Los dragones del Edén: Especulaciones sobre la evolución de la inteligencia humana
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Los dragones del Edén: Especulaciones sobre la evolución de la inteligencia humana

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  8,616 ratings  ·  275 reviews
Dr. Carl Sagan takes us on a great reading adventure, offering his vivid and startling insight into the brain of man and beast, the origin of human intelligence, the function of our most haunting legends--and their amazing links to recent discoveries.
"A history of the human brain from the big bang, fifteen billion years ago, to the day before yesterday...It's a delight."
Paperback, 313 pages
Published 1982 by Grijalbo (first published 1977)
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This was an interesting book to read after all of the recent research and groundbreaking discoveries of the human brain. Clearly, Sagan smokes weed. However, there are times when he must be coming off his high that his insights are both subtle and poignant. Oxymoronic, to be sure, but so was most of Sagan's keen skepticism amidst his psuedoscientific platitudes.

I use big words.

That being said, some of the best parts of this book are the drawings related to studies conducted on patients with a s...more
Stacey Mulvey
I'd read this book a few years ago, and loved it. It's a great introduction to brain anatomy, consciousness/subconsciousness, and evolution. An "easy" read, if any book that deals with these types of topics can be considered as such. Sagan is good at presenting complex material in an interesting and palatable way. It made me want to start paying more attention to my dreams. (He also relates one of his personal experiences of smoking marijuana, and his theories of the effects it might have on the...more
"Chimpanzees can abstract. Like other mammals, they are capable of strong emotions.
Why, exactly, all over the civilized world, in virtually every major city, are apes in prison?"

"Humans have systematically exterminated those other primates who displayed signs of intelligence."

Carl Sagan is the best science teacher one can ever get. Even though I am not a biology major, I was able to enjoy this book. A great book where he talks about EVERYTHING that you ever wanted to know about your brain. Proba...more
Aug 11, 2007 Robin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is curious about themselves and the world
I feel strongly that this book should be included in mythology courses because better than any textbook I've ever encountered it addresses the connections that exist between mythology and science. Not to say that mythology is scientific, but rather the ways of viewing the world, both contemporary and historical, that human beings seem to return to again and again often are the way they are for very sound biological reasons.
Interesting questions on the origin and development of human intelligence. Still worth a read despite lots of progress since he wrote this. Gives a good description of left/right brain competencies. Has piqued my interest in evolutionary development. The guy was taken from us too early but sure made a name for himself in what time he had.
The copy of the book I got was published in 1977 and what isn't out of date is wrong. The subtitle is "Speculations on the evolution of human intelligence",
but little in the book is about that topic.

The book rambles from from one subject to another,
from cute drawings by everyone's favorite: M.C. Escher,
to the chemical composition of distant stars.

Perhaps the most interesting part is the chart that shows
Brain mass vs. Body weight.
On that chart moles rate quite highly.
Probably not the point...more
Interesting read, as long as one takes into account that it's quite old and outdated by now, so it's not exactly cutting edge. (I read it pretty long ago myself).

Still, Sagan has a such a pleasant, conversational style, that even reading it for the speculations alone, makes reading the book a not unpleasant way of whiling away your time.

I like the angles he chooses to speculate from, especially the bits about instinct and how myths most probably formed in the human collective subconscious.
Phew. This book may seem short at a first glance, but it is not a quick read at all. The subject matter is strikingly complicated - there is a substantial analysis of the mammalian brain, an overview of evolution and natural selection, AND additionally talk of extraterrestrial/artificial intelligence. Sagan surely didn't waste pages, right? Feels like he did.

This was an interesting read; I won't debate that. And it flowed through different topics effortlessly. Unfortunately, though, for me at le...more
Elliot Ratzman
Mar 17, 2013 Elliot Ratzman rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elliot by: Phil Straus
Shelves: book-club
This book—“an exercise in pattern recognition, an attempt to understand something of the nature and evolution of human intelligence, using clues from a wide variety of science and myth”— was the popular science pick of 1977; I am sure it launched a thousand science careers. Sneak this text into Red State high school libraries! It is still in print despite being dated: a time capsule snapshot of the then state of evolutionary science, primatology, computers and brain science. Despite Sagan’s leap...more
Jul 28, 2013 Tecni rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tecni by: Adosinda
Un ensayo muy interesante sobre la evolución fisiológica del cerebro desde sus primeros desarrollos hasta el Homo Sapiens, con el que he aprendido cosas que seguramente ya sabía pero que quedaron enterradas en un absurdo marasmo de educación multidisciplinar que me ha llevado a saber de todo y nada a la vez, lo que me hace una persona muy interesante a la hora de conversar (siempre que te guste mucho la forma y poco el fondo). Lo más interesante me ha parecido la existencia del Complejo R, la cu...more
Sep 14, 2007 Ethan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: humans
"There is a popular game, sometimes called Pong, which simulates on a television screen a perfectly elastic ball bouncing between two surfaces. Each player is given a dial that permits him to intercept the ball with a movable "racket". Points are scored if the motion of the ball is not intercepted by the racket. The game is very interesting. There is a clear learning experience involved which depends exclusively on Newton's second law for linear motion. As a result of Pong, the player can gain a...more
Noha soliman
استمتعت كعادتى مع كتب الرائع الجميل كارل ساجان
خاصة فى الفصل الذى ناقش به تعلم الشمبانزى للغة الاشارة
واطلقت العنان لخيالى لو ان كل الشمبانزى والقردة تعلم لغة الاشارة
واصبح بيننا وبينهم نوع من التواصل كيف سيكون شكل الحياة الاجتماعية بل الحياة ع الكوكب بعدما يصبح الشمبانزى كبشر ولكن فاقدى القدرة ع الكلام والنطق يمكنهم التعبير بالاشاره

كذلك الفصل الذى يتكلم عن المخ والشق الايمن والشق الأيسر للمخ وتأثيرهما ع سلوك الانسان وطرق تفكيره كان ممتع

انما المترجم اهدر كثير من متعتى بل ومن استفادتى بالكتاب وك...more
One of the most beautiful things I've ever read came from this book:

"If the human brain had only one synapse-- corresponding to a monumental stupidity-- we would be capable of only two mental states. If we had two synapses, then 2^2 = 4 states; three synapses, then 2^3 = 8 states, and, in general, for N synapses, 2^N states. But the human brain is characterized by some 10^13 synapses. Thus the number of different states of a human brain is 2 raised to this power-- i.e., multiplied by itself ten...more
A look into the evolution of the human mind. Sagan closes the first chapter giving the reader a perspective on their position in history: If the history of the universe was represented by our 12-month year, the history of mankind would exist in the last second of the last minute of December 31. Exploring the pains of childbirth, warring subhuman species, and simplified understandings of how the human brain works, "The Dragons of Eden" is written in a way that anyone can enjoy (it was a NY Times...more
"To write a book in a subject so far from one's primary training is at best incautious. But...the temptation was irresistible."

That quote, found in the acknowledgements, sums up both the very serious problems with this work, and also it's ironic charm. You must read this early work of Sagan not as definitive science, but as a prime example of his inimitable ability to connect science to other intellectual concerns such as myth, religion and history, thus stimulating thought in the process.

At le...more
David Kaczynski
Jan 31, 2008 David Kaczynski rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young philosophers, college students, anyone who is considering science in their career goal
Recommended to David by: Dan Loss
This is simply the best book I was lucky enough to receive as a gift. Written thirty years ago, Sagan's principles in science, philosophy, and humanity seem to grow more valid as the years go on. I used to be an existentialist nutcase in high school, but this book straightened me right out. I can't wait to re-read this beauty
Mukesh Kumar
Dec 02, 2012 Mukesh Kumar rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone. Science lovers.
Shelves: favourites
Pure bliss. In the inimitable manner of Carl Sagan, engrossing, enlightening and amusing in equal measure.
Trey Nowell
Pretty interesting book overall, did tend to go from one topic to another and then come back to the topic with a tiny bit of rambling. I also consider the book for its date written, and amazed Sagan could foresee so many things coming to fruition in technology (such as cloning and everyone having multiple computers). It must have been even more amazing 35 plus years ago to see how much information our genes contain. Tackles issues regarding human brain has developed over time, its components, th...more
Greg Metcalf
As I was reading this book again, since a first reading close to twenty years ago, a friend mentioned that if he was going to read a popular science book, he'd read a new one, not one from the seventies. That comment kind of got stuck in my head. It would certainly be interesting to read about how far sign language development with chimpanzees, for example, has come, which must have just gotten started when Sagan wrote about it here. But this book is Carl Sagan playing with possibilities. In a c...more
Carl Sagan, famoso divulgador de la ciencia hace un excelente trabajo especulando como es que la evolución en general ha llegado a crear la inteligencia humana que nos parece tan normal pero que es tan compleja.

Con breve conocimiento de nuestra propia evolución, este libro ha sido excelente para entendernos más como especie y como seguir creciendo con el conocimiento de nosotros mismos.

Por otro lado, los últimos dos capítulos muestran claramente la fecha en la que se escribió el libro ya que C...more
This was one of Sagan's better books (of the three I have already read). It does well to illustrate not just the evolution of the human brain, but human intelligence as well. It also points out that us humans aren't the only higher mammals with linguistic capabilities and the ability to reason. I love Sagan's humor, period, and this book has plenty of it (my favorite example regarding Ptolemy's assertion that an ostrich was the offspring of a flea and a giraffe mating: "It would have been, one w...more
Erik Graff
Jan 23, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sagan fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sciences
Carl Sagan, like Stephen Jay Gould, is one of those scientists gifted as a teacher to non-specialists. This book is about intelligence, a topic both men dealt with, Gould most notably in his Mismeasure of Man. Sagan, however, deals with all intelligence, ending his book with a discussion of nonhuman intelligences, most particularly certain Cetaceans and primates. Noting that chimpanzees and gorillas appear to be intellectually comparable to human five-year-olds, he ends with a plea to extend som...more
This book is dated, but good. I love reading about research on the human brain. Sagan makes lots of corny jokes and asides that are not really appropriate but sort of endearing. The evolution of the brain is the focus and Sagan talks a lot about the "reptilian" brain, the part that we had before we became human. Also the discussion of what really makes us human is so interesting. On the radio some modern researcher said that the brain is a record, a story of what has happened to that particular...more
Mar 23, 2008 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone from Ancestry.com !! LOL!
This somewhat difficult read will certainly open your eyes to who and what we are, and how we came to be the dominant species on the planet. You may find yourself not too proud to be human, as the origins of our much-touted intellegence which separates us from the beasts comes into focus. Evolutionary Anthropology rewritten for the masses, but still sometimes tedious and hard to follow; I found myself rereading several pages just to absorb all the information. I'm looking forward to more Sagan,...more
Although many advances in science and technology have occurred since its publication, this book astonishes with both breadth and depth, and in very few pages. Sagan peels back the husks of ignorance on layer after layer of the brain's mysteries, revealing (among many other things) how the serpent of Eden remains part of human nature due to evolutionary history. The writing lacks brio but is clear. I'm at a loss for words in trying to summarize... it's unique among books that I know, a real treas...more
Difficult to rate, because the science described has moved on so rapidly since 1977, the publication date. I read it in order to feel re-acquainted with Sagan's friendly tone in his effort to popularize science ( live a few blocks from the old KCET studios from the "Cosmos" era). In that regard, it is very ingenious and concise. And frankly, the underlying scientific concepts still need popularizing. Appreciation of genetic science, paleontology, and even psychiatry is now extremely low - "pop c...more
Kevin Orrman-Rossiter
For me, University was a time of intellectual awakening. In the first two years this was not so much from lectures and interminable pracs that I attended. Rather it was from the realisation of how much art and science and technology I had never come across before. In first year university we were required to study a non-science subject; I enrolled in Psychology. In amongst developing our paper plane skills, lectures on Skinner, perception, personality, emotion, were lectures on human consciousne...more
Sam Catanzaro
This book was written in 1977, so much of what Sagan writes about may be dated. This, however, does not matter. Despite any inaccuracies, this book is informative, but this is not what makes it a remarkable, Pulitzer prize winning work. Sagan is more than a really smart person. Along with clearly explaining complex things about the human brain, Sagan gives his own speculations and theories. Whether he is commenting on the future of human civilization or the relationship dreams and dragons, Sagan...more
Terry Check
i learned about the incatricies of the human mind, and how we, as a species, are unique out of all of the life on earth. It is a complex and in-depth look at sociological behaviors, psychology, intellect and thought.
I kind of thought this was going to be -- I don't know, something about mythology. Like, Jungian myth, maybe. So I shouldn't judge it for not being the book I wanted to read, but...
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Further reading on chimpanzee signing? 11 22 Feb 02, 2013 09:10AM  
  • Conversations with Carl Sagan
  • Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder
  • At the Water's Edge: Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea
  • So Human an Animal: How We are Shaped by Surroundings and Events
  • The Human Zoo: A Zoologist's Study of the Urban Animal
  • Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life
  • The Dinosaur Heresies: New Theories Unlocking the Mystery of the Dinosaurs and Their Extinction
  • Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution
  • Sociobiology: The New Synthesis
  • The Ascent of Man
  • How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God
  • The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History
  • Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth
  • Nature Via Nurture: Genes, Experience and What Makes Us Human
  • Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters
  • Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind
  • Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science
in 1934, scientist Carl Sagan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. After earning bachelor and master's degrees at Cornell, Sagan earned a double doctorate at the University of Chicago in 1960. He became professor of astronomy and space science and director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University, and co-founder of the Planetary Society. A great popularizer of science, Sagan produced th...more
More about Carl Sagan...
Contact Cosmos The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium

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“Those at too great a distance may, I am well are, mistake ignorance for perspective.” 17 likes
“And after we returned to the savannahs and abandoned the trees, did we long for those great graceful leaps and ecstatic moments of weightlessness in the shafts of sunlight of the forest roof?” 10 likes
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