What Makes Us Humans

Michel Tibayrenc, MD, PhD
Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD; France)

Francisco J. Ayala, PhD
Catedra Francisco Jose Ayala of Science, Technology, and Religion, University of Comillas, Madrid, Spain

Series: Human Evolution, Biological and Cultural Domains
BISAC: SCI036000

The knowledge on human biology is blooming. Progresses in genomics, epigenetics, neurobiology, human evolution, population genetics, and prehistory is extremely fast presently. However, few bridges have been launched between these fields on one hand, and human sciences (ethics, politics, psychoanalysis, philosophy) on the other hand. Now knowledge on human nature and on what makes us specifically humans do need tight collaborations between biological and human sciences.

One of the specific goals of the book is to sort out, in our knowledge on human nature, what is: (i) strongly supported; (ii) still speculative; (iii) still extremely tentative; (iv) obviously (sometimes purposely) misleading; (v) definitely to be rejected. Such a sorting out is sorely needed, since this theme is politically loaded and full of propaganda, storytelling and “fake news”. This kind of endeavor is urgent because there is now a strong tendency in the general public to lose confidence in science and to believe in alternate sources of knowledge with uncertain backgrounds (social networks, internet).

This books uniquely offers a thorough discussion, based on biology as well as on human sciences, on major societal debates of the time, such as origin of humankind, human genetic diversity, biology of cognition, science in front of intolerant ideologies, science and religion, and science and creationism/intelligent design. Its specific feature is sorted by the present states of knowledge, what is robust, then still speculative, unintentionally or intentionally (“scientific fake news”) misleading, and obviously wrong. Thorough updating is based on more than 300 references from the specialized literature as well as from the general media. The book, which is written in an accessible language and is completed with a glossary of specialized terms, will be therefore profitable to specialists of the concerned fields, university professors, teachers, students, as well as the general public.
(Imprint: Nova)

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Human Nature: A Hot Spot for Storytelling, Fake News and Speculation

Chapter 1. Origins of Mankind; Human Lineages and Archaic Adaptive Introgression

Chapter 2. Human Diversity; Taxonomical and Medical Implications

Chapter 3. Darwinian Medicine: Reinventing the Wheel?

Chapter 4. Brain Genes, Cognition, Psychiatry and Genetics

Chapter 5. Scientific and Ethical Views on Discriminative Thoughts: Science and Politics

Chapter 6. Science and Religion: Is the Dialogue Possible?

Chapter 7. Non-Scientific Accounts: Creationism and Intelligent Design

Conclusion: Sorting Out Well-Supported From (I) Still Speculative and (Ii) Misleading, Erroneous Knowledge

About the Authors

Glossary

References


Audience

The potential readers will include professional scientists (biology and human sciences), professors, teachers, students and the educated public in general.
Since the book addresses key questions related to human nature and current hot debates on it, it will be of high interest to journalists, thinkers, philosophers, politicians, religious people. The relevance to these people is made stronger by the fact that the book provides efficient intellectual tools to fight against intolerant thoughts.

The book can be of specific interest to teachers, since it provides quite updated knowledge about man’s evolution, origin, geographical variation, cognition. It can be used for teaching in prehistory, genetics, psychiatry. However, it is not designed as a school textbook.

Here are some potential uses:

Medical practice: medical doctors will be easily informed about the progresses in human genetic susceptibility to diseases.
Research: psychiatrists and psychoanalysts will know what the recent research is on brain genes and cognition. Prehistorians will be informed about the recent progresses in paleo-DNA analysis and in recent discoveries of new fossils. They will know the specific problems raised by the definition of paleo-species. Population geneticists and evolutionists will know about the most recent research in the genetic characterization of human populations. Specialists in human science, as well as politicians, will see the connection between religion, biology, human sciences, political science.
Teaching and learning: teachers and professors will see clearly, in the wealth of data dealing with human nature, what is strongly supported and therefore, ready for teaching.


Keywords

Human nature, evolution, prehistory, biology, religion, politics

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