• Explaining Humans

  • What Science Can Teach Us About Life, Love and Relationships
  • By: Dr Camilla Pang
  • Narrated by: Dr Camilla Pang
  • Length: 6 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (49 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Winner of The Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2020

Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of eight, Dr Camilla Pang struggled to understand the world around her. Desperate for a solution, Camilla asked her mother if there was an instruction manual for humans that she could consult. But, without the blueprint to life she was hoping for, Camilla began to create her own. Now armed with a PhD in biochemistry, Camilla dismantles our obscure social customs and identifies what it really means to be human using her unique expertise and a language she knows best: science. 

Through a set of scientific principles, this book examines life's everyday interactions including: 

  • Decisions and the route we take to make them.
  • Conflict and how we can avoid it.
  • Relationships and how we establish them.
  • Etiquette and how we conform to it. 

Explaining Humans is an original and incisive exploration of human nature and the strangeness of social norms, written from the outside looking in. Camilla's unique perspective of the world, in turn, tells us so much about ourselves - about who we are and why we do it - and is a fascinating guide on how to lead a more connected, happier life.

©2020 Camilla Pang (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Explaining Humans

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An entertaining, enlightening look at human beings

Camilla Pang, at age eight, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and not long after, she asked her mother if there was an instruction manual for humans. Sadly, there wasn't, so she decided to make her own, and started taking notes.

She now has a Ph.D. in biochemistry, and takes a delightfully analytical approach to deconstructing and explaining human behavior. It's startling, but illuminating, to look at human social behavior from the viewpoint of how proteins in our cells behave--individuality, teamwork, and adaptability, and the ways acting more like those proteins can help us live happier, more productive lives.

She's got a lot to say, and it's lively, interesting, understandable, and a total geeky delight.

I've always found human beings strange and difficult to understand, but until very recently, no one thought I should be evaluated for autism. No, I should just stop being difficult, and pay attention to what people are saying and otherwise indicating. Listening to Camilla Pang talk about the challenges of figuring out how to navigate the neurotypical world, even with a diagnosis and a supportive family, is illuminating and helpful. I will say we do have very different personalities, I'm sure partly innate and partly due to the difference in our ages, resulting diagnosis being more available and likely than when I was eight years old.

This book is not addressed only to the neurodivergent, but also the neurotypical, and I think will be an enjoyable and useful listen for anyone interested in human nature. Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

4 people found this helpful

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Useful for people with ASD and others

As someone who shares 99% of quirks of author I found this very interesting to read and give to my wife so she could try to understand how my brain works. I only wish this book came out 20 years ago so I might have read it sooner.

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Outstanding Analysis of the Difficulty of Dealing With People

Really a great scientific analysis of trying to understand why people act the way they do. You can also learn some physics along the way. A delightful journey of trying to make sense navigating and dealing with people. Helps explain a lot about life.

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A wonderful book for people that see things a little differently.

I enjoyed everything about this book. I loved it. The narration was wonderful. Everything about it was wonderful.

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  • N. Booth
  • 10-22-20

Not what I expected

I thought this would be about the science of autism, etc. Unfortunately, it was nothing of the sort, more like (rather weak) analogies the author takes from scientific phenomena for applying to situations in her life. I found it stretched and tedious, unfortunately.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Clemence
  • 02-20-21

Depicting humans in an encouraging way

One of the most beautiful book I ever read!
And wonderfully well read by the author who manages to describe scientific and complex topics in an very approachable way, giving even regular funny and touching examples.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Apple Smith
  • 02-18-21

Inspirational insightful brilliant

This was an incredibly enjoyable, enlightening read. Highly recommended! Features the author as narrator (which always helps as they're able to "voice" the content, in the most accurate way truest to the original).

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  • iamhayley
  • 12-08-20

Neurowitty! Fantastic Analogies. Interesting book

Makes science concepts relatable and engaging. I particularly loved the analogies. Couldn't stop listening :-)

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  • Aliy
  • 07-11-22

Beautiful account

Loved the weaving of scientific analogy with personal experience. As the mother of Aspies, and a health profesh, this is a whole new world of info and explanation, and one that I’ll revisit frequently:)

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  • James
  • 01-24-22

difficult

this Was a very difficult book to digest. it contains both not enough story and not enough science to be entertaining or informative. I can't recommend it

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  • Songy
  • 12-05-20

self-help for the geeks and socially awkward

it's an entertaining (for the geeks alike) self-help book for the people who find themselves not quite fitting in. Of course, I'm sure that it would be helpful for the people who have similar conditions as the author herself.