The Evolution of Everything: How Selection Shapes Culture, Commerce, and Nature

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9780982417164: The Evolution of Everything: How Selection Shapes Culture, Commerce, and Nature

Over a century ago, the Social Darwinists appropriated Darwin's name but left most of his theory behind. The Evolution of Everything describes the struggles behind Darwin's theory of evolution and the schemes of those who misapplied it.  It also shows why a more nuanced reading of that work—especially the concept of selective pressures—helps us understand many natural, social, and economic processes.    

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About the Author:

Mark Sumner is the award-winning author of several novels, including Devil's Tower which was nominated for the World Fantasy Award.  His News from the Edge series (including The Monster of Minnesota and Vampires of Vermont) was the basis for the television series The Chronicle which appeared on the SyFy network.

He worked for two decades as a field geologist, discovering miles of cave beneath western Kentucky, uncovering dinosaurs in South Dakota, and exploring for minerals across many western states. He now works in an office -- which is not nearly as scenic or exciting, though it does tend to stay warm and dry.

He is a contributing editor at the political web site Daily Kos, where he frequently writes on issues of science, the environment, and the economy. He holds a Masters Degree from Washington University, and lives with his wife and son in a drafty log cabin near St. Louis, Missouri. He still owns a rather rickety ultralight plane for use on those occasions when the world seems a little too safe.

From Publishers Weekly:

Despite its impressive title, Sumner's book is merely assorted musings linked to a review of Darwin's theory of evolution. The strange project that science fiction writer (Devil's Tower) and Daily Kos contributing editor Sumner sets for himself is to take evolution out of the box and see what it can do. Hasn't plenty been done with it already? Not for Sumner, who says it applies to everything around us, from our cars and computers to our phones and food. He surveys Herbert Spencer's economic application in Social Darwinism, Haeckel's Aryanism, and Francis Galton's eugenics, and finds them misbegotten and dangerous. Nothing new there. But Sumner's own applications of the evolutionary concept of selection to economics and culture are amateurish and not well argued. He says that phyletic gradualism can explain how a local Sears evolved to survive against a new Wal-Mart; similarly, he says gadget designers match form to function just like nature does, and genetic diversity in crops like bananas and corn is as important as genetic diversity in humans. But Sumner's main purpose appears to be a defense of Darwin from those who misinterpret him—a project carried out many times by far more qualified writers. (May)
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