Harveet Purewal (St Paul's Catholic School) reviews Camilla Pang's 'Explaining Humans'

Explaining Humans: What Science Can Teach Us About Life, Love and Relationships by Dr Camilla Pang provides an insight into human behaviour and social customs through the objective lens of the author, who uses scientific principles to communicate her journey of understanding society through science.

The book itself dissects the social norms to which we have become accustomed to, using concepts grounded in biochemistry, to provide parallels between the two, illustrating that although we may think of society as a complex web of inter-relationships between individuals, perhaps it is no more complex than the organisation of proteins within our own bodies, for example.

The unique narrative of the book coupled with stimulating diagrams and interesting references to biological concepts helps to engage the reader and make us question ideas such as love and relationships and how they differ between individuals. Exploring emotions such as fear and explaining from a scientific perspective, helps the reader to appreciate the science behind it, and apply it in social contexts.

By interweaving human nature and biochemistry, Dr Pang provides an interesting viewpoint on what we attribute as a ‘human’ characteristic and what it truly means to be ‘human’ in all its forms. Definitely an enjoyable read for those interested in questions that link science with society.

Something I agreed with in this book was...

That for society to function, it relies on each member performing its specific function as well as the need for cohesion between members for society to fully function.

Something I disagreed with in this book was...

That society can be categorised and compartmentalised into certain niches which we must conform to.

Something I learnt from reading this book that I didn’t know about this subject before was...

How general scientific processes and principles can apply to real life situations and dynamic models such as ‘society’ and human nature.