MOLECULAR GODS: How Molecules Determine Our Behavior by Philip B. Applewhite

MOLECULAR GODS: How Molecules Determine Our Behavior

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Selfish genes, nothing; it is really molecular gods that are pushing us around, says biologist Philip Applewhite, currently at Yale. Unfortunately his use of the word molecular is mercurial. In the larger sense he means that everything that happens to us or the world is ultimately due to molecules or atoms: thoughts and feelings and rainbows and revolutions depend on molecular forces in the brain or in matter. Hardly a startling thought, unless you invoke invisible forces or Higher realities. But Applewhite also uses molecular for physical as opposed to psychological: thus he argues for the molecular causes for mental illness, obesity, alcoholism, homosexuality. . . as opposed to how mama or society treated you. Still, he admits, the psychological forces are also molecular. . . and so we go round and round. Certainly Applewhite has a right to put forth current findings about the biology of schizophrenia, enzyme defects in alcoholism, and the like. He also has some interesting things to say--about, for instance, biorhythms: we may not metabolize alcohol so well in the morning; sensory awareness may be more heightened in early evening. But applying ""molecular"" theories to thinking, love, hate, aggression, criminality, et al. runs the risk of oversimplification--the memory pill, the hormone injection--and can lead to the ultimate reductionism that causes Applewhite (and others) to suggest that environmental interventions may be futile if criminals are really determined by a set of genes that lead to antisocial behavior. . . . The bibliography is excellent; otherwise, caution is-urged.

Pub Date: March 5th, 1981
Publisher: Prentice-Hall