Las Cruces, NM, United States | Member Since 2001
The book is a delightful listen and is a good guide book on how to enjoy life. Do good and be good and good will flow back to you seems to be the theme for this book.
I mostly read science and history books to find out about our place in the universe, but I'm glad I veered off those topics and listened to this book. The author's approach to life gave me an interesting perspective.
The author's reading of his own book was superb and added to the listening experience.
The authors would have told a much more interesting story if they would have considered all perspectives instead of just their narrow biases. They argued that neuroscience has some bad science and charlatans and makes wrong conclusions. I get that, all things with humans have flaws, but there is another side to the equation, neuroscience research is a real science and really incredible things are currently being done in the field. Look, read a book before the year 2000 on consciousness and all you'll get is some incoherent philosophical speculations on it's real nature, but read a recent book on consciousness that includes neuroscience you'll get a useful understanding.
They're right, a fMRI makes a lousy lie detector for all the reasons they say. They could have just quoted George Costanza from Seinfield who said, "It's not a lie, if you don't think it's a lie", and that would have been sufficient, but they went on as it was a big thing that fMRIs are a lousy lie detector.
The authors would have made a much better book if they would have provided the other perspective. Sure, we're responsible for what we do, but there is a genetic component. The authors seemed to completely ignore the factor that genetics play.
Audible has way better books on the topics covered in this book. I've listened and rated them. I would recommend one of those instead of this book.
The nicest thing I can say about this book is the narrator did a fantastic job and she was the only reason I finished listening to the whole book. If I had been reading the book, I would never have finished it all, because the authors biases would have been too much to suffer through.
Save your credit and get another one of audible's fine books on this subject.
The author writes in a straightforward manner and explains the science in a highly entertaining manner. If I ever sit next to somebody in a waffle house who starts talking about his life stories, I can easily pivot into one of the five stories splendidly presented in this book. The writer was that good at telling the stories about the blunders, and having listened to it I can probably relate the whole book and it's major points without missing a beat. That tells me the book was well presented.
The narrator made the book better than the written book. I found some of his voices a real hoot, particularly Darwin and Einstein. I would definitely recommend the audible version versus the written form of this book.
For me, this book was a template for having worked in the real world surrounded around very smart people who would fall into the blunders that are illustrated by these five stories. I don't think the author realized how relevant the stories could be for most working stiffs and the kind of people we often have to work with.
Instead of picking Einstein's blunder as the cosmological constant, he should have picked Einstein's failure to accept quantum mechanics after having co-discovered it and wasting his time on the GUT (grand unified theorem) outside of the context of quantum physics. I know why he picked the cosmological constant. It's a funner story to relate and is more relevant today because of the mystery of Dark Energy, and the word blunder is not usually associated with that for Einstein and the cosmological constant is.
Overall, the stories are well presented, and it was narrated much better than it was written, but the author missed a great opportunity to make a better book about the foibles of life in general.
The author gives a very dry text book like presentation of the topic. The book is really mostly about the archeology of the mind. A topic I find exciting. The book is not for everyone except for those with an interest in early man out of Africa and his mental development. If your not bothered by statements like understanding symbols make us human and 'X signifies Y in the context of C', you'll probably find the book interesting too.
I didn't like the narration and would suggest to speed it up to 1.25. Also, I didn't like the dry presentation of the topic.
I did like the topic and feel comfortable giving it a higher overall rating than the weighted average of the sum of its parts. I would only recommend this book for people who really like the topic.
The book really should have been titled "The Bonobo and Human Empathy". The two pillars of all philosophy are empathy and reciprocity. He completely examines the first pillar, empathy, by illustrating empathetic behavior in Bonobos (and other animals) and linking it to our behavior.
He's such a good writer even when he wrote about things I completely disagreed with I would find the book thought provoking. I thought he trivialized the arguments of Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and John Stuart Mill. But, I'm not bothered. I believe what I believe and I appreciated the different perspective.
The narrator did a perfect job.
The book is much better than most pop science books I have listened to and I'm much richer for having listened to this highly entertaining book and can definitely say because of this book I'm much closer to my goal of understanding our place in the universe. He does talk about philosophy but I enjoyed those parts as much as I did about bonobos.
(P.S. Matt Ridley's book, "The Rational Optimist", fully covers the second pillar of human philosophy, reciprocity. Also, my personal take on the author he seemed like an apologetic atheist and he didn't want to offend anyone. But as I say, I wasn't bothered by this, but I disagreed with him regarding those sections. Also, he seemed to characterized the utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill in a comic book fashion. Once again I wasn't bothered but I don't want to leave the impression that I agreed with him on those two points).
The book can be listened to rather than read, but it obviously makes it harder to skip sections. The author does a very good job at explaining the processes within the body such as what diabetes is and such. The book is even relevant to somebody without diabetes and just wants to know about how parts of the body works.
The author is really into supplements, herbs, and vitamins and such and explains how the body uses them and seems to recommend over a hundred.
I'm not too keen on supplements and am more interested in diet. I only listened to half the book and just got tired of listening to more and more about supplements.
I'm not completely bad mouthing this book and it definitely could be useful to someone with diabetes. I'm extremely leery of studies based on sample sizes of 30 or less people which she sites multiple times. I did learn a lot about how the body and its organs work and the book (the half I read) is worth it for that.
The book is a likable book and is nicely narrated by the author. If you've read multiple other books in this field (and I have, such as Haidt's Happiness Hypothesis, Kaneman, Gazzinga, et. al) you can probably pass over this book and you won't miss anything. If this is your first book on this kind of topic, than go ahead and get this one and you will probably really enjoy it.
Before this book I didn't know a Stuart from a Tudor, now I do. The author's philosophy is that history should be as fun to listen to as possible. He does that with ease with this volume. He really gets most interesting when he is delving completely into some event or person such as the Battle of Hastings and William the Conqueror or the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
The book ends abruptly leaving me wanting for more. I'll probably use one more credit and get Volume II.
Kurzweil is not for everyone, but he is for me. He covers a wide range of topics from how the brain works, quantum physics, logical positivism and Ludwig Wittgenstein up to what does it really mean to be human.
I get a little glossy eyed during the description of the brain and its interactions, but he explains them as good as anyone and I could follow them but not well enough to repeat it to others, but when he's talking about what constitutes a thinking human is where he really excels and excites and I can and will repeat to others his thoughts on that stuff.
The narrator really added to the books enjoyment. I thought he was narrating the book exactly the way the author would have been while he was writing the book.
I've probably listened to and rated over 15 books about evolution over the last two years, but I was always hesitant to read the granddaddy of them all. I should not have been and am glad I did for the following reasons,
1) The book reads as well as any of the good popular science books available on audible. It is written as if his attended audience is for a 13 year old. That's how good of a writer Darwin is.
2) I had obtained a google book version, but couldn't bring myself to read it, and I had obtained a free audio version floating around the net, but this audio version is professionally read and doesn't suffer at all from the narrator.
3) The book lays out a very complicated argument in 13 basically independent chapters. Each chapter by itself is enough to convince the listener of the fact of evolution by natural selection. The author is very smooth at telling you what he's going to tell you, then tell you, and then explain to you what he has just told you.
4) The book is a guidebook on how to lay out an argument and convince others to your viewpoint. He makes sure that he fairly presents criticism that could attack his theory and refutes it masterfully.
5) My favorite reason for having read this book is that my smugness index has gone up. When I come across people who haven't read the book and deny the scientific fact of evolution I can now say that I have listened to the book and smugly add statements like "even a thirteen year old can understand evolution, haven't you even read 'On the Origin of Species'".
The author tells a good story and ties together his main themes fairly well. He is a philosopher and approaches the subject from that perspective. It's a fun read and easy to follow, but it's definitely not full of scientific facts. The author preferred Noam Chomskey and Stephen Gould's ideas on the early development of man as opposed to Dawkins and Pinker. I definitely am in the Dawkins/ Pinker camp, but that didn't mar the listening experience and I'm always glad to hear a different perspective, and the author presented each camp fairly.
I'm really glad for the existence of audible. I would have never been able to force myself to read this book, but I had a very pleasant experience while listening to it. Thank you audible for making books like this available to me at such a cheap price of only one credit.
The author reads his own book and as with many non-professional readers he reads too slowly. I suggest you listen to it at 1.25 speed.
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