As a scientist, David Linden had devoted his career to
understanding the brain processes and behaviors that are common to
us all. That is, until a few years ago, when he found himself on
OKCupid. Looking through that vast catalog of human difference, he
got to thinking, where does it all come from? Why does one person
have perfect pitch, a taste for hoppy beer, and an aversion to
bathroom selfies? That is, what makes you, you, and me, me? In
Unique, David Linden tells a riveting and accessible story of human
individuality. Exploring topics that touch all of our lives-among
them sexuality, gender identity, food preferences, biological
rhythms, mood, personality, memory, and intelligence-Linden shows
that human individuality is not simply a matter of nature versus
nurture. Rather, it is a product of the complex, and often
counterintuitive, interplay between our genetic blueprints and our
experiences. Experience isn't just the how your parents reared you,
but the diseases you have had, the foods you have eaten, the
bacteria that reside in your body, the weather during your early
development, and the technology you've been exposed to. Drawing all
those factors together, Linden argues that human individuality is
key to how we live as individuals and groups and explores how
questions of individuality are informing social discussions of
morality, public policy, religion, healthcare, education, and law.
Like Carl Zimmer's She Has Her Mother's Laugh and Robert Sapolsky's
Behave, Unique unveils a new vista on the intricacies of human
existence. But, for all its brilliance and insight, this is no
weighty academic tome. Told with Linden's unusual combination of
authority and openness, seriousness of purpose and a great sense of
humor, Unique sets a new standard for what popular science can be.
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