The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

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The Gene is a popular introductory book on the gene. This is not a criticism as each new generation has to be introduced to a subject and this an acceptable popular introductory book.. With the field not at all crowded The Gene is a welcome popular introductory book on the gene.

The major criticism I have is that Mukherjee slights epigenetics in terms of behavior, is much too sanguine about genetic engineering to cure what are held to be polygenetic illnesses and is much too sanguine about genetic engineering to instill beneficial polygenetic traits. Geneticists apparently repeatedly assured Mukherjee that geneticists will one day be able treat polygenetic illnesses and moreover will be able to instill beneficial polygenetic traits most likely via some sort of embryo selection. Mukherjee took the geneticists at their word. Genetic determinism is almost a religion among geneticists as determinism is almost a religion in academia.

Medical horrors are apparently inadvertently being planned for the wealthy. Now the wealthy depressed are taking ketamine which can cause a schizophrenia-like psychosis. 10 years from now the wealthy could be selecting embryos on the basis of very abstruse calculations where if something goes wrong the advising geneticist will say ‘the odds slightly favored a favorable outcome. Look at these calculations. You must understand probabilities.’

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