Adam's Curse: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Destiny

by Bryan Sykes | Science |
ISBN: 0393326802 Global Overview for this book
Registered by synergy of San Antonio, Texas USA on 5/28/2007
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Journal Entry 1 by synergy from San Antonio, Texas USA on Monday, May 28, 2007
2007 Book #3 - Adam's Curse: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry by Bryan Sykes

It was inevitable that after writing about the female genetic ancestry Bryan Sykes was bound to write about the male side. This one was less brought about because he was interested in origins although there is that too, but rather his personal interest in linkage to particular famous/known men with his surname. You'd think it would be easier to link men through record since almost all western cultures are patriarchies and we all get the father's surname for sure. BUT. Like I always say, one of the few things you can be almost 99.9% sure about your parentage, it's that your mother IS your mother. :)
Bryan Sykes, the nationally best-selling author of The Seven Daughters of Eve, here investigates the ultimate evolutionary crisis: the possibility of a man-free future. How is it possible that the Y chromosome, which separated the sexes and allowed humans to rise to the apex of the animal kingdom, also threatens to destroy sexual reproduction altogether? Sykes confronts recent advances in evolutionary theory to find the answers to the questions that inexorably follow
  • Is there a genetic cause for men's greed, aggression, and promiscuity?
  • Is the Y chromosome's instability to blame for steadily rising infertility rates?
  • Could a male homosexual gene exist?
  • Can anything be done to save men from a slow, but certain, extinction?

In uncovering the answers to these and other mysteries, "Sykes's detective work is fascinating," raves David Plotz in the Washington Post Book World. With a new afterword on the most recent advances in genetic imprinting, Adam's Curse provokes a powerful debate on the nature of sexual reproduction.

Like I said about the previous book related to this one, the science is written in a manageable and understandeable manner to the average literate person and I agree that it does provoke debate. Sykes does have some interesting things to say such as the one where the male Y chromosome works in a selfish manner where the ultimate goal is that one chromosome's or gene's survival and not what's generally taught, survival of the species. Hence the greed, aggression, etc. But looking over the ideas in the list above, I can think of several exceptions to explaining away the causes which Sykes gives. Such as if the slowly disappearing/shrinking of the Y chromosome is the reason for rising infertility, why is it most noticeable in developed, 1st world countries? Why isn't it occurring universally/globally at the same rate? Considering the rate of reproduction in undeveloped countries wouldn't it be occurring faster there?

That last question is quite the provoker. Enter all the jokes where the world would be better without men. No more war, no more oppression, right? Apparently they've never seen the unique type of aggression and back-stabbiness and oppression of many of the women I've known! But biologically, sex without males isn't new on Earth. Just last week, May 22, there was the story of a female hammerhead shark which reproduced without mating (NY Times article). It happens in reptiles and occasionally it seems in cartilaginous vertebrates (sharks), too. Whether we'll lose the male of the species in 5,000 generations (~125,000), who knows. I would think that like the noble cockroach, we'll probably find a way around it. That is, if humanity is still around.

Overall, this book has some creative reasoning, but I don't know if I would give it credence in some instances if I just put on my scientist cap. Otherwise, Sykes does bring up some interesting ideas.

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