Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Genius in All of Us, by David Shenk, a book on tape

Nature versus nurture? The question has been on the tip of scientists' tongues since it was first coined by English Victorian polymath Francis Galton, cousin of the famed Charles Darwin.

Shenk challenges this simplistic philosophy that has been used and abused by scientists, politicians, and the media. And instead asks, “How smart can you be?” With annotations to studies, scientific trials, and educating facts, he highlights the public frenzy to recognize "geniuses" and the fallacy behind the heredity-versus-environment controversy.

Creating dynamics between the two is not as simple as it looks. In an attempt to map the human genome on the double helix, scientists are learning what mental or physical characteristic each determines - or are they? According to Shenk, a protective coating around each, called an epigenome, can be changed by environment and affect the characteristics. The resultant characteristics can be passed on, thus changing future generations.

Shenk uses his voice to make a complicated subject understandable. Heady stuff in this day and age. Shenk puts it so simply, I wonder if life will change as we simply know it.

If you like to listen to books on tape, this is a good one to try while you are in the middle of a mundane task. Both will fly by!

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