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Denial Audiobook

Denial: Self-Deception, False Beliefs, and the Origins of the Human Mind

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Publisher's Summary

The history of science abounds with momentous theories that disrupted conventional wisdom and yet were eventually proven true. Ajit Varki and Danny Brower's "Mind over Reality" theory is poised to be one such idea - a concept that runs counter to commonly held notions about human evolution but that may hold the key to understanding why humans evolved as we did, leaving all other related species far behind.

At a chance meeting in 2005, Brower, a geneticist, posed an unusual idea to Varki that he believed could explain the origins of human uniqueness among the world's species: Why is there no humanlike elephant or humanlike dolphin, despite millions of years of evolutionary opportunity? Why is it that humans alone can understand the minds of others?

Haunted by their encounter, Varki tried years later to contact Brower only to discover that he had died unexpectedly. Inspired by an incomplete manuscript Brower left behind, Denial presents a radical new theory on the origins of our species. It was not, the authors argue, a biological leap that set humanity apart from other species, but a psychological one: namely, the uniquely human ability to deny reality in the face of inarguable evidence - including the willful ignorance of our own inevitable deaths.

The awareness of our own mortality could have caused anxieties that resulted in our avoiding the risks of competing to procreate - an evolutionary dead-end. Humans therefore needed to evolve a mechanism for overcoming this hurdle: the denial of reality.

As a consequence of this evolutionary quirk we now deny any aspects of reality that are not to our liking - we smoke cigarettes, eat unhealthy foods, and avoid exercise, knowing these habits are a prescription for an early death. And so what has worked to establish our species could be our undoing if we continue to deny the consequences of unrealistic approaches to everything from personal health to financial risk-taking to climate change. On the other hand, reality-denial affords us many valuable attributes, such as optimism, confidence, and courage in the face of long odds.

Presented in homage to Brower's original thinking, Denial offers a powerful warning about the dangers inherent in our remarkable ability to ignore reality - a gift that will either lead to our downfall, or continue to be our greatest asset.

©2013 Ajit Varki & Danny Brower (P)2013 Hachette Audio

What Members Say

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3.8 (16 )
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  •  
    John413 04-28-16
    John413 04-28-16

    Retired Psychotherapist

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    35
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This would've been a great book in 1982"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    If the author weren't stuck in a three-dimensional mind set


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    A book by someone who has gone beyond thinking that he is his mind.


    What didn’t you like about Bob Walter’s performance?

    It felt as though he was someone caught in academia without the benefits of experiencing his soul.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Yes, it shows me how far I have come since I began practicing as is a psychologist in the early 80s.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mminto 02-19-16
    mminto 02-19-16 Member Since 2014
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    79
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An interesting but nascent concept."

    This book starts off with an extremely scientific perspective but then, in my opinion, makes claims which are not supported by anything other than the author's perspective and hypothetical examples. The idea contained inside this book is definitely a worthy subject of discussion but the length of this book is not required to introduce that idea. It spends most of its time justifying its obscure thesis with nothing more than repetition of the theme.

    The worst part is the reader, I listened to it at 3x speed. The reader was plain, humdrum, and lifeless. Honestly one of the worst I've heard, when played at 1x speed.

    Skippable. The idea can be grasped by reading the online reviews. The author is a genius, but this book is unjustifiably long.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cassandra 04-04-15
    Cassandra 04-04-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    10
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    "Somewhat interesting"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    As someone who spends a fair amount of time studying the nature of reality, I was drawn to this book because of the title. Even though it turned out to be not at all what I expected, it had some interesting info and because of that I would give it a lukewarm recommendation.


    What could Ajit Varki and Danny Brower have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    I would have liked a deeper understanding and conversation about reality.


    What does Bob Walter bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Narrator did an excellent job.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    It would probably make a good documentary.


    Any additional comments?

    What really turned me off about the book was the author's facile treatment of Buddhism. He states that the objective of the practice of Buddhism and meditation (specifically zazen) is the denial of reality, when in fact it is the total opposite. Zen is ALL about the integration of the relative and absolute, and the mundane suffering world is where that happens. Zazen is even done with eyes open in order to facilitate that.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Johan Torna Hallestad, Sweden 06-12-13
    Johan Torna Hallestad, Sweden 06-12-13 Member Since 2013
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    5
    1
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    Story
    "Vocal straight jacket"

    This very interesting book is almost unbearable to listen to because of the strange performance of the reader. The male voice is warm, but absolutely monotonous. He uses a few short and strained melodic phrases that keeps recurring and nagging at the listener in a way that makes it difficult to focus on the content. Which is a great pity with this book. It deserves much better. This perfomer has to improve. May Audible coach him!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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