Auburn, WA, United States | Member Since 2008
In this wonderfully informative and entertaining book on the human thought process, the source of emotions, sexual desire and everything else this marvelous three pound lump of spam in our head does for us, Pinker writes in the intelligent but amazingly amusing and witty style that makes him one of the greatest translators of complex science into lay terms, in the main because he does so without compromising or dumbing-down in the process. It is no wonder that this man is considered one of the greatest minds of our time. Buy the book and find out how his, and everyone else's works--and why.
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.
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.
For decades, feminists railed against the very idea that there were any fundamental biological differences in males and females that would influence basic behavior and social roles (despite clear knowledge about the roles of testosterone and estrogen on behavior!), and along came brain science and showed that yes, there are differences in the male and female brains that lead to different behavioral and social tendencies. And now the same for race. Here is the simple fact, PC or not, like it or not: the closer you are to any group genetically, the more you are going to be like that group. Don't like it? Complain to God or the Big Bang or Darwin. Genetics are genetics. Now, does this excuse things like prejudice, social engineering, genecide? Of course not. Does this mean that there is NO role that envirornment plays in development? Of course not. Does this mean that every woman is the same as every other woman and that every black person is exactly the same as the next? Of course not. It does mean that biology plays a big role in behavior and that the closer you are to someone genetically, the more of their behavioral tendencies you will inherit. That's science. Live with it.
Definitely not the author's best work. And this story is only twenty minutes. Then you get five minutes of music and ads! What the crap???
I found Fallon at times the slightest bit self-indulgent (should we expect otherwise, given the theme?), but, for the most part, this is an interesting and entertaining book. If you want something more serious and scientific, read Without Conscience or The Science Of Evil, but this book serves nicely for an up-to-date primer for the neurology of psychopathy, and it also serves its purpose well: the story of one man's dealing with the realization that he has the brain structure and innate tendencies of the very people he has been studying for years: the psychopath.
account of Albert Fish, the deranged child rapist, murderer and cannibalist who inspired such films as the silent classic M and Silence of the Lambs.
...mother, daughter...and the story. Hard to know what to believe of an overly short, hazy, fragmented tale from the remembrances of a fourteen year old runaway. They all seem to suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder.
the horrible name of Auschwitz and perhaps Dachau, but fewer that of Ravensbrook, a women's prison camp with just as many terrors. This is a compelling, if matter of fact story of one woman's experience of the holocaust and prison life. A fine addition to one's WWII library.
Being a lover of horses, I was entranced by Hillenbrand's remarkably well-written "Seabiscuit," but, if it is possible, she creates an even more compelling drama with Unbroken, the story of another deep-hearted underdog who triumphs in the end. Highly recommended!
despite its often soaring lyricism and high poetic qualities (which merit the four-star rating), there are clunkers and awkwardness when the author tries to push things too far. Having Death narrate the story was interesting, but it could have been more so. Death's synesthesia early in the book was a bit disjointed and didn't seem to serve much purpose other than to try to shove some kind of "mysterious feeling" on us, and then it is simply left off later on. I had to laugh out loud when Death claimed to have performed the gathering of souls "millions of times"--only millions of dead people in the entire history of humankind??? And then one has to wonder how Death has the time to take such care with each individual when there are tremendous numbers of people worldwide dying every second of every day. Yeah, I know: it's just a metaphor. But somehow, it just didn't work. And then there was the use of German. Maybe it could come off as a charming, knowing dash of cultural flare for a non-speaker, but as someone who is fluent in German, I have to say it was intrusive and often just silly. The author clearly does not speak the language, given the MINDLESS repeating of a handful of pet-phrases and the overly simplified sentences he puts in the mouths of supposedly native Germans. (The author needs a German thesaurus and grammar guide.) And then, rather than leave the choppy little bits of the Teutonic language, the author goes back and translates every single phrase of German into English for the reader! Just let readers look it up if they want or tell us once they spoke German and then give it all in English so readers don't have to go through the awkwardness of the way it is presented here. There were lots of little clumsy bits like this, and the fact that I am still giving it four stars shows how rich it is when it is going well. I suppose, in the end, The Book Thief is like another little girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead: "when it is good, it is very, very good, and when it is bad, it is horrid..."
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