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The Mind's Sky: Human Intelligence in a Cosmic Context

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  139 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
His style as playful as ever, Timothy Ferris explores inner as well as outer space in these essays on the human mind, the search for extraterrestrial (and thus nonhuman) intelligence, and their intersection. Other chapters look at comet strikes as a source of species extinction; near-death experience; apocalyptic prophecies; information theory; and the origin of laughter.
Paperback, 300 pages
Published March 1st 1993 by Bantam (first published 1992)
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Feb 24, 2017 Josh rated it really liked it
This book blew my little mind when I first read it many years ago with its informed speculations about the human brain, SETI, and more. The idea that our brains includes modules for rationalizing our own actions and making them seem the result of conscious choice, and for creating a sense of a unified self out of a disparate set of drives and subconscious motivations, seems to explain a lot about human behavior and religious experience. I think it was my first introduction to the Drake equation ...more
Bob Nichols
This is not Ferris' best book. It's a loose collection of his thoughts about consciousness in a cosmic context, and I don't know what that really means.

If there's consciousness out there, it most likely is not like ours, at all, Ferris argues. If there are aliens with consciousness, the author fears that they will "bludgeon us into a dog's life or into extinction." There's a good Demon image here and the reference to a "dog's life" is about its subservience as opposed to being wild and free - as
Dec 07, 2012 Brandon rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, nonfiction, science
Pretty good book, some parts better than others. I especially liked the idea/chapter about his alien self-replicating probe network, storing data, sending it among probes and to civilizations across the galaxy. He painted it so well, and then talked about such a thing becoming conscious, and of it expanding between galaxies, among the galactic clusters and superclusters, an intelligence spanning the universe. It blew my mind, and makes this book worth reading all by itself.
Ernest Dempsey
Nov 06, 2016 Ernest Dempsey rated it really liked it
Ferris covers a lot of ground in one book—science, art, philosophy, and culture—while exploring the broader question of intelligence in universe. The chapters in the book are full of interesting and illustrative examples of observations that have been explained or attempted so by scientific principles and theories.

Reviewed at
Jordan Dodson
Sep 08, 2016 Jordan Dodson rated it really liked it
Enjoyed the discussion of an autonomous galactic communications network - seems highly plausible. Also, the last chapter on information theory as a bedrock of all science. For having written that before the Web took off, Ferris was spot-on. (Although, I think his focus on the Copenhagen interpretation and meaning-making observations would have benefited from a dash of many-worlds thinking).
Apr 14, 2009 Chazzle rated it really liked it
Recommended to Chazzle by: Nancy Pearl's Book Lust
A pleasant surprise - quite interesting. Desiring a smooth ride, I skipped a couple of chapters of the final section. Although some of the book is slightly dated, I still feel the book merits four stars.

The study of multiple intelligences, mixed with the study of the search for intelligent life in the universe. I skipped the SETI stuff. But this was the first readable exposure to multiple intelligences that I came upon. If you have tried to read Howard Gardner, start here.
Jan 09, 2008 Wendy rated it really liked it
Love Timothy Ferris's stuff.
John Hawkins
Some interesting stuff.
Jan 12, 2008 Noel marked it as to-read
Jul 18, 2012 Teri rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorite books!!
Mar 05, 2007 Chad rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: thinkers
As a teenager, this really helped me to start thinking the "bigger" thoughts.
Mark Schomburg
Jan 18, 2013 Mark Schomburg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, science
This twenty plus year old book is definitely amongst the best I've read during the same period. The outdated parts aren't a detriment to the preponderance of vivid and interesting ideas.
Charles Bell
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Apr 24, 2010
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Timothy Ferris is the author of a dozen books (most recently The Science of Liberty), plus 200 articles and essays, and three documentary films—"The Creation of the Universe," “Life Beyond Earth,” and “Seeing in the Dark”—seen by over 20 million viewers.

Ferris produced the Voyager phonograph record, an artifact of human civilization containing music and sounds of Earth launched aboard the twin Voy
More about Timothy Ferris...

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