Monday, January 04, 2016

Review: Being Human: Life Lessons from the Frontiers of Science

Being Human is quite unlike any audio course/audio book I've heard. Rather than a deep dive into a scientific topic, it's a mish-mash, eclectic selection of topics that have drawn Robert Sapolsky's interest over the years.

What a trip it is. From considerations as to why diabetes is far more prevalent from immigrant populations to the Western world to cultural concerns over human remains, to why we grow averse to novelty in middle age, the topics are interesting, unique, and Sapolsky always approaches these thoughts with a scientist's mind.

Each lecture is short: about 30 minutes each, and each has some interesting actionable components to it that you can take to improve your life. In particular, the last lecture, "Sushi and Middle Age" explains why Elite Scientists Hold Back Science: if you wish not to ossify and become stale in your thinking, you need to change the domain of your research every so often. This goes double if you've achieved some prominence!

My one complaint about this course is Prof. Sapolsky's voice: he has a particularly sibilant S, so in sentences with a lot of that consonant, it can feel like your phone/car stereo/CD player/MP3 player, you might sometimes think that you've suddenly reverted back to the days of cassette tapes.

But the essays? They're great. Well worth the listen. Recommended.

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