A Panorama of Our Glitches, From Pointless Bones to Broken Genes
By Nathan H. Lents
An illuminating, entertaining tour of the physical imperfections, from faulty knees to junk DNA, that make us human - and a unique approach to telling our evolutionary history
We like to think of ourselves as highly evolved creatures. But if we are evolution's greatest creation, why are we so badly designed? We have retinas that face backward, the stump of a tail, and way too many bones in our wrists. We must find vitamins and nutrients in our diets that other animals simply make for themselves. Millions of us can't reproduce successfully without help from modern science. We have nerves that take bizarre paths, muscles that attach to nothing, and lymph nodes that do more harm than good. And that's just the beginning of the story.
As biologist Nathan H. Lents explains, our evolutionary history is a litany of mistakes, each more entertaining and enlightening than the last. As we will discover, by exploring human shortcomings, we can peer into our past, because each of our flaws tells a story about our species' evolutionary history.
A rollicking, deeply informative tour of our four-billion-year-long evolutionary saga, Human Errors both celebrates our imperfections - for our mutations are, in their own way, a testament to our species' greatness - and offers an unconventional accounting of the cost of our success.
Nathan H. Lents is a professor of biology at John Jay College at The City University of New York. He is the author of Not So Different: Finding Human Nature in Animals.
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- Publication date:
03 May 2018
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HUMAN ERRORS is outstanding, scholarly yet entertaining. Perhaps inadvertently, this funny book argues that if there is an intelligent designer, he is comically hopeless — ADAM RUTHERFORD
An entertaining and enlightening guide to human imperfections — Clive Cookson, FINANCIAL TIMES
Spry, plausible, free from jargon and much better than the usual run of popular science and medical books, which are destined to be shelved in the den of geek, Human Errors is the most enjoyable anatomical study since Jonathan Miller's The Body in Question. — Roger Lewis, THE TIMES
Chatty and humorous... After reading Human Errors, nobody will see their body in the same way again — William Hartston, DAILY EXPRESS
Like any theme park horror house, it's a thoroughly entertaining ride, crammed full of the bizarre and enlightening and ripe with facts with which to wow dinner party guests. — Katie Burton, GEOGRAPHICAL
In Human Errors, Nathan Lents explores our biological imperfections with style, wit and life-affirming insight. You'll finish it with new appreciation for those human failings that, in so many surprising ways, helped shape our remarkable species — DEBORAH BLUM, author of The Poisoner's Handbook
An insightful and entertaining romp through the myriad ways in which the human body falls short of an engineering ideal - and the often surprising reasons why — IAN TATTERSALL, author of Masters of the Planet
Anyone who has aged without perfect grace can attest to the laundry list of imperfections so thoroughly and engagingly considered in Human Errors. This is the best book I've read on how poorly designed our bodies are. I learned something new on every page — MICHAEL SHERMER, author of Why People Believe Weird Things and The Believing Brain