Gallup Polls and other reliable polls indicate that the majority of college students when polled had stated their adherence to their upbringing at home, and church, and American society culture with regard to a fundamentalist literalist belief in the afterlife and and the creation of the universe and humanity as stated in Genesis 1 of the Old Testament. Embeded in my mind is that classroom lecture presented by a Columbia University professor assigned to teach college level biology to Pre=Med and Humanities freshmen. The response to his presentation of research findings and conclusions with regard to the evolutionary forms that are the origin of our body’s physical features such as our hands and arms et al. drew spirited denials from both myself and other students in the classroom who prior to the next lecture hastily compiled our reasons for disbelieving what had been presented as “scientific evidence.” Before we even opened our mouths and stated what would be our opposition that next lecture had uncannily detected exactly what would be questioned and left us stunned, as might be said, flabbergasted and set back by the strength of his argument anticipating what denials and questions we had prepared to challenge him with at the next lecture Neil Shubin is today’s counterpart of that professor. His presentation of the scientific facts with regard to the latest updated knowledge concerning the subject matter and issues involved has been described in editorials of his book The Fish in Us as follows – Readers unfamiliar with the jargon of genetic research needn’t fear; Ridley provides a quick, clear guide to the few words and concepts he must use to translate hard science into English. His writing is informal, relaxed, and playful, guiding the reader so effortlessly through our 23 chromosomes that by the end we wish we had more. He believes that the Human Genome Project will be as world-changing as the splitting of the atom; if so, he is helping us prepare for exciting times–the hope of a cure for cancer contrasts starkly with the horrors of newly empowered eugenicists. Anyone interested in the future of the body should get a head start with the clever, engrossing Genome. –Rob Lightner –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
HSoon we’ll know what’s in our genes: next year, the Human Genome Project will have its first-draft map of our 23 chromosomes. Ridley (The Red Queen; The Origins of Virtue) anticipates the genomic news with an inventively constructed, riveting exposition of what we already know about the links between DNA and human life. His inviting prose proposes “to tell the story of the human genome… chromosome by chromosome, by picking a gene from each.” That story begins with the basis of life on earth, the DNA-to-RNA-to-protein process (chapter one, “Life,” and also chromosome one); the evolution of Homo sapiens (chromosome two, which emerged in early hominids when two ape chromosomes fused); and the discovery of genetic inheritance (which came about in part thanks to the odd ailment called alkaptonuria, carried on chromosome three). Some facts about your life depend entirely on a single gene–for example, whether you’ll get the dreadful degenerative disease Huntington’s chorea, and if so, at what age (chromosome four, hence chapter four: “Fate”). But most facts about you are products of pleiotropy, “multiple effects of multiple genes,” plus the harder-to-study influences of culture and environment. (One asthma-related gene–but only one–hangs out on chromosome five.) The brilliant “whistle-stop tour of some… sites in the genome” passes through “Intelligence,” language acquisition, embryology, aging, sex and memory before arriving at two among many bugbears surrounding human genetic mapping: the uses and abuses of genetic screening, and the ongoing debate on “genetic determinism” and free will. Ridley can explain with equal verve difficult moral issues, philosophical quandaries and technical biochemistry; he distinguishes facts from opinions well, and he’s not shy about offering either. Among many recent books on genes, behavior and evolution, Ridley’s is one of the most informative. It’s also the most fun to read. Agent, Felicity Bryan.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Written in 23 chapters corresponding to the 23 pairs of chromosomes comprising the human genome, this is an engrossing account of the genetic history of our species. Each chapter focuses on a newly discovered gene on each chromosome, tracing its genetic contribution to such areas as human intelligence, personality, sexual behavior, and susceptibility to disease. Ridley (The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature) is a zoologist-turned-science writer. As the Human Genome Project nears completion (the first findings are expected to be released February 2000), this book will be particularly relevant to lay readers, providing insight into how far we have come and where we are heading in the understanding of our genetic heritage. Recommended for public and academic libraries.
-Leila Fernandez, Steacie Science Lib., York Univ., Toronto
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Scientific American
The human genome is becoming a celebrity. It already has its own fan magazines, in the form of two professional journals devoted exclusively to genome research, and its own web sites, including National Human Genome Research Institute and at the private company Celera Genomics. The unveiling of the first draft of its complete primary sequence–which Celera has promised to produce within the year–is as eagerly anticipated as the next Madonna album. Now, thanks to science writer Matt Ridley, it even has its own autobiography: Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters.
It is no surprise that Ridley, an avid proponent of the Darwinian view of the world, perceives the genome not as a cookbook or a manual but as a quintessentially historical document–a three-billion-year memoir of our species from its beginnings in the primal ooze to the present day. The first popular book written by Ridley, who has a Ph.D. in zoology and covered science for The Economist for nine years, was The Red Queen, an engrossing account of sexual selection. His second volume, The Origins of Virtue, delved into the sociobiology of good and evil. Genome continues the author’s interest in evolution and at the same time offers excursions into molecular biology, medicine and biotechnology.
Unlike many celebrity autobiographies, Genome is largely free of gossip and personal digs; for example, the vicious catfight between Francis S. Collins, leader of the government-supported Genome Project, and Craig Venter, president of Celera, is barely mentioned. Nor is it a long recitation of “disease-gene-of-the-month” discoveries, for as Ridley reminds us more than once, “Genes are not there to cause diseases.” Instead he gives us a freewheeling, eclectic, often witty tour of modern molecular biology, illustrated by picking one gene from each of our 23 chromosomes.
It is an exciting voyage. We learn about the homeobox genes, which guide the development of the entire human body from a single cell. The gene for telomerase, an enzyme that repairs the ends of frayed chromosomes, is the focus for a discussion of aging and immortality. Ethnic differences in the frequency of a particular breast cancer gene are used to describe the relations among population genetics, prehistoric migrations, and linguistic groups, while the gene for the classical ABO blood groups is the springboard for a discussion of genetic selection and drift. The book describes genes that we share with all living creatures and those that are unique to our species, genes that are essential to every cell and those that seem to serve no useful purpose at all, genes that predict disease with complete certainty and those that only tilt the scales.
Although Ridley covers a broad range of topics, his love of evolutionary psychology is evident from the number of chapters devoted to behavior. He writes about recent evidence of genetic links to memory and intelligence, personality, language and even free will. But Ridley is no genetic determinist. He sees the brain as part of a complex, interconnected system, equally influenced by genes and environment, with no one force predominant: “You are not a brain running a body by switching on hormones. Nor are you a body running a genome by switching on hormone receptors. Nor are you a genome running a brain by switching on genes that switch on hormones. You are all of these at once…. Many of the oldest arguments in psychology boil down to misconceptions of this kind. The arguments for and against ‘genetic determinism’ presuppose that the involvement of the genome places it above and beyond the body.”
Ridley includes just the right amount of history and personal anecdotes to spice up the science. He’s a good storyteller. I have read many versions of the discovery of DNA as the carrier of genetic information, from Friedrich Miescher’s extraction of pus-soaked bandages to Watson and Crick’s elucidation of the structure of the molecule, but still found Ridley’s version captivating. His capsule descriptions of some of the modern genome researchers are concise yet revealing.
It is clear that Ridley is a big fan of the Genome Project. He writes with gusto about the rapid advancement of the science, the thrill of discovery and the power of the new technology it has unleashed. But at times his enthusiasm may lead him astray. For instance, Ridley advocates that people be tested for the APOE gene that is a predictor of susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease. His argument is that people who are genetically at risk should avoid sports such as football and boxing because of the connection between head injury and disease onset. But given that there is no true prevention or treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, it seems likely that such information would cause at least as much harm as good. For example, a person who could have become a millionaire professional athlete might instead decide to take a lower-paying job, even though he is destined to die of other causes long before Alzheimer’s would ever have set in. Or another individual who never would have played sports at all might not be able to obtain desperately needed health insurance because of his test results. Although Ridley clearly understands the scientific distinction between genetic determinism and predisposition, he sometimes fails to consider the policy implications.
At times Ridley’s enthusiasm about the science even causes him–like a devoted fan who believes every one of Madonna’s songs is perfect in every way–to gloss over potential weaknesses and inconsistencies in the evidence. For example, the “intelligence gene” and “language impairment gene” described in chapters 6 and 7 are merely statistical linkages, not actual genes, and the results have yet to be replicated by independent scientists. And the dopamine receptor gene highlighted in the chapter on personality was originally thought to be involved in thrill seeking but now appears to be more important in attention-deficit disorder.
On the other hand, Ridley’s excitement about the science has the benefit that the book is very much up-to-date, with many of the references from just the past year. And even the most speculative of his ideas is made palatable by the consistently graceful language and imaginative use of metaphors.
To biologists, the genome is simply the complete set of genes contained in our 23 pairs of chromosomes, and the Genome Project is merely a funding strategy to make sure it gets decoded. But different people have different views of the genome, just as they often do of celebrities. To advocates, it is the “Human Blueprint” or, more grandiosely, the “Book of Life.” To critics, it is a Doomsday book, full of unwanted information just waiting to be abused by unscrupulous insurers, employers, eugenicists and social Darwinists. And to Wall Street investors it is cold cash; despite negative earnings, shares in Celera have soared almost 20-fold in less than one year. But what the Genome Project really is, above all else, is a beginning–the start of a new way of doing biology, of understanding diseases, of comparing organisms, of tracing our origins and even of understanding ourselves. Genome provides a delightful introduction to all who wish to follow the career of this rising star. DEAN H. HAMER is a molecular biologist, co-author of Living with Our Genes and The Science of Desire, and chief of gene structure and regulation at the National Cancer Institute. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From The New England Journal of Medicine
We have come a long way since the public confrontation in 1860 between Bishop Samuel Wilberforce and Thomas Huxley, one of Charles Darwin’s chief advocates. When the bishop asked him whether apes were on his grandmother’s or grandfather’s side, Huxley snapped that he would prefer an ape to a man who “introduces ridicule into a grave scientific discussion” (Adrian Desmond. Huxley. Reading, Mass.: Perseus Books, 1997). In his latest discourse on evolution, Genome, Matt Ridley, a fluent science writer, points out that “we are, to a ninety-eight per cent approximation, chimpanzees, and they are, with ninety-eight per cent confidence limits, human beings.” Yet in August 1999, the Kansas Board of Education voted to delete any mention of evolution from the science curriculum of the public schools in its jurisdiction. This act of political flimflam denies Kansas students not only the right to think for themselves but also the ennobling awareness of the fundamental unity of all living creatures. Ridley says it well: “Wherever you go in the world, whatever animal, plant, bug or blob you look at, if it is alive, it will use the same dictionary and know the same code. All life is one.” How unfortunate that students in Kansas cannot share Ridley’s enthusiasm for life.
Genome is a gambol through the 23 human chromosomes. It is not a catalogue of the 80,000 or so genes that wind around beads of histones to form chromatin, the stuff of chromosomes. Instead, Ridley samples one or two genes from each chromosome, selecting them to form a base from which he can wander freely into realms of biology and medicine that reach from the Prader-Willi and Angelman syndromes (for an essay on genetic imprinting) to why Mediterranean people eat cheese (Ridley will tell you). In Genome you will find essays on, among many topics, alkaptonuria, asthma, Huntington’s chorea, the immune system, eugenics, and cancer. The emphasis is not so much on the genome as on evolution and natural selection, especially on how we became the way we are in form, thought, and behavior.
Ridley is a personal guide through the thickets of complex biologic systems. He addresses you directly (“Are you still with me?” punctuates a story about the role of serotonin in anxiety and depression). He is enthusiastic (“Mock my zeal if you wish”), and he challenges (“Once you start thinking in selfish-gene terms, some truly devious ideas pop into your head”). Above all, he speculates — sometimes soberly, sometimes wildly, but never boringly. Ridley’s musings can reach ethereal heights, only to be caught in a downdraft of fact. There is little or no jargon, which is fine, but also none of the equivocation that glues us to reality — readers will not often encounter “perhaps,” “might,” and “maybe.” A typical pronouncement: “Freudian theory fell the moment lithium first cured a manic depressive, where twenty years of psychoanalysis had failed.” Perhaps. Or “products of the chemical industry, may be responsible for… the falling sperm counts of modern men.” The evidence of “falling sperm counts” is tenuous, at best. And this: “Natural selection is the process by which genes change their sequences.” Surely Ridley means “mutation” and not “natural selection.” And Ridley’s speculation about why some of us are milk drinkers and others cheese eaters veers dangerously toward the ideas of Trofim Denisovich Lysenko, who ruined Russian agriculture with his cockamamie theory that acquired characteristics can be inherited.
Even so, Genome is instructive, challenging, and fun to read. I envy Ridley’s talent for presenting, without condescension, complex sets of facts and ideas in terms comprehensible to outsiders. His chapter on Huntington’s chorea is a masterly plain-English exposition that any writer of scientific papers could take as a model. Ridley’s enthusiasm is so high that it is best to keep the book on your night table. Read a chapter a night.
Robert S. Schwartz, M.D.
Copyright © 2000 Massachusetts Medical Society. All rights reserved. The New England Journal of Medicine is a registered trademark of the MMS. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
A rare event: a scientific paradigm shift going on in our own time, lucidly explained. Since the discovery of DNA’s symmetrical structure by Watson and Crick in 1953, life scientists have decoded much of the human genome, the digitally sequenced software of life consisting of thousands of genes, which in turn consist in total of a billion “words” of three-letter combinations, housed in 23 pairs of chromosomes. Molecular biologists anticipate that the first rough draft of the genome will be complete in 2000 and that a more detailed copy will be ready a few years later. Ridley (The Origins of Virtue, 1997, etc.), a former editor of The Economist, deftly takes up the story of the genome in 23 chapters. In clear, entertaining prose, but without dumbing down the subject for nonscientists, he uses each chapter to explore one effect of distinct genes, and the information they carry, on an important aspect of human lifethe origins and history of our species, aging, intelligence, personality, sexual behavior, disease, memory, and death. It is startling to learn that some of our genes date from a time when our ancestors were fish or primates, that we are genetically almost identical to chimpanzees, that genes are engaged in combat with one another, that behavior and genes may shape each other, and that genetic combinations may predispose an individual to homosexuality, Alzheimer’s disease, or criminality. But even more amazing are the applications of this knowledge for any discipline that takes mankind as its subject. Ridley notes that molecular biology has already revolutionized cancer research, helped to trace the migrations of peoples, and raised resonant questions for philosophers and policymakers alike. Eminently readable, compelling, and important. (Print satellite tour) — Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
?Remarkable. . . . Hops from one human chromosome to the next in search of the most delightful stories.?
–“New York Times Book Review
?A fascinating tour of the human genome. . . . If you want to catch a glimpse of the biotech century that is now dawning, and how it will make life better for us all, Genome is an excellent place to start.?
–“Wall Street Journal
?A superb writer whose exquisite, often moving descriptions of life’s designs remind me of the best work of the late Lewis Thomas. . . . He crafts some of the clearest explanations of complex biological processes that I have encountered. What’s more, he captures their slippery beauty.?
— Susan Okie, “Washington Post Book World
?Ridley is a lucid, engaging and enthusiastic guide to the double-helical DNA that comprises our inheritable human essence.?
— “Los Angeles Times Book Review
?Ridley can explain with equal verve difficult moral issues, philosophical quandaries and technical biochemistry; he distinguishes facts from opinions well, and he’s not shy about offering either. Among many recent books on genes, behavior and evolution, Ridley’s is one of the most informative. It’s also the most fun to read.?
–“Publishers Weekly (starredreview)
?Superb popular science writing and cogent public affairs argumentation.?
–“Booklist (starred review)
?An engrossing account of the genetic history of our species. . . . This book will be particularly relevant to lay readers, providing insight into how far we have come and where we are heading in the understanding of our genetic heritage.?
?Ridley . . . deftly takes up the story of the genome in 23 chapters in clear entertaining prose. Eminently readable, compelling and important.?
?A lucid and exhilarating romp through our 23 human chromosomes that lets us see how nature and nature combine to make us human.?
?With riveting anecdotes, clever analogies and compelling writing, Matt Ridley makes the human genome come alive for us. I was left in awe at the wonder of the human body, and the scientists who unravel its mysteries.?
–Abraham Verghese, author of ” The Tennis Partner
?Clever, up-to-the-minute informative, and an altogether spellbinding read. Ridley does just what a first-rate journalist should do: get it right, make in interesting, then wisely put it all in perspective.?
–SarahHardy, author of ” Mother Nature
?”Genome is a tour de force: clear, witty, timely and informed by an intelligence that sees new knowledge as a blessing and not a curse. . . . A cracking read.?
–“Times (of London)
?Matt Ridley’s brilliant new book is eloquent and up-to-date. . . . A much needed breath of fresh air.?
?Compelling. . . . Spectacular. . . . This is one of those rare books in which the intellectual excitement continues to rise from what already seems an almost impossibly high plateau. . . . Not even the scientifically purblind will fail to perceive the momentous nature of the issues he raises.?
? A dazzling work of popular science, offering clarity and inspiration. . . . Witty erudition.?
?Erudition, intriguing sequences of anecdotes and . . . stylish prose. The combination has resulted in the best popular science book I have read this year, a worthy autobiography of mankind.?
?An exciting voyage . . . very much up-to-date . . . Ridley includes just the right amount of history and personal anecdote to spice up science. He’s a good storyteller.?
?An extraordinarily nimble synthesist, Ridley leaps from chromosome to chromosome in a handy summation of our ever increasing understanding of the roles that genes play in disease, behavior, sexual differences, and even intelligence. More important, though, he addresses not only the ethical quandaries faced by contemporary scientists but the reductionist danger in equating inheritability with inevitability.?
— “The New Yorker
?Matt Ridley [writes] with a combination of biblical awe, scientific curiosity and wit about what many consider the greatest scientific breakthrough of the 20th century and the greatest technological challenge of the 21st: the discovery of the molecular basis of life and its many applications in medicine, law, and commerce.?
— “Dallas Morning News
?Thoroughly fascinating. . . . A sophisticated blending of science and public policy certain to educate, entertain, challenge and stimulate even the least technologically inclined reader.?
?Lively phrasing and vivid analogies . . . I gained an appreciation for the incredible complexity of human beings.?
?With skillful writing and masterful knowledge of his subject matter, Ridley conveys a wealth of information about what we currentlyknow, or think we know, about the human genome?No well-educated person can afford to remain ignorant of this advancing science. GENOME provides a sound and engaging introduction.?
About the Author
Matt Ridley is the award-winning, bestselling author of several books, including The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves; Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters; and The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature. His books have sold more than one million copies in thirty languages worldwide. He writes regularly for The Times (London) and The Wall Street Journal, and is a member of the House of Lords. He lives in England.
From The Washington Post
A superb writer whose exquisite, often moving descriptions of life’s designs remind me of the best work of the late Lewis Thomas. . . . He crafts some of the clearest explanations of complex biological processes that I have encountered. What’s more, he captures their slippery beauty. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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December 8, 2014 at 4:52pm
We all know the Darwin fish, the car-bumper send-up of the Christian “ichthys” symbol, or Jesus fish.
Unlike the Christian symbol, the Darwin fish has, you know, legs. Har har.
But the Darwin fish isn’t merely a clever joke; in effect, it contains a testable scientific prediction. If evolution is true, and if life on Earth originated in water, then there must have once been fish species possessing primitive limbs, which enabled them to spend some part of their lives on land.
And these species, in turn, must be the ancestors of four-limbed, land-living vertebrates like us.
SURE ENOUGH, IN 2004, SCIENTISTS FOUND ONE OF THOSE TRANSITIONAL SPECIES: TIKTAALIK ROSEAE, A 375 MILLION-YEAR-OLD DEVONIAN PERIOD SPECIMEN DISCOVERED IN THE CANADIAN ARCTIC BY PALEONTOLOGIST NEIL SHUBIN AND HIS COLLEAGUES.
TIKTAALIK, EXPLAINS SHUBIN ON THE LATEST EPISODE OF THE INQUIRING MINDS PODCAST, IS AN “ANATOMICAL MIX BETWEEN FISH AND A LAND-LIVING ANIMAL.” –
This fish crawled out of the water… AND INTO CREATIONISTS’ NIGHTMARES
Some 375 million years ago, Tiktaalik emerged onto land.
TODAY, EXPLAINS PALEONTOLOGIST NEIL SHUBIN, WE’RE ALL WALKING AROUND IN MODIFIED FISH BODIES.
NOTE: When a member of this website posted this … I considered it a kind of mockery of evolution and written by someone with a limited knowledge of evolution. Since then I have discovered it is an authentic archaeological discovery … you can go to the Museum where it is kept and look at it with your own eyes and touch it if they would let you!
Neil Shubin has written a very comprehensive book detailing his life as a palaeontologist and some of the very significant discoveries made in his classes in which he taught first year medical students in the dissembling of not animal but donated human bodies and his and their experiences in doing so with regard to what they discovered by the original functioning in what form at what time and the gradual evolution into human hands, forearms, upper arms, chest organs, stomach organs, and of course vertebrae, the neural system of the head and the human body’s intricate nervous system that allows movements of the head, eyes, arms and hands.
It is available in Amazon.com Kindle book and believe me when I say it is the most understandable, written for the public, in terms that the general public can understand, and with many examples, drawings, photograps and other graphic illustrations to help explain the details given by Dr Neil Shubin.
It’s better than the “twilight zone,” “science-fiction,” and “watching the little girl and or Michael Jackson skipping down the yellow brick road” ! … Check it out for yourself! It is a fascinating experience for for those who haven’t been accustomed to reading and trying to understand the scientific origins of life, the universe. and the world around us!