Nature via nurture : genes, experience, and what makes us human

by Matt Ridley

Hardcover, 2003

Status

Available

Publication

New York : HarperCollins, 2003.

Description

Publisher's description: Following his highly praised and bestselling book Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, Matt Ridley has written a brilliant and profound book about the roots of human behavior. Nature via Nurture explores the complex and endlessly intriguing question of what makes us who we are. In February 2001 it was announced that the human genome contains not 100,000 genes, as originally postulated, but only 30,000. This startling revision led some scientists to conclude that there are simply not enough human genes to account for all the different ways people behave: we must be made by nurture, not nature. Yet again biology was to be stretched on the Procrustean bed of the nature-nurture debate. Matt Ridley argues that the emerging truth is far more interesting than this myth. Nurture depends on genes, too, and genes need nurture. 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 ill. Published fifty years after the discovery of the double helix of DNA, Nature via Nurture chronicles a revolution in our understanding of genes. 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. Nature via Nurture is an enthralling, up-to-the-minute account of how genes build brains to absorb experience.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Niecierpek
It is NOT another book about nature vs. nurture debate. This the latest research into the interdependence of genes and environment and experience. Very, very interesting stuff, but it took me a lot of time to finish. There are too many digressions in each chapter, too many anecdotes, and too many
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illustrations to each point. It’s very clever and shows a lot of erudition (from Henry James to nematodes in one paragraph), but, in the end, the relevant information is all over the place and it is hard to follow what the actual thesis is. Some chapters are better than others, but I had to re-read pages at a time to make sure I knew what the main point was.
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LibraryThing member AdamRackis
An incredible popular-science book; it's on the same level as The Selfish Gene. Ridley gives a fascinating account of how our environment exerts a tremendous influence on our development through what are known as "promoter genes." Promoter genes pick up on our environment, and, in response, turn
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"on" and "off" other genes. Promoter genes have the power to retard our development, or allow us to grow into our full potential.

The central premise of the book is that this interplay between environment and genetics gives lie to, and turns upside down, the tired debate of "nature vs nurture."
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LibraryThing member shinekomi
An insightful book detailing Ridley's hypothesis of how behavior is modified by gene expression and vice versa. Delves into many scientific ideas without coming out dry and esoteric. I recommend this book for anyone interested about the biology of behavior.
LibraryThing member maunder
This book is superbly written and makes a very turgid subject interesting and understandable. Ridley shows that those who attribute all human behaviour either to nature (genetics) or nurture (environment) are both determinist and both wrong. Genes respond to the environment in fascinating and
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complex ways which he describes with well chosen experiments described in a very entertaining narrative.
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LibraryThing member fakelvis
As always, Matt Ridley does not disappoint with a thoroughly-researched popular science book.

Nature via Nurture is extraordinary in its scope and for such a fast-moving topic remains timely now, seven years after it was published, and will remain so for much, much longer.

Long live nature via
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nurture.
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LibraryThing member nocto
Fabulous look into the relationship between genes and environment. Though it's left me more confused than ever. Though more informed than ever too. In summary, and as the title of the book sums up very neatly, there is no "versus" in the nature v. nurture debate. Great writer - the amount of
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information is enormous but the text is eminently readable all the same.
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LibraryThing member voodoochilli
To me this book felt like a padded out version of Genome, incidentally an excellent book. If you have read Genome recently, then you will notice many, many facts being repeated here almost verbatim. On it's own, this book is probably great, but it is a lousy read if Genome is still fresh in your
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memory.
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LibraryThing member rm80780
Enjoyed it from beginning to end.
LibraryThing member MarkBeronte
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
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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.
Show Less

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