Top Brain, Bottom Brain's greatest strength is undoubtedly its ability to clearly, if rather stiltedly, explain the scientific basis for its Theory ofTop Brain, Bottom Brain's greatest strength is undoubtedly its ability to clearly, if rather stiltedly, explain the scientific basis for its Theory of Cognitive Modes. I found the neuroscience and psychological experiments fascinating, and I especially enjoyed Kosslyn and Miller's invitation to the scientific community to, essentially, critique and challenge their conclusions. That's an unusual statement to find in a personality book, to say the least.
Where the book is weaker is in the theory, itself. The science seems to indicate that these four modes exist, but there haven't been enough studies conducted on how the modes present in the personalities of the people who operate in them. So the descriptions of Mover, Perceiver, Stimulator, and Adaptor may be accurate...but also may not be.
Even the test the authors present as a tool to assist the reader in determining his or her primary mode has not, as yet, been tested for validity. That is, it has not been tested for whether it measures what it's supposed to measure. It has supposedly passed its reliability tests, so it ought to provide consistently similar results...but I got vastly different results each of the three times I took the test.
All in all, I found Top Brain, Bottom Brain an engaging introduction to a new perspective on the brain, but I'll continue to greet the descriptions and assessments of the four cognitive modes with a hefty dose of salt. ...And I admit, I'm a little tempted to write the authors about why, exactly, I find their modes unconvincing....more
A book that explores how forests, the Wood, shape our lives and our stories? That delves into different types of woodlands and ties those places to faA book that explores how forests, the Wood, shape our lives and our stories? That delves into different types of woodlands and ties those places to faery tales that reflect them? What a remarkable, clever premise. I can only hope that someday someone does it justice, because From the Forest most assuredly did not.
I wanted very, very much to enjoy this book...and I couldn't even finish it. And it wasn't the long paragraphs of dry botany lessons. Or the intricate, detailed descriptions of twigs and buds and leaves and branches. Or the exclusive, and excluding, expression of British culture. Or the flat recital of historical events. Or the unnecessary and wholly unconvincing justification of the book's thesis. Or the sneering digs at Tolkien, Andersen, and even Wilde.
No. Though that is more than enough to have to wiggle around and slog through and clamber over, none of that was what finally made me sigh and shut the book. That is entirely due to the fact that From the Forest has no purpose. What could've been a clear, elegant expression of land and peoples and the stories that connect them is instead a cluttered jumble of repetitive, self-indulgent essays and faery tales that...somehow?...tie into them.
Maitland meanders from travelogue descriptions of the forests into memoirs of her own experiences, lapses into emphatic critiques of Things She Doesn't Like, somehow drags some history and/or botany into justifying her opinions, states (and restates and states again) that forests must mean important things for faery tales, and tosses out a story. All without ever saying anything important or insightful or thought-provoking or, come to think of it, about forests and people and faery tales.
She talks around those things quite adeptly and certainly seems to think they're important, but she never actually connects to them. Instead, she opines that beech trees are wicked step-mothers and birches are princesses and insists that Forest Law birthed tales of the heroic tailor, servant girl, and soldier, but these are very clearly her own interpretations. They do not open themselves to my own, or any other reader's, experience, and they do not, really, show what the forest might have meant to those long ago tale-spinners.
In fact, where the book does its best work is precisely in those elements which invite us to participate in experiencing the forest and the stories as those tale-spinners might have. Adam Lee's photographs are lovely and evocative, even absent all the colors Maitland mentions in her descriptions. And Maitland's faery tale retellings are frank and earnest and funny and poignant. It's unfortunate that the remainder of the book lacks the same humility and clarity of purpose....more
Nicely complemented with images and sidebars, just as the others in this series are, but Barker spent more words than I really wanted to read on how oNicely complemented with images and sidebars, just as the others in this series are, but Barker spent more words than I really wanted to read on how organisms are classified by scientists. And while I appreciated his pronunciation keys, I found the book's overall organization a little hard to follow: I know a lot about archaeans now, but I don't think I'd be able to recall which traits belong to which phyla....more
Covered aspects of the immune system such as overreactions and the mind-body connection, but the writing was stiff and hard to follow, and some areas-Covered aspects of the immune system such as overreactions and the mind-body connection, but the writing was stiff and hard to follow, and some areas---such as the nature of lymph---were mentioned but not elaborated on at all. This may be because no one really understands them, but without an explanation to that effect, I'm left feeling as though I only got part of the picture....more
A great source of basic information on how viruses affect humans---their means of accomplishing infection, avoiding immune response, and spreading toA great source of basic information on how viruses affect humans---their means of accomplishing infection, avoiding immune response, and spreading to new hosts. I wish this included a wider context for viruses as they exist elsewhere, but I'm discovering that's very difficult to find in a simple, layman's text....more
Doug Stewart's essay provides insight into the formation and function of the salt marsh, and Dorothy Kerper Monnelly's photographs illuminate with beaDoug Stewart's essay provides insight into the formation and function of the salt marsh, and Dorothy Kerper Monnelly's photographs illuminate with beautiful simplicity the fragility and determination, textures, stillness, and ever-renewal of that understated landscape....more