Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 1992.
Though we share 98 percent of our genes with the chimpanzee, our species evolved into something quite extraordinary. Jared Diamond explores the fascinating question of what in less than 2 percent of our genes has enabled us to found civilizations and religions, develop intricate languages, create art, learn science—and acquire the capacity to destroy all our achievements overnight. The Third Chimpanzee is a tour de force, an iconoclastic, entertaining, sometimes alarming look at the unique and marvelous creature that is the human animal.
This enthralling book alerts us to nothing less than the existence of new varieties of life. Some of these species can move and eat, see, reproduce, and die. Some behave like birds or ants. One such life form may turn out to be our best weapon in the war against AIDS.
What these species have in common is that they exist inside computers, their DNA is digital, and they have come into being not through God’s agency but through the efforts of a generation of scientists who seek to create life in silico.
But even as it introduces us to these brilliant heretics and unravels the intricacies of their work. Artificial Life examines its subject’s dizzying philosophical implications: Is a self-replicating computer program any less alive than a flu virus? Are carbon-and-water-based entities merely part of the continuum of living things? And is it possible that one day “a-life” will look back at human beings and dismiss us as an evolutionary way station—or, worse still, a dead end?
Consciousness is notoriously difficult to explain. On one hand, there are facts about conscious experience—the way clarinets sound, the way lemonade tastes—that we know subjectively, from the inside. On the other hand, such facts are not readily accommodated in the objective world described by science. How, after all, could the reediness of clarinets or the tartness of lemonade be predicted in advance? Central to Daniel C. Dennett’s attempt to resolve this dilemma is the “heterophenomenological” method, which treats reports of introspection nontraditionally—not…
If you are among the 10 percent of people who happen to be left-handed, you’ve had to endure such derisive terms as “gauche” and “a left-handed compliment.” At school you may have been forced to write with your right hand. And in another century your proclivity might have gotten you accused of witchcraft.
Any left-handed person, or the spouse, parent, or friend of one, will be captivated by this essential and eye-opening book. With bracing wit and a flawless command of current research, psychologist Stanley Coren answers such questions as:
Is left-handedness acquired genetically or socially?
Are southpaws more creative than their right-handed fellows?
Why do left-handers seem to die younger than right-handers?
What can left-handers do to counteract the perils and prejudices that confront them in a world that leans to the right?