And Nature Writing 2012
Edited by Dan Ariely
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company c2012
The Best American series is the premier annual showcase for the country’s finest short fiction and nonfiction. Each volume’s series editor selects notable works from hundreds of magazines, journals, and websites. A special guest editor, a leading writer in the field, then chooses the best twenty or so pieces to publish. This unique system has made the Best American series the most respected — and most popular — of its kind.
There is so much we don’t know, which leads us to make so many irrational decisions that we need scientists and science writers to share their inquiries and discoveries in welcoming and lucid prose. Stellar examples of just this sort of cogent and compelling writing sustains this invaluable and exciting series. This year’s guest editor, Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics and author of The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty (2012), kicks things off with a provocative introductory essay about how we can and should use science to improve our lives. His commanding and eye-opening selections run the gamut from the micro (gut biota) to the macro (global air pollution) and steadily ramp up our sense of awe and concern. His engaging contributors write of food allergies (Jerome Groopman), the evolution of feathers (Carl Zimmer), the extraction of DNA from Neanderthal bones (Elizabeth Kolbert), and crowd disasters (John Seabrook). In the most intimate essay, Sy Montgomery describes her unexpectedly emotional encounters with Athena, a very smart and expressive giant Pacific octopus. How wondrous and complicated life is. –Donna Seaman
About the Author
Dan Ariely, author of The Upside of Irrationality and Predictably Irrational, is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University.