SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
What a joy Sapolsky is! This short course has it all: neurobiology, history, social commentary. And God does it have humor. The writing, the delivery, is top notch. Where else will you hear of a baboon being a tease and giving another, totally love-struck, baboon the cold "fur-covered" shoulder? This is a lesson on intermittent reinforcement, and with an image like that, the story that goes with it, seriously. The lesson will stick with me forever.
There's so much packed into so few hours, you won't even feel time flying by. Plus, perhaps you, as I, will find yourself drawing connections to your own experiences. Depression is covered, in certain ways. Did you know just forcing a smile makes a depressed person more likely to feel better? Or that meds targeting an empathy, an I-feel-the-pain-of-the-world type of depression is being developed?
True, Sapolsky does stray from science a lot, but eventually he gets back to the brain. And true, cockroaches get A LOT of air time (and tell me if you don't get squeamish in the parasite section!), but the section on metaphors? That just highlights how breathtakingly beautiful the whole book is written, how insightful and inspiring the text is.
This book is worth it.
I'm happy to be human today...
I remember my sister and I went whale watching once over in the Pacific Northwest. From our boat, we could see another one almost tipping over because everyone was crowded on one side, oohing and ahhing at a multitude of orcas who were watching the humans just as intently, "smiles" on their faces. It was hilarious, and they were, and are, the most precious, gentle creatures imaginable.
So this book is a real kick in the gut, and some of it is so brutal that it's downright painful to hear. But it needs to be listened to because only public awareness and action will stop it. I've always believed that by turning away to spare myself pain, I'm only perpetuating the pain and suffering of others.
Hargrove spares nothing here as he spent countless years at SeaWorld and, he admits, was a believer for so long. These animals were denied food as punishment, were put in pens with other whales who would attack. Captivity caused almost constant aggression, illnesses, neurotic behavior (like eating paint and sand): all unheard of in the wild. And this is what the whales live with year after year, one agonizing day at a time.
The separation of mothers and calves caused me grief, and SeaWorld's artificial insemination program is so graphically described that I can't help but think of it as one of the grossest violations possible.
This is an extraordinary book, and though I've listed only the things that incensed me, there are other enlightening and inspiring things. (Phew, right?) It drags a bit at the beginning, but it's well worth the credit.
If killer whales and man are the two "apex predators," man is by far the more brutal of the two...