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The Dependent Gene: The Fallacy of "Nature vs. Nurture" Paperback – February 5, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0805072808 ISBN-10: 0805072802 Edition: 2 Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 2 Reprint edition (February 5, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805072802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805072808
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #864,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A provocative and gracefully written book that will surely generate discussion and debate."--Jerome Kagan, Ph.D., author of Three Seductive Ideas

"The Dependent Gene is a masterful analysis. A useful and engaging guide for the lay reader, the practicing scientist, and all who seek a more integrative approach to the endlessly fascinating process of development." --Robert Lickliter, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

About the Author

David S. Moore, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at Pitzer College and at Claremont Graduate University. He received his doctorate in developmental psychology from Harvard University and did his postdoctoral work at the City University of New York.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A. R. Cellura on December 15, 2005
The Dependent Gene is a deeply thoughtful and carefully articulated synthesis of contemporary genetics, developmental biology and evolutionary principles. Thus, it transcends the gene-centric propositions that directed much biological science in the 20th century, and that pervades today in such starkly different venues as repair shops and hospital chart rooms, where a repairman or a psychiatrist might explain human traits and behavior with "It's in the genes." (cf. D. Nelkin & M.S. Lindee, The DNA Mystique). Professor Moore's penetrating expose of the nature versus nurture fallacy is a sizeable accomplishment because as Stephen Jay Gould has written: "Thinking in dichotomies may be the most venerable (and ineluctable) of all human mental habits." (S.J. Gould, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory).

The author, a professor of psychology at Pitzer College and the Claremont Graduate University, invites the reader's curiosity with such charming chapter headings as - From Aristotle's Wonder to a Fork in the Road: The Wrenching of Genetics from Development; Dependent Genes: Essential Biology and DNA; A Turtle in the Shade: The Development of Sexual Characteristics; Chicken Shoes and Monkey Foods: The Not-so-Subtle Effects of Some Very Subtle Postnatal Experiences; On Big Muscles and Facial Hair: Reconsidering "Inherited," "Acquired," and "Innate." Through aptly chosen vignettes we learn how to speed up the metamorphosis of a tadpole into a frog and how a tree can grow from its top to its roots rather than the usual way. In the process we acquire an understanding of "The Developmental Systems Perspective" that melts the arbitrary and artificial boundaries between genomic processes and human development.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Seeker on July 17, 2012
We are not determined by our genes. Our traits are caused by complex interactions between genes and the environment. The message is simple but it's so difficult for us to fully appreciate. The author himself admits that, at first, he failed to fully understand and appreciate this basic fact.

Well, thank goodness he did. We, the general public, need an easy-to-understand book that helps us to begin to understand this complexity and let go of the simplistic and destructive notions of genetic determinism. The value of such a book as this cannot be overstated.

I've read many books lately - and I've taken a couple of courses - trying to better understand the issues of evolution and of development because I've noticed just how important it is in our daily lives and in society, to do so.

This book is one of the easiest to understand (I wish I had it when I first started out and didn't know a ribosome from a cartoon hand of Mickey Mouse) and it has plenty of information that I had not heard about before. It has helped me to more clearly understand the subject despite the fact that it's, at least, the 20th book I've read on the broad subject.

-- Are traits such as height, eye and hair color, determined by genes? What about the number of fingers on each hand and how the cortex of our brain is structured?

-- Can diet play such a major role in the health of someone with a "genetic" disorder characterized by severe mental retardation, so that a person can, instead, have normal intelligence?

-- Do some "identical" twins have a significantly different environment in the womb from each other while other sets of twins have a much more similar environment? And can this influence the degree of similarity between the set of twins?
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful By King Kong on June 30, 2011
If this guy has ever actually read a book on behavior genetics or population biology, it doesn't show. The "words" he puts into the mouths of behavior geneticists are things that behavior geneticists (such as Plomin and Bouchard) don't in fact say. His interpretation of the heritability coefficient, for example, is simply wrong. His misunderstanding of that statistic is typical for a psychologist (I am one myself), and even more typical of the lay public, and therefore it is something that needs to be corrected. But blaming behavior geneticists for getting it wrong is just misinformed. What Moore says is, for the MOST PART correct. He just attributes the mistakes he is trying to correct to the wrong people.

I found the general tone of the book arrogant, and for that reason I found it hard to read, which is a shame because the book contains a valuable message that many psychologists still need to learn (even though that lesson has been out there and available to them for over 50 years). The way to get that message out, however, is not by setting up and then knocking down a straw man, which is what Moore does.

I think the book finds its voice in chapter 4 and subsequent chapters. It's too bad the author didn't start the book there. Even so, he presents his material in a tone that suggests he believes (or wants us to believe) that it is "new stuff" that "genetic determinists" (whoever they are) are unaware of. In fact, I remember studying a lot of this stuff in undergraduate biology classes several decades ago. His discussion of brain development is also outdated and was so even 10 years ago when this book was being written, although that's not really a serious detriment to the point he is trying to get across.

I had high hopes for this book (it came highly recommended). I was disappointed. Too bad because a lot of people, mostly psychologists, need to understand this stuff. And they don't!
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