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DNA Is Not Destiny: The Remarkable, Completely Misunderstood Relationship between You and Your Genes 1st Edition
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“Steven Heine is one of the leading cultural psychologists in the world. In DNA Is Not Destiny, Heine serves as a trustworthy guide through the moral minefield of genetic differences and lays out a new way to think rationally about our genes.”
- Jonathan Haidt, Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business and author of The Righteous Mind
“At some point everyone wonders: ‘Who am I and where did I come from?’ Is there any question more fascinating? In this important book, Steve Heine tells us what our DNA can and cannot reveal about our nature, our origins, and our futures. The material is fascinating, and Heine’s vibrant writing makes it come alive with personal significance for every reader.”
- Carol Dweck, Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and author of Mindset
“Your genes contribute to your beliefs, behaviors, and life outcomes. Only in rare cases are they determinative. This brilliant, invaluable book sets straight crucial matters of heredity and environment and their interaction―and does so in lively and lucid prose.”
- Richard Nisbett, Theodore M. Newcomb Distinguished Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Michigan and author of Mindware
“A highly accessible and entertaining guide to genes: what they are, how they work, and most important, what they can and cannot explain. For all the dinner table or classroom conversations on the genetic bases of gender, race, or intelligence; the morality of genetic engineering; or the hardest question of all, 'Who am I?,' DNA Is Not Destiny is the new must-read.”
- Hazel Markus, Davis-Brack Professor in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University and author of Clash!: How to Thrive in a Multicultural World
“Heine ranges broadly, discussing both historical and ethical concerns, and draws heavily on social science research to investigate how people’s beliefs about the power of genes influence their behavior. Heine also makes a strident critique of the direct-to-consumer genetic testing industry and a robust defense of most genetically modified organisms. . . . Enjoyable and informative.”
- Publishers Weekly
“An accessible contribution to what the author calls ‘genetic literacy’ and a satisfyingly hard-edged work of popular science.”
- Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Steven J. Heine is Distinguished University Scholar and Professor of Social and Cultural Psychology at the University of British Columbia and author of Cultural Psychology, the top-selling textbook in the field. He lives in Vancouver, Canada.
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The one criticism I would give of the book is that Steve seems to spend too much time injecting his own personal and rather PC opinions into the book. Couple of examples:
1. He rightly indicates that Lawrence Summer's contention that their could be a genetic component of gender aptitude is a question perhaps worthy of scholarship. However he then goes into the idea that internalization of stereotypes could lead women knowing of such an idea to under-perform. While I think that is a legitimate point and certainly interesting to be cognizant of the affects on performance that stereotypes may cause, that alone is not sufficient reason to impede scholarship. Of course Steven is a social scientist of a rather politically correct bent so he believes that it is sufficient reason to not even ask a question.
2. I thought the Eugenics chapter could have been more fun if it asked bolder questions and I think contains a serious logic flaw. Steven goes into a very long explanation of the affect of environment on IQ. I think it is a valid point, though I would put it more in the realm of an "external enabling condition," that is to say environment is necessary for one to live up to their full genetic IQ potential. It is a necessary, but not sufficient condition. However Steve's real interest in the heritability of IQ is really to establish that it is polygenomic, similar to height and so many other characteristics, and therefore we can't hope to change it through Eugenics. This is clearly an incorrect premise. One need only look to what he himself refers to later in the book, the breeding of dogs for all manner of characteristics, to see that breeding for characteristics that are polygenomic is not only possible, it has already been done. He probably could have examined this in a fun manner or if he just wanted to say he finds the whole premise distasteful because it would require governments to incentivize the procreation of some over others, than he should just say that not try to couch it in a rather illogical attempt to disprove the possibility that such an effort would be successful. In fact we have no idea if it would be successful or not, because due to societies aversion to the premise it was never undertaken for long enough to prove or disprove the possibility. Human generations are a lot longer than dog generations.
Aside from my occasional annoyance at the politically correct nature of the arguments, I did find the book generally enjoyable. I found the chapter on the genetics of homosexuality to be particularly interesting, though I would think that the sexual fluidity of females which he mentions but doesn't explore in any depth warrants further investigation. Anyhow... the book is a pretty quick read and I don't feel that I wasted my time in reading it. I would probably like to read something from a hard scientist written in a manner approachable to a general audience as a followup.