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Not So Different: Finding Human Nature in Animals

4.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231178327
ISBN-10: 0231178328
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Editorial Reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (May 17, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231178328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231178327
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #467,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By L. M. Nieves on August 27, 2016
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It seems to me that human beings spend a lot of time observing and discussing WHAT we do, and not enough time asking WHY we do things, unless we're navel-gazing and obsessing on our individual experiences ("My mom ignored me!" "My dad wanted me to be a jock!".) The fact that we're animals, and that all species of animals alive today exist as the result of the ongoing evolutionary process is something we tend to forget, or sweep under the rug, in an effort to make ourselves seem as if we're somehow BETTER than any other creatures that are part of the animal kingdom. The truth, of course, is that we're closely related to primates, and that many of our behaviors can be witnessed throughout the animal kingdom. As a lay person (as opposed to an expert in human or animal behavior) I appreciated the way this book was written and laid out. I especially enjoyed the anecdotal examples, in each section of the book, from throughout the animal kingdom, and the comparison to the human equivilants. The section on jealousy was probably my favorite. It's an emotion which often results in behavior that can be difficult for people to discuss, but an emotion that every person has felt, at one time or another. Reading about jealousy among apes and lions, and how/why jealous behavior serves some very practical purposes among these creatures really made me think differently about jealous/jealous behavior among human beings.

If you're interested in human behavior (and human nature) but the idea of reading an academic tome on the subject is daunting, this is a book worth picking up. The author is a specialist, but he doesn't bog this down in cryptic AcademiaSpeak. Instead, he's written an interesting, smart, clear, and even fun book on this subject that should appeal to a wide readership.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Plenty to feed the debate on animals, sentience and evolution of species as well as behaviours. We look at various animals and how humans are like or not like them in inherited or learned behaviours; pretty similar, is the message.

Experiments in social behaviour of chimps are cited, such as being rewarded for a task with either carrot or grape, and protesting if they only got the carrot or if they could see another chimp only getting carrot when they got a grape. Lents calls this intolerance of injustice, and notes that we are now observing it in many animals like dogs. I see it in cats and horses. I'm aware of plenty of experiments that were not covered by the book, such as when monkeys given currency started using it to buy food and were soon paying one another for sex. Some great clips of Sapolsky's work with baboons can be found on YouTube, not mentioned in the book.

Animals also mourn, whether death or separation. They offer glamour and fitness as an incentive to mate, just as humans promote goods with a glamorous model. They reflect human behaviour in many other ways, or do we reflect theirs? An interesting comment is from Stuart Brown, a leading expert on play, who says that play is not the opposite of work, but the opposite of depression. I can well believe this. Again we see play in many animals, even if they don't need it to learn hunting.

I am not sure who the intended reader would be. Anyone who understands animals already, doesn't remain to be convinced by this book. Anyone involved in studying animal psychology surely has better access to such studies as are mentioned. The most likely reader is someone who already sees human nature in their animals and wants to learn more.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is as well researched as it is well written. This is a big deal as science types don't always publish books that are reader-friendly. I've gotten a lot of insights into evolution and biology as a result, something I definitely would not have imagined ever happening
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Format: Hardcover
What a weird and wonderful book! As a lover of animals and science, this book had me hooked from the first page! A unique combination of biology, evolution, psychology and even a little humor. From every angle, we are tied to our animal brothers and sisters. Easy to read, yet extraordinarily educational! A must read!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really found this book amazing. I had no idea how like us many animals are. The intro is a little long but the chapters after that read well and make you look forward to the next chapter. A good book to travel with. It's funny and well written.
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