Junk Food Monkeys

In which there is plenty of monkey business.

Having had a bit of a strange assortment of books in my tbr pile lately, I started Robert Sapolskys Junk Food Monkeys after finishing with Moore. Not a continuous narrative like A Primate’s Memoir, Junk Food Monkeys is a collection of essays all dealing with the bordeline between biology and personality. Bravely, Sapolsky even considers what possible connections there are between our bodies chemical reactions and our belief in God (or other religious beliefs). Personally, I found some of the earlier essays more interesting, especially those dealing with the biology of psychological anormalities – are there really purely chemical reasons why some people are schitzophrenics? And are a lot of people walking around with a milder version of the same chemical configuration, resulting in just mildly odd or eccentic behaviour rather than actual illness? He also relates some interesting stories of how the availability of corpses for scientific research though the centuries has resulted in some very wrong conclusions and some serious errors in the treatment of patients. And can testosterone really be blamed for all the fact that all men are agressive idiots?

Sapolsky writes intelligently and readably (is that a word? probably not), and manages to balance the “populistic” aspect (this is a book anyone could read) with enough “meat” to make it interesting even if you know a lot on the subject already (or so I’ve been told by someone who does), and certainly makes it challenging enough for us mere mortals not to make me feel like I’m being talked down to, which is nice.