Voyage of Discovery

Posted on by David Gelber

Paul Ableman has come up with a well-rounded theory that challenges many assumptions about the mind. A few years ago, he had a dream in which he was eating at a restaurant with friends and then, in the dream, he became suddenly detached, and saw himself from above at the table. Afterwards, he wondered which […]

Voracious Assimilator

Posted on by Tom Fleming

As he approached sixty, Oliver Sacks ‘started to experience a curious phenomenon – the spontaneous, unsolicited rising of early memories into [his] mind, memories that had lain dormant for upwards of fifty years’. Over the last twenty years of his life, these memories inspired two hugely popular volumes of autobiography (Uncle Tungsten and On the […]

Experimental Thinking

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Cathy Gere begins this wise, fascinating and original book in Tuskegee, Alabama, where a large public-health experiment was launched back in 1932. The purpose of the research was to investigate ‘untreated syphilis in the negro male’; 600 black men – 399 infected, 201 not – were persuaded to take part, in exchange for a few […]

Life After Death?

Posted on by Tom Fleming

You may think you are a human being, but in fact you are a warehouse in waiting. You are a shop of products, of bone dowels and bone paste, of membrane and veins, of acellular skin products. Nearly everything you are can be repurposed, and is. Corpses have always made for rich pickings. Graverobbers and bodysnatchers may seem lurid and historical

Madness Inc

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Tom Burns and Darian Leader are both engaging men. Both these books are easy reads – a transatlantic plane flight would speed past in their authors’ company. Both know a lot about that most fascinating of topics – what makes us tick. Both are well versed in academic theories about why we do what we […]

Modern Mountebanks

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

First of all, I have to admit that Paul Offit, the author of Killing Us Softly, is a hero of mine. Not only is this American paediatrician one of the world’s foremost experts on infectious diseases, but he is also the co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine, which protects against gastroenteritis, a condition that results in […]

Costs of a Cure

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Medicine, over the past fifty years, has metamorphosed from a modest pursuit of limited effectiveness into a massive global phenomenon employing millions and costing hundreds of billions. Now, in the vast shiny palaces that modern hospitals have become, previously unimaginable goals such as transplanting organs have become routine, while every year tens of thousands doomed […]

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