Loy Machedo's Reviews > Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain

Incognito by David Eagleman
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Sep 02, 2012

it was amazing
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Read from September 02 to 03, 2012

Loy Machedo’s Book Review – Incognito by David Eagleman

1. Why does your foot hit the break pedal before you are conscious of danger ahead?
2. Why do you hear your name in a conversation that you didn’t think you were listening to?
3. Why is a person whose name begins with J more likely to marry another person whose name begins with J?
4. Why is it so difficult to keep a secret?
5. How is it possible to get angry at yourself: who, exactly is mad at whom?
6. Are some marriage partners more likely to cheat?
7. Why do patients on Parkinson’s medications become compulsive gamblers?
8. Why did Charles Whitman, a high-IQ bank teller and former Eagle Scout, suddenly decide to shoot forty-eight people from the University of Texas Tower in Austin?”

Find these questions thought-provoking?

What about these statements:
1. The best way to mess up your piano piece is to concentrate on your fingers … the best way to miss the golf ball is to analyze your swing.
2. When a professional baseball player connects his bat with a pitch that is traveling too fast for his conscious mind to track, he is leveraging a well-honed alien subroutine.
3. No one can prove the existence of free will, our current legal system — which assumes free will when assigning blame — needs an overhaul.
4. A patient suffering from Alien Hand Syndrome, for instance, may experience one hand picking up a cookie (yum) only to have the other grab it and toss it away (don't forget the diet).
5. We are not born equal.
6. Tiny changes in the brain, even a unexpected accident or medicine intake can cause colossal changes in behavior
7. During World War II, expert British "spotters" used rapid visual-pattern analysis to recognize friendly and enemy aircraft at great distances. A method that cannot be taught or explained but can be manifested by a few.
8. One in a hundred otherwise normal people, may experience something called Synesthesia – where a person may ‘hear’ colors, ‘taste’ shapes, or ‘feel’ sounds.

If yes, then the book Incognito by David Eagleman is a Must Read for you.

First things first:
Eagleman is a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine and directs the Laboratory for Perception and Action. He is also the author of Wednesday is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia and Sum: Forty Takes from the Afterlives.

Rated by The Times as ‘The Hottest Thing in Neuroscience’, Incognito examines the unconscious part of our brains - the complex neural networks that are constantly fighting one another and influencing how we act, the things we're attracted to, and the thoughts that we have. In fact the part I loved the most was how we can learn more about our perception of reality, religion, time, consciousness and crime – all by studying just our unconscious brain!

In "Incognito," the neuroscientist and polymath David Eagleman argues that the actions of the unconscious are so powerful and persuasive that when combined with the inescapable influences of genes, undermine our traditional ideas of self-control and free will. The ideas in the book have been presented in pithy observations, simplistic language and amazing anecdotes that leaves you absolutely convinced in what the author is trying to say. The book culminates in an argument for altering social policy and the legal system to acknowledge that we are less than fully responsible for what we do. Towards the end, you will have nothing but a total admiration for what the author has left you with so much so, that the works of Sam Harris ‘Free Will’ would come into play

Eagleman, by imagining the future so vividly, puts into relief just how challenging neuroscience is, and will be.

Overall, a simply amazing book with a great author and fantastic teacher. I loved the book to bits.

Final Ratings – 10 out of 10.

Loy Machedo
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Antonia Yes, great book. It's opened my eyes to arguments against free will that I just didn't quite get before. I've been listening to the audiobook, which Eagleman narrates and I think he does a wonderful job. My attention never wavered.

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