Thursday, July 12, 2012
1) Fuentes, Agustin. Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths About Human Nature. 2012. University of California Press. Hardbound: 274 pages. Price: $27.50 U.S.
SUMMARY: There are three major myths of human nature: humans are divided into biological races; humans are naturally aggressive; men and women are truly different in behavior, desires, and wiring. In an engaging and wide-ranging narrative Agustín Fuentes counters these pervasive and pernicious myths about human behavior. Tackling misconceptions about what race, aggression, and sex really mean for humans, Fuentes incorporates an accessible understanding of culture, genetics, and evolution requiring us to dispose of notions of “nature or nurture.” Presenting scientific evidence from diverse fields, including anthropology, biology, and psychology, Fuentes devises a myth-busting toolkit to dismantle persistent fallacies about the validity of biological races, the innateness of aggression and violence, and the nature of monogamy and differences between the sexes. A final chapter plus an appendix provide a set of take-home points on how readers can myth-bust on their own. Accessible, compelling, and original, this book is a rich and nuanced account of how nature, culture, experience, and choice interact to influence human behavior.
RECOMMENDATION: The author writes: "Being human is messy". If you want to become less messed up, I think you'll want to read this book!
2) Ribic, Christine A., Frank R. Thompson III, and Pamela J. Pietz (editors). Video Surveillance of Nesting Birds (Studies in Avian Biology, 43). 2012. University pf California Press. Hardbound: 224 pages. Price: $65.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: Declining bird populations, especially those that breed in North American grasslands, have stimulated extensive research on factors that affect nest failure and reduced reproductive success. Until now, this research has been hampered by the difficulties inherent in observing nest activities. Video Surveillance of Nesting Birds highlights the use of miniature video cameras and recording equipment yielding new important and some unanticipated insights into breeding bird biology, including previously undocumented observations of hatching, incubation, fledging, diurnal and nocturnal activity patterns, predator identification, predator-prey interactions, and cause-specific rates of nest loss. This seminal contribution to bird reproductive biology uses tools capable of generating astonishing results with the potential for fresh insights into bird conservation, management, and theory.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest on the subject.