Thoughts on: “Mutants” by Armand Marie Leroi

Spontaneous sex change, cyclops and mermaid syndrome and conjoined twins. The tall and the very short. Albinism and rapid aging. No stone is left unturned when Armand Marie Leroi’s takes us on a journey though the biology of the bizarre – and beautiful.

This book “..is not only about the human body as we might wish it to be, but as it is – replete with variety and error”.


📝 Mutation arise from errors made by the machinery that copies or repair DNA.

📝 “We are all mutants, but some of us are more mutant than others.”

📝 Clitoris = Penis

📝: ‘I do not want to be embarrassed by your black body at Daddy’s grave’ said her mother. Rita Hoefling was a white girl in the apartheid society of South Africa who suddenly turning black. At first she got subtle racist remarks and by the end of her transformation she was denied attending her own fathers funeral.. racism is dumb.

📝 Preformationists= They believed the egg contained the entire embryo (complete with limbs) and that embryo had itself it owns sperm or egg which in turn contained embryos ad infinitum.

📝 In conjoined twins the skew toward femininity is overwhelming: about 77 percent are girls. No one know why this is.

📝 Boys who are castrated before puberty grow up to be unusually tall.

📝 “Women of all cultures seem to prefer men who are on average five centimeters (about two inches) taller than themselves.”


The human body is amazing. This book feels like it celebration of the most haunting, weird and wonderful shapes the human body can take. It leaves me in awe.

4/5

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Thoughts on: “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins

A lot of times we look at darwinian survival on the level of the organism. Richard Dawkins suggest that we instead should look at the survival of the individual gene as the driving force of natural selection. The organism, being a fish or a human body is just a vessel. A survival machine for protecting and reproduction of DNA.

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Why does this shift in perspective matter?

DNA molecules are replicators, the fundamental unit of natural selection, and taking the viewpoint of the gene rather than the organism helps when looking at behaviors in nature that seem to contradict the survival instinct.

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“There are other times when the implicit interests of the vehicle and replicator are in conflict, such as the genes behind certain male spiders’ instinctive mating behaviour, which increase the organism’s inclusive fitness by allowing it to reproduce, but shorten its life by exposing it to the risk of being eaten by the cannibalistic female

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The ideas in this books are groundbreaking. The original book was written in 1976 and had been updated 3 times since then. The issue is that Dawkins has a condescending, snobbish way of writing and is very confrontational towards his critics. The writing is dry and repetitious at times, making the subject less exciting than it ought to be.

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Notes:

A deadly gene could survive in the gene pool by inflicting its damage only after a person reaches an old age, where the victim already produced offspring. Like cancer.

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Many carry lethal recessive genes. But the odds that the person you mate with have the same lethal gene highly unlikely, unless the mating is incestuous. ——————————————

Mothers are more caring for their offspring than fathers since they can be sure that the offspring is theirs.

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Dawkins coins the word “meme”. The cultural gene that spread from brain to brain through ideas.

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3/5

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