The Moral Molecule


By: Paul J. Zak

What is the Moral Molecule? Is there a Moral Molecule? And if so, how do you test for it? In a unique dialogue, Zak studies and shares his research, spanning everything from a wedding, sex, business, and death – veritably the spectrum of human life!

With a compelling story-telling manner, and opening with a great chapter title – Vampire Wedding, Zak proceeds to school us on what he has identified, sometimes in hacked-together ways, as the Moral Molecule. Oxytocin.

Now, anyone who has had a child has heard of this chemical, but the extent as to which it affects us in day-to-day life, and how instrumental it is to everything from landing a job to how your relationship with your parents progresses, was new. And fascinating! As I said, Zak has a great story-telling method, that at times made me feel as though I were reading a bestselling thriller, having me on the edge of my seat more than once.

There are so many factors that can affect oxytocin release, inhibition, and use, that it is no wonder that this is one of the earliest chemical components of humans – and that there is a similar chemical in lobsters! (Want to know more about this? Read the book!)

I really liked this book. It was not textbook-style, it was funny, and at times sad, and (important to all aspiring scientific writers) accessible! I understood what I was reading about.

I got lost a bit on the frequent statistics and numbers, but knowing that the author is a former economist, it is understandable. To a point. To be fair, though, they were kept at a minimum. So that was helpful to my weak-in-math mind.

I do recommend this book. It is fascinating, educational, accessible, and thought-provoking. Read it, and see if you aren’t thinking about oxytocin afterwards. Or those little lobsters. 😉

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