David Dobbs is the author of My Mother’s Lover, an Atavist story that became a Top 20 Kindle and a #1 best-selling Kindle Single, and of books describing vicious fights over trees, fish, and Darwin’s reefs. Oliver Sacks Reef Madness, his tale of Darwin’s reefs “brilliantly written, almost unbearable poignant.”

His features and essays for National Geographic, The New York Times, The NYT Book Review, Slate, Pacific Standard and other publications regularly win awards and spots in annual “Best of” anthologies. “The Social Life of Genes,” for instance, his Sept 2013 Pacific Standard cover story, was chosen by editor Deborah Blum for the The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014; it also won the 2014 AAAS/Kavli Prize for Magazine Writing. He is currently working on projects about blindness, madness, transplants, autopsies, and how we get lost and found.

He lives in Vermont, with frequent trips to New York, London, DC, and other points distant. You can find some selected work here. You may also take pleasure or waste time perusing his Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram.


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  2. David, I’m intrigued by the title of your new book. My line of enquiry is the whole Asteraceae family, including the dandelion. Does you book have anything to do with the work Alan Turing was involved with in the early 1950s?

    My work involves the daily interaction of plants with humans on every level, focusing on the daisy family. Is your choice of orchid and dandelion based on the sheer number of species within these two families?

    When is it being published? Can’t wait to read it.

    Keith Howes

    based in Sydney, Australia but currently in London

    1. Keith,

      Thanks for writing. I fear many botanists will be disappointed that I deploy orchids and dandelions almost strictly for their metaphorical value. But dearly hope you’ll like the book anyway. It’s due out in 2015.



      1. Greetings, David!
        Happy to see that your “Orchid-Dandelion hypothesis” is so immediately referenced here, since that’s precisely what I want to address. (For some reason, I can’t comment on the December 2009 Atlantic article which I found via a “random walk in link-land”, so coming to you seems the next-best idea 😉 )

        Here’s what I would’ve written there:

        Perhaps this example (the rhesus monkey coup) helps explain some of the profound and often distressing changes that have taken place in our (highly(?)-developed, primarily Western societies’) human interactions in the last several decades?
        As schools, workplaces and neighborhoods have become larger, more diverse, mobile and densely (or distantly) occupied, and more intensely focused, the social bonds that allowed (even expected) relaxed interaction have broken down.
        Many “communities” have greatly exceeded humanity’s Dunbar Number – and so it becomes harder and harder to trust *anybody*.

        I’m not a “student” of anything in particular, rather an eclectic observer (and commenter) on the human condition.

  3. I’m fascinated by this site, and so eagerly awaiting – along with many others- your book and the changes it will bring about.

    I am devoting all of next year to finishing my Opus Daisy, especially the CinemaAsteraceae part: the history of world cinema, 1895 to now, told through the presence of asteraceae in every conceivable type of moving picture, and the significance of the plant/s in each movie from immortal to completely forgotten. Over ten years research has gone into this already.

    Keith, Sydney

  4. Would you accept an email from me regarding neurofeedback? If so, at what email address.

    Alan Bachers

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  6. Hey David, I am doing a report on your article, “Beautiful Brains” and I wanted to know if you had anything to add, like where did you do your research and why did you choose this topic?

    1. I chose the topic out of general interest in life stages and behavior, sharpened by the fact I had a teenage son. I did my research by going to conferences, interviewing many researchers and teenagers, and reading piles of papers and books, along with some Shakespeare. It was a great pleasure.

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