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The violinist’s thumb: and other lost tales of love, war, and genius, as written by our genetic code

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item type
a page in a book
Sam Kean
Buy this book from
Little, Brown and Co.


Remember that most of our genetic predilections for behavior were shaped by the African savanna many thousands if not millions of years ago. So while “natural” in some sense, these predilections don’t necessarily serve us well today, since we live in a radically different environment. What happens in nature is a poor guide for making decisions anyway. One of the biggest boners in ethical philosophy is the naturalistic fallacy, which equates nature with “what’s right” and uses “what’s natural” to justify or excuse prejudice. We human beings are humane in part because we can look beyond our biology.