Read The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2012 by Dan Ariely Tim Folger Online


The Best American Series®First, Best, and Best-SellingThe Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the country’s finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume’s series editor selects notable works from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites. A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publish.The Best American Series®First, Best, and Best-SellingThe Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the country’s finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume’s series editor selects notable works from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites. A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publish. This unique system has made the Best American series the most respected — and most popular — of its kind.The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2012 includesJEROME GROOPMAN, SY MONTGOMERY, MICHAEL BEHAR, DEBORAH BLUM, THOMAS GOETZ, DAVID EAGLEMAN, RIVKA GALCHEN, DAVID KIRBY, and others...

Title : The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2012
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ISBN : 9780547799537
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Number of Pages : 352 Pages
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The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2012 Reviews

  • Jonathan Peto
    2019-01-23 02:49

    The guest editor of the the 2012 volume of this series, Dan Ariely, lays out an interesting viewpoint in his introduction. His view of science is activist and centers on humanity, which makes sense since he’s a professor of psychology and behavioral economics. He writes that, for him, “ of the main goals for science in the years to come..." is " figure out the human condition and design our environment to reduce our tendency for error and maximize our potential.” That affects his selections noticeably, I think, and though it did not bother me, I can imagine the focus might irritate some readers whose views, interests, or goals for science are broader. One idea Dan Ariely promotes in his introduction that I think may be a hard sell is “science-based paternalism.” There are people who seem to trust science as little as they trust government, so Ariely’s statement that “we should use science as an input to help us understand which areas of life we should regulate to a higher degree and to come up with interventions that balance effectiveness with minimum impact on personal freedoms” is problematic. I don’t disagree with the statement, but something about it makes me uneasy. Maybe because I’m somewhat scientifically literate, but am certainly not capable of verifying research and/or conclusions. I’ve waded out to my knees at best. When I encounter scientists, I can lob out two or three good questions before they lose interest in me (always the overzealous student).Anyway, the articles in these volumes are written for general readers and first appeared in magazines such as Outside, Wired or National Geographic. If you’re interested in science journalism, the profiles at the end of the book about the writers are probably food for thought. The articles in this volume were arranged in six parts; Bacteria/Microorganisms, Animals, Humans (the Good), Humans (the Bad), Society and Environment, and Technology. I’m going to highlight the articles that caught my fancy:There were two in the Bacteria/Microorganisms part that mentioned the Human Microbiome Project, which is “an effort to characterize the thousands of species of microbes that live on or in us.” Did you know that “90 percent of the cells residing in your body are not human cells”? No sense in getting freaked out about it. Scientists are looking into the importance of these symbiotic relationships, including how it might affect our behavior and the development of our brains.In Part Two: Animals, one article profiles a man, Jack Horner, who is trying to create a dinosaur, not the impossible Jurassic Park way, but by modifying chicken genes to make “a chickenosaurus.” Another article is about testing rats in order to ultimately improve human endurance through genes. The fact that those test rats got the article included in a section about animals may piss you off if you’re an animal lover.Part Three and Part Four are both called Humans. The first is supposed to be the Good, the second is supposed to be the Bad. The Good included an article called Sleeping with the Enemy by Elizabeth Kolbert, which reports that evidence connects humans to hundreds of species extinctions, and not just in modern times. (PS Did you know there is a Neanderthal Genome Project?) Another article in the Good concludes with observations from neuroscience that seem to damn us to destroy the earth, since “we are born to be ‘good consumers but not good conservationists.’ ”The choices in the Bad were also sometimes confusing to me, though I enjoyed the articles themselves. For example, The Feedback Loop by Thomas Goetz was about how “feedback loops aren’t just about solving problems...” but “...could create opportunities.” What’s so bad about that? The Bad could be named the Depressing. Two articles focus on the brain. In Beautiful Brains by David Dobbs, adolescent risk-taking is analyzed in terms of brain development and David Eagleman, in The Brain on Trail, highlights how developments in neuroscience, now and in the future, has “legal implications”. That wasn’t depressing, but the sense that our behavior is the result of biology, not free will, was. Also, if bad behavior has a “biological explanation” rather than a moral one, isn’t that Good, in a way?I’ve gotten carried away and must wrap it up. Lots of articles titulated. One, Ill Wind, in Part Five: Society and Environment, mentions “the discovery of the global mercury cycle” which “underscores the need for an international treaty to address such pollutants.” Reread that quote! Mercury. In the Atmosphere. Circulating. The City Solution by Robert Kunzig explains why even many environmentalists are recognising that the world’s increasing population is best packed into cities.Finally, if you’re a fiction writer, volumes like this, with their multitude of topics and personalities, should spark ideas, so go nuts.

  • Lisa
    2019-01-26 07:40

    This book was utterly, completely fascinating. I can't recommend it enough. In case the title doesn't render it obvious, this is a collection of articles written on science and nature topics. Nearly all of it is written for a mainstream audience, so one need not be a scientist to comprehend the vast majority of it. (One article about quantum physics was over my head.) I will admit - some of the articles I half expected someone to pop out of the woodwork and ask me, "Really? You believed that? You ACTUALLY believed that there are scientists out there working on reverse engineering dinosaur DNA from chickens? I mean, how gullible are you?!" Because, yeah, there is this fascinating article about just that. Similarly, an article about the advances in performance enhancing drugs used in mice - creating super-mice who need not exercise to build muscles both intrigued and frightened me even as I thought, 'This is a hoax, right?' And who knew octopuses (octopi?) were such intellectual creatures? There are thought-provoking articles, and frightening ones. Articles about brain tumors and growths, and brain chemistry itself, affecting our fundamental personalities calls into question who we are are people. The article about people getting crushed to death in crowds (a la the Wal-Mart Black Friday crush some years back) was so interesting - but scary to me as I (no, really!) read it in line on my Kindle at a crowded amusement park. The article about air contamination, especially from unregulated parts of Asia, was downright frightening. The article about efforts to grow test tube meat was thought-provoking and has me half-convinced this is the way to go. And I have to stop there, because otherwise I would just be listing every article in the book. Just...go read it. And then let's discuss it. And then next year's edition too.

  • Rift Vegan
    2019-02-10 07:43

    Worst Sci & Nat anthology ever. Some, or even many, of the articles would have been interesting to read by themselves, but they were all very "human-centric" shall we say, with lots of hubris. The first 1/2 of the book had so many mice experiments I started marking them in the margins. So stupid: what century do we live in? And who thinks experimenting on mice has any relevance to anything other than proving the sadism of the scientist? And then, in the Animal section... huh, it was all about experimenting on animals. I will probably continue to read this series. But gah, when will humans grow up???

  • Melissa
    2019-01-29 04:35

    Well...this volume hits kind of a weird middle-space for me. Taken individually, the essays in this edition of Best Science and Nature Writing are good pieces of journalism. Six come from The New Yorker, three each from Scientific American, Wired, and National Geographic, two each from Outside, The Atlantic, and Discover, and singles from California Magazine, Popular Science, and Orion. But together...somehow they strike me as lacking in breadth, if that makes sense.After an introduction focusing in scientific paternalism, Ariely divided the essays into subjects: Bacteria/Microorganisms, Animals, Humans (the Good), Humans (the Bad), Society and Environment, and Technology. However, two of the bacteria/micro essays are about nearly the same thing (normal human microbiota and how that plays into immune response/chronic disease) while the third concerns new food allergy research and treatment. It's hard to determine what's "good" or "bad" about the human sections - I can't tell where the dividing line is ("Sleeping with the Enemy" is in the good section, yet is about how modern humans displaced/bred out the Neanderthal - and extincting species is something we seem to be good at, while "The Feedback Loop" - about how we can modify human behavior to combat speeding and medication non-compliance - is in the bad section). John Seabook's New Yorker article "Crush Point" (which I read in the original publication) is a good piece of human interest/courtroom reporting but doesn't seem to contain a lot of "science" regarding crowd dynamics. It probably would have been better to list the articles alphabetically by author rather than try to group them. Many of the articles, no matter the scientific ground grown in from paleontology to neurobiology to computer science, apply the information therein to society as a whole. Lab-grown beef, knock-out genes in Mosquitos that could fuel reactions to GMOs, a hazy article about why humans have a connection with an auquarium (the Roberts article about Wallace J. Nichols was an odd one), urban sprawl, molecular gastronomy, an eccentric physicist and the real-world probability of a theoretical quantum computer, if we must defend our humanity from the likelihood a computer could pass the Turing Test/how to be a more "human" human - everything circles back to human or human-like behavior. Given that Ariely is a psychologist that's not surprising but it makes the collection very flat and more like a pet than a presentation of good scientific work across all disciplines.

  • Alan
    2019-02-04 01:29

    This issue of the anthology was another good one. Not every article was fascinating but most were interesting. There was a very good piece about Svante Paabo and his work on Neanderthal DNA and another about Wallace J Nichols, who does ocean conservation by appealing to people’s emotions instead of reason. One article began with a story of a teenager in jail for driving 113 mph, which inspired the author to explore how and when the brain reaches full maturity. Another brain story looked at the Texas tower killer who had a brain tumor, leading to an explanation of how brain abnormalities can lead to crime. Crush Point by John Seabrook looked at crowd behavior, beginning with the incident at a Walmart in 2009 in which shoppers crushed an employee on Black Friday. Walmart refused to pay the $9000 OSHA fine for insufficient crowd control training and preparation, lost the court case, and then appealed it, spending many millions to avoid taking the blame. The City Solution by Robert Kunzig began with a story of the Englishman who first wrote about “garden cities” (suburbs), continued with an explanation of how cities are better for the environment than suburbs, and ended with the same Englishman. Test Tube Burgers by Michael Specter explored an industrial park in Holland devoted to research on artificial meat, supported in part by PETA to end cruelty to animals. Several stories focused on biographies of scientists, including Mad Science about Nathan Myhrvold and his scientific cookbook; Dream Machine, a story about England’s David Deutsch, who wrote some of the first article about quantum computing and who believes firmly in the multi-universe theory; and The Crypto Currency, which explained the mystery behind Bitcoin and its inventor. The editors saved the best for the last as the final piece, Mind vs. Machine, described a contest that does the Turing test to see if a computer can fool people into believing it is human. The author was a contestant and described the scene well, leading to startling conclusions – that what makes us human is not the logical thinking but rather the social, sensory and emotional parts of our consciousness.

  • Emma Roulette
    2019-02-03 04:44

    I can't get enough of these books. As always, a fascinating selection of articles. Learned about the science of crowd catastrophes, people who compete in Turing test competitions, human pheromones, and turning on certain genes in modern organisms to express ancestral traits. The most interesting piece had to be "The Brain on Trial", where David Eagleman dismantles free will and identity, showing how ambiguous and problematic it can be to make any sort of legal decision, and then discusses how we can use neuroscience to come up with more informed legal decisions. Of course I will be reading 2014's edition as soon as it comes out.

  • James
    2019-02-07 02:39

    Fascinating! I like the way this year's editor, Dan Ariely, arranged the stories from those dealing with very small subjects to those tackling progressively larger-scale topics. If this one has a main theme, I'd call it consciousness and cognition in their varied forms, from hive intelligence to human psychology and neuropsychiatry to machine learning and artificial intelligence.Highly recommended for anyone interested in the above topics, and what could be more interesting (I'm biased, being a cognitive entity myself)?

  • D.
    2019-02-19 02:47

    Three and a half stars, really. Consistently good writing but not consistently interesting to me, which is likely to happen with any collection of writing on science and nature. The essays that I enjoyed the most were the ones about octopuses and bitcoins.

  • Amanda Valenti
    2019-02-11 05:53

    I did not enjoy this selection as much as those from previous years but there were still a lot of interesting articles.

  • Art
    2019-01-27 00:55

    Of the two dozen stories, seven deserve special attention. ... Two articles deal with cities and urban phenomena. Three articles deal with the human brain, another with that of the octopus.Crush Point— Crowds as part of urban life.— Mob psychology, crowd surges, crowd management.The City Solution— What cities do well and right.— City dwellers tread lighter than their rural and suburban counterparts. — "Get the transportation right, then let things happen," said Peter Hall, planner and historian at University College, London. People in dense cities drive less.Deep Intellect— Octopus consciousness, exemplified by one at the New England Aquarium, Boston.— Octopus and human intelligence evolved independently.Sleeping with the Enemy— All non-Africans carry between 1 and 4 percent Neanderthal DNA.— One of the largest sites of Neanderthal bone remains was found a few miles from the painted caves at Lascaux. ...Beautiful Brains— The adolescent brain. The human brain reorganizes itself until age 25 or so.— The adolescent brain values reward more than adults do.— "We enter a world made by our parents. But we will live most of our lives and prosper (or not) in a world run and remade by our peers."The Brain on Trial— About behavior and why people violate social norms. — Technology will lead to better measurement of problems in the brain.— A pretense: That each brain responds the same to challenges, and that each person deserves the same punishment for violations.The Teeming Metropolis of You— You are mostly not you. Ninety percent of the cells in your body are microbes, not human cells. — Two unrelated North Americans share only 10 percent of their intestinal bacteria. — "We are just beginning to understand the role our biota plays in human health and disease."

  • Cara
    2019-02-15 04:57

    Ariely’s selections as Guest Editor for this 2012 Best American Series intrigue and electrify. Unfortunately, Ariely selected writing by three times as many men as women, which calls into question not the quality and quantity of science and nature writing by women today, but the objectivity of those in power in the field to publish and commend the best of it. The collection, arranged in six parts—Bacteria and Microorganisms, Animals, Humans (good and bad), Society and Environment, and Technology—intermixes contemporary concerns with futuristic possibilities. Essays such as Jerome Groopman’s “The Peanut Puzzle,” Sy Montgomery’s “Deep intellect,” and Michael Behar’s “Faster. Higher. Squeakier.” explore topics present in the national discourse, like the cause of allergies and their remediation, the extent of animal intelligence, and the role of performance enhancing drugs. Alongside these timely essays sit prescient pieces that beckon emerging discussions about cryptography and virtual but veritable currencies, the reach of artificial intelligence and the underexplored microbial world. Collectively, the 2012 selections present existential questions and ethical dilemmas without moralizing or answering the queries: Are we smarter than machines? What is unique about human intelligence? Can we feed the burgeoning population with lab-grown meat? Can we reverse the evolutionary process, and should we? This strong collection invites awe, begets wonder, and stimulates contemplation.

  • Charles
    2019-02-13 05:59

    Some thoughts. My computer has been broken for two or more months so I've been doing all my entries on a smart phone, which is a pain. So now it's fixed and I'm still typing on a phone I had to go out of town the week before Christmas and had three days to get my act together before the day. Had a real nice visit with friends on the day, but on the two hour drive home I realized I was sick. The point of this is I had little time to read on my trip and too disoriented while sick to focus on a page. Today I sat down to finish the last four pieces in this book, got distracted, read a review of another that's been in my slag pile for a year. It is a collection of writing from several genres. The reviewers tell me that two pieces are the best, so of course I immediately read them and I agree, but I have now even less interest in reading the rest. That qualifies, in my flu befuddled mind as a spoiler. I'm not usually warned off by knowing the twist, who gets the girl, or who the killer is. I'm usually told by the book jacket, a well meaning friend, a comment or a review in the papers. So I always think duh. I intended to tell you which of the articles I liked from this years collection including their titles, but no more. Tomorrow when I feel less feverish ill discuss the subject matter a bit on my big boy computer.

  • Ann
    2019-02-17 02:55

    I love this series, but this edition was disappointing. It's simply wandering too far from its roots. When the first edition of The Best American SCIENCE AND NATURE Writing came out in 2000, David Quammen was the guest editor – an actual “science and nature writer”. The next year it was E.O. Wilson. Close enough. But the farther they get from the original hatching of the idea, the farther the guest editors get from the science and nature writing theme. This year? Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist. I don’t even know what that is but I can assure you his taste in science and nature writing is far more dry and human-centric than my own (and, I’m guessing, much of the readership for this series). I can excuse dedicating 82 pages to “Technology”, even though a couple of the articles were real clunkers. But to then dedicate only 57 pages to “Animals”, and within those few pages to include, for example, an article on the development of a human endurance drug simply because it is being tested on lab mice – is despicable. And then to follow it with an “Animals” article about fighting Dengue fever, qualifying because it involves genetically-modified mosquitoes - is pathetic. Dan Ariely, you promised your kids a pet and bought them a virtual goldfish, didn’t you? To Tim Folger or whoever chooses the guest editors for this series: Do better next time. Please.

  • Billie Pritchett
    2019-02-11 05:42

    Best American Science and Nature Writing 2012 gets a three out of five, and not more, because I don't think many of the pieces were that memorable. That might say more about my memory rather than the editors' selection, so take this review however you'd like. Some of the pieces I do remember that were fascinating were the following:This whole "bitcoin" thing, where an anonymous guy made his own currency online and then got people interested in investing in it raises all sorts of new questions about the future of currency.Octopuses are quite smart and have very different personalities and temperaments.Whatever this jazz people call free will is, it's severely limited and instead of having a lot of control over our wills, we too often go along with negative feedback loops, repeating old bad habits time and time again. Luckily, however, some of these negative feedback loops can be overcome with technologies to exploit them, as in the case when people slow down as a result of their driving speed being displayed for them on a big digital sign that also acts as a speed detector.I'm sure there were other good articles, but those three were most memorable for me.

  • Angie Boyter
    2019-02-11 02:41

    "It was the best of the series; it was the worst of the series...." I have enjoyed this series for years. It features a guest editor, a prominent science writer or scientist who writes for the general public, who picks his or her of the science articles from publications for the general reader, under the general direction of the series editor, Tim Folger. It normally includes a very broad selection of topics in science and nature.This year Dan Ariely broke with tradition and has organized his selections according to a theme. As a result, the selection is much narrower. In many ways it makes for a more interesting read, but it also makes me feel I've not received what I have come to expect. Folger lists some "Runners up" at the end of the book, which I may feel more compelled to follow up than I normally would. I will also be more interested in its "competitor" series , The Best American Science Writing, which I had stopped reading because, for some odd reason, it is not available in electronic format.Highly recommended, but don't be disappointed if you have read and enjoyed this series in the past and do not find what you expected.

  • Killstorm
    2019-02-05 01:47

    As with all such collections of essays, even "Best ofs", there are those that will strike your fancy and those that won't. A distinct lack of astronomy for those interested in those topics.My favorite pieces involved:1) An overview of eczema2) The intelligence of octopi3) Our increasing knowledge of brain chemistry and how this impacts the law4) The science of crowd behavior dynamics5) The Turing TestThe other essays dealt with:1) Bacteria in the body2) The rise of childhood allergies3) The history of feathers4) Reverse engineering a dinosaur5) Making a better mouse6) Genetically modified mosquitoes7) Ant society8) Pheromones9) Human ancestors10) The mind to save the ocean (my least favorite)11) Feedback loops to improve humans12) Risk perception13) The teenage brain14) Atmospheric chemistry and mercury15) The positives of urbanization16) Developing meat in vitro17) Moderinst cuisine18) quantum computing and many worlds19) bitcoin and who created it

  • Joyita
    2019-01-23 05:49

    The majority of the individual pieces are pretty well-written and a handful of them quite intriguing. However, they don't stick together well as a compilation, making them less gripping in a book format. My primary expectation from this book was to have a good overview about different "sizzling" current topics and my hope was that good writing would make this process enjoyable. However, with the general disconnect between topics, it failed to sustain my interest. I could not gather much when I tried chapter hopping and first paragraph skimming. The titles are ornamental, there are no chapter "abstracts," and the introductory paragraphs for several of the articles are quite discursive. So "skimming" wasn't exactly helpful. I decided to move on from this book after making my way through about a third of it.

  • Kelly
    2019-02-14 04:35

    First I need to state that I didn't read every essay in this collection. I spent the past few months skipping around and only reading the ones that caught my interest, so I find it very difficult to rate this collection as a whole. Some of the ones that stand out in my memory include The Peanut Puzzle by Jerome Groopman andThe Long, Curious, Extravagant Evolution of Feathers by Carl Zimmer, but by far the best essay in this collection was Deep Intellect, by Sy Montgomery. If I was rating the entire book on that essay, and that essay alone, I would give it five stars. It's the kind of essay that I want to make people read, which is really the best kind of essay, in my opinion. I'll also admit that this is the first of the series that I have read, and I'm curious now how this collection compares to others in the series.

  • Jennifer
    2019-01-27 02:48

    I look forward to this collection every year and as usual, 2012 does not disappoint. Recommended wholeheartedly.*Viewed from the perspective of most of its inhabitants, your body is not so much the temple and vessel of the human soul as it is a complex ambulatory feeding mechanism for a methane reactor in your small intestine.* Brendan Buhler, The Teeming Metropolis of You*Then she went to college and landed her first "real" job: ridgidly procedural data entry. She thought back longinly to her barista days - when her job actually made demands of her intelligence.*Brian Christian, Mind vs. Machine

  • Tim Anderson
    2019-02-01 07:59

    I actually like the writing and would give it 4 stars but the ebook is poorly constructed so that it can't be read in "night mode." In night mode, every page is blank. I think the problem is that they are "hardcoding" the font color to be black so that then if the reader changes the background to black, everything disappears.It is equivalent to buying a paperback book and finding out that the pages are printed such that they can't be read outdoors. Sure, the author and publisher should be allowed to do so if they wish but they should provide their reasoning. Otherwise, buyers can't find out until after they purchase it. The result is that it is really a defective e-book.

  • Colleen
    2019-01-24 01:58

    I don't read this series regularly, but I'm glad I picked this one up. The stories are organized into six sections (bacteria/microorganisms, animals, humans (the good), humans (the bad), society and environment, technology). I thought the stories about links between the bacteria that live in/on us and our health were the most interesting, but there's something in there for everyone (and Eagleman's article on how to deal with how understanding the brain (i.e., the mind) complicates legal definitions of guilt should be required reading for everyone).

  • Jenny
    2019-01-28 04:56

    I love the Best American Science and Nature series. The articles they choose are almost always fascinating. Sometimes the science is a little suspicious, but as quick entertaining bits before bed they cannot be beaten. In this volume, the only story that I thought was a dud was the story on nano-Computers. Other than that there is Vat Meat, the food obsessed former Microsoft guy and his 1000000 page book on molecular gastronomy, a guy trying to reverse engineer a dinosaur from chickens, and all kinds of other interesting stories.

  • Aaron
    2019-02-11 01:32

    I really enjoyed most of the science articles in this collection, but it was clear that Dan Ariely's personal interests in behavioral economics heavily influenced which articles he chose to include in this book. At first, I was a little bothered by that. I felt ripped off because none of the articles in the book discussed an issue relating to astronomy, an area of science that I find fascinating. But as I continued to read the various articles, I realized that each one had something very important to say about us as humans, and that is what good science writing should do.

  • Michael
    2019-01-29 04:31

    I continue to enjoy this series because the articles don't focus on one particular area of science. This particular collection was light on the nature side, but it includes some interesting sections on microorganisms and computers. Although I am no closer to understanding quantum computers than I was before I read "Dream Machines," other articles always compensate for those that don't pique my interest. The final article of this collection (about artificial intelligence) was one of the best, so it leaves you wanting to read next year's edition.

  • Jess
    2019-02-17 02:30

    This got recalled before I could finish it, but I've been skipping around in here and really enjoying every thing I've read so far. There is a diverse assortment of material in here, but the writing is consistently exceptional.Picked this back up. "Deep Intellect" by Sy Montgomery was absolutely fascinating. I really enjoyed everything in here on animals, from ants to meat to creating a dinosaur from a chicken. Great selection. I look forward to reading more from this series.

  • Angela
    2019-01-28 02:54

    As usual, a series of fun and informative essays spanning the last year in science. These tended more towards human-centric stuff (Ariely's bent, as a social scientist), with some of the essays being no more than profiles of prominent scientists (interesting as they were!). As a social scientist and familiar with Ariely's work, I actually felt like I didn't learn too much with this collection. But it did push me a bit, and it was just plain interesting overall.

  • Bertport
    2019-01-30 02:31

    I appreciate the exposure to recent science journalism, and particularly enjoyed learning about bitcoins, the Loebner Prize, and the comeback of urbanization partly in response to concerns about carbon footprint. A strong finish. The book also had a strong start, with the first sentence of the first essay: "You are mostly not you." But I think I would get more out of reading some of the honest-to-god books written by the likes of Dawkins, McPhee, Gould, and Wilson.

  • Kevin
    2019-01-31 06:36

    I didn't enjoy this collection of essays as much as other volumes. With the exception of the last few essays, I felt like the collection had a very specific, narrow point of view, a mix of politics and philosophy, that it kept forcing onto the reader. The essays themselves weren't particularly well-written or engaging. The last few essays (e.g. Mad Science and Crypto-currency) were closer to what I expected for the entire volume: engaging, quirky, and informative.

  • P. A.
    2019-01-28 02:56

    It might be a recency effect, but I found the last few articles especially gripping. Some of my favorites were Dream Machine by Galchen, Cryptocurrency by Davis, Mind vs. Machine by Christian. Others include Crush Point by Seabrook, Feedback Loop by Goetz, Touchy Feely Method of Wallace J. Nichols by Roberts, and Ants and the Art of War by Moffett.Overall, this edition was quite eclectic; great for those who like to read about interesting obscurities.

  • John
    2019-01-28 04:46

    Aside from David Eagleman's utterly creepy article on brain development in, for instance, mass killers and a couple of others about our body's bacterial ecosystems nothing here that was particularly memorable---though the general quality of the writing and thinking seemed above average. It is notable, I think, to see how many of the entries came from the New Yorker rather than a science or tech magazine.