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AuthorKostas Kampourakis
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication Date31 May 2017
Book DescriptionWhat are genes? What do genes do? These seemingly simple questions are in fact challenging to answer accurately. As a result, there are widespread misunderstandings and over-simplistic answers, which lead to common conceptions widely portrayed in the media, such as the existence of a gene 'for' a particular characteristic or disease. In reality, the DNA we inherit interacts continuously with the environment and functions differently as we age. What our parents hand down to us is just the beginning of our life story. This comprehensive book analyses and explains the gene concept, combining philosophical, historical, psychological and educational perspectives with current research in genetics and genomics. It summarises what we currently know and do not know about genes and the potential impact of genetics on all our lives. Making Sense of Genes is an accessible but rigorous introduction to contemporary genetics concepts for non-experts, undergraduate students, teachers and healthcare professionals.
Editorial ReviewThe Quarterly Review of Biology 'Making Sense of Genes is an elegantly written book containing many refreshing insights about how the notion of the gene was developed in the late 19th century and how it is used and misused today. ... Rather than depending on facile metaphors for gene function ('blueprints', 'programs') like most other popular treatments of biology, the author, Kostas Kampourakis, deftly deconstructs them, showing why they have been adopted, but how they mislead. He convincingly shows that while the notion that there are genes 'for' specific characters, such as height or aggressive behavior, is based on multiple misconceptions, the idea of genes 'for' some diseases, including metabolic disorders and cancers, may have some merit, even though strict causation is rarely straightforward.' Stuart Newman, GeneWatch 'Kampourakis's Making Sense of Genes ... [offers] a clear and compelling account of what genes do and do not actually do. It is one of the most readable accounts of genetics that also gives careful attention to those complex historical-philosophical frameworks that are so often left out of discussions written by scientists. ... [This] is a text suitable for students and secondary educators, certainly. But, more than this, it is a text for researchers to digest. Perhaps it will help experts in genetics to see the gaps in their ability to convey philosophical and historical information to students and the general public that leads to so many misunderstandings ... Kampourakis is to be applauded for writing such a clear and persuasive text encouraging us to reframe our understanding and misunderstanding of the science, its history, and its implications for our daily lives.' Erik L. Peterson, Metascience
About the AuthorKostas Kampourakis is a researcher in science education at Universite de Geneve, where he also teaches the course Biology and Society to biology undergraduates, and various science education classes to teachers and doctoral students. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Science and Education, the co-editor of Newton's Apple and Other Myths about Science (with Ronald L. Numbers, 2015), and the editor of The Philosophy of Biology: A Companion for Educators (2013). His book Understanding Evolution (Cambridge, 2014) was selected as a 2015 Choice Outstanding Academic Title.
Number of Pages314

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