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Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain Hardcover – May 31, 2011
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“Eagleman has a talent for testing the untestable, for taking seemingly sophomoric notions and using them to nail down the slippery stuff of consciousness.” –New Yorker
“Your mind is an elaborate trick, and mastermind David Eagleman explains how the trick works with great lucidity and amazement. Your mind will thank you.” –Kevin Kelly, Wired Magazine
“A fun read by a smart person for smart people…it will attract a new generation to ponder their inner workings.” –New Scientist
“Written in clear, precise language, the book is sure to appeal to readers with an interest in psychology and the human mind, but it will also please people who just want to know, with a little more clarity, what is going on inside their own skulls.” –Booklist
“Original and provocative…Incognito is a smart, captivating book that will give you a prefrontal workout.” –Nature
“Incognito is fun to read, full of neat factoids and clever experiments...Eagleman says he’s looking to do for neuroscience what Carl Sagan did for astrophysics, and he’s already on his way.” –Texas Monthly
"Although Incognito is face-paced, mind-bending stuff, it's a book for regular folks. Eagleman does a brilliant job refining heavy science into a compelling read. He is a gifted writer." -Houston Chronicle
“A popularizer of impressive gusto…[Eagleman] aims, grandly, to do for the study of the mind what Copernicus did for the study of the stars.” –New York Observer
“The journey to the heart of neurological darkness is also a kind of safari, and we spend a lot of time taking in the marvelous birds…Incognito proposes a grand new account of the relationship between consciousness and the brain. It is full of dazzling ideas, as it is chockablock with facts and instances.” –The New York Observer
“Incognito does the right thing by diving straight into the deep end and trying to swim. Eagleman, by imagining the future so vividly, puts into relief just how challenging neuroscience is, and will be.” –Boston Globe
“Appealing and persuasive.” –Wall Street Journal
“Eagleman has a nice way with anecdotes and explanations…delightful.” –The Observer’s Very Short List
“Eagleman presents difficult neuroscience concepts in an energetic, casual voice with plenty of analogies and examples to ensure that what could easily be an overwhelming catalog of facts remains engaging and accessible…the ideas in Eagleman’s book are well-articulated and entertaining, elucidated with the intelligent, casual tone of an enthusiastic university lecturer.” –The Millions
“A fascinating, dynamic, faceted look under the hood of the conscious mind...Equal parts entertaining and illuminating, the case studies, examples and insights in Incognito are more than mere talking points to impressed at the next dinner party, poised instead to radically shift your understanding of the world, other people, and your own mind.” –Brain Pickings
“Eagleman engagingly sums up recent discoveries about the unconscious processes that dominate our mental life.” –The New York Times Book Review
“Fascinating…Eagleman has the ability to turn hard science and jargon into interesting and relatable prose, illuminating the mind’s processes with clever analogies and metaphors.” –Salt Lake City Weekly
“A great beach read.“ –Philadelphia City Paper
“Touches on some of the more intriguing cul-de-sacs of human behavior.“ –Santa Cruz Sentinel
“Startling…It’s a book that will leave you looking at yourself—and the world—differently.” –Austin American Statesman
“Incognito feels like learning the secrets of a magician. In clear prose, Eagleman condenses complex concepts and reinforces his points through analogies, pop culture, current events, optical illusions, anecdotes, and fun facts.” –Frontier Psychiatrist
“One of those books that could change everything.” –Sam Snyder, blog
“Sparkling and provocative…a thrilling subsurface exploration of the mind and all its contradictions.” –Louisville Courier-Journal
“Buy this book. The pithy observations, breezy language and wow-inducing anecdotes provide temporary pleasure, but the book’s real strength is in its staying power.“ –Science News
“A whirlwind, high-definition look at the neural underpinnings of our everyday thinking and perception…fascinating.” –Brettworks.com
“Eagleman embodies what is fascinating, fun, and hopeful about modern neuroscience.” –Brainstorm.com
“After you read Eagleman’s breezy treatment of the brain, you will marvel at how much is illusory that we think is real, and how we sometimes function out autopilot without consciously knowing what is happening…This is a fascinating book.” –The Advocate
“A pleasure to read…If a reader is looking for a fun but illuminating read, Incognito is a good choice. With its nice balance between hard science and entertaining anecdotes, it is a good alternative to the usual brainless summer blockbusters.” –Deseret News
“Funny, gripping and often shocking…Eagleman writes great sentences of the sort that you might be inclined to read to those in your general vicinity.” –bookotron.com
“Incognito reads like a series of fascinating vignettes, offering plenty of pauses for self-reflection. Eagleman’s anecdotes are funny and easily tie to the concepts he explains. Moreover, his enthusiasm for the subject is obvious and contagious.” –Spectrum Culture
“Incognito is popular science at its best…beautifully synthesized.” –Boston Globe Best of 2011
About the Author
DAVID EAGLEMAN is a neuroscientist, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a New York Times bestselling author. His books have been translated into 27 languages. Eagleman heads the Laboratory for Perception and Action at Baylor College of Medicine, and is the founding Director of the Initiative on Neuroscience and Law. He is the author and presenter of the PBS series The Brain.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
While chapter two is a solid introduction to perception as inference, it is downhill from there. It becomes clear that Eagleman is not interested in any systematic review of the unconscious factors that influence our decisions, but is merely interested in presenting flashy examples. This by itself wouldn't be so objectionable, if he had actually come up with interesting and novel examples, instead of simply reciting old standards and cribbing from other authors. Eagleman has borrowed so much of his material that V.S. Ramachandran should demand royalties. However, Eagleman apparently hasn't read Ramachandran carefully enough, as he references his paper "Why do gentlemen prefer blondes?", apparently unaware that the paper was satirical. How embarrassing.
Eagleman attempts to go beyond the flashy examples in Chapter 5, declaring that the brain is a "team of rivals." This reference to D.K.Read more ›
Is it narcissistic for humans to be fascinated by the study of our own minds? Probably. But let's face it. The human mind is REALLY interesting, even if we do have to say so ourselves. And David Engleman makes this topic easy to understand with plenty of real-life examples interwoven with the scientific study. Some of the conclusions are expected, some are shocking, and some are important enough to change social policy (if we believe them). This is the print equivalent of a great episode of NOVA. When it's over, you've been entertained, but more importantly, you've learned something. And for those of us who love to read, doesn't that simple desire lay hidden at the base of each reading selection we make?
If you want to really dig deeper into the scientific studies themselves, a comprehensive bibliography is included at the end of the book. You can continue to research to your heart's content by tracking down his source material and reading it for yourself.
Do yourself a favor and read this book. I highly recommend it.
The book, which is grounded in a massive amount of neuroscience research, is written in a conversational manner with lots of analogies and metaphors that make the information both accessible and retrievable. For example, consciousness is described as being like the CEO of a very large company, having little awareness of the details of day-to-day operation, responsible only for setting major goals and for adapting to major changes. While his metaphors become redundant at times (especially "team of rivals," a phrase repeated so often as to become irritating), the author is generally skilled at finding ways to explain complicated processes in a straightforward manner. He also creates opportunities for active engagement by providing optical illusions and mental exercises that help the reader actually experience some of the idiosyncrasies of the brain.
Since I had read some of the Amazon reviews before finishing the book, I was apprehensive about the penultimate chapter on the justice system and the concept of culpability. I thought the main point would be that nobody should be held culpable for misdeeds because so many of our actions are not under our control. But the author clearly states that "explanation does not equal exculpation." He does, however, suggest that although we don't currently have the scientific sophistication to find the biological underpinnings of all deviant behavior, we have learned enough to suggest that we will keep finding more explanations.Read more ›
This book argues the following ideas and more:
1) Your conscious mind is the "tip of the iceberg" and the rest of the iceberg (your brain) is what is really running the show
2) The vast majority of your brain's processing which leads to what you do and what you think is not accessible to your conscious mind
3) Your brain contains many modules that overlap and compete as rivals
4) "You" are your biology, but you can't be understood by simple reductionism
5) You have little if any "free will" and what that means
6) Your neurobiology is a result of a constant interplay of genes and environment
The ideas in this book in general are not new to me although they probably are to many people. If you have read popular books about the mind in the last decade, the idea that much of our mind is not accessible to us introspectively is hardly a revelation. However the author articulated some of my own vague ideas about what this actually means and I found myself say "Yes!" fairly frequently.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An marvelously objective view of our current understanding of the science of our brains. Many a groggy morning because I could not put this book down at night!Published 9 days ago by Anton Uhl
Completely changed my perception of the mind. Well written with insightful examples, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the mystery that is our brains.Published 12 days ago by Nicolas
This book can change the way one views how much control one really has over one's own brain. As an educator, I know how important early programming of the brain is to the future... Read morePublished 13 days ago by Amazon Customer
There are some interesting ideas in this book. He introduces a paradigm where the brain is analogous to a democracy as many different inputs weigh in on decisions. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Asad A. Jaleel
I enjoyed the first few chapters on how limited the conscious portion of our brain is, although it was a bit more anecdotal than scientific. Read morePublished 1 month ago by White Rabbit
David Eagleman has studied the human brain from his profession as a neuroscientist. The conclusion: We humans believe that our conscious controls us, but science proves that our... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kevin King
Good insight on how complex the brain is allowing reader's to ask further questions regarding the brain. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer