4 Star Books · biology · Book Reviews · non fiction · psychology

The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in the Brain Drives Love, Sex and Creativity – – and Will Determine the Fate of the Human Race by Daniel Z. Lieberman, Michael E. Long

 

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The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in the Brain Drives Love, Sex and Creativity – – and Will Determine the Fate of the Human Race by Daniel Z. Lieberman, Michael E. Long

Published: August 14, 2018

Publisher: BenBella Books

Pages: 240

Genres: non fiction, biology, psychology

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: learning about psychology and biology, figuring out how things work, human behavior

Foodie Vibes: chocolate to light up those dopamine centers in your brain

 

Synopsis: 

Why are we obsessed with the things we want only to be bored when we get them?

Why is addiction perfectly logical to an addict?

Why does love change so quickly from passion to indifference?

Why are some people die-hard liberals and others hardcore conservatives?

Why are we always hopeful for solutions even in the darkest times—and so good at figuring them out?

The answer is found in a single chemical in your brain: dopamine. Dopamine ensured the survival of early man. Thousands of years later, it is the source of our most basic behaviors and cultural ideas—and progress itself.

Dopamine is the chemical of desire that always asks for more—more stuff, more stimulation, and more surprises. In pursuit of these things, it is undeterred by emotion, fear, or morality. Dopamine is the source of our every urge, that little bit of biology that makes an ambitious business professional sacrifice everything in pursuit of success, or that drives a satisfied spouse to risk it all for the thrill of someone new. Simply put, it is why we seek and succeed; it is why we discover and prosper. Yet, at the same time, it’s why we gamble and squander.

From dopamine’s point of view, it’s not the having that matters. It’s getting something—anything—that’s new. From this understanding—the difference between possessing something versus anticipating it—we can understand in a revolutionary new way why we behave as we do in love, business, addiction, politics, religion—and we can even predict those behaviors in ourselves and others.

In The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity—and will Determine the Fate of the Human Race, George Washington University professor and psychiatrist Daniel Z. Lieberman, MD, and Georgetown University lecturer Michael E. Long present a potentially life-changing proposal: Much of human life has an unconsidered component that explains an array of behaviors previously thought to be unrelated, including why winners cheat, why geniuses often suffer with mental illness, why nearly all diets fail, and why the brains of liberals and conservatives really are different.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, BenBella Books, Daniel Z. Lieberman and Michael E. Long for an ebook copy for review. As always, an honest review from me.

I learned so much from this book. It was absolutely fascinating!

We’ve all heard about dopamine. It interacts with the reward centers in the brain and explains why we keep seeking more and more. Even when we’re already happy. I learned even more about dopamine and the role it plays in so many more experience than I realized. From solving problems and dreaming, struggles in relationships, political affiliations, and even from an evolutionary standpoint.

The beginning was more an explanation of how dopamine functions and the role in the brain. It was a necessary foundation, but not particularly fascinating. The rest of the chapters were much more interesting. However I didn’t completely agree with everything. Neurotransmitters definitely play a role in human behavior. The studies even prove it. But there is some element of human choice that the book doesn’t discuss. We’re human beings and not just a bunch of chemicals and electrical activity.

Overall, a fascinating look at the role dopamine has on human behavior. Learned a lot and even found myself stopping to read aloud interesting passages to the people around me. 

 

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4 Star Books · Book Reviews · non fiction

Book Review: Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt

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Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt

Published by Algonquin Books on February 14, 2017

Pages: 332

Genres: non fiction, science, history, anthropology, biology, nature, psychology

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: books that include a comprehensive mix of multiple sciences to uncover the facts, science nerds

Read with food: 100% vegan salad

 

Synopsis: 

For centuries scientists have written off cannibalism as a bizarre phenomenon with little biological significance. Its presence in nature was dismissed as a desperate response to starvation or other life-threatening circumstances, and few spent time studying it. A taboo subject in our culture, the behavior was portrayed mostly through horror movies or tabloids sensationalizing the crimes of real-life flesh-eaters. But the true nature of cannibalism–the role it plays in evolution as well as human history–is even more intriguing (and more normal) than the misconceptions we’ve come to accept as fact.

In Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History, zoologist Bill Schutt sets the record straight, debunking common myths and investigating our new understanding of cannibalism’s role in biology, anthropology, and history in the most fascinating account yet written on this complex topic. Schutt takes readers from Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains, where he wades through ponds full of tadpoles devouring their siblings, to the Sierra Nevadas, where he joins researchers who are shedding new light on what happened to the Donner Party–the most infamous episode of cannibalism in American history. He even meets with an expert on the preparation and consumption of human placenta (and, yes, it goes well with Chianti).

Bringing together the latest cutting-edge science, Schutt answers questions such as why some amphibians consume their mother’s skin; why certain insects bite the heads off their partners after sex; why, up until the end of the twentieth century, Europeans regularly ate human body parts as medical curatives; and how cannibalism might be linked to the extinction of the Neanderthals. He takes us into the future as well, investigating whether, as climate change causes famine, disease, and overcrowding, we may see more outbreaks of cannibalism in many more species–including our own.

Cannibalism places a perfectly natural occurrence into a vital new context and invites us to explore why it both enthralls and repels us.

Review: 

A book about cannibalism seems like it would be weird and horrific, but it was actually quite intriguing. That is not to say I want to engage in cannibalism … actually quite the opposite.

The book discusses the history of cannibalism in animals and humans, and the mainly evolutionary and survival purposes for the practices. Young animals, especially amphibians, would engage in cannibalism by eating other smaller animals of the same species to increase their chance of survival. I found this fact intriguing and informative, as my preconceived notions were that cannibalism was only creep psychotic serial killers.

In humans, the practice of medical cannibalism throughout history occurred in some cultures. Mainly as an attempt to cure health conditions or periods of extreme famine.

Overall, I found this book to be incredibly interesting. The author is truly trying to understand the practice of cannibalism, not sensationalize it. A bit of an odd book choice for some, but if the topic intrigues you, then I definitely recommend this book.

 

So . . . I want to know, what’s the weirdest book you’ve read?