All Shops

Go to British Wildlife

6 issues per year 84 pages per issue Subscription only

British Wildlife is the leading natural history magazine in the UK, providing essential reading for both enthusiast and professional naturalists and wildlife conservationists. Published six times a year, British Wildlife bridges the gap between popular writing and scientific literature through a combination of long-form articles, regular columns and reports, book reviews and letters.

Subscriptions from £25 per year

Conservation Land Management

4 issues per year 44 pages per issue Subscription only

Conservation Land Management (CLM) is a quarterly magazine that is widely regarded as essential reading for all who are involved in land management for nature conservation, across the British Isles. CLM includes long-form articles, events listings, publication reviews, new product information and updates, reports of conferences and letters.

Subscriptions from £18 per year
Academic & Professional Books  Evolutionary Biology  Human Evolution & Anthropology

Sense and Nonsense Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behaviour

By: Kevin N Laland and Gillian R Brown
270 pages, tables
Sense and Nonsense
Click to have a closer look
Select version
  • Sense and Nonsense ISBN: 9780199586967 Edition: 2 Paperback Apr 2011 Usually dispatched within 5 days
Selected version: £22.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

New to the second edition:

- The chapter on memes has been replaced by a more general chapter on cultural evolution, which captures important theoretical and empirical developments in the field.
- More generally, the book has been updated, to take account of important research over the last 10 years
- Revised taking account of its frequent use on UG and PG courses--now includes key questions and points for discussion

Evolutionary theory is one of the most wide-ranging and inspiring of scientific ideas. It offers a battery of methods that can be used to interpret human behaviour. But the legitimacy of this exercise is at the centre of a heated controversy that has raged for over a century. Many evolutionary biologists, anthropologists and psychologists are optimistic that evolutionary principles can be applied to human behaviour, and have offered evolutionary explanations for a wide range of human characteristics, such as homicide, religion and sex differences in behaviour. Others are sceptical of these interpretations. Moreover, researchers disagree as to the best ways to use evolution to explore humanity, and a number of schools have emerged.

"Sense and Nonsense" provides an introduction to the ideas, methods and findings of five such schools, namely, sociobiology, human behavioural ecology, evolutionary psychology, cultural evolution, and gene-culture co-evolution. In this revised and updated edition of their successful monograph, Laland and Brown provide a balanced, rigorous analysis that scrutinizes both the evolutionary arguments and the allegations of the critics, carefully guiding the reader through the mire of confusing terminology, claim and counter-claim, and polemical statements.

This readable and informative introductory book will be of use to undergraduate and postgraduate students (for example, in psychology, anthropology and zoology), to experts on one approach who would like to know more about the other perspectives, and to lay-persons interested in evolutionary explanations of human behaviour. Having completed this book, the reader should feel better placed to assess the legitimacy of claims made about human behaviour under the name of evolution, and to make judgements as to what is sense and what is nonsense.


1: Sense and nonsense
2: A history of evolution and human behaviour
3: Human sociobiology
4: Human behavioural ecology
5: Evolutionary psychology
6: Cultural evolution
7: Gene-culture coevolution
8: Comparing and integrating approaches

Further Reading

Customer Reviews


Kevin N. Laland is Professor of Behavioural and Evolutionary Biology at the University of St Andrews. His research encompasses a range of topics related to animal behaviour and evolution, particularly social learning, gene-culture coevolution, and niche construction. He has published 6 books and over 160 articles on these topics and has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He is also a former President of the European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association.

Gillian R. Brown is a lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of St Andrews. Her research focuses on sex differences in the behaviour of mammals, which she studies from neuroendocrine, developmental and evolutionary perspectives. She has published over 40 articles on sex differences, covering topics such as adaptive birth sex ratios, sex differences in infant and adolescent behaviour, parental investment and the evolution of mating strategies. She has held a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship.

By: Kevin N Laland and Gillian R Brown
270 pages, tables
Media reviews

Reviews from the previous edition:

"This is a superb book."
- Johan Bolhuis, Trends in Ecology and Evolution

"Lucid and balanced, 'Sense and Nonsense' will hopefully reach a broad audience."
- Sarah Hrdy

"This is a remarkable book: succinct informative and very sensible. It strips away the polemic to map a way forward, and is worth reading by anybody interested in how best to analyse human behaviour." - Paul Harvey, T.H.E.S

"Laland and Brown are superb pilots for these treacherous waters. It is an altogether excellent book."
- Patrick Bateson

"A 'must read' for my undergraduate courses for the foreseeable future."
- Henry Plotkin

"I recommend that everyone with some influence or interest in popular culture read this book."
- Mark Pagel, New Scientist

"A welcome and incisive corrective to the disarray within evolutionary social theory."
- Herbert Gintis, Human Nature Review

Current promotions
Best of Winter 2018Harper CollinsOrder your free copy of our 2018 equipment catalogueBritish Wildlife