Biology As Ideology by Richard C. Lewontin

By Richard C. Lewontin

Following within the type of Stephen Jay Gould and Peter Medawar, one of many world's prime scientists examines how "pure technology" is in reality formed and guided through social and political wishes and assumptions.

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In some cases, when a different nucleotide is substituted in a gene, less or even none at all of a particular protein may be manufactured because the machinery of the cell has a hard time recognizing the code. Second, other parts of the gene, also sequences of nucleotides, form part of the machinery that turns off and turns on the production of proteins. In this way, although the same genes are in every part of the body during every part of the life of an organism, proteins corresponding to some genes will be produced at some times and in some parts of the body whereas they will not be produced at other times and in other parts of the body.

Scores of these adopted children are about equal to the average I. Q. of the adopting parents, who always do much better on I. Q. tests than the biological parents. What is at stake here is the difference between correlation and identity. Two variables are positively correlated if higher values of one are matched with higher values of the other. The ordered set of numbers 100, 101, 102, and 103 is perfectly correlated with the set of 120, 121, 122, and 123 because each increase in one set is perfectly matched by an increase in the other.

On the average, the amino acid sequence specified by our maternally inherited and paternally inherited genes differ in about one every 12 genes. In addition, because of the nature of the genetic code, many changes occur at the level of DNA that are not reflected in genes are copied directly from the gene molecules that previously existed. Since no chemical copying process is perfect, mistakes are made, so-called mutations, but these happen about one in a million copies as a rule. The description I have just given of genes as determining the particular proteins that an organism can manufacture, as being part of the signaling system that responds to the environment in turning on and off the manufacture of protein, and as being the model for the manufacture of more of themselves, differs in a subtle way from the usual description of these relations.

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