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Not in Our Genes: Biology, Ideology and Human Nature

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  189 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Three eminent scientists analyze the scientific, social, and political roots of biological determinism.
Paperback, 0 pages
Published February 12th 1985 by Pantheon (first published 1984)
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Jul 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
One day there may well be cures for all manner of illnesses that will be due to our deeper understanding of the way genes work. What there will never be is a genetic explanation for racial diffences. That is because such racial differences simply don't exist.

Not only does this book show that genetic explanations for racial differences are just so much pseudo-scientific rubbish, but it also explains, in remarkably simple language, some of the problems with linking 'causes' with 'effects'. The
Bryn Hammond
I needed these authors at that stage of my intellectual life when I was caught in the toils of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology – dismal years of spiritual depression or oppression. But I didn’t have Goodreads then, to locate alternate ideas, and I’m not of scientific background, to find my way around. So I bought this secondhand a couple of decades too late.

I find it unreadable now. It’s far too politicised, from the calm waters I am since in. Biology is, of course, ideology (their
Ruby Hollyberry
Read this many years ago. The entire book is pretty much an answer to too much sociobiology and genetic determinism in some scientific circles at the time. Well, their enemies seem to have survived them. Nature vs. nurture seems to still be going on full steam, with folks on both sides and many more in the middle. These are the nurture guys. But mostly what I remember about the book was the vehement attacks on the purists on the genetic side. What they're saying is largely true: there is a ...more
Sep 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
That "scientists" like these authors exist scares me way more than all Donald Trumps of the world. Science should be that rock you can always cling to, no matter how wobbly it can be at times. Well, apparently not. People calling themselves scientists are too often dishonoring all scientific tenets. The high raiting the book got is disheartening.

The entire premise is explicitly biased and politically motivated (they don't even try to hide it), not to mention intellectually dishonest. As someone
Ali Faqihi
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great antidote to evolutionary psychology (sociobiology then), it systematically exposes their reductionists and adaptive "just-so stories" explanations of "human nature" and their claim that genes encode all aspects of human behaviour under the process of natural selection. The book is written in 1984, but it's as relevant as ever with the recent rise in popularity of Evo psych courtesy of charlatans like Pinker and Peterson et al.
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Venía de haber leído "La naturaleza humana", de Jesús Mosterín, y necesitaba una visión más compleja y menos reduccionista del tema. Este libro cumplió con creces.

Los autores (científicos reputados dentro de su campo) son claros en sus principios: su intención es construir una sociedad más justa e igualitaria —una sociedad socialista—, y esa es la base de su exposición. Adoptan una postura que me parece clave a toda discusión sobre ciencia e ideología: que no se ha de definir a los científicos
Sanabel Atya
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, pdf

كالعادة..مثل هذه الكتب تأخذ من وقتي الكثير

مغزى الكتاب –كما أرى- إثبات سُخف البيولوجية الحتمية عند تطبيقها على البشر، وإثبات أن البشر متأثرون بجيناتهم وبالبيئة المحيطة بهم، ومُؤثرون بالبيئة في المقابل. وهذه هي حقائق العلم اليوم.


فلتسقط الحتمية البيولوجية، والحتمية الثقافية أيضاً. ويا لسخف علماء القرن الماضي-رغم ما قدموه لنا-
استغلوا البيولوجية الحتمة والقائلة بأن الطبيعة البشرية مثبتة بجيناتنا، بأن مارسوا العنصرية بين الأبيض وغيره من البشر،على أساس أن غير البيض هم اقل ذكاء، وما إلى ذلك
Vagabond of Letters
Jul 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dont-read
Marxist, environmentalist*, theory-laden (political-correctness-overriding-science: 'science' in service of a predetermined political agenda), and anti-adaptationist: these few phrases sum up the totality of this tendentious work.

I can't take anything that's anti-adaptationist seriously. It's laughable today. I don't know if it was in 1972 (year of publication), but I expect so.

*In the sense of opposing Galtonianism or hereditarianism, not in the sense opposing fracking or greenhouse gases.
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Overall, a very thoughtful and careful rebuttal to biological determinism in general and claims regarding the genetic bases for social stratification in particular. The author's break down what they see as patently poor science providing the foundation for deterministic arguments about race and gender inequality while recognizing that these arguments also happen to happily support a status quo that benefits the predominately white and male pro-determinists and much of their readership.

The book
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
En este libro de 1984, Lewontin y compañía hacen una crítica contundente del determinismo y la sociobiología. El debate "nurture vs nature" (innato vs adquirido) ha atravesado a la biología durante siglos, y aunque actualmente es casi un consenso que existe una interacción entre genes y ambiente, sigue siendo un tema álgido.

El libro es una postura desde un lugar más filosófico e ideológico que metodólogico. Se crítica al determinismo biológico desde una postura de izquierda, por considerarlo una
Griffin Wilson
May 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
I thought I would try to confront this view again to see if my mind would change.

Complete garbage. Total waste of time.

They say they do not believe twin studies to be reliable because in those studies analyzed n was less than 50. Hopefully, now -- 40+ years later -- people will never make such an argument, as we know that all traits are heritable (Polderman et al 2015, a meta-analysis of 2,700 studies w/ 14,000,000+ twin pairs) and that the reality of the g-factor is no longer debated (Sternberg
Ali Al-ismail
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
الكتاب هذا يقدم نقاط جديدة ضد عشاق التفسيرات البيولوجية لتصرفات البشر. كثير من النقاط اللي يقدمها شبيهة إلى حد ما بكتاب ستيفن جاي قولد The Mismeasure of Man، خصوصًا في الأجزاء المتعلقة باختبارات الذكاء.

المميز في هذا الكتاب أنه ينتقد التفسيرات البيولوجية (والبيئية بعد) بشكل عام مو في نقطة وحدة فقط. يبين الكتاب كيف أن النظرة السائدة بأن البيولوجي تحدد نسبة من الصفة، بينما البيئة تحدد النسبة المتبقية، نظرة مغلوطة من وجهة نظر بيولوجية. صفات البشر ليست فقط نتيجة لعوامل منفصلة مثل البيئة والبيولوجي،
Leoni Gioti
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It took me some time to get to it. I loved the writing and I enjoyed the lesson in critical approach to scientific work and its interpretation and impact onto society. It would be really nice to read something concise and critical about the current state of the issues covered in this book, especially ADHD and schizophrenia. It was also interesting to read this while the Handmaid's tale series is discussed, as it deals with a lot of the arguments for 'why biology dictates patriarchy' of the ...more
Karim Kadry
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Controversial, Daring, a bit too extreme at some points
But still a good read
Matthew Howard
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Not in Our Genes offers a penetrating critique of certain assumptions we have about how much of who we are is determined by our genetics. This book also examines how our understanding of genetics has been molded by certain ideologies, and perpetuated through deeply flawed studies and misinformation to serve those ideologies.

This is an academic work, and the discussions of biological determinism often assume the reader can handle some philosophical terminology the authors don't have space to
Mary Karpel-Jergic
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
This was compulsory reading for my psychology degree at the time and one of the texts that transformed my thinking. It was a great juxtaposition to biological determinism and although I am now, funnily enough, a fan of Steven Pinker I cannot bear to part with this book in case I need reminding of some of their brilliant argument.
Jeff Song
Jul 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
A really important book for anyone that thinks the socio-politico-economic status quo is based on innate biological factors. This is the antidote to sociobiology...
Dec 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book, challenging the claims of sociobiology and IQ studies head-on and highlighting the political aspects of science that claims to be objective but is as politicised as hell!
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Kerri Kobryn
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Bill Tyne
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Alex Wolf
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Nov 24, 2012
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May 24, 2017
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Evolutionary biologist, geneticist and social commentator. Leaded the development of the mathematical basis of population genetics and evolutionary theory. Held an endowed chair in zoology and biology at Harvard University from 1973 to 1998, and since 2003 has been a research professor there.