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Why Us?: How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves [Paperback]

James Le Fanu
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 April 2010
In ‘Why Us?’, James Le Fanu explores the major implications of the most recent findings of genetics and neuroscience, challenging the common assumption that they must ultimately explain all there is to know about life and man’s place in the world. On the contrary, he argues, they point to an unbridgeable explanatory gap between the genes strung out along the Double Helix and the near infinite beauty and diversity of the living world to which they give rise, and between the monotonous electro-chemistry of the brain and richness and creativity of the human mind. “There is,” he writes, “a powerful impression that science has been looking in the wrong place, seeking to resolve questions that somehow lie outside its domain. It is as if we – and indeed all living things – are in some way different, profounder and more complex than the physical world to which we belong.” A N Wilson in his review described it as ‘an extraordinary work of science … quite wonderfully refreshing’; for Christopher Booker in The Spectator it was “enthralling”: “one of the glories of Le Fanu’s erudite and beautifully written book is that a sense of wonder is evident on every page, even as he lucidly analyses the limitations of the narrow intellectual prism in which science has languished too long.”

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Why Us?: How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves + The Rise And Fall Of Modern Medicine + The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress (29 April 2010)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0007120281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007120284
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 327,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'An extraordinary work of science...quite wonderfully refreshing.'
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

James Le Fanu is a medical doctor and regular columnist for the Sunday Telegraph and Daily Telegraph. He graduated from Cambridge University and the Royal London Hospital in 1974. He has published research articles in the ‘British Medical Journal’, ‘Lancet’ and the ‘Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine’.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revelationary 3 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A book everyone should read - and re-read, bought a copy for each of our adult children.Hard to put down once you start. Thank you so much, James Le Fanu, for this amazing, mind blowing book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Le Fanu Matters 10 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book provides a brilliant insight into the many scientific problems concerning evolution, Darwinism and The Brain, etc, discussing the underlying problems with scientific philosophy of Reductionism and determinism. The book is stuffed full of the most amazing facts to astound anyone familiar or not with these dilemmas facing modern science. Once you start reading this book you will not find it easy to put down. Le Fanu has a brilliant, razor sharp mind and intellect, which allows nothing to escape his informed insight, rigour and impatience with those who still insist on Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection, debunked at the turn of the 19th century but still kept alive by those whose careers are based on this false assumption. He will take you to many places - 20th century America, where 'Natural Selection', was actually put into practice to prevent poor people breeding - to Nazi Germany and their use of 'Survival of the Fittest', as an excuse to exterminate the Jews and others considered unfit for the master race. There are no punches held, and all through the book one is spellbound by the sheer amount, and depth, of scientific detail, especially when it comes to discussing the Brain, Mind, etc. This book should be in every school library and most certainly in all Universities. Everyone should read this book. It dispels all the nonsense spoken about evolution and puts the debate back on track, demonstrating how some scientists try to persuade the general public that The Theory of Evolution is now fact. The very philosophy of science is put firmly in the dock as not having all the answers, and although I am a fervent admirer of Science, cannot abide those who support bad science and dish out to the general public the most dreadful meaningless hypotheses and theories as truth. This man of science sets the track straight by helping readers understand the problems confronting scientific theory today. An excellent read. Well done Mr Le Fanu and thank you so much.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mike's Review. 3 July 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a first class, thought provoking book. The arguments are clearly and intelligently presented, and backed up by detailed facts and illustrations which clearly show both the historical aspects of the subject and the results of recent developments. The author is no respecter of reputations, and it is a pleasure to see the somewhat arrogant opinions and statements of some pillars of the current scientific establishment questioned. In particular, hard line Darwinists are asked some awkward questions.

Highly recommended.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a challenge to think 13 Feb 2009
Le Fanu wrote ,in the rise and fall of modern medicine,about things I thought I ,as a doctor knew about but didnt.His latest book is even better.Just as beautifully written,describing complex things simply ,rigorous and certain to provoke argument.
However only to be read with an open mind.
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36 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Answer to Dawkins 19 Feb 2009
This is probably the most important book I have read in a decade. Le Fanu shows how recent scientific investigations into the genome and into the human brain seriously undermine the certainties of materialist science, and force us to rethink our attitude to long discarded ideas such as the soul. If you want to read a cogent, entertaining, intellectually rigorous answer to Dawkins et al. then this is the book for you.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Materialism is not enough 4 May 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dr Le Fanu examines how two of science's greatest achievements of recent years - mapping the human genome and imaging the activity of the brain - simultaneously extended our knowledge of the material world and revealed more starkly the scale of mystery about what it is to be human and how very different we are to other animals with which we share so much biological heritage.

While Darwin's theory of natural selection does provide a cogent explanation for small scale evolution it cannot begin to explain major differences between species. The astonishing complexity and inter-dependedness of biological systems defy attempts to make marginal changes - ones which create a functioning animal let alone an evolutionarily successful one.

The biological differences between Neanderthals and the artists who created the cave paintings of southern France are trivial but there is great gulf in terms of their humanity.

Dr Le Fanu has a most engaging turn of phrase which encapsulates both the meaning and the significance of his subject. He is keen to share his sense of awe at the richness of life and the astonishing uniqueness of human beings.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumph 27 Sep 2010
The author's declared aims are to restore a sense of wonder to the scientific enterprise, and man to the pedestal from which he has been so unceremoniously toppled by philosophical materialism. He has succeeded triumphantly, and, in so doing, has driven another nail into the coffin of Darwin's reputation.

Le Fanu writes beautifully - almost poetically, at times - but never loses sight of his underlying message. Beginning with an evocative account of the discovery of the artwork of Cro-Magnon man in a French cave, he marvels at the sudden and inexplicable emergence of mankind, with our unique powers of imagination, reasoning and abstract thought. The contrast with our primate `cousins' should be self-evident, but the distorting lens of the Darwinian paradigm has served only to emphasise and exaggerate our similarities. Consequently, huge areas of potential research into what makes humans `special' have been largely ignored, with disastrous consequences for the scientific enterprise.

This might all seem a bit depressing, and, for those of us familiar with the Intelligent Design literature, rather unoriginal, too. However, it provides the context for the author's main thesis - that cutting-edge science is providing us with an opportunity to break free of the shackles of materialist reductionism, and re-embrace the concept of the soul. In two areas in particular - genetics and neuroscience - research over the last 20 years has shown that we are much more than the sum of our brain's electrical impulses and our DNA's instructions.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Darwin and Dawkins debunked
I purchased Le Fanu's book in hardback in 2009, and have now read it carefully right through four or five times, with growing appreciation, and also repeatedly consulted parts of... Read more
Published 9 months ago by trini
4.0 out of 5 stars What does "non material reality" mean?
In this book, Dr James Le Fanu tries at first, almost successfully to hide his religious agenda.
He goes on to unfairly accuse the scientific community of being in a... Read more
Published on 9 May 2011 by M. G. KETTERIDGE
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
James Le Fanu asks some important questions, you know, the ones we are not supposed to ask. If you still think science has all the answers already this is worth a read. Read more
Published on 11 April 2011 by Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Testing Darwin - does he survive?
All scientific theories should be challenged and re-examined regularly and when, like Darwinism, they survive the challenge, they grow in stature. Read more
Published on 4 Nov 2010 by John Nichols
1.0 out of 5 stars Why not?
Honestly, I didn't enjoy this book as I did with other science books... His arguments and criticisms based only on the Genoma Project and the new techniques to scan the brain are... Read more
Published on 29 Aug 2010 by Lewiscat
1.0 out of 5 stars Not convinced
I really enjoyed 'The rise and fall of modern medicine' but I was very disappointed by 'Why us?'. This book does not feel objective and it seems to have been written with a... Read more
Published on 12 July 2010 by N. Macdougall
5.0 out of 5 stars D.Evans
Excellent book. One of the best I have read. Not a light read but very interesting.
Published on 13 Jun 2010 by D. W. H. Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous
Reading this book you wonder - how can so many intelligent people be so blind when the issue of evolution is at stake? Read more
Published on 10 Oct 2009 by N. Bar
1.0 out of 5 stars MORE BAD SCIENCE
I find that this book consists largely of a regurgitation of naive popular anti-scientific humbug. The author does not seem to understand basic biology and the book is full of 'bad... Read more
Published on 20 July 2009 by B. H. Gaskell
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