on July 16, 2002
This book is both a great read, and an informative one, for anyone interested in human behavior, evolutionary theory, and the links between the two. The area of potential evolutionary bases to human behavior has traditionally been filled with much controversy, some fighting, scattered irresponsible speculations and pronouncements that at times have produced tragic effects, and quite often, more heat than light. Laland and Brown have produced a book that is truly a breath of fresh air. One of the things I liked most about Sense and Nonsense is that Laland and Brown had actually sat down to talk with--and listen to--many of the leading proponents of different "schools" of thought. They work hard in Sense and Nonsense to give a fair presentation of each different approach, before moving on in each chapter to provide their own analysis of the approach presented from their own perspective as working scientists. In the midst of an area in which some researchers have been prone to simply shout louder--often literally--at those they disagree with, Laland and Brown have truly taken the time to listen, reflect, and form considered and thoughtful judgements. This is a service to all of us: After reading their book, I know that I will always look reflect differently on researchers' claims of evolutionary bases of human behavior, whether that's hearing them at a conference, or reading a journal article, or the latest best-selling book or TV interview. If you want to improve your understanding of evolution and human behavior, get a guided tour through the area and its controversies by two thoughtful experts, and come out with a changed perspective that will likely always stay with you, then read Sense and Nonsense. Great book.