Richard C. Lewontin is Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Professor of Biology at Harvard University. He is the author of The Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change and Biology as Ideology, and the co-author of The Dialectical Biologist (with Richard Levins) and Not in Our Genes (with Steven Rose and Leon Kamin).


The New Synthetic Biology: Who Gains?

Craig Venter, founder of the J. Craig Venter Institute, which does research in synthetic biology, at his office in La Jolla, California, March 2014

Biology’s Brave New World: The Promise and Perils of the Synbio Revolution

by Laurie Garrett

The Principles for the Oversight of Synthetic Biology

by the Friends of the Earth US, the International Center for Technology Assessment, and the ETC Group
Nothing in history suggests that those who control and profit from material production can really be depended upon to devote the needed foresight, creativity, and energy to protect us from the possible negative effects of synthetic biology. In cases where there is a conflict between the immediate and the long-range consequences or between public and private good, how can that conflict be resolved?

Is There a Jewish Gene?

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo: The Sacrifice of Isaac (detail), 1726–1739

Legacy: A Genetic History of the Jewish People

by Harry Ostrer

The Genealogical Science: The Search for Jewish Origins and the Politics of Epistemology

by Nadia Abu El-Haj
The question of ancestry has been of human concern in virtually all cultures and over all times of which we have any knowledge. Whether it be a story about the origin of a particular tribe or nation and its subsequent mixture with other groups, or curiosity about a family history, there is always the implication that we understand ourselves better if we know our ancestors and that we, within ourselves, reflect properties that have come to us by an unbroken line from past generations.

Let the DNA Fit the Crime

Central Park, New York City, 1990

The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding

by Sarah Burns

Genetic Justice: DNA Data Banks, Criminal Investigations, and Civil Liberties

by Sheldon Krimsky and Tania Simoncelli
Hercule Poirot has an easy time of it. He needs only the logic provided by his “little gray cells” to discern, unerringly, which of the dozen or so guests at the country house or passengers in the sleeping coach have committed the crime, nor is there any doubt that those …

It’s Even Less in Your Genes

The Mirage of a Space Between Nature and Nurture

by Evelyn Fox Keller
In trying to analyze the natural world, scientists are seldom aware of the degree to which their ideas are influenced both by their way of perceiving the everyday world and by the constraints that our cognitive development puts on our formulations. At every moment of perception of the world around us, we isolate objects as discrete entities with clear boundaries while we relegate the rest to a background in which the objects exist. That tendency, as Evelyn Fox Keller’s new book suggests, is one of the most powerful influences on our scientific understanding.

Not So Natural Selection

A pair of peppered moths superimposed on a photograph of Sheffield, England, after the Industrial Revolution. Since the mid-nineteenth century, there has been an increase in the black-winged form of the peppered moth in England. Evolutionary biologists ha

What Darwin Got Wrong

by Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini
There is an immense amount of biology missing from our modern formulation of evolution by natural selection. Why, when vertebrates evolved wings, did they have to give up their front legs to do it?  Why don’t birds that live in trees make a living by eating the leaves instead of spending so much of their energy looking for seeds or worms?  It is these considerations that lie at the heart of Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini’s discussion of What Darwin Got Wrong.