The Primate Diaries

Robert Sapolsky on the Uniqueness of Humans

Sapolsky’s talk begins at 5:00 after an introduction by the Stanford Provost.

The neuroendocrinologist and primatologist Robert Sapolsky has been one of my primary scientific influences and the reason I pursued my masters and PhD in primate behavior and evolution. Not only is he a brilliant researcher and writer, he’s also a genuinely kind and supportive guy. Back in 2001, as an undergraduate, I wrote what was then my first fan letter to a neuroscientist. To my surprise he wrote back and we had an ongoing correspondence. He even recommended a piece of writing I had sent him to his editor at Discover magazine. That piece formed the basis for my article The Biology of Humor. This marked the beginning of my professional writing career and I will always remain grateful for his support.

Now that I am pursuing a career as a historian of evolutionary science, rather than a practicing scientist, I have never lost the joy of reading or listening to Sapolsky’s inspiring vision of the human species. So sit back, grab a cup of coffee or a beer and enjoy a wonderful talk on what it means to be human.

Comments

  1. #1 Ollitapio P.
    January 23, 2010

    This is again very interesting. Hunan evolution is something,which interests me a lot.

  2. #2 Corey
    January 23, 2010

    I can’t think of a more poignant graduation speech.

  3. #3 Frank Cornish
    January 24, 2010

    Wow, Eric! You sure pick good friends.

  4. #4 Earon Davis
    January 24, 2010

    Thanks for posting this, Eric! I hadn’t known much about Sapolsky before and this talk is amazing.

  5. #5 MemeGene
    January 25, 2010

    Yay Robert Sapolsky! I took a couple classes from him (large lectures), and they were some of my favorite classes at Stanford. He has a wonderful way of explaining complicated concepts like the neurobiology of neuroses to stressed undergrads worrying if they are schizophrenic or OCD that is both personal and reassuring. I can’t wait to view this later.

    He’s written some great books – The Trouble With Testosterone, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, and A Primate’s Memoir – all excellent reads that I’ve passed on to students I’ve worked with.

  6. #6 John H.
    January 26, 2010

    Eric,

    Thanks for providing this video. Sapolsky is just great, I’ve read both his works on primatology and a wonderful in depth neuroendocrine exploration of the human stress response and its physiological impact. Wonderful stuff.

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