Genetic Destinies by Little, Peter
Oxford University Press | 01 January 2002
Hardback | 264 pages
Genetic Destinies opens with the stories of the lives of two women; gene science causes the life of one to be free of suffering but fills that of the other with discrimination and oppression. The two imaginary future lives encompass the very best and the very worst of our hopes for gene science, and understanding what is reality and what is myth, what is possible and what impossible, is the key to unlocking the reality of this feared science.
In the chapters that follow, the reality of the power of gene science is laid out using simple, non-technical terms to present the very edge of the knowledge that we possess, exploring the role genes play in rigidly defining the overall plan of our bodies and then subtly influencing our individuality, intelligence, behaviour, personality and health. Genes are often minor players in our lives because the differences that distinguish us are tiny compared to the similarities we share; it follows that our futures are in our own hands as much as in the hands of our genes.
Nevertheless, understanding the delicate influences that gene differences play in our lives is central to our thinking about ourselves, and it is in the interplay of genes and lifestyle that our personalities and individual futures can be found.
The genetic differences we each possess contain a record of the very origins of human beings and it is remarkable that our present day fates are influenced by patterns of ancient human history.
Armed with this knowledge, Genetic Destinies ends by revisiting the stories of the lives of the two women and shows that the fears we have of gene science are based upon misplaced ideas of the power of genes. The reality is that our true Genetic Destiny is to live our lives as human beings, unique, unpredictable and irreplaceable in all of history and all of future time: a wonderful prospect.