Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Book in Review: The 10,000 Year Explosion

The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution BY: Gregory Cochran & Henry Harpending
Non-Fiction: Science 227 pages
Book Count: 27

See, I told you. The next book was a scientific book full of DNA, genetics, notes, a glossary, a bibliography and an index. No money saving or organic food in sight. There was talk of money lending, and modifying foods. (and Zebus!) Anyway this book is about how humans have been evolving in the past 10,000 years and still do so today. It does contain a lot of facts, figures and charts to back up this idea. It requires a basic understanding on how DNA and genes work to read this book. It was an interesting book to read; however, as it was all about science it didn't do much to deal with the issues that their theories could cause in life. With the main issue being how this idea could be used for racism. If the differences between groups of people are deeper then just skin or hair color then it is easier to say one way is better. In the book it does try to point out how one group of people may have adapted in ways that work better for this situation, but this other group was better at this. For example, having sickle cells in the blood to prevent malaria (the genetically African way to deal with it) is not as good as other ways the body has made (found largely in Asian populations) but overall the way Africans evolved to deal with tropical diseases was much better then other groups that tried to invade there (i.e. Europeans) But, then it points out how the type and length of a groups civilization affects how there brains work, so that they may be unable to change to a different way of civilization easily or without generations of time. For example, African Bushmen have not been able to be taught to herd animals as they will eat them all which these authors believe is do to them not having the brain to be patient and think about the future. While, the Ashkenazi Jews have on average an IQ about 12 points higher then average and excel at math and the sciences. Which, the authors feel is do to centuries of not mixing with other peoples and having jobs in money lending that would favor people with good math skills. Which, as least then would mean if you're one of the crazy people that think that the Jews are controlling the world, and you're white, then it would be your own ancestors fault for only letting them work with money lending, as the other groups of Jews around the world that could hold many different jobs during the Middle Ages are as a whole no better on IQ test then anyone else.

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