on 26 June 2009
Yes, I admit it, I am a Sapolsky groupie. It started with 'A Primate's Memoir', continued with 'Money Luv' and is currently being stoked by 'Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers'.
I love his style - which makes technical, abstruse scienty stuff accessible to the likes of me - and his passion both for his subject and humanity. He also seasons his writing with good jokes and wry comments that takes it beyond good to delectable. (I did warn you I was a groupie.)
Among other things 'Monkey Luv' examines the role of genetics and other factors on social behaviour. Sapolsky researches his topics rigorously and comes to some surprising and thought-provoking conclusions. Better still, he relates all this to real life, his and yours so you see how good and, more disturbingly, bad research - can influence your life in ways you never considered. This is all delivered in essays that are highly readable without being patronising to the non-scientist.
Way to go Robert! Now, to get back to my original question...
on 26 November 2006
Everything that is discussed in this book in Sapolskys inimitable style makes you think 'Durr, of course!' as if we missed something so blatently obvious. He has a unique way of writing based on his clear passion for his subject matter, tinged with a little well-placed sarcasm. The battle between males and females throughout the species is fascinating and makes alot of sense. And overall it keeps us homo sapiens neatly in our place as the animal organisms that we are. I have been completely hooked since picking it up and can't wait to read more.
Don't miss it!
on 29 March 2012
A more scientifically laden Malcolm Gladwell is possibly one way you could describe Robert M. Sapolsky tackling popular culture with a mercurial deadpan humour that can border on the chattier side of slapstick. All of this has the effect of lifting the words right off the page in a fun comic book kind of way.
There are sections on Genes and Who We Are, Our Bodies and Who We Are, and Society and Who We Are with not much else to cover outside of God. The breadth and weightiness of each essay's research uses the flexibly alluring trope of non-humans for a parallel world of discussion.
One of the inherent weaknesses of a book like this is how quickly it may go out of date. For example evidence is presented to suggest that a much of our gene bank appear on the surface to be junk, i.e. non-coding, non-regulatory and non-transcribed, when instead it holds instructions to adapt genes immediately downstream with messages from the environment. Therefore previously it was thought only a tiny amount of our DNA was functional, leading to the rest being termed 'junk DNA'. However as recently discovered and released on BBC News 5 September 2012: "Our human genome is like a giant control panel of 4 million switches in on and off positions. Research suggests that far more of the genetic code - some 80% of it - is active in creating and maintaining the human body."
on 25 March 2015
The author is obviously a smart guy, his lectures on YouTube are great (a bit on the long side, be prepared). However, his style is often long winded and trying a bit too hard to be funny. Given the content of the book, it usually is better to go for simple. It's got a few great insights, and he has a way of not committing to extrapolating on each piece of research that is refreshing. It's an interesting book, albeit a book that feels a bit discombobulated since it's a collection of articles and various bits he published in various magazines and journals.