- Hardcover: 291 pages
- Publisher: Times Books (1 Oct. 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812922247
- ISBN-13: 978-0812922240
- Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 16.5 x 24.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 802,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Why We Get Sick: the New Science of Darwinian Medicine Hardcover – 1 Oct 1995
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"By bringing the evolutionary vision systematically into one of the last unconquered provinces, Nesse and Williams have devised not only means for the improvement of medicine but fundamental new insights into the human condition."--Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University
"In moving the focus from 'how' to 'why' questions, Nesse and Williams introduce readers to a new way of thinking about illness, one that promises to be of increasing interest as...our culture turns toward evolutionary explanations for human predicaments."--Peter D. Kramer, author of Listening to Prozac --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Randolph M Nesse, M.D., is a practicing physcian and professor and associate chair for education and academic affairs in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School.
George C. Williams, Ph.D., is a professor emeritus of ecology and evolution at the State University at Stony Brook and editor of The Quarterly Review of Biology. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
There's not really much more I can say if Richard Dawkins wants to give a copy to our Doctors.
This is a very interesting book and may help us understand why we get sick and lists 6 different issues:
3. Novel environments
5. Design compromises
6. Evolutionary legacies
If this interests you then I suggest read some of the other more in depth reviews or even buy the book...
What I enjoyed about this book is the common sense approach - even when being very scientific the authors have a lovely way of telling a story.
"A caveat is necessary. Doctors and patients, like all other people, are prone to extend theories too far..."
It has great chapters on lots of different subjects and reads like a story like I mentioned earlier and this for me is why the book is so good - its readable unlike for example many research papers on the same subject...
Like all the books I recommend, don't take it too seriously, learn from it and move on. It is one perspective on a multi- faceted terminal condition we call human life...
At first glance, this quote from WHY WE GET SICK wouldn't seem to be relevant to the topic. But since the hypothesis of the book is that evolution and natural selection govern the senescence of aging and the physiological responses to diseases and mortally competitive environments, the fact that the gaudier frog has evolved with potent internal poisons that (should) signal "danger" to any potential predator makes the connection vis-a-vis both the amphibian's toxin and the starving hiker whose internal defense mechanisms may at least cause vomiting and diarrhea if frog's legs make it onto the dinner menu.
As authors Randolph Nesse and George Williams summarize:
"First, there are genes that make us vulnerable to disease ... Most deleterious genetic effects ... are actively maintained by selection because they have unappreciated benefits that outweigh their costs ... Second, disease results from exposure to novel factors that were not present in the environment in which we evolved ... Third, disease results from design compromises, such as upright posture with its associated back problems ... Fourth, ... natural selection ... works just as hard for pathogens trying to eat us and the organisms we want to eat. In conflicts with these organisms, as in baseball, you can't win 'em all. Finally, disease results from unfortunate historical legacies ... the human body must function well, with no chance to go back and start afresh ... Susceptibility to disease ... cannot be eliminated by any duration of natural selection, for it is the very power of natural selection that created them.Read more ›
In this book the authors describe why (and not how) we
suffer from various diseases. Looking at diseases from an
evolutionary viewpoint gives us tremendous insight and
offers innovative ideas for treatment and prevention.
Though I tend to treat radical new ideas with skepticism, I
found most of the arguments in this book very convincing.
Apart from being ingenious, this book is also very
entertaining and easy to read.
In my opinion this is the science 'Book of the decade'
It explains the beneficial effects, among others, of fever, vomiting, low iron levels, pain, cough, diarrhea, fear, anxiety or panic.
The basis of the book is Darwin's theory of natural selection which explains the functional design of all organisms. Natural selection involves no plan, no goal, no direction, only `selfish genes' (R. Dawkins). Survival of the latter depends on their reproductive success, not on perfect design, health or (sexual) satisfaction. The role of chance ensures that the future course of evolution is unpredictable.
The authors see six categories of evolutionary explanations of diseases: defenses (ex. fever, emotions); infections (ex. by bacteria); novel environments (ex. artificial light, agriculture instead of hunting-gathering); genes (ex. mutations); design compromises (ex. walking upright predisposes man to back problems); evolutionary legacies (ex. food passes through a tube in front of our windpipe).
The book contains also a serious warning: New breeds of disease-resistant plants should be treated very cautiously.
Why has, until now, the medical profession not taken advantage of the help from evolutionary biology? Opposition to the idea of evolution (ex. by religion) has minimized in general education the impact of Darwin's contribution to the understanding of ourselves and the world we live in.
This book is a must read for all those who want to understand who we really are and how and why we live.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love love loved it. Such a great book that offers a great application of evolution in medicine - something that makes a lot of sense. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Alisa
It's impossible for me to understand how people can deny evolution when it explains so much! Once you understand biology, you know evolution is a fact of life. Read morePublished on 2 Nov. 2014 by Blake
This book is the beginning of a whole new way of looking at illnesses,sickness and disease. As a doctor I thoroughly recommend you get a copy. Read morePublished on 8 Jan. 2014 by Sceptic
excellent, well reasoned, suitable for layman's every day vocabulary No moe words necessary - be content with what you receivePublished on 4 Mar. 2013 by Theodore Matoff
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