Nature via Nurture


10 February 2015

Nature via Nurture uses the knowledge modern science has brought us to explore the age old question of what makes us human. Matt Ridley's follow up book to his best-seller 'Genome'


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Nature via Nurture: Genes, experience and what makes us human by Matt Ridley

This book essentially describes the importance of both nature and nurture in the survival of living systems. Ridley uses numerous examples to show the relationship between nature and nurture, arguing that one cannot survive without the other. I was recommended the book by my Biology teacher who suggested it because it explains some interesting concepts, using everyday examples that are easy to understand. For example, language is acquired through education, but it is not possible to speak unless you have a correct copy of the necessary gene. As well as containing examples to show this symbiotic relationship, the book has a good introduction to genes, describing just how many different interactions are present; all of which can affect how much genes are expressed. Ridley also touches on the idea of evolution, showing how random mutations cause changes in function across different species. My favourite chapter in the book was chapter 4, where the author discusses the various causes of schizophrenia and how these causes are linked to nature and/or nurture.

Up until reading this book I had never really considered the importance of external factors in the survival and development of living organisms. It gives both a good introduction to some genetic processes you will study more at university, and some interesting arguments you may or may not believe in. There has long been a debate amongst scientists over whether nature or nurture is more important in the development of intelligence and character. Whether you agree with Ridley’s view or not I think this is a good read for anyone considering Biochemistry or similar at university.

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