PROFITABLE PROMISES by Ruth Hubbard

PROFITABLE PROMISES

Essays on Women, Science and Health
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A rather odd assortment of old and new thoughts by Harvard's most articulate feminist biologist. Versions of these commentaries by Hubbard have been published previously or are soon to be published in a variety of books and journals. There's even an op-ed piece from the New York Times and a book review from the Village Voice. Hubbard has tried to impose order on this collection by grouping the selections into three parts and prefacing each with a brief explanation of how the individual pieces in it came to be written. In the first and most cohesive part, ``The Link Between Genes, Illness, and Behavior,'' she continues her campaign against genetic research detailed in Exploding the Gene Myth (1993). Such research, she asserts, not only fosters unwelcome dependence on questionable predictions and brings huge profits to makers of genetic tests, but it also takes time, attention, and resources away from broader problems. Indeed, she questions whether society should be focusing on high-tech solutions to any health problems while illness and death are often due to such preventable causes as malnutrition, poor sanitation, and poverty. Parts two, ``Women, Science, and Power,'' and three, ``Toward a Political Understanding of Science,'' continue the theme of The Politics of Women's Biology (1990). From a feminist stance, she examines how prominent scientists reinforce opinions that oppress women, and she takes a critical look at the interplay between scientific work and cultural and political ideologies. Hubbard's message- -that science must be shaped by the needs of ordinary people, not by the profit motives of a few--is persuasive, and though not likely to halt the human genome project, the book does provide interesting material for discussion in science and women's studies courses. Taken individually, the pieces are invariably clear and sometimes even compelling, but the book as a whole lacks cohesion and seems to be unsure of its purpose.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-56751-041-8
Page count: 150pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1994