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Douglas

College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

Auburn, WA, United States | Member Since 2008

1278
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 277 reviews
  • 389 ratings
  • 791 titles in library
  • 66 purchased in 2014
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FOLLOWERS
241

  • The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Steven Pinker
    • Narrated By Arthur Morey
    Overall
    (1191)
    Performance
    (976)
    Story
    (967)

    We’ve all had the experience of reading about a bloody war or shocking crime and asking, “What is the world coming to?” But we seldom ask, “How bad was the world in the past?” In this startling new book, the best-selling cognitive scientist Steven Pinker shows that the world of the past was much worse. In fact, we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence.

    Teddy says: "Excellent Book All Over"
    "Pinker Rings In"
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    with his mammoth entry into the now ever growing canon of "moral sense" analyses of the evolving human being. I first read James Q. Wilson's THE MORAL SENSE three years ago (it now seems a bit facile), and then Goleman and the work of Robert Wright and others who see the uneven but eventual betterment of humankind coming by way of world commerce, increasingly democratic governments and not-quite-so-very-medieval post-modern versions of the various religions. Pinker, as always, weighs in with more facts (along with the rare factoid), examples, and evidence than the average reader would have patience to get through were they rendered by a less tongue-and-cheek and often laugh-out-loud translator of the intellectual into lay language and pop culture (without lowing the quality of the stuff translated). Only Pinker can shift between Aaron Burr and Bugs Bunny in the same sentence and still give us something real to think about. The only kick that some might have is that his decided liberal sensibilities shine through, as always, through not glaringly so, and anyone short of Dick Chaney (who, Pinker notes, was not the shot that Burr was) can still enjoy this often whimsical but most penetrating addition to the growing body of books that give us a rosier picture of the future than we might otherwise fashion after a daily media bath of world strife and local mayhem.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • Reflections in a Golden Eye

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Carson McCullers
    • Narrated By Christopher Kipiniak
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (16)
    Story
    (15)

    Set on a Southern army base in the 1930s, Reflections in a Golden Eye tells the story of Captain Penderton, a bisexual whose life is upset by the arrival of Major Langdon, a charming womanizer who has an affair with Penderton's tempestuous and flirtatious wife, Leonora. Upon the novel's publication in 1941, reviewers were unsure of what to make of its relatively scandalous subject matter.

    Douglas says: "Enthralling..."
    "Enthralling..."
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    Carson McCullers was one of the southern masters. She learned from the rich, ornate prose of Thomas Wolfe, the razor sharp accuracy and poetics of Capote, and the bitter irony of Flannery O'Connor. With writing to rival that of her masterpiece, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, Reflections In A Golden Eye comes forward as a classic southern novella. Potentially scandalous for its time, Golden Eye maintains a steady, objective dignity that allows one to see beyond the sexual entanglements and the violence to the depths of the human condition. The ability to show us ourselves, even in our most extreme moments of good and evil, was McCullers wonderful gift.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Jean M. Twenge, W. Keith Campbell
    • Narrated By Randye Kaye
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (13)
    Performance
    (12)
    Story
    (12)

    Dr. Jean M. Twenge focuses on the pernicious spread of narcissism in today's culture, which has repercussions for every age group and class. Dr. Twenge joins forces with Dr. W. Keith Campbell, a nationally recognized expert on narcissism, to explore this new plague. Together, they provide an eye-opening exposition of the alarming rise of narcissism and its catastrophic effects at every level of society.

    Die Falknerin says: "Feeling "special?" Snap out of it!"
    "Much Better Book..."
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    than Eleanor Payson's grammatically clunky, repetitive, Alice Miller worshippiing, simplistic metaphor sodden The Wizard Of Oz and Other Narcissists. The Narcissism Epidemic does what few books on the subject do: includes the scientific research on the subject, avoiding the easy, breezy Milleresque platitudes directed at so-called victims (which often enough only teach THEM to be self-indulgent and self-focused). Read this book instead of the pulp self-help books on the narcissist.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Eleanor Payson
    • Narrated By Cathryn Bond Doyle
    Overall
    (103)
    Performance
    (84)
    Story
    (89)

    This ground-breaking book offers hope and help to those who have been drawn into these devastating relationships. She includes illuminating case studies that identify the problems that occur in the different types of relationships, from co-workers, to friends, to parents, to lovers. Listeners employing these insights and skills will find new abilities to identify and protect against the narcissist's manipulations and take back control of their lives.

    Die Falknerin says: "Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road"
    "Simplistic but informative..."
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    Very basic book on the subject, but it does have useful information. More of a self-help book than science. It even has chapter summaries like an eighth grade text. But it is a good book for what it is. She does push the "Wizard Of Oz" metaphor--which doesn't work completely, as Dorothy never really comes to any deep realization, other than that she likes being home. (She doesn't learn how to deal with narcissists like the Wizard.) At any rate, it's a pretty good book if you don't expect anything too in depth. Read some Robert Hare if you want something a bit better.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By John J. Ratey
    • Narrated By Walter Dixon
    Overall
    (2668)
    Performance
    (1698)
    Story
    (1679)

    Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is incontrovertible: Aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance.

    Kathleen says: "Spark"
    "Science of the obvious..."
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    Exercise makes you feel better and perform better. Exercise is the best treatment for depression and can replace many meds with harmful side effects. About all that can be said about this is...it's about time!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Emerson: The Mind on Fire

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Robert D. Richardson
    • Narrated By Michael McConnohie
    Overall
    (45)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (39)

    Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the most important figures in the history of American thought, religion, and literature. The vitality of his writings and the unsettling power of his example continue to influence us more than a hundred years after his death. Now Robert D. Richardson Jr. brings to life an Emerson very different from the old stereotype of the passionless Sage of Concord.

    John says: "Entertaining, erudite, engaging"
    "Finally!"
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    A comprehensive study of Emerson! How long have we been waiting for that! Back in the 90's, I read everything by Emerson, the essays, the poetry, the travel books, absolute every delicious metaphor and trope. I have read bios of the man before, but none so in-depth and comprehensive as this marvelous volume. If Emerson had written a formal autobiography, I suspect it would have been much like this book. An absolute must read for the Emerson fan!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Consciousness and the Social Brain

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Michael S. A. Graziano
    • Narrated By Sean Runnette
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (20)

    What is consciousness and how can a brain, a mere collection of neurons, create it? In Consciousness and the Social Brain, Princeton neuroscientist Michael Graziano lays out an audacious new theory to account for the deepest mystery of them all. In Graziano's theory, the machinery that attributes awareness to others also attributes it to oneself. Damage that machinery and you disrupt your own awareness. Graziano discusses the science, the evidence, the philosophy, and the surprising implications of this new theory.

    Douglas says: "Cutting edge..."
    "Cutting edge..."
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    I have encountered Graziano's "Attention Schema" theory of consciousness before in other books, but this volume explains it thoroughly and decisively. While it comes somewhat short of the Holy Grail of the FINAL EXPLANATION of what makes us conscious--one questions if such a thing is ever at last possible, any more than the fish explaining how its bowl was made, ultimately unable to escape its confines--Attention Theory is about the best psychological and neurological theory that we have at present. It is a definite step forward over all former theories. A book well worth reading.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Inheritance: How Our Genes Change Our Lives - and Our Lives Change Our Genes

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Sharon Moalem, MD, PhD
    • Narrated By Sharon Moalem, MD, PhD
    Overall
    (61)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (56)

    Conventional wisdom dictates that our genetic destiny is fixed at conception. But Dr. Moalem's groundbreaking book shows us that the human genome is far more fluid and fascinating than your ninth grade biology teacher ever imagined. By bringing us to the bedside of his unique and complex patients, he masterfully demonstrates what rare genetic conditions can teach us all about our own health and well-being. In the brave new world we're rapidly rocketing into, genetic knowledge has become absolutely crucial. Inheritance provides an indispensable roadmap for this journey.

    Douglas says: "Joining Many Good Books..."
    "Joining Many Good Books..."
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    refuting the notion of the Tabula Rasa (Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate, Nicolas Wade's A Troublesome Inheritance, and Edward O. Wilson's On Human Nature, for example), Moalem's Inheritance continues this idea with an important twist: she shows not only how genes shape how we respond to the environment but also explores how the environment shapes the gene. Cutting edge and well written. An important read.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • On Human Nature: Revised Edition

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Edward O. Wilson
    • Narrated By Joe Barrett
    Overall
    (92)
    Performance
    (46)
    Story
    (45)

    This revised edition of Human Nature begins a new phase in the most important intellectual controversy of this generation: Is human behavior controlled by the species' biological heritage? Does this heritage limit human destiny?

    With characteristic pungency and simplicity of style, the author of Sociobiology challenges old prejudices and current misconceptions about the nature-nurture debate.

    Douglas says: "A Heralding Voice..."
    "A Heralding Voice..."
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    of the neo-Darwinean movement. If you know the work of Pinker, Dawkins, Dennett, Wright and other writers who have expounded on the evidence that an innate, biological human nature is a real and tangible thing (as opposed to the concept of the "blank slate" put forth most famously by Skinner, Watkins and the behaviorists during the early part of the century), you should know the work of Edward O. Wilson, a man who was so far ahead of the now accepted modern decriers of the "tabula rasa" that his early work was deemed scientific heresy. Wilson does not deny the influence of the environment on the genetic basis of human nature, but wipes away the absurd notion that a human being is shaped soley and absolutely by culture and surroundings. On Human Nature is a fine summation of his main ideas and comes highly recommended from these quarters.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Stanislas Dehaene
    • Narrated By David Drummond
    Overall
    (48)
    Performance
    (39)
    Story
    (38)

    How does the brain generate a conscious thought? And why does so much of our knowledge remain unconscious? Thanks to clever psychological and brain-imaging experiments, scientists are closer to cracking this mystery than ever before. In this lively book, Stanislas Dehaene describes the pioneering work his lab and the labs of other cognitive neuroscientists worldwide have accomplished in defining, testing, and explaining the brain events behind a conscious state.

    Douglas says: "Good Stuff..."
    "Good Stuff..."
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    First, I guess I, unlike the other reviewer, did not find the narrator "cocky," nor could I imagine how that could influence the listening to a book on neurology... That aside, the book itself contains a lot of important, if basic, ideas about neurology and the current knowledge concerning human consciousness. It tends, perhaps, to be a bit on the computational side of things, but the theories presented here are pretty sound. (There is debate as to what extend the mind really works like a computer, and I am one who is more in the Jonathan Haidt camp, believing that the mind is more complex, and much more emotionally driven, than the computational model allows for--listen to a couple of books by Haidt after finishing with this one.) I would recommend this as a beginning or even as an intermediate book on consciousness and neurology. Michael Gazziniga or Rhawn Joseph (the latter not yet in audiobook) might be better advanced studies in this subject.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By Nicholas Wade
    • Narrated By Alan Sklar
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (107)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (41)

    For at least the last fifty thousand years, and probably much longer, people have practiced religion. Yet little attention has been given, either by believers or atheists, to the question of whether this universal human behavior might have an evolutionary basis. Did religion evolve, in other words, because it helped people in early societies survive?

    Douglas says: "I want to be more clear..."
    "I want to be more clear..."
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    than the other reviewer concerning what this book is--and isn't about. Just to start, it is NOT a book about religion, so interest in religion is not a prerequisite. It is a book about genetic inheritance. (I read this book on the heels of Wade's very compelling A Troublesome Inheritance, in which he discusses race/society and genetics.) Taking up the work up Pinker, Newberg and other neo-Darwinians with a neurological bent, Wade explores the biological tendencies toward religious and philosophical thought. Brain science has shown that those with greater right temporal lobe development tend to have greater religious tendencies than others and that those with right temporal lobe epilepsy tend to experience great flights of fancy, philosophical and artistic insights--and religious visions (think Van Gogh). Now, does this mean religion is the representation of an empirical reality? Of course not! It simply means humans are evolutionarily geared for ideas about philosophical and religious principles, and, for that, reason (sorry Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Richard Dawkins!) religion, for good or for bad, is probably not going away any time soon. But there is no value judgment here, simply a description of the tendency in humans for religion. As I said of Newberg's The Spiritual Brain: there are two groups of people who will misunderstand this book--the religious...and the non-religious.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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