The Dependent Gene The Fallacy of "Nature vs. Nurture"

David S. Moore

Holt Paperbacks



Trade Paperback

320 Pages



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Moore offers a guide to human development that redefines the nature/nurture debate. Now that the human genome has been decoded, there is renewed hope that we will soon unlock the genetic secrets of such diseases as cancer, diabetes, and schizophrenia. It would seem that there are genes for everything: fat genes, gay genes—even math genes. But how large a role do genes really play in defining who we are?

A much-needed antidote to genetic determinism, The Dependent Gene reveals how all traits—even apparently straight-forward characteristics like eye and hair color—are caused by complex interactions between genes and the environment at every stage of biological and psychological development, from the single fertilized egg to full-grown adulthood.

How we understand the nature vs. nurture debate directly affects our thoughts about such basic issues as sex and reproduction, parenting, education, and crime, and has an enormous impact on social policy. With life-and-death questions in the balance surrounding stem-cell research, cloning, and DNA fingerprinting, The Dependent Gene offers an enlightening guide to this brave new world.


Praise for The Dependent Gene

"A provocative and gracefully written book that will surely generate discussion and debate."—Jerome Kagan, Ph.D., author of Three Seductive Ideas

"Beautiful . . . a wonderful book, absolutely the best, most radical dissection I've ever read of a reductive, genetic viewpoint."—Robert Sapolsky, author of A Primate's Memoir and Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

"The Dependent Gene is a creative synthesis of the highest order. Without resorting to polemic, Moore clearly lays out the nature/nurture controversy and shows why (and how) it has been laid to rest."—Gilbert Gottlieb, University of North Carolina Center for Developmental Science

"The Dependent Gene is a masterful analysis and a breath of fresh air in the stale atmosphere of current trends in behavioral genetics and evolutionary psychology. A useful and engaging guide for the lay reader, the practicing scientist, and all who seek a more integrative approach to the endlessly fascinating process of development."—Robert Lickliter, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

"A remarkably lucid and wonderfully entertaining book. This is an extraordinary achievement, with something of value for anyone interested in how we become who we are."—Philip David Zelazo, University of Toronto

"Interesting . . . He discusses the developmental systems perspective in biology, which proposes that genes and the environment contribute in an integrated manner to the traits an organism finally develops. The theory, also called interactionism or dynamic developmentalism, suggests that traits are caused by a cascade of various factors, starting with DNA and going through various micro- and macroenvironmental signals or conditions that affect the final form of the trait . . . Fascinating and thought-provoking."—Margaret Henderson, Cold Spring Harbor n0 Laboratory Library, New York, Library Journal

"[The Dependent Gene] will change your view of what it means to be human."—The Washingtonian

"[A] well-written and far more optimistic view of human development and evolution than most that have come before."—Publishers Weekly

"At a time when biotech issues are increasingly crowding onto the political agenda, this book provides an urgently needed perspective."—Bryce Christensen, Booklist

Reviews from Goodreads



  • David S. Moore

  • David S. Moore, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at Pitzer College and at Claremont Graduate University. He received his doctorate in developmental psychology from Harvard University and did his post-doctoral work at the City University of New York.

  • David S. Moore