The gene illusion

Biological relativity and the Emperor's New Genes

Once we debunk our current dogmatic understanding of how genes and living systems work, we will fundamentally change the view of ourselves and our place in nature, writes Denis Noble.


A debate organised by the IAI at HowTheLightGetsIn festival five years ago used the title “The Emperor’s New Genes” as a play on the old story about the tailors who made new clothes of the finest silk for the Emperor in which to display his prowess. Eventually, the silk they used was so fine that it was indeed a transparent “see-through” gown. It took a small boy in the crowd to shout out “the Emperor has no clothes!”

The central point of my contribution to the debate was a statement I had made in a new book called Dance to the Tune of Life: Biological Relativity, where I wrote “there is no gene for anything!” Not surprisingly, thi

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