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EXPLOREMY LIBRARY
 / Science
New Scientist The Collection

New Scientist The Collection Being You

New Scientist covers discoveries and ideas in science and technology that will change your life and the way you understand the world. New Scientist employs and commissions the best writers in their fields to provide in-depth but accessible coverage of the developments that matter. New Scientist: The Collection is a themed compilation of recent articles and special reports from our back catalogue, providing a book-length examination of some of the deepest questions known to humanity.

Country:
United Kingdom
Language:
English
Publisher:
New Scientist Ltd
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BUY ISSUE
£9.29

IN THIS ISSUE

2 min.
welcome to the handbook of you

IF YOU’RE reading this, then you must be a human being. And being human, you may think you know everything there is to know about it. But do you? Do you know, for example, why people have sex in private, why we can’t tickle ourselves, or why we yawn, itch and hiccup? Have you any idea how many pairs of shoes or underarm deodorants you’ll get through in your lifetime? Do you really know what makes you unique, what your body language says about you, why we are capable of evil and how we read other people’s minds? If you find you need answers to any of these, this issue of New Scientist: The Collection is for you. A compilation of classic articles from New Scientist, it takes a step back…

14 min.
the nature of the beast

WHAT sort of creature is the human? The obvious answer is a smart, talkative, upright ape with a penchant for material possessions. But what about the more subtle concept of human nature? That is more controversial. Some deny it exists, preferring to believe that we can be anything we want to be. They cannot be right. Although we exhibit lots of individual and cultural variations, humans are animals, and like all animals we have idiosyncrasies, quirks and characteristics that distinguish us as a species. An invading alien would have no trouble categorising us but, being so close to our subject matter, we struggle to pin down the essence of humanness. Nevertheless, the task may not be beyond us. Anthropologists have identified many “human universals” – characteristics shared by all people everywhere,…

14 min.
one and only you

LOOK at the people around you and you cannot fail to notice how different they all are. Their faces, bodies, behaviours and personalities all appear to be unique. Now consider the whole of humanity. There are about 7 billion of us alive now and by some estimates about 100 billion people have lived and died in the past 50,000 years. As far as we know each of them is, or was, a total one-off. The same applies to all those yet to be born. That is a staggering amount of variation within the archetype we recognise as “human”. As we delve deeper into our biology and search for ever more sophisticated ways to verify people’s identity, the ways in which we are all unique are being uncovered. Some, like DNA and fingerprints,…

12 min.
homo virtuous?

A FEW years ago, I attended a conference on animal behaviour in Atlanta, Georgia. The end-of-meeting party included a trip to the zoo, and while we roamed freely between the caged beasts the conference organisers conducted a whimsical poll to discover which animals people thought were the “best” and “worst”. As you might expect the nominations were eclectic, but one name cropped up more frequently than any other –Homo sapiens. More striking still, humans were equally likely to end up in the “best” and “worst” categories. Some respondents even chose humans for both. There is no getting away from it: Homo sapiens is both the basest of animals and the most noble. Ours is a species capable of horrific cruelty, genocide, war, corruption and greed. Yet we can also be caring,…

10 min.
me in the machine

WHAT is the self? Rene Descartes encapsulated one idea of it in the 1600s when he wrote: “I think, therefore I am”. He saw his self as a constant, the essence of his being, on which his knowledge of everything else was built. Others have very different views. Writing a century later, David Hume argued that there was no “simple and continued” self, just the flow of experience. Hume’s proposal resonates with the Buddhist concept anatt¯, or non-self, which contends that the idea of an unchanging self is an illusion and also at the root of much of our unhappiness. Today, a growing number of philosophers and psychologists hold that the self is an illusion. But even if the centuries-old idea of it as essential and unchanging is misleading, there is…

6 min.
the death of individuality

FOR most of Western history, truth and morality came from God and king, and free will was a theological question. This began to change in the 1700s, and the idea that humans were individuals with the freedom of rational choice soon wormed its way into the belief systems of the upper echelons of society. Over time, the concepts of rationality and individualism profoundly shaped the governments and culture of the West. But to what extent are we freethinking individuals? The question matters because economics and much of cognitive science have, at their basis, the concept of an independent individual. Perhaps it is this assumption which has led to the difficulty these disciplines have had accounting for phenomena such as financial bubbles, political movements, mass panics and technology fads. Recent research is beginning…