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Genes, Cells and Brains: The Promethean Promises of the New Biology 1st Edition

2.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1844678815
ISBN-10: 1844678814
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Fascinating, lucid and angry.”—Steven Poole, Guardian

“On my must-read list! Genes, Cells, Brains ... the rundown on the hype.”—Margaret Atwood

“Whatever else we may need for the public understanding of science, we certainly do need the facts contained in this book. The Roses show how rapidly the ideal of disinterested scientific research has been evaporating since Mammon has been welcomed into the laboratory. Immense and still increasing profits have been made by people who have repeatedly promised various holy grails—discoveries expected to arise from genetic and cerebral research—but comparatively little of real use has emerged from that quarter. In particular, Genes, Cells and Brains shows how the recent expansion of the neurosciences, which was widely hailed as the dawn of a new psychiatry, has actually had little effect. Plainly this research has done little to check the steadily continuing increase in mental illness. Altogether, this is a rather blood-curdling but fascinating book and a much-needed alarm call!”—Mary Midgley, author of Animals and Why They Matter

Genes, Cells and Brains is an angry book. It is also an important one ... contains wonderful descriptions of the science behind the new biology.”—W. F. Bynum, Times Literary Supplement

“While I generally turn down requests for an endorsement of a book, I must make an exception for the superb analysis of a very important topic by Hilary Rose and Steve Rose. Genes, Cells and Brains refutes with authority the extravagant claims that everything that ails us will be cured by modern molecular and cellular biology. They show that despite the self-serving hype produced by both academic and entrepreneurial science, we still do not understand how the brain works nor can we avoid the thousand shocks that flesh is heir to.”—Richard Lewontin, author of The Triple Helix

“A scathing account of the failure of recent projects in biology to provide significant new knowledge ... the Roses provide thought-provoking and interesting contrasts to the secular, neoliberal view that predominates at present.”—Nature

“Rose and Rose provide incisive analyses of the successes of the new biology at improving corporate profits while failing to do much to improve human health. This is a valuable therapy for all of us suffering from the inflated promises and huge costs of the new biology, and a splendid resource for reinvigorating the Radical Science Movement in today’s global political economy.”—Sandra Harding, UCLA Professor and author of The Science Question in Feminism

Genes, Cells and Brains offers a complex, compelling picture of the social and political challenges emerging around biotechnological investment, promise and hype.”—Maureen McNeil, Professor and Associate Director, Cesagen: ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics

“I have just started Genes, Cells and Brains and I can hardly put it down. What clarity and insights, what history and up to the minute perceptiveness. And what brilliant and unpretentious writing. I think this is an important book.”—Sian Ede, Director of the Gulbenkian Foundation

“What brilliant and energetic warriors Hilary Rose and Steven Rose have been! Reading this book is to visit the innumerable battlefields on which they have fought over half a century. The battle cries have now softened into gentler irony, but the pace of the writing is superb. Anybody who wants an incisive and radical perspective on the excessive claims made for human genome project, sociobiology, neurosciences, or human discrimination against other humans, should read this book.”—Patrick Bateson, author (with Peter Gluckman) of Plasticity, Robustness, Development and Evolution

“[The Roses] unwind the myriad assumptions about technology as the engine of improvement in our lives and offer a powerful argument against the sociopolitical machinery behind these dream disciplines.”—Michael Thomsen, The Daily Beast

“[Hilary Rose and Stephen Rose] unwind the myriad assumptions about technology as the engine of improvement in our lives and offers a powerful argument against the sociopolitical machinery behind these dream disciplines.”—Michael Tomsen, The Daily Beast

“The authors (professors emeriti of sociology and neuroscience at, respectively, Bradford U. and the Open U., England) place contemporary developments in the biotechnosciences of genomics, regenerative medicine, and the neurosciences (the ‘genes, cells, and brains’ of their title) within the context of the global neoliberal economy and culture of the 21st century.”—Book News

“[Genes, Cells and Brains is] a detailed and acerbic history of 20th-century genetics: its uneasy dance in and out of the arms of eugenics, its stumbles on the envisioned road to decoding and commodifying human nature, and its upstaging—after the Human Genome Project disappointed hopes for disease cures—by neuroscience, which, in turn, has fallen short of its promises to find and fix the psyche in the brain.”—The Scientist

About the Author

Hilary Rose is Emerita Professor at Bradford University and Visiting Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics.

Steven Rose is Emeritus Professor of Life Sciences at the Open University. Long active in the politics of sciences, their joint books include Science and Society and Alas Poor Darwin.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; 1st edition (January 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844678814
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844678815
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,538,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Babak Makkinejad on August 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a critical and coherent journalistic review of the historical development of the bio-technology field over the last 30 years from a decidedly Leftist secular-humanist position. Indeed the authors make no secret of having been members of the New Left for a very long time.

They report on the over-promise of the field and the numerous failures of its aspirations for a predictive medicine as well as personalized medicine. They fault numerous neo-liberal government, in US, UK, Iceland and elsewhere for aiding and abetting the Bio-Pharma in its drive to commoditize human beings. They supply just enough technical background to make the discussion comprehensible.

I think the major thrust of the authors' presentation is logically coherent and sustainable regardless of their New Left political point of view. Much of their arguments and reasoning could be supported by faithful Christians and Muslims as well as authentic conservatives.

If you would like to be exposed to a coherent and critical view of the Bio-Technology and Bio-Pharma - beyond the persistent marketing hype and propaganda - this book is for you.

The absence of a glossary of acronyms made reading the later chapters at times quite irritating.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've always loved books by the two Roses, and was excited that they were releasing a new one. This one, however, just doesn't pack the same punch as their previous books. It's much more historical overview than analysis. I am not a history buff. That's probably a personal weakness, but it's nevertheless true. While there's value in going through the history of the "new" biology, the book would have been much better if it had critically evaluated specific claims at every step of the way. Sadly, this one disappoints.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The gist of this book is that the Human Genome Project (HGP) and the BRAIN Initiative are intentionally over-hyped. Politicians and scientists promised cures to diseases, but instead just commandeered public tax dollars for their own fame and profit. Years after the HGP, a bunch of biopharma CEOs are rich, but we still have incurable diseases.

Interesting and sometimes correct facts, but their interpretation borders on quackery. The HGP was only completed in 2002, and next-generation sequencing only took off in the late 2000s. Genomics is creating new tools ranging from newborn screening to cancer diagnostics and treatment, and we're just getting started. True, genomics has some big egos and new technologies (whether digital or biologic) often exacerbate socioeconomic inequalities. But if I were a newly diagnosed cancer patient, I would much rather live in the current and coming era of genomics-enabled "bio-techno-industrial" medicine than in the 1960s when cancer patients were getting treated with mustard gas.
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