Ransom Stephens: The Left Brain Speaks, The Right Brain Laughs

Cover: Left Brain Speaks

Cover: Left Brain Speaks


Ransom Stephens, Ph.D.
Viva Editions, November 11, 2016, $18.95
ISBN-10: 1632280469; ISBN-13: 978-1632280466

Stephens reports:

I was at the San Francisco Writers Conference pitching my second novel and asked a nonfiction publisher for a referral. I described my novel’s neuroscience premise, and she said, “If you ever want to do a nonfiction book on the brain — somehow I think you have one in you — I'm game.”

Despite feeling like I’d just won the lottery, I replied, “I’m a physicist, how can I write a neuroscience book?” She reminded me that I’m also a science writer. We met several times and bounced ideas around. Since I’m more of a scientist than a science journalist, we agreed that pedagogy dripping with humor would be a good fit for us and the market.

Ransom Stephens

Ransom Stephens

Then, in a fit of confidence unburdened by experience, I volunteered to illustrate the book myself! The “percolator of consciousness” is my favorite, though my drawing of Richard Feynman resembles Liberace.

The Left Brain Speaks, The Right Brain Laughs is neuroscience for lay-people that uses irreverence and a physicist’s eye for scientific accuracy to convey what makes us all tick and how we can tick better than we already do.

Using as little jargon as possible, and starting with a new and improved left-brain/right-brain oversimplification, I explored the interplay of what we too often think of as separate topics. Each chapter investigates the inseparable interactions of seemingly distinct concepts — You & Me, Life & Death, Animals & People, Talent & Skill, Analysis & Creativity — all building to Art & Science.

Using flash fiction-like examples ranging from hanging out in bars to playing guitar to the most important failed experiment of all time, the reader and I investigate consciousness, value, hops, and malt, why we mourn each other’s deaths, and why we do what we do for money.

I wrote LBSRBL in two years, 2012 to 2014. For the last 11 years, since I stopped working for The Man, I’ve made writing books, both fiction and popular science, my highest priority: first three hours of every working day no matter what.

Contact info:

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Nov. 2, 2016

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