This is a book about psychology, neuroscience, all the good stuff. Ramachandran is delightfully witty and approaches the big and small questions of ps...moreThis is a book about psychology, neuroscience, all the good stuff. Ramachandran is delightfully witty and approaches the big and small questions of psychology and neuroscience with curiosity and equal doses of scepticism and speculation alike. One of the truly good things about Phantoms in the Brain is that it is written with humility and humour. Ramachandran manages to expound whilst being hilarious and without 'dumbing down', so to speak.
The book isn't an overtly serious-nature thesis so it follows a rather non-stuffy style, which is refreshing. It mainly consists of anecdotes and cases culled from wide-ranging medical literature, so it serves as a ground for inquiry into the nature, symptoms, effects and treatments of the various psychological anomalies. The book doesn't shy away from supporting the cases with evidence and providing the necessary scientific context and explanation for the problems at hand. I think that's the most crucial thing for any 'popular science' book. Science shouldn't be downplayed or given the back seat at the cost of 'making it easy.' A popular science book fails if it doesn't bring out the science bit in. Because, you know, it popular science after all.
What I also liked was that every chapter begins with quotes taken from sources as wide as the books of Sherlock Holmes, the Vedas and Shakespeare. That adds a nice touch.
But I think the most important thing I took away (when I read this at 16) was the spirit of scientific enquiry and sense of wonder that this book carries with it. At the heart of it, it's all about trying to understand Life, the Universe, and Everything. And that sense of wonder - that joy of scientific discovery - is contagious. I love science.(less)
It's informative (YAY science) but also really well written. Just one of those books that changes your way of looking at the world. Magnificent in sco...moreIt's informative (YAY science) but also really well written. Just one of those books that changes your way of looking at the world. Magnificent in scope, perfect in execution. VERY highly recommended.(less)
Richard Feynman is one of my favourite people who ever lived, and this is one of my favourite books I've ever read.
There are so many reasons why this...moreRichard Feynman is one of my favourite people who ever lived, and this is one of my favourite books I've ever read.
There are so many reasons why this book is awesome. Science is one of them. (That alone would be reason enough.) But it's not the rocket science kind of science. Not the big, movie-kind caricature kind of science.
But it's the science of beans and doors and hoola hoops. The pursuit of science for its own sake. If there's one thing you will take from this book it's the pure delight and utter joy of science.
And that's not all, though. Because Feynman, one of the most liveliest and colourful personalities of science, is both funny and intelligent in his thoughts and anecdotes. He manages to be both profound and irreverent, smart as hell and tongue-in-cheek.