Genetically Modified Truths

15 May
Steve Jones

Steve Jones

‘Just in case there are any people down from London for the day I’ll translate the Latin because I know that the highly educated people of Swindon won’t need me to’. Steve Jones certainly knows how to win over an audience and he continued to do so with a succession of one liners woven between some chilling anecdotes from the murky world of genetics. Jones discussed the currently trendy political idea that ‘troubled families’ have a genetic tendency to be ‘troubled’, his input into a death row case that hinged on whether the defendant had inherited his ‘badness’ from his father and how over muscled whippets are doomed by their DNA. Fundamentally Jones’ argument on the night could be summed up when he said that ‘every human attribute is a mixture of genes and human environments’. His book was barely mentioned, although as a confirmed atheist he did say that he didn’t mind it being burned …. provided people had bought it first. He suggested that the Bible was originally a handbook to understand the world around us which attempted to bridge poetry, science and morality but which has been proven to be not especially accurate in many ways. Jones is an explorer with a sparkle in his eye and a spring in his step, often moving out of earshot as he made an especially animated point away from the microphone but this was all part of his charm. Even Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah got a look in alongside his identical twin, car mechanic, brother. Same genes – different outcomes and a different perspective on the important things in life – ask yourself, will you ever be stuck on the hard shoulder waiting for an Olympic runner to emerge triumphant from the fog or would the same genes with an oily rag and a bag of spanners suit you better?

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