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Human Instinct Hardcover – Illustrated, 1 Oct 2002


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press; illustrated edition edition (1 Oct. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 059305024X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593050248
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 16.5 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 154,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A fascinating investigation of our most basic instincts, accompanying a major 4-part (one hour each) BBC1 television series.

Book Description

How our primeval impulses shape our modern lives. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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90 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Ajay Makan on 16 Oct. 2002
Format: Hardcover
Robert Winston's "Human Instinct" provides an in depth overview of a vast area of knowledge - survival, sexual drive, competition, aggression, altruism and our need for something more, perhaps the divine. Right from the start of this book I was impressed. Unlike other "popular science" books on similar subjects, such as Dawkins' "Selfish Gene", Winston never gives us so much detail or specialisation that we lose sight of the topic's wider relevance and interest. He assumes no scientific foreknowledge, but without being oversimplistic. The book offers a gestalt of multiple fields, ranging from the development of the brain and our, often unconscious, methods of choosing a mate, to a well thought out reconciliation of religion and science. While presenting a personal take on the latter, the book as a whole answers essential questions factually, and in an engaging manner. As ever, Winston's distinctive style means that we can never become bored. He draws on his own and common experiences to make the book's content accessible. While we may not initially see how Marc Quinn's sculpture, Indiana Jones and lonely hearts columns have a place in a book of this kind, they offer assurance that our ancient instincts are at the root of more of our twentieth-century lives than we realise. The least scientific reader will be surprised to find this a real page-turner (and I should know, as a history student whose scientific knowledge is limited to his GCSEs). I particularly like Winstons' knack of mentioning a subject we may well know about, like the "Pavlov's dog" phenomenon, but then offering a much fuller picture than that we are familiar with. He explains the individual stages of the experiment and lets us realise for ourselves what its implications were.Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John Hepburn on 3 Jan. 2005
Format: Paperback
Rarely do you pick up a book which answers so many questions that were at the front of your brain, but never actually articulated. From why men are bigger than women, to the reason for the size of our willies and onto the deeper aspects of emotion, thinking and behaviour this is a stunningly thought-provoking book written in a warm, engaging, humerous and enlightening style. At times I adored Winston's analysis, only to rage at a later assertion. Fantastic! The conversations and arguments I have had on the back of this book make it an absolutely outstanding purchase. And from my own perspective, I now never tire of telling people that if you are not an evolutionary psychologist, then you are not a psychologist at all. Buy it - it's magnificent!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Ward on 14 Jan. 2005
Format: Paperback
Each chapter short, sharp and to the point, it's hard to suggest a scientific book as simple to understand than this one. The studies are concise and easy to remember and the topics seem to blend into one another - this is an excellent text for Scientific University Students to begin their studies with. But more importantly, a 'must' for the 'lost' among us who need direction on where we came from and who we are as human beings...This is an eye opener to who we are and what our primal instincts lead us to do...(A good argument for any adulterous male!)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
This is another clear and entertaining book from Robert Winston. Sadly it has many anecdotes and information from his other book 'The Human Mind' in addition to much information from Dawkins 'The Selfish Gene' (which I have to say is a better starting point if this kind of thing interests you). Saying that, if you haven't read either of those books, this will both inform and entertain you. It has Winstons usual conversational style of writing and many insightful moments as you progress through the book. Overall not a bad introduction to popular science or human instinct, but nothing original for those who've read more on this topic.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alex Ireland on 20 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback
Robert Wintson explores the characteristics of human instincts. The human species' inquisitive, altruistic, moral, violent, sexual and spiritual nature are all examined. Are these properties nature or nurture? He is usually examing the former and does this by presenting various scientific hypotheisis and theories which usually involve experimental observations of our cousins in the animal kingdom and are based on our genetic similarities we have with them.

Along the way, we are bombarded with interesting and thought provoking facts. Here's just a sample:

1. Chimpanzees' fear of snakes only manifests if they see other chimps' fear of snakes. However if chimps are tricked so that they think other chimps are afraid of flowers, they don't pick this fear. This suggests chimps have some pre-programmed fear specifically of snakes that has to be activated.
2. Double blind experiments show that men can subconciously detect the odour of baby sweat and have a preference for it.
3. Studies on the MHC gene on mice and humans (the Hutterian Brethen were examined) indicate that mice and people choose partners if they have a different immune system.
4. Most bird species pair up in monagonmous relationships for breeding. Most mammals do not. Only about 5% of mammals do. This includes Gibbons.
5. Galton, Darwin's cousin, was founder of the eugenics movement in 1883.
6. There was pyschiatric hypotheisis that suggested some people had a genetic diposition to be violent (Goodwin).
7. The black window female eats the male during mating.
8. Turner's Syndrome afflicts 1 in 2,000 girls. They are missing an X chromosone and can have masculine characteristics.
9.
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