Professor Tom Oliver - Popular Science
Tom Oliver is a Professor at the University of Reading, leading their Ecology and Evolution research group. He is a leading systems thinker, advising both the UK government and the European Environment Agency. He is a frequent contributor to broadcast media and regularly gives talks on environmental science to general audiences. He has published more than seventy scientific papers in world-leading interdisciplinary journals and won two first-place prizes for essays communicating science to a broader audience. THE SELF DELUSION - THE SURPRISING SCIENCE OF HOW WE ARE CONNECTED AND WHY THAT MATTERS is his first book.
From the back cover:
We like to believe that we exist as independent selves at the centre of a subjective universe, that we are discrete individuals acting autonomously in the world with an unchanging inner self that persists throughout our lifetime.
This is an illusion.
In fact, on a physical, psychological and cultural level, we are all much more intertwined than we know: we cannot use our bodies to define our independent existence because most of our 37.2 trillion cells have such a short lifespan that we are essentially made anew every few weeks; the molecules that make up our bodies have already been component parts of countless other organisms, from ancient plants to dinosaurs; we are more than half non-human, in the form of bacteria and protozoa cells and genes, some of which can influence our moods and even manipulate our behaviour; and we cannot define ourselves by our minds, thoughts and actions, because these mainly originate from other people – the result of memes passing between us, existing before, after and beyond our own lifespans.
But that doesn't mean we should all simply reject the evolutionary illusion of individualism that has allowed us to succeed as a species. Instead, Professor of Ecology Tom Oliver makes the compelling argument that we have a better chance of facing some of the biggest global challenges ahead if we can start to understand and accept the complex connections between us and see beyond our individualistic mindsets to view our place in the world as it really is. THE SELF DELUSION is an explosive, powerful and inspiring book that brings to life the overwhelming evidence contradicting the perception we have of ourselves as independent beings – and why understanding this may well be the key to a better future.
World rights: sold to Weidenfeld & Nicolson (Orion)
Film, TV and radio: available