Episode #261: Book Summary: Behave - The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert Sapolsky

September 29, 2018

If you’re anything like me then you have a thirst for knowledge and consume a lot of content, whether it be through books, audiobooks, podcasts, blog posts, keynotes, conversations or a combination of all of the aforementioned. And if you’re anything like me you wish you retained more of what you actually consumed so that you could easily recall it later, either to support your work or a conversation you are having. I have previously published an article on learning how to learn in which I detailed some of the different methods I use to retain more of what I consume which included techniques like typing out the notes I highlight in a book, incorporating what I’ve learned into a blog post, otherwise teaching others what I’ve learned and best of all, applying what I’ve learned. However, while the aforementioned techniques all work really well for remembering bits and pieces of a book for example, it didn’t help me to retain all of the key points. So I’ve decided to start writing book summaries, not only to aid my own learning and retention of key pieces of information, but also to help you accelerate your learning.

While I am definitely not at the level of some autodidacts I know, during a typical year I read about 40 books, listen to about 20 audiobooks, listen to at least 500 podcast episodes, read countless blog posts and have over 100 conversations on my podcast with thought leaders in their field. As such, I hope to bring you a lot of value by doing these books summaries, which will also be available on my podcast. I’ve decided to kick things off with neuroendocrinologist Robert Sapolsky’s 2017 book, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, which has been the best book I’ve read this year by far. I distilled the 680 page book into 40 Google Doc pages of notes and now aim to further distill some of the key points into this blog post for your consumption.

The one thing I absolutely loved about this book is that it clearly demonstrates how taking sides in life is fraught with folly. Time and time again throughout this book Sapolsky will point to various studies and arguments that convince you of one position, only to pull the rug out from underneath your feet with an equally compelling counterargument. Becoming more comfortable with the notion of ‘strong opinions, weakly held’ and seeking out information not only to prove or validate your view but also to discredit and invalidate it, will lead to the ‘more right’ solution. However, when it comes to almost anything, we can almost never say we are absolutely right because there are so many potential variables and bits of information that we’re just not taking into account. We can only ever make the ‘most right’ decision in the moment based on the information that we have at our disposal, how we choose to interpret that information, what our goals are and over what period of time we wish to achieve them.

Author: Robert Morris Sapolsky (born April 6, 1957) is an American neuroendocrinologist and author. He is currently a professor of biology, and professor of neurology and neurological sciences and, by courtesy, neurosurgery, at Stanford University. He has appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience.

Length: 680 pages

Premise: The book aims to answer, or at least help us to better understand the possible answers to the question, “why did the chicken cross the road?” The chicken of course is proverbial for us, human beings.

Rating: 11/10 (this goes up to eleven!)

Get the book: www.amazon.com/Behave-Biology-Hu…rst/dp/1594205078

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About steve glaveski

Your host and occasional cybernetic organism, Steve Glaveski, is committed to helping people better navigate the growing uncertainty that technology change brings, in order to survive, thrive, create more value for the world and lead more fulfilling lives.

Steve is the CEO and co-founder of innovation accelerator Collective Campus, founder of children's entrepreneurship program Lemonade Stand, author of Amazon best-seller The Innovation Manager's Handbook and the Wiley books, Time Rich, and Employee to Entrepreneur, investor in blockchain based fractional property investment platform Konkrete and is a keynote speaker and startup advisor.

When not fighting T-1000s Steve can be found in the gym, hiking, skating at the beach, attempting standup comedy, at a heavy metal show or socially lubricating at a whisky bar.

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