Monday, July 26, 2010

Bozo Sapiens and Live a Little!

Book Club... And Then Some!

Bozo Sapiens: Why to Err is Human    

by Michael Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan

Book Review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.
This is a fabulous book: well-written, erudite, heavily supported by notes (26 pages out of 304 total), incredibly witty, full of examples and illustrations, with an excellent balance of depth and breadth.

If you are simply looking for a book that will both educate and entertain, this would be an excellent selection.

It is like a 100-level survey course in evolutionary psychology.  The Kaplans discuss the latest research in neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, evolutionary biology, cognitive and social psychology, behavioral finance, among other topics, and although any educated person will be familiar with some of their examples, their endless stream of hilarious anecdotes effectively explain and illustrate the dry research.

What makes this book a captivating page turner is their discussion of sensory mistakes, confirmation bias (motivational reasoning), errors in economics, as well as the stupid mistakes we make in both love and ethics.

If you want to know how the human brain works, depend on the Kaplans for a delightful treatise on human folly.

Live a Little! Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health
By Susan M. Love and Alice D. Domar

Book Review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.
I like this book; however, I think anyone who is fit and healthy likes to read the reinforcements to their lifestyle, and this is certainly one of those books.  It is designed for women not men, but men need a dose of reality as well.  The authors cover the areas of sleep, stress, preventive care, exercise, nutrition, and personal relationships.  It is an interesting and well-written book.

If you are already fit and healthy you certainly don’t need to read this book.  I found nothing new here that you wouldn’t have read (in sufficient supply) elsewhere, whether it is in the “Science” section of the New York Times or in the “Health” sections and columns of your weekly news magazine or newspaper. 

I do appreciate the specificity of their suggestions, and their little quizzes are enjoyable to take.  Their quiz (pp. 114-117) “Are Your Exercise Habits Pretty Healthy?, is designed for self-scoring, and when I looked at my score (18-24 points), I thought the result was well-written: “You are committed to working out without being a fanatic . . . “ At the top end of the scale, 25-30 points, the authors state: “ . . . consider seeking professional help.”  I’m a fanatic when it comes to “regular exercise,” but I don’t “groan in agony,” suffer “serious pain,” exercise seven days a week, or punish myself “for pigging out” (I don’t “pig out.”). 

The quiz on, “Are Your Eating Habits Pretty Healthy?” (pp. 158-161), also rewards (in the self-scoring portion) reasonableness.  Although 22-30 points is the top and the authors recommend lightening up—“Your extreme attitude prevents you from taking joy in your food, and probably leads to quite a bit of unhealthy stress.”  I like this approach, and it was followed as well in the quiz, “Are Your Relationships Pretty Healthy?” (pp. 187-191).

I thought their box, “How We Studied the Studies” (pp. 9-10) is a useful inclusion for any readers unfamiliar with statistics or statistical studies and their interpretation. 

The various boxes throughout the book, the addition of the personal experiences of both authors, the history and background of research and various recommendations, the use of “From the Trenches” by other authors and writers, and their final chapter, “A Pretty Healthy Life, Decade by Decade” (193-215) (20's -70's and beyond), I think, offers useful, commonsense advice.


These books are both available from Bozo Sapiens: Why to Err is Human and Live a Little! Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health

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