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An argument that what makes science distinctive is its emphasis on evidence and scientists' willingness to change theories on the basis of new evidence. Attacks on science have become commonplace. Claims that climate change isn't settled science, that evolution is "only a theory," and that scientists are conspiring to keep the truth about vaccines from the public are staples of some politicians' rhetorical repertoire. Defenders of science often point to its discoveries (penicillin! relativity!) without explaining exactly why scientific claims are superior. In this book, Lee McIntyre argues that what distinguishes science from its rivals is what he calls "the scientific attitude"-caring about evidence and being willing to change theories on the basis of new evidence. The history of science is littered with theories that were scientific but turned out to be wrong; the scientific attitude reveals why even a failed theory can help us to understand what is special about science. McIntyre offers examples that illustrate both scientific success (a reduction in childbed fever in the nineteenth century) and failure (the flawed "discovery" of cold fusion in the twentieth century). He describes the transformation of medicine from a practice based largely on hunches into a science based on evidence; considers scientific fraud; examines the positions of ideology-driven denialists, pseudoscientists, and "skeptics" who reject scientific findings; and argues that social science, no less than natural science, should embrace the scientific attitude. McIntyre argues that the scientific attitude-the grounding of science in evidence-offers a uniquely powerful tool in the defense of science.
The study of human evolution is advancing rapidly. Newly discovered fossil evidence is adding ever more pieces to the puzzle of our past, whilst revolutionary technological advances in the study of ancient DNA are completely reshaping theories of early human populations and migrations. In this Very Short Introduction Bernard Wood traces the history of paleoanthropology from its beginnings in the eighteenth century to the very latest fossil finds. In this new edition he discusses how Ancient DNA studies have revolutionized how we view the recent (post-550 ka) human evolution, and the process of speciation. The combination of ancient and modern human DNA has contributed to discoveries of new taxa, as well as the suggestion of 'ghost' taxa whose fossil records still remain to be discovered. Considering the contributions of related sciences such as paleoclimatology, geochronology, systematics, genetics, and developmental biology, Wood explores our latest understandings of our own evolution. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
To imagine--to see what is not there--is the startling ability that has fueled human development and innovation through the centuries. As a species we stand alone in our remarkable capacity to refashion the world after the picture in our minds. Traversing the realms of science, politics, religion, culture, philosophy, and history, Felipe Fern ndez-Armesto reveals the thrilling and disquieting tales of our imaginative leaps--from the first Homo sapiens to the present day. Through groundbreaking insights in cognitive science, Fern ndez-Armesto explores how and why we have ideas in the first place, providing a tantalizing glimpse into who we are and what we might yet accomplish. Unearthing and historical evidence, he begins by reconstructing the thoughts of our Paleolithic ancestors to reveal the subtlety and profundity of the thinking of early humans. A masterful paean to the human imagination from a wonderfully elegant thinker, Out of Our Minds shows that bad ideas are often more influential than good ones; that the oldest recoverable thoughts include some of the best; that ideas of Western origin often issued from exchanges with the wider world; and that the pace of innovative thinking is under threat.
From one of the world (TM)s leading authorities on animal behavior, the astonishing story of how the brain drives the evolution of beauty in animals and humans In A Taste for the Beautiful, Michael Ryan, one of the world (TM)s leading authorities on animal behavior, tells the remarkable story of how he and other scientists have taken up where Darwin left off, transforming our understanding of sexual selection and shedding new light on animal and human behavior. Drawing on cutting-edge science, Ryan explores key questions: Why do animals perceive certain traits as beautiful and others not? Do animals have an inherent sexual aesthetic and, if so, where is it rooted? Ryan argues that the answers lie in the brain "particularly of females, who act as biological puppeteers, spurring the development of beautiful traits in males. Vividly written and filled with fascinating stories, A Taste for the Beautiful will change how you think about beauty and attraction in the animal world and beyond.
'A rich, timely study for the era of "global ageing"' Nature The ageing of the world population is one of the most important issues facing humanity in the 21st century - up there with climate change in its potential global impact. Sometime before 2020, the number of people over 65 worldwide will, for the first time, be greater than the number of 0-4 year olds, and it will keep on rising. The strains this is causing on society are already evident as health and social services everywhere struggle to cope with the care needs of the elderly. But why and how do we age? Scientists have been asking this question for centuries, yet there is still no agreement. There are a myriad competing theories, from the idea that our bodies simply wear out with the rough and tumble of living, like well-worn shoes or a rusting car, to the belief that ageing and death are genetically programmed and controlled. In Borrowed Time, Sue Armstrong tells the story of science's quest to understand ageing and to prevent or delay the crippling conditions so often associated with old age. She focusses inward - on what is going on in our bodies at the most basic level of the cells and genes as the years pass - to look for answers to why and how our skin wrinkles with age, our wounds take much longer to heal than they did when we were kids, and why words escape us at crucial moments in conversation.This book explores these questions and many others through interviews with key scientists in the field of gerontology and with people who have interesting and important stories to tell about their personal experiences of ageing.
`Highly accessible. It has the power to do vastly more for gender equality than any number of feminist "manifestos" ... revolutionary to a glorious degree' Rachel Cooke, Observer 'A treasure trove of information and good humour' CORDELIA FINE, author of Testosterone Rex Do you have a female brain or a male brain? Or is that the wrong question? Reading maps or reading emotions? Barbie or Lego? We live in a gendered world where we are bombarded with messages about sex and gender. On a daily basis we face deeply ingrained beliefs that your sex determines your skills and preferences, from toys and colours to career choice and salaries. But what does this constant gendering mean for our thoughts, decisions and behaviour? And what does it mean for our brains? Drawing on her work as a professor of cognitive neuroimaging, Gina Rippon unpacks the stereotypes that bombard us from our earliest moments and shows how these messages mould our ideas of ourselves and even shape our brains. Taking us back through centuries of sexism, The Gendered Brain reveals how science has been misinterpreted or misused to ask the wrong questions. Instead of challenging the status quo, we are still bound by outdated stereotypes and assumptions. However, by exploring new, cutting-edge neuroscience, Rippon urges us to move beyond a binary view of our brains and instead to see these complex organs as highly individualised, profoundly adaptable and full of unbounded potential. Rigorous, timely and liberating, The Gendered Brain has huge repercussions for women and men, for parents and children, and for how we identify ourselves.
Full of fascinating and bizarre cases of genetic mutation and irregularity, `Mutants' is an amazing exploration of the human form in all its beautiful and unique guises. Why are most of us born with one nose, two legs, ten fingers and twenty-four ribs - and some of us not? Why do most of us stop growing in our teens - while others just keep going? Why do some us have heads of red hair - and others no hair at all? The human genome, we are told, makes us what we are. But how? Armand Marie Leroi takes us to the extremes of human mutation - from the grotesque to the beautiful, and often both at the same time - to explain how we become what we are. Through the tales of long-lived Croatian dwarves, ostrich-footed Wadoma tribesmen, sex-changing French convent girls, and many more wonders of human development, Leroi has written a brilliant narrative account of our genetic grammar and people whose bodies have revealed it.
If reason is what makes us human, then why do we humans often behave so irrationally? Taking us from desert ants to Aristotle, cognitive psychologists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber explore how our 'flawed superpower' of reason works, how it doesn't, and how it evolved to help us develop as social beings. 'Original and provocative ... likely to have a big impact on our understanding of ourselves' Steven Pinker 'Brilliant, elegant and compelling ... turns reason's weaknesses into strengths, arguing that its supposed flaws are actually design features that work remarkably well ... A timely and necessary book' Julian Baggini, Financial Times 'Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber have solved one of the most important and longstanding puzzles in psychology' Jonathan Haidt 'Reason is more likely to confirm things that we want to be true, or which we already believe. So why does it exist? This book provides the answer' Alex Dean, Prospect
Most people are familiar with the dodo and the dinosaur, but extinction has occurred throughout the history of life, with the result that nearly all the species that have ever existed are now extinct. Today, species are disappearing at an ever increasing rate, whilst past losses have occurred during several great crises. Issues such as habitat destruction, conservation, climate change, and, during major crises, volacanism and meteorite impact, can all contribute towards the demise of a group. In this Very Short Introduction, Paul B. Wignall looks at the causes and nature of extinctions, past and present, and the factors that can make a species vulnerable. Summarising what we know about all of the major and minor exctinction events, he examines some of the greatest debates in modern science, such as the relative role of climate and humans in the death of the Pleistocene megafauna, including mammoths and giant ground sloths, and the roles that global warming, ocean acidification, and deforestation are playing in present-day extinctions ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
A short biography of a creature that changed science.
There's a buzz in the air, the sound of a billion wings vibrating to the tune of scientific success. For generations, the fruit fly has been defining biology's major landmarks. From genetics to development, behavior to aging, and evolution to the origin of the species, it has been a key and, outside academic circles, an unaccredited player in some of the twentieth century's greatest biological discoveries. In fact, everything from gene therapy to cloning and the Human Genome Project is built on the foundation of fruit fly research.
This witty, irreverent biography of the fruit fly provides a broad introduction to biology as well as a glimpse into how one short life has informed scientific views on such things as fundamentals of heredity, battle of the sexes, and memory.
Written by world-renowned researchers, including Michael Gazzaniga, Cognitive Neuroscience remains the gold standard in its field, showcasing the latest discoveries and clinical applications. In its new Fifth Edition, updated material is woven into the narrative of each chapter and featured in new Hot Science and Lessons from the Clinic sections. The presentation is also more accessible and focused as the result of Anatomical Orientation figures, Take-Home Message features, and streamlined chapter openers.
To imagine - to see that which is not there - is the startling ability that has fuelled human development and innovation through the centuries. As a species we stand alone in our remarkable capacity to refashion the world after the pictures in our minds. Traversing the realms of science, politics, religion, culture, philosophy and history, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto reveals the thrilling and disquieting tales of our imaginative leaps - from the first Homo sapiens to the present day. Through groundbreaking insights in cognitive science, he explores how and why we have ideas in the first place, providing a tantalising glimpse into who we are and what we might yet accomplish. Fernandez-Armesto shows that bad ideas are often more influential than good ones; that the oldest recoverable thoughts include some of the best; that ideas of Western origin often issued from exchanges with the wider world; and that the pace of innovative thinking is under threat.
An exploration of how acceptance of panspermia will soon change history Mainstream consensus is that life arose on Earth spontaneously out of "primordial soup." Yet this theory, as well as the Darwinian "survival of the fittest" concept as it relates to major steps in evolution, has no scientific basis or proof. Where, then, did life come from? As the authors show, with conclusive scientific evidence, life came from space--a concept known as "panspermia." We humans, and all other life on Earth, evolved over millennia in response to viruses that arrived via comets, and we continue to do so. Exploring the philosophical, psychological, cultural, and environmental ramifications of the acceptance of panspermia, the authors show how the shift will be on par with the Copernican Revolution--when it was finally accepted that the Earth was not the center of the Universe. Explaining the origins of the panspermia theory in the work of the late Sir Fred Hoyle, the authors reveal the vast body of evidence that has accumulated over the past 4 decades in favor of the cosmic origins of life, including viral inserts found in DNA that have shaped our human genome over millions of years. They show how the tiniest of viruses, microscopic animals (tardigrades), and even seeds have been found to be natural cosmonauts. The authors also show how space-borne viruses play a crucial role in the positive evolution of life and that our entire existence on this planet is contingent on the continuing ingress of cosmic viruses. Revealing how panspermia offers answers to some of humanity's longstanding questions about the origins of life, the authors discuss the impact this shift in understanding will have on our relationship with the Earth and on culture, history, and religion. And perhaps the most dramatic ramification of all is that acceptance of panspermia means acceptance that Earth is not unique--that other life-filled planets exist and intelligent life is common in the Universe. Not only did we come from space, but we are not alone.
Since the late 1980s the dominant theory of human origins has been that a 'cognitive revolution' (C.50,000 years ago) led to the advent of our species, Homo sapiens. As a result of this revolution our species spread and eventually replaced all existing archaic Homo species, ultimately leading to the superiority of modern humans. Or so we thought. As Clive Finlayson explains, the latest advances in genetics prove that there was significant interbreeding between Modern Humans and the Neanderthals. All non-Africans today carry some Neanderthal genes. We have also discovered aspects of Neanderthal behaviour that indicate that they were not cognitively inferior to modern humans, as we once thought, and in fact had their own rituals and art. Finlayson, who is at the forefront of this research, recounts the discoveries of his team, providing evidence that Neanderthals caught birds of prey, and used their feathers for symbolic purposes. There is also evidence that Neanderthals practised other forms of art, as the recently discovered engravings in Gorham's Cave Gibraltar indicate. Linking all the recent evidence, The Smart Neanderthal casts a new light on the Neanderthals and the 'Cognitive Revolution'. Finlayson argues that there was no revolution and, instead, modern behaviour arose gradually and independently among different populations of Modern Humans and Neanderthals. Some practices were even adopted by Modern Humans from the Neanderthals. Finlayson overturns classic narratives of human origins, and raises important questions about who we really are.
'Required reading for anyone remotely curious about how they came to be remotely curious' Observer 'Enthralling' Spectator What is human consciousness and how is it possible? These questions fascinate thinking people from poets and painters to physicists, psychologists, and philosophers. This is Daniel C. Dennett's brilliant answer, extending perspectives from his earlier work in surprising directions, exploring the deep interactions of evolution, brains and human culture. Part philosophical whodunnit, part bold scientific conjecture, this landmark work enlarges themes that have sustained Dennett's career at the forefront of philosophical thought. In his inimitable style, laced with wit and thought experiments, Dennett shows how culture enables reflection by installing a profusion of thinking tools, or memes, in our brains, and how language turbocharges this process. The result: a mind that can comprehend the questions it poses, has emerged from a process of cultural evolution. An agenda-setting book for a new generation of philosophers and thinkers, From Bacteria to Bach and Back is essential for anyone who hopes to understand human creativity in all its applications.
'[A] beautifully written investigation of grief ... As an exploration of love and loss, as a portrait of a person and of the nature of personhood, this book is about as true as any I have read' James McConnachie, Sunday Times An audacious and beautiful account of grief and who we are. Memoir, neuroscience and myth interweave to create a book unlike any other When celebrated neuropsychologist Paul Broks' wife died of cancer, he found himself plunged into the world of the bereaved. As he experienced the pain, alienation and suffering that make us human, his clinician-self seemed to watch on with keen interest. He embarked upon a voyage of experience: a journey through grief, philosophy, consciousness, humanity and magical thinking - seen through the prism of a lifetime's work in neuroscience. Fusing an account of living with and recovering from loss with thought-provoking meditations on the nature of the mind and the self, The Darker the Night, the Brighter the Stars is an audacious and beautiful work by a writer of astonishing wisdom and compassion.
A Sunday Times and Financial Times Book of the Year What happens in our brains when we wake up, savour a meal or a glass of wine, walk the dog, stare at a screen, daydream or sleep? World-renowned neuroscientist Susan Greenfield draws on her own pioneering research to illuminate the mystery of consciousness, and how our brains make us who we are. 'Offers tantalising clues to the universe inside our heads' Rob Kingston, Sunday Times, Science Books of the Year 'One of the few brain researchers making a serious effort to investigate the rich continuum of conscious thoughts and feelings that underlie every moment of our waking lives' Clive Cookson, Financial Times 'An illuminating, engrossing journey' Nature 'Her writing is clear, sharp, devoid of difficult jargon and chatty. The brain's complexity comes across vividly' Anil Ananthaswamy, New Scientist
Discover the next stage of humanity's evolution--the age of artificial intelligence--in this fascinating, essential, and accessible exploration of the coming advances in robotics, computing, and associated technologies from the publisher of one of the most popular technology news websites in the world, Gigaom.com. We often talk about the rapid pace of change in our world, where every month seems to bring a startling technological advancement. While it's true that we are surrounded by new devices and innovations, cooler toys and fresher platforms, these are only tremors compared to the earthquake that is in our future. Futurist and tech maven Byron Reese explains that a number of disruptive technologies--each of which alone would be world-changing--are all converging at the same time in a perfect storm. We are building robots that can do human jobs. We are designing computers that might be capable of intelligence. We are likely on the cusp of creating a new life form: a conscious computer to which we could outsource our thinking minds, with a companion robot to perform the functions of our bodies. In captivating and clear language, Reese explores this imminent technological revolution and its species-changing implications. He helps us to understand what this brave new world can mean for us both practically and existentially, in the process arriving at a more complete definition of what it means to be human. The Fourth Age doesn't resort to the doomsday view of the future we often encounter in movies and fiction, but instead locates us at a great turning point in human history and provides you with the vocabulary and breadth of knowledge you need to be part of the debate about what kind of world we will soon inhabit.
The New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times and Indie Bound Bestseller
'Those who like to insist that blood is always thicker than water should read Inheritance, and let their own hearts slowly and gently expand.'-- The Observer
'All my life I had known there was a secret. What I hadn't known: the secret was me.'
In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. Everything she had believed about her identity was a lie.
Shapiro's parents had died when she was in her twenties. With only a handful of figures on a webpage, Shapiro sets out to discover the truth about herself and her history.
Inheritance is a genetic detective story; a memoir that reads like a thriller. It is a book about secrets -secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is a book about the extraordinary moment we live in a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.
Attention is not just receptive, but actively creative of the world we inhabit. How we attend makes all the difference to the world we experience. And nowadays in the West we generally attend in a rather unusual way: governed by the narrowly focussed, target-driven left hemisphere of the brain. Forget everything you thought you knew about the difference between the hemispheres, because it will be largely wrong. It is not what each hemisphere does - they are both involved in everything - but how it does it, that matters. And the prime difference between the brain hemispheres is the manner in which they attend. For reasons of survival we need one hemisphere (in humans and many animals, the left) to pay narrow attention to detail, to grab hold of things we need, while the other, the right, keeps an eye out for everything else. The result is that one hemisphere is good at utilising the world, the other better at understanding it. Absent, present, detached, engaged, alienated, empathic, broad or narrow, sustained or piecemeal, attention has the power to alter whatever it meets. The play of attention can both create and destroy, but it never leaves its object unchanged. How you attend to something - or don't attend to it - matters a very great deal. This book helps you to see what it is you may have been trained by our very unusual culture not to see.
A good research paper is more than just a clear, concise, scientific expose. It is a document that needs to go beyond the science to attract attention. There are both strict and less definable norms for doing this, but many authors are unaware as to what they are or their use. Publishing is rapidly changing, and needs to be explained with a fresh perspective. Simply writing good, clear, concise, science is no longer enough-there is a different mind-set now required that students need to adopt if they are to succeed. The purpose of this book is to provide the foundations of this new approach for both young scientists at the start of their careers, as well as for more experienced scientists to teach the younger generation. Most importantly, the book will make the reader think in a fresh, creative, and novel way about writing and publishing science. This is an introductory guide suitable for advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and professional researchers in both the life and physical sciences.
The polyvagal theory explains the biological origins of a variety of social behaviors and emotional disorders. This book distills that theory into practical clinical tips, explaining its relevance to the social engagement system and offering clinical examples, including cases of trauma and autism.
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