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Turning Point: How Critical Events Have Driven Human

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An accessible introduction to core concepts in evolution for lay readers, which shows that random events have played a critical role in the development of life

Critical historical events--or "turning points"--have shaped evolution and continue to have a decisive effect on individual lives. This theme is explored and explained in this lucid, accessible book for lay readers. The author argues that, although evolution is the result of unpredictable events, these events have profound influences on subsequent developments. Life is thus a continuous interplay between unforeseeable events and their decisive consequences.

As one example, the author cites the fusing of two chromosomes, which differentiated the human species from our closest animal relatives about 4 to 5 million years ago. This event was not predictable, but it had a profound effect on the evolution of our species thereafter. By the same token, certain unpredictable circumstances in the past enabled only Homo sapiens to survive to the present day, though we now know that other human-like species also once existed.

The author contrasts such scientific concepts grounded in solid evidence with prevalent misconceptions about life: specifically, the religious notion that there is a plan and purpose behind life, the widespread perception that intelligent design governs the workings of nature, the persistent belief in destiny and fate, and the attribution of an overly deterministic role to genes.

This excellent introduction for laypersons to core ideas in biology goes a long way toward dispelling such misconceptions and presents current scientific research in clearly understandable, jargon-free terms.

Author: Kampourakis Kostas
Publisher: PROMETHEUS BOOKS
Pages: 384
ISBN: 9781633883291
Cover: Hardback
Edition Number: 1
Release Year: 2018

Kostas Kampourakis is the author and editor of books about evolution, genetics, philosophy, and history of science, and the editor of the Cambridge book series Understanding Life. He is a former Editor-in-Chief of the journal Science and Education, and two other science education book series. He is currently a researcher at the University of Geneva, where he also teaches at the Section of Biology and the University Institute for Teacher Education (http://kampourakis.com).

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