Why Us?: How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves [NOOK Book]

Overview

In this daring treatise on the current state of scientific inquiry, James Le Fanu challenges the common assumption that further progress in genetic research and neuroscience must ultimately explain all there is to know about life and man?s place in the world. On the contrary, he argues, the most recent scientific findings point to an unbridgeable explanatory gap between the genes strung out along the Double Helix and the beauty and diversity of the living world?and between the electrical activity of the brain and...
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Why Us?: How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves

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Overview

In this daring treatise on the current state of scientific inquiry, James Le Fanu challenges the common assumption that further progress in genetic research and neuroscience must ultimately explain all there is to know about life and man’s place in the world. On the contrary, he argues, the most recent scientific findings point to an unbridgeable explanatory gap between the genes strung out along the Double Helix and the beauty and diversity of the living world—and between the electrical activity of the brain and the abundant creativity of the human mind. His exploration of these mysteries, and his analysis of where they might lead us in our thinking about the nature and purpose of human existence, form the impassioned and riveting heart of Why Us?

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Le Fanu, a medical columnist for Britain's Telegraph and winner of an L.A. TimesBook Prize for The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine, is fond here of the words "unfathomable," "astonishment" and "mystery" in his assessment of the failures of evolutionary and genetic science to explain the nature of humankind. In this dyspeptic attack on scientific "materialism," Le Fanu aims the brunt of his ire at Darwin and evolution. The problem with many of Le Fanu's arguments is his selective use of sources, especially regarding evolution, and a habitual overlooking of the most recent research; thus, he's able to conclude that current research in evolution, genetics and brain studies are dead ends. Le Fanu's elegant writing is all that keeps his attack from becoming a rant against "the role of scientific progress in obscuring the dual nature of reality." In espousing the necessary existence of a nonmaterial reality, Le Fanu invokes the language of intelligent design. Many will be disturbed by Le Fanu's suggestion that "Big Science" turn away from its "degenerate research programmes" and focus instead on smaller questions like how birds navigate. (Mar. 17)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307378071
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/17/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 433,943
  • File size: 8 MB

Meet the Author

James Le Fanu is an international award winning author who for the past twenty years has contributed a twice weekly column on medicine, science and social policy to the Sunday and Daily Telegraph. His articles and reviews have also appeared in the New Statesman, The Spectator, GQ, the British Medical Journal, and the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. He has made original contributions to current controversies over the value of experiments on human embryos, environmentalism, dietary causes of diseases, and the misdiagnosis of non-accidental injury in children. His previous book, The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2001. He lives in England.
 
jameslefanu.com

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Read an Excerpt

When cosmologists can reliably infer what happened in the first few minutes of the birth of the universe and geologists can measure the movements of vast continents to the nearest centimeter, then the inscrutability of those genetic instructions that should distinguish a human from a fly, or the failure to account for something as elementary as how we recall a telephone number, throws into sharp relief the unfathomability of ourselves. It is as if we, and, indeed, all living things, are in some way different, profounder, and more complex than the physical world to which we belong . . . This is not just a matter of science not yet knowing all the facts; rather, there is the sense that something of immense importance is “missing” that might transform the bare bones of genes into the wondrous diversity of the living world and the monotonous electrical firing of the neurons of the brain into the vast spectrum of sensations and ideas of the human mind.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations vii

Introduction: A Mystery to Ourselves xiii

1 Science Triumphant, Almost 1

2 The Ascent of Man: A Riddle in Two Parts 24

3 The Limits of Science 1: The Quixotic Universe 59

4 The (Evolutionary) 'Reason for Everything': Certainty 72

5 The (Evolutionary) 'Reason for Everything': Doubt 110

6 The Limits of Science 2: The Impenetrable Helix 126

7 The Fall of Man: A Tragedy in Two Acts 148

8 The Limits of Science 3: The Unfathomable Brain 176

9 The Silence 230

10 Restoring Man to His Pedestal 253

Acknowledgements 263

Notes 265

Index 293

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent review of recent research on how we humans became what we are.

    As with any book of this genre, Why Us? provides updates of ongoing research in all fields of who we are and how we came to be what we are.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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