Wednesday, November 18, 2015

As Nature Made Us

I've been immersed in nonfiction lately. My daughter needed As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl, by John Colapinto, for a sociology course, so I checked it out from the library for her, renewed it, and read it myself. Wow! Truly, wow. Not only is the case fascinating, and the boy (now a man) a brave and beautiful soul, but the science, controversy, and internal conflict among scientists is eye-opening, too. I was struck when one scientist praised another for actually being more interested in the truth than in his career, which reminded me of earlier controversy connected to Sigmund Freud. We always think scientists, who often praise themselves for objectivity and the scientific method, are interested in truth, but, apparently, that's as rare in science as anywhere! Sigh....

Now I am reading Is Shame Necessary?: New Uses for an Old Tool, by Jennifer Jacquet, in hopes of finding out whether, indeed, we can shame big business, careerist politicians, tyrants, and terrorists into changing their behavior. Hmm. She's a very clear writer, and, clearly, a scientist or social scientist interested in testing her hypotheses and backing up claims with evidence. So that's good.

Next up is Unsuspecting Souls: The Disappearance of the Human Being, by Barry Sanders, which appears to argue that "the human being," the individual we used to value and respect, "died" in the 19th century, and the 21st century's willingness to blow people up, for example, is part of that legacy. I must be seeking an explanation, if not consolation, for what goes on today. Yes, it's a fight against despair, a fight for understanding, and a "fight" for compassion. But how can we fight for compassion? Well, with words and actions and votes, I hope, since here in the USA we are coming up on an election year. Despite the fact that compassion is viewed as a weakness among many vociferous types in the USA, I still vote for it.


Collagemama said...

I vote for compassion and nonfiction.

seana graham said...

Yes, I think that vociferous doesn't necessarily mean right.