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Origin of Mind: Evolution of Brain, Cognition, and General Intelligence Hardcover – October 30, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-1591471813 ISBN-10: 1591471818 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 459 pages
  • Publisher: Amer Psychological Assn; 1 edition (October 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591471818
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591471813
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 7.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #944,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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David Geary texts are always a pleasant reading!
W. T. HATTORI
This book pioneers a Darwinian synthesis, pulling together the disparate strands that currently criss-cross the study of the human mind.
David C. Geary
Having read this book quickly, I can state baldly that it is the first book in years that I will reread.
John Harpur

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 39 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on November 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The brain has long been the most mysterious of the organs. Part of the problem has been that the brain can be viewed in so many different ways. The same organ can think of Einstein's Theory of Relativity in one instant and be smiling and talking baby talk to an infant the next.

In this book Dr. Geary brings together research from neuroscience, behavior genetics, and cognitive science along with the behavioral sciences such as primatology, anthropology, and sociology to present an integrated view of the brain as we know it today.

The chapter "General Intelligence in Modern Society" is brilliant in it's explanation of IQ testing and its relationship with society. It both confirms, explains, and rejects the findings in the best seller "The Bell Curve" from 1994. "The IQ test," Dr. Geary says, "was designed to predict educational outcomes." And in this it works very well - in one study 20% of the people in the 99th percentile had Ph.D. degrees. He then discusses other aspects such as motivation, family, social presures and more as reasons for achievement in education, work and income. There's far too much to cover in a short review like this one.

This is not a book that has been dumbed down for the general reader. It is a definitive tome on the state of the understanding of the brain as it exists today. It is fascinating reading, but not something that you're going to race through in an afternoon.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful By John Harpur on March 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an thoughtful, erudite and complex book weaving together various strands of research in evolution, neural organisation, cognition and mind together. Every page is littered with references, not carelessly I hasten to add. The author's main thesis, as i understand it, is that the mind essentially 'runs' simulations, and this is an evolution endowmnet arising from ontogenetic requirements to exercise control of behaviour and the environment. Anyone locked into folk psychology, especially Stich's simualtion theory, will find much to ponder here. Geary holds that folk psychology has many 'anchors' that orient the human organism towards fundamental activities to sustain itself, e.g. social cues. These anchors are shaped in development under evolutionary imperatives. Much of the book is devoted to teasing out in detail the framework that allows this to occur. The notion of a fluid intelligence is introduced to debnk the g factor (as too limitinf a construct) and explain adaptive behaviours. Each chapter deserves a review by itself. Overall, the book is tremendously impressive and detailed however, it still faces to problem of splicing folk psychological concepts with neuroscientific data, and it is here that most critics will focus there attention. Geary has assemled a welther of piece sof evidence and argumentation to make this work, but eliminativtists will not be satisfied. Having read this book quickly, I can state baldly that it is the first book in years that I will reread. Lots of food for thought.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ben Winegard on September 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book gives a brilliant, synthetic theory of the evolution of the human brain/mind. It is every bit as challenging as its subject. Dr. Geary has an enviable ability to collate disparate literature and put the pieces together into a coherent picture.

As other reviewers have pointed out, this book is not written in the chatty, conversational tone of a pop-science paperback. Dr. Geary does not condescend or patronize the reader. He assumes we are intelligent adults who are willing to be challenged and enlightened. Further, the reader can easily select a chapter that interests him or her and read it in isolation.

I think this book conclusively demonstrates that the only way we will ever understand the brain/mind is via the lens of natural and sexual selection. It is not the final word on the topic but it is one hell of a mid-point salvo.
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