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The Trouble with Testosterone and Other Essays on the Biology of the Human Predicament

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As a professor of biology and neuroscience at Stanford and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant," Robert Sapolsky carries impressive credentials. Best of all, he's a gifted writer who possesses a delightfully devilish sense of humor. In these essays, which range widely but mostly focus on the relationships between biology and human behavior, hard and intricate science is handled with a deft touch that makes it accessible to the general reader. In one memorable piece, Sapolsky compares the fascination with tabloid TV to behavior he's observed among wild African baboons. "Rubber necks," notes the professor, "seem to be a common feature of the primate order." In the title essay of The Trouble with Testosterone, Sapolsky ruminates on the links, real or perceived, between that hormone and aggression.Covering such broad topics as science, politics, history, and nature, the author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers writes accessible and interesting essays that explore the human struggle with moral and ethical problems in today's world. 20,000 first printing.

288 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1997

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About the author

Robert M. Sapolsky

25 books3,441 followers
Robert Morris Sapolsky is an American neuroendocrinology researcher and author. He is currently a professor of biology, and professor of neurology and neurological sciences and, by courtesy, neurosurgery, at Stanford University. In addition, he is a research associate at the National Museums of Kenya.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 133 reviews
Profile Image for Elizabeth Atwood.
44 reviews20 followers
May 12, 2011
WOW! Dr. Sapolsky did not disappoint...he definitely has a spot on my top five favorite authors of all time. Not only are his stories eloquent and humorous, they are packed with facts and loads of interesting information on the brain, behavior, biology, environment, emotion, and his personal anecdotes sprinkled in here and there. And they can be understood by pretty much anyone who can read. Among my favorite essays in this book is "How big is yours", which explains the plight of individuals like myself (I suspect but have not confirmed) that suffered damage to their pre-frontal cortexes, especially before they were fully developed (not until age 21ish). The final chapter, "Circling the blanket for God", which I just read has me in a frenzied state I can't even begin to explain but to say that it has blown my mind. I'll try to explain a bit, just about the last page. He starts to talk about looking at his students over the years as science has advanced so rapidly and revealed the baffling complexity of the natural world. He says he sees them get uncomfortable about the philosophical implications of the idea that science and scientists will one day explain everything and in doing so take all the awe and wonder out of life, and to this Sapolsky responds, "I am not worried if scientists go and explain everything. This is for a very simple reason: an impala sprinting across the Savannah can be reduced to biomechanics, and Bach can be reduced to counterpoint, yet that does not decrease one iota our ability to shiver as we experience impalas leaping or Bach thundering. We can only gain and grow with each discovery that there is structure underlying the most accessible levels of things that fill us with awe.
But there is an even stronger reason why I am not afraid that scientists will inadvertently go and explain everything--it will never happen. While in certain realms, it may prove to be the case that science can explain ANYthing, it will never explain EVERYthing. As should be obvious after all these pages, as part of the scientific process, for every question answered, a dozen newer ones are generated. And they are usually far more puzzling, more challenging than than the prior problems. This was stated wonderfully in a quote by a geneticist named Haldane earlier in the century: "Life is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine". We will never have our flames extinguished by knowledge. The purpose of science is not to cure us of our sense of mystery and wonder, but to constantly reinvent and reinvigorate it." And that's just a page.
Wow!!! Another major bonus of this book is the art at the beginning of each essay. It's incredible and I can honestly say the next thing I do after I write this is going to be to Google Image almost every last one of them.
If you have a curious mind, this book is most certainly for you : )
Profile Image for Derrick Simerly.
35 reviews18 followers
September 22, 2022
I love Sapolsky for his dedication to his lane. He’s knowledgeable and inquisitive, and he avoids reductiveness completely. The best pop-science writer I know of.
Profile Image for Ragavendra Natarajan.
31 reviews11 followers
July 22, 2021
Robert Sapolsky is hands down my favourite contemporary science writer. A literal (McArthur) genius (with looks to fit the part!) - he's erudite and writes with a dry sense of humour that I can't seem to get enough of.

The book is a collection of his essays from the late 90s. Sapolsky draws from his vast knowledge in fields as disparate as endocrinology, neurology, and anthropology to write some riveting essays. Some in particular stand out:
* The Young and the Reckless - on the arduous journey adolescent primates make from their birth group to a new one where they often start at the bottom of the dominance hierarchy (and the fate this entails in social primate societies)
* Poverty's Remains - on the phenomenon where most cadavers used in medical research in earlier times were from chronically stressed individuals in poverty and the unfortunate errors which resulted from this selection bias
* The Burden of Being Burden Free - on how a small population of "repressed" individuals are chronically stressed since they plan out every minutiae of their life in advance so that its stress free
* The Dangers of Fallen Souffles in the Developing World - on the singular stress response resulting from holding western style occupations (and the western style abundance it affords) in the chaotic non-western world where much is out of one's control
* Circling the Blanket for God - probably the best essay of the lot where Sapolsky builds on a prior theory on the connection between Schizophrenia and the origins of religion in humans. Thoroughly engaging!
Profile Image for Zachary.
24 reviews1 follower
September 26, 2014
I want so badly to write like Sapolsky. Academic and casual. Fact-based and personally reflective. Smart and witty but not pompous.
He is a gem of a science communicator.
Profile Image for Maher Razouk.
646 reviews178 followers
January 14, 2021
اضطراب الشخصية الفصامية
بالنسبة لي ، حدث أحد أكثر التغييرات إثارة للاهتمام في الطريقة التي نرى بها الأفراد "الفصام" ، قبل بضعة عقود ، حيث بدأ فريق برئاسة الطبيب النفسي سيمور كيتي ، دراسات أظهرت عنصرًا وراثيًا في مزيج الأفكار المضطرب المعروف باسم انفصام الشخصية.

قام العلماء بفحص سجلات التبني المحفوظة بدقة في الدنمارك ، ومراجعة حالات الأطفال الذين تم تبنيهم من والديهم البيولوجيين في وقت مبكر جدًا من الحياة. إذا تم تبني طفل من والد مصاب بالفصام من قبل أبوين أصحاء ، فقد أراد كيتي أن يعرف ، هل كان الطفل معرضًا لخطر الإصابة بالفصام أكثر من المتوسط؟ على العكس من ذلك ، هل أي طفل من أبوين بيولوجيين أصحاء نشأ في منزل مع والد بالتبني مصاب بالفصام معرض لخطر متزايد للإصابة بالمرض؟

أظهر عمل كيتي أن الجينات في الواقع تزيد من احتمالية الإصابة بهذا الاضطراب. ولكن للحصول على هذه الإجابة ، كان على الأطباء إجراء مقابلات نفسية مكثفة مع مختلف الآباء البيولوجيين و آباء التبني. شمل هذا آلاف الأشخاص وسنوات من العمل. لم يدرس أحد من قبل أقارب مرضى الفصام بهذه الأعداد. وعلى طول الطريق لاحظ شخص ما شيئًا :

كان الكثير من هؤلاء الأشخاص غريب الأطوار. لم يكن هؤلاء الأقارب هم أنفسهم مصابين بالفصام - بل كانوا منفصلين اجتماعياً قليلاً ولديهم سلسلة من الأفكار التي يصعب أحياناً متابعتها عندما يتحدثون. لقد كان شيئًا معتدلًا ، وليس نوعًا من الأشياء التي قد تلاحظها عند التحدث إلى أفراد عائلة مرضى الفصام ، ولكنه توقف فجأة عندما تعامل مع الآلاف منهم.

كانوا يؤمنون بأشياء غريبة وكانوا مهتمين في الغالب بالتفكير السحري أو الخيالي. لا يوجد شيء مجنون بشكل يمكن تصديقه - ربما اهتمام كبير بالخيال العلمي والخيال ، أو إيمان راسخ ببعض الأشياء الضخمة أو علم التنجيم في العصر الجديد ، أو ربما اعتقاد أصولي حرفي في المعجزات التوراتية.

يحضر العديد من البالغين مؤتمرات Star Trek ، وتستشير زوجات الرؤساء المنجمين ولا تزال صناعة الأزياء تأخذها على محمل الجد ، ويعتقد آخرون أن الأرض قد تم إنشاؤها بالفعل في سبعة أيام. لكن الأطباء النفسيين اليوم يطلقون على مجموعة السمات هذه التي يراها كيتي اسم "اضطراب الشخصية الفصامية" ، وخاصة التركيز على التفكير السحري والأفكار غير المترابطة. على ما يبدو ، إذا كان لديك تركيبة جينية معينة ، فأنت عرضة لمرض انفصام الشخصية. إذا كان لديك نسخة أكثر اعتدالًا من هذا التركيب الجيني ، فقد تكون مستعدًا لوضع إيمان قوي بالأفكار السحرية التي لا تستند بشكل خاص إلى الحقائق.
Robert Sapolsky
The Trouble With Testosterone
Translated By #Maher_Razouk
3 reviews
August 16, 2017
Some of the finest essays I've read. On par with David Foster Wallace with the difference that it is applied to biology.
Profile Image for Nina Mainusch.
15 reviews1 follower
November 6, 2022
A light read with several intriguing short stories. He provides an interesting angle on life from a science perspective and mentions a couple of neuroscientific and behavioral phenomena that made me reflect on my own life. Impressive how much time he spent observing baboons and how much there is to learn from their behavior. And from the numerous cognitive pitfalls that surround us humans.
However, some of the stories are a bit unstructured and confuse and sometimes he goes off in a direction that makes it hard for the reader to follow his line of thought.
Profile Image for Todd Martin.
Author 4 books74 followers
May 25, 2015
The Trouble with Testosterone is a collection of essays on the subject of biology by Robert M. Sapolsky a professor at Stanford University. More specifically Sapolsky examines some of the ways in which our biology influences behavior … topics such as: the influence of testosterone on aggression, the onset of puberty and an animal’s position in the social hierarchy, the evolutionary advantages of risk taking, the effects of stress on hormone concentrations in the body, the effects of a Westernized diet on baboons evolved for foraging (not surprisingly, they mirror those of humans), and the role of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder in the development of religion.

Sapolsky is a good writer and the essays are interesting, although I thought he overstated the validity of several psychological hypotheses … for example: the five stages of grief (which are far from universal), the theories of Sigmund Freud (which have been almost entirely discredited), the causes of effects of depression and others. I suspect this is what happens when a person ventures too far afield from their area of expertise.
Profile Image for Raluca Cobzaru.
10 reviews1 follower
January 6, 2022
Cartea este o colecție de eseuri despre biologia comportamentală, iar cel mai consistent este despre analiza credințelor religioase din perspectivă psihologică și neurologică.
Autorul este profesor de biologie și neurologie la Universitatea Stanford și face muncă de cercetare despre fiziologia stresului, abordând numeroase teme de “ atacat” în arena dezbaterilor morale.
Nu formulează concluzii de certitudine, dar expune motivat rezultatele muncii sale de cercetare referitoare la biologia condiției umane, despre care afirmă că rămâne lipsită de sens în afara contextului social.
Profile Image for Joe.
211 reviews23 followers
February 3, 2016
Fantastic writing and believable science-based articles about human physiology and about animals used to infer human physiology.
Profile Image for Sylvia So.
40 reviews5 followers
September 15, 2019
As someone with no background in science whatsoever, I found this book at times difficult to read. There were essays that were fantastic, and others that were written a bit too pompously for my liking. I like when things are accessible, and at times this didn't feel so. I enjoyed reading something outside my comfort zone for once but it's not a book I would recommend to others like myself.
Profile Image for Kirina van der Bijl.
81 reviews1 follower
May 30, 2020
I just love learning about behaviour. And I love everything about Sapolsky's writing style. There were some repeated stories that also appeared in his other books so I skimmed over those. But, there was less repetition than I expected.
Profile Image for Eduardow.
2 reviews
February 25, 2022
Outstanding work. Sapolsky is not only an amazing academic, but a funny and skillful writer. He makes what some would call “boring science” deeply interesting. Maybe because he just asks the right questions. And no, you don’t need to be a scientist or biologist to enjoy the book

;) DDS
Profile Image for Sayeeda Pearl.
12 reviews5 followers
October 14, 2019
Author:Robert Sapolsky, renowned neruroendocrninolgist/ anthropologist
Genere :Science non- fiction
Collection of interesting scientific essays written with the insight of a learned behavioural biologist,explaining the fine inter play between the nut and bolts of neurochemistry,genetics and environment in moulding the behaviour which makes one a healthy individual or otherwise with our potential and constraints.
In Measures of life we get a glimpse how emergence of firing squads and injecting lethal doses for executions evolved over periods of time,in a way to accommodate the perception of guilt or reduce the guilt conscience by subtle cognitive games.
In solace of pattern, he takes us through the DABDA of mourning, an universal predictability of human nature.
On the title topic,association between the hormone testosterone and it’s causative role on aggressive behaviour and violence is discussed.The culprit is not the hormone per se but the predisposition to aggressiveness which might get further aggravated by testosterone.
Poverty Remains takes us to the troubled reality of how in the past, the anatomists and physicians depended on the cadavers of the poor for learning purposes and accounts of grave diggers during that era is nothing short of horror. Even today we witness how socioeconomic inequity permeates every aspect of health care system.
Circling the blanket for God is a topic that would definitely offend a section of society as the it discusses few psychological traits that are commonly observed in shaman, God men and religious preachers.The observation about the obsessive compulsive behaviour behind some rigorous religious rituals and the how religion provide a safe hiding shelter for those with OCD might not please the faithful.
The rest of the topics in this book definitely are interesting and informative.Time and space constraints doesn’t permit me for a detailed review.

The Author concludes his observations and writing saying that “Science could explain anything,but it will never explain everything, for every question answered, a dozen new one are generated.”
As Haldane quoted
“The purpose of Science is not to cure us of our sense of mystery and wonder,but to constantly reinvent and reinvigorate it.”
Profile Image for Varad Patankar.
33 reviews
December 16, 2020
I chanced to come across Robert Sapolsky as I randomly saw his Stanford University Behavioral Biology lectures on YouTube. His ability to explain complex biological concepts with remarkable lucidity impressed me. Not being a fan of consuming information via videos, I decided to search for his books. The title of this book intrigued me, and I started reading it.

Robert Sapolsky has a unique style of writing. His sentences tend to become long-winded at times, but his quirky sense of humor and sarcasm prod you along to keep reading. Basic knowledge about human biology and curiosity are enough to get you through the book unscathed by boredom or frustration.

The essays discuss interesting concepts such as adolescence, junk food, mental disorders & even religion. There are bound to be instances when you shall feel personally attacked when Sapolsky talks about our behavioral patterns and their implications. One realizes that mental health is continuum and none of us out here are really sane. A poignant line from his book goes as,

“Being healthy really consists of having the same disease as everyone else.”

Not fearing any political incorrectness Sapolsky’s words might occasionally offend the weak hearted amongst us. But overall, the book is an entertaining read.
Profile Image for Jenny Preston.
247 reviews4 followers
November 1, 2014
I found this collection of essays about the world and the human experience to be mostly interesting, if slightly disjointed. It is a collection - there isn't one unifying thought that ties the whole book together. The writing style is only ok due to some jumpiness and the other's clearly high opinion of himself. But mixed into that I found some fascinating stories, such as the culture of the apes he studied in South Africa and how they relate to human culture.

My worldview is about as opposite as possible from the author, but I enjoy reading books like that on occasion for the mental exercise. The author is a self-declared atheist, evolutionist scientist. He even goes so far as to theorize religion is based on mental illnesses, specifically "schizotypal" (defined as having some tendencies characteristic of schizophrenia but not the full blown disease) and OCD. And yet, I caught on at least 2 occasions where he, possibly subconsciously, refers to a higher plan or power in the universe.

Am I glad I read it? For the 50c I spent at a book sale, yes. Will I read it again? Highly unlikely.
2 reviews
December 4, 2017
A thought-provoking read; it would be good to have strong evidence to back up the links that he makes, particularly when making a jump from animal to human behavior based simply on similar neurobiology. Additionally, it seems that much of his assumptions are largely rooted in Western constructions of normality, with little consideration for non-Western behaviors. Ultimately, I found this book to contain much to make me think, and little to make me believe, despite the given facts. Perhaps that is the point, after all--not to take everything at face value, and to instead consider all of the possibilities.
Profile Image for Mehran Hassanzadeh.
35 reviews5 followers
October 22, 2022
I’m a serious follower of dr. Sapolsky. Some ideas of this book was repeated in his biology course in Stanford University, and repeated in other lectures and books but I never get used to it, every time I got excited to know all these facts. It’s a uniq and practical perspective to see the world and it’s organisms. Maybe one day turns out all this scientific facts were false, but seeing the world from his window make sense more than any philosopher or author I ever read.
Profile Image for Qamar A Ghani.
12 reviews1 follower
January 23, 2020
It is a masterpiece. I liked most of all the Third of March. I alwayes asked my self what is the wrong with the soldiers, why they are impulsive , why humans kill eachother?. It is really awesome. Moreover , There is a huge argument about the Theory of Father abscence. At some point i am into it , but on the other hand, it is a satistical conclusion.
Profile Image for Jrobertus.
1,069 reviews29 followers
July 19, 2007
a wonderful book of essays on biology and human nature. the last chapter, on ocd and religion, was extraordinarily interesting.
Profile Image for Kimi.
331 reviews28 followers
June 30, 2022
The Trouble with Testosterone and Other Essays on the Biology of the Human Predicament merupakan buku berisi kumpulan esai yang ditulis oleh Robert M. Sapolsky. Topik besar yang diangkat adalah Biologi Perilaku (Behavioral Biology). Dikutip dari situs web PhilPapers, yang dimaksud Biologi Perilaku adalah:

Behavioral Biology is the interdisciplinary study of the relationship between brain, behavior, and evolution. It describes how different behavioral elements, such as mate choices, parental care, cooperation, and altruism have been shaped through ecological pressures. This field focuses on an interdisciplinary approach that includes, among others, Psychology, Philosophy, Biology, and Neuroscience, to examine the different behaviors and strategies adopted by organisms. Broadly construed, Behavioral Biology also includes examination of the methods used to study the behaviors of these organisms.

Secara garis besar, ketujuh belas esai yang ada terbagi dalam tiga kategori. Pertama, berbagai temuan terbaru di bidang psikiatri, neurosains, dan endocrinologi. Kedua, mengeksplorasi isu-isu yang sama, tetapi dibahas dari perspektif biologi evolusi dan perilaku hewan. Kita akan melihat betapa miripnya perilaku hewan dengan perilaku manusia. Ketiga, esai yang membahas implikasi politis dan sosial dari temuan-temuan ini di berbagai area.

Untuk catatan lebih lengkap dapat dibaca di sini.
Profile Image for Zuba.
116 reviews25 followers
November 9, 2019
Świetny przykład jak pisać ciekawie o nauce dla laików. Jestem pod wrażeniem tego zbioru esejów naukowych. Autora znam z innej pracy o biologii stresu ("Dlaczego zebry nie mają wrzodów? - prawda, że fascynujące?) i muszę przyznać, że "Kłopot z testosteronem" jeszcze bardziej trafił w mój gust.
Tematyka jest szersza, obejmuje obserwacje zachowań społecznych pawianów, wiek dojrzewania płciowego u ludzi, kwestię co jest normą a co patologią i dlaczego trudno to rozpoznać i wiele innych zagadnień łączących biologię, medycynę, antropologię a nawet religię.

Tytułowy kłopot z testosteronem powinien by lekturą obowiązkową dla ludzi, którzy chcieliby rozumieć doniesienia radzieckich (ups, pardon, amerykańskich) naukowców. Esej ten pokazuje jak złożone zależności zachodzą w organizmach i jak wiele jest niuansów decydujących o tym jak człowiek czy inne zwierzę zachowa się. I oczywiste z pozoru powiązanie poziomu testosteronu z agresją nie jest już takie proste i jednoznaczne. Świetny esej!

Zdarzały się i takie rozdziały, które mnie wręcz wzruszały (o nastoletnim pawianie wyruszającym w świat), inne były inspirujące (o religiach i szamanach), a wszystkie napisane ze swadą i bardzo klarownie.

Nie jest to żaden systematyczny wykład o jednym zagadnieniu, niemniej jednak bez wątpienia jest to zajmująca lektura dla ciekawych świata zwierząt i ludzi.
Profile Image for Ben Smitthimedhin.
351 reviews7 followers
October 5, 2017
"Being healthy, it has been said, really consists of having the same disease as everyone else."

Robert M. Sapolsky's The Trouble with Testosterone wrestles with the question of what makes humans who/what they are; where is the line which distinguishes who a person is from his biology? Are we just a product of different chemical reactions? Can we really be held responsible for the crimes we commit from a biological standpoint? What if all the traits we thought were only personal to us are "nothing more than a not-terribly-unique form of primate?"

Sapolsky does not answer the question for us, but he does bring some very fascinating research and anecdotes which point to how much biology plays a role in shaping who we are as human beings. With that said, I found his last chapter on how religious communities were formed by schizotypal individuals and their need for structure horrendous. Of course if you ignore the metaphysical dimension behind rituals, you will see the repetitiveness as what weird people do as an OCD thing to comfort themselves. Sapolsky does admit at the end that science won't answer all the questions, which I am thankful for because it shows that he is not completely submerged in the worldview of scientism just yet.
45 reviews
May 19, 2019
4.2 stars. Some great insights in here. Among the different topics discussed in these essays:

- The moral dilemma of choosing to attribute negative behavior to genetics and "nature".
- The effects of our environment on the onset of puberty
- How and why monkeys change tribes once they've grown.
- On how males and females (in general) view friendships throughout the years, and why old monkeys go through the harsh process of changing tribes.
- Why some diseases/disorders like schizophrenia survive throughout generations despite, or rather, because of, evolution.
- Why we care about what other people do and voyeurism.
- The mechanisms behind the crummy feeling when we're ill.
- How some animals seem to know how to cure themselves by finding medicinal plants etc in nature.
- How the westernization of diets of people who have bodies that adapted to different environments has hugely detrimental effects
- On two bodies representing the same self, and how we sometimes absorb mannerisms of our deceased loved ones.
- A hypothesis on how religion evolved so many intricate, specific rituals because of individuals with OCD throughout history.

-1 for his unconvincing argument in the "curious George pharmacy", and some grammatical mistakes sprinkled throughout the essays.

Profile Image for Vidyasagar Darapu.
34 reviews8 followers
October 23, 2020
Excellent read on the biological basis of behaviour in individuals and groups

I liked the breadth of topics covered including curious maladies of the human brain, neurological disorders, biological reasons for homosexuality, voyeurism in baboons, how testosterone and aggression are correlated but not causal, dominance hierarchies, the self-adjusting duality or should I say hipocricy of reason dictated by our biases, evolutionary reasons for wanderlust in adolescence, the lure of junk food, the burden of being burden free by being a work horse, what makes retirement easy, self-medicating rodents and chimps, and how individuality doesn't go hand in glove of the idea of a society

Sapolsky also draws comparisons between seemingly disparate observations in myriad areas like for example the comparison between OCD traits and our need for rituals, onset of puberty and ones socio-economic background, consumerism and the thrifty genes in developing world, empathy towards intelligentsia even if they are killers etc

Sapolsky explores the science behind the behaviours and presents his observations and some times conjectures in his funny lucid writing style and captivates the reader throughout its course

An easy read even for a biology layman like me
8 reviews1 follower
December 31, 2020
A collection of essays about human biology that will make you uncomfortable or impressed depending on who you are. The idea that OCD/Schizophrenia aren’t “diseases” but rather spectrums of mental disorders present in most people; how a troubled childhood can affect the onset of puberty in females; human distastement with death and the numerous coping mechanisms we have used throughout history to digest capital punishment; how adolescent apes act out a lot like adolescent humans; why patterns emerge in the most individualistic of experiences, including grief; how the bodysnatching industry, which I talked about in a previous email, disproportionately afflicted the poor; how the average monkey is healthier than an ultramarathoner; why the link between aggression and testosterone is far more complicated than we would expect; how “modernizing” emerging society diets can potentially backfire; why your sense of ‘self’ is more fluid than you think; and how the ritualistic nature of religion can act as a safe haven for those with OCD and schizophrenia. My favorite quote: “No matter how obscure the subfield of science, there is bound to be some crazed egghead out there who finds it fascinating.” It’s me… I’m the egghead.
Profile Image for Ferhat Elmas.
621 reviews6 followers
February 9, 2021
Not a bad update on advancements/findings even if I read it more than 20 years later. There are some background stories in essays but I think they don't help much into the content, instead I have found writing is dry and additional context generally is decreasing signal to noise ratio.

My inadequate answer to the main question is that testosterone is a requirement for aggression but its excess doesn't cause more aggression. Its functionality is to multiply existing aggression. More or less, it works like intelligence. Some base levels of intelligence is needed for learning but after that level, it doesn't matter much. For sure, the more you have, the better it is.

For me, the mind-blowing idea is the last essay which is also the longest so might be harder to go over it but be sure absorbing it, a good worth of some effort. It makes a great comparison between religion and the people with an obsessive compulsive disorder. These people are smart enough to be leaders to teach their problems as the rules of a good life.
Profile Image for Anna.
233 reviews6 followers
February 2, 2022
Сборник очерков, написанных в разные годы и для разных научно-популярных журналов. Мне определенно нравится стиль письма Сапольски: текст насыщен фактами, автор не боится использовать в неизвестные широкому читателю термины, но сразу же объясняет их. Некоторые из очерков дополнены эпилогами, чтобы актуализировать их, также указаны названия книг, которые можно прочесть, если особенно заинтересовала какая-то из тем.
Парочка очерков прошла скорее мимо меня, но большая часть была крайне интересна. Особенно выделю "Останки бедности" – как влияло (и влияет) на развитие медицины то, что для анатомирования по больше части поступают тела бедноты (спойлер: некоторые аномальные состояния по ошибке принимали за норму).
А в "Молитвенном обходе половичка" меня покорило упоминание "Ксеноцида" Карда – это была та книга, которая меня когда-то познакомила с понятием ОКР.
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123 reviews12 followers
February 18, 2018
Sapolsky had me with this gem of an introduction: "We all have encountered Reinhold Niebuhr's serenity prayer at some point: 'God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.' Behavioral biology is often the scientific pursuit of that prayer. Which of our less commendable ways of behaving, asks the behavioral biologist, can we hope to change (and how) and which are we stuck with? Asked in a harsher way-- as our society so often poses these questions of nature and nurture-- for which of our failings should we be held responsible? . . . [W]hat is the biology of what makes us who we are, what is the biology of our individuality, our limits and potentials."
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