Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst



Speaking of citations, this book provides an amazing attempt to answer the question “why do we do the things we do?”. By looking deep inside the brain, starting from a microscopic scale all the way to regions of the brain controlling human behavior, this book showcases of what modern science understands about human behavior. 


I wish my comments can do justice to the insights provided by the book. Instead, I will cover a few snippets I remember.


  1. There is a common misunderstanding that testosterone “causes” aggressive behavior and thus why so many more males are in jail than females. It is in fact shown that testosterone merely “amplifies” existing aggressive behavior and thinking. If you don’t want to attack someone, having more testosterone will not make you into a killer. However, the “belief” that “testosterone causes aggressive behavior” and “man should act manly” serves as an excuse or a trigger for aggressive behavior and thus it’s not your hormones that kill, but your cultural beliefs. 


  1. The concept of someone being guilty exists long before law and civilization, and yet it is a vibrant field that underwent many changes recently. It was widely perceived not long ago that people with illusions and psychopaths are guilty of their behavior. Now we understand that these people are no more guilty than the guy accidentally dropping a knife while he sneezes. And yet the line we drew in our society does not fully cover upbringing and social impacts on someone. If you are abused during childhood, poor, bullied, then you will be lucky if you come out of all this a normal human being. And yet we still think those people are guilty despite the things they suffered when they were 6 years old. 


(I will not go into the recursive question of what causes one more likely to believe in one thing over another)


If any of those arguments interests you, then I would definitely recommend this book.