Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live

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W. W. Norton & Company, Mar 18, 2013 - Science - 328 pages
20 Reviews

An exposé of pseudoscientific myths about our evolutionary past and how we should live today.

We evolved to eat berries rather than bagels, to live in mud huts rather than condos, to sprint barefoot rather than play football—or did we? Are our bodies and brains truly at odds with modern life? Although it may seem as though we have barely had time to shed our hunter-gatherer legacy, biologist Marlene Zuk reveals that the story is not so simple. Popular theories about how our ancestors lived—and why we should emulate them—are often based on speculation, not scientific evidence.

Armed with a razor-sharp wit and brilliant, eye-opening research, Zuk takes us to the cutting edge of biology to show that evolution can work much faster than was previously realized, meaning that we are not biologically the same as our caveman ancestors.

Contrary to what the glossy magazines would have us believe, we do not enjoy potato chips because they crunch just like the insects our forebears snacked on. And women don’t go into shoe-shopping frenzies because their prehistoric foremothers gathered resources for their clans.

As Zuk compellingly argues, such beliefs incorrectly assume that we’re stuck—finished evolving—and have been for tens of thousands of years. She draws on fascinating evidence that examines everything from adults’ ability to drink milk to the texture of our ear wax to show that we’ve actually never stopped evolving. Our nostalgic visions of an ideal evolutionary past in which we ate, lived, and reproduced as we were “meant to” fail to recognize that we were never perfectly suited to our environment. Evolution is about change, and every organism is full of trade-offs.

From debunking the caveman diet to unraveling gender stereotypes, Zuk delivers an engrossing analysis of widespread paleofantasies and the scientific evidence that undermines them, all the while broadening our understanding of our origins and what they can really tell us about our present and our future.

  

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Review: Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live

User Review  - Sean - Goodreads

Paleofantasy is best described as a long-winded rebuttal of a specific section of New Age bullshit, in this case those who romanticize the lifestyles and health of caveman ancestors. Marlene Zuk is ... Read full review

Review: Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live

User Review  - Gary - Goodreads

The author uses the clever narrative device of using modern day caveman wannabes incorrect beliefs and tells a story that teaches the reader about prehistory, evolution, psychology, diet, genetics and ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
Cavemen in Condos
19
Are We Stuck?
44
Crickets Sparrows and Darwinsor Evolution before
67
Milk
92
Meat Grains
109
Exercising the Paleofantasy
134
Paleofantasy Love 16 4
165
The Paleofantasy Family
194
Paleofantasy in Sickness and in Health
219
Are We Still Evolving? A Tale of Genes Altitude
245
73
273
Bibliography
293
Index
315
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

Marlene Zuk is a professor of ecology, evolution and behavior at the University of Minnesota. The author of Sex on Six Legs, she lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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