Supergenes: What Really Makes Us Human

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Craig Mackay, 2008 - Science - 212 pages
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Why do we behave so differently in different situations? Why did you choose the clothes you are wearing, the books you read and the friends and opinions you have? What is it about humans that has let us achieve so much, so quickly? This book tries to understand why the evolution of our human species is happening at a rate so much faster than may be explained by Darwinian biological evolution alone. The engine of our extraordinary social evolution is human behaviour. We have a deep-seated need to pass on to others some part of our own achievements, what we have made of our lives. Our survival and success now depends principally on our adaption to our social environment and not to our physical environment. It is these supercharged social genes that are the essence of our remarkable and accelerating rate of evolution today. This book looks critically at our present understanding of human behaviour and evolution to seek a consilience across a wide range of fields of research. More at www.supergenes.net
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Our Insulation from Reality
3
The Core of the Problem
9
The Properties of Supergenes
13
How Are These Genes Expressed?
14
What Causes Specific Genetic Traits to Survive?
15
How Stable Are These Evolutionary Strategies?
16
How Did We Get to Be like This?
19
The Newborn Child
100
The Social Life of the Developing Child
102
The Nurture Assumption
104
Growing up with Peer Groups
106
How We Relate to Groups
110
Group Influences on Children
112
Adult Group Structures
114
Supergene Transactions
117

The Formation of Life
20
Darwinian Evolution
21
The Structure of the Human Genome
23
Mammalian Reproduction
24
Genetic Diversity and Evolution
25
The Beginnings of Human Civilisation
29
Civilisation in the Technological Age
32
Modern Ideas of Human Evolution and Behaviour
37
Human Sociobiology
43
Human Behavioural Ecology
48
Evolutionary Psychology
50
Memetics and GeneCulture Evolution
53
GeneCulture CoEvolution
56
What Do We Learn from These Evolutionary Theories?
58
Sociology and Social Psychology
59
So What Do We Really Know about Human Behaviour and Evolution?
62
Towards a New Synthesis
65
The Importance of Consilience
69
The Supergene Hypothesis
71
How Did Supergenes Arise?
76
The Life Cycle of the Supergene
78
The General Characteristics of Supergenes
80
The Development and Behaviour of Homo Sapiens
85
The Origins of Groups in Our Society
88
Overcoming the Limitations of Our Biogenes
91
The Information Explosion
93
The Origins of Language
95
The Earliest Stages Of Human Development
97
Life in the Womb
98
Passing Supergenes To Others
119
Interchanging Supergenes Successfully
122
Why Groups Are Critical For Supergene Transfers
125
The Drive for Power and Influence
128
Context Switching
129
How Our Supergenes Are Acquired
130
How Our Supergenes Evolve and Supergene Stability
133
Supergenes and Human Behaviour
139
Reinforcing Group Identities
141
The Importance of Trust in Politics and Public Life
143
Bad Behaviour and Evil Are Adaptive
145
Why Are Abusive Relationships so Common?
146
The Enigma That Is Altruism
147
Supergene Propagation for the Childless
150
Extreme Strategies for Supergene Propagation
152
Heroism and the Suicide Bomber
153
Why Adoption Is Relatively Unsuccessful
154
The Failure of Acquisitions and Mergers
156
Supergenes in the Big Bad World
159
Social Isolation and the Need to Conform
165
Manipulation of National Supergene Pools
166
Manipulating Your Supergene Pool
168
Controlling Our Minds
169
Advertising and Public Relations
174
Our Remarkable Supergenes
181
Supergene Engineering
186
Bibliography
189
Copyright

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