Customer Review

352 of 387 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly written, challenging and kind of creepy, June 10, 2009
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This review is from: Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe (Hardcover)
Challenging assumptions is always excellent mental exercise. In this book Robert Lanza takes on one of the key tenets of modern thinking: that all scientific disciplines ultimately reduce to physics. In its place he offers the provocative thesis that biology is primary, and the Universe literally flows from the conscious perceptions of living creatures.

On its face this sounds absurd, which demonstrates all the more just how brilliant this man is. He draws on findings from quantum physics and anatomy studies to establish a series of foundational principles for his biocentric theory, which he then elaborates on and defends.

He begins by reminding us of something we all know but rarely think about: that reality is literally "all in our heads." We don't see the sunset, we see the interpretation of it our brain creates. We don't smell the rose, we experience the sensation of a scent created by a neural network.

We believe that these impressions are imposed on us by what Stephen Hawking calls the RWOT (Real World Out There). But our evidence for this belief amounts to subjective internal experiences! In pointing this out Lanza shifts the burden of proof to the physicalists, who assert that the outside world is what is truly real, while our qualia are illusory.

He expands on this thought by citing evidence from quantum physics.
The famous two slit experiment, observations of split photons switching spin directions simultaneously, and observations of true backwards causation (the present determining the past) are all cited. Einstein once asked a colleague if he truly believed that the moon wasn't in the sky if no one was looking at it. Lanza would reply "of course it's not!"

In reading this book I was reminded of some of the implications of Relativity. It occurred to me that there are no absolute measurements of length. What my tape measure says is three feet would not be that at all
for someone traveling at 99.99% of light speed. Nor would my estimation of the distance from my living room to Disneyland be the same as theirs. And their figures would be just as valid as mine! If space and time are completely dependent on the perspective of the observer, then in what sense are they real?

I have to also comment on Lanza's excellent writing style. He makes esoteric concepts understandable to laypeople like me. He also injects quite a bit of his life story into the text, talking about how he escaped from a less than ideal upbringing to become a medical doctor and a highly regarded research scientist. Being from a very similar background, I was able to identify with his struggles, though my resume is nowhere near as impressive as his.

This book so successfully challenged my current view of reality that it actually left me feeling a little unsettled, "creepy." But it also gave me an abundance of food for thought. Am I convinced he's right? Not yet. But I suspect he may be. So will you. This book gets my highest recommendation.
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Comments

Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 24 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 14, 2010 1:46:52 PM PDT
hsyagts says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2010 2:57:29 PM PDT
Free Thinker says:
Kindly elaborate.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2010 8:58:33 AM PDT
K Go says:
Free Thinker- G. Smith's comment is obtuse... it adds nothing to your review, and can take nothing from it.
It does, in fact, have more to say about G. smith, but it would be unkind to make too much of this observation.

I found your review to be thoughtful and informative, and thank you for the time you took to write it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 17, 2010 10:33:56 AM PDT
Free Thinker says:
Thanks, K.

Posted on Jun 24, 2010 12:33:16 PM PDT
Del Ross says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 24, 2010 12:57:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 24, 2010 1:05:05 PM PDT
Free Thinker says:
Wrong. My comments on the writing style were only a small part of the review, which dealt mostly with the book's content and my interaction with it. I suspect that you simply don't like the book's message and by extension do not like positive reviews of it. Apparently it is you that don't understand what a critical review is about; although you apparently do have a "beef."

Interesting - the second person with no reviews or other history on Amazon to comment in this tiny forum.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 1, 2010 8:51:48 AM PDT
Sean Byron says:
While Lanza is a leader in stem cell research, he misrepresents (or doesn't understand) physics. I have a doctorate in physics- and he doesn't have even an undergrad intelligence level- please do a little research and you will see what I mean. Look at the double slit experiment for instance- he is totally off on the conclusions he reaches- they just are misleading. I have heard him on the radio- word for word the exact same and always very nebulous. Deals in vague theory - supports with misleading findings-avoids answering direct questions = POORLY DONE! The vast majority of people who know much more about quantum physics - think this is an absolute joke.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 1, 2010 9:36:24 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 1, 2010 9:42:20 AM PDT
Free Thinker says:
Kindly elaborate on the errors he commits time and again, good doctor.

BTW, what school did you earn your doctorate in physics from? Just trying to get into the mind of a person who gives a movie like "My Bloody Valentine" a 5 star rating yet possesses in-depth knowledge of the double slit experiment as well as other aspects of quantum physics.

Posted on Dec 29, 2010 9:31:43 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 29, 2010 9:33:05 PM PST
Tim DeMoss says:
Haven't actually read this book, but came across it on Amazon after reading a paper ("Founding quantum theory on the basis of consciousness" [(Found. Phys. 36 (6)] by Efstratios Manousakis, Dept. of Physics, Florida State Univ.) that takes this concept a step further. Here's the URL for the paper: http://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/0604100v1.

Manousakis elegantly demonstrates (or rather derives) quantum theory founded on the framework of consciousness, in contrast to the popular point of view that consciousness might be understood starting from quantum theory. The "step further" consists of postulating a Universal consciousness, of which our individual consciousness is literally a sub-stream. This approach destroys the well known paradoxes of quantum theory while leaving the rest intact. In subsequent years (this paper was written in 2006), he has authored additional papers which seek to experimentally prove his hypothesis. In other words, his quantum theory is actually testable. I think this paper will someday be considered a classic, and Manousakis a genius of Einsteinian proportions.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2010 9:10:01 AM PST
Free Thinker says:
You may have something there; time will tell.
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