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Gee presents a robust and stark challenge to our tendency to see ourselves as the acme of creation. Far from being a quirk of religious fundamentalism, human exceptionalism, Gee argues, is an error that also infects scientific thought. Touring the many features of human beings that have recurrently been used to distinguish us from the rest of the animal world, Gee shows that our evolutionary outcome is one possibility among many, one that owes more to chance than to an organized progression to supremacy.
He starts with bipedality, which he shows could have arisen entirely by accident, as a by-product of sexual selection, moves on to technology, large brain size, intelligence, language, and, finally, sentience. He reveals each of these attributes to be alive and well throughout the animal world - they are not, indeed, unique to our species. The Accidental Species combines Gee’s firsthand experience on the editorial side of many incredible paleontological findings with healthy skepticism and humor to create a book that aims to overturn popular thinking on human evolution - the key is not what’s missing, but how we’re linked.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By D. Hellmann on 07-22-17
Too much minutiae, please get to the point already!
After starting out the book with high hopes for some enlightening science learning as a layman I got fed up with the minutiae and relentless exposition of very fine details that did little to increase my understanding of the topic nor advance the authors thesis.
If you are a specialist in historical genetics or similar specialty field you may find this book endlessly fascinating.
If like me you are a broad stroke science oriented layman and want to get a basic understanding of a topic or thesis you will find this book relentlessly plodding.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
By Lisa Hurring on 12-20-14
Was The Accidental Species worth the listening time?
After listening to several excellent books on evolutionary biology, and several specifically on human evolution, I found this the most frustrating of all I have read. The author unnecessarily belabours every single point, taking a paragraph to make a point worth only a sentence or two, and tries a little hard to interject humour and personal anecdotes. It all just feels a little strained, and the good points he is trying to make are often lost in the strained writing style. I could not finish it and am returning it to use my hard-earned credit on something else.
The narrator didn't help this sense of poor writing style; his job seems very tiring work to him, as he took every comma as an opportunity to pause for a beat or two and take a rest! Overall this felt a rambling book that took all detours possible to stretch out the telling of every single point, made only more ponderous a listen by the lumpy narration style. Very disappointed.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful