The Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry

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Matt Dean
Feb 22 2012
Book Group this week

The following e-mail announcement was sent by Matt Dean to the Book Group mailing list:


This Sunday, February 26, 2012, the book group will meet to discuss "The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution" by Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending.

Arguing that human genetic evolution is still ongoing, physicist-turned-evolutionary biologist Cochran and anthropologist Harpending marshal evidence for dramatic genetic change in the (geologically) recent past, particularly since the invention of agriculture. Unfortunately, much of their argument-including the origin of modern humans, agriculture, and Indo-Europeans-tends to neglect archaeological and geological evidence; readers should keep in mind that assumed time frames, like the age of the human species, are minimums at best and serious underestimates at worst. That said, there is much here to recommend, including the authorsí unique approach to the question of modern human-Neanderthal interbreeding, and their discussion of the genetic pressures on Ashkenazi Jews over the past 1,000 years, both based solidly in fact. They also provide clear explanations for tricky concepts like gene flow and haplotypes, and their arguments are intriguing throughout. Though lapses in their case wonít be obvious to the untrained eye, itís clear that this lively, informative text is not meant to deceive (abundant references and a glossary also help) but to provoke thought, debate and possibly wonder.

As always, we'll meet at the West Ashley Barnes & Noble, located at 1812 Sam Rittenberg Boulevard. The discussion runs from 4:00 pm till 5:30 pm, and we usually go out to dinner afterward.

Hope to see you there!


Matt Dean

SHL President

P.S. The book for March will be "The Life You Can Save: How to Do Your Part to End World Poverty" by Peter Singer.

P.P.S. If you have any interest in taking over as book group coordinator beginning in August, please let me know.


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