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Nature via Nurture: Genes, Experience and What Makes Us Human

Matt Ridley pursues more implications of the Human Genome Project

By: Matt Ridley

328 pages, B/w photo

Fourth Estate

Paperback | May 2004 | #143987 | ISBN: 1841157465
Availability: Usually dispatched within 7 days Details
NHBS Price: £9.99 $12/€11 approx
Hardback | Dec 2003 | #136933 | ISBN: 1841157457
Out of Print Details

About this book

The nature-nurture debate was re-ignited when in February 2001 it was announced that the genome contains only 30,000 genes instead of the 100,000 originally expected. This revelation led some scientists to conclude that there are not enough human genes to account for the many different ways people behave: we must be made by nurture, not nature. Acclaimed science writer Matt Ridley argues that the emerging truth is more complicated than a straight nature-nurture opposition. Nurture depends on genes, and genes require nurture. Genes absorb formative experiences, react to social cues and even run memory. They are consequences as well as causes of the will. This fascinating book chronicles a new revolution in our understanding of genes, and explains how genes build brains to absorb experience.

'This clever and ambitious book is full of novel insights and reflections.' James Le Fanu, Sunday Telegraph 'Ridley belongs to the coterie that truly pushes science forward and brings it within the broader purlieus of "culture". Nature via Nurture is another fine contribution to an already outstanding oeuvre.' Colin Tudge, Independent Magazine 'An unrivalled view of cutting-edge research into the roots of human behaviour.' Clive Cookson, Financial Times 'A balanced, entertaining gallop through the world of environmental influences and genetic impulses.' Robin McKie, Observer 'Eminently readable.' Dylan Evans, Evening Standard 'Profoundly intelligent and persuasive.' John Cornwell, Sunday Times 'Nature via Nurture will not end the debates about human nature between those who look to biology and those who prefer the social sciences. In his plunge into the fray however, Matt Ridley offers and excellent view of the battlefield.' The Economist 'Characteristically for a book by Ridley, there is much fascinating material here, lucidly and entertainingly presented!Elegantly written and highly instructive' A C Grayling, Literary Review 'Nature via Nurture sets the modern terms for an ancient debate, and at the same time delivers a superb tutorial on contemporary genetics; the feedback loop that embraces genes and environment is generally not well understood. And yet this plasticity, this elegant mutuality, seems crucial if our new understanding of human nature is to inform public policy. These times need a book like this.' Ian McEwan 'Lucidly explains the most recent discoveries on what makes us what we are, and how we should think about these discoveries as we ponder who we want to be!A treat, written with insight, wisdom, and style.' Steven Pinker, author of The Blank Slate 'Bracingly intelligent, lucid, balanced -- witty, too. Nature via Nurture is a scrupulous and charming look at our modern understanding of genes and experience.' Oliver Sacks 'A real page-turner. What a superb writer he is, and he seems to get better and better.' Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene

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Matt Ridley received his BA and D Phil at Oxford researching the evolution of behaviour. He has been science editor, Washington correspondent and American editor of The Economist. He has a regular column in the Daily Telegraph. He is also the author of The Red Queen (1993), The Origins of Virtue (1996) and Genome (1999). Matt Ridley is currently the chairman of The International Centre for Life.

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