By Mike McRae
Prometheus Books, $17.00, 272 pages

Human beings evolved in a tribal society, with all biology aimed at the sole purpose of survival in a changing environment. But the talents that allow humans to form society and bonds through myths and stories are the same skills that allow for the exploration of science, which renders those myths and legends false. Or so runs the argument of Mike McRae’s fascinating book Tribal Science: Brains, Beliefs, and Bad Ideas. From seeing faces in the clouds or Jesus in a potato chip to what intelligence will mean in the future, McRae addresses the biological and anthropological components of the human brain that led the species from a storytelling monkey to a more or less rational being that looks to science rather than gods for answers about the universe.

Written in an approachable and entertaining academic style, Tribal Science shows how humans found the scientific method, why the methodology works with our brains and leaves us with hope of how the reality science creates gives us the strongest chance of solving some of the biggest global problems humans have ever faced.


Reviewed by Axie Barclay,