I was browsing the NPR list of recommended Sci-Fi titles today, and could barely manage a ho-hum. I’ve slipped into one of my periodic non-fiction moods, and I’ve learned to follow such whims to see where they take me. I fear that my book queue may get even more unmanageable after stumbling upon these NPR recommendations: Insane Science: Five New Books that Explain the Brain. http://www.npr.org/2011/06/08/136896426/insane-science-5-new-books-that-explain-the-brain Here is a quick summary of the article:
The Compass Of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, And Gambling Feel So Good by David J. Linden. Everyone probably guessed Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Vodka, and perhaps Generosity, but the author claims that Paying your taxes belongs in that category too.
The Believing Brain: From Ghosts To Gods To Politics And Conspiracies — How We Construct Beliefs And Reinforce Them As Truths by Michael Shermer. Shermer, a former Evangelical Christian who became an agnostic in college claims that belief precedes the explanations we invent for them. However, Shermer acknowledges that, “we could be wrong.”
The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through The Madness Industry by Jon Ronson. The bad news: an estimated 1% of the population is psychopathic. The good news: if you wonder if you are, you almost certainly are not.
The Optimism Bias: A Tour Of The Irrationally Positive Brain by Tali Sharot. Even if you are a cynic, your brain is probably hardwired for optimism. “Most people are programmed to predict happy endings in all facets of our lives.” As you might have guessed, there is measurable survival value in thes.
A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What The World‘s Largest Experiment Reveals About Human Desire by Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam. If you want to know what people really think about sex, look online, claim the authors, and that is what they did. Their conclusion, after sifting through “reams” of data? Men’s sexual brains “are more like Elmer Fudd,” and women’s, “like Miss Marple.” That hook I think, is enough to get me to download this one. Not that I would be crass enough to ever make a joke about Elmer Fudd and Congressman Wiener – nope, no way.
Happy reading, everyone, and I categorically deny all rumors that I have too much time on my hands!