Monday, June 19, 2017

Some outstanding books on the biology of our behaviors.

If you are wanting to find a humorous, fascinating, engaging, authoritative account of why we humans behave the way we do, you should immediately buy a copy of Robert Sapolsky's new book, "Behave - The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst." I've been a fan of Sapolsky ever since reading his "Why Zebras don't get Ulcers," whose 3rd edition dates to 2004. His writing has a flexibility, lightness and sense of humor that I wish I could even begin to emulate. I'm only up to the third chapter (of 17), and wish I could suspend all my other activities and read this book. I'm familiar with virtually all of the material he presents, but I could never present it with his clarity and lucid organization.

Another book I want to make a positive comment about is Richard Haier's "The Neuroscience of Intelligence," part of the Cambridge Fundamentals of Neuroscience in Psychology series. It is a bit more academic and weighty, beginning by dispelling popular misinformation on intelligence and then describing how it is defined and measured for scientific research. The book reviews evidence for the importance of genetics and epigenetics, and has chapters that do a nice synthesis of neuroimaging and other new technologies. The final two chapters focus on approaches to enhancing intelligence, and also how intelligence research may inform education policies.

Finally, I want to mention a book by Ken Richardson, "Genes, Brains, and Human Potential," that discusses how the ideology of human intelligence has infiltrated genetics,  brain science, and psychology, so that (from the dust jacket) "ideology, more than pure science, has come to dominate our institutions, especially education, encouraging fatalism about the development of human intelligence among individuals and societies. Build on work being done in molecular biology, epigenetics, dynamical systems, evolution theory, and complexity theory, Richardson maps a fresh understanding of intelligence and the development of human potential informed by a more complete and nuanced understanding of both ideology and science."

1 comment:

  1. Sapolsky's book was recently recommended to me, and I was able to share Bernardo Atxaga's poem, Death and the Zebras - -