In February 2001, the academic community announced that the genome contained not 100,000 genes, as originally expected, but only 30,000. This shocking modification led some scientists to conclude that human genes are not really sufficient to explain all the different ways people behave: we must have been made later rather than by congenital origin. Once again, biology was to be torn apart on the Procrustean bed of the innate-acquired debate.
The widely acclaimed science writer Matt Ridley asserts that the emerging truth is far more interesting than this myth. Acquired nurture depends on genes, and genes require acquired nurture. Not only do genes prescribe the broad structure of the brain, but they also absorb shaping experiences, respond to social cues, and even run memory. They are the cause of the will. They are also the result of will. Published more than 60 years after the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, this book details a new revolution in our understanding of genes. Ridley describes the centuries-old battle between believers in innate and acquired forces to explain how a paradoxical creation such as the human being can be both free willed and driven by instinct and culture. Preternatural Postnatural offers an exciting, cutting-edge account of how genes build brains to attract experience.
"O shameful humanity! Mortals were born free,
but they attribute their misery to the work of heaven;
their sins to the decree of the gods;
and falsely call their folly and recklessness the fault of fate."
- Homer, The Odyssey
Alexander Pope, trans. Book i,Line 58.
 Observer,i i February 2001.
 San Franasco Chronicie ,i iFebruary 2001.
 New York Times,12February 2001.