This Is Your Brain on Parasites Book Summary - This Is Your Brain on Parasites Book explained in key points
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This Is Your Brain on Parasites summary

Kathleen McAuliffe

How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society

4.1 (30 ratings)
13 mins

Brief summary

This Is Your Brain on Parasites by Kathleen McAuliffe explains how parasitic organisms - virus, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa - can manipulate the behavior of their hosts, including humans. It's a fascinating insight into the relationship between parasites and the brain.

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    This Is Your Brain on Parasites
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    Humans have been battling a microscopic enemy for millennia.

    In the history of humankind, conflict abounds; from opposing tribes to warring countries to contradictory religions, people have always found a way to fight. But there’s another type of deadly conflict that has gone practically unnoticed for thousands of years – a hidden war of microscopic proportions.

    It’s the battle between humans and parasites: viruses, worms, microbes and bacteria. In fact, this fight has been so formative that it has affected the evolution of both the human physique and human behavior.

    For instance, the human body has formed complex defenses to ward off intruders. The skin prevents microbes from entering; the nose and ears are lined with tiny hairs that filter out parasites and our eyes produce tears to force out invaders.

    But even when a microbe does make it into the body, it’s immediately met by other defenses. There’s stomach acid, which is so strong it could burn a hole through a shoe, and mucous, a slime that traps microbes in the nose to be expelled by the next sneeze.

    That being said, parasites have a few things going for them. For starters, they greatly outnumber us. They can also reproduce at an incredible rate and are both intelligent and highly adaptable.

    So while the majority of them might die, a few survivors can mutate, infiltrate our system and take full advantage of the habitat our body offers.

    It’s this incredible capacity for survival that has led to parasite-related deaths in the past. Just take the bubonic plague, a bacterial infection that decimated a third of Europe in the Middle Ages. Or consider Columbus’s arrival in the Americas; his landing resulted in the eradication of 95 percent of the indigenous population by way of smallpox, measles and influenza. And there’s always the Spanish flu, which claimed more lives in 1918 than World War I.

    It all goes to show that, while they may be invisible to us, parasites are a powerful foe. They’re also smarter than we might imagine, which is what we’ll explore next.

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    What is This Is Your Brain on Parasites about?

    This Is Your Brain on Parasites (2016) is about the microscopic organisms that live inside us. They sometimes make us sick and, more surprisingly, they drive human evolution in a variety of ways. These blinks explain how parasites can guide personalities, emotions and even culture.

    This Is Your Brain on Parasites Review

    This Is Your Brain on Parasites (2016) delves into the world of parasites and their surprising influence on human behavior. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Eye-opening revelations about the impact of parasites on the brain, from controlling behavior to influencing decisions.
    • Through fascinating case studies and scientific research, the book shows how parasites have shaped human history and shaped societies.
    • With its engaging storytelling and thought-provoking insights, the book never fails to captivate and challenge our understanding of ourselves.

    Who should read This Is Your Brain on Parasites?

    • Psychologists and doctors, and students of either field
    • Anyone interested in free will
    • People interested in human behavior

    About the Author

    Kathleen McAuliffe is a science journalist who garnered a great deal of attention for her piece How Your Cat is Making You Crazy, which was published in the Atlantic. In addition to this work, she has been published in the New York Times magazine as well as the Smithsonian.

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    This Is Your Brain on Parasites FAQs 

    What is the main message of This Is Your Brain on Parasites?

    The main message of This Is Your Brain on Parasites is that parasites have a profound influence on our behavior and health.

    How long does it take to read This Is Your Brain on Parasites?

    The reading time for This Is Your Brain on Parasites varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is This Is Your Brain on Parasites a good book? Is it worth reading?

    This Is Your Brain on Parasites is a fascinating read that highlights the hidden world of parasites and their impact on human behavior and health.

    Who is the author of This Is Your Brain on Parasites?

    The author of This Is Your Brain on Parasites is Kathleen McAuliffe.

    What to read after This Is Your Brain on Parasites?

    If you're wondering what to read next after This Is Your Brain on Parasites, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Emotional Design by Donald A. Norman
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    • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    • The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins
    • A Planet of Viruses by Carl Zimmer
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