The Agile Gene
How Nature Turns on NurtureBook - 2004
A historical analysis of the nature-versus-nurture debate documents the 2001 discovery that there are fewer genes in a human genome than previously thought and considers the argument that nurture elements are also largely responsible for human behavior. Originally published as Nature Via Nurture. Reprint.
Armed with extraordinary new discoveries about our genes, acclaimed science writer Matt Ridley turns his attention to the nature-versus-nurture debate in a thoughtful book about the roots of human behavior.
Ridley recounts the hundred years' war between the partisans of nature and nurture to explain how this paradoxical creature, the human being, can be simultaneously free-willed and motivated by instinct and culture. With the decoding of the human genome, we now know that genes not only predetermine the broad structure of the brain, they also absorb formative experiences, react to social cues, and even run memory. They are consequences as well as causes of the will.
Journalist and science editor Ridley examines the endless nature v. nurture controversy and, in essence, dismisses it. He believes our genes are the servants of our environment rather than its masters, and that they are the "consequence as well as causes of the will." Ridley believes, based on recent research, that genes enable rather than restrain our potential and our ability to make the best use of our experiences. He also believes that instinct and learning are not opposites but work together in complex ways in brains in which the only constant is change. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Documents the 2001 discovery that there are fewer genes in a human genome than previously thought and considers the argument that nurture elements are also largely responsible for human behavior.