I have really enjoyed each and every Matt Ridley book and "The Agile Gene" is no exception - but for the fact that it is an identical 'word-for-word' copy of his book titled "Nature Via Nurture". I'm not sure why a publisher would release the same book under a different title (there is one very small notice on the left front of the cover stating "Previously published as Nature Via Nurture"), but I'm more upset that it's not a new Matt Ridley book than by being out the money for the price of the book and the special two day delivery. So...great book, just don't shell out any money if you already read "Nature Via Nurture".
"Nature via Nurture"; the title sounds like a dead horse that doesn't need to be beaten any more. I decided to pick this one up because I love Ridley's work, and because it is read by the author. What a treat that is! With the author reading the book, you know that the nuances are correct, and that the abridgement isn't harming the message. The discussions in this book are dramatically and importantly different from other discussions of "Nature/Nurture", and I can hardly recommend it strongly enough. What is different is the degree of specificity that Ridley brings to the conversation. He demonstrates from a dozen different points of view HOW causality flows both ways, from the genes to the environment and back. He also pokes holes in logical fallacies one hears all the time - for example, the assertion that a feature is not genetic because the specific genes have not (and in some cases may not ever) been identified. A well-constructed twin study...
With Nature_Via_Nurture, Matt Ridley affirms his place as one of the most valued and important science writers of our time. Well known for his award-winning _Genome_, Ridley is also the author of several other popularizations of biological science that are even better. In _The_Origins of Virtue_, Ridley demonstrated brilliantly how "economic" factors like division of labor and trade are actually keys to understanding human social behavior, in spite of the fact that we are also the products of a specific biological legacy. This is a deep insight that even many evolutionary biologists sometimes seem to stumble over. As Ridley points out, the ideological question of whether human behavior is more the product of heredity or environment has distinguished not just scientists, but fascists and communists, just as surely as any of their political theories. During the well-known sociobiology debates, technical issues were rarely discussed much less resolved. Rather politics...
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