Short works

Books : reviews

Lewis Wolpert, Alison Richards.
A Passion for Science.
OUP. 1988

Lewis Wolpert.
The Triumph of the Embryo.
OUP. 1991

Lewis Wolpert.
The Unnatural Nature of Science.
Faber and Faber. 1992

Lewis Wolpert.
Principles of Development: 2nd edn.
OUP. 2002

Lewis Wolpert.
Malignant Sadness: the anatomy of depression: 3rd edn.
Faber and Faber. 2006

Lewis Wolpert.
Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast: the evolutionary origins of belief.
Faber and Faber. 2006

rating : 6 : unfinishable
review : 12 March 2023

Why do so many people believe so many daft things? Why do even ‘sensible’ people touch wood, believe in angels, avoid walking under ladders?

The celebrated scientist Lewis Wolpert investigates belief’s psychological basis and its possible evolutionary origins. Is it the lack of an explanation about life’s fundamental questions which is truly intolerable? Has human kind evolved to believe in things which make us feel better?

Why do we believe things that are demonstrably not true? Wolpert examines this quirk in our cognition from an evolutionary perspective. Or at least, I assume he does. Although I wanted to like this, I bounced off it after a couple of chapters. I found it too rambling, and too full of unevidenced claims, to keep me reading. I think maybe this is an attempt at a popular-style book where I'm not a fan of the particular style being used.

Lewis Wolpert.
How We Live and Why We Die: the secret lives of cells.
Faber and Faber. 2009

Lewis Wolpert.
Developmental Biology: a very short introduction.
OUP. 2011