Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free

Should I include a controversial book I've read in my personal statement? Watch

    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    I'm wanting to study biochemistry/molecular biology at university. To show an interest, I'm reading a book based on biochemistry. This book is quite controversial as it's called 'the biochemical challenge to evolution'. I'm not religious but I chose to read the book because it caught my eye. Some of the content does point out flaws in evolution, but we are getting off track here.

    Obviously you can see why its a bit iffy. Should I say that I've read it in my personal statement? It shows I have an interest and has some amazing technical and uni standard biochemistry in its contents, but I don't want to come across as a creationist and appear unsuited for the course.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?

    Thank you
    Offline

    16
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by CBMFM99)
    I'm wanting to study biochemistry/molecular biology at university. To show an interest, I'm reading a book based on biochemistry. This book is quite controversial as it's called 'the biochemical challenge to evolution'. I'm not religious but I chose to read the book because it caught my eye. Some of the content does point out flaws in evolution, but we are getting off track here.

    Obviously you can see why its a bit iffy. Should I say that I've read it in my personal statement? It shows I have an interest and has some amazing technical and uni standard biochemistry in its contents, but I don't want to come across as a creationist and appear unsuited for the course.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?

    Thank you
    If you can explain why you think it is worth reading and how it demonstrates your interest in the subject, then do so. Don't imagine that admissions tutors will not have heard of it or that they don't have the capacity to understand the argument you make for reading it. However, don't make it a central part of your ps.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    I know someone who has read Mein Kampf and was going to include that in her personal statement... If this book somehow broadens your understanding, gets you out of your comfort zone and makes you start to think(doesn't matter if you agree with it) then go for it
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    I wouldn't take any risks.

    A tutor isn't going to spend ages reading a PS and trying to second guess your motivations. The reaction of the admission tutor could be "wow this guys is well read" or it could be "this guy believes in the Abominable Snowman". I personally wouldn't take the risk.
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    Put it in and mention if you were unconvinced by certain arguments, briefly. For instance, and I'll use the example of something I actually know about;

    "The last book I read was Ayn Rand's magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged. While I agree with the author's passionate defences of individualism and capitalism, her full rejection of altruism in all its forms struck me as philosophically unsound. It is telling that there are no children in any of Rand's major works, as the process of raising children is itself a repudiation of Rand's commitment to the self above all else."
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by amelialv)
    I know someone who has read Mein Kampf and was going to include that in her personal statement... If this book somehow broadens your understanding, gets you out of your comfort zone and makes you start to think(doesn't matter if you agree with it) then go for it
    That's completely different.

    If you're applying to read History or Politics, and you say you've read Mein Kampf, that can only be a positive. There's no way it could be interpreted as unsuitability for the course.

    However, if you say you've read books on Phantom Time hypothesis or Ancient Astronaut theory, you could be viewed as being an idiot, rather than someone broadening their horizons with alternate non-traditional viewpoints.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Trinculo)
    That's completely different.

    If you're applying to read History or Politics, and you say you've read Mein Kampf, that can only be a positive. There's no way it could be interpreted as unsuitability for the course.

    However, if you say you've read books on Phantom Time hypothesis or Ancient Astronaut theory, you could be viewed as being an idiot, rather than someone broadening their horizons with alternate non-traditional viewpoints.
    No, she is applying to medicine actually
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by amelialv)
    No, she is applying to medicine actually
    Then I'd leave it out. I'd see it as a waste of my PS space on something that can be of almost no benefit. and a distraction from anything positive.
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Trinculo)
    Then I'd leave it out. I'd see it as a waste of my PS space on something that can be of almost no benefit. and a distraction from anything positive.
    I wouldn't put in there either, but I guess it adds originality to some extent, showing what a candidate thinks is worth to say/not say
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    Showing an interest in anything and everything will go down well with a university for sure.
    Offline

    18
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by amelialv)
    I wouldn't put in there either, but I guess it adds originality to some extent, showing what a candidate thinks is worth to say/not say
    Depends largely what else a person has or hasn't said about themselves. If a PS isn't strong in general and I've put a controversial book on it, I might run the risk of the tutor saying "this guy wants to read medicine, he's got no evidence of work experience or reading journals, but he's read a bit of Hitler"

    But otherwise, I'd agree, it might not do any harm - but the opportunity cost
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    3
    ReputationRep:
    Thanks for all the advice guys
    • TSR Support Team
    Offline

    19
    ReputationRep:
    TSR Support Team
    Don't bother. Darwin's Black Box, the book you refer to, is by the author Michael Behe from 1996. This guy has been debunked plenty of times, his pseudoscience arguments on 'irreducible complexity'/intelligent design have also been exposed and countered many times before as well.

    You'd be wasting your time by trying to put forward any intelligent design argument in a scientific discipline. If you're having trouble understanding evolutionary biology, I'd suggest the author Jerry Coyne.
    • Specialist Advisor
    Offline

    2
    ReputationRep:
    Specialist Advisor
    (Original post by CBMFM99)
    I'm wanting to study biochemistry/molecular biology at university. To show an interest, I'm reading a book based on biochemistry. This book is quite controversial as it's called 'the biochemical challenge to evolution'. I'm not religious but I chose to read the book because it caught my eye. Some of the content does point out flaws in evolution, but we are getting off track here.

    Obviously you can see why its a bit iffy. Should I say that I've read it in my personal statement? It shows I have an interest and has some amazing technical and uni standard biochemistry in its contents, but I don't want to come across as a creationist and appear unsuited for the course.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?

    Thank you
    Hi CBMFM99,

    Writing a PS is all about you and what you think, so if you think that particular book is relevant then do mention it. But beware of tricky questions about it! you should be ready to discuss any controversial points in it.
    Moreover adding such a book shows a very good quality for scientists: open mindedness. which is the key to good research and novel ideas.

    You might want to read this blog, which discuss how to convey your passion for medical subjects.

    Hope this help, and don't hesitate to ask if you have any question!

    UniAdmissions
 
 
 
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • Poll
    Would you like to hibernate through the winter months?
    Useful resources
    Graduates celebrate

    How to write a good personal statement

    Expert PS advice from the people who will read it

    Uni match

    Find your perfect uni course

    Don't know where to apply? Let our uni match maker be your guide

    Groups associated with this forum:

    View associated groups
  • See more of what you like on The Student Room

    You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

  • The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

    Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

    Quick reply
    Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.