Orr in the NYRB
A new essay by H. Allen Orr in the New York Review of Books is always cause for celebration. Few people write about modern biology as clearly and engagingly as he does. This time he is reviewing three recent book about the role of genetics in sex differences. The bulk of the review is given over to Bryan Sykes' recent book Adam's Curse: A Future Without Men.
One of Sykes' main arguments, as described by Orr is:
Although Sykes doesn't describe this impending disaster until fairly late in his book, the subtitle to Adam's Curse gives it right away: we face a future without men. Sykes is convinced that the male of the species is doomed. Unless something is done—and soon— men face an “inevitable eventual extinction.” You won't be surprised to learn that the alleged causes of this crisis reside in the Y chromosome. Sykes's publishers have, predictably, latched on to this dire news and the cover of his book speaks in ominous tones of the certain extinction of half of humanity. Also not surprisingly, the press has played along, with pieces in The New York Times and The Guardian warning that men may be a thing of the past.
Oh no! This is terrible. What to do? Dare we hope that Sykes is wrong:
The bottom line is that Sykes's alarmist talk of the extinction of men is just that—alarmist—and I wouldn't lose too much sleep over the possibility. And I certainly wouldn't give much thought (much less funding) to his technological fix to this nonproblem. There are enough real problems out there.