Human beings can be so compassionate - and yet they can also be shockingly cruel. What if there was a hidden master control for human behavior? Switch it on and people are loving and generous. Switch it off and they revert to violence and greed. Pioneering neuroeconomist Paul J. Zak has discovered just such a master switch, a molecule in the human brain. The Moral Molecule is a firsthand account of this discovery, revealing how evolution built the Golden Rule into our biology.
From his laboratory in California to the jungles of Papua New Guinea, Zak takes you on an amazing and exciting journey to what it means to be human. Zak’s experiments - what science writer Matt Ridley called “the most revealing in the history of economics” - measure a brain chemical called oxytocin found in the bloodstream. His colleagues sometimes call him the vampire economist. His research team has taken blood from thousands of people as they made decisions with money in the lab, played football out on the field, jumped from an airplane, attended a wedding, and many other situations in which human interactions take place. Ascending from molecules to families to entire societies, Zak’s findings reveal how oxytocin can produce a virtuous cycle of love and prosperity.
The Moral Molecule is a journey well beyond common theories about why we make the decisions we do. Zak explains what underlies the great mysteries of human behavior - why some husbands are more faithful than others; why women tend to be more generous than men; why we are sometimes rational and other times irrational. He explores the role of religion in moral behavior, how the moral molecule operates in the marketplace, and - most important, once we understand the moral molecule - how we can consciously use it to make our own lives better.
©2012 Paul J. Zak (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
An enjoyable science read. Just enough science to be intellectual, just enough anecdotal human interest to be fun. The basics are that oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, makes for pro-social behavior. The author examines what behavior releases oxytocin and how it effects behavior after it is released. In addition, he comments on how it interacts with testosterone, a rather anti-social hormone, and cortisol, the stress hormone. The author closes with how we can create a more oxytocin-filled, trusting, and happier world one oxytocin-inducing act after another. If you like a good pop-science read, you'll enjoy The Moral Molecule by Paul J. Zak. However, the author read the book himself and he is no professional reader. It's rather like if your not-so-into-reading-aloud spouse read the book to you. Rhythms are off, emphasis is little. It's just not pro-level, even for an author. For the sake of the enjoyable information, you can get through it, but they really should have hired a profession reader to showcase the information to best effect.
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