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Correct Genetic analogy

Posted By: Karen Bernd on July 2, 2002
I love metaphors and I have no problem with most of the genetic metaphor as described. However, the authors (or the reviewers) are misleading incorrect in their introduction. The biology professor in me cannot let this misconception be passed along.

Human chromosomes come in pairs, yes, but they do not come in X and Y 'types'. You have 23 pairs of chromosomes. For all of those pairs the difference is that you got one of them from your mom and one from your dad. One of those pairs are the 'sex chromosomes'. Women have two X's and men have an X and a Y. (The names come from differences in their shapes) Since Mom can only contribute an X , if you got an X from dad-- you are female. If you got a Y from Dad you are male. Your full genetic makeup cannot be determine only by whether you are XX or XY. Saying that those are the only two types of chromosomes is discounting 22 other chromosomes and, for half the population, saying that they are deficient in the types you do mention.

Metaphors are never perfect and can only be taken so far. That said-- there are much better and more facutally correct ways to grab the attention of those whose eyes glaze over or become fearful at the mere mention of science. (And, by the way, why is that the case? If it had been a metaphor for business organization, baking, or putting together an orchestra would you have thought to provide 'help' for the scientifically minded. But that's for another thread)

If possible please correct the review --just say one type inheritted from your mother and the other from your father, if necessary. If the mistake wias in the book--a genetic metaphor from authors that do not have a grasp of basic genetics makes me wonder about the book's value.
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 Correct Genetic analogy by Karen Bernd on July 2, 2002
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