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The Mismeasure of Man | [Stephen Jay Gould]

The Mismeasure of Man

When published in 1981, The Mismeasure of Man was immediately hailed as a masterwork, the ringing answer to those who would classify people, rank them according to their supposed genetic gifts and limits. Yet the idea of of biology as destiny dies hard, as witness the attention devoted to The Bell Curve, whose arguments are here so effectively anticipated and thoroughly undermined.
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Publisher's Summary

When published in 1981, The Mismeasure of Man was immediately hailed as a masterwork, the ringing answer to those who would classify people, rank them according to their supposed genetic gifts and limits. Yet the idea of of biology as destiny dies hard, as witness the attention devoted to The Bell Curve, whose arguments are here so effectively anticipated and thoroughly undermined. In this edition, Stephen Jay Gould has written a substantial new introduction telling how and why he wrote the book and tracing the subsequent history of the controversy on innateness right through The Bell Curve. Further, he has added five essays on questions of The Bell Curve in particular and on race, racism, and biological determinism in general. These additions strengthen the book's claim to be, as Leo J. Kamin of Princeton University has said, "a major contribution toward deflating pseudo-biological 'explanations' of our present social woes."

©1981 Stephen Jay Gould, Renewed 1996 by Stephen Jay Gould (P)2011 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"A rare book---at once of great importance and wonderful to read." (Saturday Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (28 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Wolfe Denver, CO 09-03-12
    Wolfe Denver, CO 09-03-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Excellent and eye opening"
    Any additional comments?

    A story of history that makes you shake your head in disbelief but also an excellent story of cognitive bias and its influence on science. A story that can still occur today.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel YAKIMA, WA, United States 07-29-13
    Rachel YAKIMA, WA, United States 07-29-13 Member Since 2009

    I am a clay sculptor and an art instructor at a community college. I mostly listen to audiobooks while I work in my home studio.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A mixed bag"

    My opinion of them book shifted during the time I listened. I thought the book started strong, then bogged down into a litany of crazy racist things people used to say and then support with wonky science. I actually felt I had to shut the book off a few times because I was listening in my studio where people could conceviably hear the audio and assume I was listening to skinhead propaganda.
    I don't think the concepts of the book were particularly surprising and the author didn't say anything new. It was interesting to hear how blinded or biased real scientists could become when researching a topic of personal significance. The first half of the book, for this reason, was, overall, decent.

    The second half of the book started with discussion of factor analysis. There are visual aids one can access online to help make this section accessible, but I was not in a position to access them during my listening. For this reason, or my inattention, or my apathy, I didn't not follow the factor analysis discussion and it seemed to drag on.

    At the end of the original book, the author has added an epilogue and a couple essays. The essays, though sometimes repetitive of topics in the main text, we're more interesting to me and helped illuminate some of the fuzzier passages from earlier. I especially appreciated the discussions that advocated nuance in looking for answers that weren't wholly biological or wholly environmental, neither racist nor utopian. (I obviously have explained this less well than the author.)

    The biggest surprise for me was the author's comparison of the ideas from "The Bell Curve" to crazy racist things said by earlier scientists and thinkers. I haven't read the bell curve and am too young to remember the hype at the time. I would like to believe that people today don't actually believe in real difference between "races", but as an adult it is hard to be blind to the crazy racist things people STILL believe.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexandre Penteado Edmonton - AB 12-11-12
    Alexandre Penteado Edmonton - AB 12-11-12

    Alex Penteado

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    "A great Anthropology book"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes I would. Having an audible version of such a nice book is very convenient and we can listen to it anytime anywhere.


    What other book might you compare The Mismeasure of Man to and why?

    Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. It gives us different perspectives on evolution.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The voice of the reader of The Mismeasure of Man is a little monotonous. It is hard to keep listening for more than an hour.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    Evolution is everywhere. We are not more special than any other species. Being a humble human being may help open doors to a greater understanding of the past, present and future of our species.


    Any additional comments?

    Books on science, anthropology, archaeology, geology are as important as novels and popular literature. I notice there are many options on classic and modern literature but not so many in books dealing with natural sciences. The Origin of Species would make a great option.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. McMenamin Seattle, WA USA 06-10-14
    S. McMenamin Seattle, WA USA 06-10-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Great book, mediocre narration"
    Would you listen to another book narrated by Arthur Morey?

    I wouldn't listen to another nonfiction book narrated by Arthur Morey. The quoted passages were difficult to follow, and hard to keep track of what was quote and what was text. In the first few chapters, he seemed to be doing a slight accent or different voice for each quoted passage, which was great and made things easier to follow, but he abandoned that approach and read everything in the same voice.


    Any additional comments?

    A great book that everyone should read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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