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.
In this compelling bit of pop science, Fuentes, professor of anthropology at Notre Dame, asks readers to throw out their preconceptions about what it means to be a human. His goal is to systematically undo three destructive myths regarding human nature, viz. that race is biologically determined, humans are inherently aggressive, and men and women are behaviorally different. With a nod to his thesis advisor, who once declared, "I would not have seen it if I hadn't believed it," Fuentes explains that it is precisely this tendency to let our beliefs color "the way we see the world" that makes these particular myths so pernicious. In his discussion of human aggression particularly on the part of males , Fuentes doesn't shy away from potentially damning statistics showing that men commit most violent crimes. He insists that while the numbers don't lie, they also don't reflect some necessary condition of maleness. Rather, society is to be blamed for the enculturation of violence into the male psyche. More broadly, he asserts that humans are "naturenurtural," the products of individual biologies and cultural assumptions. Indeed, it is a weighing of experience with a healthy dose of speculation and doubt that Fuentes claims is the key to uncovering anthropological truths, and thereby navigating the world as a more responsible and unbiased member of society.