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)
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
on the unconscious and the brain. But do be aware this is something of a beginner's book on the brain. After having just read Schwartz's The Brain and The Mind and several other deeper books on brain function and being a long time student of neurology, I found this book something of a step down. It is a good book and well written, but it is best taken early in one's reading in this subject. (I almost never comment on readers, but this growing habit of writers reading their own books needs to end. Eastman puts UNdo INflection on NEarly EVery WORd, and his awkward enthusiasm detracts somewhat from a book already not the deepest in content.)
This was a great listen; interesting and informative with a great pace/flow. I wouldn't call this book heavy, and yet there are ideas and truths contained in this book that have permanently altered the way I think about what makes a person who they are. Also, a lot of interesting concepts are presented here on the nature of reality, perception, free will - definitely gave me a lot to think about on my long commutes.
No. He exhibits profound ignorance of physics and chemistry, making me question whether he really knows about the brain at all.
His comments about the relevance of quantum mechanics to brain function are so nonsensical to be painful (and I am a PhD physicist who has published many papers in chemical physics and worked in bioinformatics for 15 years). I lost all faith in the author's expertise and now place him in the "mystical brain" and religious zealot category. Frankly, I don't know how much of anything the author states is true or just his interpretation.
I'm trying to wean myself and learn to function without earbuds for more than ten minutes at a time. It hasn't been easy. I lose balance...
The more I read from this author, the more I like him. Our experience in being here and alive isn't what we necessarily think... it's all translated through our brains to create what we see and know. So what is "reality" really? Huh. Easily digested, Incognito explores the subconscious that we don't always recognize "driving the bus." Really interesting. More please. On a side note: SUM, Eagleman's other book, is a gem of tales covering potential afterlife scenarios...clever, thought provoking and entertaining. I highly recommend it to any fiction reader let alone philosopher... Smart guy, great articles out in the world as well...and hopefully more books.
Fascinating take on the unconsciousness of the mind and an enjoyable book. I like David Eagleman's narration. Later chapters delve into Philosophy of Mind and the understanding of emergent phenomena like consciousness through an appreciation of its many layers of complexity. I found myself hoping Eagleman would make strong claims on these intractable problems of mind as a dramatic ending to the profundity of the foregoing, but his moderated conclusion did fit with the theme.
I don't know if it's Eagleman's writing style, narration, or just my own fascination with the subject, but the book elicits a sublime sort of introspection. Well worth your limited attention if you have any interest in psychology.
This book offers nothing new in the last 50 years of "research", and worst it brings back zombie ideas of the past.
This book doesn't have characters, but I would definitely cut the free will section.
I read this book to think about AI, and the closest he ever came is to say, assuming you can get an individual AI then I have ideas on how to cluster them. That is remarkably unhelpful.
The book went completely downhill as it got into free will and punishment. By the way the puzzle about the male gene and crime was obvious, but I would have loved to hear him talk about other genes disproportionately incarcerated.
Please listen to the audio sample before you download. The author declaims rather than reads his text and it is excruciating to my ear. Very sorry but this is one book I will have to READ rather than listen to.
Make it Simple
There is nothing I could write that would do this fascinating listen justice. If neuroscience interests you even in the slightest, get this immediately. It's presented in a way that the layman can understand, be entertained by, informed by, and not be insulted by. Superb audiobook in every respect.
No, other similar books would cover topic without a couse in humanist sociology
David Eagleman tries to convince his readers that we all walking the planet as zombies.
I am torn by this book. On one hand it was a fun read. But it lacks some of the mental challenge that I enjoy in a book of popular science. I enjoy a little more depth to the explanations of research. Did he do any of the research or was he borrowing and cribbing from real researchers? I lean toward the second. If you have a lay person's interest in neurology and the workings of the mind, much of the first 4-5 chapters is nothing you haven't read before. Interesting condition upon interesting condition is quickly discussed for the "oooh" and "aaaah" factor. Chapter six has a mad, voice-crying-out-in-the-desert quality. It reads something like, "Why doesn't anyone listen to me? I have the answers that will solve the world's problems with crime and criminals!" Frankly, it can get more than a little redundant and tedious in that section. Still, I can't completely trash the book. Though it wasn't as scientific as I prefer, it was a fun quick read about the brain, its functions and malfunctions. Perhaps I've read too much popular neurology for this to be fresh for me. If you haven't read that much you might enjoy it greatly. It could spur greater interest in the field.
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