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The Best American Science and Nature Writing…
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The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2004 (2004)

by Steven Pinker (Editor), Tim Folger (Series Editor)

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I'm going to read all of these. Tegmark's article in this one is the best ( )
  BakuDreamer | Sep 7, 2013 |
Another wonderful edition to the series. Pinker in his introduction says the best science articles "delight by instructing" and goes on to explain the lessons of each of the articles. Thus the Introduction adds a new dimension that some others in this series are missing, a master teacher explaining why some ideas are so important. After reading the Introduction last, I realized that the articles I didn't give much thought too were some of the most important, while the ones I thought were best were more lightweight. Such is the case when crossing minds with Steven Pinker. Although written in 2003, most of the articles have aged well, Pinker largely stayed away from topical hot button newsy articles.

My favorite articles include "The Bittersweet Science" in which Austin Bunn transports us back to the early 20th century and re-creates the period just before the discovery of the cause of diabetes and its cure insulin, a reminder of how lucky we are today. In "Desperate Measures" Atul Gawande takes us another trip into the history of medicine, profiling Francis Moore one of the most important surgeons of the 20th century whose seemingly reckless experimentation killed thousands and ultimately saved millions. In "Caring for your Introvert" Jonathan Rauch describes and explains the 25% of the population who would rather just be left alone most of the time, thank you very much, but does so lovingly and without judgment. In "Sex Week at Yale" Ron Rosenbaum attends a sex conference at Yale where he humorously observes academia off the deep end. In "The Cousin Marriage Conundrum" Steve Sailer explains that over 40% of marriages in Iraq are between first cousins, creating a social dynamic completely different from our own experience. This was the best article of the book as it has totally changed my perspective on the Middle East and Arab culture, very important and fascinating. Iraq is like the worst Appalachia county of inbred family fighting Hatfield and McCoys. Finally the most challenging article but also most mind expanding is "Parallel Universes" by Max Tegmark in `Scientific American`. He describes 4 theories on universes outside of the observable one. Somewhere out there in infinite space there is another person just like you.

--Review by Stephen Balbach, via CoolReading (c) 2008 cc-by-nd ( )
  Stbalbach | Dec 13, 2008 |
This compilation is a great collection of very accessible science/social science articles written for mainstream publications (Atlantic Monthly, New York Times Mag). I had read some in the originals (Caring for Your Introvert, Sex Week at Yale), and some were new to me. There are some very rational arguments for pharmaceutical/genetic enhancements and cloning. The Bird Watcher's General Store provides some hilarious insights about bird-related myths. Two articles on analysis of suicide bombers and cousin-marriage in Arab nations provide actual information about political reality instead of endless commentary and speculation. Some history of science pieces profile Watson, the early history of diabetes and transplant surgery. ( )
  bkohl | Mar 22, 2008 |
  sunnydale | Aug 15, 2006 |
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Pinker, StevenEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Folger, TimSeries Editormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618246983, Paperback)

Since its inception in 1915, the Best American series has become the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction. For each volume, a series editor reads pieces from hundreds of periodicals, then selects between fifty and a hundred outstanding works. That selection is pared down to the twenty or so very best pieces by a guest editor who is widely recognized as a leading writer in his or her field. This unique system has helped make the Best American series the most respected -- and most popular -- of its kind.
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2004, edited by Steven Pinker, is another "provocative and thoroughly enjoyable [collection] from start to finish" (Publishers Weekly). Here is the best and newest on science and nature: the psychology of suicide terrorism, desperate measures in surgery, the weird world of octopuses, Sex Week at Yale, the linguistics of click languages, the worst news about cloning, and much more.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:50 -0400)

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