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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reinforces the Importance of Genetics
Identical twins share virtually all of their genes while fraternal twins share half. Comparing data from both types of twins is important in addressing the question of the relative importance of 'nature vs. nurture.' Segal's research on identical twins supports researchers who have concluded the genetics are the prime determinant of individual behavior and skills, and the...
Published on June 21, 2012 by Loyd E. Eskildson

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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
The book is really not for general public reading. There are too many statistics, and it reads like a textbook. Wouldn't recommend it for anyone who is not in the field of psychology or psychiatry.
Published 16 months ago by Indigo


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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reinforces the Importance of Genetics, June 21, 2012
This review is from: Born Together - Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study (Hardcover)
Identical twins share virtually all of their genes while fraternal twins share half. Comparing data from both types of twins is important in addressing the question of the relative importance of 'nature vs. nurture.' Segal's research on identical twins supports researchers who have concluded the genetics are the prime determinant of individual behavior and skills, and the environment plays a lesser role. Such conclusions date back to before 1970s Arthur Jensen at the Univ. of Calif., Berkeley, who summarized research from both identical and fraternal twins in his 'Genetics and Education.' His data also included studies of twins raised apart.

Segal's book is much less comprehensive than Jensen's work, focusing on a single set of identical twins separated after one month and then raised in different families and didn't meet until they were both aged 39. The similarities in their interests and skills were remarkable, starting with height, and also including favorite interests and vacation spots. Her book also summarizes the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart project.

The importance of this finding, as well as others in the Minnesota study of 137 pairs is that education (part of environment) has limited effect on ultimate pupil achievement, and helps explain why tripling inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending over the last decades has achieved very little in terms of improved pupil performance.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, And Practical., June 21, 2012
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Gary Peterson (San Diego, California USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Born Together - Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study (Hardcover)
I've always found twins to be fascinating. Doesn't everybody? And when I say twins, I mean identical twins. I was watching a couple at the playground where I take my son (3 1/2 years old) the other day. They were dressed identically in every way, and they behaved in a very similar fashion. Really fascinating! Identical twins can be fascinating in a wide variety of other ways. For example, there are a very limited number of twins who have been separated at or shortly after birth and raised by different parents and under different environmental circumstances. Such separated twins can turn out to be remarkably similar in their adult lives, even though their post-birth circumstances may be remarkably different. Now, that's really fascinating and it says a lot about what traits might be genetic in origin and what are environmental. Nature vs. nurture, so to speak. Studying separated twins has been a long-term project at the University of Minnesota and Nancy Segal presents some results a in "Born Together - Reared Apart." Get ready for a lot of acronyms and difficult reading. Sorry, but I've grown to hate acronyms. They're such a cliche in academic writing and I've been in a university for the past five decades.

Somewhat strangely, my main interest is not in the twins themselves. I'm the father (first child) of a 3 1/2-year-old boy, and that's fascinating in itself. I'm interested in what human characteristics are genetically inherited and what aren't. The study of separated twins can be very revealing, and can go against the grain of popular opinion in many different ways. For example, I'd like my boy to be tall (6 feet or so runs in my family). Now, is there anything I can do in his raising that would aid in reaching that stature? The study of separated twins would suggest that, no there isn't. Both will reach the identical height that they are genetically programmed to reach. Well, okay, that's a simple example. I'd also like my boy to have a high IQ. I'm a member of Mensa, for example. Is there anything I might do to ensure that he reaches a certain level? The answer is no. IQ also appears to be an inherited characteristic and identical twins raised under vastly different circumstances often can end up with essentially the same IQ (within the limits of testing). Fascinating! And doesn't this one go against the grain of popular thought? And what might it have to say with regard to the education of our young? Or What about homosexuality? If identical twins both end up homosexual, does that indicate that this characteristic is genetic, or is it just a fluke? How about handedness?

Well, how big are the effects of nurture, nature and all other circumstances in the raising of a child? The study of these 137 separated twins could be a big clue, as is the detailed case presented by Segal. And why would I be so interested? Because, I'm raising a child and I would like to know where my efforts might be productive and where not. If it's genetically programmed, height or IQ, for example, then I will try to provide an environment where these characteristics can comfortably develop. If a characteristic isn't genetically programmed, then I might work to increase his capability, if he might be so interested. If he is programmed to be of low height or IQ, then I certainly would not want to treat him negatively with respect to these inherited characteristics. The study of separated identical twins is endlessly interesting and can lead to the better understanding of a host of human characteristics. It's a fascinating look at human nature.

Gary Peterson
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Vital Scientific Data -- but too Technical, Tedious, and Dry for Some of Us, March 25, 2013
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This review is from: Born Together - Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study (Hardcover)
This book was definitely worth my while to read -- jam-packed with important data on the relative importance of genes versus nurture. However, it might seem a bit strange, but I was inclined to agree with both those who gave the book 5 stars and those who largely trashed it with 1 star. The reason I say this is because the book was just loaded with very important data on identical twins that help to answer numerous questions about how much of human psychological, intellectual, and physical traits are genetically determined, versus how much are simply matters of environment, nurture,and opportunity. Therefore, from that angle, the book should get 5 stars; however, for many readers (myself included), the book was just too dry, had too many technical data, too many comparisons of MISTRA studies with other scientific studies, and was not very engagingly written. From that angle, the book would hardly get more than 1 star.

I take a positive view on the book, though, and I chose to give it 4 stars, simply because the importance and scientific value of the research involved in the MISTRA were so great that they overshadowed the fact that the book was too technical, detailed, and tedious for most non-scientists.

I believe that the author was writing the book in large part for the scientific community, with much detailed discussion surrounding efforts to vindicate the validity and authenticity of the research and conclusions of the MISTRA. As for myself, being a reader with much interest in technical science, but also much appreciation for good literature, this book could not have been written so as to please both aspects of my tastes -- the aesthetic versus the technical. It was a good book, nevertheless, and it's quite enlightening to discover so much information about how our genes influence who and what we are -- albeit, leaving open the door for much personal development, responsibility for character, and freedom to make of our lives what we sincerely, and with dedication, choose by freedom of will to value and endorse. Given the information in this book, it would be an utterly unwarranted conclusion to presume that we human beings are strictly determined to be who and what we, in fact, become. There is a vast degree of leeway and freedom to make and remake ourselves. Thus, in spite of the constraints of genetics, we have cause for optimism toward the power of choice, personal development, and personal growth.

This book was a contribution to science and to human society -- worthy of some considerable meritorious acknowledgement.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, September 11, 2012
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This review is from: Born Together - Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study (Hardcover)
Anyone interested in the old "nature versus nurture" argument should read this book. Most people have been exposed to cribs and drabs of this research, but this is the whole enchilada....albeit a little heavy on statistics for some readers......but it has to be that way!

John Person
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Indepth research of heredity versus environment issues, December 7, 2012
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This large multi-year study compares many attributes of maternal and paternal twins separated at or near berth and reared apart, often in dramatically different environments. Controls are twins reared together. Far those with an interest in human behavior all the results are fascinating and many startling. The protocols and data are rigorously detailed such that scientists are able to judge the validity of the conclusions. Armatures will find themselves skipping much of the slog but still can appreciate the conclusions and antidotes.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read, June 8, 2012
This review is from: Born Together - Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study (Hardcover)
This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the history of psychology in the second half of the 20th century. It is also entertaining, full of first person descriptions and anecdotes by the author, a major participant in the landmark Minnesota study.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Notch Twin Researcher - Great Book, November 15, 2013
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Dr. Segal's book focuses on the complex array of issues surrounding the nature v. nurture debate in education by citing all of the most recent data on monozygotic and dizygotic twin studies. She relies upon the case of one set of twins who had the misfortune of being separated shortly after birth and then not reuniting until they were middle aged. This story sets the stage for explaining the research conducted on 137 pairs of twins at the University of Minnesota who were separated after birth. This fascinating work provides a springboard for a very comprehensive and detailed examination of the role of heritability in an array of different traits and behaviors. Segal makes a fascinating case about the role of heritability in intelligence as well as other everyday habits. She presents a nuanced and balanced look at the current state of twin studies and helps us think carefully about the role of education. A must read for anyone interested in twins or twin research. She's a top drawer researcher and outstanding scholar. Buy this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uniquely important in proving that there are very major inborn genetic influences on human development, August 22, 2014
This review is from: Born Together - Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study (Hardcover)
As professional geneticists all know, and others are becoming aware, identical twins have essentially identical genes. So the study of the relatively rare instances in which identical twins have been reared apart from birth or early infancy - often in strikingly different environments and even in different countries - provide unique and straight forward un-speculative insights into the extent to which genetics determines how we develop and what we become. The landmark study of hundreds of such identical twins described in this book became the efforts of a professional lifetime for some of its participants which included a team of geneticists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, and other experts. The results show that genetics is ENORMOUSLY important. We are not all the same at birth, and we can never all be the same at birth. Each individual is born with an unchangeable, major legacy of developmental talents, capacities, and limitations. Nurture can help each individual attain his or her potential, but that potential for many important characteristics is embedded in one's genes. There are many important implications of the Minnesota twin study. I agree that the writing style of the author is heavily academic, the subject matter dense, and this will be off-putting to those who want a quick read. But for those who want to make the effort to learn the truth about how important genes are making us what we each become, this is the essential reference.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Work, March 6, 2013
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This review is from: Born Together - Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study (Hardcover)
Stories of people reared apart then finding each other are a fascinating look into RNA and DNA. I had this book years ago and loaned it to someone. Never got it back, so it is like having an old friend back in the house.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, July 27, 2013
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This review is from: Born Together - Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study (Hardcover)
The book is really not for general public reading. There are too many statistics, and it reads like a textbook. Wouldn't recommend it for anyone who is not in the field of psychology or psychiatry.
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Born Together - Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study
Born Together - Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study by Nancy L. Segal (Hardcover - June 18, 2012)
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