Top 5 Science Books You May Not Have Read

12
Mar 07

Top 5 Science Books You May Not Have Read – #5 Robert Axelrod’s ‘The Evolution of Cooperation’

Proven By Science6 comments • 1,351 views

The Evolution of Cooperation by Robert Axelrod I trust you all watched the first of Adam Curtis’s new documentary on freedom last night (The Trap, repeated BBC4 surely, so look out for it.) It might have left you in a state of paralysis as he traced the impact that a strain of game theory has had on politics and economics in the 60s through 80s. Running up to a synthesis with Thatcher’s “no such thing as society” ethos and the Adam Smith institute’s panacea of free-market modelling. I may well be wrong, but I have an inkling where Curtis might be going with this, for watching the show felt like reliving my student days.

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21
Mar 07

Top 5 Science Books You May Not Have Read – #4 Julian Jaynes ‘The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind’

Proven By Science13 comments • 2,504 views

Crazy title, crazy book. And for a while Jaynes was painted as a crackpot too — he had committed the sin of publishing his theory as this popular and accessible book instead of in the technical language of a peer-reviewed journal. The book received a sort of Von-Daniken vibe, but it gradually became a bit of a cult best seller and was widely discussed in the many relevant academic communities.

There are not many science books like this, which is perhaps why it took on cult status. Most science books take a close look into a narrow niche of science – expanding what can be found outwards, showing you why it matters. TOOCITBOTCM, as everyone is calling it, is quite the reverse. The theory at the book’s core provides a new perspective and a broad panorama showing connections between archaeology, literature, neurology, psychology, philosophy and all the sights inbetween. The occasionally florid prose clues the reader to the author’s eclectic knowledge and the wide roaming ideas that pack out this book.

Quickly then… Jaynes theory is that consciousness is not an innate feature of the brain – but it is a trick that we learned. The trick is now learned by children in modern societies, but was only hit upon in historically recently times – specifically some time around 1000BC.

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