[ View menu ]


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

Comments (0) - culture,human evolution,new books

Kindle Holiday Deals – through Nov 30 – some great selections

November 1, 2015

Browse the whole list

Comments (0) - Uncategorized

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:

Comments (0) - consciousness,new books

new book – ‘The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter’ by Joseph Henrich

October 23, 2015

Secret of Our Success

The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter by Joseph Henrich (Princeton University Press, 2015)

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

Book description from the publisher:

Humans are a puzzling species. On the one hand, we struggle to survive on our own in the wild, often failing to overcome even basic challenges, like obtaining food, building shelters, or avoiding predators. On the other hand, human groups have produced ingenious technologies, sophisticated languages, and complex institutions that have permitted us to successfully expand into a vast range of diverse environments. What has enabled us to dominate the globe, more than any other species, while remaining virtually helpless as lone individuals? This book shows that the secret of our success lies not in our innate intelligence, but in our collective brains–on the ability of human groups to socially interconnect and learn from one another over generations.

Drawing insights from lost European explorers, clever chimpanzees, mobile hunter-gatherers, neuroscientific findings, ancient bones, and the human genome, Joseph Henrich demonstrates how our collective brains have propelled our species’ genetic evolution and shaped our biology. Our early capacities for learning from others produced many cultural innovations, such as fire, cooking, water containers, plant knowledge, and projectile weapons, which in turn drove the expansion of our brains and altered our physiology, anatomy, and psychology in crucial ways. Later on, some collective brains generated and recombined powerful concepts, such as the lever, wheel, screw, and writing, while also creating the institutions that continue to alter our motivations and perceptions. Henrich shows how our genetics and biology are inextricably interwoven with cultural evolution, and how culture-gene interactions launched our species on an extraordinary evolutionary trajectory.

Tracking clues from our ancient past to the present, The Secret of Our Success explores how the evolution of both our cultural and social natures produce a collective intelligence that explains both our species’ immense success and the origins of human uniqueness.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s faculty webpage

Comments (0) - culture,human evolution,new books

new book – ‘Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing’ by Jamie Holmes

October 17, 2015


Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing by Jamie Holmes (Crown, 2015)

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

Book description from the publisher:

An illuminating look at the surprising upside of ambiguity—and how, properly harnessed, it can inspire learning, creativity, even empathy
Life today feels more overwhelming and chaotic than ever. Whether it’s a confounding work problem or a faltering relationship or an unclear medical diagnosis, we face constant uncertainty. And we’re continually bombarded with information, much of it contradictory.

Managing ambiguity—in our jobs, our relationships, and daily lives—is quickly becoming an essential skill. Yet most of us don’t know where to begin.

As Jamie Holmes shows in Nonsense, being confused is unpleasant, so we tend to shutter our minds as we grasp for meaning and stability, especially in stressful circumstances. We’re hard-wired to resolve contradictions quickly and extinguish anomalies. This can be useful, of course. When a tiger is chasing you, you can’t be indecisive. But as Nonsense reveals, our need for closure has its own dangers. It makes us stick to our first answer, which is not always the best, and it makes us search for meaning in the wrong places. When we latch onto fast and easy truths, we lose a vital opportunity to learn something new, solve a hard problem, or see the world from another perspective.

In other words, confusion—that uncomfortable mental place—has a hidden upside. We just need to know how to use it. This lively and original book points the way.

Over the last few years, new insights from social psychology and cognitive science have deepened our understanding of the role of ambiguity in our lives and Holmes brings this research together for the first time, showing how we can use uncertainty to our advantage. Filled with illuminating stories—from spy games and doomsday cults to Absolut Vodka’s ad campaign and the creation of Mad Libs—Nonsense promises to transform the way we conduct business, educate our children, and make decisions.

In an increasingly unpredictable, complex world, it turns out that what matters most isn’t IQ, willpower, or confidence in what we know. It’s how we deal with what we don’t understand.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s website


Comments (0) - new books,psychology