FREE Stanford Education!? Robert Sapolsky's Human Behavioral Biology

As someone who could not get into Stanford if I wanted to (or afford the tuition), yet passionate about learning, I was delighted to find such a celebrated Professor providing his entire course:


For free on YouTube. This is quality stuff, ladies, gents and everyone else.

I’ve only seen the first few lectures so far, so I will start again from the beginning, uploading as I go, but anyone else may upload or discuss ahead if they are there. This thread is for commenting on and discussing the material, sharing thoughts, bringing in outside studies, opinions, etc.

In true Forumosan fashion, we will try and keep it civil, yeah?

Alright, let’s go!


Part Two: Behavioral Evolution

I love the focus on breaking out of categorical thinking to appreciate the bigger picture.

Honestly, I’m not sure how much I want to learn from someone who looks like the lovechild of Grigori Rasputin and the Unabomber. But it’s great that this stuff is out there for free. The sad part is that the people in most need of free education are pissing their lives away on Facebook.


Thanks now I can’t unsee Kaczynski and Rasputin.

Agreed. I mean this is pretty specific knowledge, but it’s presented in a gradual way that I think layfolk could easily grasp. Education can be free, there’s a treasure trove information online. I’m not about the university racket, with the exception of some STEM courses that require physical presence and the resources only a university can provide.


It’s an irrational bugbear of mine, but I hate people who ask questions at the start of a lecture.

Ivan Illich, Isaac Asimov, and others wrote at length about internet-based interactive education, back in the days when a “computer” was a room full of vacuum tubes. Their descriptions of what was possible, and how it might work, were extremely prescient. What they failed to predict was the concurrent rise of cat videos, China’s anti-education/propaganda establishment, the popular appeal of what someone had for dinner today, and high-definition porn.


This is somewhat unrelated, but my mother, got bless her, sent me a video of the Boston Dynamics robots all “dancing” in unison, and commented on how amazing it was, and she recalled it wasn’t that long ago we all got to see their little yellow “dog” walking up unstable terrain, and how far they’ve come.

I had to intentionally quiet the part of my brain screaming “unintended consequences”. I responded something along the lines of, “oh wow”.

Same can be said of the US. Mainstream conservative ideology has literally reached the point of facts not mattering.

True. All countries have a propaganda machine to push their worldview. The US version is really ramping up its output of BS. However, I don’t think there’s anything to compare with the sheer might and reach of the CCP version.

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I watched the first one, but lost interest after a while cos it’s first-year stuff, and he works through his material very slowly.

He’s an engaging speaker. He asks questions to get people involved. After a while you start to forget he looks like an axe murderer.

Yeah it’s elementary but he gets more into further into the term of course. Can’t really judge an entire course on the first day.

That’s a fair point. I should give it more of a go.

I just get irritated with the “Here’s a question that will support my position” “Does anyone know the answer?”. I also distrust continual repetition of key points.

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Yeah I get that. He’s trying to make the point that people can’t help but think categorically so a main focus of the course is to break that type of thinking so we can better under the bigger picture. But yeah, it’s heavy handed.

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Aren’t they sending that dog to Mars?

And good find. The categorical thinking bit is quite interesting wrt to language acquisition. :bowing:

Aside from the guy’s own textbook, this is the other book used in the course:

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I haven’t read it yet but my buddy said it was really special

He talks at length about not using categories. Then he proceedes with ‘so for each category of behaviour…’

I found those videos very good though


Is it possible that he was suggesting that his students should become aware of their own categorical thinking? He seems to imply that learning about types of categories is a way of recognizing/avoiding them.

Do you know of another way to accomplish this? :ponder:


After going on about not using categories for quite a bit he does immediately move on to using categories. Literally. It’s kind of funny ‘as you will learn on this course,for each category of behaviour’

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It’s a course in Behavioral Biology. I see what you’re saying though. I think his admiration of the Chaos book signals that knowledge of the bits and pieces is going to help in understanding the much larger whole.

OK, I’m off to watch Part 2. Laters.

Part Two talks about “Animal Reciprocity.” Wild stuff, yet in a way poetically underwhelming. It’s like a second semester Freshman course with zero prerequirements. Makes me wanna just own land and knowingly and willfully manage it. Hippies must lurve his lecture class. I wonder if his exams are hard. :ponder:


Cat videos are profoundly educational! :no_no:

Okay, now back to your silly human stuff. :slight_smile:

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