If you read only one book this month – or this year – read William Landay’s Defending Jacob.

From the book:

She said, “The point is the science is good and it’s getting better every day.  Just imagine: up till now, we’ve always asked, What caused human behavior?  Is it nature or nurture? And we’ve been very good at studying the nurture side of the equation. There’s lots and lots of good studies on how environment affects behavior. But now, for the first time in human history, we can look at the nature side.  This is cutting-edge stuff. The structure of DNA was only discovered in 1953.  We’re just beginning to understand.  We’re just beginning to look at what we are.  Not as some abstraction like the ‘soul’ or metaphor like the ‘human heart,’ but the real mechanics of human beings, the nuts and bolts.  This” — she pinched the skin of her own arm and pulled up a sample of her own flesh–“the human body is a machine.  It is a system, a very complex system made of molecules and driven by chemical reactions and electrical impulses. Our minds are part of that system. People have no trouble accepting that nurture affects behavior. Why not nature?”

“Doctor, will this keep my kid out of prison?”

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