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Archive for 'new books'

new book – ‘Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories’ by Rob Brotherton

November 18, 2015

Suspicious Minds

Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories by Rob Brotherton (Bloomsbury USA, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

We’re all conspiracy theorists. Some of us just hide it better than others.

Conspiracy theorists do not wear tin-foil hats (for the most part). They are not just a few kooks lurking on the paranoid fringes of society with bizarre ideas about shape-shifting reptilian aliens running society in secret. They walk among us. They are us.

Everyone loves a good conspiracy. Yet conspiracy theories are not a recent invention. And they are not always a harmless curiosity. In Suspicious Minds, Rob Brotherton explores the history and consequences of conspiracism, and delves into the research that offers insights into why so many of us are drawn to implausible, unproven and unproveable conspiracy theories. They resonate with some of our brain’s built-in quirks and foibles, and tap into some of our deepest desires, fears, and assumptions about the world.

The fascinating and often surprising psychology of conspiracy theories tells us a lot – not just why we are drawn to theories about sinister schemes, but about how our minds are wired and, indeed, why we believe anything at all. Conspiracy theories are not some psychological aberration – they’re a predictable product of how brains work. This book will tell you why, and what it means.

Of course, just because your brain’s biased doesn’t always mean you’re wrong. Sometimes conspiracies are real. Sometimes, paranoia is prudent.

See also: Book website

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new book on consciousness – ‘Men of Action’ by Howard Akler

November 17, 2015

Men of Action

Men of Action (Exploded Views) by Howard Akler (Coach House Books, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

The problem of consciousness may just be a semantic one. The brain absorbs a sea of sensory input, the tiniest fraction of which reaches the shore of our awareness. We pay attention to what is most novel, most necessary at the time. At its most reductive, the word consciousness refers to the synchronized firing of neurons across multiple areas of the brain, the mental experience of attending.

But should consciousness be summed up simply by its subsconscious mechanism? I would prefer a more imaginative answer.

After his father undergoes brain surgery and slips into a coma, Howard Akler begins to reflect on the complicated texture of consciousness. During the long months that follow, Akler confronts the unknowable nature of another person’s life, as well as the struggles within his own unpredictable mind. With echoes of Paul Auster’s The Invention of Solitude and Philip Roth’s Patrimony, Men of Action treads the line between memoir and meditation, and is at once elegiac, spare and profoundly intimate.

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new book – ‘Rethinking Thought: Inside the Minds of Creative Scientists and Artists’ by Laura Otis

November 11, 2015

Rethinking Thought

Rethinking Thought: Inside the Minds of Creative Scientists and Artists (Explorations in Narrative Psychology) by Laura Otis (Oxford University Press, 2015)


Book description from the publisher:

Rethinking Thought takes readers into the minds of 30 creative thinkers to show how greatly the experience of thought can vary. It is dedicated to anyone who has ever been told, “You’re not thinking!”, because his or her way of thinking differs so much from a spouse’s, employer’s, or teacher’s. The book focuses on individual experiences with visual mental images and verbal language that are used in planning, problem-solving, reflecting, remembering, and forging new ideas. It approaches the question of what thinking is by analyzing variations in the way thinking feels.

Written by neuroscientist-turned-literary scholar Laura Otis, Rethinking Thought juxtaposes creative thinkers’ insights with recent neuroscientific discoveries about visual mental imagery, verbal language, and thought. Presenting the results of new, interview-based research, it offers verbal portraits of novelist Salman Rushdie, engineer Temple Grandin, American Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, and Nobel prize-winning biologist Elizabeth Blackburn. It also depicts the unique mental worlds of two award-winning painters, a flamenco dancer, a game designer, a cartoonist, a lawyer-novelist, a theoretical physicist, and a creator of multi-agent software. Treating scientists and artists with equal respect, it creates a dialogue in which neuroscientific findings and the introspections of creative thinkers engage each other as equal partners.

The interviews presented in this book indicate that many creative people enter fields requiring skills that don’t come naturally. Instead, they choose professions that demand the hardest work and the greatest mental growth. Instead of classifying people as “visual” or “verbal,” educators and managers need to consider how thinkers combine visual and verbal skills and how those abilities can be further developed. By showing how greatly individual experiences of thought can vary, this book aims to help readers in all professions better understand and respect the diverse people with whom they work.

Google Books preview:

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new book – ‘The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge’ by Matt Ridley

November 2, 2015

Evolution of Everything

The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge by Matt Ridley (Harper, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Rational Optimist and Genome returns with a fascinating, brilliant argument for evolution that definitively dispels a dangerous, widespread myth: that we can command and control our world.

The Evolution of Everything is about bottom-up order and its enemy, the top-down twitch—the endless fascination human beings have for design rather than evolution, for direction rather than emergence. Drawing on anecdotes from science, economics, history, politics and philosophy, Matt Ridley’s wide-ranging, highly opinionated opus demolishes conventional assumptions that major scientific and social imperatives are dictated by those on high, whether in government, business, academia, or morality. On the contrary, our most important achievements develop from the bottom up. Patterns emerge, trends evolve. Just as skeins of geese form Vs in the sky without meaning to, and termites build mud cathedrals without architects, so brains take shape without brain-makers, learning can happen without teaching and morality changes without a plan.

Although we neglect, defy and ignore them, bottom-up trends shape the world. The growth of technology, the sanitation-driven health revolution, the quadrupling of farm yields so that more land can be released for nature—these were largely emergent phenomena, as were the Internet, the mobile phone revolution, and the rise of Asia. Ridley demolishes the arguments for design and effectively makes the case for evolution in the universe, morality, genes, the economy, culture, technology, the mind, personality, population, education, history, government, God, money, and the future.

As compelling as it is controversial, authoritative as it is ambitious, Ridley’s stunning perspective will revolutionize the way we think about our world and how it works.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s website

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new book – ‘New Directions in Consciousness Studies: SoS Theory and the Nature of Time’ by Chris Nunn

October 27, 2015

New Directions in Consciousness Studies

New Directions in Consciousness Studies: SoS Theory and the Nature of Time by Chris Nunn (Routledge, 2015)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

New Directions in Consciousness Studies describes a range of fresh ideas which promise to significantly advance scientific understanding of human nature. Written in non-specialized language, the book draws upon concepts and research from history, philosophy, neuroscience and physics to delineate new approaches to the study of consciousness.

Early chapters deal with a range of ideas about our nature, and suggest that mind can usefully be viewed as a type of dynamic landscape. The account shows how our minds relate to their societies, brains and bodies and how they differ from computers. Later chapters develop a theory of the basis of consciousness (SoS theory). Using the physical concept of ‘broken symmetry’ the author shows how conscious mind may be rooted in temporality; a view that is supported by the occurrence of a wide range of anomalous phenomena. Potentially valuable future lines of research are identified.

This is a unique and engaging book that will appeal to students and academics in the field of consciousness studies and other readers with an interest in consciousness.

Google Books preview:

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