I sometimes wind up in arguments with Creationists. I don’t go looking for them. But I am enough of a Besserwisser that when somebody’s wrong on the internet, I can’t always just walk past. What they often end up talking about is either irreducible complexity or simply the magnificence of the human body. I thought about them a lot when I was recently reading the book Human Errors by Nathan H. Lents.
This book is one of the simultaneously funniest and most infuriating non-fiction books that I have read in a good while. And unfortunately, it’s also infuriating in a good way. For example, did you know that humans and other great apes are some of the only animals in existence that cannot produce their own vitamin C? Yes, scurvy! FUCKING SCURVY! Is the fault of an evolutionary quirk somewhere way back in our history.
The short version of this review/rant is that everyone needs to read this fucking book. It will make you even more infuriated with your own body, but it will also probably help you get to grips with its failings. After all, it’s not your fault that your knees suck or that your wrists and ankles are prone to injury or that your BODY DOESN’T FUCKING MANUFACTURE VITAMIN C! *takes a deep breath* Anyway. I’m fine. It’s just that all these other species make it! Inside their bodies! And we have to eat it! Like some pathetic- *coughs* Anyway. All of these things are not your personal failings. They are the failings of our entire species. *jazz hands*
The book is laid out into six logical sections where Lents goes through each human error at length. He explains why each of them is an error and what caused it. He also makes sure to note if it is specifically a human failing or if it has an evolutionary history and how far into the past it goes. Is it just us? Great apes? Simians? Primates? Mammals? All kinds of creatures great and small get their comeuppance in this book.
I am certain that I will be referring back to this book again and again if only for the entertainment value.