Human Diversity (Scientific American Library Series)

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9780716714699: Human Diversity (Scientific American Library Series)

Are our personalities and capabilities predetermined by our genes? Human Diversity answers that question with a resounding "No". Using tools of population genetics, Richard Lewontin makes the case that biological differences are only a small part of what makes individuals unique-anyone, regardless of race, class or sex, has the potential to develop virtually any identity within the spectrum of humanity. "A compelling text for lay readers who wish to rise above the level of the 'gene machine', to which much scientific journalism on the sociobiological debate has descended." New Scientist

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Review:

A growing number of aspects of human nature are proving to be genetically based, but it is important not to jump to the conclusion that everything about human nature is determined by genes. Richard Lewontin, eminent geneticist from Harvard and founding member of "Science for the People," has written an accessible and important book about the limits of genetic determinism, especially in defining putative differences between races. In technical terms, his basic argument is that the genetic differences between races are not significantly greater than the genetic differences between randomly selected humans within any race. The first edition in 1982, based largely on studies of protein polymorphisms, was prompted in large part by his concerns with the potential dangers of E.O. Wilson's encyclopedic, masterful (but now somewhat dated) Sociobiology, and this 1995 edition includes a considerable amount of more recent evidence from DNA analyses for Lewontin's argument. Recommended.

Review:

Human variation is treated to a fine analysis in this title, which considers biological influences upon human differences and the elements which make individuals unique. The biology is well done in a title which considers genes and the physical and mental traits which keep people diverse. The charts and many discussions are involving. -- Midwest Book Review

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