'A substantial, sceptical survey of the current state of scientific knowledge of about the most basic questions...[Hands] is always fair, and he writes from what must be the best point of view for a scientist - he is a dispassionate agnostic about everything, except those few things which can fulfil Popper's falsification principle... An invaluable, encyclopedic achievement.'A.N. Wilson, Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year
'A 700-page description of the state of current scientific knowledge about the origin of matter, life and humanity, plus a bold attempt to assess its limits... lucid and intelligible to the non-specialists... This is a book of astonishing ambition and scope, more like the work of a great Victorian polymath than most popular science books.'Tim Crane, Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year
'In this audacious, ambitious, and philosophically completist study, Hands leads an interdisciplinary search through all the current human knowledge that may help answer two burning questions: What are we, and where do we come from?... The result is a pearl of dialectical reasoning between Hands and the most celebrated experts he can find. In today's age of specialization, readers will welcome this throwback to the days of the well-informed layperson, conversant and opinionated in a variety of topics... Hands grounds his musings in logic and scientific fact to produce a thoughtful treatise for the eternally curious.'-- Starred review, Publishers Weekly
'From dark energy to the selfish gene, Hands looks at how we know what we know - and what we don't. An Overview of current thought on this ever fascinating subject.The Observer
'A magisterial, persuasive and thought provoking survey of the horizons of modern science.'Dr James Le Fanu, author of The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine
'John Hands is an astute observer of recent trends in scientific ideas bold enough to point out what he sees as sense and nonsense and intelligently explain why. Even in cases where one might disagree, the arguments are thought-provoking'Paul Steinhardt, Albert Einstein Professor in Science, Princeton University
'It often takes an outsider to see the limitations of conventional science. As far as biological evolution is concerned, John Hands has done a remarkable job of disentangling the many topics that are long overdue for reinterpretation. The enormous effort he has made to cover so many evolutionary questions is heroic. That is the first step to making progress. A major accomplishment.'Professor James Shapiro, author of Evolution: A View From The 21st Century
'Hands's book is a game-changer. In the tradition of Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, this lucidly written, penetrating analysis challenges us to rethink many things we take for granted about ourselves, our society, and our universe. It will become a classic.'Peter Dreier, E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, Occidental College
'This is a truly exceptional piece of work.'Tim Crane, Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge
'A work as bold, broad, and challenging as this will no doubt tweak the bias any one of us may have regarding a particular event, but, then, so did Darwin's On the Origin of Species.'-- Jeffrey Schwartz, Professor of Physical Anthropology and of The History & Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh
'This book is an intellectual tour-de-force...highly recommended for anyone wishing to get a deeper insight into the fundamental but typically arcane theories that purport to explain where we and the universe that surrounds us are coming from.Professor Francis Heylighen, Evolution, Complexity and Cognition Group, Free University of Brussels
'Any conventional Darwinist (and I am one of them) will find a lot to take exception to: but disagreement is the fuel of progress and if you enjoy an argument this is the book for you.'Professor Steve Jones, author of The Language of the Genes
'An audacious and admirable book… written with engaging style, and the strongest scientific ideas across a swathe of fields in physics and biology are presented lucidly.'Larry Steinman, Professor of Neurological Sciences, Stanford University
'With depth and virtuosity, John Hands explores the Big Questions of human existence: who are we? why are we here? where are we headed? … Hands's voyage of inquiry will not only educate you, it will also surprise.'Derek Shearer, Director, McKinnon Center for Global Affairs, Los Angeles
'A fine book… brave, very wide ranging, synoptic.'Professor Stuart Kauffman, author of At Home in the Universe
'John Hands…came to realise, and makes us realise, how much we don't know. Nevertheless, he is optimistic, and when he comes to human evolution and a schematic view of our history, he is hopeful and sees progress in understanding and co-operation. From his book we get that big picture he sought.'-- Professor David Knight, author of The Making of Modern Science Présentation de l'éditeur :
The book that transforms our understanding of what we are and where we came from.
Specialist scientific fields are developing at incredibly swift speeds, but what can they really tell us about how the universe began and how we humans evolved to play such a dominant role on Earth? John Hands's extraordinarily ambitious quest is to bring together this scientific knowledge and evaluate without bias or preconception all the theories and evidence about the origin and evolution of matter, life, consciousness, and humankind. This astonishing book provides the most comprehensive account yet of current ideas such as cosmic inflation, dark energy, the selfish gene, and neurogenetic determinism. In the clearest possible prose it differentiates the firmly established from the speculative and examines the claims of various fields such as string theory to approach a unified theory of everything. In doing so it challenges the orthodox consensus in those branches of cosmology, biology, and neuroscience that have ossified into dogma. Its striking analysis reveals underlying patterns of cooperation, complexification, and convergence that lead to the unique emergence in humans of a self-reflective consciousness that enables us to determine our future evolution. This groundbreaking book is destined to become a classic of scientific thinking.
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