Understanding our humanity - the essence of who we are - is one of the deepest mysteries and biggest challenges in modern science. Why do we have bad moods? Why are we capable of having such strange dreams? How can metaphors in our language hold such sway on our actions?
As we learn more about the mechanisms of human behavior through evolutionary biology, neuroscience, anthropology, and other related fields, we're discovering just how intriguing the human species is. And while scientists are continually uncovering similarities between our behavior and that of other animals, they're also finding insights into everything that makes us unique from any other species.
Join an acclaimed neurobiologist, award-winning teacher, and MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" recipient in a series of 12 invigorating lectures that offer a surprising and undeniably fascinating study of what makes you you, journeying to the front lines of scientific research to gain a new perspective on the quirky nature of being ourselves. Professor Sapolsky explores our humanity by investigating mysterious and sometimes even mundane aspects of human behavior, including bad moods, nostalgia, and dreams, packing the lectures with stories of bold experiments and case studies that illuminate the intricacies of our behavior.
Thought-provoking, witty, and sometimes myth-shattering, this course is sure to have you thinking about and appreciating your life in novel ways.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses
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...
This book felt like being back at university sat there listening to a favorite teacher.
Being from an engineering background, I don't have much knowledge of neuroscience. The lectures were well delivered, I had no problem understanding the concepts being presented and found it incredibly interesting.
l'enfer c'est les autres
A nicely presented lecture on the nexus between psychology and neuroscience and the author never loses the listener with obscure names of brain regions, hormone names, or body parts.
There is a theme the author presses through out the lecture and that is the conclusions are only as good as the data set the conclusions are based on.
If you ever watch a movie or TV show and they are trying to show how wise a professor of Psychology or Neuroscience is the character in the show will be relating one of the experiments that would have been covered in this lecture. (I'm thinking about the truly marvelous movie, "Boyhood" and the Psychology professor is relating a story that is covered within this lecture).
For me, most (if not all) the stories I have come across elsewhere in my readings, but this lecture series has all the stories in one place and without any jargon to confuse the listener and is given by a lecturer who really knows how to tell a story.
(I got this lecture on the "deal of the day" for $2.95 and at the price it is well worth it. I would imagine Audible will discount it from time to time and I would recommend it at that discounted price).
It isn't utterly horrible. There are some interesting tidbits "from the frontiers of science". However, that's all you get. The prof makes it sound like you are going to embark on a journey that will lead to a far greater understanding of what it means to be a human being. Title should read "Fun Facts from the Frontiers of Science."
Professor Robert Sapolsky is warm and engaging, and his lectures are full of insight and information that can shift how you understand yourself, others, and the world. He has made it on to my short list of people who I unquestionable trust to deliver contemporary, useful material about the brain and what we do with it.
This is a hard review to write because I completely recognize the quality of the production, the enthusiasm of the presenter and the interesting nature of the material. I do not want to downgrade the course just because it was not entirely to my personal tastes—I see where the right listener might find this course wonderful. Essentially, this is a collection of unusual, sometimes macabre and sometimes frightening, stories with a biological or psychological twist. Topics range from stories about body snatching to burial rituals to parasites to humanity's use of metaphors. There is little, if any, theme, but the professor admitted that this was intended to be a sample pack of topics so the lack of theme cannot be held against him. I found many of the topics at least mildly disturbing and was reminded somewhat of a collection of oddities from a circus sideshow. Again, this is likely more a reflection of my personal tastes than any fault of the professor. I decided to try this course even though it is outside of my usual areas of interest just to try something different. I cannot say that I disliked the course, but I can say that there are other courses much more to my liking such as history and business courses. If you are interested in scientific and medical oddities, then you may really enjoy this course.
There were times where I felt I was hearing some interesting concepts, and looking at things from a perspective I hadn't previously explored.
Professor Sapolsky was certainly interested and well learned in his subject matter, however I felt like there was a little too basic an approach to these lectures. Between the title and length, I knew it wouldn't be comprehensive by any means, but I did expect a little more than just a few different ways to look at things.
I'm not going to say this lecture series does not have some interesting parts -- it does. I particualrly liked the last lecture. But it seems that the title is a little misleading. In fact, the first/introductory lecture leads you to believe that the lecture series is going to be about what makes us human -- in other words what is it about us that distinguishes us from just another species. I didn't get that out of these lectures that seem to be a series of lectures on interesting scientific facts/quirks. The lecturer did a good job -- he was easy to understand and follow.
"Life Lessons from the Frontiers of Science"
Some extremely insightful examinations on human behaviour, accompanied by wonderfully engaging illustrations leaving you wanting more. Needless to say his narration is fluid and dynamic. Gratz good production.
Presented for audiences on multiple levels of experience, from zero to semi hero!
This guy understands stress on a binary biological level, and explains it seemingly effortlessly.
"Fascinating, makes me want to understand more."
Light bulb blinks
Influence & impacts of stress
Wanted to but did not have the time, taken three sittings
"Narrator voice was hard to stay focused on."
Don't know why exactly, but I found myself zoning out of this a lot even thought the information was good. Good info though.
Fun facts, tied together into 12 different fascinating stories of what it means (or may not mean) to be human. What's not to like?
"Fascinating - very enjoyable"
I'm a great admirer of Prof. Sapolsky and this is very interesting. It's not all exactly new to me as I have read his books and have another Great Course by him, but I still found it insightful and a pleasure to listen to. It may help that I am his age and familiar with his cultural references!
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