Ann(ie) Blum in Our Lives, edited by Peter Taylor.

What does it mean to have had Ann—Annie to some—Blum in our lives? The letters and stories from family and friends assembled in this book, together with photos and words of Ann’s own, evoke her presence. They allow us to think about what we want to carry forward, into the lives we still have.


The Truth is the Whole: On the Unity and Dynamic Complexity of Life, edited by Tamara Awerbuch and Maynard Clark, forthcoming from The Pumping Station

Essays in honor of Richard Levins

River of Fire: Commons, Crisis, and the Imagination, edited by Cal Winslow of the Mendocino Institute, forthcoming from The Pumping Station

Essays in honor of Iain Boal


(In 1884, William Morris said that he had crossed the “River of Fire” to support revolutionary action.)

Join or arrange online Events on the Book Tour for Nature-Nurture? No. Moving the Sciences of Variation and Heredity Beyond the Gaps by Peter Taylor (The Pumping Station, 2014).

At each 60-minute Event Peter presents a vignette from the book, then participants are led through a 30 minute process involving writing, reflecting, speaking, and listening to make connections with their own work.

Technical requirements: A google+ account with audio and video plugins, reliable head set or earphones, and practice muting your mic when not speaking.

Two options:

  1. Join an Event already listed on this community.
  2. Find four other people who can participate at an agreed-on time (9am-9pm, any day), get confirmation from Peter (, thencreate an Event for this time on this community. (The convenor gets a free pdf of the book for arranging an Event.)


    Genetic is not genetic is not genetic…
    The implications of underlying heterogeneity
    Nature vs. nurture versus Nature vs. nurture
    Interaction, interaction, and interaction
    What to do if you think something significant has been overlooked for 100 years
    Why call something genetic variance?

Nature-Nurture? No: Moving the Sciences of Variation and Heredity Beyond the Gaps, by Peter J. Taylor (2014)

Almost every day we hear that some trait “has a strong genetic basis” or “of course it is a combination of genes and environment, but the hereditary component is sizeable.”  To say No to Nature-Nurture is to reject this relative weighting of heredity and environment.  This book shows that partitioning the variation observed for any trait into a heritability fraction and other components provides little clear or useful information about the genetic and environmental influences.

A key move this book makes is to distill the issues into eight conceptual and methodological gaps that need attention. Some gaps should be kept open; others should be bridged—or the difficulty of doing so should be conceded. Previous researchers and commentators have either not acknowledged all the gaps, not developed the appropriate responses, or not consistently sustained their responses.  Indeed, despite decades of contributions to nature-nurture debates, some fundamental problems in the relevant sciences have been overlooked.

When all the gaps are given proper attention, the limitations of human heritability studies become clear.  They do not provide a reliable basis for genetic research that seeks to identify the molecular variants associated with trait variation, for assertions that genetic differences in many traits come, over people’s lifetimes, to eclipse environmental differences and that the search for environmental influences and corresponding social policies is unwarranted, or for sociological research that focuses on differences in the experiences of members of the same family.

Saying No is saying Yes to interesting scientific and policy questions about heredity and variation.  To move beyond the gaps is to make space for fresh inquiries in a range of areas: in various sciences, from genetics and molecular biology to epidemiology and agricultural breeding; in history, philosophy, sociology, and politics of the life and social sciences; and in engagement of the public in discussion of developments in science.

Available as paperback through online retailers in North America, UK & Europe, and Australia and as pdf directly from the publishers.


Book “tour” details

The Harris Narratives: An Introspective Study of a Transracial Adoptee
Susan Harris O’Connor
This book consists of five autobiographical narratives by Susan Harris O’Connor, a social worker and transracial adoptee. These monologues were developed and performed around the United States in academic, clinical and child welfare settings to wide acclaim over the last sixteen years. They will be of immediate interest to scholars of race, identity, emotional intelligence, adoption, child welfare, as well as clinicians and those directly impacted in families created by adoption. The book will also speak to writers, performers and individuals interested in developing their voice through self-exploration. In her narratives the author explores in depth: the impact of foster care during the first 14 months of her life; her relationship with her unknown birth father; the role of race and racism for transracial adoptees who grow up in white communities; the development of her racial identity and a model derived from these experiences, and the relationships between her different identities or mind constructs, her inner strengths and vulnerabilities, and the outside world. There is a progression one chapter to the next, chronicling greater understanding, deeper reflection, and a developing voice. This is an original and sophisticated exploration of the inner life of a transracial adoptee and the forces that helped shape her life. It is at once a case study and an observation of the human condition with universal appeal.

Vignettes from the book*

(* explanatory audio to be added in due course)