If the conscious mind—the part you consider to be you—is just the tip of the iceberg, what is the rest doing?
In this sparkling and provocative new book, the renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman navigates the depths of the subconscious brain to illuminate surprising mysteries: Why can your foot move halfway to the brake pedal before you become consciously aware of danger ahead? Why do you hear your name being mentioned in a conversation that you didn’t think you were listening to? What do Ulysses and the credit crunch have in common? Why did Thomas Edison electrocute an elephant in 1916? Why are people whose names begin with J more likely to marry other people whose names begin with J? Why is it so difficult to keep a secret? And how is it possible to get angry at yourself—who, exactly, is mad at whom?
Taking in brain damage, plane spotting, dating, drugs, beauty, infidelity, synesthesia, criminal law, artificial intelligence, and visual illusions, Incognito is a thrilling subsurface exploration of the mind and all its contradictions.
©2011 David Eagleman (P)2011 Random House
"Eagleman has a talent for testing the untestable, for taking seemingly sophomoric notions and using them to nail down the slippery stuff of consciousness.” (The New Yorker)
“Your mind is an elaborate trick, and mastermind David Eagleman explains how the trick works with great lucidity and amazement. Your mind will thank you.” (Wired magazine)
“A fun read by a smart person for smart people.… it will attract a new generation to ponder their inner workings.” (New Scientist)
The neuroscientist could find faults with David Eagleman’s Icognito, but I learned a lot and followed the various topics just fine. Along the way, there were insights of great benefit to me and, frankly, exciting to think about. Eagleman’s forte is taking technical literature and present it to the ordinary guy – me. Essentially, Inconito is an indepth consideration of the unconscious (I would refer saying in this case – preconscious) thinking and how it works. The sections that really helped me to better understand our behavior involved discussions of thought patterns that have become a part of our DNA. Our brains are constantly looking for form and symmetry in what we perceive and Eagleman tells us the why and how that is done. The implications for our daily lives are spread before the reader like a buffet. Anyone can benefit by a reading of this book. Eagleman reads his own book to great advantage to the Audible listener.
One of the best audiobooks I've heard so far!
I can't believe that this author is both smart enough to understand all this stuff AND well-spoken enough to give an excellent performance in his narration.
The content is super interesting and thought-provoking.
There were so many points he made that had never crossed my mind before, but he articulated them in a very easy-to-understand manner.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves the brain and/or is fascinated by human thought!
Loved the book overall. I'm not a scientist or a doctor, but I've read my fair share of related books for laypeople and was easily able to follow along because of it. Aside from some questionable brain exercises, Eagleman clearly and entertainingly lays out an (obviously over-)simplified explanation of the sub-conscious mind to explore how we become who we are. A good, basic picture depicting the state of our quest to understand the origin of conscious thought and a scientific understanding of the human "soul".
The author narrates this book- which as we all know can be problematic. Not in this case... Just like Neil deGrasse David pulled this reader in first with his enthusiasm for his chosen topic, second with his ability to make it understandable for a non expert in the field and third in his ability to make it relevant to her everyday life.
Great book overall, very interesting, but... he keeps using studies referenced by Malcolm Gladwell in "Blink" which I found redundant.
Like the "racist test" and the "money card experiment."
I would have liked to hear more of the implications, instead of just observations. I mean, it's all very interesting but what to do with this information?
Less scientific than most books on the same subject. Makes some great points. In particular, raises the point that pursuit of understanding the brain and mind through materialism and reductionism may be limited. I recommend this book.
The author/narrator makes a strong case for admitting our "self" is a product, more than anything, of complex neurological structure reacting with a fluid environment outside of and prior to our awareness. On the question of free will he basically says "no but It's ok," and explains both. A chapter is devoted to how the legal system could be reformed to reflect current understanding of brain disorders, which of course come in all gradations. Basically you try to prevent future crime, whether it means punishment, rehabilitation, or incarceration. Don't simply punish bad behavior. That's crude and -- given what we now know-- stupid.
Here's a shocking bit: There is a set of genes which, of you have them, make you 10 times more likely to commit murder, 8 times more likely to commit aggregated assault, 13 times for armed robbery, and *44 times* more likely to commit sexuality's assault. 98% of people on death row have this combination of genes. *And fully half the population carries them.*
.. there is a simple test to see if you have it ... look down. It's the Y Chromosome.
Lots of important fun stuff like this is discussed, leaving me with a bit of a new perspective. And nice to have it read by the author himself.
Ok I found the last chapter a bit ... speculative? ... repetitive? ... conversational? ... unnecessary? But it's a top shelf book in my library, I highly recommend it.
While on my own personal quest to answer the question Who am I? Where did I come from? And who the hell are you? I came across "Incognito." Challenging , intelligent and at times hilarious, I think I got what I came for. Thoroughly enjoyed it. It's my new go-to Book whenever I need a soothing rAtional voice in my head.
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