Roy asked:

This had a very positive review in SCIENCE. Has anyone read it to see if it is readable for a non-specialist?

Dennis Goos The first 8 chapters are a slog so skip those, read the rest and go back to the beginning chapters if you want to.
Bill Stavers Sept. 15, 2017. Yes, although some of it was a bit over my head, as a dog trainer, I am continually studying how animals "work." I found it worthwhile to press on. He usually summarizes each chapter in layman's language. And, his conversational style, mentioned earlier is very engaging. Some insights I highlighted in my Kindle: (from beginning to end)

* pain does not cause aggression; it amplifies preexisting tendencies toward aggression. In other words, pain makes aggressive people more aggressive, while doing the opposite to unaggressive individuals.

*In other words, in young rats even aversive things are reinforcing in Mom’s presence, even if Mom is the source of the aversive stimuli.
* “It is no more appropriate to say things like characteristic A is more influenced by nature than nurture than . . . to say that the area of a rectangle is more influenced by its length than its width.”

* role of dopamine in the anticipation of reward and in goal-directed behavior.

* Repeat the mantra: don’t ask what a gene does; ask what it does in a particular context

* you can’t understand aggression without understanding fear (and what the amygdala has to do with both).

I did lots more; but I hope this gives you a flavor of how Sapolsky writes.


Graeme Roberts Yes, it is certainly readable by a non-specialist, though long and demanding. Sapolsky's casual, conversational style and humor make it a pleasure.
Gabi Yes, definitely! It is really well explained with metaphors understandable for all.
Robin Tierney I would have understood it better before my last bike accident LOL. The tough sections are making my brain ache. (Can I sue over that?) But seriously, it is a fascinating book.
Ron Dernick The book is informative with a wealth of information from many disciplines. Some chapters are an easier read than others. I'm reading for the second time.
Socraticgadfly Science isn't an issue. Sapolsky needed to have a philosopher among his peer readers of this book and obviously didn't get one.
Bookreader Yes. I have laughably little science background. He does a great job making it readable for a non-specialist. The beginning chapters, as another person who answered your question suggested, are perhaps a bit of a slog; I'd say especially if you've read anything on the topic before. But it does become truly fascinating and will likely change some of your perspectives.

I do suggest listening to his lectures on youtube though to get a feeling for what his writing is like if you are unsure about a purchase.
Alvaro Fuentes Yes, very readable. You will have fun and learn a lot.
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