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The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism, and Environmentby Richard Lewontin
Synopses & Reviews
One of our most brilliant evolutionary biologists, Richard Lewontin has also been a leading critic of those--scientists and non-scientists alike--who would misuse the science to which he has contributed so much. In The Triple Helix, Lewontin the scientist and Lewontin the critic come together to provide a concise, accessible account of what his work has taught him about biology and about its relevance to human affairs. In the process, he exposes some of the common and troubling misconceptions that misdirect and stall our understanding of biology and evolution.
The central message of this book is that we will never fully understand living things if we continue to think of genes, organisms, and environments as separate entities, each with its distinct role to play in the history and operation of organic processes. Here Lewontin shows that an organism is a unique consequence of both genes and environment, of both internal and external features. Rejecting the notion that genes determine the organism, which then adapts to the environment, he explains that organisms, influenced in their development by their circumstances, in turn create, modify, and choose the environment in which they live.
The Triple Helix is vintage Lewontin: brilliant, eloquent, passionate, and deeply critical. But it is neither a manifesto for a radical new methodology nor a brief for a new theory. It is instead a primer on the complexity of biological processes, a reminder to all of us that living things are never as simple as they may seem.
Book News Annotation:
Lewontin (comparative zoology, Harvard U.) explains for general readers the themes, controversies, and debates in biology over the quarter century since his classic The Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change appeared. He emphasizes the reciprocal relationship of the three factors in the course of evolution, and warns against reducing evolution to a sequence of events predetermined by genetic programming. The Italian original, , was published by Laterza in 1998.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
An evolutionary biologist provides a concise, accessible account of what his work has taught him about biology and about its relevance to human affairs. In the process, he exposes some of the common misconceptions about biological processes. 17 line illustrations.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 131-132) and index.
About the Author
Richard Lewontinis Alexander Agassiz Research Professor at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, <>Harvard University. His many books include Biology and Ideology, Not in Our Genes, and Human Diversity.
Table of Contents
I. Gene and Organism
II. Organism and Environment
III. Parts and Wholes, Causes and Effects
IV. Directions in the Study of Biology
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