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Publisher's Summary

We humans like to think of ourselves as highly evolved creatures. But if we are supposedly evolution's greatest creation, why do we have such bad knees? Why do we catch head colds so often - 200 times more often than a dog does? How come our wrists have so many useless bones? Why is the vast majority of our genetic code pointless? And are we really supposed to swallow and breathe through the same narrow tube? Surely there's been some kind of mistake.

As professor of biology Nathan H. Lents explains in Human Errors, our evolutionary history is nothing if not a litany of mistakes, each more entertaining and enlightening than the last. The human body is one big pile of compromises. But that is also a testament to our greatness: as Lents shows, humans have so many design flaws precisely because we are very, very good at getting around them.

A rollicking, deeply informative tour of humans' four billion year-long evolutionary saga, Human Errors both celebrates our imperfections and offers an unconventional accounting of the cost of our success.

©2018 Nathan H. Lents (P)2018 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Most interesting, well narrated

I listen to the book while commuting. I wish my commute were longer. Most interesting book I have read or listen to in a long time. Narration is great also. Fascinating.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Rabid Eco Warrior does High School level intro

Probably the only part of this book that is well written and worth a listen is the first few paragraphs of the conclusion. Narrator is like fingernails on a blackboard.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Errors are Story of Being Human

A wonderful collection of what is known now about our too many flaws, told in a riveting story telling way. It also elucidates some of the same musings I have had. I recommend it highly.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Humans are a compromise

Man was created by God. We are his perfect creation. Our perfection is evident in every detail of our design. Right?

If you believe this, then you first need to Google Charles Darwin and evolution. Second, you need to take another look at the human body. Because we are full of defects. This book will give you a few examples of some of our most glaring flaws; flaws that can be found from head to toe, and in our body's architecture as well as in our DNA.

What could possibly be wrong with having a shared channel for air and food? (This is a rhetorical question, but in case you really wonder, food gets stuck, and we die...). It has to be like that, you might argue. But that would be ignoring whales and dolphins. They eat with their mouth and breathe through a different hole on their back; they don’t risk choking. We also have genes for creating several vitamins, e.g., vitamin C – only they are broken. Usually, this doesn't matter because we get vitamin C in our diets and therefore natural selection has had not selected against this detect. But it is a defect nonetheless if we do not get any vitamin C for a while, as sailors crossing the Atlantic, we get sick and die – all because of our non-functional gene.

The reason for our imperfections is that evolution cannot start over, it works by making small gradual changes. Evolution can only undo things partially, which is why we still have a tailbone which is by the way also useless – except for getting hurt...

This book is a call for rationality. It provides a tiny grain of sand to balance the mountains of books glorifying the human body and its 'perfection.' To be sure the human body is impressive in many ways but perfect it is not.

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Will Make You Think

Lents gives not just a list of errors in our bodies, but also provides a necessary understanding of how messed up our bodies aware compared to other animals. He says humans seem to have more errors than most animals probably because our brains evolved to allow us the luxury of taking some of the pressure off of our bodies. With the decrease in selection pressure did not need to be as “fit” as before. In the epilogue, Lents also discusses some very interesting ideas about the future implications of human errors and how we might overcome them.

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Starts strong, heads downhill fast

I really had high hopes for a fun and novel pop science read. Repetitive writing and a weak concept make this one to pass on

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  • ED
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • 07-24-18

Great book!

Great book in. Absolutely fascinating information about the human body. I listened on my drive to and from work and looked forward to it every day. I know this is a book ill listen to more than one.

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  • Penny Hunt
  • Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, ZA
  • 07-11-18

Very good

Well researched and worth listening to. Not completely up to date with developments since 2017

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

For devotees of science and medicine

As a biology major in college who never went on to medical school or for that matter, to pursue a career in biology, this was an excellent explanation of the technologies that exist today. Particularly, the sciences of nutrition, molecular biology, and causes and treatments of diseases were addressed in depth. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is curious about the biology that encompasses our lives.