Read Biologia come ideologia. La dottrina del DNA by Richard C. Lewontin Online

Title : Biologia come ideologia. La dottrina del DNA
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 8833907937
ISBN13 : 978-8833907932
Format Type : E-Book
Language : Italienisch
Publisher : Bollati Boringhieri 1 November 1993
Number of Pages : 98 Seiten
File Size : 887 KB
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Biologia come ideologia. La dottrina del DNA Reviews

  • Craig MACKINNON
    2019-04-04 03:11

    This book is exactly what the title implies - a treatise on how many people in the scientific community (including physical and social science) and in the general public have come to regard biology, or more specifically DNA, as The Answer. Just as religion had The Answer in previous ages, so now, we "know" that all the answers lie in understanding our DNA. This has spread to all aspects of human society, from justification of our capitalist monetary system to modern medicine. To emphasise the point, a quote from the text: "[An] editor of Science, what asked why the Human Genome Project funds should not be given instead to the homeless, answered, 'What these people don't realise is that the homeless are impaired.... Indeed, no group would benefit more from the application of human genetics.'"This is a chilling statement, and we're fortunate to have books like these pointing out the ethical and scientific problems in such pronouncements. Prof. Lewontin debunks the myth that DNA is the be all and end all. In a wide ranging series of essays, he attacks the claims of the Human Genome Project scientists (I want to point out that he does not attack the science itself, which is fine, simply the rationale in doing it) and others who are trying to find a panacea in understanding genetics. He argues that while DNA is important, it does not define what it means to be human, any more than a pile of bricks defines a house, and it certainly can't be used to justify capitalism, fascism, or anarchical government systems, as claimed by some political philosophers. Or that people are homeless because they have defective DNA.There are two minor points that I must make objection to. The first is that he seems to imply that scientists (specifically, those working on the human genome) make wild claims as to how much their research will benefit mankind, and society is duped into believing them. While this is undoubtedly the case some of the time, in my experience, the media often exaggerate the claims of scientists to make a better story. "This project will help us understand cancer better, and will lead to better treatments" becomes "Cause of cancer discovered!" Lewontin tends to blame the scientist entirely for these grandiose claims. Secondly, I believe basic research is valuable, thus the Genome Project is important, something Lewontin doesn't seem to want to admit.Those two points aside, however, this is an interesting and important book, if a little one-sided. Highly recommended.

  • Craig Webster
    2019-04-12 02:56

    If you are looking for a clear and critical overview of modern genetics research, one which cuts through all the hype and misinformation, then read this book. Lewontin, a Harvard University geneticist and skeptic, has collated six of his radio lectures given to increase public understanding of what research programmes like the Human Genome Project really mean. The Genome Project is a vast undertaking which aims to map every single gene in the human body. Claims, even by the experts, about what this will mean for humanity have been superlative to say the least. Medicine will essentially cease to exist since it will be far better to fix the gene causing a disorder than to prescribe drugs for it. Currently incurable diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's, Huntington's and almost any other you care to mention will become curable. Cosmetic gene-replacement therapy for poor eye sight, hearing loss, and baldness are possible, and even social problems such as violent crime, alcoholism, and anti-social behaviour can be treated just as soon as we localise the relevant genes - or so the story goes. Lewontin dispels two myths central to the Human Genome Project and the gene-replacement paradigm. First the relationship between genes and disease is just not that simple, and second, there is no evidence whatever that every human ill has a corresponding gene or set of genes anyway.The potential of the Human Genome Project to better our lives is substantial, but it is certainly no panacea. We must be aware of the risks and limitations as well as the benefits of any new technology, especially one which acts directly on the genes which make us all who we are.

  • Massimo Pigliucci (pigliucci@utk.edu)
    2019-04-12 23:11

    Dick did it again. Richard "Dick" Lewontin, one of the most esteemed (or hated, depending on the viewpoint) geneticists of our era has written yet another controversial, highly readable, and thoroughly enjoyable, book. A booklet, to be sure, fruit of a series of radio broadcasts for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It is an agile group of six chapters, spanning a mere 128 pages including a scanty bibliography. But you're in for an intense if short intellectual ride that you won't easily forget. Lewontin starts with a very wide brush, asking nothing less than the fundamental question: what is science? He begins with a theme dear to him and brought to the forefront of modern philosophy by the classical book of Thomas Kuhn about scientific revolutions: science is always a product of the society that generates it, and therefore that society needs to be understood and considered in order to comprehend both science's progress and mistakes. According to Lewontin, science has two functions: 1. It allows us to manipulate the world; 2. It provides an explanation for the world. Obviously, the two are related to some extent (you can hardly manipulate - at least safely and successfully - something which you don't understand, or not?). Nevertheless they are in principle, and often enough in practice, distinct. But not necessarily in the sense you might think. Lewontin makes the interesting and provocative argument that some major progress in applied science is made without the corresponding understanding of the underlying principles, in flagrant opposition to what most scientists (and your high school teacher) would tell you. For example, we obtained better and better varieties of crop plants literally centuries ahead of any scientific understanding of the principles of heredity and the birth of modern genetics. Nevertheless, modern applied genetics gets its legitimation from the impressive body of knowledge we have accumulated about the way cells, chromosomes, and DNA works. Lewontin's almost subversive conclusions stemming from this premise is that modern science has taken over the role that used to be the realm of institutionalized religion throughout antiquity and the middle ages. Scientists, like modern priests, endorse the status quo of modern society, being able to reassure the public that things are going well on the basis of the fact that science does have a tremendous explanatory power, very much like religion use to (in other words, we know what we're talking about...). And here is where the problem lies, according to Lewontin: see, you (science) can't be at the same time claiming to represent a universal truth that transcends human society and be a result of that very society. To put it into another fashion, you can't have the cake and eat it too! Now, before you start seeing every scientist as a member of a secret society of conspirators devoted to the ultimate control of the planet and unleash your James Bonds on every campus, beware. Lewontin clearly states that most, if not every, scientist, are not actually conscious of the role they have and the power they excercise, in the same way in which priests and cardinals defended the status quo during the Inquisition because they really believed they were the repository for the only universal truth, not because they conspired in the labyrinths of the Vatican... (this notwithstanding what some Americans might think of the Pope). What are the foundations of such a tremendously effective tool such as modern science? There are two that clearly stand out according to the author: reductionism and the clear distinction between cause and effect. Reductionism, which basically traces back to the writings of the 17th century French philosopher Rene` Descartes, is the assumption that complex systems can be understood entirely in terms of their minutest components. As Lewontin puts it, societies are the result of individuals, not viceversa. Think about it, it requires a bit of intellectual effort to see the point that in fact the relationship between societies and individuals is a dialectical one, a perennial chicken and egg process. But when you do the gestaltic switch, it really grows on you... The clear relationship between cause and effect is epitomized by the classical assumption in evolutionary biology that organisms "respond" to the environment, as if they were not part and creator of their own environment. The environment is supposed to be the cause of evolution, and the change that occurs in populations and species is the effect of these pressures. But, as we know now, the environment itself can be greatly affected by organisms. And I'm not thinking of relatively recent phenomena such as human-induced global warming. If you're breathing oxygen today, this is entirely because some microscopic relative of modern algae "invented" photosynthesis a couple of billion years ago. The world didn't know free oxygen up to that point, but it just so happens that the precious substance is a "waste" byproduct of the reactions that make up the process of photosynthesis, the major way of making a living for most algae and plants. The alternative to this mechanistic worldview, of course, is known as holism. But this word has very negative connotations, which are intertwined with mysticism and irrational beliefs. And here is the challenge that Lewontin and some of his colleagues - chiefly Stephen Jay Gould, also at Harvard - have faced for most of their active lives as scientists. How to debunk reductionism without falling into a vague and fruitless alternative; how to retain the power of scientific inquiry while acknowledging its limits; how to maintain the public confidence of science's power while asking them to keep an eye on the assumptions that scientists make about the world. I'm afraid you'll have to read the book to know the rest; hopefully, the above ranting has at least tickled your intellect enough to do just that. And I can guarantee you that your view of the world would be changed forever... or maybe not.

  • Natasha Elizabeth Nace
    2019-04-23 00:12

    good!

  • Amazon Customer
    2019-04-22 01:17

    a very compelling book indeed. irrespective of all controversy, I believe this book is necessary for the growth of science & even its adherents. indeed, it has been said that this book offers nothing "new" or "controversial;" quite so, but the fact remains. despite the popularization of science, we hardly see the loopholes, if ever. to sum up this review, the best parts of the book are:1.) differences in variation2.) the Genome Project's efficacy irrespective of incessant elucidations3.) the marriage between genes & environment, which is towards the end.

  • Herbert L Calhoun
    2019-04-22 00:15

    This, intellectual tornado, with its incisive and biting logic and its eloquent, economic and clear style, rips through all the trees of the scientific forest -- especially those used as its primary unstated skeletal backbone: the structure of often vulgar, sometimes illogical, but always erroneous and well-hidden, built-in assumptions.Included in this list is the Holy Grail of them all: the reductionist hypothesis that only discrete atomic elements matter; the equally false idea (most popularly exposed by T.S. Khun) that science is somehow above politics and ideology; and the worse of the offenders: the false dichotomies between "cause and effect" and between "nature and nurture."In this menu, in which the intellectual cup runneth over, the author does not just take a swipe at them all, but gores them by running a level four tornado right through their hearts. When he is finished not a tree in the false underbelly of science is left standing, not a false hidden assumption left without being up-rooted: all the hidden assumptions are exposed, and the emperor is found to have no clothes; humpty-dumpty is knocked cleanly off the wall.Since this CBC honor lecture, the "Ideology of Biology" will never again be the same because Dr. Lewontin has shook it at its very foundation and it has been found wanting: its soft, often intentional underbelly, finally has been exposed and left on the intellectual trash heap of history for future students and scholars to sort out and to assess the damage, and to try and put Humpty-dumpty together again.Whatever that assessment may be, the pseudo-science of genetic and biological determinism, whose poison continues to wreak havoc in American society, even six decades after Adolph Hitler, will never be the same again. Fifty stars

  • Craig MACKINNON
    2019-04-24 02:52

    This book is exactly what the title implies - a treatise on how many people in the scientific community (including physical and social science) and in the general public have come to regard biology, or more specifically DNA, as The Answer. Just as religion had The Answer in previous ages, so now, we "know" that all the answers lie in understanding our DNA. This has spread to all aspects of human society, from justification of our capitalist monetary system to modern medicine. To emphasise the point, a quote from the text: "[An] editor of Science, what asked why the Human Genome Project funds should not be given instead to the homeless, answered, 'What these people don't realise is that the homeless are impaired.... Indeed, no group would benefit more from the application of human genetics.'"This is a chilling statement, and we're fortunate to have books like these pointing out the ethical and scientific problems in such pronouncements. Prof. Lewontin debunks the myth that DNA is the be all and end all. In a wide ranging series of essays, he attacks the claims of the Human Genome Project scientists (I want to point out that he does not attack the science itself, which is fine, simply the rationale in doing it) and others who are trying to find a panacea in understanding genetics. He argues that while DNA is important, it does not define what it means to be human, any more than a pile of bricks defines a house, and it certainly can't be used to justify capitalism, fascism, or anarchical government systems, as claimed by some political philosophers. Or that people are homeless because they have defective DNA.There are two minor points that I must make objection to. The first is that he seems to imply that scientists (specifically, those working on the human genome) make wild claims as to how much their research will benefit mankind, and society is duped into believing them. While this is undoubtedly the case some of the time, in my experience, the media often exaggerate the claims of scientists to make a better story. "This project will help us understand cancer better, and will lead to better treatments" becomes "Cause of cancer discovered!" Lewontin tends to blame the scientist entirely for these grandiose claims. Secondly, I believe basic research is valuable, thus the Genome Project is important, something Lewontin doesn't seem to want to admit.Those two points aside, however, this is an interesting and important book, if a little one-sided. Highly recommended.