DNA Is Not Destiny: The Remarkable, Completely Misunderstood Relationship Between You and Your Genes

Steven J. Heine. Norton, $26.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-393-24408-3
Heine, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, explores the “psychological biases” that prevent people from thinking effectively about the implications of breakthroughs in genetics. He makes the case that far too many people hold the “belief that our genes control our lives,” adding, We are genetic fatalists.” Heine tasks himself with educating his audience about the errors inherent in this perspective because “people with greater understanding about genetics are less likely to agree that genes determine life outcomes, less likely to subscribe to eugenic beliefs, and are in general less racist and less sexist.” He makes three straightforward and interconnected points: that there is rarely a one-to-one correspondence between a gene and a behavior; that people assume that an individual’s genes define the essence of their being; and that the public is breathtakingly ignorant about genetics in general. Heine ranges broadly, discussing both historical and ethical concerns, and draws heavily on social psychology 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. This is an enjoyable and informative, if uneven, discussion of the role genes play in our everyday lives. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/13/2017
Release date: 04/18/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-393-24409-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-68168-506-9
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