Read evolving ourselves how unnatural selection and nonrandom mutation are changing life on earth by Juan Enriquez Steve Gullans Online


“We are the primary drivers of change. We will directly and indirectly determine what lives, what dies, where, and when. We are in a different phase of evolution; the future of life is now in our hands.”Why are rates of conditions like autism, asthma, obesity, and allergies exploding at an unprecedented pace? Why are humans living longer, getting smarter, and having far fe“We are the primary drivers of change. We will directly and indirectly determine what lives, what dies, where, and when. We are in a different phase of evolution; the future of life is now in our hands.”Why are rates of conditions like autism, asthma, obesity, and allergies exploding at an unprecedented pace? Why are humans living longer, getting smarter, and having far fewer kids? How might your lifestyle affect your unborn children and grandchildren? How will gene-editing technologies like CRISPR steer the course of human evolution? If Darwin were alive today, how would he explain this new world? Could our progeny eventually become a different species—or several?In Evolving Ourselves, futurist Juan Enriquez and scientist Steve Gullans conduct a sweeping tour of how humans are changing the course of evolution—sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. For example:   •  Globally, rates of obesity in humans nearly doubled between 1980 and 2014. What’s more, there’s evidence that other species, from pasture-fed horses to lab animals to house cats, are also getting fatter.    •  As reported by U.S. government agencies, the rate of autism rose by 131 percent from 2001 to 2010, an increase that cannot be attributed simply to increases in diagnosis rates.    •  Three hundred years ago, almost no one with a serious nut allergy lived long enough to reproduce. Today, despite an environment in which food allergies have increased by 50 percent in just over a decade, 17 million Americans who suffer from food allergies survive, thrive, and pass their genes and behaviors on to the next generation.    •  In the pre-Twinkie era, early humans had quite healthy mouths. As we began cooking, bathing, and using antibiotics, the bacteria in our bodies changed dramatically and became far less diverse. Today the consequences are evident not only in our teeth but throughout our bodies and minds. Though these harbingers of change are deeply unsettling, the authors argue that we are also in an epoch of tremendous opportunity. New advances in biotechnology help us mitigate the cruel forces of natural selection, from saving prematurely born babies to gene therapies for sickle cell anemia and other conditions. As technology like CRISPR enables us to take control of our genes, we will be able to alter our own species and many others—a good thing, given that our eventual survival will require space travel and colonization, enabled by a fundamental redesign of our bodies.Future humans could become great caretakers of the planet, as well as a more diverse, more resilient, gentler, and more intelligent species—but only if we make the right choices now.Intelligent, provocative, and optimistic, Evolving Ourselves is the ultimate guide to the next phase of life on Earth.From the Hardcover edition....

Title : evolving ourselves how unnatural selection and nonrandom mutation are changing life on earth
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ISBN : 25040025
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evolving ourselves how unnatural selection and nonrandom mutation are changing life on earth Reviews

  • Morgan Blackledge
    2018-10-04 21:41

    Evolving Ourselves:I have to say. I really liked this book. It's smart and visionary and irreverent and just plain fun. A great summer read. BTW: It's featured on the summer reading 2015 list. If you're not familiar with, do yourself a favor and go check it out.It's like new wave for old smart people :-)Evolving Ourselves is authors Juan Enriquez (of TED talk fame) and Steve Gullans (also a TED talk guy) book length argument that the Neo Darwinian model of evolution via natural selection no longer applies to humans. Not by a long shot. In Evolving Ourselves they argue that the Neo Darwinian model needs a special modification if it's going to include us. They assert that humans are only marginally effected by (a) natural selection and (b) random mutation due to our practices of (c) unnatural selection and (d) nonrandom mutation. UNNATURAL SELECTIONLet me see if I can start from the beginning. Although it's at times hard to believe. People are like the animal kingdoms world champions of cooperation.Birds fly, whales are huge, giraffes have longnecks and people cooperate. People think that what makes us bad ass is that were smart. Nope. We're smart so that we can cooperate. We're actually only smart because we cooperate. The only reason people can become super specialized in their field of knowledge and create cool technology and shit is because we can get together and work on stuff.Allow me to explain.Reciprocal Altruism:Imagine two cave man dudes, (1) Grog and (2) Unk. Both guys make (less than spectacular) axes. • Grog makes great axe heads ( 4 out of 5 stars) but crappy axe handles (2 out of 5 stars = 6 out of 10 stars total)• Unk makes great axe handles ( 4 out of 5 stars) but crappy axe heads (2 out of 5 stars = 6 out of 10 stars total)It takes both Grog and Unk 2 hours to make 1 mediocre (6 out of 10 stars) axe.For both Grog and Unk:2 hours = 1 mediocre (6 out of 10 stars) axe. What happens if:• Grog spends 2 hours making 2 great (4 out of 5 star) axe heads• Unk spends 2 hours making 2 great (4 out of 5 star) axe handles • Grog and Unk spend .5 hours trading 1 great (4 out of 5 star) axe head, for 1 great (4 out of 5 star) axe handle• Grog and Unk spend another .5 hours assembling their great (8 out of 10 star) axesNow, for both Grog and Unk:3 hours = 1 great (8 out of 10 star) axe. With a little extra effort and cooperation, they each get 1 great axe.That is a great deal right there, but it gets better.What happens if:• Grog and Unk become expert specialist in their respective fields• both Grog and Unk focus and innovate, and now both of them can produce awesome (5 out of 5 star) products, in less time (.5 hours)Now .5 hours = 1 awesome ( 5 out of 5 star) axe head/handle• further more, they streamline their trading and assembly processes to .25 hours to trade and .25 hours to assembleNow .5 hours total market and assembly time.The whole process took .5 hours production of awesome (5 out of 5 star) axe head/handle, + .5 hours market and assembly time, to make 1 awesome (10 out of 10 star) axe each.Or, to put it more simply:For both Grog and Unk:• 1 hour (start to finish) = 1 awesome (10 out of 10 star) axe each.We started with:• 2 hours = 1 mediocre (6 out of 10 stars) axe eachWith a little cooperation and organization, we ended up with• 1 hour = 1 awesome (10 out of 10 star) axe each This is a huge Win Win for both Grog and Unk.This is known as a nonzero sum transaction.Nonzero means that both participants get more out of the cooperative transaction than if they had each gone it alone. Nonzero transactions a.k.a. Reciprocal Altruism is what allowed humans to dominate the planet (for better or for worse).Other species demonstrate Reciprocal Altruism, but none to the extent that people do. As previously mentioned, humans are the planets grand champions of cooperation.It took a team of millions of people to create the iPhone I'm writing this review on, and the Internet infrastructure I'm delivering this review over, and the web sight I'm delivering it to.And that just this one little blip of human production.How (exactly) do we out cooperate every other species?There are lots of theories about why humans are so dang good at creating and maintaining systems of Nonzero transactions. But the single most salient factor that simply jumps off the page is language.Language (e.g. English and Mathematics) engenders constructs such as; ideologies, religions, rules, codes of conduct, laws etc. These constructs (and others like them) are the foundation of culture and technology. According to Enriquez and Gullans Once people stepped into the realm of culture and technology, we stepped out of the iron grip of natural selection on to the turbocharged escalator to obesity. Unnatural selection ladies and gents.Of course the next chapter of Grog and Unk's story involves creating surplus, hiring others to do the labor, domesticating plants and animals, and you know the rest of the story. It ends on your sofa. Domestication:Dmitri Konstantinovich Belyaev was a Russian geneticist who conducted a remarkable experiment to see if it was possible to turn wild Siberian foxes into cute, cuddly domesticated pets. The experiment has been described by the New York Times as "arguably the most extraordinary breeding experiment ever conducted."Just to qualify. It was done in the 1950's, so it's the most remarkable breeding experiment ever conducted before the invention of the internet. The Internet is actually one big breeding experiment, and it's actually more remarkable than this one. But this one is still really good. It goes like this.Beginning in the 1950s, in order to uncover the genetic basis of the distinctive behavioral and physiological attributes of domesticated animals, Belyaev and his team spent decades selectively breeding the wild silver fox for friendliness.The way they did it was they only bread those individuals in each generation that showed the least fear of humans.After several generations of controlled breeding, the silver foxes no longer showed any fear of humans and often wagged their tails and licked their human caretakers to show affection. But it gets better. Not only did their behavior change. Their outward appearance changed too. They started displaying the typical features lap dogs.They began to display spotted coats, floppy ears, curled tails, larger heads, as well as other physical attributes commonly found in domesticated animals, thus confirming Belyaev’s hypothesis that both the behavioral and physical traits of domesticated animals could be traced to "a collection of genes that conferred a propensity to tameness".Neoteny:Refers to the retention, by adults in a species, of traits previously seen only in juveniles.In neoteny, the physiological (or somatic) development of an animal or organism is slowed or delayed.Ultimately this process results in the retention, in the adults of a species, of juvenile physical characteristics well into maturity.One way of thinking about domestication, is that the features of juveniles of the species are conserved into adulthood. In other words, our cute little lap dogs are like wolves who have been selectively bread to be perma-puppies. Some evolutionary developmental (evodevo) theorists posit that humans are essentially neotenos chimpanzees. In a sense, we are domesticated chimps.But it gets even better than that.According to the authors, we are becoming even more neotenos as we become even more domesticated.Think about it.What happens to our cultures most aggressive men. The ones who don't become CEO's or cage fighters pretty much end up in prison.The men who are valued as workers and fathers in our culture are increasingly the "tame as fuck" gortex vagina Seattle dads. They even look (and frequently act) like big babies. Not that there's anything wrong with that.So anyway. Enriquez and Gullans claim were domesticating ourselves. Whereas Darwin pretty much shook western civilization down to its foundation and essentially revolutionized the way we se ourselves and the world we live in by asserting that we humans are have descended from apes.Enriquez and Gullans make the rather plainly incontrovertible claim that were all becoming a bunch of giant toddlers. I can't exactly see another Inherit The Wind type trial emerging from what ever debate happens over this earth shatteringly obvious position. NONRANDOM MUTATIONHologenome:Enriquez and Gullans Posit that humans have least four parallel evolving genomes—1: Core DNA2: Epigenome3: Microbiome4: ViromeMore on all of these in mere moments.But suffice it to say, every human, plant and animal possesses these four genomes, which considered as a whole, are referred to as the “hologenome.” The sub-genomes (1-4) interact with one another, evolve at very different rates, and define your basic biology and attributes throughout life. Eventually they come together and encode the heritable traits and behaviors that you pass on to your descendants and future generations.1: Core DNAAccording to The authorsHumankind’s core DNA genome has been essentially stable for tens of thousands of years. And that's a good thing right?Each generation historically experiences tiny, random mutations; 50 to 100 of the 6.4 billion letters that make up your DNA are different, at birth, from those of your parents.Apparently it takes a really long time for DNA to mutate. It's hella stable. Again, that's a really good thing.This is particularly true post Grog and Unk, as societies made it illegal for you (and anyone else for that matter, we're not just picking on you) to impregnate your mom and sister. Another good (nay great) thing. This lead a lot of biologists to assume people stopped evolving.But there is a whole lot of adaptation going on, just below the core genome.2: EpigenomeEpigenetics refers to the domain of cellular and physiological trait variations that are caused by external or environmental factors that switch genes on and off.This means that some of our genetic expression is influenced by mom and dads environment, and our environment.An epigenome consists of a record of the chemical changes to the DNA and histone proteins of an organism; these changes can be passed down to an organism's offspring.So not all phenotypic changes are caused by changes in the DNA sequence.Unlike the underlying genome which is largely static within an individual, the epigenome can be dynamically altered by environmental conditions.Human diversity and evolution is highly concentrated in our epigenetic switches; how genes are turned on or off, expressed with greater potency or silenced.The authors assert that human culture and technology are driving the fuck out of evolution on the epigenetic level. So what happens to humans after 10 generations of sofa surfing and concurrent surfing of the world's most remarkable breeding experiment?I guess we're finding out.3: MicrobiomeRefers to the squadrillians (a large number) of bacteria that live in and on us, without whom we would simply die. Within the microbiome, evolution occurs quickly; some bacteria can go through 2,600 generations in just over a month.So what happens when people seriously alter (i.e. totally fuckin upend) the microbiome? "As humans declare broad warfare on microbes, as they radically alter ecosystems, adding toxins, antiseptic soaps, mouthwashes, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, global travel, urban lifestyles, changing diets, and leave rural existence behind, they guide/influence rapid microbial evolution".Toss antibiotics into the mix and this is yet another way humans are driving the fuck out of our own evolution."So while you inherited your intial microbiome from Mom, they aren’t your great-grandma’s microbes anymore".That's right. The re-engineering of the microbiome may be one of the major reasons for the obesity epidemic. Apparently livestock are given antibiotics so they will gain weight. I guess reducing your guts microbiodiversity equates to increasing the size of your ass. Anyway, it's such a common practice that the antibiotics are leaching into everything, including farm fresh produce via manure fertilizers. Dude. You mean those big salad's and green juices are making us fat too. Oh fuck, were fucked!4: ViromeFinally, our fourth genome, the virome (the viruses we depend on for dear life), mutates and evolves at a blazingly rapid rate."We have only begun to catalog the actual specific actors with the virome, so it is still early days with regard to understanding exactly how it affects us, from day to day or from generation to generation. One thing is certain: With our domesticated lifestyles, global imprint, and unnatural activities, the “typical” virome today must be very different from the one Darwin indirectly observed. And we are now also beginning to tame and deploy viruses, learning to rapidly edit them for our own purposes".So why are viruses so important to our genetic expression?"Sometimes viral DNA simply embeds itself in your own human DNA, where it can lie dormant or sometimes come back to life when you least want it, as occurs with recurring cold sores, shingles from a long-past chicken pox, and even some cancers—particularly when our immune systems become weak. On some occasions, viral code can end up in the DNA in your sperm and eggs, which then gets passed on to future generations".Okay, I'm beginning to get it. When we create antiviral shit, we radically nuke the virome. This could lead to a crazy new viromic landscape. God knows what could emerge from the wasteland. I guess that's yet another way we are pushing the envelope with unnatural selection.Let's just hope the envelope comes back with a paycheck in it instead of a maxed out credit card bill.Great book.4 stars!!!!

  • Cara
    2018-10-19 20:29

    This is possibly the single worst pop science book ever written. It is in fact one of the worst books I've ever read, and I'm including self-published tripe with multiple spelling errors. It is the book equivalent of those Facebook science memes. You know the ones, spurious "science facts" propagated by people who supposedly love science but have absolutely no idea what it is. Everything about this book is bad. From the writing, which is peppered with liberal doses of the most cringe-worthy jokes imaginable, to the research, which was shoddily done (and based on the bibliography at the end, mostly consists of magazine articles) to the extent that you can click on almost any source cited and see quite clearly where the authors misquoted or at best misunderstood research*. Even the punctuation is aggravating - every single chapter ends with ellipses. I am strongly tempted to steal this book from the library and burn it so that no one else will have to suffer through it.*To give one example of this, the authors claim that doctors in general refuse to get chemotherapy. This is categorically not true. What is true is that doctors in general refuse to get chemotherapy when they are terminally ill. That is a huge difference in meaning. By saying that doctors in general avoid chemotherapy when they have cancer, it implies that doctors think chemotherapy is useless.

  • José Angel
    2018-09-23 21:35

    I am still in between speechless and a stunning achievement...

  • D.L. Morrese
    2018-09-28 01:38

    Is humanity now driving the evolutionary bus? Are we bypassing the slow, scenic route and speeding it down the expressway? Do we know where we're going? (Have I just overextended a metaphor?) Seldom do I find a nonfiction book that I can't put down. This is one. It is a fascinating account of the complex interplay of things beyond genes that affect how species evolve. I highly recommend it.Not that I don't have a gripe. It's probably petty, but "unnatural selection"? Really? Unnatural? It's not that the term is inaccurate...exactly. What the authors are emphasizing is that human actions rather than the unguided hand of natural selection is now directing how evolution proceeds. Got that, but the word "unnatural" has negative connotations, and the thrust of the book is that humanity guiding its own continued evolution isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it may be essential to our survival. Also, the word implies that what humans do, and perhaps even humans themselves, aren't natural. But it is and we are. We evolved through natural selection just like everything else, and human constructions are no less natural than termite mounds or beaver dams. All creatures affect their environment. We're just a bit more...blatant about it. The term Darwin used for selective breeding was "artificial selection", but I'm not crazy about that term either for pretty much the same reasons. How about something like "intentional selection" or even just "human selection"? Either of those, I think, would be a better choice.Oh, and I caught one typo. It's on page 226. The Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction was not "about 6 million years ago." It was about 65 million years ago. Somehow, the "5" got dropped in the edition I read (ISBN 978-1-61723-020-2).Despite all that, this is still one of the best books I've read recently. It's informative, thought provoking, and even hopeful (with all due cautionary qualifications, of course). If you're interested in evolution or the future of humanity, this is a "must read".

  • Noura Noman
    2018-10-07 19:39

    The Complicated Made SimplerAn extremely educational book by two authors who have so much to say - covering a broad spectrum of complicated issues - and opt to summarize them in the simplest language possible. I am grateful for this book (as I was grateful for As the Future Catches You.)

  • Teo 2050
    2018-09-23 01:20

    ~5.5h @ 2x. Contents:(view spoiler)[What Would Darwin Write Today?1. Symptoms of Real-Time Evolution– Is Autism a Harbinger of Our Changing Brains?– The DarWa Theory Revisited . . . and a Glimpse at a New Theory– Twenty Generations to Domesticate Humans– Violence and the Lack Thereof– Allergies: Another Harbinger of Our Evolving Bodies?– Our Unnatural “All-Natural” World– Fat Humans, Fat Animals: Another Symptom?– Brave New Sex2. How Does Evolution Really Work?– The Nature Versus Nurture Wars– Missing Heredity, Mysterious Toxins– Transgenerational Inheritance—aka “Voodoo Biology”– WWIV: Nuking Our Microbes– The “Yucky” Stuff Inside You– Autism Revisited: Three Potential Drivers– Viruses: The Roadrunners of Evolution– A Perfectly Modern Pregnancy– Bringing It All Together—DESTINY Is Propelling Evolution3. A World of Nonrandom Mutation– Playing with the Building Blocks of Life– Humans Hijacking Viruses– Editing Life on a Grand Scale– Unnatural Acts, Designer Babies, and Sex 2.0– Boyden Brains4. Evolving Ourselves . . .– Better Living Through Chemistry?– Forever Young, Beautiful, and Fearless?– Unnatural Attraction– Sports Quandaries and Beyond . . .– Designer Organs and Cloned Humans– Evolving Brains Revisited– The Robot-Computer-Human Interface– Perhaps an Ethical Question or Two?– Technically Life, Technically Death– Trust Whom?5. The Future of Life– I Don’t Remember You . . . De-Extinction– Humanity’s Really Short Story– Evolving Hominins . . .– Synthetic Life– Humans and Hubris: Does Nature Win in the End?– Leaving Earth?– EPILOGUE: New Evolutionary TreesAcknowledgmentsAppendix: Darwin—True or False: Did He Get It Right?GlossaryNotesIndex (hide spoiler)]

  • Maggie
    2018-10-01 18:28

    This is a fascinating book about the speed-up of evolution in a largely human-controlled (for now) world. I disagree with the point of view of the authors that modern technology, including genetic engineering, is mainly a good thing, and that science is leading us in largely positive directions. I may own and use all the modern conveniences, but I'm a neo-Luddite at heart, and very concerned about human-caused climate change, the extinction of other species, etc. In fact, I think science and technology is going to lead to the extinction or near-extinction of our own species. The authors of "Evolving Ourselves" acknowledge that it's only by luck that our species survived and other hominids did not, and don't believe that our survival means we're some kind of "crown of creation." At the same time, however, they seem to believe it's okay for humankind to continue to manipulate our planet -- and, ultimately, the universe solely for our own benefit. In fact, they recommend space exploration and colonization (only "better this time") so that our species will have a chance to survive a catastrophic event for planet Earth (like an asteroid -- they skirt the issue of climate change).

  • Karen
    2018-09-21 00:46

    I'd like to thank the author for a copy of the book and the chance to review it through the GoodReads First Reads program.Wow! I loved this book! “Evolving Ourselves” is the perfect marriage of history and science with little punches of humor mixed in here and there. While it dealt with important/complex issues of biology, genetics, and evolution, you don’t need a Ph.D or MD. to understand the information. It was written so everyone can understand and benefit from it. It was very informative and very obvious that the authors spent a great deal of time researching the information. The flow and progression throughout the book was good and kept me wondering what the next chapter was going to cover. There were so many times that I thought “hhmm… I hadn’t thought of it that way. No wonder!!” When a book has you thinking about it long after you’ve put it down, then it was a good book!I would totally recommend this book to Everyone! (Some of the topics covered in this book helped my daughter in her AP Biology class a few weeks ago. Although it’s NOT written like a “Science Textbook”)

  • Kelly Reed
    2018-10-07 01:46

    I think this is possibly the best book I've ever read! When reading fiction and you finish a book that you really enjoy, whose characters you are really invested in; it is a bittersweet feeling. You're happy that you've reached the final milestone and tackled the whole book, but wait...I don't want it to end! I want to keep reading more about these characters! This is the first non-fiction book I've read that made me feel that way! Oh no, it can't possibly be over already?! This book instills fear and then hope for the future! I have been reading a lot of books recently on genetics and this one was so full of possibilities for the detriment and the benefit of man, and animal-kind. I feel that even people without previous knowledge or background in the subject would enjoy this book! The authors put everything in an easily understandable language, that, I feel, could be easier devoured by any layperson or biologist alike! I hope I can find another book, in the future, that fills me with as much excitement as this one has! Kudos to the authors for writing such an exceptional book!

  • Peter
    2018-09-21 22:45

    after the first 40 pages, this book went from 2 stars to 5. very interesting info and thoughtful analyses.

  • Staci Suhy
    2018-10-19 00:49

    I received this book for free as part of a first reads promotion

  • Scott Schank
    2018-10-12 20:20

    Very thought provoking book. Whereas most books look BACK at Human Evolution (by natural selection), this book looks FORWARD at Human Evolution (by UN-natural selection).

  • Julie
    2018-09-29 01:47

    Interesting read. The book is well researched. It gave me some new insight.

  • Catherine
    2018-10-11 18:33

    This book was not exactly what I was expecting or hoping for. The first part of the book was interesting, as it looked at the ways that modern advances are shaping human evolution, which was what I was curious to learn more about. However, most of the book focused more on the future of humans and all the cutting edge ways we are learning to guide and control human development. The ideas were thought provoking, but I found much of it to be really "out there", bordering on science fiction. I also thought there should have been some space devoted to looking at the ethical questions that this topic brings up. It's not just a question of whether we CAN shape human evolution, but SHOULD we. In many ways, I thought the book fell short and I was a bit disappointed, once I got past the first few chapters.

  • MathijsAasman
    2018-09-18 20:34

    An overview of how man has shaped the natural environment, and the feedback which results from that. Semi-interesting. Must admit I consumed it as a fast audiobook (3.7x normal speed), so my comprehension was less than ideal. Faustian in its outlook. Sections on genetic differences between humans prefaced by humanitarian universalist advisories, as expected for most books. Reading this book does have the effect of orienting one's sights towards the long future I found, particularly the talk of space travel. In that sense, I thought this book provided some food for thought, how our descendants might not resemble us in many generations. The prospect is at least a little chilling, but I don't read books to maintain a high mood.

  • Andrew
    2018-10-14 00:40

    Enriquez explores the pace of evolution and gene mutations. Modern advancements in genetic engineering have shaped pivotal changes in evolution. The authors discuss the evolution changes in homo-sapiens in respect to other hominids. The Neo Darwinian model of evolution via natural selection no longer applies to humans. Unnatural selection and nonrandom mutation are building as major forces in the evolution of humankind. The first part of the book focuses on modern advances evolution. The second half jumps into futuristic ideas on evolution.

  • Elif Ozcan
    2018-10-02 19:23

    It is very badly written. There is no logical connection between the chapters and the subject is constantly changing. I felt as if somebody has been talking to himself without listening other people or without letting others to express themselves. I am not going to discuss the scientific content of this book in detail, but readers should be cautious about accepting the stories in this book as facts.

  • Curt
    2018-09-19 22:43

    explains how epigenetics and our diet and sendentary situations are changing our dna and its expression

  • Paul Dellorusso
    2018-10-18 19:36

    Nice book, but he's even better at capturing your attention about the potential and implications of a bioengineered world when he gives a presentation.

  • Marisol Luna
    2018-10-18 20:47

    Interesting book on what scientists are working on to cure disease in embryos etc in near future plus much more

  • Deirdre Clancy
    2018-09-30 00:44

    This book is a fascinating overview of what scientists have learned about evolution and genetics since Darwin first burst onto the scene and divided a generation with his seminal work on the subject. If you are a non-scientist (like me) who finds the subject of evolution interesting, it is accessible and has a handy glossary at the back to explain scientific terms that may not be known to a general audience. The main thesis of the book is that, increasingly, humans are driving our own evolution, rather than natural selection. The authors refer to this as 'unnatural selection' throughout. They also give thorough overviews of newly discovered phenomena such as transgenerational inheritance and epigenetics. These revelations provide both hope and panic, depending on one's point of view (though, you may not wish to panic too much, in case your grandchildren inherit a predisposition to stress). As a non-scientist, my experience of reading this book was to wonder about, for example, whether the well-documented much higher than average prevalence of schizophrenia in the West of Ireland is related to the fact that this was the part of the country worst affected by the Great Famine. If we can inherit the ill-effects of our ancestors' traumatic experiences, such as Famine, do we also benefit from the prosperous and happy times of our ancestors? This question isn't addressed, as it is probably more difficult to research than obviously traumatic occurrences. Could these revelations cause discrimination in the future? For example, could genetic information be used to eliminate a person from a job that required the ability to handle high-stress situations, or be misused increasingly by health insurance companies? It would seem somewhat unfair that one's ancestors' experiences of trauma could cause such events, but this is probably an inevitability as the science becomes more precise in the future. Other fascinating subjects touched on are designer babies, cyborgs (though they don't use this term), the idea that humans may evolve into several separate species eventually, and the prospect of science learning how to edit DNA to create a type of 'human' that can survive and reproduce on other planets. Of course, the kneejerk response to the latter proposal is to wonder why on earth we would impose ourselves on another planet when we're already the most destructive form of life on this one. Scientific progress is, of course, always hopeful for the thriving of humanity and elimination of deadly diseases. However, despite the fact that progress is always frightening at first - I am old enough to remember a time when organ transplants were questioned by many - there are numerous ethical questions raised by the predictions in this book, and even by the descriptions of what scientists are already doing. These ethical issues are touched upon, but not in enough depth, in my opinion, though in fairness to the authors, this is not the main purpose of the book. The creation of farms consisting of animals with humanized DNA so that their organs are available for transplant at a moment's notice is a case in point. Animal rights groups will have a lot of work on their hands in years to come, and probably those with human rights concerns also. I shudder at the thought of some of what is predicted in this book, and yet, people shuddered in the nineteenth century at Darwin suggesting we were the first cousins of various non-human animals. Darwin, however, did not suggest tampering with nature on a massive scale, nor would he have condoned the forced sterilizations and racist practices that occurred in the name of 'social Darwinism'. There is always a wonderful and a potentially dark side to scientific progress. Let's hope that governments and ethics overview institutions remain on their toes.

  • Jaffa Kintigh
    2018-10-19 18:21

    This book explains the frontline research of contemporary genetics and then explores the potential in speculative science. Bridging the gap between science and science fiction, the culpability of the human race in modern evolution is outlined.For four billion years, nature selected what lived and died. Life forms adapted by mutating randomly so that at least a few specimens sometimes hit the jackpot and survived . . . [Darwin] is not right anymore. Over the past century, as our species grew by billions, concentrated in cities, smartened, and domesticated itself and its surroundings, we became the fundamental driver of what lives and dies. . . Half the landmass on Earth is now covered by what humans want, not by what would naturally grow without the intervention of our species. Oceans, rivers, and lakes are depleted. In just a few centuries, we have terraformed, fertilized, fenced, seeded, and irrigated enormous sections of what was once forest, savannah, desert, and tundra to accommodate our plants, our animals, our wishes. This is unnatural selection. There is much humans do not yet know as we dabble, such as the intricate interplay between the human genome, epigenome [turning on and off of gene expression], microbial biome [especially of the gut], and the barely researched virome [the viruses living off the host and the host's bacterial flora]. Changes in any of these genomes affects not just the individual, but generations to come. We also do not yet understand the side effects of human domestication, such as explosions in rates of obesity, diabetes, allergies, and autism.Entering the realm of speculative science and the future of humanity, this book also explores the future of human enhancement on athletics, and space travel and colonization. More questions are asked than answers given, but that is precisely what drives science into new realms.I received this book through Goodreads' First Reads Giveaway.

  • Jeannine
    2018-10-04 21:20

    The well-credentialed authors of this highly footnoted, annotated, and indexed but imminently readable book make this remarkable statement: "We can design, build, and transfer whole genomes into humans within months.....transfer whole genomes into bacteria within months.... make new chromosomes within months. Millions of years' worth of evolution is being reformulated by humanity in just a few years."What we cannot do is agree on the ethics involved. The acceptance of epigenetics as an evolutionary force is only slowly being accepted and regulations governing experimentation with humans prevent much research that would allow some of the concepts to become a reality. I cannot recommend this book too highly! What a great bookclub selection it would make….probably have to carry discussion over to the next meeting. One caveat: The authors are cofounders of Excel Venture Management, which builds start-ups in synthetic biology, big data, and new genetic technologies, necessitating a certain caution in acceptance of everything they've written, but not invalidating the concepts.

  • Brandi
    2018-10-12 21:19

    There is a lot to think about in Juan Enriquez's and Steve Gullans's newest book, "Evolving Ourselves: How Unnatural Selection and Nonrandom Mutation are Changing Life on Earth". Though some people might disagree with the notion that "humans are getting smarter" LOL, there is a lot of other issues such as longevity, health disorders, and medical advancements explored that can have a profound impact on the human species. Overall, an extertaining, well-written, thought-provoking read that is rather optimistic in nature and amusing at times.I would recommend this book to anyone interested in biotechnology, genomics and/or general biology. It will probably be an interesting reference for students studying these fields as well. My copy of this book was won from

  • Jay R. shepard
    2018-10-12 21:30

    I thought this book was very interesting, enlightening and thought-provoking. I'd recommend "Evolving Ourselves" to anyone interested in biology, synthetic-biology, genetics and the evolution of the human species. A really good read! I won this book in a goodreads giveaway. By the way, this book doesn't discredit or prove Darwin wrong as some people have said. It just shows how Darwinian evolution is itself evolving along with our new discoveries in genetic engineering and other scientific technologies which are consequently shining a new light on some old, discredited theories such as Lamarckism.

  • Lora
    2018-09-19 20:33

    You know a non-fiction book is good when you sit and read through the notes as much for the additional information as for the fact that they are equally witty and well-written as the text they extend.Not only an enjoyable, interesting and informative read, but one that got my imagination churning in a hundred different directions. I very much appreciated the extensive research that went into the writing of the text, as well as the writers' forthright disclosure of their potential conflicts of interest. Carefully, thoughtfully, and honestly presented. I may never see my domesticated human life the same way again...

  • Leah
    2018-09-26 19:25

    Super interesting read. It's an important read as the science is advancing much faster than the ethics and laws that govern it. Think Gattaca, Terminater, twilight zone, Star Trek, the "uglies" and "divergent" series, only NOT fiction. Reading this book is a little scary because this science could make parts of those science fiction stories and movies a reality...we are making choices that will forever affect our descendants. From a Christian perspective the original sin is still driving the human race, to want to be like God. We want to create and to decide what creation lives and dies.

  • Dan Allosso
    2018-10-07 23:36

    There's a lot of good material in here, although the authors ignore the distributional issues surrounding ideas like life extension, genetic improvement, and even speciation -- which strike me as some of the most interesting aspects of these changes. Lots of material here for science fiction stories. And some interesting questions for historians, since many of the less futuristic aspects of unnatural selection (adequate food, social security, clean water) have been around for a while, just (as William Gibson said) not evenly distributed.

  • Nicole
    2018-09-24 21:29

    “Evolving Ourselves” is a well-researched book and included the most up-to-date studies and theory relating to genomics and the emerging trends in recent human evolution, among many other topics. The book was very intriguing and I was impressed with the breadth of multidisciplinary information presented. Recommended to anyone interested in how and why human biology and ecology are undergoing rapid change, and what part technology may play in our evolutionary trajectory. I received an advance reading copy free through the Goodreads First-Reads program.

  • Cranky Dragon
    2018-10-01 21:35

    I had two main reactions to this book:1. OMG. This is terrifying. Where's the nearest pillow fort?!2. WHERE THE HELL IS MY ROBOT BODY! I WANT A ROBOT BODY!This was a fascinating read (er... listen) that explores how humans have basically told natural selection and evolution to fuck off, we'll take it from here. There is a lot of speculation as to what this means for our future, but I think the speculation is relatively well grounded (hence my demand for a robot body). I recommend it.