- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (March 18, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393081370
- ISBN-13: 978-0393081374
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 72 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,057,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Working from the assumption that human physiology has remained virtually unchanged since our hunting and gathering days more than 10,000 years ago, advocates of the currently popular Paleolithic, or caveman, diet eschew dairy, grains, and other products of modern agriculture. Some Paleo buffs go even further, promoting barefoot running and sleeping with our infants, arguing that modern living has wreaked havoc on our collective health. For University of California biology professor Zuk, such notions are Paleofantasies, a misinformed nostalgia for a mythical era when humans supposedly lived in perfect harmony with nature. In this illuminating overview of state-of-the art evolutionary science, the author debunks this utopian ideal and demonstrates that not only have humans continued to evolve since our foraging days, but some of those adaptations have been remarkably swift. Zuk draws on emerging evidence from gene mapping and studies on lactose digestion proving that today’s humans are definitely different from our caveman ancestors. While Zuk doesn’t disagree that a couch-potato lifestyle is detrimental, she offers a reassuring message that humankind is still tweaking its genome. --Carl Hays
“We tend to idealize our ancestors, as if they had the perfect life and perfect diet. In highly readable style, Marlene Zuk downplays our paleo-heritage. Not only did we change culturally, we are also genetically a different animal.”
- Frans de Waal, author of The Bonobo and the Atheist
“Marlene Zuk’s quest to understand prehistory is an elegant guide for the perplexed. Paleofantasy cuts through a confusing tangle of facts and claims to give us a trustworthy road map to the glorious problems of who we are and where we come from.”
- Richard Wrangham, author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human
“In thoroughly engaging and witty prose, Zuk (Sex on Six Legs), a biologist from the University of Minnesota, dismantles the pseudoscience behind nostalgic yearnings for our caveman days.”
- Publishers Weekly
“Nothing beats good hard data to debunk myths, and Zuk offers plenty.”
- Kirkus Reviews
“In this illuminating overview of state-of-the art evolutionary science, [Zuk] debunks this utopian ideal and demonstrates that not only have humans continued to evolve since our foraging days, but some of those adaptations have been remarkably swift.”
- Carl Hays, Booklist
“Ms. Zuk’s nutritionally rich scientific fodder will certainly bring intellectual benefits far greater than those provided by the pseudoscientific confections with which we are so often tempted.”
- Cordelia Fine, Wall Street Journal
“Zuk doesn’t deny that an understanding of evolution can provide important insights into human behavior and health. But as this informative book demonstrates, the work of using evolutionary logic to explain human traits is more like multi-variable calculus than simple arithmetic.”
- The Daily Beast
“In her witty and well-researched prose, Zuk debunks these pseudoscience-based conceptions and proves that humanity did not have “a time” like the kind depicted by these fantasies; evolution has always been and will continue to be a key player in our species’ future.”
- Liz Belliovskaya, Brain World Magazine
“Paleofantasy is not another self-help book offering answers on how to eat, exercise, or love better in our evolving world. Instead, Zuk emphasizes that we can approach these aspects of our lives differently based on our genetic makeup.”
- Catherine Woods, Science Magazine
“Zuk ably presents a skeptical and light-hearted view of a long list of palaeofantasies and supposed solutions.”
- John Hawks, Nature
“With its healthy analysis of lifestyles and changing, evolving habits, Paleofantasy is a top recommendation not just for science holdings, but collections strong in culinary history and evolution.”
- Midwest Book Review
“Like the best science writers, [Zuk] finds a broader context for everyday experience and makes difficult concepts easier to understand.”
- Margaret Quamme, Columbia Dispatch
“Paleofantasy is a fascinating and accessible read that I had trouble putting down.”
- Stratton Magazine
Top customer reviews
As in her previous books, Zuk brings together the work of international scientists of different disciplines, making the reader aware of the many aspects of evolution and nutrition that have been researched, and what has been revealed as facts.
Unlike food fantasies that promote to limit our diet, this book is refreshing to all who love food and take being healthy seriously. It is exciting to learn how our tolerance for digesting milk is part of our evolution, and what was found in the plaque of ancient humans.
Zuk’s humor makes it so much fun to learn about the facts - and to accept what we do not know.
Most of all, Paleofantasy points out how evolution has never been a smooth process, never a time when we, or any other living organism, had been living in perfect harmony with the environment. And we’re still in the process of evolution…
Her writing is engaging and smooth, and her sources are well documented.
If you know anything at all about evolution, you pretty much know what her conclusion is going to be: it's a little more complicated than the "cave-man" diet/lifestyle advocates would have you believe. Evolution of such traits as the ability to digest lactose or carbohydrates is perfectly possible within the time frames and among the populations where they have appeared. She corrects some of the major misunderstandings of the evolutionary process that seem to be going around (again) lately in the popular science world, and she does so with a sense of humor and without attacking people (paleo advocates, for example) too hard.
I highly recommend this book
I highly recommend this book.