The first 2/3 of this already short book are given to an overview of more or less recent developments in physics and cosmology, in preparation for the final 1/3, where at last the subject of the book's title is addressed. When the main arguments of the book do arrive, they turn out to be based on somewhat preliminary and speculative physics- very interesting, but nowhere near satisfying or convincing as an explanation of 'how something could arise from nothing.' Also, the author promises to show how the universe(s) could come into existence without 'preexisting' physical laws- his nothing plus ultra- but fails to actually do so. Honestly I would have been quite surprised and impressed if he had; but it illustrates the most frustrating aspect of the book, which is that it purports to sketch out a framework to obviate all manner of prime mover / first cause arguments, but fails pretty resoundingly to do so.
Still, thought provoking and worth reading. Author reads pretty well- sounds like Andersen Cooper!
Bet you didn't know that your cerebral cortex has two parts. Well sort of. A kind of upper, frontish part and lower rearward part. Well, not exactly. I mean, some parts that you'd think were part of the upper part are really in the lower part, and like it's not always clear what's part of what, but the point is, they're different. They do different things, or differentish anyway; it's all a bit hazy- you know how the brain is. Now your upper brain part does space, like 'where' and shape and things of that sort, so it handles planning- I mean because really maybe it's better to say it does 'how' more than just 'where', according to the author. But the mostly lower brain part does something different- it does 'what'. Like such as, identifying and perhaps classifying and other related things, so it brings in a lot of emotion too. The book's not super clear on that.
Now I can already hear you thinking, how could the lower part identify what something is without analyzing it's spatial structure and relations, which is what the upper part does? And that would be an interesting and possibly profound question. So this book doesn't address that.
But guess what? It turns out that the the two parts of the brain interact. They're connected! It's true. It's all scientifically summarized by a line drawing of the brain lobes. See those swooping arrows? Dynamic, real time connectivity! (And you just know that's got to include some feedback.) I've rarely seen so much neurobiology packed so economically into to such a compact, childlike illustration. Take that, people who say the brain is constituted from functionally homogeneous disconnected domains!
So now you're thinking: distinct yet connected functional regions, upper and lower brain parts, I get that. But that has me thinking about the inevitability of cognitive modes. Well this book has got your cognitive modes right here. And not your grandpa's right and left hemisphere cognitive modes, either. No, this is much subtler and more vertical than that. Because it turns out that- and mind you this is not one thing more than pure rote speculation by the authors- some people emphasize the use of their upper brain part, and others rely more on their lower(ish) brain part, while still others- oh when will it stop?- emphasize both parts equally, and finally some people don't emphasize either part, which seems sad. If the force of the pristine combinatorial logic of this scheme doesn't convince you then... well I guess you won't be convinced, because the book provides exactly no other evidence for the existence of these cognitive modes.
Now, these cognitive modes break down into a quadripartite psychological typology consisting of Mover mode, Perceiver mode, Stimulator mode and zzzzzzzzz...
Really, it is all just so trite and totally made up. By the time I reached the last third of the book- the cognitive modes part- I felt as though I was being repeatedly hit with a new model of Taser, powered by banality rather than electricity. Remember when you and your friends would watch lousy movies just to crack up at how unbelievably bad they were? Well it got to that point for me.
In fact, I actually returned this audiobook for a refund of my credit (you knew Audible has a return policy, didn't you?) But then I un-returned it so I could write a review. So you see it is something of a sacred mission with me to prevent you from wasting your credit and your time on this book. Because I love brains, and can't bear to see this book happen to them.
Firstly, ignore the review by "Jack"; he is a Topeka resident and shill for the Westboro Baptist church. All his review really shows is that, even after all these years, Jesus can still sometimes be seen carried on the back of an ass.
This book is a sobering testament. It is one thing- tragic but comprehensible- for children or even a teenager to be indoctrinated into a ravingly inhumane religious ideology. But for an educated articulate adult, and an atheist no less? The sad fact shown in this book is that the members of this ridiculous church are for the most part highly intelligent people. They have gained the world of pure righteousness, but at the cost of any possibility of self understanding. This was a bargain that Lauren Drain seemed unsuited by nature to keep, so her conflict with the church was painful but inevitable. Go girl! Well read by the author.
The good news is that while this book was in press, two more young women defected from Westboro Baptist. Hopefully with publication, more will follow.
This book posits a historical virtuous circle: ( Political Liberty begets Intellectual Liberty begets Scientific Thinking begets Material Understanding begets Technology begets Military, Economic and Cultural Ascendance begets the Spread of Political Liberty) repeat to the stars and beyond...
Sounds good, and the author makes an interesting and reasonably compelling case, while not completely ignoring possibly countervailing forces, both external- such as reactionary Islamic fundamentalism- and internal- such as postmodernist epistemological relativism. The author argues that these 'counter cultural' movements are, each in its own way, inherently self limiting, whereas liberal democratic scientism is progressively self perpetuating.
The author also considers one other factor which might derail the virtuous circle: the possibility of technological self sabotage via global climate change. Unfortunately this section devolves into a rather credulous catechism on climate science bearing little relevance to the thesis of the book. Another chapter is devoted to a defense of the status of economics as an objective scientific enterprise; whatever one thinks about that, this chapter adds little to the book's argument.
Overall, though, I liked this book. It appealed to my scientific patriotism :) The Constitution contains only one mention of the word 'science' (in the section on patents,) but as this book shows it was a word often on the lips and in the thoughts of those who wrote it, and those who inspired it. But it was no oversight. All that was necessary was to enshrine liberty- freedom in thought and deed- and by man's very nature the flourishing of science- the mind's journey to a true encounter with the universe- was guaranteed.
You are probably not going to find a more pleasant way to finally get through Revelation than this. The ever portentous, never resolving soundtrack keeps things rolling along, while the cast of readers really put their hearts into it. Stacy Keach is particularly effective, and if I were ever to receive a revelation myself, his voice would do nicely. I found myself surprisingly immersed, and the apocalypse was over before I knew it. I was a bit sad to hear it end, really, and to return to the comparative inconsequentiality of reality. However, I did come away with an appreciation of just how influential this text has been down through the course of western history, for better and worse. I also picked up some handy allegorical heuristics. For example, in the eventuality that you find yourself confronted by a beast, you can make a quick assessment of the threat level by the number of diadems on it's horns.
This book is good, amazingly good. The remarkably high average ratings, from large numbers of reviewers, on both Audible and Amazon will attest to this. But let's face it, one's response to this audiobook, an intimate, straight from the gut first person memoir, will hinge on one's reaction to the narrator. For me, the narrator has a kind of immediate emotional urgency that works quite well. Very moving, in fact. But most of the objections from the minority of reviewers who didn't take to the narrator are also quite valid. It's a very subjective call. You might want to listen to the audio sample before deciding between paper or audio on this one.
The author's approach throughout is to set up strawman arguments supposedly representing modern neuroscientific orthodoxy and then purporting to knock them down. The problem is that author Noe either does not understand or misrepresents most of the arguments he pretends to counter, and then fails to refute them convincingly (or often even coherently) anyway. As for positive ideas of his own on cognitive neuroscience, the author remains frustratingly vague, where not downright confused, only achieving clarity when he states the obvious.
This seemed as though it could have been such an interesting book but, alas, the author basically has nothing. Narration is pretty good, although the reader's tone does seem to accentuate the somewhat arrogant rhetorical style of the author.
This is one of those cases of an audiobook far exceeding an already great book. So much of Hirsi Ali's sincerity, intelligence and humanity come across through her wonderful voice, it makes her amazing life story more moving than it could ever be in print.
The content of this book is very interesting but be aware that the reader reads at a nearly breathless pace. This often makes it very difficult to absorb what is being read, and I say that as someone with a technical background. For this title, you might want to get the actual book and, relaxing, read it yourself.
This title is not properly put together. What should be the first part (30 min) is actually a 30 minute condensed version of the entire 3 part program. Parts 2 and 3 are each correct. To get the whole program you may need to purchase parts 1,2 & 3 separately.
That said, this is an interesting listen, though it does not provide much insight psychoses. Listeners might also be interested in the audible title 'The Center Cannot Hold' by Elyn Saks, which provides chilling insight into the nature and experience of psychosis in the words of one who has ample experience of it.
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