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The overwhelming similarity of human and ape genes is one of the best-known facts of modern genetic science. But what does this similarity mean? Does it, as many have suggested, have profound implications for understanding human nature? Well-known molecular anthropologist Jonathan Marks uses the human-versus-ape controversy as a jumping-off point for a radical reassessment of a range of provocative issues--from the role of science in society to racism, animal rights, and cloning. Full of interesting facts, fascinating personalities, and vivid examples that capture times and places, this work explains and demystifies human genetic science--showing ultimately how it has always been subject to social and political influences and teaching us how to think critically about its modern findings. Marks presents the field of molecular anthropology--a synthesis of the holistic approach of anthropology with the reductive approach of molecular genetics--as a way of improving our understanding of the science of human evolution. As he explores the intellectual terrain of this field, he lays out its broad areas of interest with issues ranging from the differences between apes and humans to the biological and behavioral variations expressed in humans as a species. Marks confronts head-on the problems of racial classification in science. He describes current theories about race and uses work in primatology, comparative anatomy, and molecular anthropology to debunk them. He also sheds new light on the controversial Great Ape Project, the Human Genome Diversity Project, and much more. This iconoclastic, witty, and extremely readable book illuminates the deep background of human variation and asks us to reconsider the role of science in modern society.

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