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 OriginalsIf 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.
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.