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Jeff

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
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  • The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons

  • The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery
  • By: Sam Kean
  • Narrated by: Henry Leyva
  • Length: 12 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 936
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 851
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 854

Early studies of the human brain used a simple method: Wait for misfortune to strike - strokes, seizures, infectious diseases, horrendous accidents - and see how victims coped. In many cases their survival was miraculous, if puzzling. Observers were amazed by the transformations that took place when different parts of the brain were destroyed, altering victims' personalities. With the lucid, masterful explanations and razor-sharp wit his fans have come to expect, Kean explores the brain's secret passageways.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Detailed but not overly Technical

  • By Michael on 05-06-15

Fascinating History of Neuroscience

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-13-17

This audiobook was a very pleasant surprise. Kean is an expert storyteller, describing some of the monumental cases in the development of neuroscience -- including the gory bits. I loved Kean's saucy phraseology. Coupled with Leyva's cheeky and deadpan delivery made this book extremely entertaining; I don't usually pay much attention to the narration, but in this case I think it was an exceptional job. I highly recommend this book if you have any interest in the brain!

  • Algorithms to Live By

  • The Computer Science of Human Decisions
  • By: Brian Christian, Tom Griffiths
  • Narrated by: Brian Christian
  • Length: 11 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,143
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,686
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,609

All our lives are constrained by limited space and time, limits that give rise to a particular set of problems. What should we do, or leave undone, in a day or a lifetime? How much messiness should we accept? What balance of new activities and familiar favorites is the most fulfilling? These may seem like uniquely human quandaries, but they are not: computers, too, face the same constraints, so computer scientists have been grappling with their version of such problems for decades.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • How do you prioritize when everything is top priority? I have an answer now.

  • By Megan Carr on 01-31-18

This is what computer science is REALLY about

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-09-17

Computer science is not just about computers and programming; it's about COMPUTATION. And humans are faced with computational problems all the time. For example, how do you decide when you've dated enough and are ready to commit, or how should you organize the papers on your desk to be more efficient? Computer scientists formulate abstract versions of these every-day problems, and try to come up with one-size-fits-all solutions. Sometimes an optimal solution is easy to find. Often not.

Full disclosure... I'm a computer scientist and mathematician. But, trust me, you've already faced many of the algorithms described in this book. I learned a lot, and had fun doing it.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Invisible Gorilla

  • And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us
  • By: Christopher Chabris, Daniel Simons
  • Narrated by: Dan Woren
  • Length: 9 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,052
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 550
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 547

Reading this book will make you less sure of yourself - and thats a good thing. In The Invisible Gorilla, Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, creators of one of psychology's most famous experiments, use remarkable stories and counterintuitive scientific findings to demonstrate an important truth: Our minds dont work the way we think they do. We think we see ourselves and the world as they really are, but were actually missing a whole lot.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • What Gorillas Are We Missing?

  • By Joshua Kim on 06-10-12

Outstanding survey of your cognitive foibles

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-11-12

If you could sum up The Invisible Gorilla in three words, what would they be?

Fascinating, enlightening, scientific

What other book might you compare The Invisible Gorilla to and why?

"Thinking Fast and Slow" by Kahneman, or
"Slights of Mind" by Macknik et al, or
"The Seven Sins of Memory" by Schacter, or
"How We Know What Isn't So" by Gilovich, or
"Kulge" by Marcus, or
"On Being Certain" by Burton

All those books outline the irrational behaviour of humans, and how be arrive at beliefs that are not necessarily true.

Any additional comments?

I really like the format of the book. It is well organized into sections that address different cognitive illusions.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Free Will

  • By: Sam Harris
  • Narrated by: Sam Harris
  • Length: 1 hr and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,505
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,089
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,028

A belief in free will touches nearly everything that human beings value. It is difficult to think about law, politics, religion, public policy, intimate relationships, morality—as well as feelings of remorse or personal achievement—without first imagining that every person is the true source of his or her thoughts and actions. And yet the facts tell us that free will is an illusion.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating debate!

  • By Margaret on 05-01-12

Free will is an illusion

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-11-12

If you could sum up Free Will in three words, what would they be?

Short and to-the-point. Sam does a great job of illustrating that we do not REALLY have free will, even if we FEEL like we do.

If you could give Free Will a new subtitle, what would it be?

"The Illusion of Free Will"

Any additional comments?

My only complaint is that there is no real organization to the book, or his argument. It might help some listeners (readers) if he was more explicit about the argument behind his thesis.

  • The Birth Order Book

  • Why You Are the Way You Are
  • By: Kevin Leman
  • Narrated by: Wayne Shepherd
  • Length: 9 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 314
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 254
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 250

Dr. Kevin Leman's The Birth Order Book will help you understand yourself, get along better with others, overcome ingrained tendencies you never thought you could get rid of, and be more successful in the workplace. This revised and updated audio edition of Dr. Leman's classic book includes more than 30 years of experience and research, current examples, and fascinating stories to show how birth order impacts your life.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Could He Be More All Over The Board?

  • By R. Bandyk on 07-04-16

Bleh, like reading a horoscope

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-15-10

Sadly, this book fell well short of my expectations. I was hoping for some real insight into what makes a person tick. Instead, this book was more like a long, drawn-out horoscope. Leman makes little effort to substantiate his claims with objective evidence.

I did get a sense of the three basic personality types.

First born: Conscientious, orderly, organized, driven to please mom and dad

Middle child: Peace maker, independent, chooses a different route to recognition than older siblings

Last born: Disorganized, impulsive, attention-seeking, creative

However, those personality classes are very difficult to apply. Why? Because his definition of who is in those categories is vague. You are a first-born if you are the first girl or first boy in your family, or if your next older sibling is at least 5 years older than you. Similarly, you are a last-born if you are the youngest in your family, or if your next younger sibling is at least 5 years younger than you. A middle child is one who doesn't fit those categories.

I have an older sister (15 months older), and a brother who is about 5 years younger. That makes me a first-born and a last-born. But in many ways, I also fit the definition of a middle child. How uninteresting is THAT?! Without a clear picture of what class you're in, the book descends into an arbitrary list of personality types, and my personality spans across all of them. Bleh.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Survive

  • Stories of Castaways and Cannibals (Unabridged Selections)
  • By: Edited by Nate Hardcastle, Clint Willis
  • Narrated by: Colleen Delany, Nick Sampson, Erik Synnestvedt, and others
  • Length: 6 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 13
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 2

These stories exude suffering at its worst - from the desperate cannibalism of the Donner Party to the brutal starvation and bitter cold endured by Ernest Shackleton's team. Tales of such suffering may be distressing to their listeners, but at the same time, they engage us, offering glimpses of our most fundamental needs.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Stories

  • By Robin in Alaska on 01-20-13

Disappointing

Overall
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-20-10

I agree with Ryan. This book seemed like nothing more than a collection of uncopyrighted material taken from writings by people who've gone through hard times. Moreover, parts of it are in old English. Disappointing.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Evolution, Intelligence, and the Future

  • By: Joseph Chilton Pearce
  • Narrated by: Michael Toms
  • Length: 55 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 29
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 19

The awesome potential of the human brain can only be tapped by providing the best possible learning environment at the earliest possible age. Scientific research has shown that television damages the full neural development of children's brains, crippling their capacity for symbol and metaphor. Pearce envisions a society in which our brains and spirits can develop to their highest potential.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beware Bad Reviews those defending opposing choice

  • By Aimée LeVally on 03-10-19

Folk psychology, and little more

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-05-10

Can you handle an argument based around how intelligence and intellect are opposites? Me either. They blame most social problems on the faulty mom/baby bonding perpetuated by hospital births. Yah, Big-Medica is out to get us. They claim that the American child is the most emotionally deprived child in the world. Poor USA. Those tsunami orphans have it so much better.

Even though they mention academic papers, this interview strikes me as unscientific opinion. Merely folk psychology.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • 59 Seconds

  • Think a Little, Change a Lot
  • By: Richard Wiseman
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Cowley
  • Length: 8 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 376
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 263
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 258

Richard Wiseman has been troubled by the realization that the self-help industry often promotes exercises that destroy motivation, damage relationships, and reduce creativity: the opposite of everything it promises. Now, in 59 Seconds, he fights back, bringing together the diverse scientific advice that can help you change your life in under a minute, and guides you toward becoming more decisive, more imaginative, more engaged, and altogether more happy.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Wrong format for this book

  • By Paul on 08-29-11

THE book for self-help seekers

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-01-10

I first heard of Richard Wiseman through the skeptical podcasts and blogs I frequent. And true to the skeptical point of view, this book is based on EVIDENCE. Indeed, evidence is front-and-centre right from the start. Every behavioural suggestion and piece of advice is backed by an experiment (a refreshing change from The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle). That's what separates this book from all the other self-help woo that's out there. Lots of books make claims that sound intuitive, but reality can often be very counter-intuitive. And this book has lots of examples. Here's one: praising children for their ACHIEVEMENTS can actually inhibit their progress by making them anxious about failure, while praising children for their EFFORT encourages them to work hard and challenge themselves. Hmmm!

This audiobook is SO good, I went and bought the hardcover too.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Strange Bedfellows

  • The Surprising Connection Between Sex, Evolution and Monogamy
  • By: David P. Barash, Judith Eve Lipton
  • Narrated by: Dina Pearlman
  • Length: 5 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 40
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 18
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 18

In Strange Bedfellows, David P. Barash and Judith Eve Lipton look at how biology actually promotes monogamy in some species and how these lessons apply to human beings. An accessible work of science that is relevant to our intimate daily life, Strange Bedfellows will reassure some people, surprise others, and engage everyone.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great coverage of a sexy topic

  • By Jeff on 12-09-09

Great coverage of a sexy topic

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-09-09

This delightful and to-the-point book goes over the necessary material to understand the battle between monogamy and polygamy. It explains how each of the two strategies are evolutionarily advantageous, but also goes over their down-sides. Lots of examples are taken from zoology (gorillas, bonobo monkeys, prairie voles, etc.). Putting humans under the same zoological microscope, a myriad of evidence suggests that we fit the class of "mostly monogamous".

The end of the book is a little patronizing, as if trying to soften the news for those who have trouble accepting our biological reality.

All-in-all, a great little book. Well worth a read (or listen).

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • The Greatest Show on Earth

  • The Evidence for Evolution
  • By: Richard Dawkins
  • Narrated by: Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward
  • Length: 14 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,660
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,794
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,776

The Greatest Show on Earth is a stunning counterattack on advocates of "Intelligent Design," explaining the evidence for evolution while exposing the absurdities of the creationist "argument". Dawkins sifts through rich layers of scientific evidence: from living examples of natural selection to clues in the fossil record; from natural clocks that mark the vast epochs wherein evolution ran its course to the intricacies of developing embryos; from plate tectonics to molecular genetics.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Well read, well explained, scientific.

  • By Joseph on 10-28-09

Informative and inspiring

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-09-09

This books lays out all the best evidence for evolution in a way that is accessible to the layperson. Dawkins makes the point many times that the scientific consensus that evolution enjoys is a result of MANY separate lines of investigation all pointing to the same conclusion. The book even has some of the anti-religious vitriol that I loved in the God Delusion.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful