cover art: Monkeyluv
By: Robert M. Sapolsky
I love reading science essays. No really, I do! And I really enjoy when the essay is written well. A little humor on the subject goes a long way here, too.
Sapolsky knows his topics. As he states in his footnotes to “Bugs in the Brain”, he will “get crazed about some topic, read endlessly on it,” and “eventually write something, getting it out of my system, thereby freeing me to fixate on a next topic.” He does his research. And how!
Each essay is a mini-study on a different topic, although some do play off of others, each with footnotes for further reading. There is one that is mentioned frequently that I am curious to read, by the same author (Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers), but unfortunately my library only carries it in e-book form. From primates that display a range of human-like emotion and societal behaviour, to the science of mothers who don’t; from parasites to PTSD. The science of life is truly amazing and deep, yet Sapolsky manages to keep his writing quick and witty, leaving the reader to laugh frequently while absorbing the depths of life.
Never once did I feel like the essays were speaking down to me, from some scientific tower. I have encountered scientific journals that will write in this manner, and I loose interest quickly – not for not understanding the material, but rather from the tone. That was not an issue here, and was full of well-explained stories of life, and what makes it so unlikely!