The Best Biology eBooks




Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior
by Leonard Mlodinow
Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior

Leonard Mlodinow, the best-selling author of The Drunkard’s Walk and coauthor of The Grand Design (with Stephen Hawking), gives us a startling and eye-opening examination of how the unconscious mind shapes our experience of the world and how, for instance, we often misperceive our relationships with family, friends, and business associates, misunderstand the reasons for our investment decisions, and misremember important events.

Your preference in politicians, the amount you tip your waiter — all judgments and perceptions reflect the workings of our mind on two levels: the conscious, of which we are aware, and the unconscious, which is hidden from us. The latter has long been the subject of speculation, but over the past two decades researchers have developed remarkable new tools for probing the hidden, or subliminal, workings of the mind. The result of this explosion of research is a new science of the unconscious and a sea change in our understanding of how the subliminal mind affects the way we live.

Employing his trademark wit and lucid, accessible explanations of the most obscure scientific subjects, Leonard Mlodinow takes us on a tour of this research, unraveling the complexities of the subliminal self and increasing our understanding of how the human mind works and how we interact with friends, strangers, spouses, and coworkers. In the process he changes our view of ourselves and the world around us.


 



The Social Conquest of Earth
by Edward O. Wilson
The Social Conquest of Earth

Where did we come from? What are we? Where are we going? In a generational work of clarity and passion, one of our greatest living scientists directly addresses these three fundamental questions of religion, philosophy, and science while “overturning the famous theory that evolution naturally encourages creatures to put family first” (Discover magazine). Refashioning the story of human evolution in a work that is certain to generate headlines, Wilson draws on his remarkable knowledge of biology and social behavior to show that group selection, not kin selection, is the primary driving force of human evolution. He proves that history makes no sense without prehistory, and prehistory makes no sense without biology. Demonstrating that the sources of morality, religion, and the creative arts are fundamentally biological in nature, Wilson presents us with the clearest explanation ever produced as to the origin of the human condition and why it resulted in our domination of the Earth’s biosphere.


 



Free Will
by Sam Harris
Free Will

Belief in free will touches nearly everything that human beings value. It is difficult to think about law, politics, religion, public policy, intimate relationships, morality — as well as feelings of remorse or personal achievement — without first imagining that every person is the true source of his or her thoughts and actions. And yet the facts tell us that free will is an illusion.

In this enlightening book, Sam Harris argues that this truth about the human mind does not undermine morality or diminish the importance of social and political freedom, but it can and should change the way we think about some of the most important questions in life.


 



This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking
by John Brockman
This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking

Featuring a foreword by David Brooks, This Will Make You Smarter presents brilliant — but accessible — ideas to expand every mind.

What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit? This is the question John Brockman, publisher of Edge. org, posed to the world’s most influential thinkers. Their visionary answers flow from the frontiers of psychology, philosophy, economics, physics, sociology, and more. Surprising and enlightening, these insights will revolutionize the way you think about yourself and the world.

Daniel Kahneman on the “focusing illusion” • Jonah Lehrer on controlling attention • Richard Dawkins on experimentation • Aubrey De Grey on conquering our fear of the unknown • Martin Seligman on the ingredients of well-being • Nicholas Carr on managing “cognitive load” • Steven Pinker on win-win negotiating • Daniel C. Dennett on benefiting from cycles • Jaron Lanier on resisting delusion • Frank Wilczek on the brain’s hidden layers • Clay Shirky on the “80/20 rule” • Daniel Goleman on understanding our connection to the natural world • V. S. Ramachandran on paradigm shifts • Matt Ridley on tapping collective intelligence • John McWhorter on path dependence • Lisa Randall on effective theorizing • Brian Eno on “ecological vision” • Richard Thaler on rooting out false concepts • J. Craig Venter on the multiple possible origins of life • Helen Fisher on temperament • Sam Harris on the flow of thought • Lawrence Krauss on living with uncertainty


 



Meet Your Happy Chemicals: Dopamine, Endorphin, Oxytocin, Serotonin
by Loretta Graziano Breuning
Meet Your Happy Chemicals: Dopamine, Endorphin, Oxytocin, Serotonin

You can enjoy more happy chemicals if you know what turns them on. In the state of nature, happy chemicals turn on to meet survival needs. Whatever met your needs in youth triggered happy chemicals and paved your neural pathways. You are wired to seek more of whatever felt good before. You can re-wire yourself by repeating a new behavior for 45 days. This book helps you choose healthy ways to stimulate dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphin. Dopamine is the good feeling you get when you approach a reward. Serotonin is the good feeling of getting respect. Oxytocin is the feeling of trust, and endorphin is the euphoria that masks physical pain. These happy chemicals were not meant to surge all the time. They fall back to neutral so you're ready to respond to new information. You can accept your natural droops instead of rushing to fix them. You have power when you know how your brain works, and it feels good.


 



The End of Illness
by David B. Agus
The End of Illness

Can we live robustly until our last breath?

Do we have to suffer from debilitating conditions and sickness? Is it possible to add more vibrant years to our lives? In the #1 New York Times bestselling The End of Illness, Dr. David Agus tackles these fundamental questions and dismantles misperceptions about what “health” really means. Presenting an eye-opening picture of the human body and all the ways it works — and fails — Dr. Agus shows us how a new perspective on our individual health will allow us to achieve a long, vigorous life.

Offering insights and access to powerful new technologies that promise to transform medicine, Dr. Agus emphasizes his belief that there is no “right” answer, no master guide that is “one size fits all.” Each one of us must get to know our bodies in uniquely personal ways, and he shows us exactly how to do that. A bold call for all of us to become our own personal health advocates, The End of Illness is a moving departure from orthodox thinking.


 



Thinking, Fast and Slow
by Daniel Kahneman
Thinking, Fast and Slow

In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities — and also the faults and biases — of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior. The impact of loss aversion and overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the challenges of properly framing risks at work and at home, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning the next vacation — each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems work together to shape our judgments and decisions.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives — and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Thinking, Fast and Slow will transform the way you think about thinking.


 



You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself
by David McRaney
You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself

An entertaining illumination of the stupid beliefs that make us feel wise.

Whether you’re deciding which smart phone to purchase or which politician to believe, you think you are a rational being whose every decision is based on cool, detached logic, but here’s the truth: You are not so smart. You’re just as deluded as the rest of us-but that’s okay, because being deluded is part of being human.

Growing out of David McRaney’s popular blog, You Are Not So Smart reveals that every decision we make, every thought we contemplate, and every emotion we feel comes with a story we tell ourselves to explain them, but often these stories aren’t true. Each short chapter-covering topics such as Learned Helplessness, Selling Out, and the Illusion of Transparency-is like a psychology course with all the boring parts taken out.

Bringing together popular science and psychology with humor and wit, You Are Not So Smart is a celebration of our irrational, thoroughly human behavior.


 



The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True
by Richard Dawkins, Dave McKean
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True

Magic takes many forms. Supernatural magic is what our ancestors used in order to explain the world before they developed the scientific method. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods’ bridge to earth. The Japanese used to explain earthquakes by conjuring a gigantic catfish that carried the world on its back — earthquakes occurred each time it flipped its tail. These are magical, extraordinary tales. But there is another kind of magic, and it lies in the exhilaration of discovering the real answers to these questions. It is the magic of reality — science.

Packed with clever thought experiments, dazzling illustrations and jaw-dropping facts, The Magic of Reality explains a stunningly wide range of natural phenomena. What is stuff made of? How old is the universe? Why do the continents look like disconnected pieces of a puzzle? What causes tsunamis? Why are there so many kinds of plants and animals? Who was the first man, or woman? This is a page-turning, graphic detective story that not only mines all the sciences for its clues but primes the reader to think like a scientist as well.

Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous evolutionary biologist and one of science education’s most passionate advocates, has spent his career elucidating the wonders of science for adult readers. But now, in a dramatic departure, he has teamed up with acclaimed artist Dave McKean and used his unrivaled explanatory powers to share the magic of science with readers of all ages. This is a treasure trove for anyone who has ever wondered how the world works. Dawkins and McKean have created an illustrated guide to the secrets of our world — and the universe beyond — that will entertain and inform for years to come.


 



1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created
by Charles C. Mann
1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

Over 200 million years ago, geological forces split apart the continents. They developed different suites of flora & fauna. When Columbus came to the Americas, he ended that separation. Driven by the goal of establishing trade with China, he accidentally set off an ecological convulsion as European vessels carried thousands of species to new environs.

The Columbian Exchange, as researchers call it, is why there are tomatoes in Italy, oranges in Florida, chocolates in Switzerland & chili peppers in Thailand. More important, creatures colonists knew nothing about hitched along. Earthworms, mosquitoes & cockroaches; honeybees, dandelions & African grasses; bacteria, fungi & viruses; rats of every description — all rushed like eager tourists into lands that had never seen their like, changing lives & landscapes.

Eight decades later, a Spaniard named Legazpi succeeded where Columbus had failed. He sailed west to establish continual trade with China, then the richest, most powerful country. In Manila, a city Legazpi founded, American silver, mined by African & Indian slaves, was sold to Asians in return for silk for Europeans. It was the 1st time that goods & people from every part of the globe were connected in a single worldwide exchange. Much as Columbus created a new world biologically, Legazpi & Spain created a new world economically.

The Columbian Exchange underlies much of subsequent history. Presenting the latest research by ecologists, anthropologists, archaeologists & historians, Mann shows how the creation of this worldwide network of ecological & economic exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated China, convulsed Africa & for two centuries made Mexico City-where Asia, Europe & the new frontier of the Americas interacted-the center of the world. In such encounters, he uncovers the germ of today’s political disputes, from immigration to trade policy to culture wars.


 



The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World
by David Deutsch
The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World

Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the Year A bold and all-embracing exploration of the nature and progress of knowledge from one of today's great thinkers.

Throughout history, mankind has struggled to understand life's mysteries, from the mundane to the seemingly miraculous. In this important new book, David Deutsch, an award-winning pioneer in the field of quantum computation, argues that explanations have a fundamental place in the universe. They have unlimited scope and power to cause change, and the quest to improve them is the basic regulating principle not only of science but of all successful human endeavor. This stream of ever improving explanations has infinite reach, according to Deutsch: we are subject only to the laws of physics, and they impose no upper boundary to what we can eventually understand, control, and achieve.

In his previous book, The Fabric of Reality, Deutsch describe the four deepest strands of existing knowledge-the theories of evolution, quantum physics, knowledge, and computation-arguing jointly they reveal a unified fabric of reality. In this new book, he applies that worldview to a wide range of issues and unsolved problems, from creativity and free will to the origin and future of the human species. Filled with startling new conclusions about human choice, optimism, scientific explanation, and the evolution of culture, The Beginning of Infinity is a groundbreaking book that will become a classic of its kind.


 



The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths
by Michael Shermer
The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths

The Believing Brain is bestselling author Michael Shermer's comprehensive and provocative theory on how beliefs are born, formed, reinforced, challenged, changed, and extinguished.

In this work synthesizing thirty years of research, psychologist, historian of science, and the world's best-known skeptic Michael Shermer upends the traditional thinking about how humans form beliefs about the world. Simply put, beliefs come first and explanations for beliefs follow. The brain, Shermer argues, is a belief engine. From sensory data flowing in through the senses, the brain naturally begins to look for and find patterns, and then infuses those patterns with meaning. Our brains connect the dots of our world into meaningful patterns that explain why things happen, and these patterns become beliefs. Once beliefs are formed the brain begins to look for and find confirmatory evidence in support of those beliefs, which accelerates the process of reinforcing them, and round and round the process goes in a positive-feedback loop of belief confirmation. Shermer outlines the numerous cognitive tools our brains engage to reinforce our beliefs as truths.

Interlaced with his theory of belief, Shermer provides countless real-world examples of how this process operates, from politics, economics, and religion to conspiracy theories, the supernatural, and the paranormal. Ultimately, he demonstrates why science is the best tool ever devised to determine whether or not a belief matches reality.


 



Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain
by David Eagleman
Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain

'Kendimizle aramızdaki fark, bir başkasıyla aramızdaki fark kadar büyüktür. ' -Montaigne-

Siz daha tehlikeyi algılamadan, ayağınızı fren pedalının üstüne götüren kim? Neden sır saklamakta böylesine başarısız, nedenini bilmeden birini çekici bulmakta bu kadar başarılıyız? Eğer bilinçli zihin, yani sabah uyandığınızda sizinle birlikte uyanan ben, buzdağının yalnızca görünen kısmıysa, zihninizin geri kalanı tüm bir ömür neyle iştigal etmekte?

Ünlü nörobilimci David Eagleman, 20 dilde yayımlanan ve neredeyse şimdiden klasikleşen kitabı Incognito ile beynimizin derinlerine dalarak, yaptığımız, düşündüğümüz ya da hissettiklerimizin çok büyük bir kısmının bizden başka bir biz tarafından yönetildiğini ürkütücü bir berraklıkla ortaya koyuyor. Sadakat geninden sizi olmadığınız birine dönüştüren beyin zedelenmelerine; optik yanılsamalardan striptizcilerin neden ayın belirli zamanlarında daha çok para kazandığına; Truva fatihi Odysseus'tan renkleri işitip biçimleri tadabilen sinestezik insanlara kadar geniş bir yelpazeden vakaları ve araştırmaları bir araya getiren Incognito, beynimizin işleyişi ve çelişkileri hakkında olağanüstü bir keşif yolculuğu sunuyor.

"Bir kitap okudum, hayatım değişti."
-İsmet Berkan-Hürriyet

"Zihniniz bu kitap için size teşekkür edecek."
-Wired-


 



Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army & Other Diabolical Insects
by Amy Stewart, Briony Morrow-Cribbs
Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army & Other Diabolical Insects

In this darkly comical look at the sinister side of our relationship with the natural world, Stewart has tracked down over one hundred of our worst entomological foes — creatures that infest, infect, and generally wreak havoc on human affairs. From the world’s most painful hornet, to the flies that transmit deadly diseases, to millipedes that stop traffic, to the “bookworms” that devour libraries, to the Japanese beetles munching on your roses, Wicked Bugs delves into the extraordinary powers of many-legged creatures. With wit, style, and exacting research, Stewart has uncovered the most terrifying and titillating stories of bugs gone wild. It’s an A to Z of insect enemies, interspersed with sections that explore bugs with kinky sex lives (“She’s Just Not That Into You”), creatures lurking in the cupboard (“Fear No Weevil”), insects eating your tomatoes (“Gardener’s Dirty Dozen”), and phobias that feed our (sometimes) irrational responses to bugs (“Have No Fear”). Intricate and strangely beautiful etchings and drawings by Briony Morrow-Cribbs capture diabolical bugs of all shapes and sizes in this mixture of history, science, murder, and intrigue that begins — but doesn’t end — in your own backyard.


 



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
The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good

A leading brain scientist's look at the neurobiology of pleasure-and how pleasures can become addictions.

Whether eating, taking drugs, engaging in sex, or doing good deeds, the pursuit of pleasure is a central drive of the human animal. In The Compass of Pleasure Johns Hopkins neuroscientist David J. Linden explains how pleasure affects us at the most fundamental level: in our brain.

As he did in his award-winning book, The Accidental Mind, Linden combines cutting-edge science with entertaining anecdotes to illuminate the source of the behaviors that can lead us to ecstasy but that can easily become compulsive. Why are drugs like nicotine and heroin addictive while LSD is not? Why has the search for safe appetite suppressants been such a disappointment? The Compass of Pleasure concludes with a provocative consideration of pleasure in the future, when it may be possible to activate our pleasure circuits at will and in entirely novel patterns.


 



Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
by Joshua Foer
Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

Foer's unlikely journey from chronically forgetful science journalist to U. S. Memory Champion frames a revelatory exploration of the vast, hidden impact of memory on every aspect of our lives.

On average, people squander forty days annually compensating for things they've forgotten. Joshua Foer used to be one of those people. But after a year of memory training, he found himself in the finals of the U. S. Memory Championship. Even more important, Foer found a vital truth we too often forget: In every way that matters, we are the sum of our memories.

Moonwalking with Einstein draws on cutting-edge research, a surprising cultural history of memory, and venerable tricks of the mentalist's trade to transform our understanding of human remembering. Under the tutelage of top "mental athletes, " he learns ancient techniques once employed by Cicero to memorize his speeches and by Medieval scholars to memorize entire books. Using methods that have been largely forgotten, Foer discovers that we can all dramatically improve our memories.

Immersing himself obsessively in a quirky subculture of competitive memorizers, Foer learns to apply techniques that call on imagination as much as determination-showing that memorization can be anything but rote. From the PAO system, which converts numbers into lurid images, to the memory palace, in which memories are stored in the rooms of imaginary structures, Foer's experience shows that the World Memory Championships are less a test of memory than of perseverance and creativity.

Foer takes his inquiry well beyond the arena of mental athletes-across the country and deep into his own mind. In San Diego, he meets an affable old man with one of the most severe case of amnesia on record, where he learns that memory is at once more elusive and more reliable than we might think. In Salt Lake City, he swaps secrets with a savant who claims to have memorized more than nine thousand books. At a high school in the South Bronx, he finds a history teacher using twenty- five-hundred-year-old memory techniques to give his students an edge in the state Regents exam.

At a time when electronic devices have all but rendered our individual memories obsolete, Foer's bid to resurrect the forgotten art of remembering becomes an urgent quest. Moonwalking with Einstein brings Joshua Foer to the apex of the U. S. Memory Championship and readers to a profound appreciation of a gift we all possess but that too often slips our minds.


 



The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions
by David Quammen
The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions

David Quammen's book, The Song of the Dodo, is a brilliant, stirring work, breathtaking in its scope, far-reaching in its message — a crucial book in precarious times, which radically alters the way in which we understand the natural world and our place in that world. It's also a book full of entertainment and wonders.
In The Song of the Dodo, we follow Quammen's keen intellect through the ideas, theories, and experiments of prominent naturalists of the last two centuries. We trail after him as he travels the world, tracking the subject of island biogeography, which encompasses nothing less than the study of the origin and extinction of all species. Why is this island idea so important? Because islands are where species most commonly go extinct — and because, as Quammen points out, we live in an age when all of Earth's landscapes are being chopped into island-like fragments by human activity.
Through his eyes, we glimpse the nature of evolution and extinction, and in so doing come to understand the monumental diversity of our planet, and the importance of preserving its wild landscapes, animals, and plants. We also meet some fascinating human characters. By the book's end we are wiser, and more deeply concerned, but Quammen leaves us with a message of excitement and hope.


 



The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive
by Brian Christian
The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive

The Most Human Human is a provocative, exuberant, and profound exploration of the ways in which computers are reshaping our ideas of what it means to be human. Its starting point is the annual Turing Test, which pits artificial intelligence programs against people to determine if computers can “think.”

Named for computer pioneer Alan Turing, the Tur­ing Test convenes a panel of judges who pose questions — ranging anywhere from celebrity gossip to moral conundrums — to hidden contestants in an attempt to discern which is human and which is a computer. The machine that most often fools the panel wins the Most Human Computer Award. But there is also a prize, bizarre and intriguing, for the Most Human Human.

In 2008, the top AI program came short of passing the Turing Test by just one astonishing vote. In 2009, Brian Christian was chosen to participate, and he set out to make sure Homo sapiens would prevail.

The author’s quest to be deemed more human than a com­puter opens a window onto our own nature. Interweaving modern phenomena like customer service “chatbots” and men using programmed dialogue to pick up women in bars with insights from fields as diverse as chess, psychiatry, and the law, Brian Christian examines the philosophical, bio­logical, and moral issues raised by the Turing Test.

One central definition of human has been “a being that could reason.” If computers can reason, what does that mean for the special place we reserve for humanity?


 



The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human
by V.S. Ramachandran
The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human

V. S. Ramachandran is at the forefront of his field-so much so that Richard Dawkins dubbed him the "Marco Polo of neuroscience." Now, in a major new work, Ramachandran sets his sights on the mystery of human uniqueness. Taking us to the frontiers of neurology, he reveals what baffling and extreme case studies can teach us about normal brain function and how it evolved. Synesthesia becomes a window into the brain mechanisms that make some of us more creative than others. And autism — for which Ramachandran opens a new direction for treatment — gives us a glimpse of the aspect of being human that we understand least: self-awareness. Ramachandran tackles the most exciting and controversial topics in neurology with a storyteller's eye for compelling case studies and a researcher's flair for new approaches to age-old questions. Tracing the strange links between neurology and behavior, this book unveils a wealth of clues into the deepest mysteries of the human brain.


 






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