Synopses & Reviews
"In this clever, entertaining, and thoughtful book, Marks lays out some important limitations of science in general and genetics in particular. Using terms that everybody can understand, he demolishes the pretensions of scientists who try to use genetics to answer questions about the kinship of nations, the rights of animals, the racial identity of Kennewick Man, the hereditary Jewish priesthood, and the existence of God. Marks has a lot of fun with all this-and so will his readers."and#151;Matt Cartmill, author of A View to Death in the Morning: Hunting and Nature through History
"What It Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee covers a range of contemporary issues that are likely to be with us for a long time to come. No book written by a geneticist comes anywhere close."and#151;Jon Beckwith, Research Professor, American Cancer Society, Harvard Medical School, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
"This witty book takes on perhaps the most fundamental biological, political, cultural, and epistemological question: How do we know what is similar to what, and when does it matter? Yet I hardly minded being dispossessed of a tale or two, left with a much better account of human genetic history and diversity, the triviality of too much that passes for science, and the important task of crafting a biological anthropology that takes both parts of its name seriously."and#151;Donna Haraway, author of Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science
"Marks provides an informed and powerful critique of reductionist claims about genetics as an explanation of human behavior, cognitive abilities, and racial differences. His colorful examples range from the common ancestry of humans with daffodils and our similarities with fruit flies. A great book!"and#151;Dorothy Nelkin, coauthor of The DNA Mystique: The Gene as a Cultural Icon
"Marksand#8217;s superb teaching, lively wit, razor-sharp logic, and impeccable scientific insight come together in this book. While controversial, this narrative also proves that science and humanism can and must (if we are to navigate the unsettling future that biotech promises) mix."and#151;Gina Maranto, Quest for Perfection: The Drive to Breed Better Humans
"A compulsively readable, erudite, and intensely personal view of our biology and our place in nature. Marks unhesitatingly plunges into the morass of human cultural, genetic, and political diversities, and in the process produces much for all of us to ponder."and#151;Ian Tattersall, author of Becoming Human: Evolution and Human Uniqueness
"There is no book just like this one. It will open further a needed debate on quality of scientific argumentation and the inherent politics of human science."and#151;Alan H. Goodman, coeditor of Building a New Biocultural Synthesis: Political-Economic Perspectives on Human Biology
"This book is timely, engaging, authoritative, and provocative."and#151;Kenneth Korey, Professor of Anthropology, Dartmouth College
The overwhelming similarity of human and ape genes is one of the best-known facts of modern genetic science. But what does this similarity mean? Does it, as many have suggested, have profound implications for understanding human nature? Well-known molecular anthropologist Jonathan Marks uses the human-versus-ape controversy as a jumping-off point for a radical reassessment of a range of provocative issuesand#151;from the role of science in society to racism, animal rights, and cloning. Full of interesting facts, fascinating personalities, and vivid examples that capture times and places, this work explains and demystifies human genetic scienceand#151;showing ultimately how it has always been subject to social and political influences and teaching us how to think critically about its modern findings.
Marks presents the field of molecular anthropologyand#151;a synthesis of the holistic approach of anthropology with the reductive approach of molecular genetics--as a way of improving our understanding of the science of human evolution. As he explores the intellectual terrain of this field, he lays out its broad areas of interest with issues ranging from the differences between apes and humans to the biological and behavioral variations expressed in humans as a species. Marks confronts head-on the problems of racial classification in science. He describes current theories about race and uses work in primatology, comparative anatomy, and molecular anthropology to debunk them. He also sheds new light on the controversial Great Ape Project, the Human Genome Diversity Project, and much more. This iconoclastic, witty, and extremely readable book illuminates the deep background of human variation and asks us to reconsider the role of science in modern society.
An iconoclastic, witty and extremely readable' study of how science can uncover the mysteries of the relationship between humans and animals, and how much we take for granted in terms of what genetics can tell us about the evolutionary development of the human species. Using the human-ape debate, Jonathan Marks explores various issues including racism, animal rights, and cloning, through an approach that lies somewhere between genetics and holistic anthropology - molecular anthropology. Marks demolishes the pretensions of scientists who try to use genetics to answer questions about the kinship of nations, the rights of animals, the racial identity of Kennewick Man, the hereditary Jewish priesthood, and the existence of God. Marks has a lot of fun with all this - and so will his readers' - Matt Cartmill, author of A View to a Death in the Morning.
and#160;What do we think about when we think about human evolution? With his characteristic wit and wisdom, anthropologist Jonathan Marks explores our scientific narrative of human originsandmdash;the study of evolutionandmdash;and examines its cultural elements and theoretical foundations. In the process, he situates human evolution within a general anthropological framework and presents it as a special case of kinship and mythology.
Tales of the Ex-Apes argues that human evolution has incorporated the emergence of social relations and cultural histories that are unprecedented in the apes and thus cannot be reduced to purely biological properties and processes. Marks shows that human evolution has involved the transformation from biological to biocultural evolution. Over tens of thousands of years, new social rolesandmdash;notably spouse, father, in-laws, and grandparentsandmdash;have co-evolved with new technologies and symbolic meanings to produce the human species, in the absence of significant biological evolution. We are biocultural creatures, Marks argues, fully comprehensible by recourse to neither our real ape ancestry nor our imaginary cultureless biology.
andquot;In this truly excellent book that simply brims with scholarship, Marks convincingly showsandmdash;clearly, pithyly, wittilyandmdash;why scientific reductionism is a tool, not an explanation. DNA is not a blueprint, and we have a long way to go before we truly understand how genes and environments combine to make us what we are today.andquot;andmdash;Robert Martin, Curator Emeritus at The Field Museum, Professor at the University of Chicago, and author of How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction
andquot;Within the field of biological anthropology, there is no one who is able to contextualize scientific information like Jon Marks. Only Marks is able to successfully take evolutionary and#39;factsand#39; and situate them within the broader spheres of history, science, philosophy, and the humanities.andquot;andmdash;Libby Cowgill, University of Missouri
About the Author
Jonathan Marks teaches at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is the author of Human Biodiversity: Genes, Race, and History (1995) and coauthor, with Edward Staski, of Evolutionary Anthropology (1992).
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
1. Molecular Anthropology
2. The Ape in You
3. How People Differ from One Another
4. The Meaning of Human Variation
5. Behavioral Genetics
6. Folk Heredity
7. Human Nature
8. Human Rights . . . for Apes?
9. A Human Gene Museum
10. Identity and Descent
11. Is Blood Really So Damn Thick?
12. Science, Religion, and Worldview
Notes and Sources