Lisa's Reviews > The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution

The 10,000 Year Explosion by Gregory Cochran
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's review
Aug 03, 2009

it was ok
Read in August, 2009

As a book written for the layman about new ideas in genetic research, _The 10,000 Year Explosion_ is an important book. Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending, two professors at the University of Utah (physics and genetics, respectively), are basically saying in their theories that it is our genetic make up that determined our ancestors' fate, and it will determine ours too.

While I accept that different races are composed differently of genetic codes, resulting in different eye and skin colors and responses to different foods, etc. (for example, as an Asian, it is not unusual for me to be lactose-intolerant), I don't find it useful to think that any race is genetically pre-determined to have a higher IQ than others. Cochran and Harpending are saying that culture and education do not matter, as we are pre-programmed by our genes. This is profoundly dangerous and grim, as it may lead us back to destructive racism.

When used properly, we can apply our new knowledge of genetics research constructively to help create proper medical treatment for personalized medicine that would be most suitable for each individual. But taken the wrong way, this information can potentially harm any specific race.

I find that much of the book is unsubstantiated theory that would be impossible to prove or disprove directly because it would simply be too unethical to carry out such experiments. Too much is being attributed to genetics.

What bothers me most about this book is the way it is written. I feel that the two professors are so in love with their own theories that they are not heeding the responsibility they have to humanity. I can't help but think of the Puritan idea of predestination as I read this book. They're saying that you're screwed because you're born this way. Your children may mutate though.
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Petr Hanak Actually the authors do not deny the influence of society and education, but only over long term.

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