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A Monumental, but Flawed, Effort to Understand Behavior

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. By Robert M. Sapolsky. New York: Penguin Press, 2017. ISBN 978-1594205071. 790 pp. Hardcover, $35.00.

In his long (790 page), extensively referenced book I Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, neurobiologist and primatologist Robert Sapolsky attempts to uncover the cause and consequences of many aspects of human behavior employing techniques and results from neuroscience, evolution, psychology, sociology, molecular biology, genetics, and moral philosophy with a sociological bent. He begins his analysis and synthesis of behavioral data with the underlying neurobiological and hormonal causes of behavior. Later he focuses on fetal development, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Still later, he focuses on cultural and ecological factors that influence behavior. He spends considerable time on morality and less on religion.

In many places, Sapolsky plunges into controversial areas.

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