A riveting investigation of the myriad ways that parasites control how other creatures - including humans - think, feel, and act.
These tiny organisms can live only inside another animal, and, as McAuliffe reveals, they have many evolutionary motives for manipulating their host's behavior. Far more often than appreciated, these puppeteers orchestrate the interplay between predator and prey. With astonishing precision, parasites can coax rats to approach cats, spiders to transform the patterns of their webs, and fish to draw the attention of birds that then swoop down to feast on them.
We humans are hardly immune to the profound influence of parasites. Organisms we pick up from our own pets are strongly suspected of changing our personality traits and contributing to recklessness, impulsivity - even suicide. Microbes in our gut affect our emotions and the very wiring of our brains. Germs that cause colds and flu may alter our behavior even before symptoms become apparent.
Parasites influence our species on the cultural level, too. As McAuliffe documents, a subconscious fear of contagion impacts virtually every aspect of our lives, from our sexual attractions and social circles to our morals and political views. Drawing on a huge body of research, she argues that our dread of contamination is an evolved defense against parasites - and a double-edged sword. The horror and revulsion we feel when we come in contact with people who appear diseased or dirty helped pave the way for civilization but may also be the basis for major divisions in societies that persist to this day.
In the tradition of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel and Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish, This Is Your Brain on Parasites is both a journey into cutting-edge science and a revelatory examination of what it means to be human.
©2016 Kathleen McAuliffe (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
A microbiology graduate, I find many aspects of different science fields fascinating as well as being an avid consumer of books.
Most people with science focuses will tend to put their focus on a pedestal, and tend to lean towards it being the most important facet of most situations-microbiologists being no exception or course. This book is similar-while its not noxious, as its focus is on parasites they tend to be on that pedestal which is fair enough. I do find some explanations here interesting, and some delving into certain parasites is appreciated but as a science major I felt like it was lacking in depth on certain topics that I wanted to see more detail on, but C'est la vie. The microbiome section is a bit standard, but theres some good information regarding most of the other stuff-even if some of the conclusions in the book are a bit too uncautious in their assertion. Enjoyed it regardless, worth a look especially if you're not as into science and want to know about parasites.
Less reliance on unrepeated or unrepeatable studies and more focus on those with more substantial evidence for, OR at least disclaimers when using some studies as being more fringe.
This is an entertaining and interesting book, but readers need to recognize it is a mash up of scientifically accepted and experimentally verified phenomenon and several observations or theories that might not prove to be true but they are all presented in a way that gives them equal weight. Reader beware
This book was so good that I listened almost non-stop! I highly recommend it. It made me think differently.
I would recommend this to anyone who is into exploring "what" a human is instead of "who" a human is.
This book should be read/listened along with "Human Wildlife" by Dr Robert Buckman for more proof of the relevance of her position.
Her delivery fit the narrative.
This is your brain on bugs.
One day everyone will realize that Reality is not about humans and the hubris generated by our Egos! It is a microbial reality and humans are merely "microbial transport systems. Microbes terra-formed the planet for themselves, creating a habitable environment for themselves and maintaining it throughout history. We only became aware of the true Creators of "life" 300 years ago with the invention of the microscope-yet they have been here for 4 billion years. Our ignorance of their influence and purpose is slowly being eroded as we investigate the Human Experience.
The next step after scientific validation of the symbiotic physiological relationships within the human form will be philosophic and center on the microbial influences manipulating and directing human consciousness. Then we might recognize that the human enterprise of Space Exploration is really driven by the microbes' desire to seed the Solar System.
most interesting book I have read all year, I think she gives religious beliefs to much credit. I would of liked her to talk a little about the negatives like the Catholic ban on condoms rather than just picking only good thing like washing yourself before prayer.
this book can change the whole way that you view the world and how to treat disease. highly recommend it !
Totally a must read for biology nerds. I couldn't stop listening. It touched on so many biological reasons for the development of social behaviour that has influenced all our lives.
This book is mostly repetitive reiteration of how parasites influence animal behaviors. Ok to be honest, I only made it in about 3 chapters, but that info really only needed about 1. I wasn't captivated enough to keep going on the book.
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