Stress, obesity, poor mental health, drug addiction, bowel diseases, violence and fake news; a stark checklist of modern world problems and every one of them is an echo of our evolutionary past.
In Unfit for Purpose, biologist and broadcaster Professor Adam Hart explores the mismatch between our fundamental biology and the modern world we have created. In each chapter Adam reveals the many ways in which biological adaptations that evolved to help us survive and thrive now work against us. For example, in the modern world stress is a killer but how did 'fight or flight' turn from life-saver to life-taker? Obesity might be a disease now but is it really just a troublesome side-effect of our complex evolutionary past? Whether it's the derailing of microbes in our gut, the rise of gluten and lactose intolerance, the problems of social media, the curse of fake news, the scourge of violence or the horrors of drug addiction we always seem to have one foot in the modern world and the other firmly in our evolutionary past.
Throughout Unfit for Purpose Adam probes deep into our evolutionary legacy, exploring the science, archaeology, medicine, genetics, sociology and more, to show how, in a modern world of our own making, we find ourselves 'unfit for purpose'. But all is not lost! By unpicking the evolutionary causes of many of our current woes Adam reveals some secrets of evolutionarily-informed treatments, from fecal transplants to changing the way we think about ourselves and our future.
"This book is a gripping and sobering reminder of how much we are all governed by our genetic inheritance. So much for free will."
– The Mail on Sunday, 5 stars
"Adam Hart's thought-provoking, if pessimistic, book asks: how do our primate origins relate to existence in today's technological jungle? The stress response that once saved us from predators is now killing us, as we pack into our lives microstressors ranging from unsuitable foods to social media – becoming worriers rather than warriors."
"Like countless others I've found the stresses of modern life a little overwhelming at times. Unfit for Purpose lifts the lid on the myriad of evolutionary and environmental wrong turns that now conspire to undermine our mental and physical health. A must read for those who want to understand where we're going wrong and whether we can ever hope to put things right again."
– Matthew Wright, broadcaster
"Yes, this is a forensic dissection of the mismatch between our ancient biology and the modern world; yes, it's jam-packed with scientific insights; but above all, thanks to Adam's refreshingly fluent prose, it's a really great read!"
– Rick Edwards, broadcaster and host of Science-ish
"Adam offers a splendidly novel perspective on what it is to live a modern-day life in a stone-age body. A tour-de-force of cutting-edge evolutionary science, which debunks, debates and delights in equal measure."
– Jules Howard, naturalist, science writer and author of Death on Earth
"Excellent news! Thanks to Adam Hart, I can now blame my penchant for Prosecco on a genome that has failed to keep pace with the modern world! From the rise of obesity to the rise of fake news, Unfit for Purpose explores the relationship between our evolutionary heritage and the rise of modern living. Written with wit and clarity, this timely and thought-provoking book is one of the best I have read in ages."
– Helen Pilcher, science writer and author of Life Changing