Sean's Reviews > The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge

The Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy Narby
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's review
Sep 13, 2009

it was ok
Read in August, 2009

Look, the first time I took a hallucinogen, I too saw all of the natural world break apart and twist together and reveal to me its interlinked workings, its fundamental connectedness to me and every other living and non-living entity in the universe entire, I too saw into the deeper reality of the unified cosmic consciousness, and I (alone?) learned that the funniest thing in all of creation is the taste of a 7-11 watermelon Slurpee.

But did I write a breathless book about it and pretend that none of this had ever occurred to anyone else in the western world and that only I, on my personal magical mystery tour into the world of psychedelics, had discovered the ONE TRUE SECRET that would forever re-write the laws of science and place me alongside Copernicus, Newton and Einstein?

No. I did not. I went to bed early, closed my eyes, and watched the pretty colors some more.

Jeremey Narby took the other route, and so, following his ayahuasca fueled vision of two giant, fluorescent snakes, wrote a book every sentence of which is delivered as if by Pinto in Animal House, the first time he gets stoned, when with eyes wide he says, “So, our whole solar system could be like one tiny atom in the fingernail of some other giant being!” Gee willikers! Neat!

The book starts off all right. Questioning the scientific method as the only means of gaining knowledge is certainly reasonable. His investigations into comparative mythology and the preponderance therein of snakes and twins across cultures is interesting, if not already rather well known. But the book just gets loopier after that.

Narby bashes all scientists with absurd generalizations about how they hate mystery, etc., he trots out all kinds of nonsense about evolution, which he grasps not at all, and every one of his arguments is along the lines of, “Did you realize how complicated the human genome is? Let me throw a bunch of huge numbers at you! See? Wow is it ever big! And that’s supposed to have come about by chance? No way!”

Here’s a paraphrase of how most chapters begin: “Now I’m not a biologist, so I don’t know anything about biology, but I read a book and talked to this friend, and oh my god! You won’t believe what I found! DNA is superintelligent and comes from outer space!”

Anyway. He’s right that there is more to the universe than what we in the west think we know, and more ways than we know to know it. But he’s too timid to actually propose anything other than a mushy-headed load of vague crap about consciousness I can’t even summarize since he never directly says what it is. In short, it’s something about how life is so complicated, it must have been directed by some form of intelligence. Hm, now where have I heard that argument before?

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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Walter Well said! This sounded like a lot of creation science, but re-phrased for the new-age audience.

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