The Vanity Of Humanity is popular science book which reflects on humans and our place on earth. Author Steve O’Grady considers that we are, after all, only a species of ape who live on a tiny dot in the great universe. Yet as humans we often think of ourselves as superior to all other species on our tiny planet, while in reality we may be speeding towards our own demise and seem only to be increasing that speed rather than preventing it.
Written in a relatively easy to read format, O’Grady includes a wealth of information from a great range of reading material, plus his experiences as a prison officer to show the reader examples of our human behaviour and how it contributes to our illusion of our superiority over other species.
The details about nature’s blueprints and evolution interested me greatly and gave me much to think about. O’Grady puts together an interesting scientific argument for the creation of our planet and ourselves as well as thoughts about what happens when we die. He uses simplified examples such as Lego bricks to describe our genes and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to describe nature’s way of reproducing the blueprint of our bodies.
O’Grady questions many of our actions, beliefs and values as he asks us to consider what an alien might see when looking at us and what messages we are sending out to others about ourselves. He uses the simple foundations of human life: food, shelter and procreation to illustrate his points and strip humanity back to bare essentials, which makes the reader think about the wider world and nature’s role. We humans may think we are a superior race, but we only have to look at the effects of the Covid-19 virus and how it has spread, to put perspective on our place on this planet. Overall, an interesting book which left me with much to continue thinking about after I had finished reading.
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Humans are the centre of the universe, but the universe just got a lot bigger!
Humans have been at the top of the food chain for so long that we think we’re the supreme beings, the chosen ones.
The universe thinks different.
Drawing on his career as both a prison officer and a scientist, the author takes you on a journey to examine our vanity. Funny, intriguing and thought provoking, it is a journey he says won’t end well unless we change our ways.
Mixing the science with humour, he discusses our attitude to nudity, bodily functions and mating and how our vanity insists we try to set ourselves above apes, even though that is who we are. He demonstrates how our constant quest for more has led us to this point and will eventually lead to our demise.
The human ego is irrepressible, but the truth is that we are tiny, inconsequential specks living on a pale blue dot lost within the multi-verse.