I am trying, yet once again to get back on the blogging wagon. Now that I don't have mandatory readings, I hope to try and share my opinions on books.
Ah so here goes my first review! Ekkkk!
Synopsis: "We evolved to eat berries rather than bagels, to live in caves rather than cities,for men to go off and hunt rather than take care of the kids;or did we? As Marlene Zuk reveals, theories about how our ancestors lived and why we should emulate them are often based on pseudoscience and speculation rather than actual research. Taking us to the cutting edge of biology, Zuk explains that evolution can work much faster than was previously realized, meaning that we are not biologically the same as our caveman ancestor. By attacking one misconstrued fantasy at a time. (source)
What I liked: Growing up, I was really into Evolutionary Psychology, until I realized that some things did not click. The truth is that the study of evolution and evolutionary behaviour relies on a few pieces of evidence: fossils and artifacts, genetics, modern day creatures such as our contemporaries. Based on these it is really hard to ascertain that any behavioural pattern existed for sure. I enjoyed the fact that this book is accessible to people who have not studied biology and that it includes a wide variety of literature from both academia and the web-- through forums and blogs. It goes through chapter by chapter dismantling a lot of the pseudoscience associated with the study of evolution-- namely, dietary ones. In short, it is informative and not overly technical.
What I disliked: Her grammar. Now I am not a grammarian but I was shocked to find that the editor could have left such strangely constructed phrases. I wish I had the actual book with me so I could point out each of her really poorly constructed sentences but I will leave that pleasure to you :)
Another aspect, I didn't like about the book was the poor choice for some of the similes. In other words, she would try to clarify a biology concept by comparing it to something else (that should be more familiar to the mainstream) but the comparison did not make sense.
Finally, she could have pushed some of her conclusions further. As one of the commenters on Goodreads suggested, she would allude to a discovery that could have a great social impact and she does not try to get into the social commentary. A great example is when she mentions that a lot of studies using contemporary forager societies, do so with the erroneous belief that these societies were "uncivilized," "savages," or less affected by modernity. On the contrary, these societies keep evolving and some of them were pushed to hunting and gathering methods because of colonialism. Instead of pushing further to make a point about how social biases often affect science, she keeps going with the rest of her points. The story repeats itself with the case of gender divisions in tasks, love and child rearing.
Why three stars: I am actually hesitating between three and three and a half stars; nonetheless, I found that the book contained good information but good use some improvement.
To whom I would recommend it: I would recommend it to anyone who is thinking of switching to a paleo diet. In fact, I would recommend it to everyone out there. That is right, everyone! However, if you are a biologist, you might find the information too general for your taste.
K, that is it from me.