A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century: Evolution and the Challenges of Modern Life

Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein. Portfolio, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-08688-9
Look to the evolutionary past to understand latter-day social discontents, argues this ambitious pop-sci manifesto. Husband-and-wife evolutionary biologists and Darkhorse podcast cohosts Weinstein and Heying (Antipode) contend that today’s “hyper-novel” innovations clash with human predilections that evolved long ago: casual hookups chafe against women’s innate preference for committed relationships, ubiquitous junk food overwhelms the brain’s hardwired urge to gorge on once-scarce sugar, and kids shielded from normal adversity by helicopter parents and schools become adults who can’t handle reality. The authors offer lessons on how to accommodate one’s evolved natures, from the anodyne—“Be barefoot as often as possible”—to the controversial: they frown on transgender affirmation treatments for children, writing that “much of modern ‘gender ideology’ is dangerous and contagious, and many of the interventions (hormonal, surgical) are not reversible.” The discussion of evolutionary theory is insightful, but not always germane; they encourage readers to “avoid GMOs,” for example, solely on vague claims that GMOs “are creating a new playing field” unfamiliar to evolution. Unfortunately, the sometimes sketchy arguments end up outweighing substantive rationale. Readers are likely to be left wanting. Agent: Howard Yoon, Ross Yoon Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 08/02/2021
Release date: 09/14/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 978-1-80075-074-6
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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