BONES OF CONTENTION: CONTROVERSIES IN THE SEARCH FOR HUMAN ORIGINS (PELICAN)

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9780140226386: BONES OF CONTENTION: CONTROVERSIES IN THE SEARCH FOR HUMAN ORIGINS (PELICAN)

Bones of Contention is a behind-the-scenes look at the search for human origins. Analyzing how the biases and preconceptions of paleoanthropologists shaped their work, Roger Lewin's detective stories about the discovery of Neanderthal Man, the Taung Child, Lucy, and other major fossils provide insight into this most subjective of scientific endeavors. The new afterword looks at ways in which paleoanthropology, while becoming more scientific
in many ways, remains contentious.

"[An] un-put-downable book."—John Gribbon, Times Educational Supplement

"Not just another 'stones and bones' account of human evolution. It is Lewin's thesis, amply demonstrated, that paleoanthropology is the most subjective of sciences because it engages the emotions of virtually everyone; and since the evidence is scrappy, interpretation is everything. . . . A splendid, stirring, and eye-opening account, to be devoured."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"[Lewin shows] 'how very unscientific the process of scientific inquiry can be.'. . . Bones of Contention is . . . serious intellectual history."—Edward Dolnick, Wall Street Journal

"[Lewin] documents his thesis in persuasive detail. . . . The reader is carried along by the power of Mr. Lewin's reporting."—Robert Wright, New York Times Book Review

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Review:

No area of science has a higher incidence of colorful personalities than paleoanthropology. The Leakey family and Donald Johanson are merely the best known of a vivid and contentious bunch that have not hesitated--indeed, have made every effort--to air their conflicts before a wider public. Roger Lewin's recently updated Bones of Contention is the only reliable field guide to these scientists, their characters, and controversies. Lewin never forgets that hominid fossil discoveries always involve both the self-image of humanity and that of individual scientists. Lewin is uniquely evenhanded (i.e. he thinks everyone is wrong from time to time), yet the all-star blurbs on the cover show that he retains the respect of the entire paleoanthropological community.

From Publishers Weekly:

In this compelling, readable book, Lewis (Thread of Life, etc.) inquires into the controversies and "paradigm shifts" that have marked the views of evolutionists Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace, T. H. Huxley and others in the era that witnessed the discovery of the bones of Neanderthal Man (1856); as well as such modern-day theorists and field-workers as the Leakeys (Louis, Richard and Mary) and Donald Johanson, who found the bones of "Lucy." Covering the history of the hunt for fossil evidence supporting Darwin's argument for man's "descent," he shows through superb research and lively interviews how profoundly subjective the views of scientists have been whenever they have tried to determine when, how and why humans ("hominids") branched off from apes. Here are descriptions of African fossil-digs, arguments about the naming of fossil finds, ego-clashes between the likes of Richard Leakey and Donald Johansonnone of it destroying evolutionary theory itself, but all of it, with insight and submerged humor, showing how all-too-human science can be. Photos. Macmillan Book Club alternate.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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