inverarity: (Orion)
Fiction and non-fiction about Earth's first interstellar voyages.


Going Interstellar

Baen, 2012, ~101,000 words




Essays by space scientists and engineers on the coolest ways and means to get humanity to the stars along with stories by an all-star assortment of talespinners abounding with Hugo and Nebula award winners: Ben Bova, Mike Resnick, Jack McDevitt, Michael Bishop, Sarah A. Hoyt and more.

Some humans may be content staying in one place, but many of us are curious about what’s beyond the next village, the next ocean, the next horizon. Are there others like us out there? How will we reach them?

Wonderful questions. Now get ready for some highly informative and entertaining answers.


This is for the NASA nerds, the hard SF enthusiasts, the true space geeks. )

Verdict: Going Interstellar is written to appeal to a very specific audience: if the title appeals to you, you are that audience. It's a decent collection of hard SF stories meant to rekindle the dream of space travel, and some physics essays for laymen explaining the reality of antimatter and fusion drives. We will never, ever see this dream come true, but at least we can read about it.




My complete list of book reviews.
inverarity: (Default)
Fiction and non-fiction about Earth's first interstellar voyages.


Going Interstellar

Baen, 2012, ~101,000 words




Essays by space scientists and engineers on the coolest ways and means to get humanity to the stars along with stories by an all-star assortment of talespinners abounding with Hugo and Nebula award winners: Ben Bova, Mike Resnick, Jack McDevitt, Michael Bishop, Sarah A. Hoyt and more.

Some humans may be content staying in one place, but many of us are curious about what’s beyond the next village, the next ocean, the next horizon. Are there others like us out there? How will we reach them?

Wonderful questions. Now get ready for some highly informative and entertaining answers.


This is for the NASA nerds, the hard SF enthusiasts, the true space geeks. )

Verdict: Going Interstellar is written to appeal to a very specific audience: if the title appeals to you, you are that audience. It's a decent collection of hard SF stories meant to rekindle the dream of space travel, and some physics essays for laymen explaining the reality of antimatter and fusion drives. We will never, ever see this dream come true, but at least we can read about it.




My complete list of book reviews.
inverarity: (Default)
The history of memory and how the invention of writing began to change our brains.


Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything View a preview of this book online Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

The Penguin Press, 2011, 307 pages




Foer's unlikely journey from chronically forgetful science journalist to U.S. Memory Champion frames a revelatory exploration of the vast, hidden impact of memory on every aspect of our lives.

On average, people squander 40 days annually compensating for things they've forgotten. Joshua Foer used to be one of those people. But after a year of memory training, he found himself in the finals of the U.S. Memory Championship. Even more important, Foer found a vital truth we too often forget: In every way that matters, we are the sum of our memories.

Moonwalking with Einstein draws on cutting-edge research, a surprising cultural history of memory, and venerable tricks of the mentalist's trade to transform our understanding of human remembering. Under the tutelage of top "mental athletes", he learns ancient techniques once employed by Cicero to memorize his speeches and by Medieval scholars to memorize entire books. Using methods that have been largely forgotten, Foer discovers that we can all dramatically improve our memories.

Immersing himself obsessively in a quirky subculture of competitive memorizers, Foer learns to apply techniques that call on imagination as much as determination - showing that memorization can be anything but rote. From the PAO system, which converts numbers into lurid images, to the memory palace, in which memories are stored in the rooms of imaginary structures, Foer's experience shows that the World Memory Championships are less a test of memory than of perseverance and creativity.

At a time when electronic devices have all but rendered our individual memories obsolete, Foer's bid to resurrect the forgotten art of remembering becomes an urgent quest. Moonwalking with Einstein brings Joshua Foer to the apex of the U.S. Memory Championship and readers to a profound appreciation of a gift we all possess but that too often slips our minds.


You could just Google 'Memory Palace' but it wouldn't be as interesting. )

Verdict: This was an utterly fascinating book. I genuinely learned a lot of interesting and useful things from it, and for a green journalist writing about brain science (something that would normally kick my skepticism meter up to eleventy), Joshua Foer does a great job of sticking mostly to what is known and yet uncovering a lot of stuff you probably didn't know. A great book for anyone who thinks they have a bad memory, who reads a lot, or who is interested in how the brain stores information.




My complete list of book reviews.
inverarity: (Default)
The history of memory and how the invention of writing began to change our brains.


Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything View a preview of this book online Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

The Penguin Press, 2011, 307 pages




Foer's unlikely journey from chronically forgetful science journalist to U.S. Memory Champion frames a revelatory exploration of the vast, hidden impact of memory on every aspect of our lives.

On average, people squander 40 days annually compensating for things they've forgotten. Joshua Foer used to be one of those people. But after a year of memory training, he found himself in the finals of the U.S. Memory Championship. Even more important, Foer found a vital truth we too often forget: In every way that matters, we are the sum of our memories.

Moonwalking with Einstein draws on cutting-edge research, a surprising cultural history of memory, and venerable tricks of the mentalist's trade to transform our understanding of human remembering. Under the tutelage of top "mental athletes", he learns ancient techniques once employed by Cicero to memorize his speeches and by Medieval scholars to memorize entire books. Using methods that have been largely forgotten, Foer discovers that we can all dramatically improve our memories.

Immersing himself obsessively in a quirky subculture of competitive memorizers, Foer learns to apply techniques that call on imagination as much as determination - showing that memorization can be anything but rote. From the PAO system, which converts numbers into lurid images, to the memory palace, in which memories are stored in the rooms of imaginary structures, Foer's experience shows that the World Memory Championships are less a test of memory than of perseverance and creativity.

At a time when electronic devices have all but rendered our individual memories obsolete, Foer's bid to resurrect the forgotten art of remembering becomes an urgent quest. Moonwalking with Einstein brings Joshua Foer to the apex of the U.S. Memory Championship and readers to a profound appreciation of a gift we all possess but that too often slips our minds.


You could just Google 'Memory Palace' but it wouldn't be as interesting. )

Verdict: This was an utterly fascinating book. I genuinely learned a lot of interesting and useful things from it, and for a green journalist writing about brain science (something that would normally kick my skepticism meter up to eleventy), Joshua Foer does a great job of sticking mostly to what is known and yet uncovering a lot of stuff you probably didn't know. A great book for anyone who thinks they have a bad memory, who reads a lot, or who is interested in how the brain stores information.




My complete list of book reviews.
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Orchids, alligators, and Indians, and a scammer with a heart of... nah, he's still just a scammer.


The Orchid Thief

Random House, 1998, 284 pages




A modern classic of personal journalism, The Orchid Thief is Susan Orlean’s wickedly funny, elegant, and captivating tale of an amazing obsession.

From Florida’s swamps to its courtrooms, the New Yorker writer follows one deeply eccentric and oddly attractive man’s possibly criminal pursuit of an endangered flower. Determined to clone the rare ghost orchid, Polyrrhiza lindenii, John Laroche leads Orlean on an unforgettable tour of America’s strange flower-selling subculture, along with the Seminole Indians who help him and the forces of justice who fight him. In the end, Orlean–and the reader–will have more respect for underdog determination and a powerful new definition of passion.


A sharply handsome guy in spite of the fact that he is missing all his teeth and has the posture of al dente spaghetti. )

Verdict: A fascinating, weird book about fascinating, weird people, most of whom seem to live in Florida. Orchids are really only the beginning of the story. Orlean includes the obligatory chapters on the history, biology, and genetics of orchids, but the people are a lot more interesting, from John Laroche, the "orchid thief," to the audaciously opportunistic Chief Billie of the Seminoles, to Leonard and Julius Rosen, who sold thousands of acres of Florida swampland to Midwesterners looking for a nice place to retire. The Orchid Thief is a nice piece of non-fiction with stories too improbable to be fiction.
inverarity: (Default)
Orchids, alligators, and Indians, and a scammer with a heart of... nah, he's still just a scammer.


The Orchid Thief

Random House, 1998, 284 pages




A modern classic of personal journalism, The Orchid Thief is Susan Orlean’s wickedly funny, elegant, and captivating tale of an amazing obsession.

From Florida’s swamps to its courtrooms, the New Yorker writer follows one deeply eccentric and oddly attractive man’s possibly criminal pursuit of an endangered flower. Determined to clone the rare ghost orchid, Polyrrhiza lindenii, John Laroche leads Orlean on an unforgettable tour of America’s strange flower-selling subculture, along with the Seminole Indians who help him and the forces of justice who fight him. In the end, Orlean–and the reader–will have more respect for underdog determination and a powerful new definition of passion.


A sharply handsome guy in spite of the fact that he is missing all his teeth and has the posture of al dente spaghetti. )

Verdict: A fascinating, weird book about fascinating, weird people, most of whom seem to live in Florida. Orchids are really only the beginning of the story. Orlean includes the obligatory chapters on the history, biology, and genetics of orchids, but the people are a lot more interesting, from John Laroche, the "orchid thief," to the audaciously opportunistic Chief Billie of the Seminoles, to Leonard and Julius Rosen, who sold thousands of acres of Florida swampland to Midwesterners looking for a nice place to retire. The Orchid Thief is a nice piece of non-fiction with stories too improbable to be fiction.
inverarity: (Default)
Everything you've ever wanted to know about decayed corpses, decapitation, dissection, and death.


Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

W.W. Norton & Company, 2003, 303 pages




For 2,000 years, cadavers -- some willingly, some unwittingly -- have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem.


Bring out your dead! )

Verdict: Not the most serious look at death and dying by a long shot, but very entertaining and informative, with perhaps more emphasis on the former than the latter. If you don't like smart-ass authors, irreverent attitudes regarding dead bodies, or general grossness, you might want to give this one a pass, but I liked it, even if I could have gone the rest of my life without hearing about garlic-fried placenta recipes.

Also by Mary Roach: My review of Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void.




My complete list of book reviews.
inverarity: (Default)
Everything you've ever wanted to know about decayed corpses, decapitation, dissection, and death.


Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

W.W. Norton & Company, 2003, 303 pages




For 2,000 years, cadavers -- some willingly, some unwittingly -- have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem.


Bring out your dead! )

Verdict: Not the most serious look at death and dying by a long shot, but very entertaining and informative, with perhaps more emphasis on the former than the latter. If you don't like smart-ass authors, irreverent attitudes regarding dead bodies, or general grossness, you might want to give this one a pass, but I liked it, even if I could have gone the rest of my life without hearing about garlic-fried placenta recipes.

Also by Mary Roach: My review of Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void.




My complete list of book reviews.
inverarity: (Default)
Salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna, and how humans can literally eat the oceans to extinction.


Four Fish

Penguin Press, 2010, 284 pages




Our relationship with the ocean is undergoing a profound transformation. Just three decades ago, nearly everything we ate from the sea was wild. Today, rampant overfishing and an unprecedented biotech revolution have brought us to a point where wild and farmed fish occupy equal parts of a complex and confusing marketplace. We stand at the edge of a cataclysm; there is a distinct possibility that our children’s children will never eat a wild fish that has swum freely in the sea.

In Four Fish, award-winning writer and lifelong fisherman Paul Greenberg takes us on a culinary journey, exploring the history of the fish that dominate our menus — salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna — and investigating where each stands at this critical moment in time. He visits Norwegian megafarms that use genetic techniques once pioneered on sheep to grow millions of pounds of salmon a year. He travels to the ancestral river of the Yupik Eskimos to see the only Fair Trade–certified fishing company in the world. He makes clear how PCBs and mercury find their way into seafood; discovers how Mediterranean sea bass went global; challenges the author of Cod to taste the difference between a farmed and a wild cod; and almost sinks to the bottom of the South Pacific while searching for an alternative to endangered bluefin tuna.

Fish, Greenberg reveals, are the last truly wild food — for now. By examining the forces that get fish to our dinner tables, he shows how we can start to heal the oceans and fight for a world where healthy and sustainable seafood is the rule rather than the exception.


Enjoy that wild salmon, it ain't coming back. )

Verdict: Four Fish is not a scholarly work and the historical overview is broad but shallow. Greenberg is writing at the level of an extended New York Times article: interesting and engaging but he's not going to change the world or seriously deepen your education. It's a very readable book of pop science and public policy aimed at fishermen, seafood lovers, and armchair marine biologists, and it might convince you that you shouldn't eat bluefin.
inverarity: (Default)
Salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna, and how humans can literally eat the oceans to extinction.


Four Fish

Penguin Press, 2010, 284 pages




Our relationship with the ocean is undergoing a profound transformation. Just three decades ago, nearly everything we ate from the sea was wild. Today, rampant overfishing and an unprecedented biotech revolution have brought us to a point where wild and farmed fish occupy equal parts of a complex and confusing marketplace. We stand at the edge of a cataclysm; there is a distinct possibility that our children’s children will never eat a wild fish that has swum freely in the sea.

In Four Fish, award-winning writer and lifelong fisherman Paul Greenberg takes us on a culinary journey, exploring the history of the fish that dominate our menus — salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna — and investigating where each stands at this critical moment in time. He visits Norwegian megafarms that use genetic techniques once pioneered on sheep to grow millions of pounds of salmon a year. He travels to the ancestral river of the Yupik Eskimos to see the only Fair Trade–certified fishing company in the world. He makes clear how PCBs and mercury find their way into seafood; discovers how Mediterranean sea bass went global; challenges the author of Cod to taste the difference between a farmed and a wild cod; and almost sinks to the bottom of the South Pacific while searching for an alternative to endangered bluefin tuna.

Fish, Greenberg reveals, are the last truly wild food — for now. By examining the forces that get fish to our dinner tables, he shows how we can start to heal the oceans and fight for a world where healthy and sustainable seafood is the rule rather than the exception.


Enjoy that wild salmon, it ain't coming back. )

Verdict: Four Fish is not a scholarly work and the historical overview is broad but shallow. Greenberg is writing at the level of an extended New York Times article: interesting and engaging but he's not going to change the world or seriously deepen your education. It's a very readable book of pop science and public policy aimed at fishermen, seafood lovers, and armchair marine biologists, and it might convince you that you shouldn't eat bluefin.
inverarity: (Default)
They look like you and me, they have no conscience, they cannot be cured, and they make up 4% of the population.

The Sociopath Next Door

Random House, 2005, 256 pages


We are accustomed to think of sociopaths as violent criminals, but in The Sociopath Next Door, Harvard psychologist Martha Stout reveals that a shocking 4 percent of ordinary people, one in 25, has an often undetected mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is that that person possesses no conscience. He or she has no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. One in 25 everyday Americans, therefore, is secretly a sociopath. They could be your colleague, your neighbor, even family. And they can do literally anything at all and feel absolutely no guilt.

How do we recognize the remorseless? One of their chief characteristics is a kind of glow or charisma that makes sociopaths more charming or interesting than the other people around them. They're more spontaneous, more intense, more complex, or even sexier than everyone else, making them tricky to identify and leaving us easily seduced. Fundamentally, sociopaths are different because they cannot love. Sociopaths learn early on to show sham emotion, but underneath they are indifferent to others' suffering. They live to dominate and thrill to win.

The fact is, we all almost certainly know at least one or more sociopaths already. Part of the urgency in reading The Sociopath Next Door is the moment when we suddenly recognize that someone we know, someone we worked for, or were involved with, or voted for, is a sociopath. But what do we do with that knowledge? To arm us against the sociopath, Dr. Stout teaches us to question authority, suspect flattery, and beware the pity play. Above all, she writes, when a sociopath is beckoning, do not join the game.

It is the ruthless versus the rest of us, and The Sociopath Next Door will show you how to recognize and defeat the devil you know.


All in all, I am sure that if the Devil existed, he would want us to feel very sorry for him. )

Verdict: Psychology is a bit of a squishy science, and Martha Stout is a bit of a squishy author. I found The Sociopath Next Door interesting and it held a few valuable lessons for me, but it's a very broad, not very deep overview of what makes sociopaths tick. Stout cites some pretty old studies and draws some very personal conclusions which I don't think are at all universal. Nonetheless, it's an interesting, sometimes chilling read despite the relative lack of serial killers. It's not for the serious student of abnormal psychology (which I am not -- gotta admit, I always kind of squint at AbPsych students...) and it's probably not going to help you much if you are already unfortunate enough to be ensnared in a sociopath's web. But it might save you from untold grief if it teaches you how to avoid them.
inverarity: (Default)
They look like you and me, they have no conscience, they cannot be cured, and they make up 4% of the population.

The Sociopath Next Door

Random House, 2005, 256 pages


We are accustomed to think of sociopaths as violent criminals, but in The Sociopath Next Door, Harvard psychologist Martha Stout reveals that a shocking 4 percent of ordinary people, one in 25, has an often undetected mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is that that person possesses no conscience. He or she has no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. One in 25 everyday Americans, therefore, is secretly a sociopath. They could be your colleague, your neighbor, even family. And they can do literally anything at all and feel absolutely no guilt.

How do we recognize the remorseless? One of their chief characteristics is a kind of glow or charisma that makes sociopaths more charming or interesting than the other people around them. They're more spontaneous, more intense, more complex, or even sexier than everyone else, making them tricky to identify and leaving us easily seduced. Fundamentally, sociopaths are different because they cannot love. Sociopaths learn early on to show sham emotion, but underneath they are indifferent to others' suffering. They live to dominate and thrill to win.

The fact is, we all almost certainly know at least one or more sociopaths already. Part of the urgency in reading The Sociopath Next Door is the moment when we suddenly recognize that someone we know, someone we worked for, or were involved with, or voted for, is a sociopath. But what do we do with that knowledge? To arm us against the sociopath, Dr. Stout teaches us to question authority, suspect flattery, and beware the pity play. Above all, she writes, when a sociopath is beckoning, do not join the game.

It is the ruthless versus the rest of us, and The Sociopath Next Door will show you how to recognize and defeat the devil you know.


All in all, I am sure that if the Devil existed, he would want us to feel very sorry for him. )

Verdict: Psychology is a bit of a squishy science, and Martha Stout is a bit of a squishy author. I found The Sociopath Next Door interesting and it held a few valuable lessons for me, but it's a very broad, not very deep overview of what makes sociopaths tick. Stout cites some pretty old studies and draws some very personal conclusions which I don't think are at all universal. Nonetheless, it's an interesting, sometimes chilling read despite the relative lack of serial killers. It's not for the serious student of abnormal psychology (which I am not -- gotta admit, I always kind of squint at AbPsych students...) and it's probably not going to help you much if you are already unfortunate enough to be ensnared in a sociopath's web. But it might save you from untold grief if it teaches you how to avoid them.
inverarity: (Default)
One-line summary: Everything you ever wanted to know about vomiting, sweating, pooping, wanking, and dying in space.



W.V. Norton & Company, 2010, 336 pages


The best-selling author of Stiff and Bonk explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and life without gravity.

Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.


If you want to persuade little boys and little girls that maybe they DON'T want to grow up to be astronauts, have them read this book. )

Verdict: Packing for Mars is an irreverent book about a serious subject. Space travel involves challenges, discomforts, and dangers you've never thought about but astronauts and engineers have to when sending people into a place human beings weren't meant to go. It may not make you want to be an astronaut, but it will give you a serious appreciation for just how daunting a mission to Mars or beyond will be.
inverarity: (Default)
One-line summary: Everything you ever wanted to know about vomiting, sweating, pooping, wanking, and dying in space.



W.V. Norton & Company, 2010, 336 pages


The best-selling author of Stiff and Bonk explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and life without gravity.

Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.


If you want to persuade little boys and little girls that maybe they DON'T want to grow up to be astronauts, have them read this book. )

Verdict: Packing for Mars is an irreverent book about a serious subject. Space travel involves challenges, discomforts, and dangers you've never thought about but astronauts and engineers have to when sending people into a place human beings weren't meant to go. It may not make you want to be an astronaut, but it will give you a serious appreciation for just how daunting a mission to Mars or beyond will be.
inverarity: (Default)
One-line summary: Presents the thesis that control of fire was not merely a side effect of our evolution, but an essential component of it; humans have evolved to eat cooked food.



Reviews:

Goodreads: Average: 3.65. Mode: 4 stars.
Amazon: Average: 4.1. Mode: 5 stars.


Until two million years ago, our ancestors were apelike beings the size of chimpanzees. Then Homo erectus was born and we became human. What caused this extraordinary transformation?

In this stunningly original book, renowned primatologist Richard Wrangham argues that cooking created the human race. At the heart of Catching Fire lies an explosive new idea: The habit of eating cooked rather than raw food permitted the digestive tract to shrink and the human brain to grow, helped structure human society, and created the male-female division of labor. As our ancestors adapted to using fire, humans emerged as “the cooking apes.”

A groundbreaking new theory of evolution, Catching Fire offers a startlingly original argument about how we came to be the social, intelligent, and sexual species we are today


A good book of interest to anyone interested in evolution, nutrition, and food science. The author is a primatologist, so expect a LOT of monkey studies. )

Verdict: Recommended for anyone with an interest in evolution and/or food science. Wrangham's thesis is revolutionary, but not in a crackpot "This changes everything we thought we knew" way. Rather, it challenges some basic assumptions about how we evolved without denying any of the existing evidence. His arguments are mostly quite strong, and while to my knowledge, some anthropologists have challenged his assumptions about when humans started using fire, there have not yet been any serious challenges to his conclusions from an evolutionary perspective.
inverarity: (Default)
One-line summary: Presents the thesis that control of fire was not merely a side effect of our evolution, but an essential component of it; humans have evolved to eat cooked food.



Reviews:

Goodreads: Average: 3.65. Mode: 4 stars.
Amazon: Average: 4.1. Mode: 5 stars.


Until two million years ago, our ancestors were apelike beings the size of chimpanzees. Then Homo erectus was born and we became human. What caused this extraordinary transformation?

In this stunningly original book, renowned primatologist Richard Wrangham argues that cooking created the human race. At the heart of Catching Fire lies an explosive new idea: The habit of eating cooked rather than raw food permitted the digestive tract to shrink and the human brain to grow, helped structure human society, and created the male-female division of labor. As our ancestors adapted to using fire, humans emerged as “the cooking apes.”

A groundbreaking new theory of evolution, Catching Fire offers a startlingly original argument about how we came to be the social, intelligent, and sexual species we are today


A good book of interest to anyone interested in evolution, nutrition, and food science. The author is a primatologist, so expect a LOT of monkey studies. )

Verdict: Recommended for anyone with an interest in evolution and/or food science. Wrangham's thesis is revolutionary, but not in a crackpot "This changes everything we thought we knew" way. Rather, it challenges some basic assumptions about how we evolved without denying any of the existing evidence. His arguments are mostly quite strong, and while to my knowledge, some anthropologists have challenged his assumptions about when humans started using fire, there have not yet been any serious challenges to his conclusions from an evolutionary perspective.
inverarity: (Default)
One-line summary: A dense but accessible examination of the nature vs. nurture debate as it pertains to neuroscience.



Reviews:

Goodreads: Average: 4.26. Mode: 5 stars (44%)
Amazon: Average: 4.2 Mode: 5 stars (70%)


Sex-based discrimination is supposedly a relic of the distant past. Yet popular books, magazines, and even scientific articles increasingly defend continuing inequalities between the sexes by calling on immutable biological differences between the male and the female brain. Why are there so few women in science and engineering, so few men in the laundry room? Well, they say, it’s our brains. Drawing on the latest research in developmental psychology, neuroscience, and education, Delusions of Gender rebuts these claims, showing how old myths, dressed up in new scientific finery, help perpetuate the status quo. This book reveals the brain’s remarkable plasticity, shows the substantial influence of culture on identity, and, ultimately, exposes just how much of what we consider “hardwired” is actually malleable, empowering us to break free of the supposed predestination of our sex chromosomes.


Warning: Long review is long and opinionated.

Evolutionary psychology is the phrenology of the 21st century )

Verdict: This isn't aimed at the casual reader, but it's not a textbook either; you don't need a degree in psychology or biology to understand it. If you are deeply invested in either end of the nature-vs-nurture debate -- you firmly believe that God Made Men and Women Different and that's Just the Way It Is, or conversely, gender is 100% socially constructed, then this book isn't likely to change your mind. But it will allow you to discuss the issue intelligently, with more than a hand-waving understanding of what "science" supposedly says on the topic.
inverarity: (Default)
One-line summary: A dense but accessible examination of the nature vs. nurture debate as it pertains to neuroscience.



Reviews:

Goodreads: Average: 4.26. Mode: 5 stars (44%)
Amazon: Average: 4.2 Mode: 5 stars (70%)


Sex-based discrimination is supposedly a relic of the distant past. Yet popular books, magazines, and even scientific articles increasingly defend continuing inequalities between the sexes by calling on immutable biological differences between the male and the female brain. Why are there so few women in science and engineering, so few men in the laundry room? Well, they say, it’s our brains. Drawing on the latest research in developmental psychology, neuroscience, and education, Delusions of Gender rebuts these claims, showing how old myths, dressed up in new scientific finery, help perpetuate the status quo. This book reveals the brain’s remarkable plasticity, shows the substantial influence of culture on identity, and, ultimately, exposes just how much of what we consider “hardwired” is actually malleable, empowering us to break free of the supposed predestination of our sex chromosomes.


Warning: Long review is long and opinionated.

Evolutionary psychology is the phrenology of the 21st century )

Verdict: This isn't aimed at the casual reader, but it's not a textbook either; you don't need a degree in psychology or biology to understand it. If you are deeply invested in either end of the nature-vs-nurture debate -- you firmly believe that God Made Men and Women Different and that's Just the Way It Is, or conversely, gender is 100% socially constructed, then this book isn't likely to change your mind. But it will allow you to discuss the issue intelligently, with more than a hand-waving understanding of what "science" supposedly says on the topic.

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