Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill You: A Lively Tour Through the Dark Side of the Natural World Hardcover – 4 Mar 2014
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"Can a book about vampire bats and necrophiliac frogs be an uplifting experience? When Dan Riskin writes it, yes. "Mother Nature Is Trying To Kill You "is a no-holds romp through life's nasty, creepy, and otherwise fascinating corners."--Carl Zimmer, author of Parasite Rex
"I am in awe of Dan's ability to make the most disgusting and repulsive things seem fascinating and, frankly, beautiful. I wish he'd write the press releases for my show. This is very cool."--Craig Ferguson, host of The Late Late Show and author of American on Purpose
"Wildlife lovers, in an effort to dispel the idea that we are dominant over the earth, have tried to portray 'nature' and 'natural' as beautiful, peaceful things. Dan Riskin reveals the folly of that by showing us that not only are other organisms trying to take us down - in myriad ways - but in their spare time, trying to get each other. Peaceful? Ha!"--Jay Ingram, author of The Science of Everyday Life
"Pride and envy, lust and sloth--in Riskin's evolutionary romp, not deadly sins, but virtues learned at Mother Nature's knee."--Pam Nagami, M.D.
"Well worth reading. Full of fascinating facts and intriguing tales that will ensure you never look at nature in quite the same way again."--Penny Le Couteur, author of Napoleon s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History"
"You have to love Dan Riskin's "Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill You." It's eye-opening, hair-raising, and engaging science, all at the same time. A fascinating tour of the often ghoulish strategies nature devises to help creatures unmask, do-in, and otherwise wreak havoc with you, me, and nearly every other living thing on the planet. The research is exhaustive and surprising, yet fun and accessible. Along the way readers get a fresh, first-hand view of the inventive ways the evolutionary sweepstakes works. --Chip Walter, author of Last Ape Standing: The Seven-Million-Year Story of How and Why We Survived"
"Calling all science geeks! A fascinating and funny look at some of the fantastic and frightening aspects of the natural world. You will laugh, you will learn, you may even throw up a little in your mouth. Required reading, if you like things that are good."--Ed Robertson, lead singer of Barenaked Ladies"
Wildlife lovers, in an effort to dispel the idea that we are dominant over the earth, have tried to portray nature and natural as beautiful, peaceful things. Dan Riskin reveals the folly of that by showing us that not only are other organisms trying to take us down in myriad ways but in their spare time, trying to get each other. Peaceful? Ha! --Jay Ingram, author of The Science of Everyday Life"
"Pride and envy, lust and sloth in Riskin's evolutionary romp, not deadly sins, but virtues learned at Mother Nature's knee."--Pam Nagami, M.D." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Doctor Riskin uses “meat robots” as the term for all living things, especially mammals (including us) because all behaviors are directed by the instinct to pass on DNA of…not the fittest, but the sneakiest, the most venomous, and the cruelest. From parasites, plants and birds, to sea creatures, insects and mammals there is no other purpose. And each does it in an amazing way evolved over time as situations changed so survival is assured.
Even man behaves according to the dictates of his DNA, rationalizing it’s natural, and if so, must be the only correct way to behave. He shows how this is absolutely not true, not in natural childbirth, not in natural foods, and certainly not in our warlike, self-serving, self-destructive behavior.
Man has, for better or worse, the ability to change Nature for his benefit, receiving the trophy for the last vice – pride. We believe, as the most advanced species, we’re different from the others, and normal rules don’t apply to us. But that has made us as short sighted as each element in nature that performs in the moment without understanding the consequences to their own future.
Even though scientists chip away at old theories and misguided, antiquated beliefs, society as a whole takes decades, even centuries, to accept the facts. We want to feel important, so we have a tough time letting go of our pride to accept the myriad of new and proven ideas. Doctor Riskin suggests the use of the word natural so prevalent now is a means of our transition, “saying nature is wonderful lets us accept we evolved from nature without letting go of the idea that we’re special.” Instead of being one among the animals we’re advancing other living things to a spiritual plane. In that way our egos don’t suffer. But though the living elements of Earth may appear holy and benign from a distance, working in harmony, they are really locked in a battle and we evolved in the midst of that bloodbath.
By making adjustments, through our foresight ability, we can stop acting in a self-destructive manner and “use our massive brains” to find solutions. “We have a choice.”
In speaking of the previous extinctions on Earth he is warning us of our own, because, no matter how “deadly and selfish and brutal nature may be, it’s unique, beautiful, surprising and more valuable than words can express.” And it will survive while we may not. Our future is in our hands.
I won this book in a giveaway prior to release in hopes of a review.
If you are going to preach evolutionary biology, and criticize the idea of projecting human morality onto the natural world, why structure the chapters around the religious concept of the Seven Deadly Sins? If it was meant to ironic, it is heavy-handed. More likely, it gives and excuse to discuss some titillating animal behaviour that really has nothing to do with the title. But what literally turned my stomach was not some detail of how beastly animals can be. It was the opening premise that, by searching for an exception to DNA determinism disguised as ruthless behavior, the author would validate his love for his newborn son. This issue is unresolved until he consults a wise colleague in the final chapter.
Please. Spare me, not form Mother Nature, but this intellectual yuckiness. Or do yourself a favour, and skip the Introduction and final chapter. Like a predatory meat robot, you will enjoy the good bits with less effort.