SO much fascinating and informative material in this marvellous book. Part history lesson, part biology lesson, part philosophy and social commentary, so much going on here it is all a bit of whirlwind. I wish I had a photographic memory, then I could randomly quote whenever I heard people saying all sorts of rubbish like there is a gene for cocaine addiction, there is a 'transexual gene' that makes men feel like women, or there is a gene for height, or best of all, there is a gene that tells you what time of day you will die.

All wrong, wrong, wrong.

The ten best things out of dozens that I learnt from this book, and that I want to retain in my memory bank, are as follows:
1. Race is not genetic.
2. You are born either male or female
3. The peoples of Africa are more genetically diverse from each other than all the peoples outside Africa are from each other.
4. We all have a small percentage of Neanderthal in us.
5. The 'warrior' gene does exist, and rightly or wrongly is being used as a form of defence in criminal trials.
6. People of European descent generally are not lactose intolerant
7. All people of European descent have Charlemagne (8th century AD) as their common ancestor
8. Red heads will not die out due to climate change
9. Scottish Celts are more different to Welsh Celts than either are to the English; people from Cornwell are more closely aligned to the Breton Celts in France than they are to the English
10. Do not have a child with your first cousin

And so it goes on, and on and on. Truly fascinating stuff.

Extremely difficult to make science reader friendly, and despite my best endeavours,  I just skimmed over all the business about the human genome and almost daily advances in knowledge, the billions of genes we have, the proteins, enzymes, what the alleles do, the ins and outs of Charles Darwin's and Francis Galton's theories of evolution.

What is clear over the centuries, is how we as human beings, have attempted to classify ourselves and others around us simply based on looks, tendencies, religious practices, perceived cultural norms and ways of doing things. This book goes some way to dispelling many of these variables. There will always be people in our midst convinced of their own superiority or knowledge base as to where and how the rest of us should be classified. It is up to us therefore to educate them, and a book like this is a fine start. 

No comments:

Post a Comment