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Mad about the bo Y,
This review is from: Adam's Curse: A Future Without Men (Paperback)
The punchline is that the Y chromosome is doomed - but this applies to pretty much all mammals - so what's the news? We occupy the same playing field don't we?
Before the punchline Sykes explores why the Y chromosome in humans may be especially at risk. Point the finger at the rabid dispersion of gender bending chemicals into the environment such as pthalates from plastics and oestrogen type chemicals including vast amounts of contraceptive hormones that leak into sewage and don't break down affecting fish and perhaps us? Sperm counts are going down apparently, but this is not necessarily associated with the punchline, which is on the basis of the Y chromosome not undergoing chiasma formation with the X - leading to an accumulation of mutant mistakes.
Overall the book is good at answering from the secular selfish gene point of view such obvious questions as "Why does sex exist? Why are there two sexes?". Sykes believes in William Hamilton's theories popularised by Dawkins that the gene is the ultimate unit of selection.
Despite the "triumph" of this idea according to Sykes, scientists still debate about whether it is the gene, the individual or the species that is selected. There is in fact evidence for all three. In this book, one sort of also realises that chromosomes too can be units of selection. American evolutionists generally don't like the gene centric approach. The war between mitochondrial DNA and the Y as described in this book seems to be somewhat hollow.
I don't agree that agriculture per se led to a diminution of the status of women and the establishment of a patriarchal set of civilisations epitomised by the masculinisation of the figures of the divine as men seemed to realise that they had an upper hand in procreation.
The most interesting observations of this book is facts about how the Y chromosome spreads and how it can help trace your line of decent - and how this may contradict the line of decent through the female line.
Better still is the evidence suggesting strong assymetry in the natal balance of the sexes in some families leaving aside the obvious cultural bias (in some countries) of sons over daughters. In short, certain families have skewed tendencies to have too many boys or girls which does not add up statistically. But is the explanation presented correct? There is here food for thought.
This book is fascinating though weak in places. I'm not too worried about the punchline and not sure if it is true but I have been somewhat enlightened by reading this book in that it clarifies points raised in books like the Selfish Gene. I feel the truth overall is not as clear cut as the book tries to show and therefore am not going to end up story telling about why exactly there are two sexes. There is plenty here to have conversations with for sure.
Does the gay gene exist? Is it to do with your older brothers training the mother's pregnant body to attack your masculinity if you are a younger brother? There is now some evidence for this just out.
A good read, attacking men, unfairly at times, but a good read none the less.