is important and necessary, even if how we use that knowledge is subject to debate. And as a believer in free will, Ridley writes, “Heritability does not mean immutability.” You, not your genes, control your life.

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