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Death from a Distance and the Birth of a Humane Universe: Human Evolution, Behavior, History, and Your Future Paperback – November 17, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paul M. Bingham earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, where he also continued to develop his fascination with fundamental unanswered questions about how humans evolved. During his 27-year career on the faculty of Stony Brook University, he has continued to explore human origins while also contributing to fundamental cell and molecular biology, including the discovery of the P element transposon and new approaches to cancer therapy. Joanne Souza is currently a research psychologist and a faculty member at Stony Brook University. She also was a successful business consultant in communications in the health and education markets. In the last seven years she has continued to pursue her life-long research interest in human behavior, evolution, and history.

Paul M. Bingham earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, where he also continued to develop his fascination with fundamental unanswered questions about how humans evolved. During his 27-year career on the faculty of Stony Brook University, he has continued to explore human origins while also contributing to fundamental cell and molecular biology, including the discovery of the P element transposon and new approaches to cancer therapy. Joanne Souza is a successful business industry consultant in health & education and a faculty member at Stony Brook University. She earned her BA in Psychology, summa cum laude, from Stony Brook University, receiving a Recognition Award for Academics & Research and the University Award for Senior Leadership & Service. In the last six years she has continued to pursue her life-long research interest in human behavior, evolution, and history while earning a Masters of Science in Psychology from Walden University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 714 pages
  • Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (November 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439254125
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439254127
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Herbert Gintis on October 24, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Paul Bingham is a primarily a biochemist and molecular biologist of considerable talent, and teaches in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Stony Brook University. In the year 1999, I came across an extremely innovative article that Bingham wrote on the same topic as this book, "Human Uniqueness: A General Theory", Quarterly Review of Biology 74,2 (1999). I was writing an article on human altruism at the time, which eventually appeared as "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality", Journal of Theoretical Biology 206 (2000). This paper showed that altruistic punishment could evolve in humans provided the cost of punishing transgressors is not too high. I was very excited by Bingham's paper, because he explained cogently, on the basis of the evidence of several key anthropologists, why the cost of punishment is so low for humans as opposed to other species (e.g., our primate cousins). I even explored with him the possibility of his joining my research network, but this never happened (I can't remember why---I think perhaps because he was too busy with his "day job" in microbiology).

The Bingham-Souza argument is simple and powerful: "...ancestors of the first humans evolved, inadvertently, the capacity to kill or injure conspecifics...from a substantial distance. .... This ability arose, in turn, from the evolution of human virtuosity at accurate, high-momentum throwing. No previous animal could reliably kill or injure conspecifics remotely...For the first time, natural selection could now "reward" individuals who actively suppressed conflicts of interest in others and responded to this suppression from others." ...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Stuart on December 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
"What makes humans unique?" Extensively researched and elegantly written, "Death from a Distance and the Birth of a Humane Universe" takes us through a powerful and richly rewarding journey to the answer of this simple, yet profound question. Building on the foundations laid down by Williams, Dawkins, Hamilton and others, Bingham and Souza argue that the fundamental human 'trick' is the inexpensive suppression of the conflicts-of-interest problem that governs all life as we know it. From this simple yet powerful premise, a deep understanding of not only human evolution, but also human _history_ emerges. A fulfilling read for general audiences, the authors also include a comprehensive online endnotes section for students and professional scholars wishing to dig deeper into the material. Highly recommended to anyone who has ever wondered about or studied the 'human uniqueness question,' and especially to those feeling that a secular explanation of the origin of humans somehow diminishes 'what it means to be human.'
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K.C. on January 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is not your typical book on human evolution. Bingham and Souza offer a new theory of human existence encompassing our origins, our uniqueness, and the rise of modern states. Growing up we've been told that our opposable thumbs and larger brains make us unique, but Bingham and Souza argue that it is our ability to throw that has allowed us to dominate. This unique ability to suppress conflicts of interest from a distance has shaped the course of human history. To support their theory the authors take us on a journey that starts at the birth of our solar system with the rise of the first humans, then to our unique characteristics, and finally to the rise of the states. In the beginning of the book you may be skeptical of their views, but throughout the book they offer evidence and research from different fields to support their theory. They use evidence presented in current theories and popular beliefs of human evolution to support their theory, while challenge the existing belief. Bingham and Souza welcome skepticism and scrutiny to their theory and believe that a good theory can withstand all challenges presented to it. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in human behavior and thought, weapons, politics, and history.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joseph C. Monastra on December 2, 2009
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Paul Bingham and Joanne Souza have presented a thought provoking new theory on the evolution of the Human Race, its society, social norms, sexual practices and the underlying forces that drive us as a species. The material, while presented in a detailed and scientific manner, is understandable by not only the scientific community but the general public as well. The underlying premise that it is human kinds development of the ability to cause "death from a distance" as a way to deal with social outliers and improve cooperation among the members of the species is a fascinating and fresh concept. I would recommend this book to not only the academic and scientific community, whose long held theories and believes will need to be reevaluated in light of the material and research presented in this book, but also to any individual interested in getting a "look" into what makes us what we are today and gaining a better understanding of the forces that ultimately drive our thought processes and behaviors as individuals and a species. The concepts presented lay a new foundation for the study and understanding of not only prior human evolution but also what the future can hold and how we as a race can grow beyond our base instincts and achieve the best that the future can hold.
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