An Outsider’s Guide to Humans: What Science Taught Me About What We Do and Who We Are

Viking. Dec. 2020. 256p. ISBN 9781984881632. $27. SCI
Pang, a scientist with autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, was frustrated as a child to find that there was no how-to guide for life. After realizing that she could mathematically explain the relationships between the characters in Of Mice and Men, she set about explaining other things in the same way, thus creating the how-to guide she dreamed of. Her debut is an experiment in describing societal expectations in a concrete, mathematical way, in order to reduce the misunderstandings and messy nuances that make up human interaction. Her story is friendly to anyone who finds social norms a little confusing at times. Each exploration starts with familiar scenarios about interacting with others. Pang fully explores life as a box thinker, and how that relates to her interacting with others and understanding human behavior. Her personal narrative blends seamlessly into scientific concepts, such as machine-learning, with the author’s hand-drawn illustrations to guide readers along. Throughout, Pang remains a calming voice, sharing why she was drawn to the field of science.
VERDICT An informative memoir for scientifically minded readers, and readers looking for personal stories on living with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

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