DNA is Not Destiny: The Remarkable, Completely Misunderstood Relationship Between You and Your Genes (W.W. Norton), by Steven J. Heine
Aug. 8, 2017
The sequencing of the human genome was one of last century’s great scientific achievements. However, the application has been widely misused and misunderstood. In DNA is Not Destiny, Steven J. Heine, cultural psychologist at the University of British Columbia, cites a genetic test on a snip of Elvis’ hair that reveals a high risk for obesity. Heine asks the obvious question: What about all those peanut butter, jelly and bacon sandwiches? Writing colloquially (Gregor Mendel’s discovery of genetic inheritance resulted from “a bad case of test anxiety”), Heine condemns the fatalism and exaggerated claims made on behalf of genetics, stressing the “complex web of interacting influences,” including cultural and other environmental factors, that make us who we are. Humans in many parts of the world are growing taller, not from genetic mutations but from changes in diet. DNA is Not Destiny is also a persuasive warning against unreflecting acceptance of soundbites, tweets and headlines that simplify or distort reality.