Arches. Photo by Daniel Chia
HOPES: Huntington's Outreach Project for Education, at Stanford
May
21
2013

“The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nurture” by Matt Ridley

Published: 2003

Length: 326 pages

Summary: “The Agile Gene” uses the research of twelve major scientists to explore the nature – versus nurture – debate.  This debate centers around whether our genes or our environment has a stronger effect in defining who people are physically and behaviorally, something that is extremely relevant in Huntington’s disease research. Ridley takes a moderate approach to this discussion. He begins by establishing that genes are not gods and that parenting only matters to the extent that it is not terrible. Individuality, the book claims, is established by a mix of aptitude and appetite reinforced by peers. Social policy is meant to account for the differences of individuality that do exist, he concludes, and free will exists even though we are strongly influenced by both our DNA and our surroundings. Ridley promotes repeatedly that nature works via nurture.

This book provides a modern outlook on how science and genetics play a role in developing our world. It could act as a useful supplementary resource for those who are curious about where scientific research is heading in medicine, gene therapy, and academia. “The Agile Gene” could be of interest to any HD patient or caregiver who wanted to know how the nature – versus – nurture debate impacts Huntington’s disease and other genetic diseases like it, especially given its modern and relevant perspective.

CMB 05/21/2013