This semester, I have read a good number of books about biology and different biological processes. This book out of all the books I have read was the worst in terms of entertainment value. However, I learned more from this book than I have from all the other books I have read this semester. The writing was dry, but the information was full and informative. I’ve probably erased and re-written this paper 3 or 4 times because there is so much information to cover. The genome is a wonderful thing and can really make a difference once we understand what it is and how it works. The minor variances between all human DNA can predict our futures and how we will be years from now.
The first chapter I am going to touch on is the chapter talking about genetic disease. This chapter was interesting for me to read because of my own personal genome. Many years ago, I took place in a study about skin cancer and was told I have the P16 gene which increases the chance I have for skin cancer. Later in life, my chances for pancreatic cancer will also increase. The chapter on genetic disease talks about ABO blood typing to discuss disease. Specifically, people with O blood type are more susceptible to Cholera but they are still around today because their O blood type makes them more resistant to many other strains of disease. While O blood type isn’t a disease, it does indicate that our genome can affect our overall health for good or bad. Throughout this chapter the author does talk about how our genome affects us but does not seem to discuss how we can affect our genome. It almost seems to be from the author’s point of view that if you have certain genetic coding there isn’t anything you can do to change that.
I personally challenge this idea to an extent. While you can’t change your genetic coding, you can affect the outcomes of your coding to an extent. Take for example my genome. I know that I have increased risk for cancer. If I took the outlook of the author, I’d do nothing about it and just accept my fate. But we know that healthy living can significantly decrease the risks for cancer. By me choosing to live healthy, I can absolutely affect my genes and decrease my chances for cancer. I think that the author misses this point but does make other great points when discussing how a genome can affect our health.
The next chapter that really challenge my viewpoints was the chapter on personality. The author shares a story about how 3 generations of a family of were all criminals. Upon further analysis it was discovered that all 3 men shared the same gene which gave them unusual Serotonin levels. While the author states this isn’t a crime gene, it does indicate how our personality will be affected by our brain chemistry. This challenged my idea of personality because I have personal experience with changing personality.
My natural personality is one of quiet and introverted behavior. In high school, I was very unpopular and only had one close friend which was hard on me. I realized that to be successful or get anywhere in life I had to change my personality and be more friendly and outgoing. Since the years of high school, I have become very outgoing, friendly, and have made many more friends than I had in my first 18 years of life combined. I understand that the author also agrees with the belief that our genes do not make up everything that we are or will be. However, there were several instances of the author indicating that people were more likely to believe their genome over everything else. I think this is a big caution that genetic analyzation should take. If we tell someone you have a gene that will make you a criminal they are more likely to think that’s just the way it is rather than do something so they aren’t a criminal.
For this book, my major critical analysis and thought is that our genome affects us to a great degree, but we shouldn’t let our genome dictate or control us. After reading this book, the author does touch on this briefly in some chapters, but skims over it in others. This indicates to me that the author believes there are certain things that can be controlled by our actions, and others that cannot. I’ve never been a fan of the idea that you are helpless to your genome. Everyone has a say no matter how small in who they are, what happens to them, and the types of things they must deal with. It’s just a matter of making the right choices to mitigate the impact your genome may have on you.
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