Exploding the Gene Myth

Exploding the Gene Myth

How Genetic Information Is Produced and Manipulated by Scientists, Physicians, Employers, Insurance Companies, Educators, and Law Enforcers

eBook - 1993
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Is human behavior genetic? Do we inherit our intelligence, our sexuality, our predispositions to illness or depression, or our particular talents through our genes? Newspaper headlines today tout genetic explanations of everything from cancer to alcoholism and criminality. But as Exploding the Gene Myth demonstrates, such explanations are nearly always exaggerated or unfounded, ignoring the complex interactions of genes with environment at every level. Like the eugenic theories of seventy-five years ago, the new genetic determinism serves a conservative social agenda, reflecting our society's eagerness to blame ill health and misfortune on individuals rather than on social and environmental conditions.
Exploding the Gene Myth explains in clear, accessible language how genes really work. Ruth Hubbard and Elijah Wald then evaluate the tremendous impact of genetic information on how we are treated by doctors and health insurance companies, by schools, by the criminal justice system, and by potential employers. The authors are especially critical of the multi-billion-dollar Human Genome Initiative, the huge research project to map every gene on the DNA of a prototypical human being. Hubbard and Wald deflate the grandiose promises of therapeutic benefits that are supposed to emerge from the project. They point instead to the real threats to privacy and civil liberties already resulting from the unregulated increase in genetic predictions.
At a time when the biosciences are undergoing a revolution, the enthusiasm of scientists and the media about new genetic information and technologies needs to be tempered with realism. Hubbard and Wald argue that all citizens, not just scientists, should be able to participate in making the necessary decisions about how to regulate information, protect privacy, and avoid discrimination. Exploding the Gene Myth is a forceful plea for a society that would invest in safe, healthful living and working conditions for everyone rather than the search for ideal or improved genes.
Publisher: Boston : Beacon Press, c1993
Characteristics: xv, 206 p. : ill. ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Wald, Elijah

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