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

Overview

In The Trouble with Testosterone, Robert M. Sapolsky draws from his career as a behavioral biologist to interpret the peculiar drives and intrinsic needs of that most exotic species - Homo sapiens. With candor, humor, and lush observations, these essays marry cutting-edge science with a rich and compassionate humanity. Sapolsky's book ranges broadly over the web of life, studying its details and plotting its themes. "Curious George's Pharmacy" examines recent exciting claims that wild primates know how to ...
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The Trouble with Testosterone: And Other Essays on the Biology of the Human Predicament

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Overview

In The Trouble with Testosterone, Robert M. Sapolsky draws from his career as a behavioral biologist to interpret the peculiar drives and intrinsic needs of that most exotic species - Homo sapiens. With candor, humor, and lush observations, these essays marry cutting-edge science with a rich and compassionate humanity. Sapolsky's book ranges broadly over the web of life, studying its details and plotting its themes. "Curious George's Pharmacy" examines recent exciting claims that wild primates know how to medicate themselves with forest plants. "Junk Food Monkeys" relates the adventures of a troop of baboons who stumble onto a tourist garbage dump. "Poverty's Remains" claims that science is as riddled with metaphors as a Shakespearean sonnet. "Measures of Life" begins as a witty analysis of firing squads and concludes as a dazzling meditation on the roles and responsibilities of scientists. And in the final essay, the brilliant and penetrating "Circling the Blanket for God," Sapolsky shows that science and religion emanate from the same place: the human brain. These pieces, then, reveal the contradictions that confront those who describe the world objectively, those who try to reconcile the truths of the mind with the burdens of the heart.

The author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers--"first-rate science for the nonscientist" Kirkus Reviews--now treats readers to a sparkling and erudite collection of essays about science, the world, and humankind's relationship to both. Illustrations throughout. 288 pp. 20,000 print.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 17 wide-ranging and witty essays, 11 of which have been previously published in Discover and The Sciences, Stanford biologist Sapolsky (Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers) provides extraordinary insights into the topic of biological determination. How much of our personalities, our behaviors, our quirks, he asks, are a direct outcome of our genes, or the biochemical processes they control, and how much can be attributed to free will? Sapolsky draws fascinating parallels between humans and our close primate relatives and provides abundant details about some of the latest breaking discoveries in neurobiology, always probing the possible infringements on our personal freedom that might arise from our new knowledge. His specific topics include the timing of the onset of menstruation, whether religious rituals stem from obsessive-compulsive behaviors, the parallels between our fascination with the O.J. trial and voyeurism in baboon societies, grave-robbing in the 19th century, as well as many others. They are all fascinating, and Sapolsky packs his treatments of them with wisdom and delightful surprises. Throughout he criticizes poor scientific methodology as well as those who uncritically accept it. Sapolsky's style, cleverness and sensitivity compares favorably to those of Oliver Sachs. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Ask fans of popular science to name the best science essayists today, and the name of Sapolsky should not immediately come to mind. This book should help to change that. Sapolsky, a biologist at Stanford and a contributor to Discover magazine, writes on the biological aspects of human behavior. Subjects in this provocative and highly literate collection include male aggression, the onset of puberty, the psychology of guilt, and possible connections between madness and religious experience. The author implicitly invites readers to ponder two recurring themes: there are no simple answers to questions of why people act the way they do, and even the most deviant behaviors can be seen as "normal" behaviors taken to extremes. This book offers lots to think about. Highly recommended.-Gregg Sapp, Univ. of Miami Lib., Coral Gables, Fla.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684838915
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 4/28/1998
  • Edition description: First Touchstone Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 245,154
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.43 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert M. Sapolsky is the author of several works of nonfiction, including A Primate's Memoir, The Trouble with Testosterone, and Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers. He is a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University and the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation genius grant. He lives in San Francisco.

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