[ Free Reading ] Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 ChaptersAuthor Matt Ridley – Kairafanan.co

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10 thoughts on “Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

  1. says:

    I wish I could give this book 6 stars It s really fantastic, and I want to recommend it to EVERYONE, but in my heart I know the tone would bore some of my friends I suggest thinking of the author narrator as a cool guy you d be friends with telling you all this information, instead of a nerdy haughty scientist He s not a scientist, he s a writer former editor, this isn t a textbook, but it could be he s done his research includes all his references Just slightly out of date published in 1999 since genetics is such a fast progressing area of knowledge but overall not dated or off base.As for the content, WOW Changed the way I think about evolution heredity duh , human biology, history, psychology, disease, medicine, food, sexuality, instinct, intelligence, personality, behavior, EVERYTHING Eye opening in a way that encourages wonder rather than only prescribing answers.If you can t stomach the whole book, browse the Table of Contents or the Index pick out a chapter or two they re fairly self contained so you can get away with skipping around, and I guarantee you will learn something cool.


  2. says:

    I wish I had read this book 19 years ago, when it was first published Now, it is out of date In fact, the Bibliography and Notes section mentions that the book was already out of date, as new knowledge is growing at a very fast rate Nevertheless, the book is fascinating, even if modern genetic technologies are not even mentioned as they were not yet invented at the time of publication We often read that 98% of our genetic letters are in common with chimpanzees, and 97% with gorillas But, I was amazed to read that humans share exactly the same number and types of bones with chimpanzees, the same chemicals in our brains We have the same types of immune, digestive, vascular, lymph, and nervous systems So, it must be the remaining 2% of our gene structures that differentiate humans from chimpanzees.All sorts of nature vs nurture issues are addressed in this book The book contains a remarkable table of IQ correlations For identical twins reared together, the correlation is 86% For twins reared apart, 76% For biological siblings, 47% For adopted children living together, the correlation is 0% These statistics say a lot about the relative importance of nature vs nurture And, remarkably, as one ages from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, the importance of heritability of IQ increases Evolution by natural selection is about the competition between genes, using individual and occasionally societies as their temporary vehicles The body s survival is secondary to the goal of getting another generation started Genes act as if they have selfish goals, an idea first proposed and made popular by Richard Dawkins in his famous book, The Selfish Gene.I learned from this book that men and women are most attracted to body odors of people of the opposite sex who are most different from them genetically, in terms of MHC genes that govern resistance to parasite intruders, by the immune system Also, I learned how genes can be expressed due to the release of cortisol and other hormones during periods of stress For example, people living near the Three Mile Island nuclear plant at the time of the accident had cancers than expected But, these cancers were not due to radiation exposure, as there was none, but due to heightened cortisol levels, which which reduced the effectiveness of the immune system.Genes need to be switched on in order to work External events and free willed behavior can switch on genes Genes are not omnipotent they are at the mercy of our behavior Another remarkable fact is that the status of a person s job is a better predictor of the likelihood of a heart attack, than obesity or high blood pressure Someone in a low grade job is four times likely to have a heart attack than a high grade job The reason is that low grade jobs lead to the lack of control over one s fate, leading to an increase in stress hormones, followed by a rise in blood pressure and heart rate This may explain why unemployment and welfare dependency help to make people ill It is not understood why we and all animals have evolved in such a way that stress suppresses our immune systems.The most important lesson from the book is repeated over and over again, Genes are not there to cause diseases Gene mutations can lead to disease, and sometimes there is a balancing effect between resistance to one disease at the expense of being susceptible to another disease.This is an excellent book, very readable, and quite engaging The author gets into some technical detail at times, without getting too bogged down in jargon I recommend this book for anyone interested in genetics My only reservation about it, is the fact that it is already quite out of date due to the rate of increasing knowledge about genetics.


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  4. says:

    A really great introduction to genetics One of my friends, who studied chemistry in college, recommended the book to me The book is divided into 23 chapters, representing the 23 different sets of chromosomes in the human body The concept fascinated me, and I thought that if the author had enough of a sense of humor to write a book this way, why not give it a try I m not going to pretend that I understood 100% of the book, but the parts I did understand, I appreciated While the writer does provide an introduction on how genes and DNA work, for most people who don t have a background in genetics, the amount of material will be overwhelming My best advice is to skim to get the general idea and continue on The principles will be repeated as you progress along the book, and this time they ll stick because they are illustrated using real life occurrences for example, I now have a clearer understanding of how stress biologically affects our bodies The concepts are intricate, but Matt Ridley does a great job breaking things down into digestible portions Despite the title, each chapter does not go into a detailed account of the function of each set of chromosomes Good thing, too, since each chromosome serves a variety of different functions Instead, each chapter is divided up into themes For example, the chapter Fate, which I found the most fascinating, sought to prove that a good portion of our lives is written in our genetic code Ridley uses Huntington s Disease to prove this point he explains how Huntington s is caused, why it happens in some people and not in others, and describes in detail how a repeating sequence of CAGs can determine at what age you start to show symptoms What I appreciated the most, though, was that Ridley also pushes further to describe the ramifications of the disease should doctors tell a patient that they have the disease and that they will develop symptoms at a certain age Should patients inquire about whether or not they have the incurable, unavoidable disease The book, while informative and intellectually stimulating, encourages us to ask very difficult questions that result from such issues Rather than the detached scientist studying life through a microscope, Ridley actively engages with life, challenging and observing and questioning Instead of the coldly yet carefully studied discourse on genetics it could have been, the book joins human life and genetics together in a compassionate way Definitely recommended, and not just for the science y people.


  5. says:

    I gave Ridley s The Red Queen five stars when I read it half a decade ago, and The Rational Optimist one and a longish review when I read it in 2011 Genome, his most famous book, isn t quite as awful as the latter, but Ridley s godawful politics shine through often enough to irritate.His insistence on lauding free entreprise even where it only exists in his imagination and condescendingly cautioning against big government at every turn isn t even the most obnoxious part this time if anything, that just neatly serves as a cautionary tale of the deleterious effects of American politics on an impressionable Tory.His stereotypically regressive views on sex and gender which include not only a complete denial that trans people exist, but also views on gender roles and things boys inherently like versus things girls inherently like so comically extreme and poorly defended I would have believed them to be satire in any other context are considerably grating, and make me question whether the score I gave Red Queen which is, after all, entirely about those things wasn t a result of an excess of faith in humanity and red wine.The hypocritical chapter on eugenics, which decries the practice despite being sandwiched between two chapters implicitly defending it, is likely to annoy even people who don t particularly care about gender issues, and any remaining patience I had for Ridley he lost when he quoted Gould on IQ.There isn t enough of interest in the rest of the book to begin to salvage it, or to recommend it over any book on roughly the same subject Skip it.


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  9. says:

    Even though this was written and published over 15 years ago, I found it relevant and revealing Ridley is one of the better science writers, and this is assuredly his master work Each chapter highlights a specific gene found on each of the 23 pairs of chromosomes He repeatedly states that the book is not about disease, but it ultimately becomes a major theme and topic The final chapters that discuss genetic determinism, eugenics, and nature vs nurture are treated with upmost care, empathy, and altogether brilliant writing Ridley expresses his views by not expressing his views How rare is that for a science writer If he has a bias, it s hard to tell here Highly recommended and thoroughly engaging read.


  10. says:

    It is interesting to me how, despite our best efforts, our preconceptions can totally shape our experiences I was impressed when two biology majors in my school independently recommended this to book to me Must be good, I thought So, in the interest of honesty, I must disclose that my inflated expectations were probably the biggest contributor to my lackluster reaction I had high hopes, and Ridley only partially delivered.In popular science, an easy way to divide books is by the occupation of the writer scientist or journalist Dawkins represents, to me, the high point of the scientist end he does not pepper his books with interesting anecdotes and trivia, but concentrates on real theories and real dilemmas in science He succeeds in making the reader feel like an insider rather than an outsider On the other end of the spectrum is Bill Bryson s wonderful Short History of Nearly Everything, which is overflowing with anecdotes and trivia read that book, and you ll be spewing interesting stories and facts to your friends for months Where Dawkins is focused on the theoretical, Bryson concentrates on the human side of things Bryson doesn t pretend to be any kind of expert rather, his journalistic background has honed his appreciation for the fascinating backstory, the compelling character, the revealing tidbit He brings the scientists to life, and focuses on their personalities and circumstances The reader is not left feeling like an insider to the world of science, but a very appreciative outsider.Ridley walks an uncomfortable medium in this book, and the result is decidedly mediocre He has clearly spent a great deal of time familiarizing himself with the subject, and it shows nevertheless, he is no expert Ridley s appreciation for the subject matter is not for its theoretical beauty, but for its social significance He is exclusively interested, apparently, in humans an unscientific prejudice This book combines research findings about the human genome with little biographies of scientists and narratives of their research By the end, the reader feels neither like an insider nor an appreciative outsider Rather, the reader feels like she has just read several science sections of the New York Times back to back.I m really finding it difficult to say anything concrete about Ridley it s far easier to say what he is not His writing is neither incompetent nor exceptional the reader is never struck by a malformed sentence, nor do any sentences stick in the mind after the book is put down His understanding of the material is neither superficial nor deep the reader is given some discussions of the logic of the theories, but as quick sketches rather than detailed diagrams His feeling for a good anecdote is neither substandard nor superb he presents many interesting stories, but none so shocking, hilarious, or dramatic as could be found in, say, Bryson In sum, this is an eminently mediocre book.To reiterate my above warning, I think my underwhelmed impression is due as much to my overblown expectations as to the quality of the book By no means is this a bad book, and I m sure it could be read by many with great interest yet I expected a detailed exploration of the field of genetics, and instead got a series of stories about particular discoveries, which didn t end up adding into a thorough picture of the field Ridley perhaps stands in a much needed middle ground between deep scientists and superficial journalists but it is a middle ground that I found fairly uninteresting.