Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are by Robert Plomin - review by Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

All in the Genes?

Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are


Allen Lane 266pp £20 order from our bookshop

Robert Plomin is a pioneer of modern behaviour genetics and Blueprint is unabashedly an exercise in cheerleading for the field. His enthusiasm can be contagious and his exposition of the surprising and sometimes seemingly paradoxical discoveries in his discipline over the last three decades or so can be fascinating. But that enthusiasm sometimes gets the better of him: the book glosses over too many of the weaknesses of human behaviour genetics as it is currently practised and Plomin sometimes makes claims that, even if technically true, are at the very least deeply misleading.

In his prologue, Plomin asks us to imagine a ‘completely reliable and unbiased’ ‘fortune-telling device’ that can ‘predict psychological traits like depression, schizophrenia and school achievement’ from ‘the moment of your birth’. He then assures us that contemporary behaviour genetics will provide the same insights as such a device. A

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