Cover: The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism, and Environment, from Harvard University PressCover: The Triple Helix in PAPERBACK

The Triple Helix

Gene, Organism, and Environment

Product Details


$31.00 • £26.95 • €28.95

ISBN 9780674006775

Publication Date: 02/15/2002

Academic Trade

144 pages

5 x 7-1/2 inches

16 line illustrations, 1 halftone, 2 tables


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Even for readers who do not agree with Lewontin, there is much of value in [his] books. He is superb at conceptually characterizing large research programmes in biology, and putting them in historical context…his writing is consistently elegant and readable, frequently funny, and abounding with provocative remarks.—Mark Ridley, Nature

In his latest book, The Triple Helix…Lewontin lays out his position with devastating clarity; the science in the book should be accessible to most laypersons. However much our DNA may tell us about individual diseases, he says, ultimately reductionism provides a simplified and therefore false picture of both the interactions between the genes of any cell and the other parts of the cell and the interactions between a cell and all the other cells of an organism. By extension, that false picture also undermines a true understanding of any organism’s interaction with its environment.—Ralph Brave, Salon

A slim tour de force of the new genomic thinking. In an evenhanded set of essays, Lewontin extends this dynamic view of heredity to the interactions of genes, biology, and environment.—John Palattella, Lingua Franca

[Lewontin] is at odds with some orthodoxies of contemporary biology. He is skeptical of genetic determinism, the notion that what we are and what we do is determined by our genetic makeup. He argues in The Triple Helix for a more nuanced explanation than strictly genetic or strictly environmental views, or even the view that the explanation involves discovering how genes and environment interact… This book is a warning to those who seek fixes by manipulating the genes of humans or other species, or by implementing ill-conceived public policies.—P. A. Lamal, The Charlotte Observer

This book grows from the premise that interaction between organisms and their environments are not only influential for both parties, but are in fact crucial to shaping how each exists at any given moment. Building on this idea, Lewontin then shows that current methods for understanding society and social problems are often too simplistic and therefore dangerously inadequate.Journal of Social Work Education

Richard Lewontin refutes the thesis of genetic determinism—or what might be called ‘just’ genetics, meaning ‘only’ genetics. Lewontin is highly regarded not only for his research in population biology but also for his empirically grounded and challenging critiques of the field… Lewontin’s slim tome, readable within a few hours, is replete with provocative prose and graphs, sketches, and tables.—Mary B. Mahowald, Second Opinion

Lewontin is one of the great living biologists. With the scientific enterprise passing, it is said, from the age of physics into that of biology, his remarks on biology studies couldn’t be timelier.—Ray Olson, Booklist

Whatever the reader’s views, these essays are worth reading for their brilliant, if sometimes partisan, criticisms. Lewontin’s style is remarkably clear considering the complex nature of some of his arguments. Recommended.—Marit MacArthur, Library Journal

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