Survival of the Sickest offers an interesting perspective of evolution to the casual reader. The handful of Americans that do believe in evolution (joke) likely think in terms of ape-like creatures morphing into humans or survival of the fittest, some even considering the evolution of birds from dinosaurs or the mutation of viruses like HIV/AIDS. But Dr. Moalem leaves such readers with a very different appreciation for the wonders of this theory. He describes evolution as constantly dynamic, for better or for worse, and implicating all different organisms on the planet. I read the book quite avidly and quickly, especially given the accessible language and sensational examples. He starts off personal before getting into these examples, into his journey to investigate hemochromatosis, and subsequently the evolutionary reason behind numerous ailments. I especially enjoyed how he emphasized the genetic interaction of DNA of bacteria, viruses, and us as mammals. This portrays earth as a cohesive and dynamic enormous organism, all interconnected and evolving as a whole, subsequently taking the individualized notion of evolution out of people’s head, which I found very pleasing. If people adopted this former image into their political and everyday life, perhaps we would lead a far more satisfying and holistic reality.
I did maintain a few qualms about the book, mainly concerning the scientific evidence he uses to support his loose thesis. I wondered why he hadn’t used more concrete and solid research to support his claims, but rather became stuck on light ‘junky’ science. The last edition of the book was titled Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease. Upon seeing this I was also left me wondering every time I read something especially surprising; what would non-mavericks in the field think of this? Why did he need a professional speechwriter to help him write this popular science book? There is a point at which Sharon states that some of his claims are still being investigated, or some words to that affect. Nevertheless, I believe he was more intent on offering an invigorating and different perspective on existence, and for me he succeeded to some degree.