Download The Accidental Species : Misunderstandings of Human by Henry Gee PDF

By Henry Gee

The belief of a lacking hyperlink among humanity and our animal ancestors predates evolution and well known technology and really has non secular roots within the deist suggestion of the nice Chain of Being. but, the metaphor has lodged itself within the modern mind's eye, and new fossil discoveries are usually hailed in headlines as revealing the elusive transitional step, the instant once we stopped being “animal” and began being “human.” within the unintentional Species, Henry Gee, longtime paleontology editor at Nature, takes objective at this deceptive inspiration, arguing that it displays a profound false impression of ways evolution works and, whilst utilized to the evolution of our personal species, helps improper rules approximately our personal position within the universe.

Gee offers a powerful and stark problem to our tendency to work out ourselves because the acme of production. faraway from being a quirk of spiritual fundamentalism, human exceptionalism, Gee argues, is an blunders that still infects clinical idea. traveling the various positive aspects of people that experience commonly been used to differentiate us from the remainder of the animal global, Gee exhibits that our evolutionary final result is one chance between many, one who owes extra to probability than to an geared up development to supremacy. He begins with bipedality, which he exhibits may have arisen fullyyt by chance, as a derivative of sexual choice, strikes directly to expertise, huge mind measurement, intelligence, language, and, ultimately, sentience. He unearths each one of those attributes to be alive and good during the animal world—they aren't, certainly, precise to our species.

The unintentional Species combines Gee’s firsthand event at the editorial aspect of many excellent paleontological findings with fit skepticism and humor to create a booklet that goals to overturn renowned pondering on human evolution—the secret is no longer what’s lacking, yet how we’re associated

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Extra info for The Accidental Species : Misunderstandings of Human Evolution

Example text

The assumption of progression is not only a misrepresentation of evolution, but ignores most of what is actually going on. When we strip away the assumption that evolution is progressive, we find a different picture, both richer and stranger. Most of what seems to be going on in evolution is not the acquisition of new, improved ways of living, but their wholesale loss. This is quite at variance with the picture of evolution most people have, of a march of greater complexity and improvement—a picture that, as I hope is becoming clear, is sometimes misinformed.

Because the fossil record is so fragmentary and imperfect (a point that Darwin grasped with his usual percipience), it is easy for us to read into it any narrative we like and assume that this narrative must be the right one. It is only natural for us to compose a story that suits our own prejudices of evolution (driven by natural selection) leading to ever greater refinement. This is, however, a profound misreading of Darwin’s ideas and reflects a failure to understand the uniqueness of natural selection as a mechanism of transformation.

Darwin’s contemporaries and antecedents looked at the tree of life and invented processes to “explain” it that were directional and improving. Darwin turned this idea on its head. He came up with a simple process in which no particular direction was implied, but whose result would be the treelike pattern we see. The tree is just natural selection summed over history. ” To go further, natural selection cannot be seen as evolution’s guiding hand. It has no personality, no memory, no foresight, and no end in view.

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