Good For Nothing
By Abigail Marsh
Titled The Fear Factor in the USA'A riveting ride through your own brain' - Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of OriginalsWINNER of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology's book prize for 'The Promotion of Social and Personality Science'If humans are fundamentally good, why do we engage in acts of great cruelty? If we are evil, why do we sometimes help others at a cost to ourselves? Whether humans are good or evil is a question that has plagued philosophers and scientists for as long as there have been philosophers and scientists.Many argue that we are fundamentally selfish, and only the rules and laws of our societies and our own relentless efforts of will can save us from ourselves. But is this really true? Abigail Marsh is a social neuroscientist who has closely studied the brains of both the worst and the best among us-from children with psychopathic traits whose families live in fear of them, to adult altruists who have given their own kidneys to strangers. Her groundbreaking findings suggest a possibility that is more optimistic than the dominant view. Humans are not good or evil, but are equally (and fundamentally) capable of good and evil.In Good for Nothing Marsh explores the human capacity for caring, drawing on cutting edge research findings from clinical, translational and brain imaging investigations on the nature of empathy, altruism, and aggression and brings us closer to understanding the basis of humans' social nature.'You won't be able to put it down' - Daniel Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness'[It] reads like a thriller... One of the most mind-opening books I have read in years' - Matthieu Ricard, author of Altruism
By Thomas Suddendorf
There exists an undeniable chasm between the capacities of humans and those of animals. Our minds have spawned civilizations and technologies that have changed the face of the Earth, whereas even our closest animal relatives sit unobtrusively in their dwindling habitats. Yet despite longstanding debates, the nature of this apparent gap has remained unclear. What exactly is the difference between our minds and theirs?In The Gap , psychologist Thomas Suddendorf provides a definitive account of the mental qualities that separate humans from other animals, as well as how these differences arose. Drawing on two decades of research on apes, children, and human evolution, he surveys the abilities most often cited as uniquely human,language, intelligence, morality, culture, theory of mind, and mental time travel,and finds that two traits account for most of the ways in which our minds appear so distinct: Namely, our open-ended ability to imagine and reflect on scenarios, and our insatiable drive to link our minds together. These two traits explain how our species was able to amplify qualities that we inherited in parallel with our animal counterparts transforming animal communication into language, memory into mental time travel, sociality into mind reading, problem solving into abstract reasoning, traditions into culture, and empathy into morality.Suddendorf concludes with the provocative suggestion that our unrivalled status may be our own creation,and that the gap is growing wider not so much because we are becoming smarter but because we are killing off our closest intelligent animal relatives.Weaving together the latest findings in animal behaviour, child development, anthropology, psychology, and neuroscience, this book will change the way we think about our place in nature. A major argument for reconsidering what makes us human, The Gap is essential reading for anyone interested in our evolutionary origins and our relationship with the rest of the animal kingdom.
Games Primates Play
By Dario Maestripieri
Most humans don't realize that when they exchange emails with someone, anyone, they are actually exhibiting certain unspoken rules about dominance and hierarchy. The same rules regulate the exchange of grooming behaviour in rhesus macaques or chimpanzees. Interestingly, some of the major aspects of human nature have profound commonalities with our ape ancestors: the violence of war, the intensity of love, the need to live together. While we often assume that our behaviour in everyday situations reflects our unique personalities, the choices we freely make, or the influences of our environment, we rarely consider that others behave in these situations in almost the exact the same way as we do. In Games Primates Play , primatologist Dario Maestripieri examines the curious unspoken customs that govern our behaviour. These patterns and customs appear to be motivated by free will, yet they are so similar from person to person, and across species, that they reveal much more than our selected choices. Games Primates Play uncovers our evolutionary legacy: the subtle codes that govern our behaviour are the result of millions of years of evolution, predating the emergence of modern humans. To understand the rules that govern primate games and our social interactions, Maestripieri arms readers with knowledge of the scientific principles that ethologists, psychologists, economists, and other behavioural scientists have discovered in their quest to unravel the complexities of behaviour. As he realizes, everything from how we write emails to how we make love is determined by the legacy of our primate roots and the conditions that existed so long ago. An idiosyncratic and witty approach to our deep and complex origins, Games Primates Play reveals the ways in which our primate nature drives so much of our lives.
The Ghosts Of Evolution
By Connie Barlow
A new vision is sweeping through ecological science: The dense web of dependencies that makes up an ecosystem has gained an added dimension-the dimension of time. Every field, forest, and park is full of living organisms adapted for relationships with creatures that are now extinct. In a vivid narrative, Connie Barlow shows how the idea of "missing partners" in nature evolved from isolated, curious examples into an idea that is transforming how ecologists understand the entire flora and fauna of the Americas. This fascinating book will enrich the experience of any amateur naturalist, as well as teach us that the ripples of biodiversity loss around us are just the leading edge of what may well become perilous cascades of extinction.
The Great Human Diasporas
By Luigi Luca Cavalli Sforza, Lynn Parker
Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza draws upon his lifelong work in archaeology, anthropology, genetics, molecular biology, and linguistics, to address the basic questions of human origins and diversity. Coauthored by his son, Francesco, the book answers age-old questions such as: Was there a mitochondrial Eve? Did the first humans originate in Africa or in several spots on the planet at about the same time? How did humans get onto North America, the tip of South America, and Australia?
By James Gleick
Richard Feynman was the most brilliant and influential physicist of our time. Architect of quantum theories, enfant terrible of the atomic bomb project, caustic inquisitor on the space shuttle commission, ebulent bongo-player and storyteller - Feynman played a bewildering assortment of roles in the science of the post-war era.A brilliant interweaving of Richard Feynman's colourful life and a detailed and accessible account of his theories and experiments.