Sunday, April 22, 2007

Alex: New and Hot, Book Review

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So this is an article about a study released about 2 or 3 weeks ago which claims that the rate at which humans are evolving is rapidly accelerating and has been faster than any other era. I think this article raises several interesting points. First, it disagrees with the notion that this is ever an 'origin' of man. That is, there was never a singular point in time, in which we became truly human. Next, it's interesting to note that our brain sizes are currently decreasing in size at a pretty rapid rate over the last 20 to 30 thousand years. Scientists aren't particularly worried about this because specific areas in our brain responsible for higher cognitive abilities have actually grown larger.

However, this does raise the question of what mental abilities are we losing out on? Instinct when in comes to throwing projectiles, for instance? I don't know. But it's something to think about. Our teeth are growing smaller as well, according to the article. In addition, (I heard this a few years back from a friend, so I don't know how credible the source is) it seems that human hearing have been deteriorating over over the ages, whereas human vision has increased in perceptive abilities. Maybe we are losing our physical prowess? Some element of it?

Furthermore, this last sentence in the article was pretty poignant, I thought.
What­ever the imp­li­ca­tions of the recent findings, McKee added, they high­light a ubiq­ui­tous point about ev­o­lu­tion: “every spe­cies is a tran­si­tion­al spe­cies.”
Evolution is never "end-all-be-all," it doesn't "lead" to a goal. It's just sort of a random stochastic process and we're just the end products of random luck. I think that's generally what this guy is saying.

Next, the book review:

I read this book:

I thought it was an interesting read
. I learned a lot about Darwin, that's for sure. Despite the fact that it's a novel, I don't think it was that hard to separate truth from fiction.

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