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Nonsense and sensibility

Educationalists ask us to identify our learning style: are you an abstract conceptualist or an active experimenter for example? Well if you learn best by having disorders mapped on to classic works of literature, with a tongue simultaneously in cheek, you are in luck. The superbly frivolous ‘Pride and Protein’ from William Stern reinforces the presentation and inheritance of the ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency. In doing so, he may have explained the curious paucity of males in the Bennet family at the centre of Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, and more importantly that half of the females are sensible, while half are silly. The clue, writes Stern, is that silliness is …

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