Zoobiquity is a surprisingly well-referenced, knowledgeable pop-science book (some of you will know it's hard to find these!) which deals with the con...moreZoobiquity is a surprisingly well-referenced, knowledgeable pop-science book (some of you will know it's hard to find these!) which deals with the concept of human animal, and other animal medicine. It essentially says that the human medical world would be vastly improved and probably a great deal more efficient in certain areas, if medical doctors trained only in the human body let go of their condescending bias towards veterinarians (which is a generalisation, but can be frankly seen throughout the world), and actually collaborated with them, sharing knowledge and wisdom.
This is established in two ways. First, the authors explore just how much we share in common with animals. From extended adolescence and risk-taking behaviour to zoonoses. It explores the concept that many diseases in the world are not just found in humans, but also animals, and aside from ticks and rabies, these include cancer, certain heart diseases, mental illnesses such as compulsion disorders, binge eating, anorexia, self-injury, as well as STDs and other illnesses. Not only that, but it explores that many animals - from spiders to ungulates - find masturbation enjoyable, a great deal of animals experience the chemical phenomenon known as orgasm, many have sex for pleasure (not just the myth of the dolphin and the pig, which is ridiculous).
The second way this is established is to explore specific case studies where human doctor interaction would have - or has actually been - vastly improved by interaction with veterinarians. This includes the fact that the West Nile Virus outbreak in the USA in the late 1990s could have been identified far earlier if the CDC had listened to a veterinarian who specialised in birds and had identified a flavivirus there (the CDC later revised their position and manuals to include a zoonotic department as a result of this). It also includes the fact that relatively recently doctors identified stress-triggered heart failure, and called it 'takotsuba syndrome,' when in fact this condition is probably what has been known as 'capture myopathy' amongst veterinarians for decades. Time and time again, the book demonstrates that human beings are directly influenced in matters of health beneficially, when human doctors collaborate with animal doctors.
One of the things I found interesting and thought-provoking as someone with mental illness, was how the book found examples of a great spectrum of mental illness out in the wild. How, in some cases, it wasn't even pathological. And the author makes a speculative position that some mental illnesses may be natural survival behaviours spun out of control.
This united a lot of things about the animal kingdom I've picked up over the years, but with a refreshing philosophical stance that human animals really just are on the same level as our other animal cousins and relatives; and the sooner we realise that, the sooner our health will reap the tangible benefits.
I found the book well-organised, with a lot of flow between chapter content. The chapters themselves covered a lot of different animal examples, researchers, and theories without necessarily seeming cluttered, incoherent or disorganised. A few times in the book an idea or hypothesis was hinted at, but then forgotten and abandoned. But given how much actual knowledge was being imparted in a pop-science format, I find this easily forgiveable.
There are going to be points where the pop-science writing is jarring. There were a few times where I thought 'I've read contradicting, solid science in this area from peer-reviewed sources and I suspect this may be wrong or outdated,' but I tend to evaluate popular science within the category of popular science (i.e. this is not a peer reviewed academic article spouting jargon left, right and centre); so for that, I can only give this book five stars (closer to four and a half, but Goodreads doesn't distinguish).
The actual style of the writing itself was engaging. It struck me as fair, it tried to avoid being too generalistic, it wasn't proscriptive or didactic, letting a lot of the case studies speak for themselves. The collaboration between these two authors was a success, tonally and in terms of information imparted. And though it may not be likely, I hope they find reason to work together again, since the results are eminently enjoyable and educational at the same time.(less)
I'm kind of pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this. I'm not a fanatical foodie, I'm someone who enjoys good food, and I enjoy occasionally...moreI'm kind of pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this. I'm not a fanatical foodie, I'm someone who enjoys good food, and I enjoy occasionally watching Top Chef, and that's about it. While I think this book is very suited to foodies, I also think it's entertaining and well-written for those who simply 'like food.'
Lisa's accounts of the drudgery in the repetitive work sometimes made me worry that I would begin to feel that reading the book itself was a big of a drudge (it can be dangerous to describe drudgery a little too well!), but it was thankfully broken up with interesting explorations into some of the different stagiaires (those who work for free, for six months, at elBulli). I came to have my 'favourites' stagiaires like Kim and Katie, as well as Luke and Gael, and so found myself appreciating the 'breaks' from long descriptions of tiresome work (it is in this latter where the author loses a star for me).
The book overall is warm, observant, cleverly paced and intelligent. It had me contemplating things I did not expect to contemplate as a result of 'reading a book about a restaurant.' I wondered about the philosophy of food, about the purpose of food, and the purpose of patrons in a restaurant. About whether it's worth striving for perfection and what sacrifices are worth it and what is gained from the process. And, as a two-dimensional artist, I also learned some more about the fickle beast that is Creativity, and how different people may go about cultivating it.
I'm happily keeping this in my non-fiction collection. It may be the only book I ever have in the genre, but I'm happy to have it. A lovely read.(less)