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Book review: Identically Independent, by Tim Spector

The idea that practically everything about us - our appearance, personality, tastes, health - is determined by our genes is widespread today. One could almost say that genetic determinism is the scientific equivalent of astrological determinism. One reason we tend to believe this is evidence from twin studies. Comparison of pairs of 'identical' (monozygotic) twins with non-identical (dizygotic) twins allows us to estimate the contribution of genetic factors, since identical twins have the same genome whereas non-identical twins do not. This research has shown a strong hereditary element in many characteristics.

What has attracted even more attention in the media is cases of identical twins who were separated at birth and brought up in different families. When reunited the twins often seemed to be uncannily similar, even down to trivial matters such as the kind of dog they have or the names they give to their children. [More]

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