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review 2018-06-12 11:12
The Ape That Understood the Universe by Steve Stewart-Williams
The Ape That Understood the Universe: How the Mind and Culture Evolve - Steve Stewart-Williams

TITLE: The Ape That Understood the Universe: How the Mind and Culture Evolve

 

AUTHOR:  Steve Stewart-Williams

 

EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE:  December 2018

 

FORMAT:  ARC ebook

 

ISBN-13:  9781108425049

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NOTE:  I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.  This review is my honest opinion of the book.

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In this book, Steve Stewart-Williams gives us a story of the human animal by taking a look at the human species from a new perspective: through the eyes of a hypothetical, hyperintelligent alien.
  " If an alien did drop in on us, how would it view our species?"  

This is a fun way of discussing human behaviour and culture, without devolving into baby talk.

The author draws ideas from evolutionary theory to shed light on the human mind and behaviour (i.e. evolutionary psychology); and evolutionary principles to shed light on human culture (i.e. cultural evolutionary theory).  Stewart-Williams discusses a variety of multidimensional aspects to provide a deeper understanding of the evolutionary and cultural (memes!) foundation for human behaviour.  

The guiding assumption is that: 

"humans are animals, and like all animals, we evolved to pass on our genes.  At some point, however, we also evolved the capactiy for culture - and from that moment, culture began evolving in its own right.  This transformed us from mere ape into an ape capable of reshaping the planet, traveling to other worlds, and understanding the vast universe of which we are but a tiny, fleeting fragment."


This book is well written and the author makes his arguments in a lucid manner without fluffy, irrelevant, biographical side trips.  A worthy successor to Desmond Morris' "The Naked Ape" and "The Human Zoo", as well as Richard Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene".

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review 2018-06-07 19:21
Irresistible by Adam Alter
Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked - Adam Alter

This is a pop psych book that has its problems but still has interesting information to offer in an accessible package. I would change the subtitle to “The Rise of Behavioral Addiction in the Digital Age,” which more accurately describes the book’s contents. It is not all about screens – the author discusses exercise addiction frequently – and it is in no way an exposé of the tech industry, as the actual subtitle might lead you to believe. Rather than focusing on how companies suck people into their products, the author is focused on the nature of behavioral addiction itself, how it affects people, and the aspects of technology that most readily create addiction.

The book starts off by discussing behavioral addiction generally, whether it’s an addiction to email, social media, gaming, gambling, or exercise. Like chemical addiction, this is often something that fills a hole in a person’s life, and that the person comes to depend on to feel good (if the addiction is the only thing that causes the person’s brain to produce dopamine anymore) but that ultimately is detrimental to his or her life. The author then moves on to discuss elements that can make technology addictive:

1) Goals: Technology creates goals for us that we might not have formulated on our own, like walking a certain number of steps per day. This is especially true of exercise addictions. One dangerous idea is the Running Streak Association, which celebrates people who have run every day for a period of time (as in years or decades): people who didn’t want to lose their streak have gone so far as to run while the eye of a hurricane was passing over, or while injured or even in the hospital for a C-section.
2) Feedback: Games tell you how you’re doing and how close you are to your goals; when you post on social media or message boards, you can track how many people liked your post.
3) Progress: The author talks about the illusion of near wins and the fear of losing, but it seems to me that the illusion of actually accomplishing something is an especially addictive aspect to games and some social media, particularly for people who feel like they’re just spinning their wheels at work or otherwise.
4) Escalation: This is especially true of games; the game gets harder and you get better at it.
5) Cliffhangers: Discussed in the context of Netflix binges; people don’t like unfinished stories and loose ends. In fact, a story sticks out far more in our memories if we don’t hear the end.
6) Social interaction: Keeps people on social media, and playing social games like World of Warcraft.

All good to be aware of, but the book’s message tends to get a little muddled. The author talks about “the addict in all of us” and how the average office email sits unread in the recipient’s inbox only 6 seconds, but then writes at length about a World of Warcraft addict who played 20 hours a day for 5 weeks straight before committing himself to a detox clinic. Detailing such extreme examples tends to make everyday overuse seem like not such a big deal, and repeatedly returning to the clinic and its methodology throughout the book isn’t especially useful for people whose technology dependence doesn't rise to the level of requiring a residential treatment program. 

Wearable fitness devices are criticized throughout the book for promoting addiction (an exercise addiction psychologist, who unsurprisingly sees the people who are damaged by them, is quoted as saying no one should use wearables ever). Then in the final pages the author acknowledges that a device meant to increase motivation to exercise is likely to be helpful for those who need motivation, though potentially dangerous to those who are already motivated. Given that according to his numbers that 61-67% of Americans, Brits, Germans, Australians and others are overweight, perhaps he shouldn’t have slammed the fitbits quite so hard.

But suddenly in the last chapter gamification is presented as a solution to everything, when the entire preceding book was about why game addiction is bad. Sure, FreeRice promotes learning and donates ad revenue to feed the hungry, but it’s still a virtual game that creates artificial goals and uses progress and escalation to keep people hooked. Suddenly that’s okay if it’s for a good cause? I thought the point was that we were supposed to try to disconnect and focus on more meaningful things? What is the point, exactly? There isn’t a cohesive thesis here so much as a variety of interviews, studies and observations around a general theme.

Still, that doesn’t necessarily make a bad book; it’s informative though lightweight and sometimes confused in its presentation. If nothing else, it will probably make you reflect on the role of technology in your life, which is a good thing to check in on every now and then.

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url 2018-05-18 11:48
Yin Yang Consciousness Know it all has it all and why do we all so hate it...
Conscious Parenting: Mindful Living Course for Parents - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Art of 4 Elements - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Mindful Eating with Delicious Raw Vegan Recipes - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Tree of Life - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Chanting Mantras with Best Chords - Nataša Pantović Nuit
A-Ma Alchemy of Love - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Mindful Being - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Conscious Creativity: Mindfulness Meditations - Nataša Pantović Nuit

Female Logic or Negative Application of Yin States of Consciousness

Know it all has it all and why do we all so hate it...Self-DevelopmentConscious ParentingRelationshipsSpiritual DevelopmentConscious MindMindfulnessOnline Life CoachingSymbols and Signsmeditation

 

Applying the Laws of Quantum Physics to Philosophy and acknowledging that the Micro cosmos is deeply connected to the Macro cosmos we came across...

Negative Application of Yin States of  Universally feared as “Female Logic”

"Let them eat cake" is the traditional translation of the French phrase "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche", spoken by a French Queen Marie Antoinette when she learned that the peasants who live and work for her are so poor that have no bread to eat.

Yin and Yang Consciousness States of Universe are NOT positive or negative. There are negative and positive applications of Yin and Yang states of consciousness within Yin and Yang charged environment.

Yin and Yang Consciousness States of Universe are NOT positive nor negative Alchemy of Love Books

Having deep resect towards Mother China and Mother India for experimenting with these states of consciousness in the past, in hope to implement a Universal Logic within their States behavior patterns, we now know that they have failed because the positive application of Yang states of consciousness – Science was not yet perfectly defined and negative application of Yin states of consciousness – Superstition strongly put a hold to their attempts to develop the Lady Science from their end.

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review 2018-03-10 11:54
Lost Connections by Johann Hari
Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions - Johann Hari

TITLE: Lost Connections:  Uncovering the Real Causes of depression - and the Unexpected Solutions

AUTHOR:  Johann Hari

PUBLICATION DATE:  2018

FORMAT:  e-book

ISBN-13:  978-1-4088-7870-5
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From the blurb:

    "What really causes depression and anxiety – and how can we really solve them? Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and started taking anti-depressants when he was a teenager. He was told that his problems were caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate whether this was true – and he learned that almost everything we have been told about depression and anxiety is wrong.

    Across the world, Hari found social scientists who were uncovering evidence that depression and anxiety are not caused by a chemical imbalance in our brains. In fact, they are largely caused by key problems with the way we live today. Hari´s journey took him from a mind-blowing series of experiments in Baltimore, to an Amish community in Indiana, to an uprising in Berlin. Once he had uncovered nine real causes of depression and anxiety, they led him to scientists who are discovering seven very different solutions – ones that work.

    It is an epic journey that will change how we think about one of the biggest crises in our culture today."


This is an interesting and well researched book that examines the underlying causes of depression and anxiety, how to "fix" it and why drugs don't always work.  Some of what Hari writes is fairly obvious to most people, but it's nice to have everything in one place and analyzed like this. I did feel Hari didn't cover the biological causes for depression in enough detail - he completely left out hormones and environmental pollutants.  I am also not convinced psychologists/psychiatrists are as stupid as Hari makes out - so stupid that they don't realize life issues can effect your mood?  None the less, there are interesting, food-for-thought  topics covered in this book.

NOTE:  I just wish the author had kept his political views out of the book.  They weren't relevant.

RECOMMENDED BOOK ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION & HUMAN HEALTH Our Stolen Future - Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, And Survival? by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, John Peterson Myers
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review 2018-03-05 22:54
Stephen King: Master of Horror
It - Stephen King

I don't remember if I've ever talked about my fondness for Stephen King before on the blog. I know that I've mentioned that horror is a genre that from time to time I thoroughly enjoy. There was one summer in particular that I found myself binge reading some of King's works. I read through Carrie, The Tommyknockers, The Shining, and Needful Things that summer but that wasn't where my love affair started. It actually started with It: King's novel about a group of kids who face an unspeakable horror while growing up that comes back to haunt them as adults. I've actually re-read this one a few times simply because I find something new each time that I read it. There are all of the elements of horror as well as a healthy dosage of psychological thriller which King is known for. It's all set in Derry, Maine which I for one would love to visit as it seems to be the epicenter of King's works. It is not for those who suffer from Coulrophobia or the fear of clowns. The nexus of evil in this novel is a shape-shifting entity that primarily takes the shape of a clown so that it can lure children to its lair. (Not sure what kid would willingly follow a clown but these kids seem to be into it.) The main group of children that this book focuses on were outcasts who formed the 'Losers Club' and because of their combined strength they were able to provide a united, threatening front. The book flips between the present day (1984-85) and the past (1957-58) and tells each of the main characters stories. You get to know them and root for them all to various degrees. If you've never read any of Stephen King's books and you want a good place to start then I definitely recommend It. (Warning: There are adult themes and coarse language so keep that in mind.) If you'd like to delve into horror but you're a little overwhelmed with all of the choices then I recommend this one to you as well. :-D (Warning: Likely to induce nightmares for the faint of heart.)

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