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Where Do We Come From?: The Molecular Evidence for Human Descent [Hardcover]

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Item description for Where Do We Come From?: The Molecular Evidence for Human Descent by Jan Klein...

From the moment it first began to contemplate the world, three questions have occupied the human mind: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? Artists (notably Paul Gauguin), religious thinkers, philosophers, and most recently scientists have all searched for answers. Here, the authors describe how scientists decipher human origin from the record encrypted in the DNA and protein molecules. After explaining the nature of descent and the methods available for studying genealogical relationships, they summarize the information revealed by the molecular archives about the Tree of Life and our location on one of its branches. The knowledge thus gleaned allows them to draw conclusions about our identity, our place in the living world, our future, and the ethical implications of the changed perspective.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   462
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.45" Width: 6.3" Height: 0.94"
Weight:   2.12 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jan 10, 2002
Publisher   Springer
ISBN  3540425640  
ISBN13  9783540425649  

Availability  0 units.

More About Jan Klein

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Jan Klein was born in 1936 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Max-Planck-Institute fur Biologie, Max-Planck Institut fur Biologie, G.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Anthropology > Anthropology
2Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Biological Sciences > Biology > Biology
3Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Biological Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology
4Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Evolution > General
5Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Professional Science > Evolution > Genetics
6Books > Subjects > Science > Biological Sciences > Biology > General
7Books > Subjects > Science > Biological Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology
8Books > Subjects > Science > Evolution > General
9Books > Subjects > Science > Evolution > Genetics
10Books > Subjects > Science > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Where Do We Come From?: The Molecular Evidence for Human Descent?

Fascinating book.  Sep 12, 2007
This is a wonderful book on the fascinating subject of human origins and evolution written by two experts in the field. It is a journey though many aspects of evolutionary biology but focusing on the mind-boggling developments in molecular biology. A rare and refreshing qualily of the book is that the authors try always to give a balanced and critical discussion of the hypothesis at stake, their strenghts and weaknesses.

Some parts of the book are quite technical but worth the effort. In any case, one should praise the authors for their courage in trying to explain some of the complex science and mathematics involved in the field. Though this inevitably has shortcomings, it is infinitely better than the usual path of oversimplification and white-washing, fashionable in many science books nowadays.
This should be the most widely read book on human evolution  Nov 13, 2005
Klein and Takahata present a very readable account of the hard science and mathematics that underlies what Nobel laureate James D. Watson, co-discoverer of the molecular structure of DNA, has come to refer to as the "law of evolution". The title of the book comes from the Gauguin painting "Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?" As pointed out in the text, science has essentially answered the first question.

Although popular books meant for a lay audience abound in the literature, and are often quite well written, they shy away from the rigorous underpinnings of modern Darwinian evolutionary theory. Klein and Takahata give the reader the details needed for an understanding of human evolution that goes beyond mere storytelling. They assume knowledge of mathematics and biology that we all were supposed to have learned in high school, and develop the remaining background in the course of the text. As a consequence, if you learn nothing else by reading this book, you'll learn some math and molecular biology that apply to things other than evolution. Hopefully, however, you'll come to understand that evolution is a fact which can't be invalidated by legal argument or religious sophistry, including the current shibboleth of "intelligent design."
human evolution explanation at its best  Mar 2, 2003
This is simply the best book i've found on human evolution. The subtitle is "The Molecular Evidence for Human Descent", don't be put off if you don't have a degree in biochemistry. Unlike most other technical and scientifically sophisticated books, in this one, the author holds your hand. He does it very well, introducing binominal and poisson distribution analysis both in the text and in appendices, for example. You are aware of his careful setting up the pieces that you need in order to understand the take home message of each chapter, and you are grateful, even if you already know the material, for the 'nice' way he does it. I finished the book wishing he would rewrite many biology and engineering textbooks i have been subjected to over the years by authors who assumed if you didn't know exactly what you were reading, then you shouldn't have bought and tried to read his book in the first place. For this characteristic alone the book is deeply and joyfully to be praised.

I am aware of the divisive character of the debate on human origins, this book will not settle it. But it will be a book that can be recommended to bring your reasonable intelligent but somewhat scientifically ignorant friend up to speed on the issues from a unabashed secular scientific viewpoint. It will, i would hope, set a standard for introductory books in the field. For if it can get a hearing, and even become popular then other authors will be forced to help people understand their arguments by giving them the tools to analyze and understand their positions, not just assume them. Now this doesn't negate the need to do your homework in order to be a serious student in any field, many things will take lots of reading to get the basis for advanced arguments. Something that will never be done in one, or even a set of books. But as the authors prove a reasonable grasp of human evolutionary arguments from a biochemical/genetic point of view is not that sophisticated of a field to require volumes, just this one.

Lest i miss an important issue, i would like to state that the author, like most secular scientific people makes the mistake of drawing metaphysical conclusions from scientific data. This i belief to be the problem of scientism, the unjustified extension of method-science into metaphysics or religion. The authors would certainly disagree with me. In any case, their philosophic position is clearly stated, open and presented in a manner that is not belittling of a religious prespective. So even if you are a theist i believe that there is much to be gained from reading this book, don't let the scientism put you off.

thanks for reading this review, and please get the book, it is certainly a most important topic, whether you agree with evolutionary analysis or not, you must be informed.

richard williams

A splendid book  Apr 22, 2002
This is a super-ambitious, yet superbly-done account of life on earth from the first primitive creatures down to you and me. It's quite technical, but as lucid as possible. And the equations, diagrams, and tables are interspersed with fascinating asides, such as full explication of the the Gaugin masterpiece that provides the title and cover picture. It also offers in passing the most interesting interpretation of the Garden of Eden and the serpent's offer from Genesis that I've ever read.

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