Human Natures: Genes, Cultures, and the Human Prospect

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Island Press, Aug 1, 2000 - Science - 531 pages
9 Reviews
The Bell Curve, The Moral Animal, The Selfish Gene -- these and a host of other books and articles have made a seemingly overwhelming case that our genes determine our behavior. Now, in a new book that is sure to stir controversy, one of the world's leading evolutionary biologists shows why most of those claims of genetic destiny cannot be true, and explains how the arguments often stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of evolution itself. "You can't change human nature," the saying goes. But you can, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich shows us in Human Natures, and in fact, evolution is the story of those changing natures. He makes a compelling case that "human nature" is not a single, unitary entity, but is as diverse as humanity itself, and that changes in culture and other environmental variations play as much of a role in human evolution as genetic changes. We simply don't have enough genes to specify behavior at the level that is often asserted. Never has knowledge of our evolutionary past been more important to our future. Developing intelligent strategies for antibiotic use, pest control, biodiversity protection -- and even for establishing more equitable social arrangements -- all depend on understanding evolution and how it works. A hallmark of Human Natures is the author's ability to convey lucidly that understanding in the course of presenting an engrossing history of our species. Using personal anecdote, vivid example, and stimulating narrative, Ehrlich guides us through the thicket of controversies over what science can and cannot say about the influence of our evolutionary past on everything from race to religion, from sexual orientation to economic development. A major work of synthesis and scholarship, Human Natures gives us the fruit of a lifetime's thought and research on evolution and environment by a modern master of scientific understanding. Ehrlich's innovative vision lights the way to a fresh view of human nature and evolution, bringing insight and clarity to urgent questions of where we are as a species, and where we may be headed.
  

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Review: Human Natures: Genes, Cultures, and the Human Prospect

User Review  - Josh - Goodreads

This book is brimming with information on evolution - cultural and biological - that your lay scientist cannot afford to miss out on. My only complaint is that, if you've read up on these topics to ... Read full review

Review: Human Natures: Genes, Cultures, and the Human Prospect

User Review  - John Petersen - Goodreads

A great book. The author provides an update of fossil record that fills in many of what were considered to be missing links. Then based on the updated family tree and fossil records he describes how ... Read full review

Contents

TALES FROM THE ANIMAL HOUSE
15
OUR NATURES AND THEIRS
44
STANDING UP FOR OURSELVES
68
BARE BONES AND A FEW STONES
88
EVOLVING BRAINS EVOLVING MINDS
108
FROM GROOMING TO GOSSIP?
139
THE DOMINANCE OF CULTURE
203
FROM SEEDS TO CIVILIZATION
227
GODS Dis KBOMBERS AND BUREAUCRACY
253
i3 EVOLUTION AND HUMAN VALUES
305
Notes
333
References
433
Acknowledgments
509
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Paul Ehrlich, founder and first president of the Zero Population Growth organization, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He received a B.A. in zoology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1953 and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 1955 and 1957, respectively. He became a member of the faculty at Stanford University in 1959 and was named Bing Professor of Population Studies in 1976. He is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, and in 1990 he was awarded Sweden's Crafoord Prize, created by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to honor researchers in those disciplines not covered by the Nobel Prize. An expert in population biology, ecology, evolution, and behavior, Ehrlich has published more than 600 articles and scientific papers. He is perhaps best known for his environmental classic The Population Bomb (1968). Paul Ehrlich and his wife Anne began working together shortly after their marriage in 1954. Anne Ehrlich received her B.S. in biology from the University of Kansas. As senior research associate in biology and associate director of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, she has lectured widely and written on various environmental issues, including the environmental consequences of nuclear war. Together, the Ehrlichs have written six books and dozens of magazine articles.

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