The Accidental Mind: How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God
You've probably seen it before: a human brain dramatically lit from the side, the camera circling it like a helicopter shot of Stonehenge, and a modulated baritone voice exalting the brain's elegant design in reverent tones.
To which this book says: Pure nonsense. In a work at once deeply learned and wonderfully accessible, the neuroscientist David Linden counters the wi...more
Description: You've probably seen it before: a human brain dramatically lit from the side, the camera circling it like a helicopter shot of Stonehenge, and a modulated baritone voice exalting the brain's elegant design in reverent tones.
To which this book says: Pure nonsense. In a work at once deeply learned and wonderfully accessible, the neuroscientist David Linden counters the widespread assumption that the brain is a paragon of design--and in its place gives us a compelling explanation of h ...more
Judged purely by its raw data content, there is nothing new or revolutionary in this book (but then it was written in 2007, some of it might have been news 8 years ago).
Anyone with a fleeting interest in the subject will already have heard about most of the theories and neurological processes that the author discribes (theories about how and why we dream, possible ca ...more
Interesting chapters on love and sex and sleep and dreams, among others.
This is one of those Copernican/Darwinist/Hubble Deep Field science jobs that almost gleefully describes just what an insignificant, accident of a mess humanity happens to be. Some people might reach for their whiskey or their Bible, but I say, "Bring it on, Dr. Linden! Tell me what a poorly-designed sack of waffle batter my brain is, but please hurry before North Korea bombs us."
The thing is that a lot of brain science is still in its infan ...more
I would give Accidental Mind a B- in this area. The discussion of sleeping and dreaming was most interesting to me, but there are a ...more
"The brain is not elegantly designed by any means: it is a cobbled-together mess, which, amazingly, and in spite of its shortcomings, manages to perform a number of very impressive functions."
Wrap your brain around this book and you'll come away with a better understanding of what makes us human.
The author's mission in writing this book is to show how "almost every aspect of transcendent human experience, including love, memory, dreams, and even our predisposition for religious thought, ultimately derives from the inefficient and bizarre brain engineered by evolutionary history." (p. 27) And, with wit, wisdom--and at times, a lot of technical detail--he does just ...more
In some ways, I thought this book was too close to being the lecture notes of a somewhat zany professor. The claims were too far-reachin ...more
But the level of detail when the science of brain neurochemical processes are discussed is at a much more rigorous and detailed level than any evolutionary processes are discussed. True, there is an evolutionary frame, but that part feels more like a tertiary source than even a secondary source.
The last two chapters are interesting, focusing on evolution and i ...more
The book is very insightful, at least the parts that one can grasp, which is most of the book (minus all the chemical names of molecules, enzymes and hormones and bilogical names of certain parts of the brain and the nervous system). But th ...more
Reading this kind of book can set the perspective right and help us understand how we evolved the higher functions of our brains starting from scratch, and building on top of each primitive layer, and the result is not very intelligent as you'd think!
The book can be very detailed and dive into the molecular levels in some parts, but generally very interesti ...more